Considering HTPC alternatives - what is the state of the game?

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by Azrael, Dec 17, 2017.

  1. Azrael

    Azrael Member

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    For many years now I have run XBMC or a variant thereof for my home theatre requirements. While this initially started on an old Xbox, for the past 14 years it has been a dedicated machine.

    However, with the proliferation of app based devices, and the increase in smaller options, I'm considering moving away from the HTPC, and towards other devices. Much of this is due to not having time to tinker with solutions like I used to, and the ageing hardware that my HTPC is using (another stick of memory died this weekend). Plus the lack of any supported Netflix HTPC interface makes WAF for Netflix a bit of a pain when they change their index and it is broken for a while.

    Hence, I'm considering something like an Xbox One for the majority of media playing (Netflix, ABC iView etc), with a Raspberry Pi 3 hanging off the HDMI input for Kodi to play less common media off the NAS (N36L isn't grunty enough for Plex transcoding). This gets a lot of the playing tied up, and it has a good WAF and visitor friendliness.

    But, and this is a big but, one of the apps I use regularly is Acestream, and I'm struggling to find any options for Acestream support other than the Ace VLC plugin, which basically necessitates a full machine to run it off.

    What are others doing in this scenario these days? Have the app based players come far enough to have a locked up system? Or will I end up buying new hardware for the HTPC anyway?
     
  2. Copie

    Copie Member

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  3. theSeekerr

    theSeekerr Member

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    Exactly what media do you have that can't be played natively by an Xbox One but can be played natively by a Raspberry Pi 3? I know the Xbox One has a somewhat limited repertoire, but so does the Pi (basically H264 in hardware, MPEG2 and other MPEG4 in software, and MPEG2 and VC1 in hardware if you buy the license keys)

    That said, I don't like playback from the Xbox One (can't do refresh rate switching properly) so I use an Odroid C2 with Librelec (you could substitute any other S905-based android tv box for the C2, since it's out of stock everywhere now, or go an S905X, S905D, or S912 if you need 4K + HDR)
     
  4. OP
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    Azrael

    Azrael Member

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    Mainly the ability to play Acestreams. Although if the Nvidia Shield can do it AIO then it’s currently first contender.
     
  5. srey

    srey Member

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    I'm sure I had was running acestreams at one point with a kodi addon on the firetv, so no reason you couldn't do it on the shield.

    If I was buying now it'd probably be the shield for me, or the xiamoi mi box (cheaper). Unless you want to add a tuner for live TV I can't see a reason for a full HTPC anymore.
     
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    Azrael

    Azrael Member

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    Was thinking that the only reason for a full HTPC is gaming, things like Battleblock Theater, Rocket League and Dirt 3 etc that I already have on the PC and don’t want to repurchase on another platform.

    Any way to do steam link on a console or shield?
     
  7. Copie

    Copie Member

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    You can do stream in home streaming on the shield, best way to go
     
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    Azrael

    Azrael Member

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    Only with an nVidia video card from what i gather though.
     
  9. Copie

    Copie Member

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    For now it is being implemented for other gpus
     
  10. OP
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    Azrael

    Azrael Member

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    Here comes the kicker, for WAF it needs an optical drive. BD and DVDs are 110% required....

    Back to the drawing board.
     
  11. Copie

    Copie Member

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    Any BR solution on PC is clunky at best, its something that has been neglected for years.

    Easier to go with two items, shield tv and a BR player (i use Oppo but realistically most budget units aka samsung/panasonic etc) will offer a far smoother setup then anything on the PC.
     
  12. srey

    srey Member

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    Xbox one.

    Does Netflix and iView and that jazz, optical drive for Bluray and apparently as of yesterday there's an official Kodi release too.

    For your streams, probably either vlc on the console, or maybe you can use some Kodi add-ons for the job.

    We used my mates x1 for Netflix in an old sharehouse and it was pretty good, just get a harmony remote to drive it with.
     
  13. Sledge

    Sledge Member

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    While they are getting there, it doesn't seem like it's ready to be released yet..
    I don't seem to be able to add uPNP network location for starters..
    it takes AGES to shut down... (i booted my PC and wrote all this before is closed)
    And some things need multiple tries to install (skins) first time i tried one it failed..
     
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    Azrael

    Azrael Member

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    With all this i reckon ill just stick with the HTPC for now then. Only thing it doesnt do is BD playing, and that can be remedied by a $60 player.
     
  15. AFireInside

    AFireInside Member

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    FYI as of last week Kodi is available on Xbox one, it's still in Alpha but works really well besides a couple of bugs that they'll iron out
     
  16. Sledge

    Sledge Member

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    Did you even read the above messages?
     
  17. wintermute000

    wintermute000 Member

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    Acestream works on android, not sure re: android TV or specifically Shield platform but I've used acestream links before on both phone and tablet

    Honestly, thanks to DRM and walled gardens the dream of one device to rule them all is still non-existent if you have a varied use case. HTPC is local media / gaming / aaaar FTW, android box / chromecast for 'official' streaming services. I don't understand why Netflix won't do a proper PC client, I guess they deem the target market (HTPC users) too small.
     
  18. lennie

    lennie Member

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    What's wrong with the website using a browser?

    Pc solution pretty much does it all imo. It has by far the most functionality. Interface is a personal thing though I admit.
     
  19. wintermute000

    wintermute000 Member

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    WAF / one handed operation and general slickness

    E.g. Why use kodi or Plex when I can just play files off explorer using vlc⁇

    Also isn't there some jazz re Netflix 4k DRM? That doesn't work on browser
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
  20. aokman

    aokman Member

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    Well I just finished revamping my setup after jumping through hoops for like 4 months... and to my surprise the Apple TV 4K is the best option out there right now. All you need is the Infuse 5 pro app from the app store, plays absolutely everything I have including, HDR, x265 and lossless audio formats and that is over AC wireless and will allow you to browse all the usual network shares. The interface is slick performs great and even the menus are run in HDR. The only downside is there's nothing other than ethernet and power on it these days for I/O. I have thrown a lot of content at it though and it has not failed to play a single file where even my old MINIX struggled with frame rate issues on older content.

    I also have a new NVIDIA shield and it is a pile of crap to be honest, I was so disappointed in it... wireless performance is garbage and the remote is buggy as hell.

    I have also ditched PLEX now as their support for 4K and transcoding is just shocking.

    Depending if you are an Android user or Apple user for phones and tablets, Netflix integration is slick also browsing content on other devices then watching on the Apple TV.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
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