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Boxee box vs WDTV Live vs ??

Wurls

Standard Member
I'm after some guidance.

We have an old IBM thinkpad running XBMC, and a ReadyNAS Duo for storing files centrally. The thinkpad is connected to our main TV, and has performed admirably, though we do have issues with some of the video playback (playback is jittery on some movie files, even though they play smoothly on VLC on the same machine).

We're expanding our house though and will have a second TV set up elsewhere. Intention is to have a Humax Freesat PVR (running non-standard firmware) to handle freesat PVR duties, and put all media on the NAS for central access. Which leaves me with what media streamer to put with the second TV to access the media on the NAS.

Initial thoughts (in raising cost) are WDTV Live, Boxee box... maybe PS3 if we think that blueray is worth having. Streamer will on a wired connection through homeplugs.

My questions are:
- WDTV Live: can it produce a media library from files on a NAS? The manual only seems to talk about scanning a library from a USB drive, which wouldn't be ideal. If it does produce a media library, does it scrap for information in the same way as XBMC? If all my filenames are in an XBMC friendly way, is this going to cause problems for the WDTV Live?
- Boxee box: As it's split from XBMC I'm happy that we shouldn't have any compatibility issues with my existing file structure, and that I can set up different accounts to seperate kids media from grownups etc. I assume that the hardware is sufficient that I won't get the juddering on some playback that I do with our XBMC machine - but how about displaying pictures? Our XBMC machine appears painfully slow at gathering thumbnails, displaying photos etc (from the NAS); has the Boxee box solved this?

General comments from users of both are gratefully received. Thanks!
 

next010

Distinguished Member
My questions are:
- WDTV Live: can it produce a media library from files on a NAS? The manual only seems to talk about scanning a library from a USB drive, which wouldn't be ideal. If it does produce a media library, does it scrap for information in the same way as XBMC? If all my filenames are in an XBMC friendly way, is this going to cause problems for the WDTV Live?

I believe it is USB only. The WDTV Live can used modded firmwares in conjunction with apps like Thumbngen to generate fanart.

- Boxee box: As it's split from XBMC I'm happy that we shouldn't have any compatibility issues with my existing file structure, and that I can set up different accounts to seperate kids media from grownups etc. I assume that the hardware is sufficient that I won't get the juddering on some playback that I do with our XBMC machine - but how about displaying pictures? Our XBMC machine appears painfully slow at gathering thumbnails, displaying photos etc (from the NAS); has the Boxee box solved this?

The Boxee Box runs on an Intel CE4100 chipset and has hardware acceleration for H.264, MPEG-2 and VC-1 all other codecs are handled by the CPU which is an Intel Atom variant, the GPU is PowerVR based.

As to photo browsing the Boxee Box has two displays modes;
* List mode which shows one at a time
* Thumbnail mode which shows 2 rows of 5 thumbnails

Thumbnail generation is fast and browsing is reasonably quick, though there can be slowdowns if browsing really quickly & there are a large number of photos in thumbnail mode. It generally works smoothest when browsing photo's at a leisurely pace.

Keep in mind the current PC version of Boxee is not the same as the current build on the Box and that Boxee is a more simplified version of XBMC so you don't have the same range of customization options.
 

nacmacfeegle

Distinguished Member
XBMC and WDTV Live user here, I've never even seen a Boxee in the flesh so someone else can maybe help with that.

WDTV Live has a network connection so is happy enough talking to my NAS shares over a wired link (earlier models of the WDTV had no network). Its also pretty good running directly connected USB drives and can share them over your network (a mini NAS if you like). It will display thumbnails of movie covers etc straight out of the box, but you need to scrape the information using an external piece of software. Most folks use Thumbgen for this.
If you want an XBMC-like full screen movie data display (known as a moviesheet) you will have to modify the firmware. Most folks use B-rad (google for WDLXTV) as the base firmware with a customised OSD to enhance the GUI. There are dedicated forums for the modified firmwares and a pretty good support network of modders/hackers/developers.

Again, even a modified WDTV Live won't scrape like XBMC you have to use Thumbgen or TVIXIE for the artwork gathering and graphics manipulation. Scraping via XBMC is slightly faster than Thumbgen in my experience, both can access the same sources such as IMDB, TVDB etc

WDTV Live will never be as slick as an XBMC install, the processing power simply isn't there. It uses a different mechanism to display the movie information etc, and changing the style of this information presentation is not as easy as it is with XBMC, but there are developments going on that bring it pretty close visually. There is a bewildering choice of moviesheet templates available. Many have an XBMC feel to them. Once your movie information is scraped and stored, changing sheet styles is much faster than the first time round. Moviesheets for WDTV Live are just jpg images, Thumbgen uses templates to present the movie information artwork etc, as a picture which the WDTV Live displays, then overlays the movie thumbnails on top of this picture.
Thumbgen is windows only at the moment.

Good news is that you can export your XBMC library and Thumbgen will pick up the info file (which contains the plot, cast, ratings, etc) and can use the same fanart to give you a familiar feel if you have more than one install. This will greatly speed up and simplify your moviesheet generation process.

I use the same video files for my WDTV Live and my XBMC, with no problems, both WDTV Live and XBMC access the same library on my NAS. Browsing my movies is slightly faster and smoother on my XBMC on a Revo, than it is on my WDTV Live, but there is not much in it. I have around 250 movie files.

For 70-80 quid WDTV Live is quite good value IMO. It can look very nice, but takes a while to tweak it up to get the most out of it. For me this hacking, tweaking, and customisation is half the fun, but this may not be as appealing to others.

For an extra 100 quid, or about the same price as a Boxee I reckon you could get a good set up using an Acer Revo running XBMC, or go with the Boxee for an off the shelf solution.

Finally control options. WDTV Live comes with an IR remote, but woefully poor smart phone apps. XBMC will need an additional remote, has a great Iphone/pad app in XBMC Commander, and no doubt healthy app development for Boxee is either there already, or is imminent. I believe Boxee has a cool IR remote provided.
 
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Wurls

Standard Member
Thanks to both of you for taking the time with such detailed replies. The explanation of the different features of a standard WDTV live and a "tweaked" one is most useful.

I'd not realised that an Acer Revo could get so close to Boxee box price, so now we have a can of worms well and truely opened! Whatever I do there's a bit of time before I can afford it, so further investigations will be required. Thank you for your pointers.

Since I stumbled into HTPC by accident (discarded laptop and XBMC) it was inevitable that I'd have to start spending money one day....
 

nacmacfeegle

Distinguished Member
Its a good time to be waiting, there are a whole pile of new gizmos just around the corner, but then again, there always is.:)
 

mikkeltaylor29

Standard Member
Have a boxee box and very happy with it.

Following the recent firmware update it can now read .nfo files if this is something you have from xbmc?

This would mean the actual boxee box isn't scraping the web for this info and makes updating and using the library much quicker.

Play all my blu ray rips too which is great and stream from my mac nicely

Have you chosen something yet?
 

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