At the moment I have a PC wired up to my TV for watching video, but I'm shortly going to move and that's going to become tricky. Are current tablets powerful enough to play back 1080p content (in e.g. H.264 in a .mkv container), and is it easy to wire one to a TV?
Your hardest problem will be the network, most tablets will be able to decode it but WiFi seems to be the bottle neck. If you can find a way to use Ethernet with your chosen tablet and pick one with an HDMI out you should be fine
Just double checked, on my asus tf300 i've run a 1080p rip from make mkv from a portable hard drive. It runs great in the archos video player but not so great on the other players i've got installed, the specs of this tablet are tegra 3 with 1gb of ram so with the right hardware you shouldn't have any issues playing local content, which tablet were you thinking of getting?
Thanks for checking that -- it was kind of you. I hadn't got as far as thinking of any particular tablet: I've never had one before and wanted to check about the 1080p playback before I spent money on something that might not work. I got somewhat burned with a Popcorn Hour, which worked fine for a bit and then totally failed to cope with 10-bit colour depth (anime). One of the things I haven't really got my head around is how much of a headache it will be to moving things across from my computer to the tablet before playback -- I guess it will depend on the WiFi bandwidth, and I'll have to check that.
Edit: I've just had a friend tell me that most tablets can't charge and playback video at the same time, and so I'd end up fiddling with cables a lot if I wanted to use the tablet for anything other than playing back video. So I'll probably stick with a PC for playback and a separate tablet for browsing the web... but thank you very much for the advice!
I think you'd be better using the PC for media streaming and the tablet elsewhere, you'd probably be better with a xbmc box of some sort and controlling it with a tablet. The biggest problem you would face is that most tablets need a USB otg cable to run a hard drive, this then means you can't charge using the USB socket as it's in use. The Asus transformers come with a full sized USB port for drives on the keyboard dock and the charging port is elsewhere so they work simultaneously, you would have had to find a tablet like the Sony s where there's full sized USB and a charging port, they do exist but you'd need to do a bit of research before buying
They work fine. When RaspBMC started, the menus were quite slow and it took ages to play video files, but now the latest version is very good indeed.
I havn't used it extensively, just played with it, but it seems very responsive, and will play HD .MKVs without any problem at all. You can also use it as a PVR (either by using a seperate TV Server, or by having a TV USB Tuner plugged into the Pi).
I would try to avoid using Wireless-N, for playing content across the network, but a couple of cheap home-plugs would work a treat (that is what I have got my Pi plugged into and it is fine).
The beauty is, they are so low powered that you can just leave them switched on all the time without feeling guilty or breaking the bank.
The Pi will work with quite a lot of remote controls out of the box too. I have a cheapo Cyberlink remote, and it works with RaspBMC out of the box.
Price wise, you need the Pi £35, power supply £6, memory card £10, remote control £5, Home-Plugs £25, HDMI cable £5. So you are looking at only about £90 all in.
You will also need to pay for an MPEG2 codec so that it plays non H.264 videos, but this will only cost £2.99 from the Raspberry Pi foundation website.
Thank you very much -- that extremely helpful. Plus putting it all together should be fun!
One thing I'm a bit confused about is the 'home plugs'... I hadn't heard of them before, but it looks like they distribute data over the mains? I live in college accommodation... are the home plugs likely to mess with my neighbours?
Depends on the wiring, I know where we live in tied accommodation that the other flats can see my home plugs if I go and use one in their mains sockets. Personally if you can live with an Ethernet cable or you can hide it you can get a really long one for a few quid and it will be faster and more reliable, there is a lot of talk about home plugs in the networking section, you might find out more about them in there before investing in them
With Hone-Plugs you can use as many as you want (ish) on a single network, but they have to be "paired" before they will connect to one another. There is a button on the top of each unit which initiates pairing.
This means that you will not connect to your neighbours network unless they press their pairing button at the exact same time as you press yours (which is unlikely). They are encrypted just like WiFi, so they shouldn't be able to "hack" your network.
If lots of people have them on the same ring main, the it will likely spread the band-width across all devices, but I am not sure by how much since pat of the bandwidth function will depend on the distances between devices and yours will all be pretty close together.
As stated above if you can get a length of CAT5 cable, then it would be the best solution (if not the tidiest).
The test I did for someone on here distance wasn't too important, they worked over a huge distance and the software still read over 150mbps on a set of 200mbps plugs, so unless you live in Buckingham palace I don't you'll have problems with range. I also had trouble with mine when I had 3 in use, it tended to only see one of them at a time so my TV would not see my server if the laptop was on, I've got no issues now I've hardwired everything and only use 2 home plugs between the router and bedroom though