HTPC / Media Streamer / Media Centre

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by gk141054, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. gk141054

    gk141054
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    Hi folks,

    I am very confused regarding the world of media centres / htpc's / media streamers.... so confused in fact that I don't even know the right name to call them.

    Anyway at the moment I have loads of videos on my HTC one that I want to be able to watch easily on my TV. Obviously my TV has HDMI and perhaps not so obviously a USB which it can play videos through but it isn't a smart tv.

    Since my HTC One only has 32GB then I would like to be able to transfer videos onto the HDD (via my wi-fi network so either plugged into router or into another device) and then play from that or if not then to play directly from my phone onto my TV.

    I have been looking at the Now TV box with Plex on and also the Raspberry Pi with XBMC on but I am not sure if either of these can do what I want them to do. Does anyone on here have a home cinema setup along those lines that can advise.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
  2. cmor

    cmor
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    Hi gk141054,

    I currently have a Pi running XBMC in my setup and can confirm it does what you want.
    I have a USB external 1TB hard drive plugged into the pi that I can access from my Android devices using ES File Explorer (or other file manager apps) and so can transfer files to and from the HDD from my devices (all files, not just restricted to media).
    This also means I can access all the files on the HDD via the Pi to playback on my TV.

    Also the XBMC on the Pi supports DNLA as does Android which means I can stream content from my Android devices to the Pi over the network without needing to touch the HDD.
     
  3. gk141054

    gk141054
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    Sounds great cmor, just what I need I guess.

    I forgot to mention earlier that another option I was looking at was one of those Android sticks but there seem so many around and various reports of lack of hardware acceleration etc etc on certain models.

    Have you found the Pi easy to set up and use? Is it powerful enough to run XBMC? What else can you do with it - web browsing on your tv? Am I right in thinking that the Pi isn't wireless out of the box?

    From what you have said, I am very tempted to go with the Pi but want to be sure its the right option - I can tinker with tech, I have previously rooted and installed custom roms on Android phones, but only ever by following guides / tutorials.

    Thanks for your help on this.
     
  4. cmor

    cmor
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    I have never looked into any of the other options like the Android sticks etc as I have found the Pi satisfies my needs so far - as you say its best to look at all your options and weigh up what suits you best.

    The Pi was super easy to setup. Just a case of downloading an installer for RaspBMC (others are available) which uses a very simple wizard to write to an SD Card. You then just pop the SD Card into the Pi along with a wired network connection and allow it to pull down its installation over the network. Once its installed itself it leaves you in the XBMC player. From then on it boots straight into XBMC on power up. No technical knowledge or tinkering required.

    Performance-wise I have found that navigating through the menus is a little slower on the Pi than on my PC but still perfectly useable. Media playback has never been an issue so far (over a year I have been using it now).

    It does not have wireless out the box however I just bought one of those tiny USB wifi dongles and leave that plugged into the Pi. You do of course need to enter your wifi security details via the XBMC network settings page as with any wifi device but thats it - no other technical setup required to get wifi working.

    Similarly plugging in a USB HDD just works - it shows up under Files in XBMC.

    There are a number of Android apps available in Play that allow remote control of the XBMC player from your Android device - so no need for a keyboard and/or mouse to control it.

    I have not yet looked into getting a browser running on it due to lack of spare time but given RaspBMC is built on a linux base it should be relatively straight-forward to do so with a little tinkering.
    Some of the other options like the Android sticks will likely have a browser available straight off the bat and are probably easier to access in this respect.
     
  5. gk141054

    gk141054
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    Cheers again cmor, my birthday present list has now been created :)

    I was wondering about hdd / wifi dongle / bluetooth dongle for keyboard with the Pi only having two usb but you answered that by suggesting the Android remote control apps - that saves me the cash of buying a keyboard and means one less device around the house too.
     
  6. cmor

    cmor
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    I have set mine up with a mini USB hub so that I can plug in additional drives and means I can power my Pi from one of the ports on the hub instead of requiring an additional power plug.

    Lucky you getting a list for birthday presents :)
     
  7. Jimbo63

    Jimbo63
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    Hi GK
    Any luck with your birthday presents and project.
    Very keen on this sort of thing myself, a few months behind you at the moment.

    My own goal is find something that will stream from my LAN & NAS
    Stream from such media as Netflix etc
    Smart TV applications (maybe internet access also)

    But the big thing is to then stream around the house, synchronised just like SONOS for audio!!

    Here's dreaming. Regards.
     
  8. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    'But the big thing is to then stream around the house, synchronised just like SONOS for audio!!' - have you woken up yet :)

    Joe
     
  9. Jimbo63

    Jimbo63
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    Where to go Joe?
    What do you suggest?
     
  10. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    I don't think any system with multiple Media Streamers will stay 'in sync' - you could have a single Streamer and mirror its Output over HDMI/HDBT to multiple Displays with local Sound systems and assuming you don't have too much going on in terms of video processing at each display keep it 'in sync'.

    Joe
     

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