kid friendly media player


Standard Member
Currently have sky+ with a magic eye to eldest's bedroom.

The magic eye means the eldest is in control of the living room tv (via the magic eye) even when watching tv in his room.
This solved a problem at the time it was set up but now needs revisiting

We are looking at keeping sky+ in the living room but removing the magic eye.
Then adding network media players to each tv (5 in total)

Ideally I would like to have the option to play any of the network video/audio but would also like to be able to set up a channel/playlist that could be chosen by any viewer.

The other option is some way in which we can set up our own 'channels' that any of the tv's can be changed to. The only problem here is everyone has got so used to sky+ a pause facility might be needed.

Parental controls of some description would be good but not essential (would set up something seperate for kids/adults if not available)

Also needs to be a low/reasonable cost - I need 5 units so don't want to spend too much.
Not looking at blu-ray quality, mostly going to be used for cartoons etc so not that bothered. HD would be a seperate setup/decision

To be honest I quite like the xbox 360 media centre from the point of view that it is one box, it works and it's cheap, the problem is that it's a games console and I don't want to encourage consoles in the bedrooms.
(doesn't help that it's bigger than I would like and noisy)

Also would like to know how popular/unpopular (even just watched/unwatched) things are. I don't want to convert Tb's of power rangers or peppa pig if no one is watching them.

Any ideas from someone who has done this.

5 cheap easy to use network media players.
Playlists/channels that can be paused.
Parental controls


Distinguished Member
whre are you going to store the tbs of peppa pig? do you already have a nas or are you intending to host them on a pc thats has plenty of space and will be always on?

If all you want to do is stream to small media players then as long as you have a network, most of today's media streamers will play content from a central storage area such as a nas.

What connections do the tvs have - I presume all dont have hdmi so you'll need to choose a unit that has composite out (which can be plugged into a scart converter)

You can get units from the mid £50's. AC Ryan do a mini HD2 which should be fine - they're around £100, WDTV is around £80-90 - just really depends on connections and your network. You may be able to use wifi, wired, or homeplugs
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Standard Member
I don't have a NAS at the moment - at least not a sizable one for films/music etc.
At the moment they would be plugged into a low powered PC (right case to be sourced).
Network not a problem - will be wired CAT6
TV's all have HDMI connections - bar one which will be replaced soon (will not be connected to a player at the moment if neccessary.

I think the biggest issue is the ease of use to be honest - I don't want to present the users with huge amounts of files to choose from initially but I want them to have choice.

I have played with XBMC in the past and if it wasn't for cost and power consumption would possibly put HTPC's on each TV with XBMC (or similar) as the front-end.


Distinguished Member
well if you went for low powered pcs (AMD and Zacate base machines are around 50-100w or less when in use and just a few watts in standby) then they could also be used for homework so it would probably cost less in the long run :). Running XBMC on unix will still give open office and web browsing and reduce the costs but I think Windows 7 would be a better solution for kids

I'm sure system builders like myself would look at some discount for 5 similar machines, though box shifters usally have thier prices as low as they can get.

I think for £100-£150 there are many off the shelf media streamers that can fit the bill. You will need one that presents a menu of thumbnails like xbmc rather than just a list of files, so that probably discounts the lower end units.


Distinguished Member
FWIW I've recently moved from a Tivo to a Windows7 Media Centre recording Freeview (+ photos and MP3s) all centrally stored on one PC and an xbox360 slim as an extender with the MS media remote.
The xbox interface and remote are exactly the same as the PC and are very family friendly.

The set up of the PC wasn't that straightforward but connecting the xbox was a matter of moments and works very well.

If you want to control the use of the games consoles then the buy a number of £10 remotes and control access to the gaming controllers when gaming is allowed.

The xbox slim isn't silent but it's not intrusive when watching TV (in my opinion).

If you browse around on Youtube you'll see the MCE interface.

The only stumbling block is if you want the pay Sky channels rather than the free to air stuff. I believe you can get MCE on W7 to do pay TV but it's not simple.


Distinguished Member
I think you need to approach this as two issues.
Pushing sky around the house.
Providing media streaming.

Sky you already have distributed(?) so lets park that for the moment.
Media streaming to 5 locations coincidentally might tax your storage /network, is that realistically part of your requirements? If so you may need a smarter than average NAS, maybe even a 'real' server.

I would be tempted to go for the lightweight XBMC option as the kids could use the PC as a homework station, tweeting, facebook and all the other stuff tech savvy young uns get up to. You could set up profiles on each one to filter content from your storage, easy peasey and a standard feature of XBMC.
I'm pretty sure if you haggled you could get a truckload of Acer Revo Net tops for about 150-200 each running linux and open office etc. Add about 90 quid to each if the wee ones prefer windows, and another say 40 quid each for office software (you get 3 licenses for about 120). If you opt for a windoze solution, have a look at NevermissTV, which brings all the UK IPTV services into one app.


As for wee streamers you could set up WDTV Live (or similar) in each room, these have a pretty simple GUI and are kid friendly in terms of ease of use, you could easily provide individual USB storage for each one and update/synch them as required. This could give you some parental control on a by-player basis. I'm pretty sure your clan aren't all Peppa Pig fans!
The Gui on a WDTV can be customised into quite a sophisticated thing, but at its most basic will show DVD covers for browsing via a pseudo video wall arrangement. It can be set to respect folder structures, so all the Peppa Pigs are in one folder, Ben10 in another, etc. Of course the streamers can be networked so all of your kids can see Peppa etc if you opt for network storage.

I actually use XBMC on a Revo, a WDTV Live, a DNLA Bluray, and a fistful of squeezeboxes, but my requirements are constantly evolving with varying needs from my family. Each has its uses/advantages and of course they all co-exist happily together so you can mix and match for your situation.

FWIW I push sky around via a Keene S-video dist'n amp as I don't need HD in all my secondary viewing locations (I have HD in my lounge from the same skybox). My one uses single run cat cabling for vid/ stereo /IR repeaters so I can upgrade it when HDMI distn becomes reasonably priced. Its a reasonable compromise between high cost of decent HD dist'n, and low pic/sound quality of co-ax dist'n. At the moment there is not a cost effective way of pushing video over an IP network, but this depends on your definition of cost effective.

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