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View Full Version : Best Media Server?


spainlinx0
12-17-11, 03:35 PM
I'm looking for something that will allow me to play/stream any file format to my HDTV from either my laptop or an external hard drive, and also give me true 5.1 sound if the file is encoded that way. I was looking at the Logitech Revue, but I was unsure if this was the best option, and in my cursory look was unsure about the sound decoding. That's very important to me.

I am not looking to buy or build an HTPC for this purpose. I want something I can spend $100-$200 on, and it will be ready to go.

What's my best bet?

Nifty03
12-17-11, 04:38 PM
WD TV Live (http://wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=330)

4KRG
12-17-11, 09:39 PM
I am not sure much out there really compares 1 for 1 to the logitech revue

Do you want/need google tv? If yes, then get this device.

If no, then there are many you can look at, go feature by feature and see what is going to meet your specific needs the best.

The WD live as mentioned above is one
Asus O'play is another
Popcorn hour is another (this is a little higher end, more focused on picture quality)
Sony n200
netgear neo tv
encore x211
Diamond HD media
the higher model Roku
Iomega screen play
Patriot box office

probably a dozen other lesser knowns ;)

I have yet to find a spreadsheet/chart/review that really compares all the features/details in depth.

JNielsen
12-17-11, 10:55 PM
Boxee Box all the way. Saw them for $100 somewhere the other day

Shazam
12-17-11, 11:04 PM
Boxee box if you can deal with the ridiculous form factor.

RichC2
12-18-11, 02:16 AM
I'm looking for something that will allow me to play/stream any file format to my HDTV from either my laptop or an external hard drive, and also give me true 5.1 sound if the file is encoded that way. I was looking at the Logitech Revue, but I was unsure if this was the best option, and in my cursory look was unsure about the sound decoding. That's very important to me.

I am not looking to buy or build an HTPC for this purpose. I want something I can spend $100-$200 on, and it will be ready to go.

What's my best bet?

I bought a Uebo M400 last when they were (are? Says through 12/17 which ended 2 hours ago) on sale for $114 (jr.com). It's Gigabit wired, Wireless N, USB3.0 (x1) and 2.0 (x2), and has room in it for an internal 2tb 3.5" hdd. It's also DLNA compatible.

It also supports TrueHD/DTS-MA through 7.1 which seems to be missing on a lot of the media players (most tend to do the 5.1 core only). It doesn't have Netflix or any other streaming service, but if it's your own content, it works very well so far.

http://www.jr.com/uebo/pe/UEB_M400/

If you just need 5.1, the WDTV Live should do just fine.

twikoff
12-18-11, 09:33 AM
i wouldnt trade my jailbroken atv2 with xbmc loaded (and tons of great plugins)

spainlinx0
12-18-11, 12:17 PM
Perhaps these are newbish questions, but let's say I don't have a main PC, just my laptop. How do I get external drives hooked up to a network where they can be read by whichever option I choose here?

I don't think I really need Google TV, but my friend had the Logitech, and I thought it had some cool features.

However, my main priority is being able to decode basically any file format, at a high picture quality, and decode whatever sound options are encoded in the file.

Netflix is not a requirement, but it would be a nice bonus since my Xbox doesn't play the 5.1 files from Netflix which has been annoying for me. However my TV has Netflix built in. I just need to pick up an optical cable to run to my receiver. However if the box has Netflix built in, that's one less thing to worry about.

Which of these options do people anticipate being the most supported, either by the manufacturer, or by their community?

A lot of these look like they could take care of my needs so I guess it's just a matter of picking one as none of them seem too pricey.

RichC2
12-18-11, 12:29 PM
Perhaps these are newbish questions, but let's say I don't have a main PC, just my laptop. How do I get external drives hooked up to a network where they can be read by whichever option I choose here?

I don't think I really need Google TV, but my friend had the Logitech, and I thought it had some cool features.

However, my main priority is being able to decode basically any file format, at a high picture quality, and decode whatever sound options are encoded in the file.

Netflix is not a requirement, but it would be a nice bonus since my Xbox doesn't play the 5.1 files from Netflix which has been annoying for me. However my TV has Netflix built in. I just need to pick up an optical cable to run to my receiver. However if the box has Netflix built in, that's one less thing to worry about.

Which of these options do people anticipate being the most supported, either by the manufacturer, or by their community?

A lot of these look like they could take care of my needs so I guess it's just a matter of picking one as none of them seem too pricey.

Basically anything that supports DLNA should be able to do that, my WDTV Live (old version) does it with the WDLXTV Firmware (community) but I'm not sure if it does it by default.

kefrank
12-19-11, 10:35 AM
In my opinion, your best bet is a device connected to the TV that does DLNA (there are tons of options) and good media server software on your existing laptop (my recommendation would be PS3 Media Server if you want to go the free route - you don't actually need a PS3 to use it). This generally will give you maximum file format flexibility, because the media server software can transcode to whatever format the DLNA client can play.

I use my PS3 as the DLNA client, but there are many other Blu-ray players and streaming set-top boxes that support DLNA. You may even have one already.

DaveNinja
12-19-11, 12:51 PM
The Boxee Box will allow you to hook usb external drives to it (currently have to be 2tb or less). You can then move the files from your laptop to the external drives or just stream from your laptop.

i have a roku, jailbroken AppleTV 2 with xbmc, and a Boxee Box and so far the Boxee Box has been the best. Its played formats that xbmc on the ATV2 couldnt and it outputs at 1080p whereas the ATV2 only does 720p. I mainly just use it for local content and netflix but i've also used it for youtube and have used its built in web browser to stream video from websites (blizzcon).
I think people have trouble with the boxee box since it screws up True HD audio or something like that. I'm still back on 5.1 so i'm not trying to play 45gig Bluray rips through it (though it worked fine with a 25 gig 1080p blueray rip; i guess it wasnt TrueHD audio)

spainlinx0
12-19-11, 01:57 PM
The two I'm leaning towards are the Boxee Box or the Uebo M400. I don't know if I would play anything with True HD audio, but that does give me pause.

Shazam
12-19-11, 03:11 PM
The Boxee Box software is free. Download it, install it on your computer and try it out.

twikoff
12-19-11, 06:24 PM
can you run xbmc and plugins on boxee?
there are some plugins i cant live without.. which is my main reason for sticking with my atv2 jailbroken

Shazam
12-19-11, 06:54 PM
Uh, what?

twikoff
12-19-11, 09:34 PM
Ill take that as a no :P

Shazam
12-20-11, 12:20 AM
The boxee box is just a turnkey solution. It's just a Linux box with the boxee box software.

DaveNinja
12-20-11, 12:41 PM
can you run xbmc and plugins on boxee?
there are some plugins i cant live without.. which is my main reason for sticking with my atv2 jailbroken

there are pluging for the boxee box. I cant remember any from ATV that arent on boxee. ATV had icefilms but boxee has Navi-x, neither which i use but they seem like the same thing to me.

boxee box is on sale at amazon today, like $170 and you get a $30 amazon card with it

spainlinx0
12-20-11, 01:38 PM
After reading more reviews I'm still suck. I was leaning towards the Boxee, but it uses an RF remote. That means I won't be able to use my Harmony with it. I was hoping to avoid the multiple remote problem. However Uebo seems to have interface issues. I love shopping for electronics, but I really hate pulling the plug.

spainlinx0
12-20-11, 01:43 PM
I am now leaning towards the WD TV.

RichC2
12-20-11, 02:02 PM
I like my WDTV Live Plus better than my Uebo M400, though the M400 is definitely more capable (got it for the 7.1). The WDTV will also allow Samba-style access to whatever Hard Drive is plugged into it (ie: \\WDTVLIVE\USB\Movies from your laptop), essentially turning it into a NAS as well.

The big deciding factor is if you'll be watching your own content or streaming web content (Netflix, MLB.TV, etc; )

For maximum benefit, I'd recommend the older WDTV Live / Live Plus, the new version (with the new interface and Spotify) apparently has a locked down firmware so modified flash updates are unlikely.

spainlinx0
12-20-11, 02:14 PM
I was thinking of picking up the Hub version of it.

Does it allow 5.1 streaming through Netflix? I ask because I can't through my 360.

I would use it for most likely an equal mix of my own content and Netflix.

Nifty03
12-20-11, 04:44 PM
I'm pretty happy with the WD TV Live Hub, though I don't know about the 5.1 not being quite upgraded to the 21st century yet. Plays both hard drive and Netflix content very well.

DaveNinja
12-21-11, 12:40 PM
After reading more reviews I'm still suck. I was leaning towards the Boxee, but it uses an RF remote. That means I won't be able to use my Harmony with it. I was hoping to avoid the multiple remote problem. However Uebo seems to have interface issues. I love shopping for electronics, but I really hate pulling the plug.

i use a harmony remote with the boxee box. there is a cheap pc remote you can get on amazon for like 7 bucks that comes with a little USB-IR sensor. you then set the harmony to HP pc or something and it works. it was really easy. the directions and link are on the boxee box forums. search for "harmony remote"

twikoff
12-21-11, 01:49 PM
there are pluging for the boxee box. I cant remember any from ATV that arent on boxee. ATV had icefilms but boxee has Navi-x, neither which i use but they seem like the same thing to me.

boxee box is on sale at amazon today, like $170 and you get a $30 amazon card with it

ive used both icefilms and navi-x (neither of which can really be discussed here)
but navi-x is completely useless compared to icefilms.. its menus are way too much of a headache...
icefilms is the greatest thing since sliced bread

kahuna
12-21-11, 07:10 PM
I started off with the 1st gen WD TV media player and then now have the 2nd gen WD TV Live model. I been very happy with it. It plays all my Korean drama and Korean MV's, Concert's, etc. I have no problems playing them in ts, mkv, avi, mp4, iso, etc. Plus it plays all the Korean dramas and movies with english subs with out problems. I am thinking about moving up to the newer streaming model though.

Last week (11/13/11) Amazon.com for brief time had the WD TV Live Plus model for $60. But that did not last long. I did find on their Warehousedeals site. That had about 4-5 units in "Like New" condition for $57. But those only lasted for about 24 hours.

spainlinx0
12-24-11, 03:35 PM
In case anyone cares I am going to get the WDTV Hub, but I'm just hoping for some kind of deal. I'm seeing if I can get it for $150, but Amazon has it for $180 right now.

zuffy
12-24-11, 06:50 PM
I have the WD TV Live Plus, Patriot PBO, and Briteview Cinematube. I will never buy a Briteview product again. Support is lacking. Like the Patriot PBO that you can install an internal 2.5" HDD. Slow as hell to power on / off. Overall, I like the WD the best. The interface is better and picture quality seem better. Thinking of getting the new WD TV Live or the WD TV Live Hub.

Seem like I have too many media players but I don't. Only 1 in my house and 2 in in-laws' house. Easy for the in-laws to show the kids kid videos.

JZ1276
12-27-11, 05:49 PM
I have the WD TV Live Plus, Patriot PBO, and Briteview Cinematube. I will never buy a Briteview product again. Support is lacking. Like the Patriot PBO that you can install an internal 2.5" HDD. Slow as hell to power on / off. Overall, I like the WD the best. The interface is better and picture quality seem better. Thinking of getting the new WD TV Live or the WD TV Live Hub.

Seem like I have too many media players but I don't. Only 1 in my house and 2 in in-laws' house. Easy for the in-laws to show the kids kid videos.

Zotac Zbox with XBMC

zuffy
12-28-11, 12:24 AM
Zotac Zbox with XBMC

Dumb question but isn't that just a PC? Do XBMC support Windows Media Center remote or other form of remote control? I am skipping the HTPC route because I need something as simple as possible without headaches having to deal with an OS. I am tech savy but family members are not. I just want an appliance that will work.

JZ1276
12-28-11, 12:33 AM
Dumb question but isn't that just a PC? Do XBMC support Windows Media Center remote or other form of remote control? I am skipping the HTPC route because I need something as simple as possible without headaches having to deal with an OS. I am tech savy but family members are not. I just want an appliance that will work.

Yes it's a PC. However, the only operating system I have in it is XBMC Live (it has its own OS built in). I am using a Rosewell remote for it and it works perfectly. I tried the WDTV and it is a good little machine, but the UI sucked. Nothing beats XBMC...not even close.

zuffy
12-28-11, 10:29 PM
Interesting. How long does it take to boot? Will XBMC work in any PC?

JZ1276
12-28-11, 11:12 PM
Interesting. How long does it take to boot? Will XBMC work in any PC?
Takes about 25 secs to boot. I'm not sure about any PC though, might not run on older PCs. Check XBMCs website.

spainlinx0
01-10-12, 01:43 AM
Got my WDTV Hub,and I was loving it. Loaded up some HD shows, and they played flawlessly.

Loaded up some random pictures. Nothing high-res or special, other than some animated gifs. The first set of pics loaded great, but when I go to the second screen, every time this thing either locks up or freezes. I have no idea why this might be. I'm about to delete all the animated gifs and see if that was the issue, but if not I may be returning this thing if it's having issues already.

Also it seems to have random connection issues to my network. It will play fine any internet content, but when I try to access the drive from my laptop, it will just randomly not work. I'm a little annoyed that this thing is being so finicky already.

spainlinx0
01-10-12, 02:04 AM
Looks like some of the animated gifs were causing the issue. Deleted them, and the menu loaded up fine. Kind of disappointing though.

broadwayblue
03-02-12, 04:58 PM
After having all sorts of trouble getting media extender on my 360 to work I've decided to get a dedicated streaming device. I'm mainly interested in streaming MKV and other video files from my PC and/or Drobo to my projector in the living room (through my AV Receiver.) I have a wired connection running between the two rooms so wifi is not a requirement. I see a lot of mixed reviews on the WD TV Live (and Live Plus). While the devices seem to play just about anything you can throw at them, I also see a lot of complaints about overall sluggish performance and buggy playback. Is there something newer out that might be a bit more zippy and glitch free? Thanks.

TheBigDave
03-02-12, 07:03 PM
I'm looking for something that can stream from my PC hard drive, plays MKV, handles 1080p and properly displays soft subtitles.

Lately I've been using AppleTV 2, which handles the streaming very well with iTunes. But I have to convert the files to MP4 720p and burned-in subs. Handbrake makes that pretty easy. However, I'd rather watch the original files.

WDTV Live gets frequently recommended, and it's the cheapest option. But based on what I've read and seen on Youtube (http://youtu.be/2qKpdCbC470), it converts the soft subtitles to a default font and relocates them to the bottom of the screen.

I was looking at the Popcorn Hour A-300 (http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/index.php?pluginoption=catalog&mainItemId=45) which seems to get great reviews. But it seems to be a bit buggy and targeted more towards the homebrew market. I'm looking for something that's working right out of the box. Also, once you add a hard drive you're probably in the $350+ range.

So now I'm considering the Boxee. I've read a couple reviews and it sounds good. Has anyone tried streaming anime MKVs with soft subs? If so, how well does it work?

Mordred
03-05-12, 08:19 PM
Full disclosure, I've never used a Boxee, but I've been using XBMC (Boxee uses a slightly modified xbmc) for a couple years now and it handles MKVs with soft flawlessly. Couldn't give you a definitive answer, but I'd be shocked if it didn't work perfectly out of the box(ee).

JZ1276
03-05-12, 11:59 PM
Think I already said this but Zotac Zbox mini PC with XBMC Live.

DaveNinja
03-06-12, 01:01 PM
New AppleTV is due out tomorrow, probably will be 1080p.

I use the Boxee Box and it streams 1080p mkvs without a problem. I dont know anything about softsubs, though. I assume its something that will work. you could always buy a boxee box from amazon and return it if it doesnt work out for you.

but wait until after tomorrows AppleTV announcement

TheBigDave
03-06-12, 05:48 PM
I got the Boxee earlier today. So far, I haven't had any problems streaming 1080p MKV with Soft Subs.

I was thinking about waiting for the AppleTV 3 announcement tomorrow. But I'm not expecting much of an upgrade from them. It'll probably get 1080p and a little more power. Based on everything I've read, they haven't shown any interested in providing support for MKV. Hopefully I'm wrong and they'll put out an awesome box. If so, I'll buy it. Otherwise, I'll hang on to my AppleTV 2.

broadwayblue
03-07-12, 10:48 AM
Got the Pivos AIOS (http://www.amazon.com/Media-Center-Gigabit-Network-Reader/dp/B005M1QP7O/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) coming today. Gonna give that a shot. After $20 MIR it's reasonably priced and appears to play pretty much everything thrown at it. More importantly, the newest firmware seems to resolve most of the biggest issues people had with it. Doesn't stream online content, but I don't really care about that considering pretty much all current gaming consoles, BD players, and TVs can handle that. Really just looking for something to stream my MKV and BD ISO files from my NAS. Hopefully this will do the trick.

DaveNinja
03-07-12, 12:39 PM
I got the Boxee earlier today. So far, I haven't had any problems streaming 1080p MKV with Soft Subs.

I was thinking about waiting for the AppleTV 3 announcement tomorrow. But I'm not expecting much of an upgrade from them. It'll probably get 1080p and a little more power. Based on everything I've read, they haven't shown any interested in providing support for MKV. Hopefully I'm wrong and they'll put out an awesome box. If so, I'll buy it. Otherwise, I'll hang on to my AppleTV 2.

yeah, i doubt there will be any way soon for the ATV to play mkv files without having to do some hacking

TheBigDave
03-07-12, 06:13 PM
I was thinking about waiting for the AppleTV 3 announcement tomorrow. But I'm not expecting much of an upgrade from them. It'll probably get 1080p and a little more power.

Looks like I was right. Too bad. I really like the AppleTV. But it's so limited.

I wish someone would combine Roku's channel selection with Boxee's ability to play any local files and the AppleTV's clean interface and Airplay feature.

DaveNinja
03-08-12, 01:08 PM
boxee is supposed to do AirPlay but i havent figure out how yet. Other people have it working