Media Centre options?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Chic0, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. Chic0 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    I am looking for a media centre. The main use will be to stream movies from my laptop or NAS for playing on my tv

    I currently use my PS3 for this, but the UI for selecting movies isn't great. Also the PS3 is not able to play MKV files, so this is a bit of an issue for me.

    I was looking at maybe getting the Boxee, but it doesnt get great reviews. It's also bit pricey too. I have been looking at the WD Live. They seem reasonable.

    I also looked for the Roku, but this doesnt seem to be available in UK

    Are there any other options?

    thanks
     
  2. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #2
    I used an Asus O! Play for months to play movies stored on my NAS and it played everything I threw at it. It never skipped a beat.

    I have since switched to using a nettop running XBMC but the only reason why I did it was for the eye candy that the movie artwork afforded. If you don't need the eye candy, the O! Play works great and can easily be found for under $100.
     
  3. reebzor macrumors 6502a

    reebzor

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #3
    Mac Mini + Plex

    There is no other option as far as I'm concerned
     
  4. UrbanerMezei macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    #4
    I am currently running a PC with Windows 7 to store the media and a xbox 360 to play it on my TV.

    Alternatively you could use Apple TV which just does the streaming. It also has netflix... might be worth the 100 buck price tag.
     
  5. brendu macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #5
    you could get the :apple:TV and jailbreak it, then you can stream pretty much anything from your computer
     
  6. Chic0 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    That Asus Play look interesting. Will have a look into it.

    Yes one of my mates recommended XBMC. I've downlaoded it onto my mac and I do like it. The thing is though i don't want to have to leave laptop on just to watch movies. Would be handy though when watching films in bedroom though :)

    Yeah, but don't really want to spend that kind of money. Only recently paid out £300 for my NAS solution

    Yeah contemplated an Apple tv, but it's kinda useless to me without a jailbreak. Out the box it won't play DIVX/MKV files or connect to NAS drive.
    Would seriously consider one if jailbreak made these two features available.
     
  7. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #7
    If you like XBMC, it's possible to install it on a nettop computer. Choose a nettop with the correct components and it can handle just about anything all the way up to 1080p movies. It costs more than the O! Play and requires a bit of work to install XBMC but the end result is a much more refined media player with the ability to do many other things via add-ons.

    I picked up a nettop with nVidai ION graphics for under $200 and tossed in some RAM and a hard drive I had laying around. It took me about a week of tweaking and experimenting to get it just the way I like it but I love the setup now.
     
  8. darkplanets macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    #8
    Just curious what did you end up using hardware wise specifically?
     
  9. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #9
    I got a Zotac HD-ND01. The only reason why I ended up with this one was because it was on sale. I also looked at the Acer Aspire Revo R3610 but never managed to find a good price for it.

    The Zotac I got is pretty nice, however, when laying flat (as opposed to standing vertically), the fan can get a bit noisy because it draws air in from the bottom and the heatsink is oriented upside down. Since I like it laying flat, I just flipped the whole thing upside down and the fan has an easier time of pulling air in and the heatsink is on top of the CPU and GPU so it works more efficiently (heat rises). I've had it this way for several months now and I leave it on 24/7 and never hear the fan.
     
  10. NorCalLights macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    #10
    I gotta say...

    Mac Mini + Plex (or Boxee software) is really the best way to go.

    You can pick up a used Mini (I use a 1st generation Core Duo (not C2D) machine I got on Apple's Refurb page 2 years ago... check eBay or similar now) that will handle 1080p for cheap, and it will be super flexible.

    You can use the Apple IR remote to control Boxee, and you still have access to Frontrow if you need to stream something that is DRM from iTunes.

    There are also a million PC HTPC options for cheap also... and Boxee will run great on those too. It's the same interface.
     
  11. Nachos macrumors member

    Nachos

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Location:
    Lynge, Denmark
    #11
    We have 3 WD TV Live boxes at my house each with a external HDD. They work perfectly! It's easy to connect with the Nas server, to other WD TV Live boxes and to any computer on the network. They are super small, simple and work every time.

    My advice: WD TV Live!
     
  12. VoR macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 8, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    I think xbmc is far and away the best htpc software about - I'd run it on either an ion based nettop or a recycled pc (with a cheap nvidia graphics card)
     
  13. leowyatt macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2010
    Location:
    Merseyside
    #13
    We have a C2D mini running Plex and it's brilliant! Will never use anything else. We're even using our harmony remote to control Plex.
     
  14. NWL&P macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2010
    Location:
    Belgium
    #14
    hi u all,

    i was also thinking about buying a new mac mini to use as media center and at the same time to serve as home server.

    On the other hand, I could better use my macbook pro 15" (2007) for this and buy myself a new macbook pro for professional usages...

    Any one any experiences?

    I installed PLEX on my macbook pro and it looks great...

    The only problem I have right now is that I can not connect my macbook pro to my new philips LCD TV via VGA, just bought me a DVI-HDMI cable and i'm going to try this one.

    Any suggestions here?


    So basically my 'doubting' is:

    a. buy a mac mini as server/media center and upgrade my old macbook pro
    b. buy a new macbook pro (13" is more easier as I travel a lot) and use my old macbook pro as media center...


    Shoot me your suggestions and tips to use either of both mac's as media center...

    thanks,

    p
     
  15. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #15
    I've heard great things about Plex and considered using it for my HTPC but my Mac mini is currently on the other side of the room connected to two Drobos and my TV stand didn't have room for all that equipment. I needed another machine.

    When it came time to purchase another machine, I weighed my options. Nettop for around $150-$170, Mac mini 2,1 for around $400, or one of the newer Mac minis for even more money. I ended up choosing the Nettop. The value was tough to argue against. Plus, I liked that it had HDMI. Using an old Mac mini would've meant having to use DVI or VGA with a separate audio cable. I want as little clutter around TV stand as possible, it's bad enough as it is. Additionally, I believe a nettop sips less electricity than a Mac mini.

    I love the Apple Remote and even jury rigged my Mac Pro so that I can use one with it. However, I don't think it has enough buttons for use with my HTPC. I regularly press the "Info" button to get a synopsis of movies, I often press the audio button to switch between languages and subtitles, etc.
     
  16. Chic0 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    thanks for the replies guys.

    The mac mini is certainly an option too. I didn't think about getting one of the older models.

    Also keep seeing things about these HTPC boxes. I had no idea what they were, but just had a search on google. I do like the look of these, especially as they look more like a regular AV box, so it won't look out of place on the stand with the rest of my AV equipment.

    Can anyone recommend a good HTPC? I am only looking to spend up to about £150 if possible.

    Also what OS do these HTPC run? Will I also be able to install xbmc or plex on one of these?
     
  17. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #17
    Those HTPC boxes are just PCs in enclosures that match well to AV equipment. Since it has PC internals, you can install XBMC if you wish. Plex is currently only available for Mac OS X.
     
  18. BigDukeSix macrumors 6502a

    BigDukeSix

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Location:
    34.6700N 118.1590W
    #18
    I am experimenting with PLEX and XBMC on my MacBook, so when I get my mini for HTPC I know how it works.
    Both have issues. PLEX won't play certain video due to a known Flash 10.1 issue, and I cannot figure out how to get HULU and some other websites (CBS) to load as plugins on XBMC.

    I understand I need to go back down to Flash 10.0xxx for the PLEX, but I really don't want to do that.

    I have googled the crap out of how to add plug ins to XBMC and can not find a simple answer.

    Any help with the XBMC issue would be appreciated.
     

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