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Chromebox as an HTPC

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piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,183
60
91
I think the real problem is the networking, not the streaming. Any core 2 duo processor should be able to stream with just the integrated CPU'S IGP. 3rd or 4th gen C2D should do just fine. I am not a fan of getting the lowest rated equipment possible for streaming. Maybe a cheap Pentium or low-end celeron will work and maybe it will not. Feel free to get a bay trail Atom CPU board and try it. Its only money. I prefer an i3 myself. I have on streaming PC with a 2500K and one with a Haswell i3 4430. Both work fine.
 

Sunburn74

Diamond Member
Oct 5, 2009
3,977
1,333
136
Let me update this thread. I ended up buying a low end celeron chromebox. As a pure web streaming device it is totally sufficient for 1080p streaming. Occasionally there is some choppiness but not much. I don't do anything else with it.

My major complaints with the chrome OS for media purposes are:
1) you can't manually sleep your PC, but can only password lock it where it'll auto sleep in a while
2) you can't adjust your sleep/power settings
3) Wifi keyboards and trackpads have basic support in chrome OS, but a lot of function button features do not work

Overall pleased for the price and yes it does stream free hulu without any problem.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
I think the real problem is the networking, not the streaming. Any core 2 duo processor should be able to stream with just the integrated CPU'S IGP. 3rd or 4th gen C2D should do just fine. I am not a fan of getting the lowest rated equipment possible for streaming. Maybe a cheap Pentium or low-end celeron will work and maybe it will not. Feel free to get a bay trail Atom CPU board and try it. Its only money. I prefer an i3 myself. I have on streaming PC with a 2500K and one with a Haswell i3 4430. Both work fine.
I think that is a dangerous statement. There are many dual core CPUs out there that will struggle with true BR quality streaming if they are being forced to run an OS and other tasks at the same time. Any dual-core or better CPU that is less than a couple of years old should be fine but I don't think I'd recommend anything older. I suppose, though, that you're safe with qualifying 3rd or 4th gen. Guess I'm just trying to prevent some heartache when someone whips out their old AMD 4200+ and can't get it to play smoothly.

BTW, C2D didn't have integrated graphics. If you weren't using a card, then you'd be using the IGP on the motherboard.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,183
60
91
Here is an interesting review of an ATOM NUC.

Probably you can get similar result with a bay trail platform in thin mini-itx.

http://www.missingremote.com/review/intel-next-unit-computing-nuc-dn2820fykh-celeronbay-trail-sff-htpc

I sometimes look at what they have at this website. They review a lot of set top box and HTPC hardware.

They do some interesting things on this platform to save money like only a single channel SODIMM Slot and few less USB3 ports and only one HDMI out for video. No MSATA either. It is definitely an attempt to go for the lowest denominator.
 
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smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
Here is an interesting review of an ATOM NUC.

Probably you can get similar result with a bay trail platform in thin mini-itx.

http://www.missingremote.com/review/intel-next-unit-computing-nuc-dn2820fykh-celeronbay-trail-sff-htpc

I sometimes look at what they have at this website. They review a lot of set top box and HTPC hardware.

They do some interesting things on this platform to save money like only a single channel SODIMM Slot and few less USB3 ports and only one HDMI out for video. No MSATA either. It is definitely an attempt to go for the lowest denominator.
Looks interesting, but by the time I add RAM and a FLIRC, I'm pushing $200. Takes me back to the FireTV but that doesn't support VC-1.

Why can't someone just make a WDTV Live with a faster CPU?
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,183
60
91
I have read some articles about HTPC. Most people recommend not using the HTPC for other functions while viewing video. Otherwise you are just kidding yourself about what you are using the device (Computer) for. All I am saying is be realistic. Most video is watched in Full-Screen Mode and it has to come out of full-screen mode to do something like Use Skype.

When it comes to Full Blu-ray video it will make a big difference how the Video and Audio is decoded and weather it is fully HDCP Compliant. How HDMI works is if the output coming from the HTPC device is fully HDCP compliant it passes the audio and video as data through HDMI as data. Then in the case of using a HDTV as an output source, the TV/Sound System decodes the video. However, if the source is not compliant it will be decoded and then encoded as lower quality. Please read the WIKKI on HDMI about this.

As far as Chrome goes I noticed on some chrome laptops they use 720p screens which are yucky when it come to viewing Blu-ray. This has to do with cost of the device and the time the battery will last. No one wants to watch video in 720p. I guess it depends how you watch the video also. i.e. on the Laptop or on a HDTV.

Example:
http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-lenovo-chromebook-consumer-laptops-20140506-story.html

One of my points is when you go to a low-end technology solution there are trade-offs you have to be willing to accept. Otherwise everyone would be using Roku.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Let me update this thread. I ended up buying a low end celeron chromebox. As a pure web streaming device it is totally sufficient for 1080p streaming. Occasionally there is some choppiness but not much. I don't do anything else with it.

My major complaints with the chrome OS for media purposes are:
1) you can't manually sleep your PC, but can only password lock it where it'll auto sleep in a while
2) you can't adjust your sleep/power settings
3) Wifi keyboards and trackpads have basic support in chrome OS, but a lot of function button features do not work

Overall pleased for the price and yes it does stream free hulu without any problem.
Thank you for the update OP! Glad it worked out.
 
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poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Looks interesting, but by the time I add RAM and a FLIRC, I'm pushing $200. Takes me back to the FireTV but that doesn't support VC-1.

Why can't someone just make a WDTV Live with a faster CPU?
Honestly for what you get a NUC is amazing. I promise when you see XBMC at its full glory on a NUC you won't regret one second that your budget doubled.

Hell it was worth it for me in 2010 when I have to put $500 into the box to get it to work perfectly.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Any core 2 duo processor should be able to stream with just the integrated CPU'S IGP. 3rd or 4th gen C2D should do just fine.
No, GPU decode didn't hit Intel until the i-series. A 2.4GHz or greater Core2Duo can decode any non-3D 1080p file you can find just via CPU, but that is not a good way to go (heat alone is a problem).

I am not a fan of getting the lowest rated equipment possible for streaming. Maybe a cheap Pentium or low-end celeron will work and maybe it will not.
I guarantee it will. Any recent Celeron or Pentium has video decode built into the GPU. Some of the better ones can even decode everything in CPU because a modern Celeron is better than a Core 2 Duo.

When it comes to Full Blu-ray video it will make a big difference how the Video and Audio is decoded and weather it is fully HDCP Compliant. How HDMI works is if the output coming from the HTPC device is fully HDCP compliant it passes the audio and video as data through HDMI as data.
The audio is passed through via HDMI bitstreaming (if your receiver can take it), but the video needs to be decoded on the box's side.

Hence the need for a GPU that can decode content. That is easily done though.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
Honestly for what you get a NUC is amazing. I promise when you see XBMC at its full glory on a NUC you won't regret one second that your budget doubled.

Hell it was worth it for me in 2010 when I have to put $500 into the box to get it to work perfectly.
So, just for fun, I loaded up OpenELEC on a Micro SD card and booted it up on my Tower PC. Pulled the FLIRC and remote from my RaspPi and played around for a bit.

It was very smooth and definitely the type of thing I'm looking for.

Here's my issue. My library has been built for use with Mezzmo and/or WDTV Live Hub. That means that each movie is accompanied by a same name .xml and .jpg file:

Gladiator (2000).mp4
Gladiator (2000).jpg
Gladiator (2000).xml

Is there any way to automatically convert the .xml and .jpg file into an .nfo file? The automatic scraper is nice, but over the last 3 or 4 years I've gotten my info and cover art set up exactly how I want it. Sometimes I disagree with IMDB and TMDB.... and sometimes their choices for cover art are just nasty.

A search for .xml to .nfo converter just gives me a bunch of hack software that does anything but.
 

ponyo

Lifer
Feb 14, 2002
17,806
1,588
126
I shouldn't have clicked this thread. OpenELEC and ChromeOS dualboot looks very intriguing. I've never messed with Linux but I'm a huge fan of XBMC and ChromeOS. Asus Chromebox sounds like the best of both worlds. I ordered one to see if maybe I can replace the JB AppleTV2 and Chromecast.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Is there any way to automatically convert the .xml and .jpg file into an .nfo file?
No, no that I know of. You will have to start over, but at least you will build in a system that you won't outgrow and is open in nature. It shouldn't be that bad, and its worth it for the pluggins and skins.

The XML shouldn't be needed, as the scapers work really well now just for nfo. What will suck is the art, but then you just point XBMC to the old images you have for each thing that bugs you. Then once you are done you can backup the xbmc library to a file so you never have to do it again, even with a system failure.

Nowadays all my software generates these files for me as I go, so the initial scrape would be the big one. Just be sure to double check the settings and chose better sources if you want before the scrape as you add each source.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,489
450
126
Is there any way to automatically convert the .xml and .jpg file into an .nfo file? The automatic scraper is nice, but over the last 3 or 4 years I've gotten my info and cover art set up exactly how I want it. Sometimes I disagree with IMDB and TMDB.... and sometimes their choices for cover art are just nasty.

A search for .xml to .nfo converter just gives me a bunch of hack software that does anything but.
I'm not too sure if something is available to convert like that. However, before I switched to PLEX, I used Media Center Master for my XBMC metadata. By default it does not generate XBMC metadata, but there's an option to enable it (and also one for WD TV Live metadata).
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
I'm not too sure if something is available to convert like that. However, before I switched to PLEX, I used Media Center Master for my XBMC metadata. By default it does not generate XBMC metadata, but there's an option to enable it (and also one for WD TV Live metadata).
Tried playing with Media Center Master last night.

What a horribly put together piece of software. I couldn't figure out what it wanted me to do. Messed with it for an hour or two until it messed up a couple of my test folders and just uninstalled it.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
No, no that I know of. You will have to start over, but at least you will build in a system that you won't outgrow and is open in nature. It shouldn't be that bad, and its worth it for the pluggins and skins.

The XML shouldn't be needed, as the scapers work really well now just for nfo. What will suck is the art, but then you just point XBMC to the old images you have for each thing that bugs you. Then once you are done you can backup the xbmc library to a file so you never have to do it again, even with a system failure.

Nowadays all my software generates these files for me as I go, so the initial scrape would be the big one. Just be sure to double check the settings and chose better sources if you want before the scrape as you add each source.
I'll probably just use it with my Media Server software if I can't find something. The idea of going through 1000s of video files to make sure the Genres are set the way I like is not very appealing.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
I'll probably just use it with my Media Server software if I can't find something. The idea of going through 1000s of video files to make sure the Genres are set the way I like is not very appealing.
Try a big scrape and see how bad/good it does!!
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
Try a big scrape and see how bad/good it does!!
Oh, you can bet I will. I'm playing with this for awhile. I like the XBMC interface and want to unify the house with the it. I am getting some choppiness on a couple of 1080p BR rips with the RapsPi and the smoothness of the x86 interface is just crisp.

I just had a few custom Genres like "Superhero" that the sites don't recognize much. I'm OK with the folder art thing, I think. It'll be a little more work with the TV series since it tends to do one image for all seasons instead of broken down by the different season's folder art but I can cope with that.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Oh, you can bet I will. I'm playing with this for awhile. I like the XBMC interface and want to unify the house with the it.
If you want to unify your house go the MySQL route. That is what runs my XBMC library and keeps all my clients on the same library.

I am getting some choppiness on a couple of 1080p BR rips with the RapsPi and the smoothness of the x86 interface is just crisp.
Nothing like Aeon at 60fps.

It'll be a little more work with the TV series since it tends to do one image for all seasons instead of broken down by the different season's folder art but I can cope with that.
It will have one picture if there is only one season, but in XBMC each season can have its own art. Whether you can see it depends on the view.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
Unfortunately, my knowledge of MySQL ends at spelling the name correctly.
Also, what am I missing here?

I am trying to tweak the .nfo files so that I can customize the genres where I think the scraper didn't get it 100% correct.

I can export the library so I get an .nfo file for each movie. I edit the .nfo with Notepad. Now, how do I get the modified info back into XBMC? If I try <Import Library> it doesn't even recognize the existence of the .nfo or an .xml file and I can't find the stinking XBMC library info to Copy/Past.

I think a little less XBCM develpoment time should have been spent on skinning and add-ons and a little more time on simple editing capabilities for your library. How in the world should this process not be updated with something other than <Update Library> or <Import>?
 
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poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Unfortunately, my knowledge of MySQL ends at spelling the name correctly.
That is where I was when they brought in that feature. Honestly to get it set up it is VERY easy:

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=MySQL

The only hard part is tweaking the config file to take a large library, but if you get that far I will just give you mine- unless your is even larger than what I have (1700 movies, 400 tv shows) it will run perfectly.

I am trying to tweak the .nfo files so that I can customize the genres where I think the scraper didn't get it 100% correct.

I can export the library so I get an .nfo file for each movie. I edit the .nfo with Notepad. Now, how do I get the modified info back into XBMC? If I try <Import Library> it doesn't even recognize the existence of the .nfo or an .xml file and I can't find the stinking XBMC library info to Copy/Past.

I think a little less XBMC development time should have been spent on skinning and add-ons and a little more time on simple editing capabilities for your library.
You put the file in the correct place (usually in the same folder as the media, seasons and show nfos in show parent folder) and when it scrapes that folder to build the library it will use the nfo file you created.

The reason why XBMC itself lacks this capability is that other projects exist just to manage your library. The main one I see used is Ember Media Manager.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
That is where I was when they brought in that feature. Honestly to get it set up it is VERY easy:

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=MySQL

The only hard part is tweaking the config file to take a large library, but if you get that far I will just give you mine- unless your is even larger than what I have (1700 movies, 400 tv shows) it will run perfectly.



You put the file in the correct place (usually in the same folder as the media, seasons and show nfos in show parent folder) and when it scrapes that folder to build the library it will use the nfo file you created.

The reason why XBMC itself lacks this capability is that other projects exist just to manage your library. The main one I see used is Ember Media Manager.
So, does the library always default to the new .nfo file that is in the folder with the main movie? My problem is that I started without any .nfo file. Now that I have exported and gotten all of these individual files, I can't figure out how to get XBMC to take the update after they have been edited. Every time I hit <update library> it just goes back to the Internet scraping engine..... wait a minute..... I think I may have had an epiphany. I need to go I. and manage my add-on, don't I?

As far as MySQL, it sounds like our libraries are fairly similar in size. I don't think my server should have much trouble with a larger database and if I do, I may just add some more memory. I'll get back to you on that once I get comfy with my XBMC library.

In the meantime, I have some serious cleaning up to do from the scrapers... LOL, Austin Powers is NOT Science Fiction.
 
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Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,489
450
126
Unfortunately, my knowledge of MySQL ends at spelling the name correctly.
It really isn't hard to setup correctly. All you really do is install MySQL, export your existing library, manually setup your configuration file to point to the MySQL server, then import your library. There is one important detail to keep in mind when you do this! Your library must be setup so every machine will access the media at the same path. So, it tends to work best if you create your media libraries in XBMC via SMB (Samba) share (e.g. \\server\movies\Ghostbusters\ghostbusters.mkv) The location to the file is stored within the library, so you don't want different paths or you will end up with multiple entries. Trust me on this... I accidentally did it once, and it can be a pain to fix!

Fortunately, I went all out and installed Apache and PHPMyAdmin along with MySQL, so it was actually pretty easy to remove the entries. :p

Tried playing with Media Center Master last night.

What a horribly put together piece of software. I couldn't figure out what it wanted me to do. Messed with it for an hour or two until it messed up a couple of my test folders and just uninstalled it.
It's been awhile, but I don't recall having any issues setting it up. All you have to do is add the media locations to the sources and it will scan them looking for the different items.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
It really isn't hard to setup correctly. All you really do is install MySQL, export your existing library, manually setup your configuration file to point to the MySQL server, then import your library. There is one important detail to keep in mind when you do this! Your library must be setup so every machine will access the media at the same path. So, it tends to work best if you create your media libraries in XBMC via SMB (Samba) share (e.g. \\server\movies\Ghostbusters\ghostbusters.mkv) The location to the file is stored within the library, so you don't want different paths or you will end up with multiple entries. Trust me on this... I accidentally did it once, and it can be a pain to fix!

Fortunately, I went all out and installed Apache and PHPMyAdmin along with MySQL, so it was actually pretty easy to remove the entries. :p



It's been awhile, but I don't recall having any issues setting it up. All you have to do is add the media locations to the sources and it will scan them looking for the different items.
Shouldn't be too bad, then. I'm keeping everything on the server and after he the initial setup on a workstation PC, I exported the library as .nfo files. Will it matter that I did individual files instead of 1 contiguous or can I just re-export that way later?
 

ponyo

Lifer
Feb 14, 2002
17,806
1,588
126
I received the Asus Chromebox and hacked it last night to dualboot ChromeOS and OpenELEC. I am very impressed with the Chromebox. It feels just as fast as my i5 desktop. I installed the Plex app on the ChromeOS. It worked fine and felt no different than Chromecast Plex app. OpenELEC was awesome. It played everything without breaking a sweat. Videos that my JB AppleTV would struggle with and wouldn't play properly, the Chromebox played with no problem. I upgraded the ram to 4gb because I read OpenELEC had CPU idling issue with the default 2gb.

This is what GoogleTV should've been. Highly recommended.
 

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