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HTPC Set-up

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
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Hey everyone,

I'm new to these forums, with respect to asking/giving input; however, I've certainly utilized a lot of information provided in them. I've actually just built my first htpc (Silverstone ML06 and AMD A6-7400k with a mini gigabyte mobo-wifi was nice) and I'm wondering how you guys watch Netflix/HBO/Amazon Prime through your HTPC? I know how most people don't consider it a HTPC unless you have a tuner card, but the lady is already questioning my building it so I want to wait before spending more money. I was looking to substitute the PS4/Smart tv, which both provide 5.1, for the PC. I figured it would make it easier for her when I'm not around haha. Anyways, any ideas on how to get those in 5.1?

Many thanks!
 

Binky

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
4,046
4
81
An amazon Fire TV/stick should be able to do this pretty easily.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,210
38
91
I have my HTPC running Windows Media Center (and Media Browser to handle my stored movies,) they have a snap-in for Netflix.

My daughter has Amazon Prime, still haven't found a very good solution for it besides running it off the TV, or using a remote desktop to drill into Amazon, start the movie, and then go back in to watch it.
 

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
30
0
6
Yeah I was looking at Chromecast/Fire stick but I eventually decided to build the PC to eventually get OTA signals (recorded) and to try SlingTv. Ok, I'll get the Netflix app. Yeah I think we've kind of decided to just let the stupid smart tv do the Amazon/HBO Go work. I don't understand why they never released apps for them for desktops....are HTPC's really dying out?
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,210
38
91
Yeah I was looking at Chromecast/Fire stick but I eventually decided to build the PC to eventually get OTA signals (recorded) and to try SlingTv. Ok, I'll get the Netflix app. Yeah I think we've kind of decided to just let the stupid smart tv do the Amazon/HBO Go work. I don't understand why they never released apps for them for desktops....are HTPC's really dying out?
Even Hulu killed off their PC app... With more and more 'smart' TVs on the market and PnP hardware, the HTPC is pretty much ancient history. o_O:'(
 

Ketchup

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
14,485
216
106
Even Hulu killed off their PC app... With more and more 'smart' TVs on the market and PnP hardware, the HTPC is pretty much ancient history. o_O:'(
That's interesting. I just use a PC as a media server (and file server), as we can get Netflix and Prime through the Blu-ray player. But I am surprised to hear the HTPC craze is dying. But with Media Center going away, maybe I shouldn't be.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
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I use Kodi as my media center of choice, and I centralized everything through it.

Kodi plus PlayOn Media Server software can give you Netflix, Hulu, etc. Then you can add in Kodi plugins for other streaming services (some might not be legal in your country FYI), add in LiveTV to the Kodi interface, and add in any local content you might have (like ripped disks) to a library. Also via Kodi plug ins you can add Spotify music, Steam big picture access (nice for local streaming), and even emulator support via ROM Collection Browser. Here is a guide for most of that:

http://mymediaexperience.com/xbmc-guide/

I will admit though, if your goal was SlingTV then maybe the PC wasn't the best move in retrospect. That service is full of new DRM, so I don't think there will be a way to shove it into Kodi or make it remote driven on a PC anytime soon. The best single box for Kodi, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, SlingTV, and limited Live TV (via Kodi) is the Amazon Fire TV (not the stick) because it has apps for all of it.
 

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
30
0
6
Even Hulu killed off their PC app... With more and more 'smart' TVs on the market and PnP hardware, the HTPC is pretty much ancient history. o_O:'(

Yeah it's crazy to see all of that happening, especially when you had CNET and a few other mainstream tech sites referring to new builds just last year. -.- I think it's a bit absurd that so many people are allowing themselves to be confined by restraints (looking at you Apple TV)
 

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
30
0
6
I use Kodi as my media center of choice, and I centralized everything through it.

Kodi plus PlayOn Media Server software can give you Netflix, Hulu, etc. Then you can add in Kodi plugins for other streaming services (some might not be legal in your country FYI), add in LiveTV to the Kodi interface, and add in any local content you might have (like ripped disks) to a library. Also via Kodi plug ins you can add Spotify music, Steam big picture access (nice for local streaming), and even emulator support via ROM Collection Browser. Here is a guide for most of that:

http://mymediaexperience.com/xbmc-guide/

I will admit though, if your goal was SlingTV then maybe the PC wasn't the best move in retrospect. That service is full of new DRM, so I don't think there will be a way to shove it into Kodi or make it remote driven on a PC anytime soon. The best single box for Kodi, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, SlingTV, and limited Live TV (via Kodi) is the Amazon Fire TV (not the stick) because it has apps for all of it.

I apologize for double posting but I'll certainly take a look at that Kodi guide. I've used that blog for quite a few things and they do a solid job. Sorry for implying that Sling was the only reason for making the HTPC with my last post. I was on a train and about to hit a spot where I lose signal so I just wanted to post it immediately. I built the HTPC to try to consolidate all the devices my lady and I would have had, not to mention we hate the idea of paying for cable when we hardly use any of their channels. I just figured the PC would give the most adaptability/power/capabilities. Looks like I still have a lot to learn. I love KODI and I love Flirc, but I believe I've only scratched the surface. I'd like to think that PC's will come back, especially since they have virtually no limitations. Guess we will see?
 
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poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
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Guess we will see?
Yeah, I guess we will see. Everyone is moving to mobile clients which are all backed by companies with their own monetized media services. I think years out the HTPC might be the best way to put services together because the desktop will be a "analog hole" of sorts for all the restrictions they try to build in.

As just one example, I like sports and ESPN dominates sport content below the NFL level. One way they maximize their profits is when they have overlapping games of high interest they will put a different game on the ESPN channel in say New York than they would put on ESPN in Texas. The way they do their ESPN3/Watch ESPN service is that if a game is on your local ESPN it is blacked out on the streaming service unless you have access to ESPN (which I do, but not through my ISP). But because I have a real computer hooked to my TV I can run my traffic through a free VPN elsewhere in the country and suddenly I can stream the blacked out game.

Having more control is never a bad thing. The trick is making it all family friendly, but I have learned they can get through a lot as long as your HTPC keyboard is nice enough. :)
 

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
30
0
6
Having more control is never a bad thing. The trick is making it all family friendly, but I have learned they can get through a lot as long as your HTPC keyboard is nice enough. :)
Yeah, that's why when I bought the k400 from Logitech, my girl told me I should keep it AND use flirc. I showed her Kodi and explained how easy it is to find things and she seems to be onboard haha. I'll be honest, I've never really researched PlayOn....you get all free content from the providers they list and it allows you stream stuff to DLNA devices? Is that basically what it is? They have a deal for a lifetime subscription for $40. Is it really worth it? It essentially brings all the free content to one source (aka your PC) right? Do you get 5.1?
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Yeah, that's why when I bought the k400 from Logitech, my girl told me I should keep it AND use flirc. I showed her Kodi and explained how easy it is to find things and she seems to be onboard haha. I'll be honest, I've never really researched PlayOn....you get all free content from the providers they list and it allows you stream stuff to DLNA devices? Is that basically what it is?
Yeah basically it takes the website stream and shoves it into DLNA. I find it does that pretty well.

Do you get 5.1?
Nope, because the website sources it uses only have 2.0. You only get 5.1 Netflix on official apps from support devices.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,210
38
91
I'll be honest, I've never really researched PlayOn....you get all free content from the providers they list and it allows you stream stuff to DLNA devices? Is that basically what it is? They have a deal for a lifetime subscription for $40. Is it really worth it? It essentially brings all the free content to one source (aka your PC) right? Do you get 5.1?

Yeah basically it takes the website stream and shoves it into DLNA. I find it does that pretty well.
I guess I'm confused, or maybe I'm living in the Dark Ages or something... So, you pay one-time $50 for PlayOn, install it on your PC and it streams all that content for free? (Through, if I'm reading it correctly, XBMC/Kodi?) Forever?

There's a lot about the whole HTPC streaming thing that is a bit over my head, mostly devices that stream programming like Roku, FireStick and stuff like that. It almost looks too good to be true.
 

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
30
0
6
I guess I'm confused, or maybe I'm living in the Dark Ages or something... So, you pay one-time $50 for PlayOn, install it on your PC and it streams all that content for free? (Through, if I'm reading it correctly, XBMC/Kodi?) Forever?

There's a lot about the whole HTPC streaming thing that is a bit over my head, mostly devices that stream programming like Roku, FireStick and stuff like that. It almost looks too good to be true.
Yeah and it consolidates all of the free content from the listed websites. Most websites nowadays require a cable subscription to log in though, so YMMV.

I would recommend Plex. It's free and you can integrate it with Kodi. Unfortunately, the masses prefer the plug and play devices (who can blame them) so it seems the general consensus is to get the fire TV (which is sold out) or the like for the majority of the streaming services 😭
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,210
38
91
Yeah and it consolidates all of the free content from the listed websites. Most websites nowadays require a cable subscription to log in though, so YMMV.
That's what I mean... I don't have cable. I guess I just don't understand the logistics of how it works. Nothing is free...
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Most websites nowadays require a cable subscription to log in though, so YMMV.
There is a lot of paid services that can be had without cable:

-Netflix ($7.99 a month)
-Hulu Plus ($7.99/m with commercials or $11.99/m commercial free)
-HBO Now ($14.99/m)
-SlingTV (A&E, ABC Family, Adult Swim, AMC, Bloomberg, Cartoon Network, CNN, Disney Channel, El Rey, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, Galavisión, H2, HGTV, History, IFC, Lifetime, Maker, TBS, TNT, Travel Channel) $20/m
-Amazon Prime Streaming ($99 year)

A Firetv stick could get all of it.
 
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smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
81
I guess I'm confused, or maybe I'm living in the Dark Ages or something... So, you pay one-time $50 for PlayOn, install it on your PC and it streams all that content for free? (Through, if I'm reading it correctly, XBMC/Kodi?) Forever?

There's a lot about the whole HTPC streaming thing that is a bit over my head, mostly devices that stream programming like Roku, FireStick and stuff like that. It almost looks too good to be true.
PlayOn is a virtual HTPC and DLNA server/transcoder. That means it looks like a Roku or Chromecast to service providers like NetFlix and Hulu. It literally screen captures the stream and then transcodes it into an .mp4 file that is streamed through your network via DLNA. Resolution is limited to 1280x720 but it is a pretty good 720p since they bumped the transcodes to L3.1. The support staff is really good and quick to respond. Updates come every week or two. You can also use it to stream over the web. I can access all of my local media files remotely when I am away from home via the PlayOn app on my tablets and phones.

You have to pay for the subscription to the service in order to stream it through PlayOn. If you want to stream NetFlix then you have to pay the NetFlix subscription.

If you are considering PlayOn, you'll want to keep in mind that video encoding requires a pretty good sized CPU so don't cut corners there. However, with the latest version, decoding can be offloaded to the GPU if it is an nVidia Kepler based card. Decoding can be offloaded to an AMD GPU/APU as well, as long as you are running Windows 8 or higher. I added a refurb Zotac GT 730 to my server and now my CPU usage never gets above 20% (AMD 8350) when streaming PlayOn. It was easily worth the extra $40.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,210
38
91
You have to pay for the subscription to the service in order to stream it through PlayOn. If you want to stream NetFlix then you have to pay the NetFlix subscription.
There is a lot of paid services that can be had without cable:
OK, then that's where I'm at, and that's what I figured. I, for example, already subscribe to Netflix and stream it through the HTPC via WMC. I did subscribe to Hulu, but found the lack of a WMC/PC snap-in and the lack of decent programming to be a killer and cancelled my subscription.

I guess I was right... nothing is free.
 

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
30
0
6
OK, then that's where I'm at, and that's what I figured. I, for example, already subscribe to Netflix and stream it through the HTPC via WMC. I did subscribe to Hulu, but found the lack of a WMC/PC snap-in and the lack of decent programming to be a killer and cancelled my subscription.

I guess I was right... nothing is free.
Ehhh, that's debatable.
 

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
30
0
6
In what respect? :confused:
You just have to know where to look. I honestly don't see the point in paying for PlayOn, as Windows 10 has apps for Netflix, Hulu+, and Amazon. The apps provide support for 5.1 (typically) and they're free to download. You can also use Plex, which is free, to stream your movie collection. As for compiling all the web browsers into one interface, that may be desirable by some (or many); however, I just don't see the need as most of those channels are pumping reality/mindless shows. Entertainment is great, and that's why many of us watch tv, but I don't see value in paying for those shows. Plus most prime time shows are accessible via antennas, also known as over the air (Roughly 89 of the top 100 shows), and guess what? You get 5.1 with that, as well as most of your sports needs, and that adds up to a lowly monthly fee of free. Obviously the streaming services cost money, but just use WMC to record shows and then you'll never have to pay for the services, which typically playback at a lower quality. Obviously some sacrifices have to be made if you want Netflix shows/HBO/AMC, but for those I would recommend common sense. Many offerings exist for those, which are all contract-based, so you only pay for them when you need them. But that's my .02. Everyone has different tastes.
 
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slag

Lifer
Dec 14, 2000
10,468
78
91
OTA does not cover most of my sports needs unfortunately. Few local KU games, very very few Royals games. Some NFL games, etc. I hope to be able to watch a lot of this with the slingtv subscription.
 

Snowman09

Member
Sep 2, 2015
30
0
6
OTA does not cover most of my sports needs unfortunately. Few local KU games, very very few Royals games. Some NFL games, etc. I hope to be able to watch a lot of this with the slingtv subscription.
That's a good point. It seems like sling experiences some minor issues, but is otherwise coming along. I've been fortunate in my ability to plug my coax into the wall and I'm receiving all of the sports channels (minus the SEC, BTN, etc).
 

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