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Living room convergience of devices - are we there yet?

simas

Senior member
Oct 16, 2005
250
39
91
I was thinking on how many different things had to be plugged in to be a 'good' living room appliance/device, and wondering how does everyone else solves the same problem..

What I would like
media
- good local media access from NAS with high wife acceptance factor (ideally voice search capability)
- Netflix for remote media
- optional, BD playback
- optional, basic DVR integration with Silicondust HD Homerun
Gaming
- game streaming from main gaming PC
- optional (console gaming). after trying Steam, console gaming is way to expensive and what I play (RPGs and strategy) either non-moddable (rpg) or impossible (strategy) on consoles

willing to take at most two devices, would prefer one if modern consoles can meet requirements above. what are my choices?? willing to pay say $500 for single device or few hundreds if that has to be multiple devices.

also, why are all of these ecosystems so disjoint to the point of being unusable??
tried and run amazon fire - good remote media but stupid decision to give me no local media access so Kodi would have to be sideloaded. limited integration, no voice search capabilities for anything local.
tried and run kodi boxes (openelec primarily), ok for local media playback, no Netflix solution, no voice search, low wife acceptance factor
heard about steamlink but my understanding is that it is steam game streaming only, no local media access, Kodi, or anything else
heard about NVidia shield and believe it can do its own steaming, know that it supports Kodi as an app , do not know if it gives voice search and/or run Netflix. I think this is the closest to what I want

do not know enough yet on current gen consoles, hoping to evaluate once they shrink the tech in the next refresh. expect BD playback from both consoles, not sure on the rest.
how good (if exist) are voice search capabilities for PS4 and XBOne? what about local media integration? Anything worth recommending here or any places that looked at similar requirements

Thank you for reading, hoping for a conversation with people desiring to hit similar goals and/or option discussion
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
By far your winner is the Shield. It won't do Netflix voice search nor play actual Blu Ray discs, but it would play every Blu Ray rip and it has a Netflix app and overall voice search. It does everything else you want without compromise.

Next gen consoles are garbage for local media playback.
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
As an owner of the Shield, I can say that it is a very convergent device. I run a Plex server for my personal media, and those contents ARE included in voice search, as well as items on my Hulu subscription, live channel content via my HDHomeRun Connect that I am using for OTA reception, and the Google Play store (Mostly rentals).
I know it runs Netflix well, but I dropped out of Netflix a while back (due to Netflix not having content that I wanted that I didn't already own), so the state of voice search on Netflix may/ may not have changed since then.

* I have my entire Music collection, my entire DVD/ BD collection, as well as about 1TB of home movie footage on my Plex setup.
* I have a 4 tuner Tablo that is my DVR system, as the HDHomeRun DVR still needs time to develop...

* Not a big gamer, I just run a SNES emulator (Snes9x EX+) which runs native on Android.
 
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poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
What is crazy is the Shield has been out for almost a year and no device even comes close to it.
 

simas

Senior member
Oct 16, 2005
250
39
91
Thank you for your recommendations of Shield, any feedback on how exactly "gamestream" feature works for local PC? Start a game on local PC and walk over to Shield in another room? control remote PC from the Shield in the living room? etc.

wondering if I also need a Valve steam link appliance..

video card is Nvidia GTX 970
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
221
106
By far your winner is the Shield. It won't do Netflix voice search nor play actual Blu Ray discs, but it would play every Blu Ray rip and it has a Netflix app and overall voice search. It does everything else you want without compromise.

Next gen consoles are garbage for local media playback.
How far off is Mythbuntu compare to Shield?
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
How far off is Mythbuntu compare to Shield?
Pretty different animal. A -buntu setup is usually focused on running a single open source HTPC app- like Kodi or Mythtv and running it well. It won't run something like Netflix well, but it can be a perfect appliance for those open source applications.

Meanwhile for the Shield it has a full TV ready OS meant to run other apps such as Netflix or Hulu. Now a Shield would be a terrible Mythtv backend (if it even could be) and it still isn't as good as you can get for Kodi use. But it can use Kodi (as good as 99% of people need) and Netflix and Hulu which a -buntu box can't do.

It's the difference between a buck knife and a Swiss Army Knife.
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
Now a Shield would be a terrible Mythtv backend (if it even could be) and it still isn't as good as you can get for Kodi use. But it can use Kodi (as good as 99% of people need) and Netflix and Hulu which a -buntu box can't do.

It's the difference between a buck knife and a Swiss Army Knife.
Just out of curiosity, what are you defining as the "as good as you can get" device for Kodi use, and why?
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
221
106
A -buntu setup is usually focused on running a single open source HTPC app- like Kodi or Mythtv and running it well. It won't run something like Netflix well, but it can be a perfect appliance for those open source applications.
When you say a -buntu setup won't run Netflix well what do you mean by that?

I did Install Google Chrome (and then Netflix) on my Mythbuntu 16.04 and everything seems to be working. (I am a first time user of Netflix running the standard subscription)
 
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Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
When you say a -buntu setup won't run Netflix well what do you mean by that?

I did Install Google Chrome (and then Netflix) on my Mythbuntu 16.04 and everything seems to be working. (I am a first time user of Netflix running the standard subscription)
The cheapest Netflix plan is SD, so almost anything can run that just fine. (I believe the DRM requirements are covered in all browsers)

Different clients have different limitations that may/ may not restrict your ability to view HD and UHD/ HDR content at their full glory. (I never tried to do HDR in a web client..)
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
The cheapest Netflix plan is SD, so almost anything can run that just fine. (I believe the DRM requirements are covered in all browsers)

Different clients have different limitations that may/ may not restrict your ability to view HD and UHD/ HDR content at their full glory. (I never tried to do HDR in a web client..)


Plus just the fact it is a web client meant to be navigated with mouse and keyboard, compared to the Shield Netflix app that expects a remote.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Why wouldn't an ubuntu computer be able to run netflix? I watch netflix on my ubuntu laptop all the time.
You can watch it via the website like any PC, but you don't get a ten foot remote driven interface like you get with a set top box. I don't like to equivocate the two because without a remote interface the wife acceptance factor is often close to 0.
 

MaxDepth

Diamond Member
Jun 12, 2001
8,758
43
91
Win10 has a built-in Netflix application that is better than the website player. However, I still cannot recommend Win10 as an OS.

Integration is a very, very painful subject to me. I've been working on integrating the house since the X-10 project. I know you are looking specifically at the home theater environment but really it is all related.

Each new company has a new device or niche and with their own IoT communication system, both in the application layer and in the physical realm -- Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, Wireless, X-10, etc.

Also, someone (must be in one of the MBA programs because these groups all share similar power point presentations) advanced the notion that they could be the next Google by offering cloud-based solutions, hosted by themselves. Yet no one has really asked, 'why in the hell do I need to go out to the Internet on same nameless server to turn off my gol-durn lamp, just three feet away from me.' It is simple: they want to collect your data and resale the correlation and aggregations.

[EDIT: Well, actually Doctorow did recently in his reply to why he hates IoT devices. Security. http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/09/canary-debuts-flex-cam-suited-for-your-living-room-and-your-lawn/?comments=1&post=31916515#comment-31916515]

EDIT TWO: It appears IoT devices are the new 'net zombies, which can be controlled for DDOS attacks http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/09/why-the-silencing-of-krebsonsecurity-opens-a-troubling-chapter-for-the-net/]

So for me, the ideal setup -- in the home theater arena -- would be server type system that would handle all incoming and outgoing requests. Keep what I want to keep in my home and only allow external requests only when I approve (like viewing Netflix or Amazon shows). Also, if there is digitized media a place to be centrally stored. For the TV, I want multi-port connectivity. Does it have to be the TV? Not necessarily. I could have a hub designed to take the physical inputs like controllers and network feeds like OTA tuners, stored media and Internet-based scrobbled content (like XBM...er, KODI). It wouldn't necessarily need to decode content on the hub just as long as my internal network can feed the media from the server to the hub quickly enough.


Also a note of caution about the Shield. I know this is only for the Shield tablet and not the main device but it is concerning that they are cancelling a part of the Shield line. That cancels one part of casting options for the home.
http://techreport.com/news/30517/nvidia-cancels-refreshed-shield-tablet
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
Win10 has a built-in Netflix application that is better than the website player. However, I still cannot recommend Win10 as an OS.

Integration is a very, very painful subject to me. I've been working on integrating the house since the X-10 project. I know you are looking specifically at the home theater environment but really it is all related.

So for me, the ideal setup -- in the home theater arena -- would be server type system that would handle all incoming and outgoing requests. Keep what I want to keep in my home and only allow external requests only when I approve (like viewing Netflix or Amazon shows). Also, if there is digitized media a place to be centrally stored. For the TV, I want multi-port connectivity. Does it have to be the TV? Not necessarily. I could have a hub designed to take the physical inputs like controllers and network feeds like OTA tuners, stored media and Internet-based scrobbled content (like XBM...er, KODI). It wouldn't necessarily need to decode content on the hub just as long as my internal network can feed the media from the server to the hub quickly enough.


Also a note of caution about the Shield. I know this is only for the Shield tablet and not the main device but it is concerning that they are cancelling a part of the Shield line. That cancels one part of casting options for the home.
http://techreport.com/news/30517/nvidia-cancels-refreshed-shield-tablet
Have you looked at Plex/ Emby?
Also- As far as I can tell, the Shield Android TV Platform seems to have established itself well. (And is rumored to be getting a refresh)
The tablet on the other hand- so many less powerful tablets are selling so well; the margins don't make for good motivation...
 

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