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Raspberry Pi - the easiest and most affordable htpc solution

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wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
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Well you have to give these guys props. Manufacturing a $15 computer and selling it for $40 or more.

That's pretty much exactly what I do. Sell junk for a profit.
you are clueless. this is better then a used $100 android phone and 100x easier to configure for different needs. the fact that its real linux is great, because the software development community is already large.

in fact, im noticing that xbmc already has so many addons that i dont see why you would need a desktop debian to do most tasks... they can all be done with xbmc.


edit- just found out xbmc does native streaming pls and m3u support. properly too! it works perfect, even when grabbing the pls from a network share.

i have 3 screens above my entertainment center, and i think a raspberry pi is going behind each one :D
 
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crashtestdummy

Platinum Member
Feb 18, 2010
2,894
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wirednuts, have you tried running streaming plugins like Hulu or Amazon on the Pi? I'm interested in seeing how it handles it.

Also, does XBian only run XBMC, or can I run a browser as well?

I'm not really looking for too sophisticated an HTPC, and if a pi would stream and browse, that's all I'd need.
 

flocko

Junior Member
Aug 30, 2012
18
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you are clueless. this is better then a used $100 android phone and 100x easier to configure for different needs. the fact that its real linux is great, because the software development community is already large.

in fact, im noticing that xbmc already has so many addons that i dont see why you would need a desktop debian to do most tasks... they can all be done with xbmc.


edit- just found out xbmc does native streaming pls and m3u support. properly too! it works perfect, even when grabbing the pls from a network share.

i have 3 screens above my entertainment center, and i think a raspberry pi is going behind each one :D
Maybe I'm a simple person who remembers what computers USE to look like. When I was a kid you actually DIALED a telephone . Networking was a metaphor. Watches had hands on them and i can assure you that our cars never talked to us :eek:

Is the Pi new ? Yep sure is . Is it is perfect ? Nope , sure isn't . Fact is that this is very new and stepped advancements can and will only make it better .

Nice post by the O.P. and really like the enthusiasm and willingness to share the experience .

BTW... "that piece of junk" that is being referenced was and is intended to be used for educational purposes for those folks that may be less fortunate than others . It gives those people, most likely children, a chance to learn how to use a computer and possibly even learn a new skill that otherwise would not be afforded . THIS IS WHY they are so hard to get . The developers have dedicated to those needs FIRST and the sales end SECOND .

Thanks !
 
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wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
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i think thats why they were hard to get at first, but its been over 6 months after then initial wave. the real problems were minor manufacturing glitches that caused big delays, but at this point it is clear these things are selling like hot cakes and the "fad" isnt going to die anytime soon.

the more people that use these, the better the software will get. the size/cost/weight combo cant be beat right now, and even if someone does there wont be the software push behind it. these guys grabbed a budding phenomenon, gave it a cute tasty name and thankfully its actually a decent piece of hardware.

the fact that it struggles at 1080p is meaningless to me. if you have a screen that warrants 1080p resolution, you have enough money and space to have a bigger computer. quit complaining your uber electronics arent free.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
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ok, im in total love! <3 <3<3<3<3!!!

the software is getting better, and i found a combination that is just tits!

xbian aplha 5
aeon nox skin
yahtse remote on a 4.3" android phone
party mode!

party mode is $*(@#)$ awesome! this is exactly what i have always wanted in a media player. this combination is so perfect for a party setting its funny. i cant believe this is a $45 media player. xbmc is just a bad ass app, and the remote android integration is absolutely stellar! if i get live tv working well, i dont see why i would need windows media center anymore. honestly! there are numerous points in xbian that blow away windows media center...

if live tv is stable, then each of my monitors will get a pi. ill have 4 media centers :) my stereo can switch between the audio (which is good quality!) and my eyes will play the idiocracy game. cant wait!
 
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Clixxer

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
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wirednuts im gonna have to use your setup and see how it works.

I bought one about a month ago, put raspbmc on it and was impressed with it until I got deeper into it. a 16GB rip of Avengers played crappy (shuttering every 5 minutes or so) and overall the GUI lacked a lot and menus were buried to deep for the casual user.

I messed with it hardcore for about 3 nights before I said fuck it I have my HTPC connected via HDMI to my TV so I really don't need it. The Pi was more for a TV downstairs to stream off the server so at the moment im kinda meh on the pi but I want to try out different xbmc's to see if its better.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
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xbian is the best, as far as im concerned.

damn thing must have updated itself too, because as of today, my music addons section shows up as tiles! yip!

im thinking about getting it to run off a usb stick though. i have a sandisk ultra in there, but from what im readin a good usb drive blows away any sd card. you still need the sd card to boot, but the os can be on a usb stick.

make sure you get putty and ssh into the pi as well. lots of good tweaks in there!


EDIT- DISCLAIMER!

god dammit, this should come with every pi on a bright pink sheet. DO NOT USE THE USB PORTS FOR POWER. a keyboard? sure, try it. anything else? forget about it! even if it works, dont use it because it wont work while the system is maxing the cpu out!

i feel so stupid, because i knew this yet it still bit me today. for the life of me i couldnt figure out why it wasnt scanning all my music files. so damn frustrating! that is, until i just hardwired my sata-usb adapter into the power rails.

the pi's usb ports are good for about 75ma of power. they claim a few hundred ma, but that is bullshit when youre running visualizations on an overclocked pi.

use the data pins, thats fine. DO NOT USE THE USB POWER PINS! its just not worth the headaches!
 
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Engineer

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
39,255
698
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This looks very interesting. If it could stream live tv from a cablecard and also possibly work from a "master DVR" (or even DVR itself), I would be all over it and tell Insight (soon to be TWC) to stick their boxes up their ass.

I'll be following this more closely when I get time.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
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homerun HD, the cable card version will do it.

AND, as of about 10 weeks ago, xbian includes the packages to do it all!!! i didnt even realize this. you just have to ssh into the config menu and you can download the packages.

i just need that hd homerun and i could do it! i have a feeling ill find a way to put the pi INSIDE of the hd homerun :D all in one solution :cool:

also, i have been playing with xbmc on my laptop. it runs ridiculously fast. uber fast. it really does make windows media center seem dated and slow. and on windows, it has milkdrop for the visualization! seriously, i think for my car ill still use the pi, but for my livingroom i might just build an e450 system and run xbmc. its that damn good!

and i just found out how to enque music upon selection in party mode! so basically, all my music plays randomly, but if i select a song manually with my phone it just sticks it into the que as the next song! after that, it continues on with what it already had randomly loaded up. like i said, for a party setting this is just absolutely, no doubt about it, PERFECT. first time i tried it, it was just a huge weight lifted off my shoulders because i knew right away this is what i will be using during parties from now on. hell, its what ill be using in my car from now on too!
 

Clixxer

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
11
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xbian is the best, as far as im concerned.
Ill have to give it a shot. I know how to use putty and ssh into I just honestly hadn't really looked into the different xbmc's for the pi and my buddy recommended raspbmc but so far I haven't liked it to much.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
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just putty into the ip address the pi is connected to, and the default login is: xbian and pass: raspberry

raspbmc is made by some 19 year old kid in his basement, last i checked. hes doing a good job, but xbian is made by a team of guys who seem to really know what theyre doing.
 

GoodRevrnd

Diamond Member
Dec 27, 2001
6,726
457
126
Hmmm... I had my hopes pinned on the Ouya, which for only double the price seems like it will be a more robust option. However, if you can actually use a cablecard with this thing I might have to reconsider.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
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Hmmm... I had my hopes pinned on the Ouya, which for only double the price seems like it will be a more robust option. However, if you can actually use a cablecard with this thing I might have to reconsider.
ouya looks nice too. my biggest draw with the pi though is customization. if it doesnt do something now, it probably will at some point. and if you cant wait, its just linux- go ahead a write something for it:D

it remains to be seen though. i do wish the pi had more power. that alone is going to limit its development in a couple years.

what im hoping for though, is a new pi with a lot more power but it still runs the same way this pi does, so all the software development wont be lost.
 

crashtestdummy

Platinum Member
Feb 18, 2010
2,894
0
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I ended up getting one as well. My needs are pretty simple. I use it primarily as a streaming device for Hulu (non-plus), Amazon Prime, and PBS's website. I'm running OpenElec, which seems (to me, anyway) the most stable of the builds.

It works pretty well. My only complaints are that it's a bit slow to load streams (about a 30s-1m delay) and there's some funkyness with the video buffer when the stream is paused and restarted.
 

GoodRevrnd

Diamond Member
Dec 27, 2001
6,726
457
126
Really, all I want is something that will run XBMC and web browsing (with video) that can stay on all the time (or wake up very quickly) and doesn't put out so much heat it will fry itself. I'm just concerned that the Pi isn't quite worthwhile since 1080p is already pushing it's performance capabilities.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
1
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yeah i think until the pi software matures fully, right now the lowest power 1080 setup youll find is the e450's. they do all video at 1080, streaming and local. not sure if they do the crazy 50mb stuff but almost nobody has that anyway. i know theyll do the 22mb stuff just fine though, which is what most mkv's are encoded to at most.

you can set the sleep modes so that it wakes instantly, and full load is under 50w. you would be surprised how capable the amd apu's are.. the video processing in them are just phenomenal for the cost and power usage.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
1
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hey! it worked!

on xbians front page, there claims to be a firmware update to fix audio popping between tracks.

so, i tried it through the auto updater and it claimed i was already up to date. i left it for a week like that, then just now i looked again. they claim if auto update doesnt work, try manual through SSH CLi.

i did, and it worked! no pops! and, i have been directly comparing the pi's audio to my motherboard onboard sound (ALC888). i honestly cant tell a difference when all settings are nuetralized. they seem to be exactly the same thing. i like my htpc's sound better, becasue i can tweak with a software equalizer, but i figure its only a matter of time before they put on in xbian...
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,611
28
91
Let me get this straight, as one who's not particularly interested in XBMC and other front-end quasi-OSes...

Does this work as a regular, standalone, machine, which can play media from a storage device (flash dish, HDD) attached directly to it (via USB)? Or is it more of a media streaming device, which relies on the pre-existence of a home network (and has no local storage to speak of, using a "home cloud" instead)?
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
1
0
xbmc on the pi can do both simultaneously. it can play media from a network location, it can play media from a usb hdd connected to it, and it can even serve media via dlna to other devices on the network or internet.

I just use my cell phone as the remote because yatse remote is so damn good. but xbmc can be controlled with just about anything. keyboard, mouse, HDMI-CEC, phones, any computer with a web browser... really, you name it you can use it to control xbmc, and it works out of the box.

if I didn't have more things to do, I would be getting live tv going, and setting up more online radio stuff... but for now I just leave it running 24/7 in party mode- so any time I want to listen to music I just turn on my amplifier. its totally awesome, honestly. its just always going.
 

crashtestdummy

Platinum Member
Feb 18, 2010
2,894
0
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Let me get this straight, as one who's not particularly interested in XBMC and other front-end quasi-OSes...

Does this work as a regular, standalone, machine, which can play media from a storage device (flash dish, HDD) attached directly to it (via USB)? Or is it more of a media streaming device, which relies on the pre-existence of a home network (and has no local storage to speak of, using a "home cloud" instead)?
It can play file from an external drive, with two caveats:


  1. The power supply on the Pi can't really support both the Pi and an external drive, so you'll need another source (a powered USB hub, say) for the HDD.
  2. Its hardware can decode the MPEG-2 and VC-1 codecs, but that functionality is disabled by default. You need to buy a license if you want to play files using these codecs.
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,611
28
91
Thank you for the explanations, folks!
The licenses are a bummer, for sure, but they really aren't that expensive...
Interesting idea to use the smartphone as a remote.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,208
38
91
Another fad that will blow over. That goes for the PI and HTPC in general.
Not.

I can't comment on the Pi thing, but the HTPC thing is here to stay, if not necessarily in PC form. Downloads instead of disks, streaming, full libraries of media accessible with a simple remote...?
 

Shephard

Senior member
Nov 3, 2012
766
0
0
why do you need one of these things? Why not just get an hdmi cable, hook to computer and you got your htpc. SD card is tiny and cannot hold all your movies and music.
 

pandemonium

Golden Member
Mar 17, 2011
1,764
50
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The reason is the fact that it's inexpensive, simple, and takes very little power. You can simply just hook up a computer and HTPC it away, but if you don't have 'a' computer near your entertainment center or a big screen and want to utilize the functions of an HTPC, you can go this route.

Also, this thing is very small.

As for the size limitations, it's not meant to be a storage device, but you store all of your files on an external HDD, which this can accept as a media connection via USB. Or NAS storage. Or streaming from the web, etc...
 

Shephard

Senior member
Nov 3, 2012
766
0
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hmm not so impressed looking at videos online.

very slow boot time.

how will you hook up USB external hard drive? There are only 2 USB jacks and you need them for keyboard/mouse.

It has no enclosure so static electricity could fry it with all those components bare on the PCB.
 

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