Want an HTPC (but it's not there yet) - should I get a Media Streamer?

loungebob

Junior Member
Oct 10, 2015
7
0
0
#1
So, done tons of research and am more confused than ever.

My setup now: 3 NAS with 30TB each hold all movies, tv shows, docus and music. They stream to multiple WD TV Live which send the stuff to the attached TVs via gigabit ethernet (dont believe in wifi for that). No Kodi, no Plex (yet).

The WD TVs are getting way to slow for me - although they play everything and anything I throw at them without so much as a hiccup. Still, want to replace them with a more powerful and future-proof (let's say 2-4 years) device.

I dont care much about streaming, I download all content, store it and keep it to rewatch (and it is legal in my country, so no debates please). I dont care about gaming on the device at all, the PS3/4s cover this.
I've made an extensive Excel sheet benchmarking the following devices against the WD TV Live Gen3:

- New Apple TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Nvidia Shield
- New Nexus
- Roku 4

Somehow they all fall short when it comes to codec support. I want the device to have as much native hardware support for Audio and Video decoding as possible (the WD is superb there). Dont care much for transcoding.

The closest I've come to a match would be the Nvidia Shield (only if they release a codec pack as mentioned by their support staff, so the hardware would natively decode) but it's geared towards gaming and online streaming and I'm unsure if that will hinder development and support for local network streaming in future updates.

Roku 4 looks not uncool in that regard but I dont really like the specs too much (lots still unclear).

New Apple TV would probably be a good choice for UI and future support and development but I cant stand iTunes and their native codec support is ridiculously bad. I could run Plex on it but Plex would still have to transcode lots of the files on the fly and I dont want that.
I was looking into building a HTPC but the components for what I want arent ready yet.

I guess what I want is a more powerful WD TV Live with a new UI, proper search, HEVC and HDMI 2.0. But I wont hold my breath since WD sucks when it comes to a proper media streamer roadmap.
Any idea what I should do/get?

List of what I want/need in that device

MAIN
- CPU Anything 64bit, 2+ Cores @ 1.5GHz+
- GPU No preference
- Memory DDR2/3 @ 1GHz+
- Storage No preference
- OS No preference

INTERFACES
- Gigabit Ethernet
- USB 3.0
- HDMI 2.0
- WiFi ac
- Bluetooth 4.0/4.1
- Optical Out

VIDEO FORMAT
- NTSC/PAL

VIDEO RESOLUTION
- 480i/p
- 576i/p
- 720p
- 1080i/p
- 4k/30
- 4k/60

FILE FORMATS VIDEO
extension / container
.mkv / MATROSKA
- AVC (x/h264)
- VC1
- HEVC (x/h265)
- HEVC (x/h265) Main 10/12
- VP9
- Divx 3/4/5/6
- MPEG 1/2/4
- XviD
- AAC
- AC3
- Dolby Digital Plus
- Dolby TrueHD
- DTSHD
- MPEG Audio
- ADPCM
- PCM
- DTS
- FLAC

.avi, .divx / AVI
- AVC (x/h264)
- VC1
- Divx 3/4/5/6
- MPEG4
- XviD
- M-JPEG
- WMV3
- AAC
- AC3
- Dolby Digital Plus
- Dolby TrueHD
- DTSHD
- MPEG Audio
- ADPCM
- PCM
- DTS
- FLAC

.mov, .mp4 / QuickTime
- AVC (x/h264)
- VC1
- HEVC (x/h265)
- HEVC (x/h265) Main 10/12
- Divx 3/4/5/6
- MPEG4
- XviD
- M-JPEG
- WMV3
- AAC
- AC3
- Dolby Digital Plus
- Dolby TrueHD
- DTSHD
- MPEG Audio
- ADPCM
- PCM
- DTS
- FLAC

FILE FORMATS AUDIO
- MP1/2/3/a
- AAC
- M4A/MP4A
- FLAC
- WAV
- OGG
- WNA
- AIF/AIFF
- AC3/EC3
- APE
- DTS
- FLAC
- MPEG 2/4
- MPEG Audio
- PCM

FILE FORMATS IMAGES
- BMP
- TIFF
- PNG
- GIF
- JPG

PLAYLISTS
- PLS
- M3U
- WPL

SUBTITLES
- SRT
- ASS
- SSA
- SUB
- SMI
- PGS
- VobSub

FILE SYSTEMS
- FAT32
- NTFS
- HFS+
- NFS
 
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
2
126
#2
Your needs are very close to mine. I use Chromeboxes running Openelec (basically a Kodi OS) and it works great. Any current set top box is a joke in comparison. Devices like the Shield can't even do 24p correctly. Kodi boxes are the upgrade to the WD experience. I have three of them now, even for my 4K tv in the kitchen, all synced to the same library. My library is bigger than yours and my Chromeboxes play everything, even the VC1 blu ray rips. Kodi's interface can be configured to blow any set top box away. Nothing is a better experience for playback of local content.

You would need the i3 model or better to play harder HEVC files though. Just wait for Skyline NUCs, even a celeron one should hit every bullet point. Or just build a mini itx rig with a GTX 950.

Optical out and HD audio support don't mix. Which one do you need more?
 
Last edited:

TuSpockShakur

Senior member
May 28, 2014
244
0
51
#3
loungebob, there is no device out that meets your needs (HDMI 2.0) yet. The only option you have at the moment that meets all the needs you specified is to build an HTPC with an add on graphics card.
 

loungebob

Junior Member
Oct 10, 2015
7
0
0
#4
thanks guys, much appreciated. I'm looking more closely into building a HTPC. but I really wanted a quiet fanless design and I dont see that happening with an HTPC with a GF 950 and a powerful processor in it, am I wrong?

Also, the shield does proper 23.97 now, the fckedup Google Android 60Mhz UI framework is still an issue though, I heard.

How is HD Audio and optical out an issue? copyright protection mechanisms? dont think I ever had an issue with my WD box, it's only connected through the optical out to the digital receiver....cant they just bitstream the HD Audio to the receiver no matter the CR mechanism?

Looking into Chromeboxes too....
 
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
2
126
#5
thanks guys, much appreciated. I'm looking more closely into building a HTPC. but I really wanted a quiet fanless design and I dont see that happening with an HTPC with a GF 950 and a powerful processor in it, am I wrong?
Many GTX 950 models come with coolers that don't turn on the fans unless you game. It can be done.

On the optical thing, it can't bitstream HD audio. Only HDMI can (or analogue). So if you use optical you are limited to normal DTS at best.
 

velillen

Platinum Member
Jul 12, 2006
2,118
1
81
#6
You can definitely build a HTPC to be dang quiet. I currently have an I3 nuc as my main and its dang near silent for normal tv viewing. My home built HTPC in the bedroom is an older I3-540. Pick up an after market heatsink and a silent fan and you wont be hearing it hardly at all. I cant hear it unless im within ~3' of it and not at all when the tv is on.

Ive done the same with other HTPCs ive used....toss a Big Shuriken heatsink on it with a slow RPM and silent fan and it works perfect.

Only time i had trouble was in a mini ITX case that was crammed full with only the heat sink fan. Wasnt enough airflow getting in but once i added 1 case fan it worked fine.
 
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