XBMC or Media Browser or JRiver or Other? Special needs

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
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71
#1
Sup All,

As some of you may have seen my other posts regarding this HTPC / Server / Gaming rig I am trying to build...here comes the question regarding software. I know there are TONS of threads about the software, but I have some special needs that I haven't seen covered well or at all.

First off..here are the other threads:

1st Post (Hardware)
2nd Post (Storage software)

Here is what I am looking for in the software
  • Be easy to install and configure
  • Be easy to update - I don't want constant plug-in updates to bother me..plugin updates should just happen without me saying yes or even popping up on screen
  • Be Spouse and Family friendly in usage terms
  • On that note, a separate profile for each user would be awesome. That way..my mom can just get what she wants in the menu and wify can get what she wants
  • Be able to scrape international (specifically Bollywood movies) info automatically. Maybe use imdb. This is the special needs part.
  • Capable for auto starting..maybe have Windows 8.1 boot straight into it so that no windows screen is shown
  • Have the ability to launch and connect to Steam - not very important, but cool feature to have
  • Play ISO files or MKV files with full HD Audio (DTS/Dolby) - I have my HDMI connected via a A/V Receiver.
  • SubTitle support..especially for Bollywood movies
  • Don't need Live TV or even TV / DVR features at all right now.
  • Remote friendly
  • Be able to utilize madVR / Lava and such things
  • Be able to play BluRay via disc or from Harddrive backup
  • Looks beautiful and has different skins.
  • Wishlist: Access to trailers for what's coming on DVD/BluRay soon or even theatres. Hollywood and Bollywood movies would be awesome.
  • Netflix / Amazon Prime / Hulu access would be awesome
Not a tall list by any means right? :)

I do have access to Windows 8.1 Media Center btw. And I do not mind paying if that is what it comes down too.

While I like XBMC and would probably be what I use at the end...the issue I have with it is the plug-in updates. Everytime I have logged in on it on a sample install..it has something that needs to be updated. Just do it dammit. Anyway for that to happen?

Appreciate your help. :)
 
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blotto

Senior member
Feb 11, 2006
219
0
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#2
Here's my take take on all three, I've used them pretty extensively:

Interface/Aesthetics:

-XBMC - Amazing, by far the best skinning support.

-MediaBrowser 3 - Classic looks fantastic, lots of skins. MBT still has no skinning options, Doesn't look great.

-jRiver - Theaterview is a joke at this point. All around horrible.

Video Playback:

-MediaBrowser 3 Theater and Jriver both support MadVR and look amazing. MadVR will give you a quality advantage when upscaling 480p/720p material to 1080p. It also has pretty good frame interpolation that doesn't go all soap opera-ish. Takes a beefy GPU/CPU.

-MediaBrowser 3 Classic/XBMC only support traditional EVR rendering. Good quality but not getting that extra 5% bump that MadVR can provide. XBMC has DXVA scaling support now that looks pretty good on Intel HD4x00 GPUs.

Music Playback/Organization:

-jRiver is king here. Primarily a music playback app and it shows. I use this for all my dedicated music systems, best format support, best quality, amazing high end options (Room Correction, Re-sampling, Parametric EQ).

-XBMC is very good. No high end options like jRiver but it supports WASAPI output and handles all formats I can throw at it, multichannel flac is the key for me as I have a huge DVD-A/SACD collection that I am ripping to my server. XBMC plays them all bit-perfect.

-MediaBrowser 3 is poor at music, neither version can play multichannel flac and bit perfect output can only be obtained via reclock which I feel is a rather messy solution.

Scraping:

-Both XBMC and MB3 are good and have multiple sources. XBMC has a more diverse plugin system.

-jRiver is horrible at scraping.

Streaming Services:

- No real opinion as all I use is Youtube. Netflix I get on my PS4. XBMC doesn't support Netflix but MB3 and jRiver do.

Video Format Support:

-All three play everything I can throw at it. I don't rip to ISO, only folders or MKV. All three bitstream HD-Audio no problem.

Remote support:

- All three support the Microsoft remotes among others, all three also have good tablet/phone apps.

All in all, as much as I'd love to have MadVR support or the advanced audio capabilities of jRiver, I'm sticking with XBMC. It is the best all-around package for my needs. It looks the best, has the best scraping/file organization, shared libraries, and very good (but not the absolute best) video and audio performance. I know you you slap an external player like MPC-HC on but I consider that "sloppy" and you lose resume support and focus becomes an issue.

I have Win 8.1 booting straight to XBMC and it works flawless.
 
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Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
5,941
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#3
Another vote for WMC with Media Browser. The 2 main goals I had for my HTPC were ease of use (my wife and daughter are using it... ) and simplified operation and maintenance (on my end.) WMC/MB has that in spades. I was running WMC/XBMC for a while, I found XBMC to be sooooo functional it was cluttered, and I had problems getting it under control... but that's me. For my purposes MB works very well.
 
Jun 17, 2005
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#4
Incoming post! IT IS MASSIVE! SHIELDS UP!

I have a lot of experiance with XBMC, and just a little with the others, so I will just tell you about XBMC.

Here is what I am looking for in the software
  • Be easy to install and configure

  • To do all that you want you are going to have to learn a bit about configuring any of the three. XBMC has a easy to use configuration interface that will let you do alot. But it is open source so if you really dig into the system you can configure just about anything.

    [*] Be easy to update - I don't want constant plug-in updates to bother me..plugin updates should just happen without me saying yes or even popping up on screen
    This is configurable in XBMC. You mented further down about it always disturbing you with updates, well if you look in the add-on settings there is a place to turn update notifications off.


    [*] Be Spouse and Family friendly in usage terms
    [*] On that note, a separate profile for each user would be awesome. That way..my mom can just get what she wants in the menu and wify can get what she wants
    The best way to do this would probably to use windows user profiles. Just have them log into their own account on windows, and then windows loads their version of XBMC. Then when they are done watching they can log off and it will be ready for the next user.

    [*] Be able to scrape international (specifically Bollywood movies) info automatically. Maybe use imdb. This is the special needs part.
    XBMC has lots of scrapper add-ons, I'm sure you can find one that will work. There is a scrapper for IMDB.

    [*] Capable for auto starting..maybe have Windows 8.1 boot straight into it so that no windows screen is shown
    Here is how you can have XBMC boot as the windows shell. It is considerably more complex then having Windows just load XBMC in Kiosk Mode, and you lose the ability to use windows accounts, but you an set up profiles in XBMC to make up for it.

    [*] Have the ability to launch and connect to Steam - not very important, but cool feature to have
    I have no tested it yet, but there is a new add-on that exits XBMC and loads Steam Big Picture Mode and then on exit of Steam reloads XBMC. I plan on installing this add-on this weekend to test it out.

    [*] Play ISO files or MKV files with full HD Audio (DTS/Dolby) - I have my HDMI connected via a A/V Receiver.
    XBMC can do all that. I have the same sort of setup and it works just fine.

    [*] SubTitle support..especially for Bollywood movies
    Of course XBMC can handle that.

    [*] Don't need Live TV or even TV / DVR features at all right now.
    Good, that is where XBMC is at it's weakest.

    [*] Remote friendly
    There are many options for using remotes with XBMC.

    [*] Be able to utilize madVR / Lava and such things
    I don't think XBMC can do this, or if it can it is beyond my knowlage how. Although I'm not sure it is needed. From XBMC Frodo build and above have pretty good PQ, I think on par with MadVR.

    [*] Be able to play BluRay via disc or from Harddrive backup
    XBMC can playback unencrypted bluray discs and bluray images.
    [*] Looks beautiful and has different skins.
    XBMC is amazingly skinnable. There are many cool skins with very different ways of displaying information.
    [*] Wishlist: Access to trailers for what's coming on DVD/BluRay soon or even theatres. Hollywood and Bollywood movies would be awesome.
    XBMC has this via an add-on. You can even have it randomly choose a trailer to show before a movie.
    [*] Netflix / Amazon Prime / Hulu access would be awesome
    You can do all this in the Windows version of XBMC, the linux versions have more limited support.
 

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
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71
#5
Wow...Thank you all for replying. :)

It seems like we have two front runners : XBMC and WMC/MB. Jriver is out.

I forgot to add..Media Portal. Anyone have experience with that?

Clarification

I mentioned use of madVR and such but I am not sure how much of a difference that really makes. If 5% or so, then I am not concerned.

Saying that, I do have old DVDs that could benefit from it, but I am not sure how much.

We have a 60-inch LED Vizio TV(which I love) and we sit about 10 feet away.

I mentioned ISOs mainly cause I wanted to maintain the picture and audio quality. Is that not necessary anymore with h.264 conversion using handbrake or other similar program? I would hate to loose DTS/Dolby tracks and my DVDs/BluRays loosing pic quality.
 
Jun 17, 2005
10,892
161
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#6
Wow...Thank you all for replying. :)

It seems like we have two front runners : XBMC and WMC/MB. Jriver is out.

I forgot to add..Media Portal. Anyone have experience with that?

Clarification

I mentioned use of madVR and such but I am not sure how much of a difference that really makes. If 5% or so, then I am not concerned.

Saying that, I do have old DVDs that could benefit from it, but I am not sure how much.

We have a 60-inch LED Vizio TV(which I love) and we sit about 10 feet away.

I mentioned ISOs mainly cause I wanted to maintain the picture and audio quality. Is that not necessary anymore with h.264 conversion using handbrake or other similar program? I would hate to loose DTS/Dolby tracks and my DVDs/BluRays loosing pic quality.
I did ISO's with a few DVD's that I wanted to maintain the menus for, but quickly decided that the meues did not add anything of value to the experiance and I prefered the rips with out them. As for quality I have a 55 inch panny that I sit about 8 feet from and I can't really tell the difference between a ISO rip and a high quality h.264 encode.
 

blotto

Senior member
Feb 11, 2006
219
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#7
You don't even need to re-encode them. Rip the Blu-Ray or DVD into MKV with MakeMKV, retain the HD-Audio track, subtitles, and chapters. Video is untouched, menus are gone. Easiest way to rip and maintain 1:1 quality from source.
 

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
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71
#8
I did ISO's with a few DVD's that I wanted to maintain the menus for, but quickly decided that the meues did not add anything of value to the experiance and I prefered the rips with out them. As for quality I have a 55 inch panny that I sit about 8 feet from and I can't really tell the difference between a ISO rip and a high quality h.264 encode.
Could you share your settings that you use to convert? I am presuming Handbrake?


blotto said:
You don't even need to re-encode them. Rip the Blu-Ray or DVD into MKV with MakeMKV, retain the HD-Audio track, subtitles, and chapters. Video is untouched, menus are gone. Easiest way to rip and maintain 1:1 quality from source.
Does this reduce the file size at all? I am assuming no right?

Btw, I will have about 6TB of free space.
 
Jun 17, 2005
10,892
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#9
Could you share your settings that you use to convert? I am presuming Handbrake?
I would have to look at my setting when I get home. I haven't messed with them since I finished ripping my 229 DVD and BRs last June.

But I think the settings I settled on are: H264 MKV, High Profile, RF19 (I lower this a point or two for DVDs), Strict Anamorphic, and I pass DTS audio through untouched. This gives me files between 10-15GB.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
5,941
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#10
Could you share your settings that you use to convert? I am presuming Handbrake?

Does this reduce the file size at all? I am assuming no right?

Btw, I will have about 6TB of free space.
I used MakeMKV the other day to rip a DVD... the file size wound up at 5.5GB. I reencoded it to .MP4 with Handbrake and it dropped to just at 1GB. I think the .MP4 is a tradeoff between content and file size.


I have 7TB of storage too... 4TB for primary storage, 3TB for backup copies. I don't want to spend the next 2 months re-ripping my DVD library... :eek:
 

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
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71
#11
I have 7TB of storage too... 4TB for primary storage, 3TB for backup copies. I don't want to spend the next 2 months re-ripping my DVD library... :eek:
Well I am going to use Storage Spaces on Win 8.1...hoping that will survive a hard drive crash or two. If the house burns down, well then I have other things to worry about.

My photos are all backed up 3 to 4 times so I am not worried about them.

Anyways...back to topic...anyone have experience with Media Portal? I know I can install it and test it, but sometimes one can't catch everything and also it would save time if I knew I would not use a particular software..such as Jriver in this case.
 
Dec 14, 2000
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#12
I use XBMC and like to load windows and then start up xbmc. Is there a way to set up a button on my harmony remote to start xbmc instead of having to grab the mouse/keyboard and do it? I want to control it all from my harmony remote.
 

LoveMachine

Senior member
May 8, 2012
491
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#13
Assuming you have win7, http://xbmcwmc.teknowebworks.com/

It's a wee plugin that lets you open XBMC from Windows Media Center. I bought a WMC remote from Rosewill, essentially for the USB receiver, that maps to my Harmony. Press Guide to open WMC, select the XBMC launch, no keyboard/mouse needed. May not work for your situation, but it works for me.
 

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
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71
#14
Hmmmm..this is a curious thing...doesn't appear that XBMC can open straight up without some other software starting first.

hmmm
 

WildViper

Senior member
Feb 19, 2002
287
0
71
#17
If you want XBMC to be like an appliance you will want to give OpenELEC a check. http://www.openelec.tv/ Othewise you will be running Windows or Apple OS X.
Unfortunately, I can't use OpenElec due to Linux and not Windows.

I am committed to using Windows 8.1..especially with Storage Spaces technology.
 
Jun 17, 2005
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#18
Hmmmm..this is a curious thing...doesn't appear that XBMC can open straight up without some other software starting first.

hmmm
I'm not sure what you are wanting. If you are going to use Windows 8.1 then of course you have to load Windows first, because that is what XBMC is running on.

You can set up XBMC to replace the windows shell so that it boots into it as the desktop. To do this you would follow These instructions. You will have to first enable group policy editor on Windows 8.
 

blotto

Senior member
Feb 11, 2006
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#19
Using XBMC Launcher is easier than the GP method as it will autostart explorer on exit so you don't have to run it from taskmgr.
 
Jun 17, 2005
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#20
Using XBMC Launcher is easier than the GP method as it will autostart explorer on exit so you don't have to run it from taskmgr.
I somehow missed the entire XBMC Launcher thread. I'll give it a look this weekend.
Thanks for posting about it!
 
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