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A New Media Center (For A New Age)

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:18 pm
by dgood
I know, I don't think I've posted in years, but hey this is still the first place I go for information.

My old media center is still trucking along fine but it's become less reliable and gone through a few power supplies. The old Q6600 is ready to be retired and the case leaves something to be desired. I'm ready to build a new media center. I feel like nobody builds these anymore especially not with a cable card tuner or OTA tuner card and my dear old windows media center has been axed.

Here's what I'm here to learn:
1.) What is the best Media Center Software these days? Kodi? Plex? Someone Make A Windows Media Center Port?
2.) Which software supports TV tuners and DVR capabilities?
3.) Which software can easily interface with Netflix, ESPN, Amazon Prime, HBO Go etc?
4.) Do any of the software packages support Native DVD and Blu-Ray playback or work with a solid add-in(Pay is OK if it works)

The dream is to build a new sleeker quieter newer and smaller media center. I want to leave the media center program open 98% of the time and be able to stream my movie library, be able to easily go to HBO Go, Amazon or Netflix, as well as watch live OTA television and record Jeopardy. I want to be able to do this all with my Logitech harmony (or similar) remote and not have to get out the keyboard or mouse for anything other than new software or troubleshooting.

I once was able to do all of this in windows media center but now the plug-ins for Amazon and Netflix are broken and unsupported, new systems won't have Windows Media Center. I'd like something that is more future proof with an active community using it.

Anyone have a system currently that does all of these things or even most of them?

Re: A New Media Center (For A New Age)

Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:45 am
by KnightRid for software that may do everything you want.

They actually sell set top boxes that do everything now I think. Yep - ... r-options/

Tivo is of course the most expensive just because of its name, although I always thought they sucked, but it should have good support.

Re: A New Media Center (For A New Age)

Posted: Tue May 02, 2017 3:42 pm
by dgood
I actually ended up going for a TIVO Bolt and got a PLEX server setup on my old desktop. I can't drop in a disk and play it anymore but otherwise the setup is smaller, sleeker, quieter and much better. So I bought MakeMKV and now I've just encoded all my blurarys to MP4/MKV files. TIVO records OTA transmissions great and has built in apps for HBO Go, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix and PLEX among others. I'm really pretty happy with it. I did shell out for lifetime fees on both PLEX and the TIVO so it's not cheap.

Interface is actually pretty good and it works fine with my harmony remote, though the TIVO remote is more responsive. The Roamio is actually a super good deal now that it has been phased out. I'm still disappointed that the build your own market and software just don't really work. Thanks for the tip KnightRid.

Re: A New Media Center (For A New Age)

Posted: Wed May 03, 2017 4:16 am
by KnightRid
I tell people to avoid Tivo and Plex :-k

I dont like plex just because it degrades the quality and is worthless on a home network when you have DLNA.

I hope it works great for you!!!

I love MakeMKV. I have not bought it yet, just keep using the free key they provide while in beta.

Re: A New Media Center (For A New Age)

Posted: Wed May 03, 2017 9:38 am
by dgood
Interesting, I mean I hear your points, but I guess I don't know how Plex degrades quality. If it's in a format that it natively supports and is supported by the device playing it, it shouldn't be doing any trans-coding, and the AC wireless seems to have enough bandwidth it doesn't have to slow it down. I already and taking most full blu-ray rips and then encoding them to 720p with 5.1 DTS with handbrake (unless it's something I really care about the original video/audio) so I guess I've already lost a decent amount of quality, and more importantly it was something that the TIVO supported out of the box that could read my library and be very user friendly for my wife and her family and my kids.

I probably could have gone the Tablo with an Amazon Fire or Roku or Apple TV route and had it read my movie library and recorded the TV on a network location but honestly it was too many things that I didn't necessary trust or want to spend all the time setting up.

I'm not sure i understand your point about DLNA and how it would achieve it without a front end that is capable to reading everything in the device I'm already using for TV. Care to elaborate? Examples? I always like learning more options. So far like I said super happy with both.


Re: A New Media Center (For A New Age)

Posted: Thu May 04, 2017 9:03 am
by KnightRid
Explanations are my low point, sorry! I meant that plex is worthless to me since it (like you said) does not trans-code when you have enough bandwidth and when you don't have the bandwidth it just looks awful to me on my 50" plasma, which is still only 720p. I could get a better encode from handbrake easily.

Yes, you still need something that will play the content after finding it on your DLNA device (NAS, etc) but I assumed most tv's allow that now..?? I don't have a newer smart tv so I honestly don't know. I know, I should not assume manufacturers so anything good ;)

I play everything I have on my NAS through a laptop, computer, ps3, ps4, tablet...ummm...forgetting something i know....and I just go to the name without a media center front end (do all gaming systems allow this or just the Playstation?). I imagine with kids it would be easier to have a media center portal to pick from (mine are grown so I do not have to worry any more).

Forgot - for an easy device I would look at a Roku also.

I have not use Plex in a long time now either so maybe it has changed.....