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Ask Slashdot: How To Make My Own Hardware Multimedia Player?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the many-have-tried dept.

Hardware Hacking 140

An anonymous reader writes "I was looking at multimedia players from brands such as SumVision, Noontec and Western Digital. They all seem to be some device which accepts a USB hard-drive and commands from an IR remote control, and throws the result over HDMI. I have my own idea of what a hardware multimedia player should do (e.g. a personalized library screen for episodes, movies and documentaries; resume play; loudness control; etc.). I also think it will a good programming adventure because I will have to make the player compatible with more than a few popular codecs. Is this an FPGA arena? Or a mini-linux tv-box? Any advice, books or starting point to suggest?" There certainly have been a lot of products and projects in this domain over the years, but what's the best place to start in the year 2012?

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The easy way (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39608985)


Re:The easy way (5, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609015)

This story only has 2 comments right now. One recommending XBMC and another recommending RaspberryPi.
Correct on both counts. I don't think you need to reinvent the wheel on this...

Also, "USB hard-drive"? Do you really want to transfer media to a drive? Build a home NAS and stream everything to the media player. The media player should be small and quiet. There is no need for an HDD.

Re:The easy way (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609129)

Even with the best of tools and setups, pure streaming is not always an option. My synology NAS barfs on .mp4s sometimes. Flat out, dont use DLNA, it sucks, it has always sucked, it will always suck. Streaming is great, but it still not a universal thing that always works unless you very tightly control the media you feed into the system. You got things like the netatalk devs playing games, Apple messing around, its still complicated. LOVE my synology NAS, but DLNA sucks donkey dick. Im typing this as im waiting for handbrake to finish another pass trying to find the optimal format/size for xbox, android (nook color, hrdwre lmtd) and iOS.

Re:The easy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609163)

Use Serviio or PS3 Media server. They will solve your media format issues.

Re:The easy way (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609223)

Requires a PC to run, not everyone wants that burden and in fact Ive been trying to pull the PC out of the equation for a very long time.

Re:The easy way (3, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609715)

Nothing beats a PC for versatility and flexibility. It's a device in control of the end users. People who build HTPC software are also people that use HTPC software. This reflects in the gap between appliances and PC software.

Even if you use a modern ARM appliance, chances are that you will need a big fat noisy power hungry PC in order to smooth over the limitation of the appliance. Chances are that you will be running some user developed software on the appliance as well.

There's a good reason that everyone says XBMC.

Re:The easy way (4, Interesting)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610001)

Exactly. If you want to build a 100% open-source media player capable of handling just about anything you might throw at it, you're almost certainly going to have to go with x64 architecture and forget about ARM. ARM just isn't fast enough to bitbang stuff like h.264 HD encoding in realtime, and will probably struggle to do 1080p60 playback (if it can do it at all). Everything that's ARM-based depends upon hardware acceleration and custom chips you'll probably never be allowed to buy or get low-level documentation for. At least, not documentation to do the kind of stuff you're likely to want to do. Most ARM-based media players huff and puff just trying to deal with their own UIs, even when they're treating the actual media playback like an opaque black box that takes encrypted input and (hopefully) does something useful with it.

Buy a motherboard & CPU that's fast enough to decode 1080p60 to RGB and triple-buffer it in realtime, and fast enough to do realtime 720p60 & 1080i60 mpeg-2 encoding without breaking a sweat. Pair it with a few 7200RPM drives with SSD write-through cache. And whatever you do, don't put yourself in a position where you depend upon any kind of hardware codec or acceleration that lacks 100% open-source Linux drivers based upon official datasheets (reverse-engineered drivers don't count). You can always through a bigger CPU at the problem and fix things yourself with software, but you can't always depend upon mass-market media chips (almost guaranteed to be infected by AACS licensing... at least, in the US, Europe, and Australia) being available & documented.

Re:The easy way (1) (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610483)

I'm pretty sure that the Pi handled 1080p video just fine. I'm not sure about the h.264 though. []

Re:The easy way (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611181)

The codec support is a bit limited. The Broadcom GPU supports many, but I think they licensed H.264 and MPEG-2 for the project. Others should be "fused off". At some point they released the specifications paper, but the other day I couldn't find it any more. It's all there.

Re:The easy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39611453)

I think it was just h.264, the h.264 license is cheap, but I think the MPEG-2 one is something like $5.

Re:The easy way (4, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610583)

Indeed. For some odd reason, people have such an aversion to just buying a PC, and hooking it up to the TV. People who will buy MP4-capable DVD players, who will spend hours re-encoding things so that they can watch it on the screen 20 feet from their PC. They all want appliances, for some odd reason, even though the decoding (let alone the encoding) of most popular items requires a rather powerful (by most PC OEM standards) machine. I'm starting to think it's almost racist bias towards having a 'PC' machine in the living room (nevermind the X-Box, Wii, and PS3), like they're trying to win a bet with someone, but can't admit they lost it years ago.

$800 for an appliance that cannot decode half the formats you have encountered, and will not decode the more-CPU / GPU intensive ones coming out later this year? Hell yeah, hook that up to the TV. Even has a 20GB hard drive, imagine that.

$800 for a PC with stereo out and HDMI, that can decode anything you throw at it? With a 2 TB hard drive? Why would I want that?

Why does the populace seem to treat machines like lepers?

Re:The easy way (1, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610871)

$800? Try $99 for an AppleTV. Stream to it from wherever. Transcoding is quick and easy for any H.264 codec.

Re:The easy way (3, Informative)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611331)

I see you failed to full understand the post you replied to. The point here is not to have to transcode at all.

AppleTV is just as limited as the other "appliances". Apple is all NIH when it comes to OGG and FLAC audio, or video files in MKV containers, or even MP4 if you don't use the "right" h264 profiles.

WD and the Chinese no-name devices actually accept more media types than an AppleTV.

Re:The easy way (1)

sirsnork (530512) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611407)

XBMC runs quite happily on an Apple TV2

You have hardware accelerated H.264 in m4v, mp4 and mkv. Everything else is software decoded so doesn't handle HD, but it pretty hard to find anything in HD that isn't in H.264 anyway.

Re:The easy way (2)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611479)

Not all h264 can be hardware accelerated, so you still have the issue of potentially non-playable HD files. It's a lot easier to update codecs on a PC that has the muscle for software decoding when it needs it. The extra labor and loss of quality in transcoding is the real problem with that setup.

The PC is simply more future-proof. At worst you may have to swap out the motherboard for a new one with a more ass-kicking processor down the line when people are playing 4K on their TVs, but you can retain the case, power supply, accessories, etc when you do that most likely.

Re:The easy way (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610881)

It has nothing to do with bias and everything ot do with reliability. Consumer desktop OS's are a real pain in the ass to 'consolize'. Desktop OSs also require alot of user intervention or alot of background administration to keep up with updates, patches etc.

i have had a PC in my living room since 2000, hooked up to a 32" Sony Trinitron and beyond. i currently run a Win 7 MCE machine at my in laws for recording TV i dont get, but other wise i have no need for a PC just to serve up video streams. I just want a NAS server with dumb endpoints all running homogenous data types. The best way to get great results is to realize that you dont need the full functionality of a PC for this. Pick a video format stick with it, re-encode if needed (i can re-encode a DVD in 30 mins or less on a core i5 for HD output, 10 mins for mobile versions. yes i know this takes a PC, but in a workstation capacity) I just dont like relying on a consumer OS to serve up my media reliably. Give me appliances for this low level shit, keep your workstations for doing work.

Re:The easy way (1)

don.g (6394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610847)

What's with the fast drives and the SSD? Even maximum bitrate Blu-Ray is only 54Mbps. Any hard drive you can buy will be able to keep up with that.

Re:The easy way (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609231)

Even with the best of tools and setups, pure streaming is not always an option. My synology NAS barfs on .mp4s sometimes. Flat out, dont use DLNA, it sucks, it has always sucked, it will always suck. Streaming is great, but it still not a universal thing that always works unless you very tightly control the media you feed into the system. You got things like the netatalk devs playing games, Apple messing around, its still complicated. LOVE my synology NAS, but DLNA sucks donkey dick. Im typing this as im waiting for handbrake to finish another pass trying to find the optimal format/size for xbox, android (nook color, hrdwre lmtd) and iOS.

To say DLNA sucks donkey dick is an understatement. I have an DNS-323 and if the indexing messes up it takes 20 minutes to re-index my MP3s. I stopped using DLNA 2 weeks after I tried it.

I have no problem with CIFs though.

Another tip: instead of letting XBMC store all the artwork/covers/nfo/etc locally, leave it on the NAS. Then any new XBMC connection is ready to go from the start.

Re:The easy way (5, Informative)

grantek (979387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609483)

Even with the best of tools and setups, pure streaming is not always an option. My synology NAS barfs on .mp4s sometimes.

Your NAS doing DLNA is doing more than a NAS needs to. XBMC happily supports connecting to Samba or SFTP shares within the application, or you could just use NFS and attach the NAS share to the local filesystem. If a NAS cares about what type of file it's sending over a plain filesystem access protocol like that it's a broken NAS.

Re:The easy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609927)

Not sure why you love your synology NAS if it barfs serving files.

I've not had any problem streaming all sorts of files from two 2TB drives connected to an Airport extreme, MP4 and otherwise. I've got a 1st gen appleTV, 2nd Gen AppleTV and an old laptop. They all run XBMC connect up via SMB shares and work flawlessly including on some ridiculously high bit rate videos that were given to me by relatives who clearly don't know much about encoding (think 3GB for 1/2 hour of video). The drives even sleep properly, and only take a couple of seconds to spin up.

Re:The easy way (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610893)

it was DLNA that caused the barf. Trying to watch a file on Xbox 360 through the standard video player app(not MCE). It played for about 2 minutes and then complained that that the Xbox couldnt play that format. The box works flawlessly over SMB, CIFs, AFP, iSCSI, but the DLNA 'standard' itself is what is broken.

Re:The easy way (5, Insightful)

PNutts (199112) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609971)

DLNA sucks donkey dick.

Hey, slow down. We're talking about building it, not what we're going to watch on it. But since you brought it up is it available on Blu -ray?

Re:The easy way (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610253)

DLNA does suck, this is why you simply use an nfs share on the nas which is running linux on an old core2duo in a large case, will support far more hard disks, will not be tied to any particular hardware as any linux machine could read the raid, etc etc.

One big beefy box with all the hard disks, many small nimble network clients, works a charm.

Re:The easy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609135)

I generally agree, though putting together a NAS is a whole 'nuther device and expense someone might not want to deal with. Aside from costing more, they'll generally use more power, make more noise and take up more space.

If you're not overly worried about drive failures, one of those (common) laptop drives in an enclosure will probably work just fine. They're small, inexpensive, and generally silent.

The trade-off is usually in the redundancy.

Re:The easy way (1)

zugmeister (1050414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609471)

Streaming over the NAS is excellent if you're OK with building the collection. For about two years I've been using an old Mac Mini running Win7 automatically booting into Windows Media Center running the Media Browser [] addon. Add in this [] remote and everyone that comes over automatically wants the same setup. I've found that by far the most difficult parts of this setup are ripping your movie collection and finding an inexpensive way to back up your movies.

Having set all that up, I'm currently looking at XBMC because it has more options for customization and better control over what database is used to identify your movies for cover art, summary, ratings etc.

Re:The easy way (1)

zugmeister (1050414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609593)

Sorry to reply to myself but the AC above me has an excellent point. There's no reason at all you couldn't run this off any small/silent/underpowered machine and hook up an external drive for mass storage. I was working off the (in retrospect) silly assumption that there was a NAS and network in place already.

Re:The easy way (2)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610549)

Also, "USB hard-drive"? Do you really want to transfer media to a drive? Build a home NAS and stream everything to the media player. The media player should be small and quiet. There is no need for an HDD.

Why not have "everything" (and the builder gets to choose what she knows she wants):

  • USB and eSATA ports for bulk drive(s).
  • 2nd USB port for memory stick sharing and rescue booting.
  • Camera card adapter for stuff from your camera.
  • Ethernet for your NAS and LAN and streaming from internet.
  • TV tuner card for over the air reception and cable ripping.
  • NTSC/PAL/Component digitizer card for copying all the old VHS and BETA tapes.
  • DVD/Blu-Ray player/recorder.
  • SDI/SDI-HD card if you work at a TV station.

And be sure to also support viewing still pictures (including picture frame mode) and playing any/all sound files.

Re:The easy way (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610557)

Oh, and I forgot the most important thing ... wifi ... so you can play things through your phone when on the loo.

Re:The easy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39611157)

For the ready made solutions, one to think of Dune HD Smart B1 [] .

Size of DVD drive, plays most of the modern video codecs (MPEG2, MPEG4, XVID, WMV9, VC1, H.264; support for very high bitrate video (up to 50 MBit/s and higher)), big bunch of audio codecs, different subtitle formarts, supports connecting to NAS with NFS, CIFS, etc, support for internet radio.

Only thing I don't like is the GUI: One needs to have TV open to operate it. There are optional GUI softwares, but they are all geared toward having a movie library, not a music player. It might not be _the_ solution, but definately worth having a look at the specs.

Re:The easy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39611201)

This story only has 2 comments right now. One recommending XBMC and another recommending RaspberryPi.
Correct on both counts. I don't think you need to reinvent the wheel on this...

Unless he wants it working this year. Sadly the RaspberryPi is less available than your mom.

Re:The easy way (5, Interesting)

Keruo (771880) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609113)


Combine this with AppleTV, it's only $99, and you have somewhat sane system.
It comes with remote already so one less extra step to tinker on.

Your question is about media and entertainment. Are you entertained by tinkering stuff or consuming entertainment generated by others?

Re:The easy way (1)

beeudoublez (619109) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609709)

Everyone always raves about XBMC, but I've had nothing but trouble getting it up and running. Namely, 1) how it parses folders and files, 2) how doesn't sync and notice new files very well. I have an HTPC connected via SMB to a file server.

For #1, I've followed the naming structure down to the letter as described in the wiki. It still misses some shows or flat-out won't catch the year (Dr. Who) For #2, I keep telling it to update the library, or scan for new content, but it denies there are new files. Back to Windows Explorer, and there are the files.

I was told to try MediaCompanion for ensuring my movies/tv shows are identified correctly, but I haven't seen a difference. MediaBrowser seems to be better (for identifying content), but little things like enabling subtitles are really difficult (and I bought the paid version).

Am I the only one who can't get XBMC to easily parse their content and recognize when new content is dropped in? I've gotten so frustrated that I'm eagerly waiting for Apple to take on this task and I'll gladly pay. When it's time to relax, I don't want to screw around w/computers :)

Re:The easy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39610243)

Plex parses my content fine. XBMC rarely succeeds. Doctor Who is a good example; XBMC things all of my New Who episodes are Old Who; Plex gets them all without any questions asked. No special configuration beyond giving it the directories to monitor. (Plex's player is an XBMC fork, but its backend server is proprietary and actually works)

Re:The easy way (1)

Astronomerguy (1541977) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610261)

I just add files to the folders on the NAS and XBMC finds them, every time. The ATV replaced my PS3 streaming files from PS3 Media Server running on the NAS (the NAS is a Core 2 Duo PC running Ubuntu server). I really like the Apple TV over-all. Have you updated to the latest version of XBMC? Having said all that, XBMC crashes daily on my Apple TV. I've re-flashed it and all that, but I believe the unit is a dud. Once the IOS on the v.3 units have been jail broken, then I'll send it back to Apple for replacement. So many others, including many friends, have units that work just fine so I believe mine is just a random ATV with issues.

Re:The easy way (1)

Jesse_vd (821123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610265)

For large libraried MediaCompanion, Ember Media Manager, or similar is an absolute must. By generating the NFOs yourself you take the guessing and searching out for XBMC. It works great once you set it up properly and the new Eden build has added a TON of great features and usability

Re:The easy way - Boxee Box (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609153)

Boxee box is a cute little box with a modified XBMC. Works surprisingly well, indexing and streaming tv-shows and movies of my NAS.

Some bugs and limitations sure, but the WAF is incredible!

Re:The easy way (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609771)

Even better answer...don't. Seriously the power draw of anything he can cook up (unless he builds his own raspberry Pi based unit) will be nuts compared to the already built. I've had plenty of happy customers with the Nbox and Nbox HD, both are simple enough your average 6 year old can use them and its $25 for the Nbox and $60 for the Nbox HD. The only thing you need to know is use an external drive with its own PSU as the nbox doesn't put enough power over USB to drive laptop drives. But they are cheap, easy to use, VERY low power, and have both USB and SD slots which is great for when i want to take a movie over to watch with my dad as i can just slap it on an SD and drop it in my pocket.

Now if you want to go HTPC well there has never been a better time as tiger has been selling AMD kits crazy cheap on account of the impending socket change. You can get a fully loaded triple for like $220 bucks right now and the AMD IGP supports just about every time of codec you can name.

If you want even cheaper there are several kits at newegg based on the Brazos platform which gives you a dual core APU that has 2 bobcat cores and an AMD HD6320 GPU. The Brazos platform is great, in fact i liked it enough i sold my laptop for a EEE netbook and just love it. I've also built several HTPCs out of Brazos and its just a great little unit. If you want to go Linux its been supported OOTB since Ubuntu 10.04 so no worries, i'm pretty sure the XBMC Linux build supports it as well. And of course if you want to go Win 7 it has full support for DXVA and can even play some older games like L4D and Crysis with the graphics lowered.

So if all you are wanting is a video player just get a prebuilt like Nbox HD unless you want to build a pi based, or if you want a full fledged HTPC look at the Brazos followed by one of the Athlon kits, just depending on how much power and money you are willing to spend. Brazos is only 18w so its the lowest powered HTPC i know of but with a little underclocking and a good board with the ability to turn off phases you can get an Athlon down to sub 50w.

Raspberry Pi (4, Informative)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39608989)

I've gotta say, that if you're not aware of the Raspberry PI project, then you're asking the wrong question.

Re:Raspberry Pi (2)

Manic Miner (81246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609007)

Specifically use OpenELEC running on a RaspBerry PI: []

Of course getting hold of a RaspBerry Pi will be tough, but once you have done that it's all done :)

Re:Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39610915)

Have you even USED OpenELEC? If you did then you won't know it's a POS.

Just use XBMC Live edition (now called something like XBMC Ubuntu) off a USB 3.0. Can get one of those tiny barebones Foxconn (there's others too) computers.

Re:Raspberry Pi (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609075)

Maybe he wants to make his player soon, not in a few months. If you order a RaPi now, you get a delivery estimate in the third quarter. If you can wait, you should probably wait for the new Google TV, which is based on the Marvell Armada 1500 SoC. Like the RaPi it has HDMI, hardware H264 decoding and a GPU, but unlike the Rapi with its slow ARMv6 single core and no disk or network interface on chip, the Marvel SoC has a dual core ARM v7 with NEON support, and SATA and Ethernet on chip. I expect it to come with a case and a power supply too.

Re:Raspberry Pi (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609339)

I'm not to sure this is the right solution. Given my past experiences with making video run smoothly on underpowered devices even with hardware decoding it'll be an uphill battle.

For only a few square cm more you can buy a pico ITX board with significantly more power and features.

Re:Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609509)

I'm not to sure this is the right solution. Given my past experiences with making video run smoothly on underpowered devices even with hardware decoding it'll be an uphill battle.

For only a few square cm more you can buy a pico ITX board with significantly more power and features.

The raspberry pi is not underpowered. It has HW-H.264 decoding.

Re:Raspberry Pi (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609725)

What about everything else?

There's more to video than just a limited subset of one codec and one container format. People can and do accumulate video from a variety of sources. Some people might even have "legacy" video data of their own.

I weak x86 can handle software decoding for formats that ARM appliances can't cope with at all.

Re:Raspberry Pi (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611123)

Is it webscale too?

Re:Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609659)

That Pi tastes great, but h.265 (hevc) is on it's way, maybe consider getting something powerful as it may be a while until h265 has acceleration of Hevc video decoding via a GPU. You will mostly be stuck decoding hevc files using the cpu until the gpus can decode hvec themselves. Why would you care about hevc now (simple 30-40% less bitrate is required to get the same quality with the tests that have been conducted so far, and The standards not even finished yet!!!!!!!!!!!!. The difference is quality I am guessing from what I have read won't be a dramatic as from mpeg2 to mpeg4 (part 2 or part 10) but it should be almost as great as a improvement If what I am reading is genuine (these are papers published by Video Encoding Experts, BTW not some half-arsed news site like a certain linux site i wont name that did a review of xfce and proceeded to use gnome 2 screenshots throughout the article). Sorry for the run on sentence, I been up 22 hours, time for sleep. Did i mention that 4k x 2k videos are starting to appear on the net as well?, It will be interesting to see if that resolution of video will become commonplace, Theres already 1 mainstream device with a 2048x1536 screen already so maybe 1080p is going to move aside in a few years, who knows?

BTW, I been working on a similar project myself (still in research stage at the moment but not for much longer!!! )

XBMC (4, Informative)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39608993)

Small form factor media PC running XBMC [] will do everything you want and more.

Re:XBMC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609097)

XBMC is wonderful. But I also quickly realized that having a small wireless keyboard and mouse available made a classic desktop much more flexible.

Re:XBMC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609099)

Or an original xbox with xbmc. But it struggles with > 720p.

Watching a movie right now on one.

Re:XBMC (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609115)

Or an original xbox with xbmc. But it struggles with > 720

That's because the original X-box is about the slowest hardware anyone runs XBMC on.

XBMC does 1080 just fine.

Re:XBMC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609309)

It's less because the hardware is slow, and more because the Xbox has only 64 MB of RAM. (The slow hardware would definitely prohibit rendering 1080p, though)

Re:XBMC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39610925)

Why do these idiots keep popping up even mentioning xbox any more for XBMC. It's fkn 2012 dumbass. People like you need to stop cluttering these posts and continually bringing up XBMC on an ancient xbox. Get over it. That platform is dead and no one builds on it any more.

Re:XBMC (1)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609141)

XBMC 0.11 (Eden) seems to have a few issues with some remotes, specifically media center ones, and has pretty lousy netflix streaming integration. I've been trying for a few weeks now to iron out the issues, but quite frankly it just "isn't there yet".

XBMC is good software, and I applaud the teams working on it, if the remote issues can be ironed out and proper netflix support added it would be awesome.

Re:XBMC (2)

crackspackle (759472) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609257)

Unless you're really dead set on DIY, I recommend the Xtreamer [] Ultra for $399, available on Amazon. From the blurb "Xtreamer ULTRA Mini-ITX SFF HTPC (1.8 GHZ Intel Atom Dual-Core D525, nVidia ION 2, 4GB DDR3, HDMI 1.4a) Includes Remote, Mini Wireless Keyboard w/ Trackpad, PLUS XBMC and Boxee Configured and Ready to Go!", so it's a full PC and a very small, nice and quiet one at that.

The Ultra comes without a hard drive, but it has a 2.5 bay where you can add an HDD or SSD. I did the former. It boots off a custom version of Ubuntu running an offshoot of Grub2 called Berg that gives you a nice graphical menu to choose among XBMC, Boxee, Linux, or any x86 OS you choose to install. Transferring the OS to a hard drive and adding more is easy. I added Fedora and Windows 7 for the heck of it and both run great. Even 1080p video over my gigabyte LAN runs perfectly.. They are now also offering the Ultra2, a souped up version with WiFi capability built in.

Re:XBMC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609297)

XBMC, hmmm its looks nice, i have run it on debian and arch and it seemed very buggy and crash prone, anyone had a better experience?

Re:XBMC (1)

zugmeister (1050414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609553)

I've run it on OS X 10.6, 10.7 and now testing it on Win7. I haven't had any bug problems though I have had to steal the remote off our main TV on occasion because it really is designed to work with a multimedia remote instead of a keyboard. It's also got some unusual behavior (you set up your shares through the same place you access media, not the "system / setup" main menu option? WTF?) so it may be a good idea to pull a youtube showing how to accomplish a given task before you dig in too deep.

Re:XBMC (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609535)

$400 is way to much for this kind of box when you have things like this Asus for $180. []

Atom Dual core D510 /w Nvidia ION. Add your own DDR2 RAM, and a small HDD or boot off a thumb drive. Then pick up a USB IR receiver for ~$15.

Install the XBMCbuntu or OpenELEC and your done. The mini keyboard with your box is handy, but outside of the initial configuration, I only every interface with a remote.

Raspberry Pi + Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39608997)

A friend of mine is looking at doing this very thing. He is going to use a Raspberry Pi, Linux and an XBMC style application.

How far do you want to go? (3)

solidraven (1633185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609011)

A good ARM board with proper multimedia functionality should be sufficient (I think the Beagle board might be sufficient). Though obviously the larger FPGAs would excel at this. But it'd take quite a lot of time to rewrite everything in VHDL or Verilog. And even then, you'd need one of the larger more expensive FPGA's with enough slices. In the end it'd be easier to grab an old computer and make your own IR sensor and use one of those universal remotes with it.

Re:How far do you want to go? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609149)


Anybody heard of Raspberry Pi?!?!?!?!?! No, lets just make THE EXACT SAME THING. Fucking idiots.

To the original poster, you have to be a fucking retard. Seriously. Asking Slashdot this question? This is a super troll. Has to be. Brilliant.

Re:How far do you want to go? (1)

bluescrn (2120492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609199)

Can you buy a Raspberry Pi? - like right now?

No, you can't - you'll be waiting another 2-3months or so.

So don't rule out other options. Besides, some people love messing with interesting hardware

Re:How far do you want to go? (1)

solidraven (1633185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609213)

The beagle board has been around a lot longer, has more features and is very well documented. Additionally the ARM processor on the beagle board is more powerful and actually intended for multimedia and signal processing applications. Do some research into what was first before you wish to make comments like this.

Re:How far do you want to go? (1)

Astronomerguy (1541977) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610601)

Wow. Drink too much often? Seriously.

Sign the greater pact with the devil^hMPAA first (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609059)

The one thing all of the little hardware boxes do that your Pi running XBMC (or small Atom) can't do is streaming media. To be allowed to do that you have to prove to Netflix, Amazon, etc. that the box is tamper proof enough they feel safe in allowing 'The Precious' to be sent to it. Of course since pretty much every BlueRay player streams and sucks at actually playing irregular discs (as in downloaded content) just have one of those to cover locked content and build a media box of your own for everything else.

Re:Sign the greater pact with the devil^hMPAA firs (2)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609563)

My Atom boxes running XBMC can access both Amazon instant watch, and Hulu content just fine. I can't access Netflix as I am running Linux and Silverlight doesn't exist on that. But if I actually used Netflix I have a PS3 or Google TV I could stream to.

Outside of Netflix XBMC will pretty much stream everything. The nice thing about the Hulu plugin is that you don't need Hulu Plus, and if you have Plus all of those shows that won't let you stream to a TV will still play just fine.

If you are interested in either Amazon or Hulu, install Bluecop's repository. []

Just download the repository zip to the root of a thumb drive, and plug it into your XBMC computer. Then select to install an add-on from a zip, and choose the file on the thumb drive.

Both Amazon and Hulu require an updated Flash library, so make sure you are running XBMC Eden, otherwise you'll have to manually update the library, and there really isn't a good reason not to update to Eden.

WD TV Live Media Player Plus (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609065)

Get yourself a WD TV Live Media Player Plus, get a 7200RPM 2TB USB hard drive. Connect the media player to your network via wired Internet. Copy media to the media player's share.

Re:WD TV Live Media Player Plus (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609189)

The WDTV works equally well with a wireless USB adapter (make sure you get the right brand). I'm running ushare (UPnP server) on a OpenWRT router to stream videos.

Flash It With WDLXTV! (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610117)

If you buy a WDTV product you really, really want to flash it with WDLXTV goodness: []

Re:Flash It With WDLXTV! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39610759)

No, you won't cause it does not work on the latest gen 3 player, the LIVE SMP. The original LIVE has lots of bugs that may or may not be fixed with a final firmware update.

You seem to have a realistic idea, at least (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609077)

The quote of

I also think it will a good programming adventure

Indicates that at least you have some sense of what it will take to do this and what the end result may (or may not) end up like. Too many people would go into a project like this with the idea of saving money (doesn't work) or making something that is better than mass market version s and usable by others in the household (no real chance of that).

But if you're looking for an adventure, this may be a good choice for you.

raspberry pi with wi-fi android remote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609081)

That's what I did, use wi-fi to control.

PS3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609103)

Can't get easier than that...

The big picture (4, Interesting)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609127)

[TPB] ---Internet---> [PC] ---LAN/WLAN---> [NAS] ---LAN/WLAN---> [HTPC with XBMC] ---HDMI---> [TV] ---vision---> [guy on couch]

Go and fetch the parts you are currently missing.

Re:The big picture (1)

PNutts (199112) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609991)

[TPB] ---Internet---> [PC] ---LAN/WLAN---> [NAS] ---LAN/WLAN---> [HTPC with XBMC] ---HDMI---> [TV] ---vision---> [guy on couch]

Go and fetch the parts you are currently missing.

Careful. If the OP reads from right to left she won't have the time nor desire to build the media center.

Re:The big picture (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610533)

Go and fetch the parts you are currently missing.

I have everything else, but I'm presently missing "[guy on couch]". I've never run into a distribution system that required one. But if I must have one, can you tell me what the minimum system requirements are? I'm not sure what the battery life of 'guy on couch' is, but I've heard from my heterosexual friends that economy models generally weigh more, have limited ram, and the processor has what was described to me as a "very aggressive power saving feature". I'd also like to know how much these things cost and if there are any maintenance requirements beyond feeding him and giving him access to the bathroom. Again, very new to the market, so apologies in advance.

Chinese Android TV box (4, Interesting)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609155)

For ~70$ you can buy a chinese box running Android with HDMI output, wi-fi and remote on sites like dealextreme, merimobiles, pandawill etc. Something like this
(it's just an example, there are literally hundreds of slightly different options): []

Don't expect it to work well out of the box, but as a DIY project it should be fine. You can write a custom android app to control it, or install something like plex for android.
For more possibilities, make sure you get a device with an available root access.

reinventing the wheel and forgetting google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609229)

because there are lots of solutions available and many open source ones.
Seems people are too easy to "ask slashdot" instead of actually doing their homework.

NDA with proprietary chipsets (1)

NuclearCat (899738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609285)

I was involved in development of some hardware players (Sigma chipset). And media companies plays there major role. And most important for them IP. This means DRM. Also this means NDA. Realtek, Sigma, all the same in that.
Amazing hardware power, but very locked down before product release by patent restrictions and DRM.
I believe the best you can do and archieve your goals - Atom with some kind of GPU acceleration, but again proprietary drivers, to get acceleration.
FPGA i believe will need too much efforts for one person, to support all media formats

Start With Open-Source Firmware for WD TV? (2)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609291)

I'm sure there's many other devices and firmware to choose from, but I have a few of these WD TV boxes and have considered coding some of my own stuff for them starting with one of the custom firmware projects [] that are already available.

Re:Start With Open-Source Firmware for WD TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39610765)

Dude, can you page be more outdated?

Why re-invent the wheel? (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609325)

I assume you mean by hardware video player you're trying to make a dedicated piece of gear to play multimedia files. If so that is insane. Why re-invent the wheel for something everyone from the hacker community to the big manufacturers are doing perfectly fine with software and off the shelf components?

Most hardware media centres are nothing more than some fanless microITX PC with a TV card, harddisk, and some custom made LCD front display. It's one of the reasons they take so horrendously long to start up. Why not just whip together something like that and then throw XBMC, Myth TV, or MediaPortal on it? Bonus points for making it run on a Raspberry Pi, or some other ARM based processor.

Those three packages seem to do basically all of what you're suggesting anyway so what are you trying to gain?

If you think you can do it better than the existing packages then why not make a plugin for them? You get to build on an already established project which has been through the countless mistakes you're likely to make on the way, and you can give back to an existing and large community rather than competing with the established players.

How else do you learn about wheels? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39611187)

The guy wants a project to hack together.

WDTV Live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609335)

If you get tired of trying to build your own buy a WDTV Live box for $90. It plays every file I've thrown at it (m4v, mkv, DVD VIDEO_TS dir, and more) and can do so from NFS and SMB shares. DLNA is HORRIBLE, avoid it like the plague. You can set up metadata in XML files that it will read and display.

Not gonna lie - it's going to be tough (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609461)

You want loudness control? Movies AND documentaries?

Resuming play?(!!)

You're going to need a lot of FPGAs, and you're going to need to rewrite a lot of popular codecs. Movie codecs. Documentary codecs. TV episode codecs. Audio codecs (with loudness control).

Thinking about this some more, are you sure the "popular" codecs meet all your requirements? Those codecs are for the kind of people satisfied without a customized library screen. Think big. You need to write some of your own codecs, running on your own optimized OS, and your own network protocols. Then shoot your own movies.

You're going to need a lot of books for this.

ffmpeg (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609589)

Most of the devices use the ffmpeg libraries to handle the decoding (and encoding on those that can rip or record).. which always made me wonder why some don't support certain formats/codecs while others do considering they're nearly all built using ffmpeg...

Re:ffmpeg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609931)

which always made me wonder why some don't support certain formats/codecs while others do considering they're nearly all built using ffmpeg...

Licensing issues, most likely.

HD Audio? (1)

It's the tripnaut! (687402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609643)

There are many comments regarding procs with HD video with 1080p support. Unfortunately, most of these do not come with DTS-MA or Dolby TrueHD capability. A true multimedia box should have these capabilities and more. Take a good look at Sigma proc based multimedia players like the Popcorn Hour [] and you'll know what I mean.

Re:HD Audio? (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610027)

Nvidia Ion2 does HD Audio (all supported BR formats), I'm running a Asus S1-AT5NM10E. It's cheap and only missing harddrive and memory. XBMC Linux does not yet do HD audio but standard mplayer does. I'm streaming full BR rips over NFS and it's smooth. I'm running XBMC for now, and if I want the full experience I just start the movie with mplayer.

I have tried some media streamers in the past altough not the Popcorn Hour, my problem have been with scale, the one I've tried didn't do a collection of thousands movies too well.

Just went 'back' to XBMC. (3, Informative)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609685)

Was using PS3 w/Media Centre (DLNA streaming app) on a PC.
Then I read up cinavia [] []

Decided to convert my NAS [] into a HTPC with a slimline video card (40$) and put XBMC on it (plus XBMC remote for Android, no IR, no bluetooth required)

Has been better than expected, XBMC came a long long long way since my Xbox 1.
Playback is smooth, UI is good, even installed MySQL on the little NAS and now the library can be accessed around the house easily with multiple copies of XBMC tied in to the main box.
Very good stuff.

FPGA = no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39609843)

Unless you want a project, a serious project, you don't want to do this on an FPGA. It'd be months of full-time work for an experienced FPGA person. Just use a computer, whatever size, and leverage all the software that's already out there.

Mini-ITX Intel Atom-NVIDIA-ION and XBMC (4, Interesting)

LikwidCirkel (1542097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609887)

Tiny cheap solutions like the raspberry pi are kind of limited.

I've got an Intel Atom/NVidia ION mini ITX board that was pretty cheap. It has a single PCIe x16 slot and 4 SATA ports and was worth less than $100. There are similar chipsets which I'm sure would work equally well and still beat the crap out of tiny boards like R Pi.

It's a file server, a media center, and it even does well with office suites and web browsing. Media players like XBMC are no problem, as are standard peripherals like wireless keyboards. I can also drop in up to 4Gigs of RAM and some 12TB of hard drive space.

Way, way way more flexible than any ARM device on the market could possibly be, and much more mature and easier to get working for multiple common tasks - not just playing media.

Re:Mini-ITX Intel Atom-NVIDIA-ION and XBMC (1)

marsu_k (701360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611023)

Seconded. If you're feeling lazy, ION-based nettops can be had quite cheaply - pros: small, quiet; cons: limited expandability (usually space for only a single 2.5" hard drive). I personally got a nettop from Asus that includes a slot-loading DVD-drive and an IR-remote, combined with a 2TB external hard drive and XBMC things have been peachy, it will happily play back everything I've thrown at it. Although ION doesn't support hardware decoding of MPEG4 ASP (i.e. DivX/XviD), so I suppose if one has 1080p content in that format ION would struggle with it; in practice though, all HD video seems to be encoded with MPEG4 AVC (H.264), which ION supports just fine.

Re:Mini-ITX Intel Atom-NVIDIA-ION and XBMC (1)

cardpuncher (713057) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611371)

I'd agree, for a number of reasons.

It still isn't clear how the Pi is going to perform for multimedia content - it will ship licensed only for H.264 acceleration AFAIK so if you've got any HD MPEG-2, for example, you may have some issues. Also, if you're planning "a good programming adventure" you'll probably be cross-compiling on a different architecture and then attempting to debug on an unfamiliar platform.

With something like an Atom/ION platform you can more conveniently do your software development on the target machine (even if you subsequently remove the unnecessary peripheral components when you're done - which you will never be....) and be reasonably assured of the video performance (of all the common graphics adapters, the Nvidia hardware probably has the longest history of mostly-complete video acceleration available to end-user developers).

On the other hand, it would be a great deal easier (and probably cheaper) to buy something like a WDTV-Live, particularly if you actually want to watch your content rather than just throw up a few frames and marvel at your handiwork.

Asus EeeBox, XBMC, diskless. (4, Interesting)

Strider- (39683) | more than 2 years ago | (#39609923)

This is what I just put together. System PXE Boots Debian, and starts up XBMC within about 20 seconds. When running, it's only 25 watts or so, and it boots fast enough that I have no problems shutting it down when not in use. Plays 1080p high profile smooth as silk.

I use boxee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39610059)

Boxee is great, I just plugged it in, setup is simple, and just use it.
Seems to play and support _everything_. No nonsense no hassle, no rebooting or tinkering, just using and enjoying.
For files i pull them off a 2008 server share.
Really happy with it.

What about a Roku and Plex? (3, Interesting)

darkgumby (647085) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610359)

I have a Roku 2XS. It has a Plex client. I've run the Plex server on my Mac and on an Ubuntu box and in both cases this setup works just fine. I've streamed a handful of movies and TV shows and so far am very satisfied with the results. I have an older Linksys E1000 using stock firmware. I haven't even bothered to optimize my wifi network. With some QOS I might get higher quality streaming but I have an old SD TV so my standards are low. Will get an HDTV sometime this year and will want 720p or better so will probably upgrade the WLAN. When I had the Plex server running under Ubuntu it was running inside of a Proxmox VM. That worked really well. I'm rebuilding the Proxmox host now and will probably go back to that setup.

I don't care about DRM content (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610633)

If a media/content producer/distributor wants to use DRM, then I don't want their crap. So I don't care if the media play box can do DRM or not. I'll make or get DRM-free content. I want a box that can play any and all of that, from anywhere, including media in Linux and BSD filesystems.

As I see it, any media/content producer/distributor that wants to use DRM is clearly not marketing their product to me. That means they cannot claim what I'm not buying from them as a loss, because their businesses model doesn't include me at all. That doesn't mean I don't sometimes buy some DRM content, such as Män som hatar kvinnor / Flickan som lekte med elden / Luftslottet som sprängdes. But generally not because it's so difficult to play on those crap DVD/Blu-Ray boxes they make these days, and all the trailers they won't let you skip forward in.

So anyway, there is NO LOSS to them whether I do, or do not, download what someone ripped from some DRMed source. If I do have any ripped DRM content, I'm perfectly willing to buy it from them if/when they offer it in MY market (e.g. no DRM) for a reasonable (same as others) price.

I don't think people get what you are looking for (1)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 2 years ago | (#39610999)

There are some great discussions going on here, but too many people are saying stuff like XBMC or building PCs or some crap. Doesn't sound like what you are looking for.

I am no expert, but I could tell you what some of these devices that you talked about actually are.

First, you would probably need a customized motherboard which has HDMI output for both audio and video. As building your own motherboard would be costly, it sounds like you are going to need something like a microATX motherboard to start with. You probably don't need a ton of features on it - you are not going to be plugging in any cards, just mainly it needs to support HDMI, SATA harddrives, and USB. Also make sure that it has a good onboard video-card that has great video-hardware support for whatever OS you are going to throw on it

You may or may not need an x64 processor - if you want to do just 720p video, you could probably get away with an ARM processor, as my tablet is able to handle 720p mp4s just fine. If you are looking to do 1080p or higher, or Full3D (either Full SBS or whatever), you are probably going to have to go with a multi-core x64 processor. I will let you decide which one you are going to use.

The amount of ram is probably going to be dependant on how much you customize your kernel (on a Linux based system), or which OS you decide to use. I mean, you could easily throw Windows 7 on the thing and use Media Center, or some plugin for it, and end up having to do zero programming, you just have to setup the software. So, depending on what you want to do, you could go anywhere from, say, 512 meg of ram up to 4 gig (should be plenty).

If you do go windows 7, you could get Media Center to launch on startup, then get a Windows Media Center remote from amazon for like $20. You could either mount USB ports inside the case or try to do some custom wiring and see if you can get your USB device to connect to a USB port on the PC. You are going to need to do a bit of cutting to the front of the case to mount your IR sensor, then maybe put a piece of tinted glass in front of it to make it look cool.

Don't forget to mount your Harddrive.

You may need to use the DVI connection on the motherboard for the initial installation of software and setting up of the OS, but you should then be able to have it default to HDMI once its setup.

Setup networking on it to easily put files onto the device.

There are a few UIs out there that you can put on top of MediaCenter to customize the look and feel. This would require zero programming.

Now, if you want to use Linux or Android, it would require a bit more work, and would mean that you may have issues playing something like Blu-Ray content, but I don't think most of the media players you mentioned support that, either. Usually, you are throwing MKVs, AVIs, or movies at it, and many of the codecs you can get for Linux. I have been away from Linux for a while, though, and not sure how well hardware acceleration works now. The downside to using Linux or Android is that it WILL mean that you will have to do a bit more customization, but you could do more as well. You could add an LCD pannel, and a few other things.

In either Windows, Android, or Linux, you can change your splash screen when it powers up, so you don't HAVE to use the Windows Logo (not sure where to change it in Windows 7, but it was easy enough to do in XP) or the Android logo or whatever, and if you decide to write your own software, you could do whatever you want. In fact, you could probably even write your own UI for MediaCenter and have it use that cool front LCD panel if you want to.

Point is, you can get one up and running with zero programming skill, and even get it with a customized startup logo and a UI that you can download off the net with basic tinkering skills, and not really even have to worry about codecs because there is software out there already that takes care of it. Or you can spend the next 2-3 years of your life writing your own video-software and embedding codecs in it and designing a user interface. Or, if you are feeling really adventurous, you can write your own OS as well.

So, I guess the question you should really ask yourself is just how much trouble you want to put into this? You can build one in an afternoon using software that is already available, or you can spend a couple of years writing your own software. Or you can save yourself the cost of a motherboard, processor, memory, case and harddrives and just pick up one of the devices you menitoned earlier - it will probably be cheaper.

I guess the question you should ask yourself is - do you want a project to tinker on or an afternoon (installing hardware, Windows 7, Media Center with a customized UI and customized startup screen), something that will take you a couple of days (Linux, with rebuilding your kernel, finding the right packages and dependancies, drivers, and codecs), something that may take you a bit longer (Android with say an ARM processor), or something that will take you a couple of years (writing your own software), or are you just wanting to play your downloaded movies on your TV (just go out and buy the Western Digital or the Boxie or something like that).

Forget FPGAs (1)

rippeltippel (1452937) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611155)

If you fancy some DIY, there are several good chipsets for media players: Intel CE4200 (i386) and several Marvell ones (ARM) just to name a few. They normally handle 720/1080p, stereo/5.1 audio and yes, they all run Linux :-)
I personally like Marvell Armada chipsets (have been working on them in the past) and they're also used in some plug computers [] , which is something you may like to try (double-check the specs though).

Once you've got your HW decoder, you can generally run gstreamer on it. You may need to fine-tune gstreamer for the particular chipset though, and possibly write your own player around it, as using gst-launch is quite hard-core. There are several other open-source libraries to add nice features, e.g. lirc for IR remote controls, DirectFB for GUI/OSD and WebKit for web browsing. Qt may be ported as well, which would be a good plus to me. You may also consider live555, which is what VLC is using I think. Of course XBMC is still a great solution, if you want things working (almost) out of the box.

The best thing would be to double-check the SDK documentation (whenever accessible) and see what's supported by each particular chipset. Whenever a core feature is there (e.g. the codecs you want, input support, etc.) then it's possible to write some SW to use it. Unfortunately, in my experience, Python is seldom considered, but if you fancy C/C++, sky's the limit.

i3 htpc + XBMC is the answer (1)

nomaddamon (1783058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39611231)

Here's what i have:
* i3 2120T with no cooling
* Some Asus micro-ATX board
* 2x4gb of ram
* 2x3 tb Hdd
* Pico PSU
* Media center case with 1 12cm case-fan (the only fan in system)

As a result i have a media server that serves all other systems (primary tv via HDMI, rest via DLNA or fileshares), that is always on (seedbox), can play 60fps 1080p with no problems and takes almost no power (12w idle/seeding, 14w playing 1080p, 75w peak at startup)
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