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A Cheap and Easy Network Digital Media Player?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the so-easy-your-cat-can-use-it dept.

Television 59

hethatishere asks: "Does such a thing exist? Better yet, is it easy enough for my parents to use? PRISMIQ seems to offer a pretty good one, but it has very limited codec support. D-Link also offers a wireless Media player, but it too struggles with the copious number of codecs available. So is there a cheap and affordable Wireless Networked Media Player, that supports most if not all common and advanced codecs (DivX, XviD, and various wrappers like MKV and OGG, etc), or is this still a pipe dream?"

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Cat in furnace. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12689841)


Re:Cat in furnace. (1)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691905)

Snowball in hell. Nice....

The Kiss Technologies [] players are great - I've been using a DP-1500s for the last year, one wired, one wireless, using the KMA server which runs on linux.

Re:Cat in furnace. (1)

poolmeister (872753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691975)

Me too, I have a Kiss DP1500 [] , which is DVD/MPEG-4/DivX?/XviD/CD/MP3/Ogg Vorbis/CD-RW/DVD+-RW/JPEG/MPG/MPEG compatable. Has built in Ethernet port and PCMCIA slot for a Wi-Fi card and the firmware is upgradeable. The only files it doesn't play (yet?) is Realmedia, Windows Media & videos encoded with AC3 sound. Excellent bit of kit and cheap too...

Re:Cat in furnace. (1)

poolmeister (872753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691996)

Forgot to mensh that Kiss players also supports .srt external subtitle files for those foreign MPEG4 movies

Re:Cat in furnace. (1)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692003)

Yeah, no WMV or realmedia support - I always use mencoder to change them to xvid - AC3 sound works fine for me, though - I have the optical out on the kiss going into my amp, and surround works beautifully.

Also, there are user firmwares which allow you to make the DVD multiregional. Which is nice.

And it hooks up to for cd text, it does VCDs, mp3 cds, web radio, the weather, and there is a module somewhere which turns it into a network monitor as well, with mrtg and snmp support (it runs ucLinux).

There are a few models which support digital TV of all flavours and also have hard-drives for PVR - I think there's a model as well with two tuners, so you can watch and record.

Very nice range of kit.

MediaMVP (4, Informative)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 9 years ago | (#12689851)

I hear the MediaMVP [] from hauppauge is really nice, especially for 99$ US. A friend of mine has one and streams all his movies from a PC in his house. It does music, video (including divx) and stills. You can skin the interface if you don't like the canned one.
On the downside, it requires you to install software on your PC, which I think is windows only, don't know if there is a OSS server yet for it. Also, if you intend to watch divx movies, you'll need a 1.8 Ghz CPU or better. Apparently the box is some type of VNC client, and the software turns your PC into a VNC server.

Re:MediaMVP (2, Informative)

rusty0101 (565565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690044)

There are instructions for how to get it running as a front end for MythTV.

First up is to set up a tftp server on your dhcp server. You might be able to do this with software for a Linksys 54g firewall/router, but you would probably be better off running both on a dedicated server behind your firewall, rather than on it.

On the server you will need to have available the appropriate client image for the MVP to load up. That includes pre-configuring that image with the information on how to connect to your MythTV back end. There are instructions at VP_LinuxHOWTO [] for anyone really interested.



Re:MediaMVP (2, Informative)

enrico_suave (179651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690412)

The mediamvp is pretty cool... I believe there's a lot of MediaMVP linux hacking [] at SHSpvr forum []

It playsback primarily mpeg2 but there are little transcode on the fly utilities that allow it to push divx/etc through it's mpeg2 decoder.

howto use MediaMVP, PVR250, GBPVR make cheap/easy PVR []

There are "client" replacments for SageTV and GBPVR that allow you to extend the full functionality of your PC PVR to these little quiet clients over your wired network (a wireless version is in the works... some wireless bridge gateway shennagins are possible depending on the quality of your link/bitrate/quality)


Re:MediaMVP (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12699903)

They claim that the MediaMVP is a linux box running with an IBM PowerPC. Wouldn't there be enough power on the PowerPC to decode MPEG-4 in realtime, or is it a really slow PPC?

Re:MediaMVP (1)

a_peckover (228357) | more than 9 years ago | (#12703596)

How well does it work over a 802.11g wireless LAN with XviDs ?

MythTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12689858)

Build em a cheap MythTV box... :)

Squeeze Box (3, Interesting)

MJArrison (154721) | more than 9 years ago | (#12689875)

A Squeeze Box [] is exactly what you're looking for. I got one a few months ago. It is a god send. Both wired and wireless versions are available. It's a little more expensive than the major brand counterparts that you mentioned, but it is:
  • totally open sourced
  • served with perl
  • capable of every codec imaginary
  • capable of digital and analog output

I love it!

Re:Squeeze Box (3, Funny)

Khakionion (544166) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690093)

capable of every codec imaginary

Damn, I've got to get me some of that.

Mod parent up - Re:Squeeze Box (1)

tickticker (549972) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690158)

Now and again I realize why i should hand out my mod points half-assed.

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid

Re:Mod parent up - Re:Squeeze Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691552)

mod great grandparent down. -1 RTFA

this squeezebox is NOT exactly what the poster was asking for. this thing does not play video.

Re:Mod parent up - Re:Squeeze Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691569)

and why the HELL is it 250-300 bucks????? (usd)

ALL IT DOES is play music files over a network connection!!!

Myth-compatible? (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690157)

Any chance this thing would be compatible with a MythTV backend and use the squeeze-box just for playback? Haven't heard of it before, so I'll do some reading myself, but just for the benefit of the /. crowd (yeah, that's it...;)

Tired of the Slashdot Effect and stories full of broken links? I think I may have a real solution to the problem. []

Re:Myth-compatible? (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690235)

the answer... []

Re:Myth-compatible? (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690258)

Ack, ignore that. That's totally backwards to what I'm looking for. Here's what I'm looking for:

[nfs server w/myth backend]------[mythtv box recording hdtv]

So I record on the myth box, it saves the file to the nfs server, and squeezebox is able to play it back. Make sense?

Re:Myth-compatible? (1)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690236)

The squeezebox is not compatible with the MythTV backend. However, they coexist.

You put all your music in a folder on your Myth PC, and then have both Myth serve it to MythFrontEnds, and SlimServer serve it to Squeezeboxen.

Its very cool and works well - I am doing exactly this with myth and 2x squeezeboxes.

Re:Myth-compatible? (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690271)

So, let me make sure I understand.

MythTV records, stores data on nfs server running mythbackend.

Slimserver can read the mythtv data files and serve them to squeezebox?

Re:Myth-compatible? (1)

Teancom (13486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12694362)

The sqeezebox does not 'do' video. Hence your confusion. He's talking about strictly music, and you're asking (I presume) about mythtv-recorded television. So, no, it does not do what you want. Sorry :-(


Re:Myth-compatible? (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12695427)

Rats. I really got my hopes up there for a moment. :(

Anything similar available out there? Please? :)

Re:Squeeze Box (2, Interesting)

spacecowboy420 (450426) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690209)

Looks awesome - except, what about video? I can imagine video codecs, the site doesn't even mention video.

Re:Squeeze Box (2, Informative)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690343)

I totally agree. I have been down the Netgear MP101 and can I say that the box is a big load of rubbish. It continually skips. Netgear keep releasing patches, and keep saying "on the next release we promise to fix streaming problems" (see here [] ). But they dont (at least not yet).

I tried using their own software - XP based. rubbish. I tried the twonkyvision [] server. Nope.

There's lots [] of [] unhappy [] MP101 [] users [] out [] there [] .

Then I bought a squeezebox. What a joy. The server runs on anything (perl). The box is reliable, quick, slick. The boxes can be controlled from the server (turn on, change look etc). The boxes are *really* easy to configure. I have my music on the mythbox which streams it to my stereo and PC. I have squeezeboxen in the bedroom and garage.

My advice - dont waste time with the cheap crap. The extra few dollars for a squeezebox is worth it .

Squeezebox is audio-only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12691349)

It's a great device, but doesn't fulfil the poster's requirements for video streaming.

xbox of course! (2, Informative)

sycotic (26352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12689910)

I'm not so sure it is the cheapest solution, but it sure is the most flexible!

An xbox coupled with xbmc (xbox media center) is the shizznizzle!

URL: []

(I just _know_ that any geek thats used xbmc will concur)

Re:xbox of course! (2, Informative)

Jherico (39763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12689991)

I concur. The XMBC app plays just about everything I throw at it, with the exception of some of the newer QuickTime codecs. The only downside I've had is that the XBox isn't powerful enough to render anything higher than 720p and sometimes not even that. I've got a number of movies that are encoded in HD and the XBox will sometimes stutter while rendering them during action scenes or if there's too much motion on the screen. You can also set up XBMC to play itunes media streamed from an itunes server somewhere on the net.

Re:xbox of course! (1)

NickFusion (456530) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690206)

I can neither confirm or deny that the xbox+xbmc is a sweet, sweet media center.

Re:xbox of course! (1)

Supernoma (794214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690482)

I have to agree, this is the best choice.

If you have the dvd package, it doesn't get any simplier either.

Re:xbox of course! (1)

frinkazoid (880013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692825)

XBMC will be the best you can find. It plays every format you can throw at it ('cause it's based on mPlayer).

It's got a great interface, that's completely skinable, it can run python scripts, it shows stills, plays audio (mp3 ogg ape flac ...), plays movies (mpeg 1 2 mpeg4 divx xvid).
One of it's best features is its networkinterface; you can listen to webradio's, watch internet streams, watch apple quicktime trailers, monitor rss streams. To stream files over a network they've developed their own protocols (xns xbms), but you can also just use samba (windows networking).
The music player has a nice library system, and is also capable of showing album art in the file interface as well as on top of visualisations;
since a few weeks it also shows milkdrop visualisations.

Another perk is that you've got an xbox, meaning you've got a dvd drive and a hard disk, and a pentium 733 processor. Store your movies on the hard drive, play a regular dvd, save apple quicktime trailers to the hd, use the ftp server that is included in xbmc to get some files off your xbox to your computer. And you know what? ...
It sounds shocking , but you can play XBOX games too !

X-Box and XBMC? (1)

KILNA (536949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12689922)

I currently have the Qcast [] player sold by GameShark [] (not bad for $8, I think the shipping was free even). Unfortunately the PS2 does not have enough juice to decode HDTV files ganked from the net, but it does support DivX.

However XBMC [] looks promising, since it's OSS it's extensible and supports a lot of stuff. I may have to spring for a used x-box so I can play Dr. Who on my TV and not have it be choppy.

Re:X-Box and XBMC? (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 9 years ago | (#12693955)

I had QCast early on before they started selling (out) under the GameShark logo. I was disappointed. As you said, the PS2 just doesn't have enough oompf behind it to do decent resolution videos. Neat idea if only they had better hardware. Switching over to XBMP and later to XBMC made me much happier.

dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12689933)

once again a mac evangelist hits /.

seriously though, a mac mini with airport... and down the road it'll stream movies when they get that cell powered station on the market.

H.264 baby, and i'm not just guessing either ;)

DLINK DSM320 (2, Interesting)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 9 years ago | (#12689943)

Is a PoS 90% of users won't get much use from it.... but as a hacker I've got it doing exactly what I want - it's a linux system so it's possible to get your own apps onto the firmware and customize it in ways that Dlink never intended.
It does have a lot of things going for it
1) Ogg/Vorbis support - as an early contributer I'm happy to play my ogg collect - but the metadata support sucks
2) XviD support - again, my codec of choice for video.... except that it has a lot of sync problems and drops a lot of frames/freezes up randomly.
3) Wireless G by default - 802.11b is nmo good for video.
4) Every connector on the backplane you'd ever need.

It's frustrating, since I can dig around I can see how easy it would be to make this thing absolutely rock, but dlink just isn't supporting it. This may be because it's a repackaged Redsonic player....

Anyway... time to get imeem [] running on this creature ;-)

Re:DLINK DSM320 (2, Insightful)

Jim Robinson Jr. (853390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690548)

While I agree the the DSM320 is not-yet-ready-for-prime-time (yes... I own one) I *can* tell you that it's not terrible either. It plays music well, has both analog and digital outputs, and supports (pay special attention to my word choice) VOB files, so theoretically I can rip DVD's to my PC and serve them up across the network. Your observations about sync problems, lockups, etc., are correct. However I think the problem is at the server rather than the remote unit. Because the DSM320 feeds from a UPnP server it does NOT require the DLINK software. In fact, any UPnP server will do.

I'm still testing this myself, so please don't consider this an endorsement, but TwonkyVision ( [] ) makes a UPnP server that runs on Windows, Linux or MAC and supports a huge range of files and formats, including support for music (MP3, WMA, WAV, LPCM), photos (GIF, JPEG) and videos (MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, WMV, VOB).

Since you are interested mainly in music, you'll be pleased to know that they have a free version that only plays music.

Worth a shot!


VLC (2, Informative)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690037) []

Re:VLC (1)

01000011011101000111 (868998) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692648)

As an Aside, I'm currently working on a set of pages using the vlc plugin for FireFox to do pretty much what the article wants... Open Source OC, and currently pre-beta, but check it out: p [] (note: requires FireFox, Vlc and *nux to run... currently *REALLY* pre-beta)

Re:VLC (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 9 years ago | (#12693457)

Let's not moderate too quickly here. The submitter is looking for a hardware solution. Right now, VLC is a multiplatform media player, and not a hardware solution. So VLC by itself is not the answer .... yet. I hope someday someone could design a DVD player with an Ethernet/WiFi connection using VLC (or something similar) as a means to play networked or streaming media.

xbox media center (1)

snower1313 (801399) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690090)

Buy a used xbox Install a cheap mod chip Install xbox media center It is great.

Re:xbox media center (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691158)

xbmc now works just fine with the softmod too so you really only need a usb adaptor and a thumb drive

XBOX (1)

grub (11606) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690159)

An Xbox with modchip and Xbox Media Center (based on mplayer if memory serves) It's played everything I've thrown at it and can take VLC streams or files on a server.

You want cheap and easy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12690167)

just call my ex-girlfriend Bubbles at 804-743....

oh wait a minute. You said "digital media player". I thought you said "skank ho". My bad. Honest mistake.

Xbox (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690448)

Sigh Xbox...

Unless you need PVR (Which would be very very nice...

These will be really really cheap if the 360 has backwards compatibility...

Just mod it install whatever codecs you want comes with ethernet and everything else you want... and you can change the gui...

Re:Xbox (1)

big ben bullet (771673) | more than 9 years ago | (#12693288)

Yep Xbox+XBMC

I absolutely love it! (softmodded [] mine, so didn't even have to buy a modchip)

But as you state: Unless you need PVR...

Which is exactly what I want next ;-) So allow me to go a slightly bit off-topic (actually not exactly off-topic, more like an out-of-the-box view on topic)

Because I partly blame this story for the rejection of my own, as it happensed exactly half an hour ago:

I'm planning to assemble, install and configure a Mediaportal [] or MythTv [] box. I'm mainly interested in the TV-related features: Timeshifting, PVR, On Screen TV Program Guides; though I consider every extra feature a bonus. As for online TV Guides: I'm located in the dutch-speaking part of Belgium (Central Europe). I assume part of the Slashdot community has experience with at least one of the 2. What are the upsides, downsides? Which do you prefer, and why? And last bust not least: Where can one find _decent_ documentation? Ohw, and since I have a WinXP license don't botter argumenting that MythTv is cheaper than Mediaportal because of the OS.

How about this? (1)

EvilJohn (17821) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690493)

I was looking at this [] for my needs, but I no experience with it, does anyone else?

Re:How about this? (1)

dogbowl (75870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12693619)

I got one about a month ago.
Works good for me. I've got a wide variety of xvid/divx/mpeg files and it handles all of them fine. The remote can be a little unresponsive occasionally though.

Theres a good community over at the AVS forum site and one other web site, I think.

pII 400 (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690847)

My pentium 2 (or is it a 3?) 400Mhz actually runs windows xp, and plays videos just fine in all sorts of formats. It also runs tightVNC server so I can control it from the couch with my notebook, tablet, other desktop, etc.

Best part is you can probably find one at your local salvation army for $25.

Re:pII 400 (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12690859)

If you don't need the network acces, check out geexbox - a bootable linux iso that will play all the media you need. That and a wireless keyboard and you're in business.

Of course there is: (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691382)

So is there a cheap and affordable Wireless Networked Media Player, that supports most if not all common and advanced codecs (DivX, XviD, and various wrappers like MKV and OGG, etc), or is this still a pipe dream?

Well, my laptop is more than capable of doing all of that and it wasn't real expensive. I'm sure a second-hand laptop from Ebay or somewhere similar would do the trick just nicely. Whack in a wireless G network card, a remote control connected to the serial/parallel/USB port and install Linux on it with something like Myth TV.

A second-hand laptop with the equivalent of a Celery600 or so would be more than adequate as long as its video circuits give you access to TV out.

To top it off, laptops are notoriously quiet - the fans don't run unless they get really really hot, and even then, they're not very loud.

Xbox + Modchip (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 9 years ago | (#12691747)

Get a Xbox off eBay for 25 bucks, toss in a modchip, boom instant streaming media for about 75+shipping costs. The newest Xbox Media Center is sweet.

Re:Xbox + Modchip (1)

Kichigai Mentat (588759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692746)

You're making this harder than it is. Forget the modchip, and softmod. XBMC will still run superbly. And, since it's video system is built off of MPlayer, you'll have practically every codec known to Man (and some super-inteligent shades of blue) available for use, including containers.

Cheap, Really Easy, But not Networked. (2, Insightful)

pretentiousPPC (618549) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692038)

I just bought this DVD player at Amazon [] , and I'm really happy with it.

It plays nearly everything; DVDs, CDs, DIVX, XVID, MP3s, Don't think it plays Ogg though. All you need to do is burn it to some CD-R or DVD+-R and put it in, just like a regular DVD.

No need try to teach someone the intricacy of a networked home theater system, that's still more of a geek project right now, and costly to boot. Far easier it is to just burn it and tell your wife/mother to put in the DVD player.

I used to have to s-video to my TV in through my laptop for all the times my wife missed her Survivor. A thing she would always need my help to do. Now I can just burn the show to a CD, and I don't have to be there to deal with it. It's Great!

Re:Cheap, Really Easy, But not Networked. (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 9 years ago | (#12693601)

Don't think it plays Ogg though

With the free XVID codecs, VirtuaDub and AVISynth, anything can be converted over to something that plays in the DVP642. It plays some WMVs, and raw MPEG1 or MPEG2 files as well.

The caveats (there's always a catch!):
Sometimes DIVX/XVID come out garbled, the workaround is to hit the System menu key twice, it does a kind of 'soft-reset' of the decoder that cleans it up.
There's about a 50ms delay between the analog and bitstream outputs, I have to turn down off of the two because of the annoying echo it creates.

Prismiq (1)

technopinion (469686) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692583)

Beware of prismiq - It had a lot of promise when it first came out (over 2 years ago), but the firmware hasn't been updated in well over a year, there are a lot of bugs and incompatibilities (it's very bad at playing DivX files), and the interface for music playback is not very good at all. They've been putting all their resources into their player/recorder, which is now way overdue, and they've been completely ignoring the existing customer base which they've pretty much given the shaft.

The best so far is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12695170)

Windows Media Player, you fucking LinSux zealot faggots

UPnP Players (1)

bartle (447377) | more than 9 years ago | (#12698180)

I've been wanting a good media player for my home entertainment system for a long time now. I'm convinced a good solution will appear in the next year or so but my advice for the moment is to wait.

The most exciting development is that companies have started supporting the UPnP Media Server standard. The idea is that any UPnP media client can automatically detect every UPnP media server that's on the local network and automatically play the shared media - video and audio. What makes UPnP Media superior to pretty much everything else is that it's a completely open standard that's being supported by multiple companies.

There are only three UPnP video players on that market currently that are worth mentioning (though there are a pile of audio players); the DLink DSM-320 and the Philips Streamium SL300i/SL400i. From what I read it sounds like the Streamiums are slightly superior to the DLink but their stats are very similiar. They both play mp3/mp4/divX/XVid, etc.

There are some great UPnP media servers out there if you're running a Windows media box. Microsoft even released their own recently. Unfortunately there really isn't any good option if you're running a non Windows server, buying a copy of Twonkyvision seems to be the current best choice for those of us running Linux/BSD. I've heard rumors that Philips software uses a Java core and might be made to run anywhere.

I'm disappointed actually that UPnP media technology is currently being ignored by the OSS community. You really couldn't ask for a standard that's easier to write for. But I suspect some programmers will eventually tire of their frankenbox video servers and they'll start writing software to support the increasing number of small, sleek, and cheap boxes that are appearing on retailers' store shelves.

The DSM can play many formats with TVersity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12707296)

In all of these devices the choice of media srever software is crucial. The DSM 320 while limited in native formats can actually play many more when paired with the right media server software (I like the one from [] ) which does a real-time conversion to formats it supports. You can even play Internet streams directly on TV!
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