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Internet/network streaming media box... thingies

LednehLedneh shinesquawkRegistered User regular
I was thinking of picking up something like this Sony SMPN200 media center box... thingy (is there a name for these?) on the way home from work tonight, for my bedroom so I can watch netflix, or hulu, or one of the movies on my home network or whatever while waiting to fall asleep.
SONY SMPN200
3D READY NETBOX, DLNA, NETFLIX + APPS, WIFI,SMART PHONE APP

Mfr: SONY Model: SMPN200
FRYS.com #6897176 UPC: 027242833289


Turn your TV into a smart TV and enjoy wireless access to popular apps like Netflix, HuluPlus, YouTube, Pandora, and Crackle. Stream your favorite movies, TV shows, music and more, even in full HD and 3D. Control it all with a simple smartphone app for iPhone and Android.

Or this one also from Sony which specifically mentions being able to stream off your own network.

Has anyone had any experience with devices like this, or want to recommend any devices in particular or alternatives to this class of device?

Ledneh on

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    Captain MarcusCaptain Marcus now arrives the hour of actionRegistered User regular
    I have a Roku. It was a bit of a bitch to get it set up and working, but I'm not good with anything router-related so your mileage may vary.

    That said, it does its job (Netflix on the TV) quickly and well.

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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    A lot of these set top devices have issues playing back certain container formats (mkv in particular), but I'm not sure if that's due to their playback being more resource-intensive, or if the devices just don't support them. If you don't backup/transcode your dvds/blurays or download your content through P2P or the newsgroups this shouldn't be an issue. Boxee is pretty popular and if you're at all technically inclined you can muck about with the (free) boxee software or ps3mediaserver (which isn't just for PS3's) on an old pc and re-purpose it as an htpc/streaming box for your tv.

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    AbracadanielAbracadaniel Registered User regular
    the boxee box is pretty aces

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    useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    boxee box is temperamental but it can play straight bluray rips which is pretty impressive for the lopsided little box.

    it has some audio quirks with HD audio though.

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    LednehLedneh shinesquawk Registered User regular
    Thanks, folks. I was looking around some more today now that I know what I'm looking for, and saw the Logitech Revue, got to play with one at Fry's and it seems pretty hot. Small little keyboard for searching too instead of a remote.

    Anyone have one of those and have any feedback to offer? It's between that and the boxee right now, but I'm leaning toward the revue because that keyboard is neato

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    AbracadanielAbracadaniel Registered User regular
    useless4 wrote:
    boxee box is temperamental but it can play straight bluray rips which is pretty impressive for the lopsided little box.

    it has some audio quirks with HD audio though.

    What kinds of quirks? Never noticed any myself.

    Another cool thing about the Boxee Box is that is supports AirPlay, if you happen to have any iOS devices laying around.

    Awesome to be reading through Twitter or RSS on the couch, someone links a video, and I can shoot it right to the TV to watch.

    iTunes even detects it so I can pipe music from my office to the living room sound system.

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    DurinthalDurinthal Registered User regular
    Word of warning about the Roku for other people: last I heard, it has basically no support for local network files.
    Ledneh wrote:
    Anyone have one of those and have any feedback to offer? It's between that and the boxee right now, but I'm leaning toward the revue because that keyboard is neato

    The Boxee has its own pseudo-keyboard on the back of the remote. Also it doesn't seem like Logitech will be doing much in the way of support for the Revue in the future. The Revue does appear to be a DLNA renderer while the Boxee box isn't, if that matters to you.

    Personally, I picked up a WD TV Live a week ago; it's a bit cheaper than the other two but has fewer features. It works well for my home network since I organize everything on my server and the box is basically a dumb player for those and Netflix; so far it has handled everything I throw at it short of BD images. The on-screen keyboard is a pain to use at times, I'll admit, but I don't need it that often. It also works as a DLNA renderer, so I've started to use my Android phone as a remote instead (just for music so far; haven't gotten my video DLNA server running yet).

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    AbracadanielAbracadaniel Registered User regular
    You can also use Boxee's free remote app on iPhone/iPad to control the Boxee Box, makes keyboarding much easier (not that I do much keyboarding anyway, the navigation system is pretty nice)

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    Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    One of the better options is to jailbreak the apple TV and install xbmc.

    The limitation with those is it stops at 720p

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    LednehLedneh shinesquawk Registered User regular
    Blake T wrote:
    One of the better options is to jailbreak the apple TV and install xbmc.

    The limitation with those is it stops at 720p

    Honestly I feel like if I want to get up to Shenanigans® I'd just build a $200 PC and be able to do whatever the fuck I want with it :V

    Still, noted, thanks. I wish it was possible to see if a particular player's gonna be able to open all the videos on my network or not--that and a usable keyboard (so Boxee and Revue) are my two biggest wants, with Netflix being decidedly third.

    Guess I could always try one this weekend and return it if it doesn't fly :)

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    syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    AppleTV jailbroken is pretty great; xbmc is a cool interface and all.

    the biggest problem is the problem with all jailbroken iOS devices. You have to shut down the updates, and wait for the jailbreak community to catch up with the game of cat and mouse on your device. And some of the Apple updates put pretty amazing features in there, which makes the jailbreak SOMETIMES feel like a negative more than a positive.

    SW-4158-3990-6116
    Let's play Mario Kart or something...
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    tachyontachyon Registered User regular
    edited December 2011
    I have a Roku 2 HD I picked up on sale ($47) and with the Plex app and a box running Plex server, I'm playing full blu-ray rips (mkv) with ease. Netlifx/Amazon/Pandora stream flawlessly, and the remote/interface is simple enough for my 4 year old to click and play spongebob episodes.

    The Roku 2 HD is the cheaper 720p version. I plan on picking up the next level up (1080p) for my larger tv in the basement.

    Sorry, forgot the ref links:

    http://www.roku.com/roku-products
    http://elan.plexapp.com/2011/05/03/plex-on-the-roku/

    tachyon on
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    warder808warder808 Registered User regular
    Hi.

    I was thinking about getting a Roku. I am basically trying to save money by getting rid of cable TV. I dont download or rip stuff. I dont even watch much TV, this is primarily for the wife. If this thing is on and she's watching it, will it impair any online gaming I may be doing at the time?

    How good are the TV show selections.

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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Ledneh wrote:
    Blake T wrote:
    One of the better options is to jailbreak the apple TV and install xbmc.

    The limitation with those is it stops at 720p

    Honestly I feel like if I want to get up to Shenanigans® I'd just build a $200 PC and be able to do whatever the fuck I want with it :V

    Still, noted, thanks. I wish it was possible to see if a particular player's gonna be able to open all the videos on my network or not--that and a usable keyboard (so Boxee and Revue) are my two biggest wants, with Netflix being decidedly third.

    Guess I could always try one this weekend and return it if it doesn't fly :)

    Building your own HTPC is, to me, the best way to go but you won't do it for $200. Not unless you already have a lot of spare parts to use, and even then not in a small form factor appropriate for your entertainment center (if you intend to keep girlfriends/wives/nongeek roommates happy). I paid $100 just for a case. Granted, that also included a 350W PSU (sufficient for HTPC use) and it has a built-in remote receiver/LCD display. But even if you don't care about that crap you hit a floor...a bare minimum tower case with a PSU that won't set your parts on fire will run you like $50. A mobo will run you like $50. A CPU will run you like $75. Still need a hard drive, RAM, maybe a video card as well (depending what mobo/cpu you got and what kind of content you want to run).

    The stuff adds up, I guess is what I'm saying.

    Things might have changed, obviously. I haven't priced this out lately. But it wasn't that long ago that I looked into it, and it was really hard to keep it under $300 for a fully functional HTPC without recycling parts.

    Thankfully when I did mine I had an extra C2D processor and Radeon 4550 low-profile video card laying around, so I managed to save quite a bit.

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    FiskavFiskav Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    .

    Fiskav on
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    LednehLedneh shinesquawk Registered User regular
    I ended up buying the Logitech Revue a couple weekends ago, and while I like it, it is quite thoroughly rubbish at playing media from my network, whether from a lack of connectivity or lack of codecs.

    It DOES have access to the google market though, so I wonder if it can be beefed up via that, or if I have to find another box that does a better job with network media.

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    AbracadanielAbracadaniel Registered User regular
    Boxee is awesome.

    So awesome, in fact, that the Boxee developers are going to stop developing for computers and focus solely on the Boxee Box.

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    LochielLochiel Registered User regular
    Just got a Boxee Box, and while I've only been fiddling with it for a couple of days I am disappointed.

    The UI need's some love; it takes way to many button presses to do anything. It crashes, often. And it often has issues reading files from my computer.

    I bought it to primarily stream video from my computer, and to stream video from services such as NetFlicks and Hulu. I didn't realize until after I bought it, but Hulu is boycotting Boxee. Being able to stream video from the few video blogs (Extra Credits, etc) that I view would have been a bonus. Unfortunately, it appears that Boxee's primary goal is to find me episodes of TV shows that I don't watch.

    I am still playing around with it, and hopefully the UI and stability issues will get fixed, but right now I'm rating it only slightly above my old Hacked TiVo. I'm wondering if a Roku w/ an external HDD would have been a better investment.

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    AllforceAllforce Registered User regular
    Return it and get a WDTV Live, which will do pretty much everything you're asking for with a nice clean UI that can also be customized out the wazoo.

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    LochielLochiel Registered User regular
    The WD TV Live forums are full of people complaining about crashes and connectivity issues. Do you have a WDTV Live yourself? And if so, what's your experience with it like?

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    AllforceAllforce Registered User regular
    I don't yet but I've been researching these things for the last 2 months and it seems like this latest one is the absolute best bang for the buck. I haven't read of any major problems with the WDTV Live but I assume some people are always going to have issues with this technology due to different setups and whatnot. I'll update when I end up purchasing one, these things aren't that expensive so the barrier to entry isn't crippling if you end up with a shitty device that you don't like.

    I hear good stuff about the Micca brand too.


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    LochielLochiel Registered User regular
    Boxee Box is being returned. It leaves Monday morning as that is the soonest I can get it to a UPS Store.

    Once I figured out the paradigm for the UI, it made a lot more sense. I was approaching it thinking in terms of specific files or episodes, but really it does a lot of work to unify shows. You tell it you watch to watch Castle, and it will pull files from your computer, from Net Flicks, and from the Internet to get you as complete a list of episodes as possible. This is a cool thing. But not Hulu, cause Hulu hates Boxee.

    Unfortunately it crashed too often, and always needed coaxing to play files from my computer. My attempts to find a solution on the User Support Forums resulted in "It's not the Boxee's fault, rebuild your home network". To use the car analogy of computers... I went looking for an alternate fuel car, and Boxee tried to sell me an AT-ST; all I need to do is replace all of the roads with walker paths.

    I have an old Hacked TiVo that I'm comparing Boxee too. While the Hacked TiVo doesn't stream from the Internet, or play Pandora, or unify episodes into shows, or any of the slick cool things that Boxee does... it does work. It reads files from my computer and it doesn't crash. So I'm rating Boxee Box at 0.75 Hacked TiVos.

    Boxee is awesome and has lots of potential. It might work great for your set up; but it didn't work for mine. I'm not sure what my next step is, but I'm looking at the WDTV and the Micca brand of Media Players. Or I'll just have to admit that I'm only doing this to avoid building a HTPC and just build it myself.

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    Mike DangerMike Danger "Diane..." a place both wonderful and strangeRegistered User regular
    I'm going to push this one up as I have questions of my own:

    I've been looking at the Boxee Box for a while now, and I've been pretty tempted by it. However, Googling around this afternoon has led me to believe that Boxees are temperamental, have poor support, etc.

    What I'm looking for is some kind of box that can do all or most of the following:
    - Netflix
    - playback of files on a hard drive (my stuff right now is mostly ALAC/MP3 audio and M4V/MP4 videos)
    - 720p, HDMI (I guess better than this would be nice but I don't see myself buying a new TV anytime soon (I have a 32" Vizio))

    DVD playback would be nice, Blu-Ray playback would be killer (I know that there are Popcorn Hour devices that let you slide in a Bluray drive of your own, I've been trying to figure out if there's anything out there that supports this right out of the box...I've been thinking about making the switch to Blu-Ray for a while now)

    RIght now the impression that I'm getting is that maybe I should be looking at the Boxee box and a separate Blu-ray player.

    Steam: Mike Danger | PSN/NNID: remadeking | 3DS: 2079-9204-4075
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    LochielLochiel Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    As you can see above, I have nothing good to say about Boxee Box.

    I want the same things you do, but finding the combination of the first two is killer. I decided upon building a computer explicitly for running XBMC. So far it's cost me about $450, including a Windows license. But it'll do everything you want, and the support is phenomenal.

    Edit: Disclaimer; currently it is working on Ubuntu as I was trying to avoid buying the Windows license. But it looks like you need Windows for NetFlix. I'll be setting it up with windows next week.

    Lochiel on
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Lochiel wrote: »
    As you can see above, I have nothing good to say about Boxee Box.

    I want the same things you do, but finding the combination of the first two is killer. I decided upon building a computer explicitly for running XBMC. So far it's cost me about $450, including a Windows license. But it'll do everything you want, and the support is phenomenal.

    Edit: Disclaimer; currently it is working on Ubuntu as I was trying to avoid buying the Windows license. But it looks like you need Windows for NetFlix. I'll be setting it up with windows next week.

    Don't do it. You'll be better off spending $70 on a Netflix-ready Blu-Ray player than on a Windows license. Netflix on Windows is...good, I guess, but when you get into the HTPC realm I find you too often run into frame rate issues (blowing up to 1080p on a weak video card), frame sync issues (actually a problem with a lot of things, though XBMC seems to handle it well), and it's just generally not a couch-friendly interface.

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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I picked up a Sony player on sale for like $70. Does Netflix, Amazon (including Prime), Hulu Plus, Pandora, Vudu, and some other shit too. And it does them all pretty much perfectly, though the Amazon interface could use some work. Haven't used Hulu Plus, but from what I understand a lot of content on there is limited by device...so it might suck for that, and a PC might be better there.

    I guess what I'm saying is that if Netflix is the reason you're buying Windows, don't. If XBMC is working in Linux, and doing what you need it to, stay there. I still needed Windows, because I'm using a CableCard tuner and from my understanding those aren't really supported on Linux. Then again, they're barely supported on Windows. ;)

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    TwistedJesterTwistedJester Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote: »
    I picked up a Sony player on sale for like $70. Does Netflix, Amazon (including Prime), Hulu Plus, Pandora, Vudu, and some other shit too. And it does them all pretty much perfectly, though the Amazon interface could use some work. Haven't used Hulu Plus, but from what I understand a lot of content on there is limited by device...so it might suck for that, and a PC might be better there.

    I guess what I'm saying is that if Netflix is the reason you're buying Windows, don't. If XBMC is working in Linux, and doing what you need it to, stay there. I still needed Windows, because I'm using a CableCard tuner and from my understanding those aren't really supported on Linux. Then again, they're barely supported on Windows. ;)
    What did you buy and how well does it handle streaming files from your computer?

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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I got a Sony BDP-S185. Haven't streamed any files from my computer, since I still have an HTPC too. No idea how well it works for that, though my guess is...poorly.

    Though, to be honest, it might work fine. I know my Samsung TV hasn't had any real problems streaming from my network shares, it seemed to handle 95% of the files I threw at it when I used it.

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    LochielLochiel Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Lochiel wrote: »
    As you can see above, I have nothing good to say about Boxee Box.

    I want the same things you do, but finding the combination of the first two is killer. I decided upon building a computer explicitly for running XBMC. So far it's cost me about $450, including a Windows license. But it'll do everything you want, and the support is phenomenal.

    Edit: Disclaimer; currently it is working on Ubuntu as I was trying to avoid buying the Windows license. But it looks like you need Windows for NetFlix. I'll be setting it up with windows next week.

    Don't do it. You'll be better off spending $70 on a Netflix-ready Blu-Ray player than on a Windows license. Netflix on Windows is...good, I guess, but when you get into the HTPC realm I find you too often run into frame rate issues (blowing up to 1080p on a weak video card), frame sync issues (actually a problem with a lot of things, though XBMC seems to handle it well), and it's just generally not a couch-friendly interface.

    The move to Windows is more about being able to use the computer for more than just XBMC (torrent, Artemis, what ever strikes my fancy). Basically, if I want to fiddle with something, I want to fiddle with it in an OS I'm comfortable with using tools I'm familiar with. Netflix is a very nice bonus as I've already got it on the Wii.

    If XBMC on Windows turns out to be problematic, then I'll let ya'll know and go back to Ubuntu.

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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Oh, no, XBMC is just fine on Windows. That's what I use. If you've got other needs that Windows helps you fill, then by all means go for it. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't just about Netflix (and other similarly controlled online content). Since a Windows license can be a pretty significant cost added to an HTPC build.

    Biggest problem I've had with my HTPC, really, is frame sync issues when playing online content (HBO Go, Netflix, what have you). The frame rate is fine, the video card isn't struggling, it just can't seem to sync the damn thing to the TV, so I get periodic microstutters from "skipped" frames due to syncing. It's annoying as hell. XBMC has zero problem here (same with MPC-HC), it syncs up just fine. Well, except for a brief stint when I was running HDMI to the receiver, rather than the TV, and XBMC seemed to always want to go to a 50Hz video mode (for 24fps content, 30fps content, for just about everything). Hooking back up to the TV fixed that, though. Didn't care to dig further into the issue, since I had other issues that it was causing as well with audio.

    So, like I said, now I just use the HTPC for XBMC and Windows Media Center (where it acts as my cable box/DVR), and use the Blu-Ray player for most all the online shit. Though I guess I might wind up using the Xbox for HBO Go once that goes live in April.

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