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Thread: Any personal recommendations for media streaming devices?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Posts
    130

    Default Any personal recommendations for media streaming devices?

    I'm currently using WD TV Live, but I have been running into issues with it over the past year, so I am looking at replacing my devices with something else. It's been suggested to go with a Kodi solution, so I have been researching those.

    Aside from the reviews on sites like Amazon, or "comparative" websites, I don't have anything else to go on.

    Does anyone have any real-world personal experience (good or bad) with any of these devices?

    Some of the ones I have been looking at:

    - element ti5 android tv box s905
    - NextD TV Android Box
    - Pigflytech MX3-plus
    - Matricom Android G-Box Q2
    - NVIDIA SHIELD - 4K

    I do not feel like building my own, I just want something which allows me to stream from my own media server, Netflix and Amazon (although Amazon is not a requirement).

    And stability. I don't want to need to keep flashing the firmware, or power cycling the device half a dozen times to get it running.

    Let me know what you'll think.

    Thanks

    Joe
    Last edited by joe33067; 07-25-2016 at 06:10 AM.

  2. #2

    Default

    Hi Joe,
    I'm currently using a Roku for much of my streaming. I'm also using a WDTV Live Plus. The Roku is good for streaming internet content from sources like Netflix, Amazon and others. To stream my local media (from server) I still occasionally use the WDTV, which permits me to FFWD, Rewind, etc. The Roku is pretty much play and/or pause--no transport niceties like the WDTV. Also, the Roku performs better if the media is transcoded. Both boxes are on a hardwired ethernet (gigabit) network. For local media, it's mostly 720p and some 1080p, with files sizes from 5GB to 15GB. For internet access, the speed is (nominally) 100Mb.

    Overall--for local movie viewing--I like the WDTV interface much better with it's simple list format. With ROKU's Sesame Street look, it takes a while to wade through the tiles when searching for a title.

    Frank

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Posts
    130

    Default

    Yeah, I agree. I bought and returned the Roku - it just didn't perform as I wanted. It's media streaming interface was very annoying - imagine having over 3000 titles - even logically broken down alphabetically.

    The WD has been my favorite - but lately I've been having to unplug and plug it back in, or re-flashing the firmware to get it to work. It connects to the media server just fine, and everything looks good right up until I press play. Then the spinning arrow will just spin and spin and spin..... frustrating.

    That's why I am looking to replace it with something else -

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    327

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by joe33067 View Post
    Yeah, I agree. I bought and returned the Roku - it just didn't perform as I wanted. It's media streaming interface was very annoying - imagine having over 3000 titles - even logically broken down alphabetically.

    The WD has been my favorite - but lately I've been having to unplug and plug it back in, or re-flashing the firmware to get it to work. It connects to the media server just fine, and everything looks good right up until I press play. Then the spinning arrow will just spin and spin and spin..... frustrating.

    That's why I am looking to replace it with something else -
    Cross posting from your thread about the Search Function. I had a WDTV Live for a couple of years and hated its limited DLNA support but loved its broad codec support. Not to mention the GUI really started to slow down once the library/playlists got moderately large. I traded it off and got this. It blows the doors off of the WDTV Live.

    Personally, I would recommend a Raspberry Pi3 and run LibreELEC on it. Pay the extra $3 and get the MPEG-2 and VC-1 hardware support, too.

    If you just want to use your smartphone or tablet to control it then you can just tape or velcro it completely out of site behind the TV and be done for $39 and the cost of a 1GB microSD card and a 2+ amp cell phone charger. It will outperform those Android boxes by a country mile as well.

    If you want something a little more stylish and or real remote control function, add a FLIRC and a case. The case I have used so far (tried about 4) is actually the metal FLIRC case because it has an internal metal post that contacts the CPU and turns the whole metal case into a heat sink. The FLIRC remote device lets you use any remote control because it is 100% programmable with a PC. With a FLIRC it can be ANY remote control, doesn't even have to be a universal or multifunction. If it has buttons you can program it. I don't even have my FLIRCs in direct line of sight. I still tuck the Pi away, velcroed behind the very top of the tv and the FLIRC is sensitive enough to pick up the signals as it bounces around the room. You can get cheaper IR Receiver/Remote combinations, though. I just like the FLIRC+the older style DirecTV remote control.

    https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Pi-...raspberry+pi+3

    https://www.amazon.com/FLIRC-FL-0902...keywords=FLIRC

    https://www.amazon.com/FLIRC-FL-5319...keywords=FLIRC

    https://www.amazon.com/DIRECTV-RC66R...v+rc66+backlit

    https://www.amazon.com/PiTech-Raspbe...ds=pitech+2.5a

    https://libreelec.tv/

    After experimenting with different items for the last couple of years these are the components I have settled on for my RaspPi2 (I haven't upgrade to a RasPi 3, yet, haven't needed to). Many people will already have a microSD card, remote control and phone charger lying around. Just make sure the charger is 2+ amps or you will have problems that will first be revealed by a rainbow colored box in the upper right corner of the screen when you first boot it up.

    It is a $90 project if you go with the "premium" setup here but you can always save a little money with less expensive components or by forgoing the case and/or remote control.

    I also use an Asus Chromebox with a FLIRC and running the same OS. The experience is virtually identical. The only difference is that the Chromebox will pass HD Audio (True-HD or DTS-MA) and the Pi3 won't. You have to downsample or pass through LCPM.
    Last edited by smitbret; 07-26-2016 at 12:18 AM.

  5. #5

    Default

    I could never get a reliable connection with WDTV when it was on wireless with either WD or WDlxTV firmware. Even the Roku would get a little flaky on wifi. The only way I've found to get reliability from any of the boxes was to 1) go to wired connection and 2) use static IPs (manual network setup). Even with that, the WDTV is horrible for anything internet. My first choice for a dream setup would be a fast HTPC, but it's just too many $.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    327

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DrScanlon View Post
    I could never get a reliable connection with WDTV when it was on wireless with either WD or WDlxTV firmware. Even the Roku would get a little flaky on wifi. The only way I've found to get reliability from any of the boxes was to 1) go to wired connection and 2) use static IPs (manual network setup). Even with that, the WDTV is horrible for anything internet. My first choice for a dream setup would be a fast HTPC, but it's just too many $.
    Wired is always preferred and my Chromebox is running with a wired connection. My RaspPi2 has a simple n300 USB adapter and works fine. I do have a DHCP reservation set up for it but it has never missed a beat due to the network connection since I installed it a couple of years ago.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by smitbret View Post
    Cross posting from your thread about the Search Function. I had a WDTV Live for a couple of years and hated its limited DLNA support but loved its broad codec support. Not to mention the GUI really started to slow down once the library/playlists got moderately large. I traded it off and got this. It blows the doors off of the WDTV Live.

    Personally, I would recommend a Raspberry Pi3 and run LibreELEC on it. Pay the extra $3 and get the MPEG-2 and VC-1 hardware support, too.

    If you just want to use your smartphone or tablet to control it then you can just tape or velcro it completely out of site behind the TV and be done for $39 and the cost of a 1GB microSD card and a 2+ amp cell phone charger. It will outperform those Android boxes by a country mile as well.

    If you want something a little more stylish and or real remote control function, add a FLIRC and a case. The case I have used so far (tried about 4) is actually the metal FLIRC case because it has an internal metal post that contacts the CPU and turns the whole metal case into a heat sink. The FLIRC remote device lets you use any remote control because it is 100% programmable with a PC. With a FLIRC it can be ANY remote control, doesn't even have to be a universal or multifunction. If it has buttons you can program it. I don't even have my FLIRCs in direct line of sight. I still tuck the Pi away, velcroed behind the very top of the tv and the FLIRC is sensitive enough to pick up the signals as it bounces around the room. You can get cheaper IR Receiver/Remote combinations, though. I just like the FLIRC+the older style DirecTV remote control.

    https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Pi-...raspberry+pi+3

    https://www.amazon.com/FLIRC-FL-0902...keywords=FLIRC

    https://www.amazon.com/FLIRC-FL-5319...keywords=FLIRC

    https://www.amazon.com/DIRECTV-RC66R...v+rc66+backlit

    https://www.amazon.com/PiTech-Raspbe...ds=pitech+2.5a

    https://libreelec.tv/

    After experimenting with different items for the last couple of years these are the components I have settled on for my RaspPi2 (I haven't upgrade to a RasPi 3, yet, haven't needed to). Many people will already have a microSD card, remote control and phone charger lying around. Just make sure the charger is 2+ amps or you will have problems that will first be revealed by a rainbow colored box in the upper right corner of the screen when you first boot it up.

    It is a $90 project if you go with the "premium" setup here but you can always save a little money with less expensive components or by forgoing the case and/or remote control.

    I also use an Asus Chromebox with a FLIRC and running the same OS. The experience is virtually identical. The only difference is that the Chromebox will pass HD Audio (True-HD or DTS-MA) and the Pi3 won't. You have to downsample or pass through LCPM.
    As mentioned above I like my Intel NUC running Kodi either in OpenElec (likely to be LibreElec soon) or Windows 10 mode. I currently have it dual boot. This is great for my main system which powers my 4K TV and does upscaling. I have a Pi 2 B I use for whole house audio but have been looking at either 2 more NUCs or possibly Pi 3 Bs to replace my WD Live boxes. On question I have is what bitrates are your 1090P files ? I rip mine Blu-Rays at full bitate which often can hit close to 40mb/s. Are you running hit bitrates ? If so, how high ?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    327

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jbinkley60 View Post
    As mentioned above I like my Intel NUC running Kodi either in OpenElec (likely to be LibreElec soon) or Windows 10 mode. I currently have it dual boot. This is great for my main system which powers my 4K TV and does upscaling. I have a Pi 2 B I use for whole house audio but have been looking at either 2 more NUCs or possibly Pi 3 Bs to replace my WD Live boxes. On question I have is what bitrates are your 1090P files ? I rip mine Blu-Rays at full bitate which often can hit close to 40mb/s. Are you running hit bitrates ? If so, how high ?
    My Raspberry Pi Model B couldn't do full bitrate BD Rips; couldn't do anything that was more than 30-32mbps for longer than 5 seconds. The RaspPi 2 has no problem.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by smitbret View Post
    My Raspberry Pi Model B couldn't do full bitrate BD Rips; couldn't do anything that was more than 30-32mbps for longer than 5 seconds. The RaspPi 2 has no problem.
    Thanks. I an thinking of Pi 3 Bs. For the cost I might as well build one and see what happens. Are you doing any 4K upscaling with LibreElec ? I've been running OpenElec 6.0.3 on my Intel NUC but when doing 4K upscaling I get intermittent video drops and a sec of a black screen. I tried the latest OpenElec beta, which has newer Intel drives but it is even worse. Video drops out consistently with 4K upscaling. When I dual boot into Windows 10 running Kodi 4K upscaling is rock solid. I've been eyeing LibreElec as an option.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    327

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jbinkley60 View Post
    Thanks. I an thinking of Pi 3 Bs. For the cost I might as well build one and see what happens. Are you doing any 4K upscaling with LibreElec ? I've been running OpenElec 6.0.3 on my Intel NUC but when doing 4K upscaling I get intermittent video drops and a sec of a black screen. I tried the latest OpenElec beta, which has newer Intel drives but it is even worse. Video drops out consistently with 4K upscaling. When I dual boot into Windows 10 running Kodi 4K upscaling is rock solid. I've been eyeing LibreElec as an option.
    I literally have zero experience with 4k anything. I haven't upgraded my TVs or invested playback equipment for 4K. I am a surprisingly late adopter for things like that. I haven't been nearly impressed with the jump from 1080p to 4k as I was from 480p to 720p/1080p so I will wait until the tech comes down in price. I am kind of the opinion that 4k might end up like the 3D thing where it's fun to play with but might never catch on mainstream.

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