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Need suggestions for streaming media player

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by CherylJosie, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Auditioning

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    Hi everyone. First post.

    I am using Xfinity wireless connection and an old LCD tv with no smart function. I have HTPC doing the streaming but not satisfied with the performance so looking for a streaming media solution.

    My BluRay players are old and failing so I will probably replace them with 4K capable players eventually. Not using much bluray lately, mostly ripping to library with makemkv anyway. Maybe that is sufficient.

    The Ubuntu RAID server is offline but should be replaced soon with unRAID or Plex or some such. Not sure if I need the streaming player to be able to interface directly to my library or not. I am fine with using the HTPC for that.

    My MythTV archive is old and the MySQL version is from Ubuntu 12.04. Not even sure I can export/import to upgrade. I need to boot the old database and it has been offline for two new releases of Ubuntu with new MySQL.

    I never tried Kodi but I am interested.

    Sorry, I am not conversant with all the latest doodads, so if you do have a suggestion, a link to some background info is also appreciated. I only mentioned all the other system info in case it affects the responses.

    This is a very low budget system stretched to the max with 11.1 Neo:x receiver and almost everything purchased used. For the streaming media player I intend to buy new, so somewhat cost sensitive. I have two TV rooms that need one each.

    I hope to have 4K projector eventually so the player should be 4K. What I choose will be based primarily on the interoperability with older hardware as well as a 4K projector, hopefully with an eye toward streaming Atmos some day, but not required at this time.

    I am also interested in using Internet streaming only without Xfinity subscription. Totally ignorant on this, not a cord-cutter, though I do have a nice OTA antenna too.

    Xfinity, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu. HBO, Cinemax, BBC America etc. no sports, no cooking shows etc. Just movies, series, Brits, news.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    The Roku streaming devices are quite popular, easy to use, and relatively affordable. Since you are planning on getting a 4K display eventually, you should consider either the Roku Ultra or Premiere + models. These are the only two which do both 4K and HDR (the Premiere does 4K, but not HDR). The Ultra is a little more expensive, but includes both HDMI and digital optical outputs, so if you will be attaching it to an older system initially it's more flexible.

    I have a Roku Ultra attached to my main system, a Premiere in the bedroom, an Express in my wife's office, and an older XD model in a fourth room. We mostly only stream three channels -- Amazon Prime, Vudu and NHL.tv, but just about any streaming channel is available on the Roku devices. We do use the Comcast Xfinity app on the Roku Express in my wife's office in lieu of an actual cable box to avoid an additional monthly equipment rental charge.
     
  3. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Auditioning

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    Thanks, that looks like an excellent suggestion.

    I am not seeing any info on whether the Roku will support Atmos? Supposedly Netflix is adding Atmos titles? Maybe a possibility in the future, if the receiver dies. Curious about upgrading from 2 to 4 ceiling channels some day, once there are used receivers online at Accessories4less or OneCall, or maybe going to a processor instead of a receiver since I already have some of the amplification.

    Also I am wondering about the TIVO. It seems to provide similar function with the addition of storage for cable TV plus a lifetime subscription (but that went up to $600 apparently). It would be convenient to replace the Xfinity DVR and have more storage since it keeps running out plus maybe the router so there are no rental fees, or just cut the cord? TIVO works with streaming channels online?

    So what about one TIVO and one Roku? That is less economical in the short run but maybe over time it might help, especially since the NAS cannot store any streamed shows.

    I see the Nvidia Shield was supposed to be popular also but more expensive. Not sure about features. I suppose I could do more reading.

    My major problem is I am not even sure what is out there. I usually just buy the best used gear I can find, but for something that streams or records streaming, that tactic does not work out so well because things change so often.
     
  4. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    The new Roku models do support Dolby Atmos audio for the few channels that offer content -- see this link for more information.

    I do not know too much about the TIVO devices, as they are way too pricey for my minimal TV viewing needs (we do not even have a DVR through Comcast). A few people on here are big TIVO, fans, though, including forum owner Ron Epstein. Maybe one of them can comment.
     
  5. DavidMiller

    DavidMiller Screenwriter

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    I use the non-4K TiVo with two Minis to support my 3 TVs. I basically rent one cable card for 3 dollars. Comcast gives me a $10 credit for not using any boxes. I pay $15 a month for the TiVo so basically $8 net to have the great features of the TiVo. It would take a long time to reach $400-$600 for the lifetime service. Plus I have upgraded every 3-4 years anyway. They work well for the streaming piece on the Minis. I use my Xbox One S has my primary streaming device and my Roku as the secondary.
     
  6. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Auditioning

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    The Roamio Pro looks like an excellent DVR, except for the lack of 4K. The Bolt is good also but at 1TB it is just not big enough storage, particularly with 4K, unless maybe the bitstream is so compressed that it is equivalent to 1080p anyway?

    I wonder how significant that lack of 4K really is. I will not be using the 4K TV/movie function (for real anyway) until I replace the projector and screen and that may be a while, maybe not until one or both break (probably the screen will go first since the Elite AT retractable is notorious for falling apart).

    There is a 55" 4K that will eventually be attached to this system also, but I am under no illusion that it will actually be '4K' customer experience. It is the LED backlight and pseudo-HDR function, plus the new panel technology, that is responsible for the improved look, and it still does not do 24p correctly since it is fixed at 60Hz refresh (the Samsung). At 8' the 55" TV is approaching or at retinal display with 1080p and even 720p would look fine. It would have to be used as an up-close immersive gaming monitor to actually have 4K/retinal resolution at the eye, and there is a gaming computer attached to it already.

    I would benefit from 4K streaming if I upgrade the projector, and that is a ways off in the future still. Maybe I should just wait on the 4K function DVR until there is something like the Roamio with 4K that is future-proofed and has lots of storage. I can keep using the X1 until then.

    How well does the streaming work on the Roamio? Supposedly it can record Netflix etc. now so it must be able to stream it also? Would a Roamio provide basically all the streaming function of the Roku, or is that stretching it?

    In contrast, the X1 I am using now seems like trash. OK it has 4 tuners, or maybe 5, and records 4 programs, but it is only 500GB and runs out of storage constantly. It also seems to have bandwidth issues on playback here for some reason (pixellation/freezing) and that makes no sense. It is a local device and should have no such issues. Maybe it is not recording well because of bandwidth problems at the Xfinity feed cable?

    Well thanks for all the suggestions. It seems like the Roku will work for now, and it is affordable enough that if I need to upgrade it later I can do so without losing out on too much investment. I am leaning toward buying one to try it out and see how I like it. The smart TV functions on the Samsung are impressive and I would like similar function on the living room system.
     
  7. Message #7 of 10 Jul 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
    dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    One thing to consider: Roku devices do NOT bitstream DTS-X, DTS-MA, or TrueHD/ATMOS. The only streaming device I know of that does is the NVIDIA Shield. If your ripped Blu-ray library includes these high-res audio formats, you're out of luck streaming MKV with a Roku. It will only pass core (lossy) DTS and DD formats.
     
    dorito777 likes this.
  8. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Auditioning

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    Well that is a bummer.

    I bought the Roku Ultra today at Fry's. Installing it presently. I guess I will figure out whether it works out or not. If I need to stream Atmos some day, it will certainly be playing in the living room, so I could always put this Roku in the bedroom and use something else in the living room.

    The second box is either going to be a Shield, or a TIVO, I suppose, or maybe both. Not sure. I am a slow adopter. May be a while, and I might decide to just get a gaming platform or a slingbox or something. Maybe a 4K streaming blu ray player or a 4K drive for my PC.

    I am totally open to suggestions here. I am coming at this without preconceptions because I have never used any of this streaming tech. I only used a PC up until now, and using Xfinity is a new thing for me. I was only OTA and Internet until about 3 years ago.

    No Atmos yet. Maybe some day. Netflix? Will it play back Atmos on the Windows app?

    Hi-res is non-sequitor since it adds nothing to anyone without near-laboratory sound proofing, top end equipment, and very good hearing plus bona fide programming to play back on the system. My hearing alone makes hi-res completely worthless to me without even considering the ambient noise floor or the limitations of the system.

    I ripped with makemkv and k3b, and I preserved all the sound tracks, so it should be OK. Rumor has it that only Kodi had implemented the codec correctly for 7.1 playback. I was using VLC, MythTV, mplayer, and mpv, and never did get 7.1 to work on Ubuntu 14.04.

    Now I have a Windows system in the living room, so I suppose my playback options are probably better, but the server is offline so I have not yet got a chance to check.

    If Roku only plays core, it only plays back 5.1 channels also, correct? So even if the rips have 7.1 channels I only get to use 5.1 anyway?
     
  9. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    I have the NVidia Shield TV. It has the most bells and whistles of any of the current boxes.

    I also have the latest TIVO Bolt and I do not use it for anything other than cable TV. IMO, the apps are still not ready for prime time.
     
  10. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Auditioning

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    Based on the feedback from the forum, it seems that I might be best off leaving the X1 DVR in the system and getting a Shield until a newer DVR with more storage and better apps hits the market (hopefully at a lower price too).

    The Roku Ultra is working out well for me. Its wifi radio was the major concern I had and it works fine across a long distance to the router plus the apps work well with the Xfinity, Netflix, Amazon, etc. subscriptions. The user interface is decent also and the remote is simple and well constructed plus it works on RF instead of infrared, so line-of-sight is not required.

    It seems to have most of the apps/functionality of the 2016 budget Samsung smart TV and blows away the old HTPC for streaming. Windows or Linux, who cares, streaming through a computer has never worked out for me. My current Windows box BSOD's regularly now when running Flash in Mozilla or Chrome on one of the streaming web sites/apps, with this loud clattering rattle coming out of the speakers like a cross between a jackhammer and a jigsaw while it transmits a post-mortem to Redmond.

    Can the Roku browse the Internet too? It must have that capability. Can it play media off web pages? I suppose I could read a manual or something, but so far it has been so easy to use I did not even bother looking for a manual yet. Well done people, this is a quality piece of gear.

    Thanks so much for these helpful suggestions guys. I really appreciate it. You make this easy.:wub::popcorn::wave-hello::dance::cheers::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::D
     

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