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WMC dead. What's the future of HTPC?

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by DaveF, May 2, 2015.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Yes.

    The HTPC serves triple-duty by housing and running the RAID, running Emby Server, and also Emby Theater. It's connected via the AVR to a projector. I have used it to stream to the living room TV via AppleTV, but that's rare. The bedroom TV only has a TiVo mini so can't stream from Emby.

    As the media PC is in a dedicated media room, I don't hang out with for general music listening while web surfing. But I do spend an inordinate amount of time fussing with the software, twiddling metadata, and generally wasting my time being an HTPC hobbyist. :D
     
  2. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    What server software do you use? Plex? Or other?

    I was considering buying a Shield. But I'm waiting for the AppleTV 4K model to get Atmos and see if that also brings proper bit streaming for DTS too. Swapping the HD for a 4K aTV would be simple in my system. But adding a Shield would be a real pain, since I'm basically out of room.
     
  3. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    I use Plex for movies. I'm still using Subsonic for music.

    The Shield is the single best media box I own. It is also the most expensive but it handles everything I toss its way. I haven't tried AppleTV so I can't compare.
     
  4. 84 Feb 11, 2018
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    jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    (On a more general tangent).

    This type of self control probably works differently for different folks. It is a very individual thing, with unique solutions for dealing with it for a particular person.

    Back when I first purchased a 4TB external drive, I erroneously thought this would keep my dvd collecting under control. I ended up just buying new external drives to fill up with more stuff, which completely defeated any self control intentions I had previously.

    In practice the only way I know of to jump off a particular OCD treadmill completely and permanently, is utter complete burnout and subsequently total abstinence. As extreme as this may sound.


    Since I can't turn back the clock to when the OCD compulsive collecting mentality was diametrically opposed to my perfectionism (ie. before I discovered and figured out how dvd/bluray ripping programs work), at best I've been proactively taking preemptive measures in regard to 4Kbluray such that I'm not likely to end up on the 4Kbluray OCD compulsive collecting treadmill. So at minimum this means keeping up to date with the online gossip about about cracking 4Kbluray discs, and understanding some of the technical details involved.

    Recently I purchased a newer computer bluray-r drive to replace my older one, coincidentally around the time when 4Kbluray was first widely cracked. When I discovered the bluray-r drive I recently purchased was "friendly" for ripping 4Kbluray discs, I returned it to the retailer for a refund. Eventually I purchased another bluray-r drive from a different manufacturer (ie. not a rebadge), which was a model that was "not friendly" for ripping 4Kbluray discs. (If you're familiar with the current market for computer bluray-r drives, you'll know exactly which drive models I'm alluding to).
     
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  5. 85 Feb 11, 2018
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    jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    (To be more specific).

    To check a bluray disc for any manufacturing defects, I just run a program which extracts the entire iso from a bluray disc without any decryption or further cracking. So the extracted undecrypted iso is largely useless for viewing purposes. (Though not completely, which I won't go into more details).

    Manufacturing defects on pressed bluray discs, will typically show up as semi-random bad sectors where the ripping program returns back a read error. (It is a different story on bluray-mod discs, where some Sony-mod bluray discs had deliberate bad sectors drm but without any aacs).
     
  6. jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    Oddly enough, watching flat-rate streaming vod or stuff recorded to the dvr, doesn't trigger any of my OCD compulsive collecting + perfectionist behavior.

    So watching lousy scifi and action movies on basic cable channels (such as amc, etc ...) isn't really an issue to me, regardless of the severely degraded picture quality on amc and 4-5 minutes of commercials every 15 minutes. (Of all the basic cable channels I've come across, AMC has the crappiest degraded picture quality).


    In several other areas where my OCD compulsive collecting behavior was easily triggered in the past, I've found that dealing with the digital versions doesn't really trigger my OCD at all. One specific case of this is books. For example, many years ago I was compulsively collecting Star Trek and Star Wars novels (to a lesser extent), which at most I only read through less than half of them. Recently when I was reading through some lousy Star Wars novels, I ended up reading the ebook versions which I was fine with. I didn't feel any compulsion desire in buying the paper book versions.


    In the extreme hypothetical case of my home being destroyed in a fire or natural disaster (ie. tornado, flooding, etc ...), most likely I would not "rebuild" any of my previous cd, dvd, bluray, vinyl, books, comics, etc ... collections.
     
  7. John Dirk

    John Dirk Supporting Actor
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    Accepted...
     
  8. John Dirk

    John Dirk Supporting Actor
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    Our setups seem quite similar, except I hadn't heard of Emby until now. Will be looking into that further. How do you like it?

    That's where we differ. I'm in my dedicated room pretty much every evening. I start out with music and web surfing type activities and sometimes don't get any further than that. It's my way of winding down. I'm almost embarrassed to say, I rarely watch an entire film in one sitting anymore unless I have guests. I have my Tab S sitting right here next to me but it is used primarily as a universal remote control since it has a built in IR blaster. Once the system is powered up I rarely touch it other than for adjustments etc. I could use it the same way you use your iPad [and sometimes do] but then I feel like I am wasting hours on my projector bulb

    Same here. Sometimes I enjoy this but other times it can be frustrating and I just want to watch a movie without having to solve problems first. That's where the standalone player will come in for 4K but not until I can bring myself to part with my Panasonic PTAE8000 and that may be awhile. Even when this does happen, I don't see it as the end of my HTPC.
     
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  9. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    It's the little cousin to Plex. I like it and paid for lifetime for Version 3 (which it's been on for two years now). It has pros and cons:
    https://emby.media
    Pros
    • Developers engaged with and responsive to user requests through their forum
    • The software is always being revised with new minor releases coming out for Server and Client every month or three
    • Had the best "external player" functionality when I was choosing in 2016
    • Had the best "collections" system for e.g Back to the Future Trilogy or arbitrary set of Disney Shorts when I was choosing in 2016
    • Emby Theater on Windows works very well as a player, supporting bit streaming for all audio (including Atmos and DTS:X), and a nice "10-foot" UI
    • Has fun secondary features like Video Backdrops and Theme Songs, so you customize the library-browsing experience. And a "Cinema" mode that I can enable for a pre-roll of movie trailers, audio-format stingers and my custom theater stinger.
    Cons
    • They break existing features when adding new features. (What's driving me bananas right now is that they added a new "multi version" feature which really improves and simplifies how e.g. Theatrical and Directors and Anniversary editions are managed. But they simultaneously removed the feature that used MKV metadata to show the tags for the audio tracks. Now instead of being able to pick from "Atmos" and "Dolby Digital 5.1" and "Commentary", all you see is "TRUE HD" and "DD 5.1" and "DD 5.1". )
    • Emby client software and streaming ability for Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, AppleTV) is not great. Plex is much better.'
    • Doesn't support 3D natively; but it's good external player support allows me to use MPC-HC for that.
    I don't use DVR features. That's a big focus for Emby (and I think Plex) currently, but I don't care about that.

    I started to take a new look at Plex this year. But for unknown reasons Plex Player doesn't work right on my HTPC at present: bit streaming is broken, audio is choppy, there's no video, and it requires CTRL-ALT-DEL to escape a playing video. It's a hot mess for me. And Plex hadn't fixed Collections for non-paying customers last I looked. But, its streaming to iOS devices is head and shoulders above Emby, in my quick check.

    Emby and Plex (and Kodi) can co-exist. You install another server and play around with it. The worst case is getting extra unexpected meta-data in your media folders if you're not paying attention to configuration. (But Plex has a very nice ".plexignore" feature I use. I tell it to ignore the theme song and video backdrops and "Extras" folders that it doesn't recognize. Otherwise it adds them to the Library, which makes a UI mess.)
     
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  10. John Dirk

    John Dirk Supporting Actor
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    Wow! Thanks for a great comprehensive breakdown. I realize it took time. To be honest it sounds pretty good and they offer a lifetime license! All programs tend to step on existing features in their rush to implement new ones to some degree. Do you have any experience with JRiver? I've been using it for a couple of years. It is feature rich, especially for audio but major version upgrades are never free.
     
  11. jcroy

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    Most of my HTPC activity is primarily from dvds.

    Before my venture into htpc, I did briefly watch ripped blurays on the computer connected to my large screen tv. Though after awhile, I was coming to the realization that most of the bluray rips I was watching, were mostly lousy movies/shows which I ended up only watching once or twice.

    This is one reason (among others) as to why I only really watch blurays on the standalone player nowadays. It seemed like a waste of time ripping bluray discs which I only bothered to watch once (or never). The irrational notion of "ripping for the sake of ripping" was no longer holding water for me by then, when it came to bluray discs. (Bluray discs typically take 20-30+ minutes to rip).


    In the case of dvd, I'm already semi-fluent in the technical details and can easily handle most problems such as extra basketcase drm which makes ripping harder to do easily. This is the main reason why I don't use any pay ripping programs for dvd stuff.

    I'm not as fluent in the technical details of bluray.
     
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  12. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    I played with Emby a bit late last year when Plex decided to change their privacy controls. I gave it a month and just couldn't get it working the way I wanted. The clients are not as good as Plex (at least on the PS4 where they tell you to open your browser - really?). Once Plex came to their senses I gave up on the Emby experiment.
     
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    jcroy

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    (As an aside, from an personal historical perspective).

    I looked into Kodi briefly when I was first putting together my now stillborn-htpc.

    The main thing I didn't like about it, was that I was unable to figure out how to minimize the screen into a smaller window. If I had gone further with htpc, Kodi probably would have been my main program.
     
  14. 94 Feb 11, 2018
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    jcroy

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    ie. Kodi could be used the madVR renderer, which I was using extensively for many years prior.
     
  15. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Glad to help :)

    I haven’t used JRiver, and don’t really know much about it.

    I don’t think Emby major versions are free upgrades. I expect that version 4 will be a paid upgrade from the current version 3.
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I really like Emby on Windows as a direct player. But if my priority were streaming clients, I’d take a fresh look at Plex.
     
  17. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I tried Kodi when I was selecting server / client software. I found it incomprehensible. Byzantine at times. Strangest user configuration interface I’ve used in years. I finally gave up, unable to figure it out, and found Emby.

    Kodi has gone through some big revisions in the past two years, so I can’t speak to it now. And I’ve heard the Kodi player for Emby is really good.
     
  18. jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    The main thing I liked about the madVR renderer, was that it was excellent for doing sd->hd upscaling and deinterlacing (mostly inverse telecine) of content ripped from dvd discs.

    For native progressive hd 1080p content from ripped blurays, madVR would be overkill. Generic hardware dxva (with or without copy back) was good enough, since there was no upscaling or deinterlacing involved.
     
  19. John Dirk

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    Kodi has it's advantages but is just way too unstable to be relied upon in my experience. One of the major advantages I briefly enjoyed was it's plug-ins for Internet TV, but again, unless you have a whole lot of time for endless tweaking, it's just not work the trouble. Too bad because there's a phone/Tab-based remote for Kodi called Yatse which is excellent.
     
  20. John Dirk

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    I know!!! I am totally perplexed at how something as ubiquitous in Windows environments as screen resizing doesn't work in Kodi either. I think it did in earlier versions. I still have to say though, it's a great product to be totally free and open.
     

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