Cheapest best XBMC box available for 1080p and fluid browsing?

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aoaaron Offline
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Post: #1
Hi guys, I need to buy a few boxes to hit around the house so I'm looking for advice.

I have an unraid server 10TB setup which is doing nicely but I only have one HTPC which is an ER1401 running XBMC on windows 7. Honestly, its been OKAY... the new version of xbmc has been great but a few 10bit files it struggles/fails on where my macs play without a hitch and it seems to be pretty random too.

So anyway, I need a cheap box, under £150 preferably, can stretch to 200, which will let me watch 1080p files. I'll be smacking an ethernet port in it too but wifi would also be nice.

My options I've seen are:

1. ATV1 + crystalbuntu
2. ATV2
3. Raspberry PI.

My biggest annoyances will be if i can't use plugins i like for streaming media and slow browsing of fan art etc. Please input will be much appreciated. I don't know much/anything about the raspberry pi so any info again will be much appreciated.


P.S. I also have an iPad, iPhone and macbook so can the ATV work with these devices, e.g. airplay through XBMC?

P.P.S would a mac mini like this work: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SCRUMPYMACS-AP...1841wt_968

to clarify:


1) 720p/1080p playback - honestly all my files are 720p but high bitrate/demanding as far as i know
2) EASY - windows 7 has ruined my ER1401.. always butting in, xbmc turning off randomly, xbmc being slow and needing a restart etc.
3) fluid experience.. again win7 failed here, altho eden fixed it somewhat, loading skins, fan art was a horrible experience
4) USERFRIENDLY - this is for my mum/dad so i basically need a box which is simple...

Major Props Poofy and Eskro! Check out their sigs for the best help/advice.
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-19 15:44 by aoaaron.)
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T800 Offline
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Post: #2
Imo the ATV1 + Crystalbuntu its the way to go.

1) 720p/1080p playback - honestly all my files are 720p but high bitrate/demanding as far as i know. With the CrystalHD card installed no problem.
2) EASY - windows 7 has ruined my ER1401.. always butting in, xbmc turning off randomly, xbmc being slow and needing a restart etc. Haven't had any issues at all. Stays on all day.
3) fluid experience.. again win7 failed here, altho eden fixed it somewhat, loading skins, fan art was a horrible experience Only tried Confluence and Cirrus Extended which works no problem. It doesn't navigate like an Intel i3 can but it's much smoother than ATV2
4) USERFRIENDLY - this is for my mum/dad so i basically need a box which is simple... It looks complicated when it's booting as the Linux OS scrolls up the screen but once it's on it's hard to go wrong for general use. Setting it up is a different matter however, some command line tinkering is quite normal for adding advancedsettings.xml etc. If your setting it up and they are just using it to watch content it will be fine.


ATV2 has been a pain for me, jumping back to iOS menu, asking for password, freezing.
Obviously don't know about RaspberryPi yet.
Via XBMC that PPC G4 mac would run fine on the menus but stutter on 720p mkv's.

Living Room i3 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 120GB SSD • HD 7750 • 2x TBS8922 tuners • Aeon Nox 4.0
Bedroom A6 3500 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 40GB SSD • HD 6550 • Aeon Nox 4.0
Servers unRAID server for Movies (22TB) • unRAID server for TV Shows/Music (11TB)
HTPC http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=99831
unRAID Server http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=106786
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-19 14:02 by T800.)
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aoaaron Offline
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Post: #3
oh one big curve ball...

i watch 10bit anime. how does that change the equation what will and won't allow me to play those?

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T800 Offline
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Post: #4
I have no idea sorry.

Living Room i3 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 120GB SSD • HD 7750 • 2x TBS8922 tuners • Aeon Nox 4.0
Bedroom A6 3500 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 40GB SSD • HD 6550 • Aeon Nox 4.0
Servers unRAID server for Movies (22TB) • unRAID server for TV Shows/Music (11TB)
HTPC http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=99831
unRAID Server http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=106786
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Mallet21 Offline
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Post: #5
You have pretty unreasonable expectations for that price point....Good luck on your search.

Main HTPC:
Intel e4600 + AMD HD5450 + Antec NSK2480B case + 4gb ddr2 + Earthwatts 430 + 1.5tb Seagate 7200 + XBMC Rapier Qualar Mod Skin + Win7
Office HTPC/Ripper/Server:
AMD x4 635 + GT220 + Antec 300 case + 4gbddr3 + OCZ ModXStream 500 psu + 3x2tb WD green drives + Win7
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aoaaron Offline
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Post: #6
Really? 720p/1080p and dlud interface?

The only stretch I see is 10bit...

i'll put the budget to 200 if required. i just don't want to pay too much because i found so many difficulties with windows 7, it kind of disillusioned me away from a standalone box.

http://www.ebuyer.com/288843-lenovo-idea...op-vc71huk is something i found.. does it handle 10bit 720p tho? probably not?

Major Props Poofy and Eskro! Check out their sigs for the best help/advice.
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-19 15:45 by aoaaron.)
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live4ever Offline
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Post: #7
10bit? you'll need to run Windows with an external player (or the DS XBMC branch maybe).
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T800 Offline
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Post: #8
(2012-04-19 15:40)aoaaron Wrote:  Really? 720p/1080p and dlud interface?

The only stretch I see is 10bit...

i'll put the budget to 200 if required. i just don't want to pay too much because i found so many difficulties with windows 7, it kind of disillusioned me away from a standalone box.

http://www.ebuyer.com/288843-lenovo-idea...op-vc71huk is something i found.. does it handle 10bit 720p tho? probably not?

That probably will run 10bit with the right player using Windows.
I have found in the last 12 months that Windows 7 is as good as you make it, in regards to how much you spend on hardware and time you take learning how to set it up. I have spent quite a bit of time setting up my main HTPC (Intel i3) and it does everything I want it to and I have no complaints. The E350M1 upstairs isn't as powerful and I haven't spent as much time with it and you can tell.

Living Room i3 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 120GB SSD • HD 7750 • 2x TBS8922 tuners • Aeon Nox 4.0
Bedroom A6 3500 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 40GB SSD • HD 6550 • Aeon Nox 4.0
Servers unRAID server for Movies (22TB) • unRAID server for TV Shows/Music (11TB)
HTPC http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=99831
unRAID Server http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=106786
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a5ian300zx Offline
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Post: #9
(2012-04-19 16:51)T800 Wrote:  
(2012-04-19 15:40)aoaaron Wrote:  Really? 720p/1080p and dlud interface?

The only stretch I see is 10bit...

i'll put the budget to 200 if required. i just don't want to pay too much because i found so many difficulties with windows 7, it kind of disillusioned me away from a standalone box.

http://www.ebuyer.com/288843-lenovo-idea...op-vc71huk is something i found.. does it handle 10bit 720p tho? probably not?

That probably will run 10bit with the right player using Windows.
I have found in the last 12 months that Windows 7 is as good as you make it, in regards to how much you spend on hardware and time you take learning how to set it up. I have spent quite a bit of time setting up my main HTPC (Intel i3) and it does everything I want it to and I have no complaints. The E350M1 upstairs isn't as powerful and I haven't spent as much time with it and you can tell.

+1 I have E350M1 which was not that powerful and caused issues changed to intel i5 with AMd graphics and everything just flys, but you do need to spend time tuning it etc once done its perfect to use, I chose windows because i like the additional software you can run within windows like Kylo browser which i can launch within XMBC, its made for flat screens Smile and wanted it future proof for a while, now i can switch it on and off using remote and the LCD screen displays the file name.

I must admit i need to update the software to Eden with HD audio pack and make sure others are updated as its been out of action for while.

a5ian300zx

TV: Panasonic 55" VT65 Surround: Yamaha RXV-1073 + ORB Audio Mod2 7.1 + SVS SB12-NSD Sub Processor: Lumagen XS3D+ & Darbee V3 Players: Dune Prime 3.0 / Popcorn Hour A410 NAS: Qnap 869 Pro
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-19 17:24 by a5ian300zx.)
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Malosar Offline
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Post: #10
If you're willing to spend the money on an i5/i3 + mboard + AMD discrete, of course it's going to be better than the E-350. There's a big price difference between the 2 setups though and I'm very happy with how my E-350 runs for how little I paid for it. I was actually surprised how few problems I have no matter what I throw at it. I'd much prefer an i5 + a decent GPU and maybe play some games on it as well but I had a budget and stuck to it.

This doesn't really apply as it's not a possibility to the OP, there's no way to get a full PC setup and Windows license in that price limit, but 10bit requires windows really and xbmc doesn't support them out-of-the-box either as advised already.
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T800 Offline
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Post: #11
(2012-04-19 18:25)Malosar Wrote:  If you're willing to spend the money on an i5/i3 + mboard + AMD discrete, of course it's going to be better than the E-350. There's a big price difference between the 2 setups though and I'm very happy with how my E-350 runs for how little I paid for it. I was actually surprised how few problems I have no matter what I throw at it. I'd much prefer an i5 + a decent GPU and maybe play some games on it as well but I had a budget and stuck to it.

This doesn't really apply as it's not a possibility to the OP, there's no way to get a full PC setup and Windows license in that price limit, but 10bit requires windows really and xbmc doesn't support them out-of-the-box either as advised already.

He said he doesnt want to pay too much because of the problems he has had with Windows. We have explained reasons that do apply why he might have had the issues he complains about.

Living Room i3 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 120GB SSD • HD 7750 • 2x TBS8922 tuners • Aeon Nox 4.0
Bedroom A6 3500 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 40GB SSD • HD 6550 • Aeon Nox 4.0
Servers unRAID server for Movies (22TB) • unRAID server for TV Shows/Music (11TB)
HTPC http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=99831
unRAID Server http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=106786
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jackh Offline
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Post: #12
In between the E-350 and an i3, you can go with the Intel G530, based on this build. This is what I have built myself a few months ago.

The G530 combined with a basic discrete graphics card eats 1080p like a champ. Of course I'm running Linux (Linux Mint 11) with XBMC Eden on top, triggered automatically on bootup. I've also used a SSD for the OS, and for the media it goes via NFS to my home server. From pushing the on-button to XBMC screen ready takes about 25 seconds. Overall, very solid, and easy to set up. No Windows pains!!

Ease of use? The device is nearly an appliance. My 4-year-old daughter already learned how to use it... Wink
For browsing or anything else (other that XBMC) I just go out of XBMC and it's a fully-functional desktop.
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aoaaron Offline
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Post: #13
Thanks for all your replies guys.

E-350 vs i3... sorry I'm not that good at hardware.. where did the E-350 come from?

I actually do have a copy of windows ultimate!! The problems I've had with windows 7 comes from:
1) XBMC lagging after a few sleeps
2) XBMC windows randomly not being in front (i.e. randomly getting minimised etc.)
3) 10bit playback on my ER1401 which i admit is cheap = cheap.

also a problem with my ER1401... which might be down to it just being a bit crappy? is that it doesn't power on from the remote/usb anymore. I have no idea why or how to fix it. is it windows related or shoddy hardware? its a cheap £20 windows remote btw.

I don't think this is based on hardware sadly but probably windows as an operating system. If someone has any tips for streamlining windows and making it more accessible, I'd love to hear them.

If you exclude the cost of windows 7, is there a decent build or nettop out of the box which can do what I want?

my attraction to ATV1/ATV is the fact I have 3 apple remotes lying around. I really like the XBMC experience on my MBP the most but I understand finding a mac mini which can support XBMC and 10bit anime is... very very hard.




also whats the general consensus on this box: http://www.ebuyer.com/288843-lenovo-idea...op-vc71huk
finally could someone tell me what spec mac mini/year i'd have to be searching for to get 10bit anime working on it please?

Major Props Poofy and Eskro! Check out their sigs for the best help/advice.
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-19 21:28 by aoaaron.)
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T800 Offline
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Post: #14
I don't sleep my HTPC anymore because of lagging. If it is just XBMC lagging it could be worth getting it to shutdown XBMC on sleep and then start XBMC on wake.
I get XBMC to restart at 5.00am every morning so it's running smooth.

When you say randomly minimize does that mean it could wake like that, when your watching stuff it does it or while browsing menus?

Have you tried using MPC with LAV filters to play 10bit files on your ER1401?

If you tell us exactly what other behaviour you are struggling with in Windows we might be able to help you. If we started telling you everything we could be here for a week.

I've read that MPlayerX for OSX on the app store plays 10bit files. I would try it on my CoreDuo 32bit MacBookPro for you if the app store wasn't such a stuck up restrictive way to download a free app!

Tbh I don't think having 3 remotes around is reason to get ATV's especially if they cannot play your anime.

My i3 Windows HTPC works better than my i5 OSX MBP for XBMC.

Living Room i3 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 120GB SSD • HD 7750 • 2x TBS8922 tuners • Aeon Nox 4.0
Bedroom A6 3500 • W7 Ultimate x64 • 40GB SSD • HD 6550 • Aeon Nox 4.0
Servers unRAID server for Movies (22TB) • unRAID server for TV Shows/Music (11TB)
HTPC http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=99831
unRAID Server http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=106786
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aoaaron Offline
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Post: #15
thanks very much for ur response... really helpful. well one big problem i have ATM is with my ER-1401:

a) it won't wake via USB
b) it loses HDMI connection when the monitor is turned on/off

TBH surprisingly its playing MOST 10bit/anime files fine so I'm going to have to check this out. its really just random episodes which it does not play.

is there an option for specific episodes to turn on an external player? that would be amazing.

Major Props Poofy and Eskro! Check out their sigs for the best help/advice.
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