Cheap but powerful alternative to the Raspberry Pi?

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Chris230291 Offline
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Post: #1
Hello! I currently own a Raspberry Pi, and although it works, I'm not that happy with its performance. As such I thought I'd ask for some alternatives. I don't really want to spend much, around £60/€70/$100 is where I'd like to be, but obviously I'd like as much power as possible for that. Can anyone recommend anything? There are plenty of cheap Android/Linux mini PC's on ebay, are they worth looking at? Obviously I'd like it to run XBMC.

Any input is appreciated!

Chris Smile
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MediaPi Offline
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Post: #2
Ouya

$99

check youtube for reviews
(This post was last modified: 2013-09-29 15:31 by MediaPi.)
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ertman Offline
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Post: #3
Xios or Xios-knock-offs that are mentioned here
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Chris230291 Offline
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Post: #4
Thanks for the replies guys.

The Ouya isn't really ideal. I want something that boots right into XBMC.
The Xios boxes seem like what i need.

Is there anything to look out for when choosing a knock-off or similar product? Will anything that says it runs Linux run XBMC?

Thanks.
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joelbaby Offline
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Post: #5
Cubox i2-Ultra
http://cubox-i.com/table/
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Chris230291 Offline
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Post: #6
Is the MINIX NEO X7mini a good choice? Can i completely wipe Android and install OpenElec or XBMCBuntu? Will it have full hardware acceleration? I've read negative things in regards to hardware acceleration, but all of the info was from around 2011 so i don't know what it's like now.

Here's the specs...


Processor Quad-Core Cortex A9 Processor (1.6GHz)
GPU Quad-Core Mali 400
Memory 2GB DDR3
Internal Storage 8GB NAND Flash
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, USB 3G dongle support (not included)
OS Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2
Video Output HDMI 1.4a, Full HD 1080p
Audio Output HDMI 1.4a two channels
Peripheral Interface RJ-45 Ethernet jack (10/100Mbps)
SD/MMC card reader (SD 3.0, MMC V4.41)
USB 2.0 HOST port x 2,
IR receiver (built-in, remote included)
Power DC 5V, 2A adapter included (CE, FCC, CCC certified)
Supported Video Format AVI/RM/RMVB/MKV/WMV/MOV/MP4/WEBM/DAT(VCD format)
VOB(DVD format)/MPEG/MPG/FLV/ASF/TS/TP/3GP…etc
Supported Audio Format MP3/WMA/WMV/APE/OGG/FLAC/AAC…etc

OFFICIAL SITE LINK

Thanks!
(This post was last modified: 2013-09-29 19:37 by Chris230291.)
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noggin Offline
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Post: #7
Don't think either OpenElec or XBMCBuntu support non-x86 platforms other than OpenElec on Raspberry Pi? May be wrong.

The key thing about any ARM SoC-based platform is the VPU or MFC - which does the H264/VC-1/MPEG2 hardware decoding to allow clean 720p and 1080i/p replay (most ARMs aren't powerful enough to software decode 1080p stuff in software - though some of them cope with some 720 p so hardware acceleration is required.) This ISN'T the same as the GPU - unlike PC graphics solutions.

Relatively few VPUs (sometimes also called MFCs) have open enough standard for Linux builds of XBMC to be able to use them (though some are opening up now) At the moment AMLogic M3s (and Raspberry Pi) appear to be amongst the better supported chips, though good rumblings coming from the i.MX6 camp I think.

Under Android things can be a bit easier (as XBMC can often tie into existing Android hardware acceleration support using Libstagefright?), but then audio bitstreaming (and 50Hz support) becomes tricky. Also quite a few ARM systems struggle with 24p output I believe?
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Milhouse Offline
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Post: #8
(2013-09-29 15:18)Chris230291 Wrote:  Hello! I currently own a Raspberry Pi, and although it works, I'm not that happy with its performance.
...
Any input is appreciated!

Have you tried one of the latest Raspberry Pi OpenELEC builds with performance enhancements?

Texture Cache Maintenance Utility: Preload your texture cache for optimal UI performance. Remotely manage media libraries. Purge unused artwork to free up space. Find missing media. Configurable QA check to highlight metadata issues. Aid in diagnosis of library and cache related problems.
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Chris230291 Offline
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Post: #9
(2013-09-30 00:53)noggin Wrote:  Don't think either OpenElec or XBMCBuntu support non-x86 platforms other than OpenElec on Raspberry Pi? May be wrong.

The key thing about any ARM SoC-based platform is the VPU or MFC - which does the H264/VC-1/MPEG2 hardware decoding to allow clean 720p and 1080i/p replay (most ARMs aren't powerful enough to software decode 1080p stuff in software - though some of them cope with some 720 p so hardware acceleration is required.) This ISN'T the same as the GPU - unlike PC graphics solutions.

Relatively few VPUs (sometimes also called MFCs) have open enough standard for Linux builds of XBMC to be able to use them (though some are opening up now) At the moment AMLogic M3s (and Raspberry Pi) appear to be amongst the better supported chips, though good rumblings coming from the i.MX6 camp I think.

Under Android things can be a bit easier (as XBMC can often tie into existing Android hardware acceleration support using Libstagefright?), but then audio bitstreaming (and 50Hz support) becomes tricky. Also quite a few ARM systems struggle with 24p output I believe?

Thanks that was a very useful post! (though some of it kinda went over my head)

I think OpeneElec might support ARM? At least, it shows the logo in the slideshow on their homepage.

So basically steer clear of devices unless it's a PI (Broadcom BCM2835?), AMLogic M3 or maybe a i.MX6 chip? If so why is the Xios device with it's A9 supported? Does it use a different VPU/MFC to the one i linked to?

I want to make sure i pick a good device because I'd like to just more or less install and go (like the PI).
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nickr Offline
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Post: #10
To a certain extent you are clutching at straws, because, believe it or not, you get what you pay for.

Save your money and add a bit to it every week until it is 1.5-2.0 times your present budget and get a machine which will actually work without compromise.

In the meantime people are very enthusiastic about current enhancements to the r pi xbmc code. Try them and you may even reduce your budget to $0 (same in euro or pounds, neither of which are obvious on my keyboard Smile )

PS openelec ARM support is for ARM on r pi. You have been told above why support for r pi does not equate to support for all and sundry ARM machines Smile.

If I have helped you or increased your knowledge, click the plus button and increase my reputation :)
(This post was last modified: 2013-09-30 09:43 by nickr.)
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Ned Scott Offline
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Post: #11
Raspberry Pi development is really heating up. You might want to hold on to your Pi and see what happens: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?pid...pid1515952

We're talking drastic performance improvements over the normal v12.2 builds.

You can make easy links to the XBMC wiki using double brackets around common XBMC words: [[debug log]] = debug log, [[Video library]] = Video library, [[SMB]] = SMB , [[userdata]] = userdata, etc
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Chris230291 Offline
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Post: #12
(2013-09-30 01:14)MilhouseVH Wrote:  
(2013-09-29 15:18)Chris230291 Wrote:  Hello! I currently own a Raspberry Pi, and although it works, I'm not that happy with its performance.
...
Any input is appreciated!

Have you tried one of the latest Raspberry Pi OpenELEC builds with performance enhancements?

I rebooted yesterday and it updated so i assume I'm on the latest version of OpeneElec? I guess it seems a little quicker through the menus, but not like in the video in that link.

Most of my movies are ripped (DVD and BD) using MakeMKV (zero compression), so the files as just as big as they are on the disks. I store them on a home server and stream them to my PI (via Ethernet), so maybe that's what causes the sluggishness? A Blu Ray movie takes about 10 seconds to load and sometimes the playback looks a little choppy like it's dropping frames.

I assumed a more powerful device would never drop frames and load the files faster.

(2013-09-30 09:39)nickr Wrote:  To a certain extent you are clutching at straws, because, believe it or not, you get what you pay for.

Save your money and add a bit to it every week until it is 1.5-2.0 times your present budget and get a machine which will actually work without compromise.

In the meantime people are very enthusiastic about current enhancements to the r pi xbmc code. Try them and you may even reduce your budget to $0 (same in euro or pounds, neither of which are obvious on my keyboard Smile )

PS openelec ARM support is for ARM on r pi. You have been told above why support for r pi does not equate to support for all and sundry ARM machines Smile.

Ok. Ideally I want one of those small Intel boxes but i think I'll wait to see if they drop in price.
By enhancements do you mean the latest version? I think i already have the latest (OpenElec 3.2.0). Is OpenElec still the best version? It was last time i compared it against RaspBMC...and the other one.
(This post was last modified: 2013-09-30 10:23 by Chris230291.)
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Chris230291 Offline
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Post: #13
(2013-09-30 09:43)Ned Scott Wrote:  Raspberry Pi development is really heating up. You might want to hold on to your Pi and see what happens: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?pid...pid1515952

We're talking drastic performance improvements over the normal v12.2 builds.

OK Smile
I'll try that skin and see if that helps with anything in the meantime.

Thanks guys!
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noggin Offline
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Post: #14
(2013-09-30 10:10)Chris230291 Wrote:  
(2013-09-30 09:43)Ned Scott Wrote:  Raspberry Pi development is really heating up. You might want to hold on to your Pi and see what happens: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?pid...pid1515952

We're talking drastic performance improvements over the normal v12.2 builds.

OK Smile
I'll try that skin and see if that helps with anything in the meantime.

Thanks guys!

It isn't the skin that is providing the speed up, it's also optimised builds and running from a USB stick instead of an SD Card (you still need an SD card to boot) There are also comments that running "one movie per folder" speeds up playing as it reduces the number of files searched for subtitles?
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goujam Offline
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Post: #15
You need to be running off a USB stick and overclocking your pi to a decent speed! im currently running 1ghz. Make sure you have a good power supply before overclocking though.

Also how are you playing films over the network SMB or NFS, I found automounting a NFS share and messing with some of the settings I get around 11MB/s over my network more than enough for blu ray rips
(This post was last modified: 2013-09-30 13:28 by goujam.)
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