Help: Cheap and Reliable XBMC for the Grandparents

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MicroLabrat Offline
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Question  Help: Cheap and Reliable XBMC for the Grandparents
Post: #1
Hi All,

I’ve been an XBMC user for quite some time on a custom HTPC and after the Grandparents witnessed it on their last visit I have been charged with supplying them with something similar.

Distance will prohibit regular assistance from me, so I need hardware which runs XBMC reliably.

It will mainly be used for streaming through youtube and other add ons (via wifi), and perhaps playing content from an external hardrive (via usb).

The budget is $150-$250 (AUD). The cheaper the better, as they are Pensioners and don’t have a lot of money.

Thus far I have considered an OUYA, however I did read that its wireless was a times insufficient and there were also HDMI handshaking issues.
It’s extremely important to have a system that will work reliably over a long period of time, and which won’t be disrupted by updates to XBMC or OUYA’s operating system.
Provided this would work effectively it is the cheaper of the two options I have examined, being $150 AUD (when bought with a keyboard).

The other option I have been considering is an Intel Celeron 1037U based system, with OPENELEC installed. The benefits of having an operating system designed expressly for XBMC, I thought might help with reliability. Also the possibility of creating a recovery partition which could be booted in the event of any software issues, restoring the box to the state in which I gave it to them is appealing from a tech support point of view.
Once all the bits have been added together for that it comes to about $240 AUD. But I am a little hesitant of buying something from AliExpress.

Link: Celeron Option

Having never had personal experience with either type of device, I thought I would ask here.

Any help, would be much appreciated.

Thanks! Big Grin
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calev Offline
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Post: #2
Ouya is really cool but i don't think its grandparent ready. I would definitely go a openelec route.
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hdmkv Offline
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Post: #3
Even OpenELEC may be hard for some seniors. Depends on how comfortable they are with at least some technology. If not, I'd suggest something like a WD TV streaming media player.
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cwide Offline
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Post: #4
If you are just streaming through add-ons are you sure you don't want to go with something like a Roku if it has all the channels you are looking for? Roku 3 just got Youtube. I know it's not the same as XBMC, but it will be bulletproof and cheaper.
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Dougie Fresh Offline
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Post: #5
+1 for Roku (or similar) or Windows + XBMC + LogMeIn Smile
(This post was last modified: 2013-12-18 17:09 by Dougie Fresh.)
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MicroLabrat Offline
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Post: #6
Thanks for the suggestion of the Roku. Unfortunately however, it doesn't look like any of the Roku's content has made it to Australia yet, and I'd prefer not to have to futz around with VPNs (as this would probably be another point of failure too).

I'm pretty set on XBMC because it has all the add ons for Australian catch-up tv and what not.
Provided I set it up with a custom main menu, a relatively simple skin and it behaved predictably - I think they would be capable of using it.

A decent HTPC with windows + logmein would be ideal, but bringing that in on the $250AUD budget would be difficult (especially when buying computer parts in Australia is far more expensive than it should be).

Perhaps what they/I'm asking isn't possible on the budget...

If anyone knows of some hardware which can run OpenElec reliably, cheaply, I'd be glad to hear, because while not foolproof, it seems like a better option than the Ouya.

Thanks for your help!
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memeka Offline
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Post: #7
How about the raspi ? Is pretty cheap and reliable. Works with CEC, you don't need another remote.

I am currently using (in Australia) the Odroid XU - also working with CEC, but currently is direct to framebuffer (like the raspi), so X is not running.
I also own an Odroid U2 which has XBMC running under X, but works well only in 720 TV resolution.
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kortina Offline
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Location: Australia
Post: #8
Get them a Pivos XIOS DS, put the Linux firmware one it.

You can attach a cheap 2.5" TB external drive, and store 500Gb-3Tb on it. More than enough for casual use.

Comes with a remote, you can use the power supply that comes with it (use an adaptor to fix the pins, or get angry with some pliers!)

The XIOS is great for casual use for the non-hardcore user. I have one that I take with me when travelling.
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AZImmortal Offline
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Post: #9
I just recently got an Ouya and haven't had any problems with it in regards to stability. I think that the HDMI handshake issues that you're referring to are in regards to audio-passthrough, so assuming your grandparents aren't using a receiver, then it shouldn't be an issue. I don't use mine on wi-fi so i can't comment on how well (or poorly) it works, but if running wired isn't an option, then you can use powerline ethernet adapters. I really can't be more impressed with how well XBMC runs on the Ouya given the price point.
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Vidman Offline
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Location: Perth, Australia
Post: #10
I currently have an ouya and while it offers a good xbmc experience. .currently there are a few issues... But I believe if you give it a month or so it will be great as xbmc gotham final nears release and in the release notes for the ouya firmware update today it mentions that they are now concentrating on hdmi-cec and audio passthrough for the device.. xbmc can also be modified to work as a launcher so that it load straight from boot. .. which also suppresses ouya firmware updates.... If this all works out it will be a perfect xbmc box for me.

Edit:I'm in Australia too btw
(This post was last modified: 2013-12-19 08:35 by Vidman.)
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discordian666 Offline
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Post: #11
How bout the little black box?

Edit, heres a rock solid combo
(This post was last modified: 2013-12-19 10:22 by discordian666.)
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bossanova808 Offline
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Post: #12
'Free' (=infinite pirated content)....that's going to attract the wrong type of attention for them....

My XBMC stuff:
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MicroLabrat Offline
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Post: #13
Wow, thanks for all the suggestions!

The Pivos Xios Ds, Little Black Box and Apple TV all seem like decent possibilities. (and well within budget!)

Has anyone had experience with the Little Black Box? (reviews seem mixed at best).

Should I jump on that used Apple TV from eBay while I can? Else, I guess I'll go with the Pivo Xios Ds (and install linux firmware on it)!

Thanks once again!
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Katch Offline
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Post: #14
I've run XBMC on a lot of different 'cheap' devices. The Pivos Xios DS is a great little device for a casual user. I recently moved house and it's the device I'm using everyday while we get settled in and I get a chance to put my main HTPC and 5.1 system back in the living room.

Considering I own a Raspberry Pi - Odroid U2 and an Ouya as well as the Pivos you can see which option I've found most functional. It is a little slow to load large pages of content or to pull searches from the internet but it has very few bugs and is rock solid stable. It does also quite often need the audio sync pushed forward or back a bit (but I've found that to be true of all ARM devices running XBMC)

If you can stretch to it the Intel NUC Celeron or i3 is a much better option (only reason I'm not using mine is it is currently pretending to be an Apple Mini Mac for me).

XBMC Running on:
- Intel i5 750 & ATI 7770
- Intel NUC i3 Thunderbolt Edition
- Nexus 4 & Nexus 7
- Pivos XIOS DS M1
- Odroid-U2
- Ouya

If my post was helpful please click the +Reputation button.
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MicroLabrat Offline
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Post: #15
Alright then, thanks for all the suggestions, looks like I'll be giving them the option of a Pivos Xios DS or a Celeron NUC.
(I'll do my best to convince them to buy the NUC!)

Thanks for all the help!
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