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HTPC Best Plex TV Client?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Awoken, 23 Jan 2016.

  1. Awoken

    Awoken Gazing at the stars

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    We've just been given our first LCD TV (a Samsung UE40D6100 - Christmas present from parents who are upgrading) and the change from our old 32" Bush CRT is stunning. Our CD, DVD and Blu-ray collections are digital and we use Plex to serve media to all devices around the house via Wifi (i3, 8GB, Windows computer as the server).

    We've had no trouble with Plex direct playing files to phones, laptops, etc but the Samsung TV client is really unreliable and hangs, buffers and generally ruins all media.

    I'm looking for a set top box or mini-pc client to run Plex through but I'm having trouble deciding and wanted to tap into the experience of the Plex community on Bit-tech.

    Two things worth considering:

    - We already have a Blu-ray player and a Humax 1100S 1TB box so we've access to Netflix and all UK Catch-up Channels - we don't need any extra features, just good Plex support.

    - We'll be using a wired gigabit LAN rather than Wifi from the server to the set-top box so that reduces the choice a little.

    The current list of options is:

    1. Amazon's 4K Fire TV Box
    Pros: 1080p, Lan port, Quad Core, dedicated GPU, 2GB RAM
    Cons: 5.1 Audio issues, crashing, LAN port is only 10/100
    Great hardware and looked like the front runner until I searched it on Plex forums and found that no end of people are having problems with it: here and here.

    2. Roku 3 (Roku 4 is not yet available in the UK)
    Pros: 1080p, Lan port
    Cons: Dual Core, 512MB RAM, LAN port is only 10/100
    I've seen various comments about the interface being awful and very basic but nothing recent so I don't know whether this is an issue anymore. I've also heard that compatibility with mkv files isn't great (nearly all of our movies/tv are mkv files) and some other file playback issues: here

    3. RasPlex
    Pros: 1080p, very compatible with all media types
    Cons: CPU needs an overclock for high bit rates, 1GB Ram, Lan port is only 10/100
    A number of people have mentioned this but I don't know much about it other than it is an operating system dedicated to plex for the Raspberry Pi. Looks tempting and doesn't seem to have any of the issues of the Roku and AFTV. It is a bit slow/laggy

    4. Dedicated small PC
    Pros: Will handle everything
    Cons: Very expensive by comparison and not as simple

    Out:
    Nexus TV - No 5.1 audio. Chromecast - no 5.1 audio and no ethernet (although did notice an adaptor mentioned somewhere).

    What should I choose? Have I missed anything?
     
  2. Kernel

    Kernel Likes cheese

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    I sometimes run my Plex through either a PS3 or a Amazon Firestick. I found the firestick to lack the umph to transcode locally so I ended up beefing up the VM that runs my Plex Server to transcode remotely, it will run 720p fine now. For the PS3 that I haven't really played with enough to comment.
    But out of your choices, I'd possible lean towards the Roku. I have heard nothing but good things about them.

    Edit: Could something like this not be a possible option. Not cheap by any means, but would run everything, and be a smaller footprint then a dedicated PC - http://www.scan.co.uk/products/inte...6gb-s-1-x-25-bay-intel-hd-graphics-4400-200mh
     
    Last edited: 23 Jan 2016
  3. Awoken

    Awoken Gazing at the stars

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    For price, size and convenience I'm leaning towards the Roku but I'm wary of just ending up with a different set of issues to the ones I have now.
     
  4. Kernel

    Kernel Likes cheese

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  5. Awoken

    Awoken Gazing at the stars

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    @Kernel: That's exactly what I was looking at for an HTPC but at £250 for a barebones kit it seemed very expensive next to the other <£100 options. I'd need to save up for that kind of outlay.
     
  6. samkiller42

    samkiller42 For i AM Cheesecake!!

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    I've had a Roku 2 XS, and 2 Sky Now TV boxes (Rebranded Roku's 2 LT) and I've never had major issues, any issues I did have was more server side than client. The client is dated in appearance, in comparison with the Android, Windows App and Xbox One app, but it works, and pretty well too. The Now TV box can have plex 'side loaded' which requires entering a special menu via a series or remote commands, and uploading the client from a PC or laptop, Info: Here.

    Sam
     
  7. loftie

    loftie Multimodder

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    Are you trying to play MKVs?
     
  8. Awoken

    Awoken Gazing at the stars

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    Nearly all of our content was ripped to mkv as it works with just about everything.
     
  9. loftie

    loftie Multimodder

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    With the Plex app, when you try and play something and you get the popup with video/audio/sub options, try flicking the video option to direct streaming assuming you haven't already.

    Our Samsung tv - a 2011 model iirc- hates certain (most) MKVs. Which is odd because when I first started using Plex ages ago, the MKVs worked fine. Something was updated and broke it.

    N.B. doing what I suggested disables seeking, but you can still move to different time locations.
     
  10. Flibblebot

    Flibblebot Smile with me

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    Pick up an RPi2 and put the official Plex player on it. Cheap and smooth as butter. No need to overclock or anything.
     
  11. Awoken

    Awoken Gazing at the stars

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    @Flibblebot: The Raspberry Pi 2 B is ~£25 but what extras would I need? I'm guessing (as I want to hardwire): Case, power supply wireless keyboard (bluetooth - can I pick anything or is compatibility limited?), USB/SDcard storage? etc

    What sort of additional outlay should I expect?

    I've heard gigabit LAN USB 3 adaptors can be used?
     
  12. Awoken

    Awoken Gazing at the stars

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    After a lot of research I'm thinking of getting:
    http://thepihut.com/collections/sale-items/products/raspberry-pi-2-starter-kit

    It seems to work beautifully over LAN, costs just £40, can be operated using my existing Sasmsung remote (using CEC) and the next best system would be the NUC, which, including extras, would set me back over £300.

    If Rasplex on a RPi2B doesn't work out I'll go for a Roku 3.

    I'll let you all know how I get on once I've got it up and running. This is going to be a fun project :)
     
  13. rollo

    rollo Modder

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    Apple TV is easiest option and has the best plex interface.
     
  14. loftie

    loftie Multimodder

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    Pictures or dirty lies :p
     
  15. 13eightyfour

    13eightyfour Formerly Titanium Angel

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    How is it any easier than the AFTV or Roku (genuine question)? I'll admit I don't have an Apple TV, but do have both a Roku and AFTV and can't say I found installing the app overly difficult.

    I can't comment on the interface other than to say it's dire on the Roku, but perfectly fine on the AFTV.
     
  16. rollo

    rollo Modder

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    Apple Gen 4 has app support so you can install there App Loftie easy stuff. The interface is alot easier to use than Roku where its a dire mess.

    Amazon fire tv which i assume is what you mean has known issues, 1080p playback has freeze issues depending on file type. MKV / MP4 files just dont seem to work correctly depending on audio codec they are using. I tried this in november and sent it back as pretty much 90% of my files are MKV / MP4.

    Roku 3 is a much better media streamer than both but the user interface will not go down well with alot of would be buyers. Roku 4 is meant to fix this but its not out in uk yet.

    I have tried 3 AFTV / Roku 3 / Apple TV. Least issues with the later one after trying both other options. There the only 3 options id even consider for this. I kept the Roku 3 as a personal streamer in bedroom but downstairs it was not suitable.
     
  17. dancingbear84

    dancingbear84 error 404

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    I'm curious as to your reasoning for ruling out the chromecast, I see the reasons that you have given, however I am not sure I understand them.
    1. It isn't ethernet, sure that is true, however I have never had any issues with wi-fi, there is an adaptor but I have not seen them in the UK yet, I may be mistaken though.
    2. No 5.1 - Are you sure about this, I have my Chromecast plugged into my amp and I'm "fairly sure" I have heard 5.1 from my netflix etc. I haven't tried plex yet though but can check for you later in the week. If you plug the Chrome Cast into the TV then I doubt you will get 5.1 from anything, although i think it depends on what the interconnects are and what version of DD is being used

    EDIT: Just tested this, Netflix is currently going through the amp in 5.1 Dolby Digital +
    I've just had a look at Plex too, and that is also quite happy with 5.1, YMMV of course I think it depends on the amp it is being pushed through.
     
    Last edited: 24 Jan 2016
  18. wolfticket

    wolfticket Downwind from the bloodhounds

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    I have a NowTV box, which is basically bargain basement Roku, and a FireTV stick. Both have their advantages but broadly speaking I prefer the Roku UI and Plex experience.
     
  19. loftie

    loftie Multimodder

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    Can't really see what makes the Apple Tv a better interface other than personal preference. It looks different, but I'm only going off the 2 or so pictures on the Plex website. Was hoping you'd elaborate a bit more rollo :)
     
  20. rollo

    rollo Modder

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    I'd not say there's a huge dif between them I personally do own Both a Roku 3 and Apple TV one is for living room one I use upstairs late at night. Ease of use gets Apple TV in living room but I don't use it much myself, Partner does and she could not get on with the roku 3. M-Go been one of the major bug bears.
     

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