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fabman_uk

HTPC alternatives

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Hello,

 

So I'm giving my HTPC to my in-laws as a Christmas gift, they should get much use out of it, but I want something to replace it but I want it located away from the TV.

 

- Under my wall mounted smart TV I have a PlayStation 4 and a Wii U, that is all I want there physically as I want to tidy that area up with a more narrow unit.

- Upstairs I have my main desktop PC and also my media server both with Windows 10 installed.

- I'd like to be able to remote connect to my media server which will be left on 24/7 with a wireless keyboard and mouse using the TV as a monitor.

- I'll need a connecting device, not sure what, I'd like it cheap and small if possible.

 

Any suggestions please?

 

Thank you

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There's HDMI Android devices and even Intel Atom ones now. Think a tablet using the screen as output device but without touch input (you generally use a Bluetooth mouse or kb, airmouse or just use a USB hub and use wired devices).

 

There's NUC devices - small motherboards with integrated CPU and most else that you'd need.

 

There's a few consumer Android 4K media devices around. The primary purpose being media player but I would assume that they should be able to install and run general games and apps.

 

Of those, the last 2 types are generally in the $100+ range and that's probably conservative. Android HDMI dongle types are becoming more common and usually in the $45 - $100 range.

 

Raspberry Pi and Arduino probably deserve a mention too - I believe some sellers do bundles with what's needed to be a media player but I'd have doubts about their credibility. The problem with even PC-based media playback is that H.265 video is becoming more common and the grunt required to play it exceeds what many devices are capable of.

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Thanks for the feedback.

 

The PlayStation 4 and the Smart TV can both connect to the Media Server to access the stored content, so I have that covered but I want a way to connect to the Media Server as a remote connection comfortably at the sofa. Maybe even remotely play PC games.

 

The Android devices can use Remote Connection software, so they are useful. The Intel Atom HDMI device seems like a real good idea. I just remembered I also have an OUYA doing nothing, I could look into that, it is small so it won't take up much space.

Edited by fabman_uk

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With DLNA you can have all sorts of combinations. Even do stuff like use a mobile phone as remote to commence playback of a video on a BluRay player that's being served by the PC in another room.

It can get all cumbersome and confusing. IMO the best solution is keep it simple. Try and keep a single source of video files (usually a computer) and have all the remote devices independantly acting as client/renderers.

 

Like I said, a lot of what's out there will handle existing stuff even up to 1080p BluRay type content just fine but some of the newer codecs and/or higher resolutions will push them beyond their limits.

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Any chance you server/desktop and TV rooms are close enough together to run a USB extender for the wireless transmitter for a mouse/kb combo? Assuming that close, too, you'd probably be able to run a long HDMI line down to the TV.

 

I mean, you can plex from TV or PS4 to the servers, but this'd let you have mouse/kb without needing to fiddle with a hardware host that will make the remote connection.

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With a "proper" sort of setup you shouldn't need to intervene with the server.

 

Get a DLNA server going such as Serviio and go from there.

If you really need to do control stuff on the PC, there's things like Airdroid - I've been meaning to give it a whirl, supposedly you can do remote desktop operations from a phone.

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Nich, no where near close enough. Different floors, not above each other.

 

Rybags, I also want to use it for things other than media while sitting on the sofa. That is why I don't just want Media Server functionality, I already can do that with the PS4 I have connected to the Server. I also want some PC functionality. I don't want another computer though, I have a gaming PC, Media Server, 2 laptops, two tablets, two high end smart phones, a PS4, a Wii U and an OUYA... plus a whole heap of other devices that I just want to sell or throw, such as even more old laptops andold smart phones.

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My thinking heads towards Android or Intel Atom then.

 

Though once you get much above $100 it becomes a case of only saving space and power usage over a HTPC setup, and still having less flexibility for media playback.

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I have a nexus player android, given as a birthday present. You could install cyanogen on of those.

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I've got a Quad Core Android dongle that supposedly should have a top tier speed of 1.2 GHz or so.

The problem is it's still not good enough to do 1080 with guaranteed smoothness and stutters with H.265 even at 720.

 

A lot of these things are going seemingly dirt cheap. And for good reason, they're just not up to the demands for the types of video people want to play.

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If you wanted something cheap and simple, I'd go for a Chromecast, though that doesn't satisfy all of yours requirements. For what it is, it's pretty good

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I tried a Chromecast, it's not intended for local networked video. And I'd have real doubts about it handling the demands I mentioned before.

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Them Chromecast devices aren't meant for lan casting, apps need to support chromecasting

I use Plex for streaming local content, and it's great

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Hey Nich,

 

Bought the PS4 on the provision I wouldn't need another expensive device, now I need to buy another expensive device... Sneaky me.

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