#1 By: Jason, November 14th, 2013 18:05
#2 By: joeblough, November 14th, 2013 18:22
to each his own i suppose. i never liked the roku UI. the amazon prime over airplay works flawlessly for me, so no big deal there.
#3 By: Melted_Crayons, November 14th, 2013 18:30
I'm going to reluctantly replace my otherwise perfectly adequate largish crt TV with a flat panel for one reason only: to get Roku, b/c I want programming on demand and only want to pay for what I watch (and don't want to get locked into Apple).
(my crt TV uses component connections only, but Roku no longer provides component connection).
#4 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, November 14th, 2013 18:31
That's pretty brutal.
It's expected for Apple to get "Walled garden, something, clearly only designed to play nicely with other Apple gear, etc." (which is generally true; but it is also generally true that it does play nicely rather than merely endurably).
To get dinged that hard on interface suckitude, against Roku's el-cheapo nearly-loss-leader decoder box, that has to sting.
It's especially surprising because the aTV is basically an iPod touch in a different case, you'd think that they could manage to steal a little of their generally-well-regarded UI-fu from one of the product lines that they actually care about.
#5 By: StoicRomance, November 14th, 2013 18:34
Good to know Plex works well on it, I've been looking to replace my abandoned Boxee Box for awhile now.
#6 By: Lasermazer, November 14th, 2013 18:40
It is too bad that AppleTV doesn't have an Amazon app, but it's also bad that Roku doesn't have a YouTube app (and of course nothing for iTunes). My Vizio TV has its own Amazon and YouTube apps, so for me there wouldn't be much of a point to getting a Roku. Also, for people who are really into image quality, I've seen some comparisons that say the iTunes version of a movie tends to look a little better than the Amazon or Netflix version (of course blu ray is best, but there are plenty of movies that have HD versions available but no blu ray), see here for example. Also I've seen some complaints, like this one, about the fact that Roku uses RGB color output rather than the current HD color output standard of YCbCr, although again this probably isn't an issue unless you are really into getting the best possible image quality (I think the difference would be pretty subtle in a side-by-side comparison).
#7 By: Jeff Atwood, November 14th, 2013 18:41
It is super super geeky but I built my own Home Theater PC. It runs everything, and idles at 15 watts, even for a SSD and 8 GB RAM system.
Mostly we use it to watch videos of various formats, so the OS is kind of irrelevant. (Though I do like playing Steam games on it with a controller too.. the Haswell GPU is finally good, I can play Lego Marvel on it at high detail even!)
#8 By: David Forbes, November 14th, 2013 19:03
Just out of curiosity, is there anything that any of these net-to-video appliances will do that the venerable Mac Mini sitting in my stereo rack won't do?
#9 By: gilbert wham, November 14th, 2013 19:25
There's probably a box you can get off of Amazon will kinda do the job for about the cost of lunch. Which is why my house is a horrid nest of wires and things that kind of communicate.
#10 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, November 14th, 2013 19:29
Given that it's a sunk cost now, "Cost somewhere between $35 and $100" probably isn't relevant.
Aside from that, unless the mini is old enough (especially PPC) that assorted DRM-crazed video services have stopped supporting it, no, it'll do everything and then some.
#11 By: Jason, November 14th, 2013 19:32
I found MediaCentral to be great media server software on my Mac Mini.
#12 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, November 14th, 2013 19:36
You want something like this
The above product is merely representative, and is not explicitly endorsed, nor has it been used, by me; but it illustrates the concept you want.
Such may be cheaper elsewhere, and there may be better ones out there. Be aware, though, of component to HDMI, which solves the opposite problem, and that simple passive HDMI-to-component cables (while cheap) work only with systems expecting them. HDMI is not intrinsically backward compatible without an active conversion box, though specific devices may use the HDMI connector to supply analog signals; just because their designers are cheap.
(Actually, I apologize, the product linked above specifically notes that it does not support HDCP-encrypted HDMI, which is most HDMI. Unfortunately, this is a product category where skeezy fleabay dealers, like, say this one are more likely to have the goods. HDMI, is supposed to be all, y'know, super-encrypted and Safe For Premium Content and whatnot, thanks to HDCP. Unfortunately, that means that Good Upstanding Merchants tend not to carry certain useful HDMI-compatibility adapters. Monoprice, for one, dropped their inventory. Google still remembers; but they deny it now. Since HDCP is good and broken, the goods exist; but you won't find them, at least not labelled honestly, on the shelves of the respectable. Sort of like Macrovision strippers back in the day.)
#13 By: robulus, November 14th, 2013 19:36
Sweet build. I ended up building a HTPC as well. A Windows Media Centre HTPC at that. And yeah, Microsoft and general enthusiasm for this platform is dwindling, but this thing works so well, is so robust, that I reckon I'll just stop getting software updates eventually and take my chances.
I just got sick of cheap consumer crap with different poorly designed GUIs for everything. This box does everything (including FarCry Blood Dragon at near enough to 60fps on 720p). If something fails on this, I'll just replace it, but given that the build quality is a zillion times better than the junk I've been using before, I'm not that worried.
And hand on my heart, WMC is the best software Microsoft have ever made. Although if I didn't need series link recording for free to air TV, I'd probably go with XBMC. Easier to customise.
#14 By: Cary, November 14th, 2013 19:39
That sort of HTPC build has been on my ToDo list for a while now... I did a build back in 2006 that has just evolved into my "desktop" -- doing my taxes on a wall-mounted screen isn't exactly practical, but it works.
For media, I rely on a 1st generation Roku and some no-name box that plays some internet content and any media files on my network. A friend gave us an Apple TV box a year ago, but since I don't have an apple ecosystem it is kinda useless.
In other rooms, I just rely on my phone or tablet hooked up to the TV.
#15 By: Jeff Atwood, November 14th, 2013 19:42
Yeah I don't even bother with any kind of cable or over the air, I get all our shows from
#16 By: Scott, November 14th, 2013 19:45
I like the Roku and totally agree about the Netflix UI on Apple TV (especially when watching TV episodes, Roku has a much smoother interface) but found PLEX to be impossible to use because of it's insistence of trying to auto-catalog all of my media content - it got most of the titles wrong and I couldn't find any way to turn it off and just show me the file name.
I use AirVideo Server to stream my media from my Mac to an iOS device and to my Apple TV in the living room, I'd like to get PLEX working for the ROKU in my office though
#17 By: robulus, November 14th, 2013 19:56
I know. We're very quaint!
#18 By: Mellivora Capensis, November 14th, 2013 19:56
Anyone use JRiver Media Manager? I'm using it currently for my music, but in theory it can do more.
#19 By: Duncan, November 14th, 2013 20:19
I'd be interested in hearing a Canadian review. Things are different up here.
#20 By: Duncan, November 14th, 2013 20:21
I used to use Boxee but it stopped working with the last Mac OS update. It worked really well for videos I didn't want to convert to apple TV.
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