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Streaming Media Stick vs. Streaming Media Box

drvnbysound

Senior Member
I travel with the Logitech keyboard fairly often - usually connecting my laptop to the TV in a hotel room. I'm a self-taught typer, and while I don't peck and can type pretty well, I almost never use the right-Shift key ;) Heck, I'm not writing any papers with the keyboard... just web browsing :) and I'd take that keyboard over having to use a separate mouse any day... especially if it's from my couch.
 

pete_c

Guru
Yeah; here only utilize the Logitech Keyboard for a quickie connection to the tabletop touchscreens.  Being touchscreens I alternate between the touch screen and the Logiech pad on the keyboard.
 
I also use full size Logitech wireless keyboards / mice on all of the desktops.  I have another wireless keyboard around the same size as the Logitech except that the mouse buttons are on the top left and right edges and bottom corners.  The pad is placed for thumb usage and the keyboard works fine.  Not sure how old it is but it is easy to use.  The tabletop tablets have bluetooth and I sometimes use another keyboard with bluetooth only it seems to fall asleep really fast.  I still utilize a Microsoft Trackball and an old Microspeed Trackball with the mouse on my home office desktop.
 
The Lenova (wrote IBM before) remote mouse pieces work fine.  It is smaller than it looks in the picture posted.  Tiny keys to type alphanumeric characters; but it does work.
 
lenovo-remote-g1.jpg

 
As we head back to the original post it seems like most folks here prefer the "box" over the "stick". 
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
I haven't found the "perfect" keyboard, but I did like this model for my HTPC and in-car computer.   I use it tied with XBMC in the car, or when I'm putting PC's in the office to work on or media center PC's that need very little typing along with some basic remote functions and absolute minimum footprint.  The mouse is a gyroscopic air mouse which is actually pretty functional.  It's one of those that's like @ the 90% mark; I wish it were at 100% but manufacturing today sucks and there are so few people who "get it" - and unfortunately they're not out there making these every day enthusiast products.
 

video321

Active Member
Fire TV right now, IMHO, is the best bang for the buck with the ability to sideload XBMC/Kodi. I do have to say the boxes are better to have than the sticks though - but when had for $20 I don't see anything out there that even comes close.
 
What I don't understand is why so many people jump on Plex or MB for their streaming needs. Why require a PC to do all that heavy transcoding when not needed? I understand that you can get the server to direct stream, but that is always hit or miss. I see this as the "go to" service when wanting to stream to tablets or when travelling. On most nights I have (4) streams going at once and would hate to even think about the processing power required if the streams needed transcoding. Can someone shed some light on why you chose this route.... I really am curious; there may be something I'm missing here.
 
For control of my systems, most of my rooms are tablet driven. If I need KB/MS support I use an app that interfaces with VNC to give me control without screen mirroring so the tablet becomes a simple touchpad with keyboard support - one device to rule them all! I do have a logitech K400 but only use it when I really need to - such as pre-OS support.
 

drvnbysound

Senior Member
I use a PC because I'm running SageTV and recording all of my own content and storing it locally. I guess we are impatient, because the seasons and episodes are reported to air on X date and that's when we want to watch them (95% of the time), they generally aren't available that soon to be watched from a streaming service. Some of the new seasons are going to be starting back up soon and we are already looking forward to those premiere episodes. I've also had no desire to go the torrent route and either spend time searching for them myself or potentially getting bad recordings; with STV all of my recordings are high quality, uncompressed/converted files and as long as some breaking news doesn't interfere they are always good.
 

pete_c

Guru
What I don't understand is why so many people jump on Plex or MB for their streaming needs. Why require a PC to do all that heavy transcoding when not needed? I understand that you can get the server to direct stream, but that is always hit or miss. I see this as the "go to" service when wanting to stream to tablets or when traveling. On most nights I have (4) streams going at once and would hate to even think about the processing power required if the streams needed transcoding. Can someone shed some light on why you chose this route.... I really am curious; there may be something I'm missing here.
 
Personally thinking that its just an "Easy Button" solution to transcoding to tablets and telephones.  My grandson (2 years old) has his own little android tablet with netflix and watching movies on that device all of the time.   Many kids today have tablets and phones as appendages today wherever.  They mostly seem to want to watch all of their media on their tablets or phones; well because they can.  Multiple stream transcoding in a home environment provides that easy button entertainment value.
 
Historically I would transcode my media for watching when traveling in a plane.  It was a bit difficult in the early 2000's to watch a movie on a small cell phone; but it was very portable (plus using wireless bluetooth headsets on a plane).  Note this was with early Palm OS and MS Mobile CE with initially very slow internet GPRS transport.  I am though very impressed with the new LTE speeds that I see today.
 

pete_c

Guru
@work2play
 
Curious what you have for a carpc and what you are doing to integrate it into the automobile?
 
Here have integrated the HU's on my automobiles to the carpc.  I do have a multimedia add to my bus which shows up as a device on the HU menu.  This is where it integrates the video and audio from the PC.  The device can emulate itself, cd changer or aux device.  It has two autonomous video outputs; one to the HU and one to an aux monitor.  I also have TV modules on the bus which come up on the HU menu.  The application today does read the GPS data on the bus such that I can use both the built in navigation or the pc navigation (live stuff).  I can do stuff like turn on lights, open windows and chat with the built in emergency 3G radio in the car.
 
That said I am switching over to using Linux now for the carpc stuff and doing proactive ODBII stuff with the integration of the bus stuff.  I do get engine diagnostics on the regular bus and just adding the engine stuff from the ODBII stuff.
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
Work2Play said:
I haven't found the "perfect" keyboard, but I did like this model for my HTPC and in-car computer.   I use it tied with XBMC in the car, or when I'm putting PC's in the office to work on or media center PC's that need very little typing along with some basic remote functions and absolute minimum footprint.  The mouse is a gyroscopic air mouse which is actually pretty functional.  It's one of those that's like @ the 90% mark; I wish it were at 100% but manufacturing today sucks and there are so few people who "get it" - and unfortunately they're not out there making these every day enthusiast products.
Nice find: an air mouse and mini keyboard all in one.  Thanks for posting that.

Yesterday I ordered Logitech's "darkfield" technology Performance MX mouse.  There were many Amazon reviews that specifically mentioned that it tracks very well on couch upholstery as well as glass table tops.  i.e. pretty much any surface.
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
Anyone storing their content in a cloud?  These days internet download speeds are fast enough that watching media stored remotely is probably a non-issue.  Upload speeds don't really matter, as long as it gets there eventually.  I'm guessing the economics still favor local storage, but my info is out of date.  The last time I checked (years ago), Amazon's cold storage using tape backups was the cheapest (and obviously not providing convenient access).  A big cloud would have more purchasing power, though, than the retail prices for hardware that I'd have to pay, and a big cloud could also amortize the cost of other backup equipment that I would otherwise underutilize, so there's reason to think a win-win deal might exist that beats the cost of building and maintaining my own DIY storage solution.
 
Also, for ripped media, a big enough cloud would only need to store one copy for the entire cloud, not separate copies for each subscriber.  That would reduce a vendor's storage cost much more than an individual could hope to achieve.
 

pete_c

Guru
The second "box" I mentioned earlier (Netflix, Amazon, et al) is dedicated to running PlayOnTV.    Been using the software since the company started a few years back.  The box is running Windows Server.
 
 
PlayOnTV.jpg
 
 
 
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
video321 said:
What I don't understand is why so many people jump on Plex or MB for their streaming needs. Why require a PC to do all that heavy transcoding when not needed?  I really am curious; there may be something I'm missing here.
Plex has a very high WAF.  It's brain-dead simple to use and presents a pretty conhesive user interface.  XBMC has always lagged badly in this area.  It's that last 5% of the development that the geeks just can't bring themselves to do presentably.  Plex also now has clients on just about all devices, including game consoles.
 
I'll confess to not having tried Kodi yet, mainly because I don't want to go through all the effort just to be met with their typically incomplete UI.  
 
That and Plex really does do a pretty smooth job of handling all the transcoding dirty work, entirely behind the scenes.  Drive space is hardly an issue any longer, nor is CPU.  My only complaint is their steadfast rejection of supporting any kind of disc playback (even from ISOs).  This eliminates being able to use anything other than ripped main titles.  They're very, very much opposed to supporting disc playback, which IMNSHO is stupid (and they're somewhat arrogant about it).  I have had it running on an I5 Intel NUC for a while and it's been quite usable for media ripped from DVDs (which is a whole other adventure).
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
NeverDie said:
Also, for ripped media, a big enough cloud would only need to store one copy for the entire cloud, not separate copies for each subscriber.  That would reduce a vendor's storage cost much more than an individual could hope to achieve.
 
While sharing a lot of files is indeed a trivial exercise, for which the cloud present great opportunities, using it for commercially produced media is going to run afoul of licensing issues. 
 
Netflix is cloud storage playback.  That monthly fee is no doubt also covering the expense of managing the licensing of the content.
 
The downside to Netflix, beyond the fees, is content comes and goes without you having any say in the matter.  At least with Amazon you have a better defined licensing/purchasing relationship for whatever media you buy.  
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
pete_c said:
That said I am switching over to using Linux now for the carpc stuff and doing proactive ODBII stuff with the integration of the bus stuff.  I do get engine diagnostics on the regular bus and just adding the engine stuff from the ODBII stuff.
 
I utilize a bluetooth-OBDII dongle with the Torque android app to get/set my Jeep's data.  Handy for discovering whatever codes have been tripped and resetting them.  The bus is isolated from anything other than engine data.  Which, perhaps, is how it should be lest someone start playing around with the actual control systems.  I don't really want to have my own devices/software able to cause a 5,000lb. vehicle to fail to operate properly.
 
That and, truth be told, using a tablet with a bluetooth interface to the radio/head unit is more than satisfactory 99.9% of the time.  Yeah, all kinds of other clever stuff is possible, but none of that is really necessary, useful or even all that safe.  I need the car to drive, the rest... meh...
 

pete_c

Guru
Thanks Bill.
 
Yup I look at the ODBII data mostly.  I get some engine stuff on the bus.  The light computers, radio computer, integrated bluetooth, emergency 3G radio, windows, satellite radio, GPS, regular radio, phone, cd changer, audio amplifier, TV tuner all sits as devices on the bus.
 
The carpc just is another option / device on my HU.  Current wintel/ubuntu embedded software just logs data from whatever, plays music, cams, TV (I do not watch it while the vehicle is moving), et al) and talks on the internet.
 
The GUI/menu is very basic.  Software is called car media.  You can add just about anything to the menus.
 
I originally beta tested it with the author as it was originally written for the device I purchased that sits on the bus and I had also purchased the first generation test bus device many years ago.
 
carmediaimage.jpg
 
 
The communications has been documented and can be replicated with the car pc. 
 
I have another piece of software than can make changes to the navigation system That said I am currently using a modded version of the OS of the OEM navigation system.  Its better than stock but not as good as it can be. 
 
Drifting again here from the OP...
 
Here I did install Plex on my MythTV box and it did work but trashed the Ubuntu 64bit server build that MythTV was running on with some non standard stuff.  Plex did work fine for me at the time.
 

video321

Active Member
wkearney99 said:
Plex has a very high WAF.  It's brain-dead simple to use and presents a pretty conhesive user interface.  XBMC has always lagged badly in this area.  It's that last 5% of the development that the geeks just can't bring themselves to do presentably.  Plex also now has clients on just about all devices, including game consoles.
 
I'll confess to not having tried Kodi yet, mainly because I don't want to go through all the effort just to be met with their typically incomplete UI.  
 
That and Plex really does do a pretty smooth job of handling all the transcoding dirty work, entirely behind the scenes.  Drive space is hardly an issue any longer, nor is CPU.  My only complaint is their steadfast rejection of supporting any kind of disc playback (even from ISOs).  This eliminates being able to use anything other than ripped main titles.  They're very, very much opposed to supporting disc playback, which IMNSHO is stupid (and they're somewhat arrogant about it).  I have had it running on an I5 Intel NUC for a while and it's been quite usable for media ripped from DVDs (which is a whole other adventure).
 
Yeah... most of my media is DVD folder rip so the only option for me would be MediaBridge. Even if I converted over to mkv for Plex support, I'd still be stuck with constant transcoding. I did, just recently, install MB to check it out (I have android licenses for Plex & MB - got em when they were free) and it used up almost 100% of my 3-core virtual machine (Phenom II X6) to transcode a DVD rip to stream to my phone. I'd assume Plex would be around the same utilization, but can't say. I know it's a dated processor but still... It would be nice if there was a way for me to limit CPU because I'm sure it's just going as fast as it can - which isn't always necessary. Perhaps an advanced setting somewhere?
 
 
Bill-
What utilization do you see on your i5? Do you have any DVD folder rips - I'd be real curious about that in particular.
 
 
The couple nice things about XBMC/Kodi for me is all of my media is in a shared database (just as I'd get with Plex) and with it running locally on even a Fire TV there is absolutely no transcoding needed even for DVD rips (which the Fire TV doesn't support natively.) All media centers in the house use the same controls and have the same exact skin layout. The settings are even protected by customizing the skin (no "unauthorized" changes can be made!) so the interface will always stay consistent throughout.
 
My wife will be doing a lot more travelling this year so I will probably bring a VM online for her to use MB. I just have to check the performance going over my SSL VPN.
 
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