XMBC / Kodi


Senior Member
Is anyone here actively running/using XMBC (aka Kodi)?
I've had a SageTV setup for a few years now and obviously realize that there is no future development. While the product continues to work fine, it's stagnant. So I'm starting to investigate other alternatives. The biggest WIN for me is that SageTV utilizes small-form factor media extenders. I can easily hid the HD200 or HD300 extender(s) behind a wall mounted LCD TV. This provides me with a very clean/elegant setup without a need for any additional supporting furniture or stands.
For those who are using XMBC, what hardware are you running it on? Again, I'm looking for something that's relatively small in size. I've seen that they have a version for the RPi; unfortunately due to the limitations of the device I've also read that it has issues handling 1080p video/movies. This is not a problem that I have with the HD200 or HD300 extenders - I can stream (non-transcoded/non-compressed) BluRay rips without any issues.
Lastly, what back end(s) are you guys using? I'm vaguely family with Plex, NextPVR, MediaPortal, and MythTV. I need to do some deeper research here again... because I don't want to lose any of the capability that I currently have - mainly NVR, movie repository, and commercial skip!
I run XBMC on a dedicated PC with a three core AMD processor and on board video. It usually takes one core at a minimum of 2GHz to get reliable video. Video GPU doesn't matter as video decoding never uses it and if it did it would be obsoleted every year.

XBMC on my RPis runs 1080p just fine over Wi-Fi but the antenna has to be turned just right for high speed comms.

I tried the WD box about a year ago and it was still junk as it forgets the network setup and would never reconnect without almost a factory reset every day. It went back. I suspected Win 7 incompatibilities.
Here using XBMC 64 bit Ubuntu on all of the Aopen Digital Engines which are Gb wired.  Purchased a small little lot of these with embedded XPE on them, 2Gb of memory and core duo CPUs.  I installed the OS on 16Gb SSD drives.  They work fine and are quiet.  These cost me around $30-35 each.
Goofing around also built a tiny 2Gb MMC booting XBMC booting OS tabletop screens.  Dual core atoms with 512Mb of memory / Gb connected.  These also run XPE embedded Wintel for touchscreen software.
Back end is a combination MythTV / Squeezebox server with streaming live TV (inhouse / multiple tuners).  I just recently also installed a Plex server on same box which messed up the current Ubuntu build such that I removed it.
I'm running (4) instances of XBMC.
1 on a HTPC and the other 3 on Fire TVs (2 sticks / 1 box). I'm only using file sharing - I have no need for Plex or MB. I'm not using the TV portion either, so I can't comment about that. Though I have been wanting to setup some IPTV. I've only had the Fire TVs for a few weeks and my goal today is to have my SQL server setup for database sharing. The Fire TVs are really slick - you can even list the native apps within XBMC as favorites and launch them from there.
What I really love about XBMC is all the addons and the ability to lock it down pretty well to prevent any system or visual changes (some are system settings, some skin settings, and others are skin modifications.) My HTPC is coupled with a custom touch screen remote so everyone in the house - down to my 6 yr old daughter - can control the living room system on their own. And with XBMC locked down I have no fear of anyone getting into the "wrong area" and doing harm. I have to say though... you won't find many (any?) guides on being able to lock it down tight.
Yup; here (personally) have turned the 64bit Ubuntu XBMC boxes into STB's.  I am though still dealing with a CC / DTV setup that wife uses.
Concurrently have installed an XBMC custom 32 bit Ubuntu only OS (will triple booting OS) on to my tabletop atom based capacitance touchscreens. 
These stream live TV, recorded content, CCTV and do automation stuff today and they are tiny at 8" with a 800X480 display.
I've got several instances of XBMC running and have been using XBMC since the days of the original xbox mod. I have an Amazon Fire tv that works very well but if your looking @ a PC solution I would suggest a low power nano PC. I use ZBOX running just 4gb of RAM 1.8Ghz dual core processor with onboard Nvidia Graphics with a gigabit hardwire connection running on windows 7. If you would like the option of using a traditional IR remote you can purchase a USBUIRT and run EventGhost to emulate commands.
I don't want a PC solution unless it's small enough to fit behind a wall-mounted LCD.
Here's a picture of one of my SageTV extenders (HD-200) mounted:

That room has since been painted, but even when you are on the side of the room where the extender is mounted you still can't see it:


I hadn't even thought of remote... I do want to be able to use traditional IR remote of some sort.
XBMC runs fine on a Raspberri Pi with the CQC driver, it supports full resolution and surround sound, I have even used it to stream raw bluray (25+Mbps).   However if you are looking into Plex then I would recommend a Roku3 which CQC also has a driver for.   The primary difference between Plex (which is based on XBMC) and XBMC is transcoding.  Plex will actually re-encode the stream to whatever the client can handle if your Plex server has the necessary CPU to do so.  So you can store your media in various formats and stream them at different levels to different clients.  (So 1080p full bitrate to roku, less to your tablet over wifi, even less to your phone over the internet, etc.)
For TV I am still on DTV, but I do have a Sickbeard/uTorrent setup that is grabbing 95% of the TV shows I watch and throwing them on the NAS fully indexed for Plex.   Roku will also let you watch Hulu/Amazon Prime/Netflix as well as some TV shows if you have a TV provider login (doesn't have to be yours ;)).
Except for the Roku/RPi pieces all of these things are free to try...
I had previously read that the RPi stutters above 720. I am currently using 6 of the Aopen DE's.  None are mounted behind an LCD though. 
I do have the kitchen nook LCD TV mounted flush to one wall and put a double in wall box behind it with network connectivity and would like to see what I could fit inside or adjacent to the flush mounting plate.  I did also purchase a 1ft thin hdmi cable for this endeavor.  I was thinking maybe of dropping linux on one of those new quad core Android devices. (looking for no android and a wired network connection) and using POE.  (doesn't matter though).
I did recently install Plex Server on my MythTV box and messed up the build a bit until I removed it.  That said I do not stream stuff to tablets / phones.  For "play" stuff though doing some more carpc integration to home / internet which has worked fine before but better today with a 4G (still too slow) connection.
I am now too not MythTV recording as much going to streaming stuff / recording stuff in the cloud these days. Streaming subs are all only on one Wintel server box in the house.  (netflix, et al) running PlayOn TV. (years now).  Probably will be shutting off PlayOnTV box  as I am slowing moving everything over to Ubuntu (have an even split now of Ubuntu / Wintel servers).
In a quickie synopsis here using XBMC with:
1 - MythTV streaming/recording live TV - storing recordings
2 - PlayOnTV - Wintel server - all subs are here and recording to cloud now
3 - NAS
4 - Ubuntu box for common DB for all XBMC boxes
You can also add a Plex server to the above mix.  I lean here towards a propietary linux base and have no android based anything running and most likely will never go in this direction.
I have been able now to stream HD IP from the ZM CCTV stuff and now looking for some more integration into the automation stuff here (just status stuff mostly).
A while back I was Mythtv recording a bunch of Seinfeld TV episodes as I never did originally watch them.  The MythTV box commercial skip does work well.   I did fine a website that had them all in chronological order based on date of recordings so went to streaming them live.  Personally I do not watch TV or TV shows of anything.  I do now prefer though just streaming a TV show recording rather than even bothering to configure a schedule on the MythTV box.
Unrelated is my current base of software automation.  Homeseer 2 is running on two Wintel servers today.
Testing Homeseer 3 only on Linux and quit testing it on WIntel over this past year.  I have a lot of stuff runing today software wise.  I have been testing HS3 on Ubuntu server and it works well.  I have added wine and can now run my sapi voice fonts on the same box.  While it does run fine on a newer lower powered CPU based server, I will most likely put it on a new generation Intel I series dual / quad core CPU with 16Gb of memory mostly because I can and do much today with HS (20 plus serial / USB connections of hardware).
IE: Homeseer 3 is for play automation (always trying to break it) and my Leviton HAI OPII panel handles base security and automation stuff).
The latest versions of XBMC did not stutter for me on the RPi at 1080p with a high bitrate bluray rip in ISO/native format which is as abusive as you can get.   I did tune/overclock it.   You can bring up the stats overlay and see if the video or audio buffers are getting depleted and tune accordingly.  You can also turn off features, etc.  Older versions of XBMC I did have a lot of issues, with the same hardware.  It's only $50 or so to try it out.  Also a lot of people have buffering if they are using a wireless or substandard network connection.  I have mine wired to switches (SG300) capable of handling a constant 25-30Mbps stream.  I had older linksys switches who's buffers couldn't keep up.  People think a 1G or 100M consumer switch is the same but they are not all capable of delivering that bandwidth internally.
Plex/Roku is the same way, although the resource to watch is the CPU on your server if it is transcoding.  But the good thing about Plex is you can just request a lower bitrate or resolution.  I recently added my Unifi VM to the same host running Plex and I ended up overutilizing the CPU when streaming some blurays, so I just dropped the bitrate (still 1080p).   It's no different than what DirecTV or Netflix do with their 1080p, they adjust the bitrate down and most people don't notice.  The most noticeable effect is compression artifacts especially in dark areas of a scene.  My friend just recently got his first HDTV but refuses to pay for the $10/Mo DTV HDTV upgrade, his girlfriend thinks they have HDTV. :)
I did tune/overclock it.
This is interesting because I purchased the Homeseer Zee when it first came out.  I have always tried to break it but now my base running speed is 900Mhz overlocking the RPi because Homeseer 3 lite is fatter than it was. I also do not utilize the GPU piece for HS.   I have another RPi to play with and give it a try.  Personally its a nice little play thing and doesn't use any power but too slow still at 700Mhz for this kind of stuff (well and my personal automation).
The home network now is mostly all mananged GB .  Poe is also now managed.  WIreless main use is via an Ubiquiti AP.  Wireless play though now is via multiple AP's testing out AC Gb stuff (not impressed though). PFSense firewall has 6-8 interfaces.  Playing some on the WAN (multiple connections) and LAN side of things.
Ideally though something 1/2" high X maybe 3" X 4" Arm based (Gb NIC / POE) would be more suitable for the Kitchen nook LCD. 
This is too big.  Shorter would be better.
IE: the other kitchen LCD TV is just a pivotal mounted LCD under one counter with the STBs below it (which BTW get trashed all of the time).  I can though now mount the STBs on the back of the LCD TVs. (and laundry room LCD TV).
RPi runs 100% better than a WDTV that you have to factory reset and reconnect to your networks almost every day.

The controls are a little slow but I have never seen a 1080p hiccup. Actually with the new TVs the interlace and "progressive" makes no difference in resolution now.
Thanks guys.  I will give it a go with the RPi.
My favorite little box (B.X.K. Before XBMC/KODI) was the tiny Patriot Box Office with the SATA port inside of it for storage.  I was able to chroot it but the kernel was hard set.
It was though a lot of editing of files and so forth to get what you wanted with it.   I had heard the WDTV was an OK box; but never played with it.
I run openelec xbmc on an Intel NUC. I have two of them, an i3 and a celeron. One is mounted behind my 50" TV.

Openelec is much simpler to setup, boots so quickly and is dedicated to xbmc.
SageTV user here as well.  For many many years.  Finally decided I needed to look elsewhere.
I decided to go with an Amazon Fire TV and sideloaded Kodi/XBMC.  I have WMC/ServerWMC for live TV and recorded TV.  My only complaint is that the EPG takes 45 to 90 seconds to load.  Other than that, at the $79 sale price, the Fire TV is quite good.  Very fast interface, etc.
So the Sage server is still running parallel to the new WMC, but don't see much reason to do it for very long.