Off Topic: What Do You Use As Your Media Centre?

As hardware becomes ridiculously cheap, and more and more options become available, we're spoiled for choice when it comes to the humble media centre. So many devices can do it. And after recently cancelling a Foxtel subscription, I'm staring at a few pieces of hardware in my room, wondering which would be the best. What do you use?

ESPN no longer has the rights to La Liga in Australia, which means they no longer have the rights to my money. So on the odd occasion that I find myself sitting on my couch with nothing to do (after those Steam sales? Not likely, amirite?), I'd like to be able to switch on the TV and just watch something without any hassle.

My OUYA just arrived, and I know there's a XBMC for that. Just like there is for the Raspberry Pi, which I'll be getting soon as well. I haven't had too much luck connecting either the 360 or PS3 to my PC - something about my sharehouse network seems to be stuffing it up.

I don't need much. Just the basics. A list of video/audio items, a "play" button... That sort of thing. What do you use, and how have you found it?

[Cat photo] via Shutterstock


Comments

    If I'm in front of a TV, I have a portable hard drive loaded up with pretty much everything I want to watch and a vast DVD collection.

    Otherwise I'm in front of a computer that has access to channel BT.

      Channel BT +1. I was running mythbuntu but then upgraded my computer to play better games on my TV with an Xbox 360 controller and haven't bothered even putting the tuner in. It doesn't get much better than this.

    believe it or not, I use windows media centre on windows 8. I'm sure there are better options out there, I have a raspberry pi and I believe XBMC is available for it, I just can't be bothered configuring it.

      "I have a raspberry pi and I believe XBMC is available for it, I just can't be bothered configuring it."

      There really isn't much to configure.

        fair enough. just packing stuff away to move. maybe when I unpack it I may dedicate an hour to this.

    PS3. Got the media server app working and I watch all my Chinese cartoons and American TV shows. Plays all my .mkv videos pretty swell with no issues. Struggles with 1080p content though.

      how do you get .mkv to work on ps3? ps3 in my bedroom connects to my pc windows 8 media server, which is great.. until my pc goes to sleep =/

        Use PS3 Media Server: http://www.ps3mediaserver.org/. It has an option in there (from what I remember) to prevent the PC from going to sleep. And its free and works with Xbox as well.

        I connect my 2TB External HDD to my Windows 8 PC (running PS3 Media Server) via USB3, which is connected to a EoP adapter. At the other end, an EoP adapter is connected to my PS3 which is connected to my TV via HDMI. It works when it wants to. More often than not I cannot for the life of me get it to connect. Very moody, but when it works, its freakin awesome.

    AppleTV with XBMC. Plays everything, across the network, controlled with my Harmony remote. Fantastic.

    Only problem is that it has to be hacked, which means that it sometimes screws up and needs to be reinstalled. If only they'd let us install this stuff officially :(

    I usually use either my computer, or a WDTV Live hooked up to my TV.
    Depending on what I'm doing, I'll watch my Blu-rays on either my PC or PS3.

    Last edited 30/07/13 12:01 pm

    Depends. I have films on my PC, watch films on my PS3 and hook up an external HDD to my tv. There's no one thing I use jsut for media. I also watch videos on my phone and now almost exclusively listen to music on my phone

    I use a 360 (which is hit and miss) and a media server which runs Mezzmo. Mezzmo can transcode anything but it lacks a frontend, which can be annoying (it's also not free)

    I mainly use my 360 to play videos and use my VLC Player on Windows 8 to play music

    Smart TV if i'm not in front of the PC, which is rarely.

    I was using my PS3 for ages but I now have a standalone recorder and I use the MS Surface to play anything else - it runs on my 1080p tv with high def video fine.

    I stream to my PS3 from my PC over the network via the 'PS3 Media Server' program.

    Works well and suits my needs.

    I just connect my laptop and it has everything.

    Used to have an Asus EeBox (EB-1501) PC hooked up to my TV which was great because it handled the files that my TV couldn't decode, but I've since changed TV and I'm yet to run in to something it won't load (other than mounting an ISO file) so I just plug my HDD direct in to the TV.

    It (the TV) also has Wifi so if my PC is on it picks up a Windows Media Share from that, if there was something I hadn't yet copied over to the external.

    It's covered pretty much every media centre need I've had.

    An original XBOX running XBMC

      The classic!

      This is the one that started it all. Thank you XBMC. :)

    WDTV + external drive.

    Is all anyone could need. Plays 1080p. I've never had an issue playing formats, only flash video needs to be converted.
    Has all the extra apps built in like YouTube, winamp, tunein radio, ABC, etc etc...
    Automatically scrapes covers, info and artwork for movies and tv.
    Streams everything over networks.
    Built in wi-fi.
    $120 + hard drive.
    Advise to get an external drive that doesn't require its own power supply.
    Just plug it in and you're away. No headache setups like XBMC and such.
    Super kid friendly!

      Done the same, but my external hard drive is connected to my router. Can access files anywhere, phone, work computer, works great.

      Yep. WDTV.

      I have tried _everything_. I initially bought the WDTV for the bedroom but ended up using it as my main media player. Also has the advantage of running Netfilx once you set up unblockus or a similar service.

      I'm also not organised enough to have a media collection in one location so being able to run something like Plex media Server or Serviio on my computers and have them stream to the WDTV works well for me.

      I've heard these have some issues though, slow interface, crashes, etc.

      What's it like in practice?

      I'm running a Raspberry Pi/PS2 & SMS Media Player combo (for vids the Pi doesn't play) but would like a cheap solution to replace both and the WDTV is a good price point. I've just been put off by the poor reviews floating around.

      You make it sound amazing though.

        I'm trialling it at the moment. Very slow and can't handle large collections (> 3000 movies). Might be fine for collections of a hundred files or so. Although discontinued, Boxee Box still runs rings around it.

    Picked up a popcorn hour A400 about a month ago, best media setup I've had to date. No issue with any videos, can fast forward like a VHS tape, flick video to it over airplay.
    It has apps like BT/FTP built in so you can torrent/download straight to the internal drive.

    Well I have a dedicated HTPC with a dual tuner DTV card, running Mediaportal (open-source, extendable media center software), several TBs of HDD space, uses ac3filter to convert all audio to 5.1 surround for my sound system. It's also attached to my network, so I can access those TBs on my mobile or laptop, or gaming PC. Can also steam live tv over WiFi to my laptop.

    My friend recently switched over to a rasPi and swears by it.

    For me, I use my PS3. I buy the retail blu-ray versions of all of my tv shows, and rip them to mp4 myself. I then copy them to my PS3 via usb, unless the show encodes to larger than 4gigs, otherwise I have to copy them over the network. (due to the 4gig FAT32 limitation)

    That way not only do I need to worry about swapping blurays, I also don't need to worry about lag with watching shows over the network. Once I've finished the show I delete it off the system since I have it backed up on the PC.

    I'm using a HTPC (Arctic MC101) with Windows 8 and XBMC.
    All media files are on my NAS running FreeNas.

    My PC is right next to my TV, so a short HDMI cable works well. Combine that with my Xbox wired controller and a very fancy joy2key setup.

      Same. Two PC's at home, a gaming rig in one room, and just a 2gb ram dual core cpu with Win7 with big ext hdd HDMI'd into the tele. The tele PC also has several emulators and a ps2 controller
      Tele TV and gaming PC hooked up with gig ethernet.
      By the by, you know your gig LAN is working well with you can get 100Mb/s copying from computer to computer, but only 40mb/s copying from hard drive to hard drive in the one pc

    HTPC with openelec hooked up to my projector. Looks and runs great!

    I use my PS3 with PlayTV. For downloaded shows I either stream from my computer or copy over first if Full HD onto the HDD over the network.

      How you copy content over the network? Your media setup is identical to mine except I still copy my HD MP4's to USB.

    XBMC on a laptop, or my PC hooked up to the TV via an HDMI cable.

    PC plugged into 50 inch plasma through an Onkyo reciever and using mpc-hc as a player,and PS3 for Blu-ray/DVD.

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