I'm looking to add a streaming media device to my home entertainment setup, but I am finding it hard to find data in the flood of information out there. Of primary note - I am in Canada, so awesomesauce streaming services like Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime aren't relevant to me. I've looked at a bunch of the other AskMe's regarding this topic but none of them were at all Canada-centric, and I don't recall any of them being posted since the AppleTV3 or Roku XS were launched
Here's my current setup, which I am finding somewhat cumbersome:
- A Western Digital My Book Live
, which stores most of my video files (of various formats, mostly divx/AVI but now trending more towards h264/mkv (or mp4). Has a built in DLNA server, but it's Twonky 5.1.9, which has somewhat limited file format support. It *is* possible to update the built in Twonky server but a) I've checked, and it still doesn't help with most of my file formats and b) it costs money, and is a bit unreliable for everyday use.
- My laptop in the living room, where I download/convert my content. Also runs PS3 Media Server
to stream movies that aren't supported by the DLNA server in the network connected hard drive (or that aren't natively supported by the PS3, and therefore require transcoding)
- A PS3 which serves as a DLNA player on the big TV
As my video files trend more towards HD content, my current setup is becoming less and less useful.
The options I'm considering right now are:
- The new Roku 2 XS that was just announced for Canada.
- An Apple TV 3rd gen, with XBMC or Firecore (although I am HUGELY reluctant to shell out cash for Firecore, as I have a feeling it doesn't provide much). Obviously this requires waiting for the jailbreak which doesn't exist yet, as far as I know
- A WDTV Live
- A Boxee Box
My MAIN requirement is that the device be able to stream avi/divx and ESPECIALLY h264/mkv (or mp4, mkv2vob does a pretty good job of transcoding very quickly and easily) directly from a network share. If a device can't do this, it's out of the running. HD content is quickly becoming king in my household, and this nonsense of requiring DLNA servers and receivers and unsupported file formats and transcoding and blah blah blah has to stop.
Having said that, a "nice to have" would be a good selection of free online streaming content. I've played around a bit with Boxee and XBMC on my PC, to get a feel for the interfaces and the streaming internet channels they provide. I quite like the flexibility of both, but the fact that the Boxee box sells for $190 here, vs the ~$100 range of the other three, sorta puts it out of the running. I can't remember which one of them had it, but there was a "Canadian Channels" addon for one of Boxee or XBMC that basically had a list of all the streaming online content available to people in Canada. This was AWESOME, and basically exactly what I'm looking for when it comes to streaming media. Bonus points for HGTV online on demand, as that's a huge one in my house these days.
Hackability and the ability to add stuff on the fly are also great "nice to haves" for me, but my wife cares not at all about these things. But I'd be interested to see what kind of hacking communities exist around each of the devices.
I've also considered the htpc option, but realistically? I want to be able to control the device with the same Logitech Harmony that I currently use for my setup, and the ~$100 price tag of these devices (and their portability, being able to put it on any TV in the house pretty easily) makes them HIGHLY seductive.