Media Center software that buffers video?
September 14, 2011 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to find Media Center software (preferably for Windows) that has a video buffer so that I can watch HD video over wi-fi.

I have tried XBMC, and while I really love the interface and everything, there is no option to buffer the video that it's pulling over the network.

I know that this would be a non-issue if I went wired, but this HTPC is on a different floor from the rest of my networked stuff and I have absolutely no interest in running long cables or drilling more holes in the walls/floors/ceiling.

The videos that I'm trying to play are mostly MKVs and mostly 1080p.

I have checked the XBMC forums and there is absolutely no interest from the developers to implement something like this, and I really don't know where else to look.

And to clarify, I'm not looking to boost the bandwidth of my wireless connection, but to have a media center/player that will buffer the video to make my bandwidth mostly irrelevant (just increased initial buffering time.)

I prefer Windows, but if there's something that will work for me on Linux then I'd be fine with that as well.
posted by Bonky Moon to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
VLC has a cache size setting.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:25 PM on September 14, 2011

I second VLC, and I would also put some effort into optimizing your Wi-fi connectivity if 1080i (I'm assuming H.264 compression, not raw TS) is going over the airwaves. Maybe a beer-can reflector?
posted by Sunburnt at 4:37 PM on September 14, 2011

Response by poster: I'm using a D-link DWL-G730AP for network connectivity on the HTPC, it doesn't have an external antenna or a place to hook one up. My wireless router is a Buffalo WHR-HP-GN which only has one antenna port and I would prefer to not use a directional antenna on it since it serves as the wireless access point for everything else that's wireless in the house.
posted by Bonky Moon at 4:49 PM on September 14, 2011

I just set up a Plex server over the weekend, and it might be what you are looking for. Maybe.

From what I can find on the forums, the Mac version of the server has buffer settings, but I don't see anything on the Windows side. I have no idea about Linux.

Are you serving the media from Windows, or just looking for a Windows client?
posted by hankscorpio83 at 4:53 PM on September 14, 2011

mplayer also has some buffering but it's a command line program and kind of a PITA.

VLC's buffering is a nice feature but it appears to pause while filling it's buffer, which I think sucks. I wish it had something where you could say, fill up 10s of buffer, and then if you have time/get ahead, fill more up to 300s or something like that.
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:57 PM on September 14, 2011

Response by poster: I'm serving the media from my and my wife's personal desktops, both of which are Windows 7.

I have PS3 Media Server running so that I can transcode DTS to AC3 if needed (one of my AVRs can decode DTS while the other is stuck with AC3, PS3MS gives me the option of transcoding or not transcoding for any given file.) I'm trying to avoid transcoding the video to accommodate wifi since there is an inevitable loss in image quality with that.

I will give VLC a shot and also take a look at Plex Server; will report back with results.
posted by Bonky Moon at 5:26 PM on September 14, 2011

If you are running Plex on Windows, I don't see any option to force the full bitrate file and buffer accordingly.

You do get options on the clients (apparently isn't one for Windows anyway, so that doesn't meet your needs already) for the bitrate you want, but I don't think Plex will do exactly what you are looking for.

FWIW, I'm serving with Plex (in Windows), and using clients on my Samsung TV (wired) and a Roku (wireless), and don't have any issues with stuttering or buffering for any SD or 720p.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 5:39 PM on September 14, 2011

Response by poster: I couldn't get VLC to properly recognize the PS3 Media Server. Actually had to download a nightly build for it to even detect any uPNP devices. Since this is the tv where I'll need to transcode the audio from DTS to AC3, that unfortunately makes VLC a non-starter.

Plex looks like it's purely a server, like Tversity or PS3 Media Server; from what I could tell all of the clients were for mobile devices.

I really appreciate your help everyone, but it looks like my best bet for keeping this thing alive wirelessly is to buy a Wireless-N PCI card for this thing and point a cantenna/beer-cantenna towards the router.

Since I am pretty much 100% broke I'll try to look out for other options in the meantime, and if anyone else has suggestions I really do appreciate them.
posted by Bonky Moon at 7:36 PM on September 14, 2011

I've never tried the buffering feature, but apparently GOM has one. From the website:
Stream Cache
GOM supports streaming playback.

Buffering is receiving and storing data before it is played back. Buffering lets the player play back more of the actual file, providing better picture and sound quality.

Set the type, size and location of the buffer.

I know everybody loves VLC and I have it on my computer, but personally I prefer GOM much more and have it set as my default player. Mind you, lately it seems to have an issue with some .mp4 files and I've had to use VLC to play them. I'm hoping that the recent update will have solved the glitch.
posted by sardonyx at 7:51 PM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: How about adding Powerline Networking to the mix? I had exactly the same issue with my Apple TV 2 running XBMC. Works a treat now.
posted by eb98jdb at 1:05 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That is one of the things I'm considering, actually was looking at this last night. At $60, it's kinda expensive though.
posted by Bonky Moon at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2011

Response by poster: Due to having a monitor die on me and needing to replace it, I said screw it and also got a powerline networking kit. Thanks for everyone's advice!
posted by Bonky Moon at 7:40 PM on September 15, 2011

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