Network-accessible standalone video player?
May 16, 2006 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Does this device exist: standalone video player with a builtin harddrive, component video outs, menu system & remote, ethernet/wifi. Does not rely on computer in the house. Can be turned off/made silent like a normal device when I'm not using it. But when it's on I can watch shows and movies I've transferred to it over the network without excessive hacks-- hopefully it can decode most common video formats and play in HD if necessary. Does not need video in--I don't want a recorder.

Story is that I have a HD projector & a DVD player but no way to watch ripped DVDs or internet ephemera. We are a laptop-only household and I don't want a noisy computer sitting near my couch. Whatever I end up with has to be easy to use and stable.
posted by neustile to Technology (11 answers total)
 
XBox with a modchip and XBox Media Center. $100 or so and it plays downright everything, including games if you want.
posted by kcm at 7:42 PM on May 16, 2006


Yeah, I was about to say that sounds pretty close to an Xbox 360 (with the hard drive option) -- it has all manner of media storage and such, xferrable over network to my knowledge.
posted by vanoakenfold at 7:45 PM on May 16, 2006


Second the XBox w/modchip. Easy to use, turns on and off like any device, install as big a hard drive as you like, FTP any video formats over to it (or play directly over the LAN), plays back up to 1080i.

On preview - the xbox 360 is pretty limited as far as the video it will play, but it could be useful if you have an XP Media Center computer to slave from. Otherwise stick with the original XBox for the most flexibility.
posted by pocams at 7:46 PM on May 16, 2006


For us non-tech people: Is there a place we can go to buy modded xboxes, or do we have to solder ourselves?
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 7:54 PM on May 16, 2006


Lots of places sell pre-modded Xboxes - typically, your first port of call would be the place you'd get the chip installed in the first place. They're usually happy to sell you a box off the shelf with all the goodies installed. You can get one secondhand very cheap, though, and still have a third party do the mod chip / extra HDD install. (Obviously, I second / third / seventh / whatever a modded Xbox - it totally, absolutely, utterly rocks as a media centre).
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2006


Wow-- pretty unanimous then! I will see about the pre-modded versions, I tried reading some HOWTOs for the XBMC and had flashbacks to my old TiVO hacking days. I'm sure it's easy once I learn "the language" but my brain has been hurting recently.
posted by neustile at 9:11 PM on May 16, 2006


If you do end up modding it yourself I would recommend getting a version 1 - 1.5 xbox. The newest version, 1.6, is harder to mod because of an addition soldering point.
posted by meta87 at 10:45 PM on May 16, 2006


Don't forget you can get a WiFi adapter for the original XBox.
posted by tweak at 2:12 AM on May 17, 2006


My friend has a player that works with an external hard drive. The player looks like a DVD player and sits on the shelf with the other media componants. The drive looks and works like a standard external hard drive. You transfer the files to it over USB 2.0, and then the whole unit slips into the player, and you can use the remote to navigate and play the files. I never found a file it wouldn't play.

I can't seem to find it online right now, but if you're interested I can send them an email and get the brand name.
posted by Nothing at 2:46 AM on May 17, 2006


I use a Mac Mini for exactly this -- playing video and other media on the TV (umm, and a procmail server and Bittorrent client, but never mind that!) It's a very quiet box with minimal power draw. XBox will be substantially cheaper, 'tho.
posted by brool at 3:02 AM on May 17, 2006


DLink DSM-520 might come close. It supports media on USB drives, but I'm not sure it lets you put stuff on the drive over a network. It will also work with a network storage server that supports UPnP media.
posted by Good Brain at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2006


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