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A Little History of me and Media Streamers

This isn’t my first time around the media player block.  Although I’ve had various forms of Home Theater PC (HTPC) setups over the years, my first dedicated media player was the PrismiQ.  It was slow, green, and painful to set up, but it supported streaming DVD ISOs!  I then went through a bunch more of the early streamers, including the Pinnacle, various MCE clients, some old Roku versions, and a few others.

Then along came XBMC on the original XBox.  This involved modding the XBox (originally using a chip and soldering iron, and eventually just with a specific game and some careful steps), and then installing the XBMC software.  It was fairly high maintenance, as the XBMC software changed very often, but the result was worth it!

For the first time, I had an actual media player that played almost any format, was controllable from any universal remote, and was more than easy enough for my wife to use.  Bliss!

This was the perfect solution, until HD showed up.  And BluRay.  The original XBox was just way too underpowered to play back anything in HD.

So the quest started again.  But this time, there really were no pre-packaged solutions to handle full BluRay quality playback.  So this time I was all about the HTPC-based media players, and trying to hack something together that was both easy for everyone to use, and robust enough to play all media formats, including various disk images (ISOs).  I went through XBMC for the PC (at the time was just way too unstable and no hardware acceleration), Boxee (same), Meedios, and a few other, before landing on MediaPortal.  It took a lot of hacking things together to get it to play all the formats, and be simple enough for non-techies to use, but I sort of got there.

Okay, not really.

Which is why it’s a good thing the HD media players started showing up.  And I worked my way through them, although they are much more limited.  I went through the Dune Player, the D-Link (newer version, same junk), and a couple others, and ended up with the PopCorn Hour (PCH).  I went through a few PCH versions, and it took some time to get the HTML interface solid (using YAMJ), but it’s a fairly good, fairly easy to use device.  It’s just really slow to browse the HTML UI, and anything other than movie support is severely lacking.  But it does an amazing job of playing virtually any HD (and SD) format flawlessly, including all HD audio formats, and ISOs.

But I’m not satisfied.  This only helps me with my own video collection.  It does nothing to help me stream content from wherever.  And it’s really slow.

Now What?

I’m on a mission to figure out how to cut the cable cord, and still be able to watch anything I want, and dramatically expand my content options.  And it needs to include the ability to stream local media content.  Ideally in a single box, but if they are two separate solutions, that’s fine.

Please join my on my journey!

And remember, the technology by itself is sort of meaningless – It’s all about the content!

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  1. Boxee – waste of monee… « Stream Everything!

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