Replacing DSM-320 with Xbox? or DSM-750? or ???? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-01-30, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
 
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Replacing DSM-320 with Xbox? or DSM-750? or ????

I've had the D-Link DSM-320 for a couple years now and using TVersity as a media server, it does what I need rather well. The problem is I just bought a new HD LCD and I find the 320 playing standard def content does not look as good on the larger screen as it did on my 27" CRT (using component for both sets).

So, I want to move the 320 upstairs with the old TV, and get a similar box that plays hi-def for the new TV. I download most of my shows (bittorrent), so I want it to easily play a 720p mkv file, x264 or whatever the codec is, and output it to HDMI. I do have a LAN drop at my entertainment center, so wireless is not needed.

So I'm looking at the DSM-750, or maybe an Xbox 360 but I don't know if the xbox will do all the same stuff. Does an un-modded Xbox work with TVersity? If so, does it play mkv/x264 content as well as standard xvid/avi without transcoding?

Aside from those 2 products, does anyone have any other suggestions?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-01-30, 11:55 AM
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Lots of devices that will do the trick. PS3, XBox 360 are just two of many.

You really need to do your homework. Search on media streamers and you'll find lots of threads. Conversely a Google search will find you many. CNET has a complete line-up of streamers listed with reviews on them all.



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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-01-30, 03:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Does an un-modded Xbox work with TVersity? If so, does it play mkv/x264 content as well as standard xvid/avi without transcoding?
Yes TVersity works with an Xbox 360. I don't really know how well though as I've never tried it myself.

No, the 360 won't directly play MKV; it's not a supported container. You'll need to stream those with TVersity or convert to MP4 or WMV. Most MKVs I've come across are something like H.264 and AC3 5.1. The Xbox can handle X.264 but not AC3 5.1. Apps like GOTsent can quickly convert to MP4, keeping the H.264 stream and converting to audio to 2 channel AAC. However, MP4 support is limited to 4GB. For files larger than 4GB you need to convert to WMV (which does allow for 5.1 audio)

Sony KDL-52EX700, Toshiba HD-D3, Motorola DCT-6416, Popcorn Hour A-110, XBOX 360 w/HD-DVD
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-01-30, 04:37 PM
 
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News that may help in the future...

I'm testing Windows 7 Media Center and I find that the XBox 360 in extender mode is now excellent in the scenario you mention. It will play back MKVs and MP4s of any size and it has a fantastic UI for browsing movies (both natively and using 3rd party apps like Open Media Library).

Note that this doesn't work well with Vista right now. With Vista, you have to use the XBox media blade (not the extender UI) to stream MP4s and they must be smaller than 4GB in size. It won't do MKVs at all.

Based on my review of options out there, Win7 Media Center + Xbox 360 would be my preferred choice. Too bad it's so noisy. The DSM-750 *may* inherit similar functionality, but I don't have one as part of my beta test setup.

I'm sure others will have suggestions for you too, but thought that you might appreciate a glimpse into the near future for the Microsoft option.

Pete
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-01-30, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
 
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Hmm.. interesting. I did sign up for the Windows 7 beta but I haven't installed it at home yet, just at work. Thanks for the info.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-01-31, 03:41 PM
 
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Yes, very interesting indeed. I was thinking about a Popcorn Hour box, but perhaps I'll give my copy of Win 7 beta a spin. Wonder how well it'll work in a VM. Anyone know if it will support AVCHD content, like from a Canon HG20?

Sony KDL-52EX700, Toshiba HD-D3, Motorola DCT-6416, Popcorn Hour A-110, XBOX 360 w/HD-DVD
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-02-02, 09:40 AM
 
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So here's the basics of how it works.

Media files can simplistically described as a container that contains multiple media streams. An MP4 container may contain an h264 video stream and an AAC audio stream.

In W7 Media Center, the container is parsed on the PC (ie the PC is responsible for breaking out the individual streams). Those streams are then sent to the extender individually, if the extender device supports those stream types. If the extender does not support the stream (example, DTS audio on the XBox), the PC will transcode just that stream to something that is understood. I've only validated this on the XBox, can't get it to work on my Linksys DMA-2200 nor have I confirmed that it's supposed to work on anything but the Xbox.

If the method above fails, the PC will attempt to send the entire file (container and streams) to the extender for completely local playback.

If that method fails, the PC will transcode the entire file (assuming you have the correct codecs on the PC) and stream that out to the extender (I've verified this method on the XBox and the Linksys DMA-2200).

What I think you should take away from this:
- Container formats become irrelevent in W7 / XBox extender combo
- Codec support is still limited to what the 360 can do natively
- Transcoding gets you the rest, but with poor quality

I expect that so long as they remain in business, the popcornhour will probably still deliver better codec support. The XBox extender will deliver arguably better UI, especially when you include the high-quality free plugins. The XBox extender will also do a nice job with Live TV and PVR functions.

That's what's in my crystal ball anyways. I'll likely post a more detailed blog entry on this in the future. Right now there's a bug in the MKV parsing for me that messes up the video playback on the 360. Other containers are working very well though.

Based on the wikipedia article, AVCHD is an h264 video stream and ac3 audio stream in an m2ts container. I have tested that combo on my XBox (although not from your camera) and it was able to play back. I seem to recall some issues with the timeline bar, with that file size, but I'll retest that for you when I get a chance.

Pete
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-02-09, 04:45 PM
 
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Popcorn Hour (networked or add hard drive) or WD HD TV (transfer from PC to device with USB drive)

Hitachi 55HDT79, Yamaha RX-V540, Energy RC Mini's, and S8.3 sub, Roku 3, Plex , Couchpotato and Sickbeard Google TV GS8
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 2009-02-09, 04:55 PM
 
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My Xbox went RROD on me last week, so haven't been able to retest. Sorry about that.
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