Media Player Appliances

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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I don't think the value proposition for $10/month for commercial-less Youtube (which I already have anyway) + 20% of the uploaded music makes as much sense. The overall cost of Prime + Prime Music is about the same but the value is skewed massively in Amazon's favor with all of the crap-ton of things Prime does plus the best overall deal from a capacity standpoint for an online music storage locker, if that's the service component you are most interested in getting. Google needs to bring something else to the table because being able to sync 100 songs off Youtube on my phone (like Snaptube isn't a thing) and getting to turn my phone's screen off and leave something playing just aren't worth that much.
 

sechs

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I don't pay anything for Prime shipping, and there's nothing of grave importance that Amazon offers in other departments that I can't get elsewhere. I also find their software to be extremely clunky.

On the other hand, I do watch an enourmous amount of Youtube content. Not only do I want to see it ad-free, but I'd like to support the creators of the content. Google Play Music is really just a backdoor way to get Red. I hardly ever stream music, and probably could set up my Plex server to do that for me.

I don't pay Google anything to store my music.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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I have at least four ways to access music in my home so I can stream it, but Plex is ALSO hopeless with metadata for my music, even when I tell it to prefer ID3 tags over online data. Basically the only way I get fully correct information is by browsing a filesystem and playing stuff directly. However, if I'm doing the storage locker thing, then I've accepted that EVERYTHING is clunky and going to be a compromise, and it's mostly just a matter of what devices I want to assure access with. Since I have a house full of FireTV boxes and Google has yet to make a remotely compelling STB, it seems like a safer bet.

As far as Youtube Red, channels get a cut. They don't get all the money you're paying. Screw that. Support people with direct donations. I don't feel beholden to give Google anything.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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The major issue with music curation by ID3 tags is the fucking Album Artist tag. That is a dumb tag. Album Artist is most often used for performer and duplicated in the Artist tag, while systems often ignore the composer tag or don't deal with a mismatch between those three fields very well.
 

sechs

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I agree that Plex is a bit hopeless with music streaming, but it's not wildly worse than anything else. Google Play Music is actually better, but it isn't reading my metadata.

I don't actually feel excited enough about any creators to support them directly.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Nifty tidbit I just discovered: The USTV Now add-on from Kodi's Fusion Repository allows free, legal streaming of over the air broadcast network TV (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, PBS, CW) for US citizens. It's meant for expats, but it seems to work just fine within the USA, even without a VPN. It's also an app for iOS and Android and a Roku channel. There are paid plans that add basic cable as well but there's a whole bunch of ways to do that anyway.
 

Handruin

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Has anyone used a device such as the SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME or something similar? I saw that Plex will support one of these for DVR functionality so I was considering seeing if I could make this work with FiOS. I'd return the two regular set top boxes that I have and rent the CableCard that might work with this. Then I could stream TV to a device like my Roku or some newer device rather than pay the $12/month per cable box.
 

Stereodude

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I only have a non cable card flavor, but I use it OTA, not on cable. I found using it on cable problematic since the cable company likes to move "channels" around on the RF channel they use. Maybe the cablecard rectifies that issue.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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I'm not a huge fan of my Echo, but I really like the Amazon Dot. The $50 thing with just enough speaker to give me news and podcasts + order stuff from Amazon makes more sense than the $180 thing with a fancy-but-not-even-remotely-nice-enough-for-the-money speaker. I can see why Amazon sells them in six packs.

The one thing I wanted to know about them is whether or not they had to be used with an external speaker and no, they don't. The built-on one is comparable enough for a mono speaker. I don't have any problem hearing it over the normal noise in my office.
 
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I'm not a huge fan of my Echo, but I really like the Amazon Dot. The $50 thing with just enough speaker to give me news and podcasts + order stuff from Amazon makes more sense than the $180 thing with a fancy-but-not-even-remotely-nice-enough-for-the-money speaker. I can see why Amazon sells them in six packs.

The one thing I wanted to know about them is whether or not they had to be used with an external speaker and no, they don't. The built-on one is comparable enough for a mono speaker. I don't have any problem hearing it over the normal noise in my office.
I'm considering designing a 3D-printed ceiling mount for them, so I can put them in like smoke detectors.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Well the Dot plugs in to AC power so that would be a neat trick. The Tap is the one with a battery.

I'm only mildly concerned about it, but I just realized that Alexa doesn't have a parental control of any sort. You have to trust that no one in your house is going to go on an Amazon shopping spree with your One Click Shopping option.
There's also no official support for any real Email or Chat. You can get it to send an SMS and there are a few skills that let you send a very particular message, but no full-on messaging support. This seems like missing the boat. It'll tell me what's on a calendar but it can't let me know the subject line of my most recent unread message?
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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The Dot I have won't output stereo from its 3.5mm jack, or at least won't with the four things I've tried doing that with. It does from Bluetooth but I think that qualifies as something wrong with the one I was shipped.
It also can't detect when external speakers are available and when they're not. More or less, if there's something plugged in the jack, it won't use its internal speaker at all.

And "Alexa resume" plays the last thing that was playing on that single device, not across your Amazon account. So there's no hope of making music follow me around yet. I'd like for there to be more awareness, especially since I have so many FireTVs already.
 

Stereodude

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I ordered up an Odroid C2 for testing with Kodi. I was somewhat underwhelmed with the Rpi3 as a audio player. The UI is rather sluggish navigating a large music library through the menus (if you control it entirely from the Yatse remote app on Android it's not bad). The Chromebox is much more responsive navigating, but has a fan. I'm not sure if the Rpi3 is sluggish from the slow I/O from the uSD card or a lack of CPU grunt. The lack of gigabit Ethernet on the Rpi3 also bothered me when scanning the library.

The C2 has eMMC, gigabit Ethernet, and a faster CPU. I'm hoping it will be the fanless Kodi box I'm after.
 

Stereodude

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So the Odroid C2 didn't really achieve what I wanted. It's only slightly faster than the RPi3 at music library navigation. About what you'd expect for a 1.5gHz A53 CPU (C2) vs. a 1.2gHz A53 CPU (RPi3). eMMC vs. uSD didn't make any different for UI navigation. The Chromebox (1.4gHz Haswell) is still a hair more than twice as fast than the Odroid C2 at navigating the music library. For example on the RPi3 the artist list fully loads in about 9 seconds. The C2 is about 7.5 seconds. The Chromebox is about 3.5 seconds.

The eMMC generally improves the perceived user performance of the C2 vs. a uSD card running Kodi, but doesn't help the speed at which the artist or album screens loads.

An ECS Liva Z2 is probably next on the list of things to try once they go on sale.
 

Stereodude

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The Odroid C2 running CoreELEC 8.95.2 also can't play back Blu-ray's without pausing and buffering for about 10 seconds every minute or two despite having a gigabit Ethernet connection. I can move data to it at >110MB/sec over SMB, but it can't stream 45Mbit/sec smoothly from a SMB share. So far the only suggestion I got on their forum is to use a NFS share instead (on a Windows 10 Pro box which AFAIK isn't even possible).

The Rpi3 with LibreELEC 8.2.5 plays back Blu-rays just fine despite only have 100Mb Ethernet.
 

Stereodude

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So the LibreELEC devs made me a test builds with two patches that drastically sped up SMB share reading by about 10x on the Odroid C2 and the Chromebox. Both can now play Blu-ray .ISO files under LibreELEC without issue.

The CoreELEC devs are still in their hypersensitive denial. They deleted multiple posts where I dared to suggest the C2 wasn't under powered to play back a Blu-ray .ISO over a SMB share and pushed back against having to use NFS on the server because I felt it was not the right/proper solution for users with servers running Windows. Then in a final show of their stupid they deleted my post letting them know that the LibreELEC team was helpful and found a solution that didn't require switching to NFS. I guess they don't want anyone who finds the thread to know they were wrong and that users don't have to use NFS shares on a Windows system (which may not even work as I didn't test it).

It's too bad they'll benefit from the LibreELEC team's efforts by adopting the same patches for SMB reading in the future.
 

Handruin

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Glad you got a solution and the devs from LibreELEC were responsive enough to offer a possible fix. Sucks that the CoreELEC devs didn't want to listen to your feedback which could possibly benefit them. Is the LibreELEC an open source project? Maybe you can see the commits they made to help solve your issue and possibly other people. Might be neat to see the changes they made. I can see a github repo here but I don't know if it is theirs?

https://github.com/LibreELEC/LibreELEC.tv
 

Stereodude

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I think I found it...this might be the fix for your issues. I see it references your forum post. Neat to see the end-to-end.

https://github.com/LibreELEC/LibreELEC.tv/pull/2980
Interesting... I hadn't gone looking for it. I have to admit I don't get the whole upstream / downstream thing.

Ultimately, I don't play Blu-rays on any of my Kodi boxes (just music) so it's really a moot point. I was just trying to help out the project with my findings.
 

Handruin

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Interesting... I hadn't gone looking for it. I have to admit I don't get the whole upstream / downstream thing.

Ultimately, I don't play Blu-rays on any of my Kodi boxes (just music) so it's really a moot point. I was just trying to help out the project with my findings.
I don't entirely get the concern because I don't know enough about their project. If I were to guess, they don't want to maintain this patch file or code changes as part of their light weight Linux OS which is built around running Kodi and rather have Kodi as a project integrate the fix in their project so that it is pushed down from them rather than being push up from LibreELEC. The pull request looks to be a former patch file that was generated for Kodi but appears to work for LibreELEC so it was being proposed as a solution to the problem you identified.

They have this directory of patches with three mechanisms of managing them. The project maintainers decided which patches they own and apply only for LibreELEC (downstream), which ones need to be pushed back to Kodi (upstream), and which ones need to be backported from Kodi that may be at a different revision from their working codebase.
https://github.com/LibreELEC/LibreELEC.tv/tree/master/packages/mediacenter/kodi/patches
 

Stereodude

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I don't entirely get the concern because I don't know enough about their project. If I were to guess, they don't want to maintain this patch file or code changes as part of their light weight Linux OS which is built around running Kodi and rather have Kodi as a project integrate the fix in their project so that it is pushed down from them rather than being push up from LibreELEC. The pull request looks to be a former patch file that was generated for Kodi but appears to work for LibreELEC so it was being proposed as a solution to the problem you identified.

They have this directory of patches with three mechanisms of managing them. The project maintainers decided which patches they own and apply only for LibreELEC (downstream), which ones need to be pushed back to Kodi (upstream), and which ones need to be backported from Kodi that may be at a different revision from their working codebase.
https://github.com/LibreELEC/LibreELEC.tv/tree/master/packages/mediacenter/kodi/patches
Your explanation makes sense. Thanks!
 
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