When a friend/relative asks you to help choose a media set up - what do you use?

Discuss all home media streaming hardware such as Popcorn Hour, Xtreamer, Mede8er and home cinema PCs
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Stevie G
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When a friend/relative asks you to help choose a media set up - what do you use?

Post by Stevie G »

I'm sure a lot of people on here have had it. Someone comes to your house and see's you media player full of TV shows and movies you stream from a NAS and thinks it'll be a great idea to have similar, without knowing how to do it or the options, so they ask you.

After your eyes have finished quietly rolling knowing the hassle it's now going to cause you, what set ups do you recommend them?! :|

I currently have a Synology NAS that downloads all TV shows automatically and movies when I fine them available, mostly from usenet, and then acts as a server for Kodi and Plex, so we watch on the main TV through Kodi and the ipads with Plex. It works well for me, but the NAS wasn't cheap, and it's not without regular managing, just to move files around and rename them to keep them as I like them.

My sister and husband thought it might be a good idea for them and are mulling over the idea, but neither are particularly techy. Not everyone wants to spend a few hundred quid on a NAS and then more on drives on top of media devices that can play them, and I was wondering how other people deal with it when they get asked.

What set ups do you usually recommend? A cheap NAS and something like an Amazon TV, Roku or Android TV device? Apple TV limits your options as it doesn't play certain popular formats or have DLNA capabilities, and all players seem to have their pros and cons. Do you try to set them up with some sort of remote access (such as Teamviewer for when there are issues), or leave them to try to suss it out?

I just thought it would be interesting to see how people set up other people's systems to keep them as idiot proof and as low maintenance as possible.
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Post by daboy3000 »

I have recently bought an Asus mini PC as I don't want to clog my gaming pc up with other stuff. But it doesn't seem to want to stream very well, even when using a wired network connection, my old pc seemed to stream fine to the Roku stick in the TV. I even plugged the mini pc straight into the TV and it doesn't play HD media well at all.

So don't buy one of these if you want to do more than browse the web!
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Post by cliff homewood »

Have ordered an android tv box for £25 from Gearbest. Waiting for it to arrive. Don't know what a nas is, but from hotukdeals forums, where every now and then a firestick goes cheap, which is meant to be good for stalling other stuff on like kodi, people say the android tv box is a better option.

Was originally going to go with a roku streaming stick as thats got the best spec/reviews of all of them, but sounds liek the firestick is best for rooting.
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Post by LordoftheDance »

I bought my dad a Roku 3 just so he can watch Netflix, and even that little box is quite complicated for him sometimes.

I certainly wouldn't even mention the word NAS to someone who's not tech-y or prepared to do some research into what one is and how it works. I only bought a cheap one myself about a year ago, and still probably only use about 5% of its potential. It's basically an external hard drive with lots of family films and photos on, that's basically it.

Wouldn't have a clue on how to set up automatic downloading of stuff.

Generally, a box that does it all for you is the best, and simplest solution I think. Apple TV, Roku, etc.
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alsemail
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Post by alsemail »

WDTV live and an external drive.

It's enough to get them started, if they get a handle on that they can upgrade.

If you want a bit more then maybe a FireTV or Android box and you can stick Kodi on it for them.

Ultimately if they want what you have, the ability to stream all over the house, to tablets, autodownload new content etc then they're going to have to both pay for it and do a lot of learning, they're not prepared to and not tech savvy enough to work it out so they need a simple to use, cheap compromise.
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Post by jockosjungle »

I wouldn't be helping someone to that level. My Dad's PVR has bust so he's talking about moving to SKY, I'll spend the rest of my life helping him with it, whilst he complains to me about features he doesn't like, how it failed to record Downton Abbey, etc.

He was able to cope with a BD player that did netflix, and got an Amazon box and can cope with that. Suggesting a Sky+ box is my limit though, although to be fair I'm not much more techy beyond that myself.
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Post by Dave B »

My parents still use a VHS for recording stuff if they are going to be out or want to watch something else at the same time.

I got them a NOW TV box and vouchers for a few months as they loves movies and am still having trouble explaining how they can watch it whenever and don't have to keep checking the Radio Times to see what movies are on!

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Post by bumfrog »

yeh, I wouldn't go near that kind of request with a bargpole, it's asking for somebody to constantly ask for support.
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Post by jockosjungle »

Argh! My Dad has gone ahead and ordered SKY with minimal consulting from me, no idea what he's signed himself up for.
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Post by richie-t »

Must admit, for someone fairly techie and with an interest in films and TV, i don't have any kind of media player or streamer. I guess I'm missing out?
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Mevlock
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Post by Mevlock »

I've got a similar setup to the op. HTPC, nas, sabnzb setup etc.

But if a non techie friend or relative asks me for advice I simply tell them to get a Fire TV and a Prime sub and or a Netflix sub. Anything else and your simply asking for trouble when it comes to tech support.
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Stevie G
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Post by Stevie G »

Thanks for the replies on this one guys, I'd forgotten to reply on it!

I think I agree that it's hassle to set up downloading stuff and could be a nightmare long term, so I think I'll stay away from that, but both my sis and my step-dad have a lot of stuff on hard disks they'd like to access easier, so what I was thinking is just finding them a cheapish NAS that just has a DLNA server, etc just so they could store their stuff centrally, and then they can access that content from any device, smart TV, etc that has DLNA capabilities, and then looking at options for the client end.

What is surprising me is how hard it is to find a simple solution to just have a player that plays from any DLNA server. Apple TV won't just play from one (maybe the forthcoming model will now it has apps, but that's not cheap), and as far as I'm aware there are any apps on the Amazon Fire Stick or Roku Stick that are just media players that can access DLNA content.

Plex is great, but you need a computer or NAS that has the grunt to deal with it, and Kodi isn't so straight forward on Amazon Fire and not on Roku.

I'll maybe have a look at options for cheap android TV devices and maybe recommend one of those.
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riz1
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Post by riz1 »

Would the easiest way not be just to have a home laptop or PC act as the base to stream stuff from via a simple share?
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Post by riz1 »

Just spotted - you use Plex AND KODI
Don't they do pretty much the same things? Why not just use Plex for everything? (he says having no experience with either yet!)
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Stevie G
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Post by Stevie G »

Yes, that would be the simple way, but that means leaving that computer on 24/7, which most non computer people don't like doing. A NAS of some sort would be a better option, cheaper to run and they forget it's actually on.

Plex is good but it's client and server, so needs a PC or NAS capable of running Plex and doing the transcodes. Kodi is easier as it just needs to be able to point to a network share running on pretty much anything, but it doesn't run on so many standalone boxes.

Both are fine for me, but I know what I'm doing with them. My rellies need something more idiot friendly :D
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