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Adding smart TV functionality

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Joined
Dec 13, 2005
I'm sure this has been beaten to death but haven't seen any threads on it.

So I have two "dumb" TVs that I'd like to add streaming ability to for <$100 each, one in a bedroom and one in the living room. I should note I have a Steam Link on order for the living room TV, but looked around and don't think it has the ability to natively stream Netflix or Amazon Prime video.

I'm fairly interested in the Amazon Fire TV/Fire TV Sticks. Leaning towards the beefier Fire TVs, as reviews tend to give them more grunt - smoother UI, smoother video due to more ram and a larger buffer, etc. I also like having a microSD slot so I could load some video on that.

I've also came across the occasional Intel Stick, and like the idea of having a full on PC plugged into the back of my TV - has anyone had any experience with using these in a pure HTPC sense?
 

Alaric

New Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Location
Satan's Colon, US
I went the other way and added a TV tuner card to my rig and use a 43" TV for a monitor. That gives me close to 4 TB of DVR space. That's a lot of Big Bang Theory and Star Trek reruns. LOL
 
OP
freakdiablo
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
I am a big fan of the Roku personally.

How are those? Good UI and all that? The only experience I've had is getting a Roku 3 for my mom a while back and remembering it being a ***** to set up, with my my dad complaining about it needing a CC to link to a Roku account. That's one of if not the main reason I was looking at Fire TVs - don't want another account so Apple TVs out, Chromecast seemed too reliant on a seperate phone or PC to be it's own standalone device, etc.

I went the other way and added a TV tuner card to my rig and use a 43" TV for a monitor. That gives me close to 4 TB of DVR space. That's a lot of Big Bang Theory and Star Trek reruns. LOL

I thought about that, just grabbing a longer HDMI cable and plugging my desktop into the bedroom TV, then just sitting back with a bluetooth keyboard. Only problem being more often than not I'll use these as background noise, which is why I'm asking about cheap sticks as opposed to asking for help parting out a matching pair of $500 HTPCs. If I decide to run Fallout 4 on one of my monitors and toss Firefly up on the tv, I don't want to have to play around with trying to get two different audio streams to two different outputs, what happens if a game on one screen doesn't like video playing on another, etc. I'm willing to throw $40 at a device now if it saves me headaches down the line.
 

ssjwizard

Has slightly less legible writing than Thideras
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
You do need to create a Roku account, and you can use PayPal instead of a CC to set it up. I use the Roku stick personally. They have the most channels available in streaming devices.

The UI is very easy to use, and the built in multi service search is a snap when your looking for something older or kinda rare.
 

Alaric

New Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Location
Satan's Colon, US
How are those? Good UI and all that? The only experience I've had is getting a Roku 3 for my mom a while back and remembering it being a ***** to set up, with my my dad complaining about it needing a CC to link to a Roku account. That's one of if not the main reason I was looking at Fire TVs - don't want another account so Apple TVs out, Chromecast seemed too reliant on a seperate phone or PC to be it's own standalone device, etc.



I thought about that, just grabbing a longer HDMI cable and plugging my desktop into the bedroom TV, then just sitting back with a bluetooth keyboard. Only problem being more often than not I'll use these as background noise, which is why I'm asking about cheap sticks as opposed to asking for help parting out a matching pair of $500 HTPCs. If I decide to run Fallout 4 on one of my monitors and toss Firefly up on the tv, I don't want to have to play around with trying to get two different audio streams to two different outputs, what happens if a game on one screen doesn't like video playing on another, etc. I'm willing to throw $40 at a device now if it saves me headaches down the line.


For your purposes my solution isn't all that great. I live alone so I only need the one output. If I get a TV for my bedroom I'll be looking at a way to stream, but I still only need one output.
 
OP
freakdiablo
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
You do need to create a Roku account, and you can use PayPal instead of a CC to set it up. I use the Roku stick personally. They have the most channels available in streaming devices.

The UI is very easy to use, and the built in multi service search is a snap when your looking for something older or kinda rare.

Thanks, I'll look into them then.

For your purposes my solution isn't all that great. I live alone so I only need the one output. If I get a TV for my bedroom I'll be looking at a way to stream, but I still only need one output.

Heh, I live alone too. I'm just one of those annoying buggers that has to be bombarded by media from multiple sources at once. Yes, I'm "that guy" on your flight.
 

bob4933

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Three words. Roku, Roku, Roku. I have a smart tv already, but the functionality and speed of the roku trumps any TV I've ever touched, its nearly instant. Wifi reception is also superior so I dont get stupid buffering going on, even at 4k.
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
i thought about trying a roku, ended up going with firetv though, does everything i want it to, including being able to stream video from my local server via kodi and streaming games from my pc's using nvidia game streaming(with moonlight app sideloaded works great). also being able to side load android apps is nice. i started with the firetv stick, moved that to the kids room and then put a firetv on my living room tv. main reason i got the firetv for living room was it had ethernet and wifi wasnt cutting it for streaming 1080p video from my server(think 30-50GB movie files) other than that gen 1 fire stick worked great for everything else.

heres a thread i created when i ditched the htpc for the firetv stick, theres also an update for when i went with the full size firetv.
http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php/755949-Replacing-my-htpc-with-a-Fire-TV

cant say which is better firetv roku apple tv idk only ever tried firetv because the others didnt have the features i needed.
 

ssjwizard

Has slightly less legible writing than Thideras
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
I do admit that if you are doing local streaming Roku isn't the best option.
 

Pinky

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Narf City, USA
Also a Roku user, have been for a few years. There's a Roku app for controlling it from a windows PC or smartphone. Makes entering passwords and usernames easier during the initial setup. The rest of the time (once setup) the remote controls are more than enough.

If you only need 1080p and HDMI, then I recommend the new Roku Express. I replaced my aging Roku2 with it and it runs even smoother. Only ~$30
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Also a Roku user, have been for a few years. There's a Roku app for controlling it from a windows PC or smartphone. Makes entering passwords and usernames easier during the initial setup. The rest of the time (once setup) the remote controls are more than enough.

If you only need 1080p and HDMI, then I recommend the new Roku Express. I replaced my aging Roku2 with it and it runs even smoother. Only ~$30

oh yea, firetv has the app with keyboard and stuff as well.
and voice control with amazon alexa if you are into that sort of thing (home automation n things)
 
OP
freakdiablo
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
I actually decided to go with a pair of Fire TVs - the full fledged ones not the sticks. Looked at a few reviews and asked a few friends that had them, many claiming the extra CPU power and RAM make a difference. Also like being able to toss in a SD card and have movies local is always a plus. But the main selling point being...

Apps

I noticed there was an Amazon DirecTV and Slingbox app, and my parents already said I can leach off there subscription in exchange for leaching off my Netflix and Prime subscriptions. Also I think Alexa would be a cool novelty (for about 10 minutes).

The issue with a roku is, and I may be over paranoid with this, but I really don't want another service tied to my CC or PP account.
 

ssjwizard

Has slightly less legible writing than Thideras
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Well at least the choice has been made. If you plan to run apps and stuff on it its probably the right solution. Let us know how they work out for you!
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
I actually decided to go with a pair of Fire TVs - the full fledged ones not the sticks. Looked at a few reviews and asked a few friends that had them, many claiming the extra CPU power and RAM make a difference. Also like being able to toss in a SD card and have movies local is always a plus. But the main selling point being...

Apps

Also I think Alexa would be a cool novelty (for about 10 minutes).

i should have my amazon echo dot in the mail today and so begins my delve into home automation and stuff il probably make a thread on it after i start using it and figuring it all out, should have alot of the same controls with the firetv if you plan to do any of that.
 

cdawall

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2009
Location
cypress, tx
I am going to jump on the roku bandwagon as well my folks have a pair of them and a roku based smart tv all of which work great.
 

Pinky

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Narf City, USA
Well at least the choice has been made. If you plan to run apps and stuff on it its probably the right solution. Let us know how they work out for you!

I would think the opposite, the Roku is a widespread distribution and most streaming services have quality apps developed. Isn't the Fire stick an Amazon creation? It would seem app support would be less extensiove than with the Roku, and it would also be tied to your Amazon account which (my experience over the years is leading me to believe) is not a bonus as much of their content is going paid-for. Meaning, the entire point of the Fire stick is to get you to buy subscriptions for the streaming products they offer. At least with Roku it would seem everyone's on equal footing right out of the gate, whereas Amazon has a vested interest in only allowing services of their discriminatory choice be available.

If looking at it from a cost and flexibility standpoint, the Fire stick would be the least flexible at the same or greater up-front cost.

As a side note, as a Prime member, I've noticed A LOT of content move from free with prime to paid/subscription only. There's now a long laundry list of services on Amazon (Starz, HBO, etc) that have effectively taken over much of the previously available free content. It's a slight bit of a bait-n-switch, if you buy in to Prime for the year and midway through they start pulling available content on you. That's one reason I would be very wary of buying ANY Amazon based platform.
 

ssjwizard

Has slightly less legible writing than Thideras
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
I would think the opposite, the Roku is a widespread distribution and most streaming services have quality apps developed. Isn't the Fire stick an Amazon creation? It would seem app support would be less extensiove than with the Roku, and it would also be tied to your Amazon account which (my experience over the years is leading me to believe) is not a bonus as much of their content is going paid-for. Meaning, the entire point of the Fire stick is to get you to buy subscriptions for the streaming products they offer. At least with Roku it would seem everyone's on equal footing right out of the gate, whereas Amazon has a vested interest in only allowing services of their discriminatory choice be available.

If looking at it from a cost and flexibility standpoint, the Fire stick would be the least flexible at the same or greater up-front cost.

As a side note, as a Prime member, I've noticed A LOT of content move from free with prime to paid/subscription only. There's now a long laundry list of services on Amazon (Starz, HBO, etc) that have effectively taken over much of the previously available free content. It's a slight bit of a bait-n-switch, if you buy in to Prime for the year and midway through they start pulling available content on you. That's one reason I would be very wary of buying ANY Amazon based platform.

By apps hes referring to android apps which Roku doesn't do. Im a big Roku fan and I agree that its probably the best streaming platform around(unless you do local streaming then it kinda sucks).
 

Pinky

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Narf City, USA
By apps hes referring to android apps which Roku doesn't do. Im a big Roku fan and I agree that its probably the best streaming platform around(unless you do local streaming then it kinda sucks).

I haven't tried local streaming. I see an app for doign this from the Roku store but it doesn't see my network. Is it only intended for USB attached devices?

Can you run Kodi alongside / on top of the Fire stick's OS? It didn't occur to me they would use Android. Is it locked down like prior Amazon tablets?
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
I haven't tried local streaming. I see an app for doign this from the Roku store but it doesn't see my network. Is it only intended for USB attached devices?

Can you run Kodi alongside / on top of the Fire stick's OS? It didn't occur to me they would use Android. Is it locked down like prior Amazon tablets?

you can sideload it with through adb debugging, you have to go into the settings>apps>kodi to launch it the first time, then after that it will show up on the "recent" menu and the double tapped home launch menu.
http://kodi.wiki/view/HOW-TO:Install_Kodi_on_Fire_TV#adbLink_.28Win.2FMac.2FLinux.29