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Old 03-23-2012, 06:50 PM   #1
PapaGeorgio
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HomeMediaCenter Help For Child

My nieces birthday is coming up and will be turning 2 in a couple months. I was thinking of downloading a bunch of Sesame Street, Barney shit like that and dumping in on an external harddrive. Anyways, what would be the best way to play that on a tv.

I personally use Windows Media Center on my computer when hooked up to TV, I really like and I like how sexy I can make everything. My brothers household primarily uses Macs. Plus it be nice if they had other functions like Netflix, Hulu etc on whatever player I get them. I know some basics about Apple TV, Roku PLayers etc but nothing too much.

So the questions are:
1. What should I get that primarily will play the different file types I download (I prefer if I can use cover art when scrolling through on TV and such) which can connect to USB Harddrive?
2. Anything that does that and is Mac friendly or has some other nice features on it?

Also, not looking to spend too much on all this. I figure the AppleTV, Roku or whatever should ideally cost around 100, maybe little more or less. And if it's kid friendly that be great.

Thank in advance.


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Old 03-23-2012, 09:17 PM   #2
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A Roku can play personal video files via USB. It supports MKV (H.264), MP4 (H.264), MOV (H.264), WMV/ASF (WMV9/VC-1). Unfortunately, I dont think they can play AVI, though.
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:40 PM   #3
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I believe only the Roku 2 XS has USB support so be careful if you go with a Roku you're getting the right one. I also don't believe that AppleTV has a USB plug.

But...you could always just plug the harddrive up to a computer and stream the videos from one of the devices. If you go that route I would probably suggest the AppleTV.

1) Their household is primarily Macs already.
2 [and most important]) You can install XBMC on the AppleTV and AppleTV 2 and it is, in my opinion, the best media center software around. So much community support, tons of addons, support for Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube, etc, ton of media scrapers, art downloaders, pretty much anything you could want it to do.

But if you don't want to go through that hassle the Roku is probably your best bet. Just be aware that file support through USB is limited to MP4 (H.264) & MKV (H.264).
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Old 03-28-2012, 11:44 PM   #4
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My issue seems to be file playback. Most of the files I would download are going to be in AVI format and I really don't want to go through the hassle of converting files.

There are media players out there that will play all files but nothing kid friendly. Most have them scrolling through a long string of text names that just look sloppy to me and wouldn't help out a kid who can't read.

I like the look of XBMC and that is ideally what I'd want. I'm happy to take the time to grab images for movies as needed as I've formatted my computer media center that way. It's just nice to browse on something like this


But I just don't see a little box doing that where I wouldn't have to convert anything. I suppose my alternative is to find a PC desktop? Just searched craigslist for anything cheap and did't see much in my price range. I may just need to chalk this up as a lost cause?

Appreciate the help so far too.
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Old 03-29-2012, 05:16 PM   #5
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You could look into getting a nettop. They are pretty popular alternatives to custom built HTPCs and are inexpensive. I bought one for my family a few years ago and it uses XBMC. It's pretty awesome. But they will be a little more expensive than $100. I'd expect to pay about $150-300 for one.

If you just want to save some money though I would get an AppleTV 2 and put XBMC on it. Pretty sure it will play whatever you want through software decoding and you have a lot of options.

This is the skin I'm currently using with my setup.


I've got a few addons, one of which will download all art automatically just by running it. If you have a large library you can also use a program like Ember Media Manager to download everything separately. I use it first because I like to choose which posters to download and then I let XBMC scrape what it wants.

XBMC has a web interface too which allows you to use a computer/mobile phone as a remote. Something satisfying about being able to control playback of all my media from miles away.
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:31 PM   #6
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wow, holy shit. I've never used XBMC before. Looks like a great Media Center alternative.
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