XBMC (Eden Aeon Nox) and MediaPortal (1.2.3 Streamed MP)

Discussion in 'Other HTPC Applications' started by AlexanderIanHall, July 13, 2012.

  1. AlexanderIanHall
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    AlexanderIanHall MP Donator

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    As I was undertaking a clean install on my secondary HTPC to MP 1.3 alpha I thought I'd also take a quick look at XBMC Eden as I've never tried XBMC before. While it has only been a couple of days of trial and error (and frustration) here are some of my initial thoughts.

    My platform: Windows 7 64bit, 4GB Ram, ATI 5570, 60GB SSD + UnRaid array, Yahama 5.1 surround sound

    MediaPortal

    I've been using MP for a couple of years now and with Streamed MP it is a delight. The inclusion of My TV Series, Moving Pictures and more recently IMDB+ make a great and easy to use package. I also use TMT 5 for blu-ray ISOs and have resolved any and all stuttering issues recently by reverting back to ATI Catalyst 11.4 drivers for video (12.6 for audio HDMI/chipset).

    My usage is predominantly in the format of ISO images of my own media (DVD/BluRay). I do not currently use the TV/PVR functionality.

    In moving to 1.3 alpha I switched back to the standard Skin and really struggled with the skin and the MyVideos compared to StreamedMP/Moving Pictures. Luckily I was able to get StreamedMP/Moving Pictures/TV Series installed ok and could breath a big sigh of relief at being back to familiar territory. The inclusion of the LAV filters is a nice bonus.

    Some of the big pluses of MediaPortal/Streamed MP/Moving Pictures/My TV Series/IMDB+ are:
    a) I like the separate Windows application for setting up MP, importing media etc. As it is a 'normal app' I can remote desktop into my HTPCs and sort out the settings/media in the background while doing other things.

    b) The IMDB/IMDB+/TVDB scrapers are excellent. I can important my entire collection with 100% matching now.

    c) From a clean install I can be fully ready with media imported within a couple of hours

    d) When there are media import issues it is easy to see what they are and resolve

    e) out of the box it seems a more cohesive package to use (with Streamed MP installed that is)

    XBMC

    Overall it has started of as a frustrating couple of days with XBMC, this is as much due to lack of familiarity with XBMC (compared to MP) as anything else. The early days of using MP also had some degree of frustration!



    Some of the big pluses of XBMC Eden are:
    a) I like the speed with which XBMC launches - it is significantly quicker than MP

    b) the quantity of skins/addons etc and the way they are categorized. There seem to be some useful addons available that don't exist for MediaPortal

    c) the larger number of users and greater activity on the forum when wanting to resolve issues, see what others are doing etc.

    d) The TV Series support more than 2 episodes per file, which means I could use the ISO images for the TV Series. (note: I'm still not sure if this is sensible, however at least I have the option to try)

    Some of the things I dislike (but more personal preference)
    a) having to do all the setups in the XBMC UI - it takes longer, means I have to sit in the lounge rather than remote desktop in, and it is not easy to see what issues occur when scraping. e.g.
    i) most of my TV Series didn't automatically import because I use the format:
    \TV Shows\Series Name (year)\Season 1\Series Name_S01E01_Episode name.mkv
    because I have the (year) in the Series Name top level folder the TVDB scraping doesn't match. I could probably solve this with a custom regular expression however MediaPortal imports the exact same files fine. I had to resort to manually importing most of my series 1 by 1 for now.
    ii) Similar to TV Series, I also have the (year) in the folder name of my movies. I at least managed to get around this on importing by having the movie scraper use file name rather than folder name. However without installing additional addons it is difficult to know what movies didn't import.

    b) the number of different repositories that add-ons are stored in. They are not all on the central XBMC location which means having to download zip files and access alternate repositories.

    c) the navigation and number of 'clicks' needed to do anything, e.g. the nesting of TV Series and Movies - I assume this can be fixed within a skin but the few skins I have tried don't have this by default. I find the overall navigation unintuitive and cumbersome although I assume I would get more familiar with it in time. The MCE remote doesn't work as well even with the MCERemote plugin.

    misc

    There are other areas to explore further, for example bitstreaming support in MP didn't need any patching in, whereas in the current Eden final release it needs a patch (or you need to try the nightlies)

    I also haven't tried any extensive testing of the Refresh Rates to see how well XBMC handles that.

    verdict

    On day 2 of using XBMC (and a couple of years of MediaPortal) I much prefer MediaPortal (probably an obvious outcome so far) however I will continue with XBMC in parallel with MediaPortal for at least a couple of weeks. The nice thing is they seem to co-exist fine, and since I have the same media FINALLY (!!!) imported into both I can switch between them easily enough.

    The blu-ray support in XBMC and MediaPortal looks very interesting, however for now I am continuing to use TMT MCE since it keeps the menus.

    Both XBMC and MediaPortal/Streamed MP would benefit from a 'Wizard' to take the new user through setting up the various video repositories/scraping etc. It would also make these systems more accessible to the non-technical person or to the person with limited patience/time.

    I would also like to see better integration of things such as Netflix into MediaPortal. It is a shame that the Netflix MediaPortal plugin has been abandoned. I am now using Netflix by having MediaPortal launch Media Center. It isn't ideal but is generally working ok.

    In summary, launching back into MediaPortal/Streamed MP this evening felt like coming back to a family friend :)

    hth

    Alex
     
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  3. AlexanderIanHall
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    AlexanderIanHall MP Donator

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    Well, another week later and I've found I've stopped using XBMC. Live television aside (which I don't use) then I think they are much of a muchness, however if you've earned your wings on MediaPortal then I think switching to XBMC takes a bit of effort (and vice versa). The biggest headache with migrating to any new MediaCenter software is the initial configuration and importing of your media.

    This is where I find MePo (with Streamed MP/MyTVSeries/Moving Pictures) excels and I very much like the separate windows configuration application. With MovingPictures/MyTVSeries it is easy to see what series/movies have matched correctly, which haven't and to then manually update. In XBMC (and MePo 2 Alpha/Summer builds) it is more challenging to see what has not imported correctly.

    I am now using MePo 1.2.3 and 1.3 alpha on my 2 HTPCs on a daily basis without any issues. I am also doing some testing on MePo 2 although there remains more work to do before I could consider this an every day usage version (1.3 alpha I believe is an every day usage version).

    My recommendation to the MePo team is to bundle StreamedMP/MyTVSeries/Moving Pictures into the default install of MePo 1.3 as it makes it much more user friendly and will help increase the number of new users (particularly now LAV if included). I appreciate there are many other plugins/skins as well however think that this package is great to help get beginners going. When I first installed MePo 1.3 alpha and was back to the default skin, and no Moving Pictures/TV Series it was a culture shock!

    Just my thoughts. In summary I believe they all can do the job, however I personally still prefer MePo 1.x.

    In testing I have found 1.3 alpha very stable and usable as an every day MediaCenter software suite.

    Alex
     
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  4. Edalex
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    Edalex Community Plugin Dev

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    More important is to bundle Extensions plugin in default install to be able to get all these StreamedMP/MyTVSeries/Moving Pictures ;)
     
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  5. hafblade

    hafblade Portal Pro

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    I don't think that streamed mp should be part of it. I nevered liked its idea of brinhing everything wizh it. For me installation of skins and plugins should be always separated.
     
  6. emphatic
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    emphatic Design Group

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    Whenever I do a quick install/setup for someone, I always install MePo, then StreamedMP as it has the best plugins bundled. I then create three folders, Movies, TV-Series and Music and configure MyVideos, MyMusic, MovingPictures and MP TV-Series for them. Next thing is setting the codecs, then my work is done. :)

    I agree though that StreamedMP shouldn't be bundled with MediaPortal as too much awesome features in one day is quite a bit to take in for most people. I have a buddy who's closing in on 60 years of age, and he didn't like Moving Pictures because it had to much "stuff". :D But I always stay for a while and let them browse around, and so far I've had no complaints on MePo.

    Emph
     
  7. AlexanderIanHall
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    AlexanderIanHall MP Donator

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    Even if StreamedMP was bundled, the user can still select the standard skin instead. The more new comers we get using MePo the more donations and the more potential developers. There is a large potential user-base out there who are not technical and may find MePo underwhelming or difficult to configure in the base install.

    Just a thought...

    Alex
     
  8. Pat Clark

    Pat Clark Portal Pro

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    Curious. I am a relatively new, but technically oriented, MediaPortal user and found StreamedMP to be virtually unusable. On the other hand, Catavolt's PureVision series work well for me. Mostly, the orientation towards a mouse or a remote makes all the difference to me. (I'm speaking of the skins "as delivered." With tweaking, most of the user-fails can be worked around.)

    But regardless of skin, it seems to me that the TV (DVR) setup is hugely difficult for the average person: cards, channels, program guide, commercial skipping, codecs, etc., etc.

    Really -- something will have to be done to civilize this process or MP will always be relegated to nerds. Perhaps that is why a number of forum members seem to have entered the "business" of MP setup.
     
  9. AlexanderIanHall
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    AlexanderIanHall MP Donator

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    Interesting, I agree that configuring the BasicHome on StreamedMP takes some experience, which is why I'm suggesting it comes included (and pre-configured) for the included plugins. Whether it is Streamed MP or another skin the point is that we need to make MePo easier to use by newcomers and there bundling some of the plugins/skins into a default build will make it easier for new users.

    Even with the extra work in 1.3 alpha I find MovingPictures far more usable than Videos.

    Maybe bundling plugins/skin plus creating a new guided Wizard style initial setup for new users would be a way to make it more accessible.

    thoughts?

    Alex
     
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  10. Pat Clark

    Pat Clark Portal Pro

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    As I'm sure many others have done, I suggested to the team that wizards be developed. I was told that there were wizards in the past, but it had been difficult to keep them operating properly, because few developers (volunteers, all) have much interest in such things.
     
  11. emphatic
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    emphatic Design Group

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    I'd prefer to have a (optional) slideshow of cool plugins and skins while MediaPortal installs for new users.

    Emph
     
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