How best to watch HD content? (OT)

Andy Bircumshaw andy at
Mon Jan 17 07:05:55 EST 2011

On 17/1/2011, at 10:50am, Arthur Dent wrote:
> ...
> My question:
> How do the good folks here watch HD content to best effect? Is there
> something simple I can do, or do I need to invest (my limited funds) in
> new technology?

I stand by my comments in this post:

Some other alternatives are discussed here:

I'm not sure that the new PlayOn HD Mini v2 adds that much, so you might well find the current model reduced soon, or you might find them secondhand (check AVforums classifieds section).

The PlayOn HD Mini is fanless, and I'm not sure how to get that with a build-it-yourself, even a laptop. These dedicated devices contain a video decoder chip of a kind that PCs do not. 

The PlayOn and the Western Digital are both < £80.

There is a lot I will build myself out of a preference to retain control over the way things are done, but I considered the PlayOn so cheap that it wasn't worth my time messing around trying to come up with some more "perfect" solution. I'd like someday to wire up a satellite dish and go the whole MythTV route, which would make the PlayOn (or anything like it) obsolete. But for the moment this "gets the job done" very well. 

One major influence in my choice, however, is that the PlayOn has full DVD menu support (as, I think, does the Western Digi), so I can stick my DVDs on the network server and not have to transcode them. It was the transcoding that was the most major headache - it seems impossible to ensure this is done correctly - and this doesn't apply to iPlayer downloads.

The PlayOn (and the Western Digi) will both play 1080p h264 / AAC mp4 without any problems, though.

The PlayOn Mini has no internal storage (nor does the WD?) - you can stick a USB thumb drive or camera-card adaptor in the back, but one would normally just connect it to the network and connect to your Samba shares. There is a more expensive PlayOn with a bay to accommodate an internal 3.5" SATA drive.


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