In my previous post I outlined the issues with using the GoogleTV for playback and I promised to outline my new client.
Since a list makes this easier, I’ll present the hardware that way:
- First the computer: I bought an Intel NUC (D54250WYKH) as the base machine. If you wish to get the same, be sure you get a version with the power cord as it is not a standard PC power cord.
- 4G, DDR3 1600 1.35V, Crucial stick (the 1.35V is very important)
- Intel 7260 +Bluetooth card (WiFi and Bluetooth)
- Kingston Digital 30GB SSDNow mS200 mSATA
- mini HDMI male to HDMI female adapter (the NUC has a mini HDMI port). I bought this from Monoprice along with other cables.
- Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad combo. I find this useful when I need a keyboard or mouse from across the room.
- A USB keyboard for the initial setup
Not mentioned above is the requirement of an HDMI receiver between the TV and NUC. The NUC can be configured to use analog audio output or passing audio directly to a TV over the HDMI, but a receiver provides the best audio experience.
When installing the WiFi+BT card, the antennas are covered with a protective piece of plastic. Do not try to pull these off. Instead, remove the tape on the wires, then these coverings will slide easily down the wire exposing the contacts. I also found it is much easier to connect the antennas before installing the card.
I should initially mention that I had issues getting some of the media to boot off USB ports in the back. I found that it did boot easily from the ports in the front. Also, I had considerable difficulty getting into the BIOS with my USB keyboard. In a cold boot, it would never pick up on F2 being pressed but instead only after rebooting from an OS (which is a pain if you misconfigure the BIOS to no be able to boot into the OS anymore like I did once). I found that placing a powered USB hub between the computer and the keyboard solved this issue.
The BIOS doesn’t need much in terms of settings, but I found that mine was several months out of date. I updated the BIOS to the latest, then configured the minimum fan speed to 20%. Most of the time, the fans will not spin up to audible levels at this setting. This does not affect the fan speed when the device determines it needs a higher speed, just the minimum level.
I started off with a version of OpenELEC (OE) that contained Plex. I liked the novelty of not needing any kind of SATA drive to boot and keep everything in RAM. I eventually decided that while OE has its uses, its limitations became problematic. In particular, the Bluetooth adapter would disappear and never come back without pulling the power from the device. I elected to go with a full Xubuntu install (after ordering the mSATA drive).
I followed an excellent guide for the installation procedure found in the Plex forums. I deviated in the IR installation though. I did not install lirc when I installed ir-keytable. This also means I did not need to do the Configure and Disable LIRC section. I did follow the Optional Permanent VSYNC section.
Configuring IR is slightly different that described in the guide because the remotes are different. Run
sudo ir-keytable -t and start pressing buttons on your remote. You will see the scancodes as you do. Use those codes for the buttons you desire in the Configure IR-Keytable section. The keyboard shortcuts page may be of use here.
I would highly recommend searching for Plex Home Theater in the menu in the upper left and right click on it to add it to the desktop. This makes launching from a limited remote much easier.
Lastly, as mentioned in a subsequent post in the above thread, you need to disable xfsettingsd, otherwise when you turn the TV back on after turning it off, the display will never come back. This is simply:
sudo chmod -x /usr/bin/xfsettingsd
Aside from those above, there were a few gotchas I discovered.
- If you heavily use the WiFi, the Bluetooth range will be dramatically reduced. This appears to be an issue with the hardware since it uses the same antennas for both. I tend to only see this when playing HD content. Using a IR remote does reduce the need for Bluetooth.
- You should configure Plex to be FullScreen in System -> Advanced if not already. This will enable some other settings, such as framerate switching.
- If you enable framerate switching (which I would generally encourage) and you desire to play something with HD audio, you may lose all audio as I did. About 80% of the time, if I play something in 24p with TrueHD or DTS-HD (I do passthrough these), the framerate switching occurs and there is no audio. Furthermore, the audio never returns until I reboot or hibernate the device. I am working a bit with one of the devs to track this one down. It seems to be a race condition with the NUC and my receiver. Setting PHT to play a trailer before the movie is a decent workaround.
- VAAPI seems to have an issue with certain MPEG2 video. In particular, when I play an episode of The Simpsons I ripped from DVD, playback is blocking and full of green squares somewhere around 2-15 seconds in. A subsequent Intel driver update seemed to resolve this, but didn’t solve the blocky playback I saw in VC-1 content. Disabling VAAPI resolves seems to be the best solution as I have only one file that gives the CPU decoder any issue.
The one last piece I would like to mention is the PlexAEON skin. I’ve grown to really like this skin and it is pretty easy to install:
git clone https://github.com/maverick214/skin.PlexAeonPHT.git
After that, restart Plex and then in the settings, simply change the skin. I’ve found that on occasion in either a Movies or TV Shows section, it may not display anything after entering it. Every time I’ve seen this, hitting ESC will then cause it to display. Not sure what the deal is, but I consider it minor.
And that’s it. Hope someone out there finds this useful.