My mother recently commented that it would be great if she had some means of playing all her various videos without having to rifle through her collection. It's a sentiment I fully agree with, but it was surprising to hear it from her. I have to surmise that she was inspired by the age-old functionality of her DVR, as well as the simple fact that it's not easy or convenient to even remember what is available to watch when it's in several stacks of discs. Anyway, this gave me the only solid idea I've had in years for what to get her for the holidays.
I poked around for such a device recently, but at the time I was also looking for things like 4:4:4 color. That's not needed here. Instead, I'm looking for some combination of hardware which would enable (besides the obvious):
1) PAL DVD playback.
2) Bluray and DVD ISO playback.
3) Full Bluray menu support.
4) Playback of various found-online video formats with no surprise incompatibilities. (PS3 has burned me badly.)
5) 24Hz support for everything (DVD, Bluray, video files).
6) Ability to access a media server at speeds more than adequate for Bluray playback.
7) Ability to access an external hard drive/USB stick for additional media content (for when I want to bring something over), including the ability to copy those external files to internal storage.
8) Low maintenance. If a new update is available, it happens wirelessly and doesn't demand technical know-how.
9) Speed would be nice. Meaning it doesn't take ten decades to begin playing a Bluray, and fast-forwarding through a Bluray is not a stilted, hopeless experience.
10) Media disc (DVD / Bluray) ripping.
This last point, I acknowledge, probably is not available on a standalone media player. Instead, I would anticipate that one can set up their media server PC to automatically rip whatever DVD or Bluray it's given, and automatically store it appropriately for the sake of the media player.
The idea here is to create a solution that is as foolproof as a typical Bluray player or satellite TV DVR. When the user wants to play a disc directly, they pop it into the media player itself. When they want to store the disc on the media server for easy access later, they give it to the media server PC. The first conclusion must be that this hypothetical media player will not be a PC-with-various-things-installed. Beyond that, I really don't know.
Just testing the waters on this one. I got two weeks. ;p
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Use a laptop & connect it to a TV.
I lean strongly away from Popcorn Hour units because of the level of notoriety those products have for failing to meet expectations (visit Amazon's reviews). I'm eyeballing a WDTV solution, even if it means losing Bluray menus, as long as I can still force subtitles without the menus. The answer to that would require probably no less than firsthand experience from somebody who owns one.
Anyone know if the Netgear NeoTV 550 can handle PAL DVD ISOs? The iboum comparison charts, while useful, seem not to place any particular emphasis on nitty-gritty.
I may have to make a separate thread to cover all my questions about this device.