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DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
01-11-2013, 08:23 PM
Post: #1
DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
Hey everyone,
I know there are a million threads out there with people asking which streamer to get. If I had weeks to spare I could probably read through most of them and try to find one that closely fits my situation. It’s not that I'm lazy but unfortunately I don’t have that much free time.
Anyways... both of my A-200 finally died on me. That makes 3 failures on 2 A-200's in just a little over 2.5 years. One of them went back for repair while in warranty but only worked for like 2-3 months afterwards and now both are out of warranty and neither of them work. So now all I’m left with is a WDTV and its killing me. Since I had at least 1 working A-200 for the past few years, I never kept up with the new offerings, who else is making these streamers, etc... At the time the PCH and Dune players were the cream of the crop and from the brief searching I've done since last night it SEEMS like nothing’s changed. Here’s what i need:
-It has to support a jukebox style menu that provides cover art and details about the film that’s also not sluggish (on my A-200s i used YAMJ and that worked well enough)
-Have the ability to view the jukebox menu on my PC so that I can view any changes without having to view through streamer (with YAMJ, I sometimes got wrong cover art and would have to download manually correct it. I read that a lot of newer NMTs scrape automatically so I’d be fearful that the wrong stuff would get downloaded and if so i need a way to correct any errors.)
-When powering on or when waking up from standby, it has to load directly into the jukebox without having to navigate through menu options. (i know i could leave it running all the time but would rather not if it can be avoided.)
-Support for 1080p and bit streaming HD audio (DTS-MA and Dolby TRUE-HD)
-Connect to my synology NAS through Ethernet. 10/100 ok but would prefer gigabit.
-Does not require a running PC in the background (no media center extenders or XBMC)
-Must be able to pick up IR commands so that it'll work with my harmony remote
-Run quietly. Looks like most are fanless these days so that shouldn’t be a big issue
- Looking for something that is established and has all of the critical bugs worked out. I dont want to be beta testing and having to wait for FW updates to work out major bugs like i felt when i got the A-200's.
My A-200s satisfied all the above requirements (well except for the FW updates initially and the quiet operation since it had a fan) but it also had way more features then I needed. I don't need support for 3D or full BD iso or anything like that. 99% of my rips are h.264 mkv's and old DVD VIDEO_TS folders and maybe a few random .avi's thrown into the mix but that’s it. I don’t need to support every format under the sun and I have absolutely no need for any apps like built in bit torrent, netflix, etc... nor do I need any built in Blu-ray drives or internal HDDs. Plus I’m wired CAT6 with gigabit hardware (although my A-200 had to be set to 10/100 to work) so no need for wireless connectivity. I also have no problem having to use my PC to update the jukebox just as long as the streamer can pull the jukebox menu from the NAS similar to how my A-200s accessed the index.htm file. I understand now that the menus aren’t html but rather flash based now. Not sure if any do both, that would be a plus.
Since my needs are vary basic, at least as far as i can tell, I thought id look into the popbox V8 but I was reading that in order to start YAMJ you have to go to apps > YAMJ > Quick start > All which I know the wife would not approve of. I also read that the A-300 requires the same.
I have to admit that I’m a little skeptical going back to a pch after all the problems I’ve had in the past. Plus the whole gigabit thing really annoyed me. It was advertised to support gig speed but almost all gig routers/switches weren’t compatible. I do have to admit though that other than living a relatively short life and the network issue, when the units worked, they were phenomenal. I don’t know if the A-200s just had a design flaw that caused them to die or if my luck is really that bad.
This morning I was ready to plunk down over $300 on a DUNE HD smart H1 but my problem is that I’m not 100% sure it’s going to provide for all my needs and also its over $300 which I’d rather not spend if its not necessary. I will say though that I would spend the $$ if I knew the device did what I wanted and was reliable as I don’t want to keep buying a new streamer every year or so.
Are there any basic streamers out there without all the apps/expansion bays that just do a good job streaming video and audio and provide a nice interface for viewing your movie library and most importantly, are built to last? If there are no basic units out there what else would you all recommend?
Sorry for making this a long drawn out thing, but can anyone help me??
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01-11-2013, 08:35 PM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2013 08:42 PM by accident.)
Post: #2
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
If you have to ask, I tihnk you already know the pch is not meeting your household needs.. If you can afford to get other players to try them out and return the ones you don't like, absolutely do that. The only way to know what players, software, htpc, smart tv, tivo, whatever your hoping to achieve with your tv entertainment can come from using them.

you might also want to do some reading over at http://www.mediasmartserver.net/ , damian's articles (dbone on this forum) are always very indepth, not rushed out, and he and his family uses them in real life before he makes the article.. He's really good at objectively informing everyone of his findings, how he was using it, a really good checkist of the common media playback needs so you can see what he found out... you'll find some additional brands out there that might also meet your needs even better than pch or dune. This is a great way to factor out players you know won't work and concentrate on the ones that might be good for you. He doesn't try to get more ads on teh page viewed, he lets you know how the player really works and takes the time to look into bug fixes, how hard it's really to use and not just what it did the 20 minutes he gave it a whirl to write an article.

It may not look this way on this forum, but the regulars here don't just have pch units. we generally try 3-5 different players per year, return the ones we didn't fnid worked in our houses and keep on looking for the next best unit. many of us also have htpc setups, open source hardware, other brands. we just don't sit around pushing any specific solution because only you can pick what player works for you.
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01-11-2013, 10:55 PM
Post: #3
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
Thanks for the info. Ive actually came across that site a few times and thought it was helpful. You mentioned that the pch wasnt meeting my needs... in fact it did meet my needs, well it had more than i needed, but what i did need it to do it did it excellently. my only gripe was that neither of my units lasted. I was hoping to hear someone say that I was extremely unlucky or that the A-200's had a bad design.

I lurked around this site when I first started looking into streaming my movie library and knew that even though its primarily a PCH related site, that you guys used other streamers as well. I wanted to draw off of others experiences since I really dont have the time to start buying multiple devices to try out... and there are a lot out there. Plus, I think my wife would kill me if I started getting daily packages with new toys to play with.

Anyway, again thanks for the input. Ill keep researching in my free time and hopefully others will still chime in as well.
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01-11-2013, 11:10 PM
Post: #4
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
I re-read your first post as I think I overlooked it worked for your needs and just didn't last as long as it should have. And you had multiple units die. To me that makes me wonder about your setup more. I don't know if your looking for help or not but i've never had a unit die on me. I've never had a power supply die and even my first a110 is still running and used almost daily. I'm also rough on mine, I try to break them with testing and if I use a drive, it's an old 20-80gig sata drive that runs REALLY hot compared to drives today. also consumes much more power than drives today.

have you looked into getting your outlets tested to make sure the power is correct? do you have them setup in well ventilated locations and not baking in an oven with hot exhaust being used to cool them? what was the death of the other units? did syabas actually repalce them for physical damage? Are you in an area with frequent power spikes and mini-outages? when a unit die, did you happen to try a different power adapter to see if it was just the power cord that died? being a200s, did you ever consider getting the a210 replacement case for them?

Keep in mind I believe syabas offers a flat rate low cost repair anything broke in it service. Ask support about it. I want to say it's like $50US no matter what the problem is. maybe repairing one will be cost effective for you and you can look into other things to help it like using a small ups to help clean the power, especially if your in an area with black and brownouts.
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01-12-2013, 03:32 PM
Post: #5
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
Well let me say that when i said the units died, it wasnt the PSU that failed but rather when I powered on the units they would crash during boot up every time. Last night I decided to open the case and just give it a once over to see if i could spot anything obviously wrong with the components. I connected everything back up but forgot to connect the ethernet cable. The thing booted up and ran. I connected it back up to the network and could access my movie library. I decided to power off, and boot up again while connected to the network and the thing crashed again as before. I disconnected so i could get the thing running and updated the FW from USB and now it runs again perfectly. I have no idea how the previous FW worked for almost 2 years then all of a sudden give me problems.

On a side note, i did the same steps on my other broken A-200 and for the most part it works except I always have to boot while disconnected from the network. Once its up and running, then I can reconnect it and access my library. I can put it in standby and wake it and have no problems. its only issue is while powering down and turning back on. This was the unit that I sent back to syabas (not sure if it was refurbed or replaced) becasue it studdered like crazy while streaming over the network. Direct play via USB was fine. When i got the unit back it was fine for a few months but then the studdering came back. I would update the FW or revert it to a previous version becasue i found out that it would fix my problem although it was only a temporary fix cause the symptoms would always reappear after a few days. eventually, the FW updates stopped working for me. The new FW that i used on both devices is newer then the previous versions I was using. I know that this makes no sense and I cant logically explain why this is happening but I swear im not making this stuff up.

What confuses me is why something would work for almost 2 years than out of the blue just stop working but then work again after a FW update is beyond me. It definately appears that my units have some sort of networking issue. I dont think its my network itself because everything else connected to it runs flawlessly. Plus, it not like a FW update is going to alter my network settings so if it didnt work before the FW flash, it shouldnt start working after. And if it works after the flash, it should continue to work as long as i dont touch anything. Also, having 2 A-200s set up exactly the same, with the exception of their static IPs being different, exibit different behavior which is network related makes me think that network interface on the units are more tempermental than just the gigabit - 10/100 deal.

I never thought to send the units back for service becasue the one that i did send out still had problems so i figured whats the point. Im not aware of any power spikes (all my other electronics are fine) or outages (well we lost power for 2 days after hurricane sandy but thats the only outage ive had at my house in the 5 years ive been here), they get enough ventilation (its in a large media cabinet and the PCH only runs with my receiver but both are on a low shelf and the back of the cabinet is open and we usually prop open the doors) and both the power cords are fine.

It looks like im in a good spot, for now. Im hoping that it stays this way but i guess only time will tell.

...After reading this back i can just imagine all the people rolling their eyes saying to themselves "this dude is a complete moron and has no clue what hes doing"
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01-12-2013, 04:01 PM (This post was last modified: 01-12-2013 04:03 PM by werner.)
Post: #6
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
first I would replace the network cable and I also would look if you changed something on the switch or router or if the switch or router is maybe faulty, it wouldn't be the first were network devices break because of faulty network equipment.

I don't think that someone thinks that you are a moron.
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01-12-2013, 07:47 PM
Post: #7
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
The moron's are the ones that don't say what is wrong or ask for help, they just complain over and over and over again. Your posts are actually very indepth, informative and very clear what you have tried, where your seeing problems and if there are any ways to work around them... You can't ask for anything more in a help post as it offers clues for someone that might have had the same issue to comment how they fixed it or knowing what doesn't work to fix it.

I vaguely remember others saying a similar problem but it's been awhile and I don't fully recall if/how they fixed it.

I would try a different network cable. I woudl try to use a known good cable like from a computer or maybe there's a device/tv/somethign you purchased with a cable you never used in the box still. If your house is wired and there is an in wall wire with a jack, it could be that wire that's a problem and not your little patch cable.

Second I would try a different switch. maybe you can visit family or your it department at work can help. a local store with a good return policy is also handy because you can get something newer and if it works you have your fix and replacement switch. If it doesn't you can return it and know it's not your existing network. If you do go the route of trying a new swtich, don't get a dlink they are known to be problems with the 200 series and when they die they act funny and if you have a dlink I'd lean towards the switch/router you have is dying.

last is free to do but more timely, firmware recover the unit. it's a pita on the a200 because to upgrade back to the current you have to hand update every firmware that's newer thant he recovery image or you get errors trying to update. it can be a whole day of download firmware, update the unit, repeat for hte next version.
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01-12-2013, 08:27 PM
Post: #8
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
(01-12-2013 04:01 PM)werner Wrote:  first I would replace the network cable and I also would look if you changed something on the switch or router or if the switch or router is maybe faulty, it wouldn't be the first were network devices break because of faulty network equipment.

I don't think that someone thinks that you are a moron.

I appreciate the input but nothing has changed on the network end. Plus, when I was testing both units, I basically unplugged the PSU, ethernet and HDMI cables from the first unit and connected them into the second. So the connections were shared for both units but they exibited different behavior. That to me suggests an issue with the PCH rather than the network. If it was my network that was faulty, then I would expect both units to experience the same problems. Plus, no other devices connected to my network have any problems.
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01-12-2013, 08:58 PM (This post was last modified: 01-12-2013 08:59 PM by accident.)
Post: #9
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
(01-12-2013 08:27 PM)bojangles13 Wrote:  I appreciate the input but nothing has changed on the network end. Plus, when I was testing both units, I basically unplugged the PSU, ethernet and HDMI cables from the first unit and connected them into the second. So the connections were shared for both units but they exibited different behavior. That to me suggests an issue with the PCH rather than the network. If it was my network that was faulty, then I would expect both units to experience the same problems. Plus, no other devices connected to my network have any problems.

that's why I'm kind of leaning towards the firmware recovery. That's the best way to wipe out the firmware, put it back in clean and make sure it's not the software that work for evreyone else. the 2 units does make this a little more complicated though.

I also wouldn't take the narrow view of nothing changed. it could be the port on your switch that's bad, it could be when you moved the cable it has a loose end or a break in the center that's shifted. To really troubleshoot why the network is doing this, you do have to get a little more extreme with how you test it. It could be your brand, model and hardware revision that is the problem.

The hard part for syabas here is they don't have this problem happening in their offices. They can't debug a problem if they can't make it happen. Now if you had contacted support for a replacement, they would have swapped out your unit and had one of them to look into it more. It's another advantage to contacting support.

I woudl still contact support now, they might be interested in getting your units to see what's going on still or maybe your the first to experience a problem all teh rest of the units sold are about to have.

BTW: I'm near newark airport, are you close by? I do have the cables, hardware, tvs and things here to really test out and look at what's going on.
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01-13-2013, 02:47 PM
Post: #10
RE: DO I stick with a PCH or give DUNE a try?
(01-12-2013 08:58 PM)accident Wrote:  that's why I'm kind of leaning towards the firmware recovery. That's the best way to wipe out the firmware, put it back in clean and make sure it's not the software that work for evreyone else. the 2 units does make this a little more complicated though.

I also wouldn't take the narrow view of nothing changed. it could be the port on your switch that's bad, it could be when you moved the cable it has a loose end or a break in the center that's shifted. To really troubleshoot why the network is doing this, you do have to get a little more extreme with how you test it. It could be your brand, model and hardware revision that is the problem.

The hard part for syabas here is they don't have this problem happening in their offices. They can't debug a problem if they can't make it happen. Now if you had contacted support for a replacement, they would have swapped out your unit and had one of them to look into it more. It's another advantage to contacting support.

I woudl still contact support now, they might be interested in getting your units to see what's going on still or maybe your the first to experience a problem all teh rest of the units sold are about to have.

BTW: I'm near newark airport, are you close by? I do have the cables, hardware, tvs and things here to really test out and look at what's going on.

Im a bit of a hike from you since im down in Lanoka Harbor which is just south of Toms River. Anyways, Ive also got an extra switch, router, cables and TVs to test with. I still dont think its a network issue though. Follow my logic with me. I have unit 1 connected to an ethernet jack through a patch cable (btw, this is not a home made patch cable but rather one that i either bought or came with another piece of hardware). I try and boot the 1st unit and it crashes. I disconnect the 1st unit and instead swap it with the 2nd unit. Im using the same ethernet jack and the same patch cable. Once connected, the 2nd unit works perfecty. I disconnect the 2nd unit and reconnect the 1st and it still doesnt work. Reconnect the 2nd and it works, etc... One would expect that if there were a break in the cable or a loose end or a dead switch port then the problem wouldnt just occur only with the 1st unit. The cabling or switch port shouldnt be a problem since the issue is not repeatable on the 2nd unit. Thats straight up debugging 101. For the hell of it though ill bring all my stuff into my basement so that i can connect both my PCH and NAS directly into my router and hook into my TV down there to see if the problem still exists. Im highly doubtful though because again, if it were a problem with the cabling or my router or my switch, then my 2nd unit shouldnt be able to boot either.

Think of it like this, if you build a PC and you keep blue screening so you replace the RAM and the blue screens go away, you know that its the memory modules that are faulty. now think if you called the memory manufacturer and they kept telling you that its not the memory and maybe its the mem controller on your motherboard or that your PSU isnt providing a stable output or the mem clock isnt stable. Clearly you could factor out all those issues becaue if it were a faulty controller, PSU or clock, then the repacement RAM would exhibit the same behavior. See what im getting at. This isnt my first go around having to debug stuff. Even though it was over 10 years ago, i spent many hours in the lab at school debugging projects for my computer engineering classes so im somewhwat familar in how to factor out non-issues and narrow down where a problem may lie.

I understand what you are saying about sybas not being able to replicate my problem but what irritates me is that even when i had to send back my first unit becasue it studdered like crazy, i was told over and over again that its was my network and not the unit itself. It wasnt until i bought the 2nd unit and told them the 2nd unit works did they finally admit that it could be a problem with the PCH. Also I have no interest in sending any unit back cause the first time i did that, i sent out a broken unit and received a broken unit in return.

Dont think im directing any bad feelings toward you. I know that youre trying to help and im extreemly appreacative. As far as i can tell you dont work for syabas but yet your taking you time out of your day to help a complete stranger.
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