Saturday, 28 June 2014

MediaPortal vs XBMC

In a moment of weakness, I installed XMBC Gotham (13.1) to see what had changed since I used version 12. I was also interested in the MediaBrowser XBMB3C Add-On that integrates MediaBrowser right into XBMC.

We've been having occasional freezes and crashes in MediaPortal clients over the past few weeks so I guess I'm also on the lookout for something that might bring a little more stability.

Given I have MediaBrowser and ArgusTV running on my TvServer, it's actually pretty straightforward to swap client software and I was up and running with Aeon MQ5 MB3 skin pretty quickly providing access to all my existing TV, recordings, media etc.

Initially, I found it very slick and it brought me back to the sheer extensibility and power of XBMC. I was also able to set it up in an identical fashion on both my Macs and PCs, a luxury I don't have with MediaPortal which is windows only.

sharp footballers through MediaPortal
Given it's first games in the 'round of 16' at the world cup, I settled down to watch Brazil vs Chile through XBMC. It quickly became clear that something was wrong, On kickouts, the ball streaked across the screen, leaving a trail like a comet. Players were blurry, almost to the point of standard definition. And studio discussion looked like it was dropping frames. Something very odd was up.

To make sure it wasn't my TV, I switched back to MediaPortal. All was well. Everything was crisp and clear. I've spent a good deal of the evening playing about with XBMC de-interlacing and video settings but got nowhere near to matching the quality of the playback I have in MediaPortal. I came across an old thread on XBMC forums indicating that this is an issue going back to the early stages of PVR development in XBMC and derives from the fact that xbmc does not make use of directshow features.

I found a DSPlayer build that purports to address this by allowing use of LAVfilters, FFDShow etc. but unfortunately, it does not seem to work with ArgusTV (no TV content would play for me). In addition, XBMC ArgusTV plugin does not support series record or other advanced features that are accessible through the MediaPortal plugin.

So, even though the UI in XBMC with Aeon MQ5 looks  FANTASTIC, I think I'll keep XBMC with MediaBrowser add-on for my OSX machines only and continue running MediaPortal on the virtual Windows clients in the current build.

Now, to find out why it's a little unstable....

The rather nice Aeon MQ5 EPG

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