Geek Freely: harmony

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    Showing posts with label harmony.

    Showing posts with label harmony.

    The Hardware

    After approximately 10 years of using XBMC, the old name for Kodi, I have tried a variety of hardware end-points.

    Always searching for the best bang for my buck. My conclusion is the Chromebox, I have a single

    and I am considering replacing my Pi’s with two more Chromeboxes. Raspberry Pi’s are nice and all, but they just don’t have the grunt, you are constantly modifying settings and over-clocking. The Asus Chromebox is a no hassle Kodi player.

    It’s silent, powerful, and it comes at the great price ~$160.

    Now I know a lot of people will be saying the Pi is cheaper, but let’s be honest – you need to spend at least $95. For that you get, the

    (~$45),

    (~$10),

    (~$10),

    (~$15) – and that doesn’t even include cables or a power supply, because you may have it lying around.

    The only question about the Chromebox is to consider which version. Some will , and some will give you , and of course some will give you both.  I have a basic , but am tempted by the

    for the AC network adapter.  provided some insightful comments on the Chromebox support of 4k and Wireless AC. AC network support can be gained in the cheaper Asus box with the , and there appears to be no difference in 4k support between models, however I had previously read the i5 would be required for 4k.

    Update: Some other readers noticed hardware omissions, I’d love to hear feedback on other hardware users have had success with, but a comparison always helps.  Here are a few I would love some more performance comparisons on:

    The Software

    There are a bunch of approaches, with the only real restriction being the hardware your running it on. I have tried the following:

    If you have ever read any of my , it will be no surprise that OpenELEC is the clear winner for me.

    The Remote

    For me this was a simple decision, nothing fancy here – I have tried a variety of solutions.

    At this time I am using the USB receiver from a

    and USB IR receiver I purchased for my initial XBMC HTPC, I have programmed my to send MCE commands – and that’s it. You could also use and have IR commands converted to keyboard commands – which gives you a lot of flexibility (I used to have a remote button programmed to send “w”, to update watched status quickly.)

    Update: One attentive reader, , noted the omission of . Utilizing the CEC adapter leverages your current TV remote to take care of the basic HTPC functionality. I personally find I want a few more buttons, but if you need the basics this is certainly worth investigating.

    The Installation and Configuration

    So you have your hardware and software, all you need to do now is install the software and you are ready to enjoy your music and home movies!

    I created a

    some time ago based on several different sources, but  has an

    that is a much better resource than my dated post.

    provides a simple installation script for running, after you have prepared the hardware, and the guide also recommends settings and covers some known issues.

    The Extras

    Personally, since I run three of these boxes in my house I like to have a synchronized library, providing watched/un-watched/resume status throughout the house. . Kodi is certainly moving towards a shared library implementation using UPNP – but I’m not sure it is quite there yet.

    I got sucked into the internet of things some time ago, Philips Hue bulbs is what sparked my interest. This then turned into checking out IFTTT, which led to Belkin WeMo’s being purchased. I obviously use a media center, so I purchased the Harmony Ultimate – and gained some hue control.

    All these devices and no real common communication between them. Don’t get me wrong IFTTT is nice, but it also doesn’t play with everything. Step in SmartThings hub which can speak to ZigBee and Z-Wave, as well as the Hue hub – things get a little better.

    Having had this setup for months, consisting of the following:

    I can safely say I’m happy and I have a few automated activities setup, but I guess the worst thing is the range right now.

    My router is in my basement and it appears that the network is getting busy – I wonder how much g/n, Z-Wave, ZigBee traffic I can handle on my air-waves???

    I think I am hitting a limit.

    I am currently seeing issues with range in my WeMo’s. If my WeMo insight on my first floor is on, my 2nd floor bedroom devices aren’t detected – if I switch the first floor insight off and give it a minute, I see the previous problematic devices in the app again – I don’t believe this to be Belkin related, just network congestion/interference.

    Belkin decided to use standard Wi-Fi rather than ZigBee or Z-wave, and they “cheaped” out using G over N.  I have considered moving to Zigbee, because while they have a shorter range than Z-Wave, my Hue bulbs use ZigBee – and just list Z-wave, Zigbee creates a besh network for extending overall range.

    It does seem that Z-wave is far more popular than Zigbee.

    I have also considered if making changes at the router, I am wondering if purchasing an AC wireless router would improve anything???  I know I will be still using G, but will my transmission power be better?

    In summary, I’m an early adopter and I am happy with what I have gained. While some of the devices were expensive, I invest to make the future brighter for everyone. Hopefully we learn going forward.  Interested in what Google’s purchase of Nest will have on Google’s future in home automation.

    Does anyone have any tips or experiences about their own automation solutions?

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