I’ve had my rev. B+ Raspberry Pi for just over a year since it’s release. When i got it I had a few projects on the go, including a sickbeard/sabnzbd/couchpotato server and a few media centres. At the time I had XBMC Frodo running on my Apple TV 1 via Crystalbuntu and on my ATV2 by Jailbreaking & installing. Both solutions worked perfectly so the unstable XBMC on the Pi wasn’t really worth pursuing. Also I had issues controlling with a keyboard & a Flirc when the ATV’s utilized the ATV remote so well.
Since then, in April 2014 I put all of my belongings into storage, with the exception of a few bits of clothing & my iMac. The point of this was to stay with family, clear off all of my student debt & plan for a big relocation. The debt has gone & the house hunt is underway, but in that time I’ve only had my iMac. I’ve been able to update XBMC right through the change to Kodi and up to the latest version without any issues. I’ve now got my stuff out of storage and realised that Crystalbuntu hasn’t been updated to kodi so the ATV1 is out (I use a lot of add ons which require later versions of Kodi) and the ATV2 is shocking using Kodi. it’s slow, laggy & drops frames. So out came the Pi for an experiment.
I first tried with OSMC Alpha 4, which was quick but did not play well with my Edimax 7711UN USB wifi adaptor. The built in wifi config tool doesn’t work. I setup my wifi with connman but after each reboot I had to go into terminal and reconnect. The connection kept dropping and it wasn’t ideal. I decided to give Openelec another go. I used this back in 2013 and whilst it worked it was much slower than Raspbmc. I installed Openelec on my Class 10 32GB Sandisk SD and I’m so surprised how quick it is now.
Whilst the installer is less friendly than that of OSMC (OSMC uses a handy gui based application while Openelec relies on terminal) the overall experience is excellent. It boots from power on to Kodi in seconds. After setting up my NFS shares and scanning & scraping all of my media to the library I started using Kodi via Openelec. The menus are pretty snappy. A little bit of lag navigating around the UI but considering it’s only a 700MHz single core ARM chipset I’m more than happy with it. The built in Openelec config tool is amazing. I was able to visually scan for my wifi network, select it and connect. And that’s it. I haven’t had to touch the config since. It maintains a connection and my install has been up for 2 weeks solid without a single crash. Initial loading times of media are excellent & I’ve not experienced any issues at all streaming my media from my local network. I have a lot of my Blu Rays on my NAS as 1080p MKV files and I’m able to stream them at full framerate without any dropped frames at all. Considering this is over Wifi I’m very impressed.
The first movie I watched from start to finish was Point Break. This is a 25GB MKV file with 5.1 audio and full 1080p resolution. I watched it start to finish without a single blip. I was stunned. The hardware decoding is a dream & after messing with the colour settings on my TV I’m really happy with the picture quality & colours. Also the sound appears to be much better than either of my Apple TV’s. The 802.11N Edimax 7711UN wifi adaptor worked really well streaming this from my NAS.
I also use the youtube addon a lot. We watch quite a lot of daily & travel vloggers in our household & the little Openelec Pi can handle everything. I’ve updated a few times since installing Openelec and each update has worked flawlessly. I love this setup. Unlike the ATV2 which relied on a jailbreak, this is 100% supported by Openelec. No hacking required. The playback performance is superb & I couldn’t be happier.
I was initially put off by the lack of decent remote support on the Pi, but I invested in a great wireless keyboard aimed at media centre users called the Rii i8 which I reviewed here. The keyboard is the ideal companion and the setup I have now is superb. Using a keyboard has the benefits of having a full keyboard in your hands as opposed to using the on screen keyboard. A wonderful bonus when searching using text. Another great advantage is the fact that it uses 2.4GHz RF instead of IR so no line of sight required. It means that I’ve rear mounted the Pi on the back of our Samsung TV and it makes the setup even more seamless.
I can’t wait to see where this project goes & I’m really excited to see how quick the UI runs on the quad core Raspberry Pi 2. the extra RAM will also help. I’ve got one on order so will update you in the future.
In the meantime, grab a Raspberry Pi And install Kodi.