Question about HTPC setup for parents

I am looking for a somewhat cheap, yet, easy (if it exists) HTPC for my parents.

I was thinking about a RaspberryPi 3, with OSMC. It would be hooked up to the TV directly via HDMI, with an external drive holding all the media plugged into the Pi via USB.

Most of the media is mkv files, some of them pretty big (high quality, high bitrate) files, and I am wondering if OSMC/Pi could handle it?

My parents currently have an older computer that is hooked to the TV via network, but the TV doesn’t suport many formats, and thus requires the computer to try and transcode everything. The computer can’t handle it, and thus, they are unable to watch most of the media they have.

An example media:

Unique ID : 223437692056723884181354198506919775514 (0xA81888C04303A0E894E37E9BE6214D1A)
Complete name : \TV Shows\Band of Brothers\Season 01\Band.of.Brothers.s01e01.Currahee.1080p.BluRay.mkv
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 2
File size : 11.5 GiB
Duration : 1 h 13 min
Overall bit rate : 22.4 Mb/s
Encoded date : UTC 2011-10-19 19:54:53
Writing application : mkvmerge v5.0.1 (‘Es ist Sommer’) built on Oct 9 2011 11:55:43
Writing library : libebml v1.2.2 + libmatroska v1.3.0

ID : 1
Format : AVC
Format/Info : Advanced Video Codec
Format profile : High@L4.1
Format settings, CABAC : Yes
Format settings, ReFrames : 4 frames
Duration : 1 h 13 min
Bit rate : 21.0 Mb/s
Width : 1 920 pixels
Height : 1 080 pixels
Display aspect ratio : 16:9
Frame rate mode : Constant
Frame rate : 23.976 (24000/1001) FPS
Color space : YUV
Chroma subsampling : 4:2:0
Bit depth : 8 bits
Scan type : Progressive
Bits/(Pixel*Frame) : 0.422
Stream size : 10.5 GiB (91%)
Title : x264
Writing library : x264 core 118 r2085 8a62835
Encoding settings : cabac=1 / ref=4 / deblock=1:-3:-3 / analyse=0x3:0x113 / me=tesa / subme=11 / psy=1 / psy_rd=1.00:0.00 / mixed_ref=1 / me_range=48 / chroma_me=1 / trellis=2 / 8x8dct=1 / cqm=0 / deadzone=21,11 / fast_pskip=0 / chroma_qp_offset=-2 / threads=6 / sliced_threads=0 / nr=0 / decimate=0 / interlaced=0 / bluray_compat=0 / constrained_intra=0 / bframes=7 / b_pyramid=2 / b_adapt=2 / b_bias=0 / direct=3 / weightb=1 / open_gop=0 / weightp=2 / keyint=250 / keyint_min=23 / scenecut=40 / intra_refresh=0 / rc_lookahead=250 / rc=2pass / mbtree=1 / bitrate=21000 / ratetol=1.0 / qcomp=0.70 / qpmin=0 / qpmax=69 / qpstep=4 / cplxblur=20.0 / qblur=0.5 / vbv_maxrate=38000 / vbv_bufsize=30000 / nal_hrd=none / ip_ratio=1.40 / aq=1:0.60
Language : English
Default : Yes
Forced : No

ID : 2
Format : DTS
Format/Info : Digital Theater Systems
Mode : 16
Format settings, Endianness : Big
Codec ID : A_DTS
Duration : 1 h 13 min
Bit rate mode : Constant
Bit rate : 1 509 kb/s
Channel(s) : 6 channels
Channel positions : Front: L C R, Side: L R, LFE
Sampling rate : 48.0 kHz
Frame rate : 93.750 FPS (512 spf)
Bit depth : 16 bits
Compression mode : Lossy
Stream size : 790 MiB (7%)
Title : DTS 5.1
Language : English
Default : Yes
Forced : No

ID : 3
Format : UTF-8
Codec ID : S_TEXT/UTF8
Codec ID/Info : UTF-8 Plain Text
Title : English
Language : English
Default : No
Forced : No

00:00:00.000 : en:Invasion Postponed
00:08:26.256 : en:Anything But Easy
00:23:44.340 : en:Paratrooper Certification
00:33:34.846 : en:Off to England
00:42:35.511 : en:Trial By Court-Martial
00:52:14.882 : en:D-Day Preparations

If I’m understanding you correctly, the current setup has the files hosted on a PC, and they are basically using the TV as a media center playing the files over the network from the PC. The problem isn’t that the TV can’t handle 1080P, but can’t handle the mkv file.

If that’s the case, then a Pi 3 (or Vero 4K) should do the trick.

Yeah. though I think they had issues with some MP4 files, but don’t remember (not at their place right now to verify). It had plex on the computer as the server, and the plex app on the TV itself. I had tried to optimize the files (have plex transcodes the files ahead of time), but that didn’t seem to help.

So yeah, was looking to move everything, including the media files themselves, to the Pi/USB External HDD and hook that up directly to the TV via HDMI (so that the TV isn’t the media center anymore). But I wasn’t sure if the Pi supports the MKV container, or if the Pi wasn’t powerful enough to handle high bitrate files.

The Pi is capable of handling 1080P just fine. If you are thinking of higher quality 4K, and you should look into the Vero 4K instead.

MKV and MP4 files are no problem whatsoever to OSMC.

hmm, this looks interesting. They won’t have any 4k stuff, but this also solves the remote problem (better than a keyboard that they were going to use), and would be able to handle anything in the future. THanks!

Future proofing is always good :wink:

Would not underwrite that without limitations as it clearly depends on the codec being used.

It is all h264/x264 (i don’t touch h265/x265 yet) and 8bit (parents don’t watch anime which seems like the type of media that uses 10bit the most). Has a mix of DTS/AC3 audio streams.

Just wanted to say thanks. I would have missed the 4k without you mentioning it. After some research into this, I am buying this now.