Years ago, I was into home PC DVRs with many tuners, lots of storage, and awesome PC-based playback throughout the house. I started with Beyond TV and when they quit developing new home user features began the switch to SageTV. I ripped all my movies (DVD, Blu-Ray) to an SMB network share (SageTV worked with these). Then Google came along and purchased SageTV and promptly killed it before I was able to switch over from PCs to their set-top boxes.

I'm interested in restarting this home project so that my movie collection is available without a PC, so I'd like a good STB to play them. I prefer to store them in (unencrypted) native format so that menus are intact and no additional compression artifacts have been introduced (not to mention the extra time and computing power required for recompression). Currently I have everything in folders (with VIDEO_TS or BDMV subfolders with standard files inside), but I might be convinced to switch to single-file .ISO format. I'd also like my family to be able to use the devices when I'm not around, so a high WAF is a must. So to summarize, my requirements are as follows:

  • Pre-built set-top box with remote control (PCs are too bulky/power-hungry and DIY is too much work)
  • At least 1080p playback with output that can be easily converted to HDMI
  • Can play either native DVD and Blu-Ray folders with menus or ISO disk image files
  • At least a moderately high WAF, ie. simple to use playback interface (adding new shows need not necessarily be so simple)
  • Low cost (preferably less than $50, but the WAF is probably of greater weight)

Bonus for:

  • Netflix player
  • Wired network connection in addition to wireless
  • 4K+ support
  • Smartphone remote control
  • Parental controls (I won't be needing this but I have lots of people who do ask me for advice on these types of things)

P.S. If there is a plugin for a popular STB that adds this functionality, that would be great too, especially Roku (I already have a Roku 2--the old Roku 2, not the new Roku 2!).

1 Answer 1


It's been forever, but last year I installed Plex (on Linux, though it's available on Windows too). Being a mostly-windows guy, setup wasn't nearly as painful as I was expecting. I spent far more time setting up SAMBA as well as organizing my collection than setting up Plex. Plex supports 4K and has a very slick and capable Roku app, as well as phone apps. I have TCL TVs, so they have Roku built-in, which is very convenient. Roku has smartphone and smartwatch remotes. Plex parental controls aren't great, but are there. For bonuses I didn't even ask for, Plex does on-the-fly transcoding and is publicly-accessible, so even without a VPN, I can access my collection when I'm on vacation (as long as I have a decent internet connection). Keeping DVD/BD menus intact wasn't a deal breaker for me, and I'm not sure if that's possible in Plex or not at this point.

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