Raspberry Pi 3 B as Media Center

Over the weekend experimented with OpenELEC Linux flavor for Raspberry Pi 1 B. Experimented with wired and wireless connection options, unfortunately in all cases performance was very laggy on high quality HD movies, if 720p was ok in some cases, 1080 was never played at an acceptable level. I compare it with Intel NUC which I setup for media center some time ago and now using it for different purposes – comparison is very bleak, if NUC is fully capable as media center, from playing music and movies to viewing vacation photos then RPi only able to play music somewhat ok. Still I have used Xonar USB audio because embedded sound produced noticeable static when playing music.

I understand that I compare something that costs ~600 EUR to something around ~50 EUR and it does not seem fair.. Anyways, I decided to give a shot at newer model of Raspberry Pi – model 3 B. Just ordered it at http://www.modmypi.com/raspberry-pi/set-up-kits/rpi3-model-b-kits/supreme-kit-including-raspberry-pi-3-model-b. Will update this post once I get my hands on what is in the kit, here is the list I got in my mailbox, accompanying my order:

Supreme Kit Including NEW Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
– Includes Raspberry Pi: Raspberry Pi 3 B **R..
– Raspberry Pi Case: Raspberry Pi Foundat..
– Select Case Colour: Official Black and G..
– Micro SD Card Size: 8GB w/ Official Adap..
– Power Supply Select: Black Universal 5V 2..
– Video Cable Select: HDMI – Black – 2m **..
– USB Cable Select: Standard – Black – 1..
– RJ45 Cable Select: Black – 2m **CAB-000..
– Keyboard & Mouse Select: Wireless – Ultra-Min..

It Has Arrived!

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Please note that Asus Xonar U3 was not part of the package, I use this external audio card in conjunction with Raspberry because Pi’s internal audio has too much interference and the situation did not change for the better with this newer model, sound output is as noisy as it was on RPi 1.

This new model came with 8GB flash card that had NOOBS installed on it. I have selected OSMC from the list of possible operating systems and installed it. Please note that you have to plug the wire into the Ethernet socket in order to get some other OS different from Raspbian, this is because NOOBS will download the needed OS from Internet, which would have been possible with WiFi too but unfortunately NOOBS does not support wireless and it seems it won’t get such support in foreseeable future, so get your Ethernet ready before powering on the RPi.

What was interesting about the package is this: Rii mini wireless keyboard with touchpad (and laser pointer). From previous experience with standalone media players running Linux, sometimes problems happen that require mouse and keyboard to be hooked to the player in order to fix the issue, so previously I was taking the devices from my workstation, plugging those into the player, fixing the issue and plugging the devices back to the workstation. Not anymore! Rii is going to be very close to the RPi device, always ready to intervene in case of an issue that cannot be solved with Kodi Remote (using Kore on Android phone).

Verdict

IT FREAKING PLAYS EVERYTHING WITHOUT ISSUES!

You can configure anything and everything, as I mentioned above I am using additional sound card with RPi and I had no issues setting the sound output to the card instead of RPi analog output or my TV’s HDMI. There was slight annoyance though – I had to increase buffer size because some particularly large videos were not playing smoothly. Just create file called advancedsettings.xml with this code:



1
100000000
4.0


And copy the created file to /home/osmc/.kodi/userdata/. Just mind that you have to SSH into your RPi running OSMC and create file there, not on your workstation :) Login / pass for default OSMC installation is osmc / osmc.

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