Overhauling a home network, part 3 -- Micca and the best-laid plans
Third in a series. Two weeks have passed since we last visited this topic, but I wanted to be fair with this next part before writing it. As you will recall from part one, I decided to replace my Windows Media Center HTPC and the NetGear NeoTV 550, because both are so old and slow. While I wanted to do so with one box, there was a major stumbling block -- most of our movies are ripped to ISO images. I would prefer a Google TV to replace both, but in the end got a Micca box to take the place of the HTPC and then still ordered a Vizio Co-Star because I simply could not resist.
Things have not gone entirely as I planned. In fact, as you may recall from part two of this series, nothing has really gone the way I had hoped.
Beauty is Skin Deep
The Micca is slim and very handsome. A SATA hard drive can easily be added from an optical drawer on the side of the box to provide built-in storage.
I knew the user interface is scant -- I saw the images on the website. That is not my concern. While Windows Media Center has a beautiful motif, I can live without it. I am looking for functionality and Micca promises to play virtually every codec, including my ISO files.
The UI is stark, but not a problem. Functionality is. First, I cannot access the HDD I added to the box from any computer on my network, meaning I cannot move video files to local storage for easier streaming. The box does allow me to access files on other computers and DLNA devices, but that is problematic -- sometimes they show up, sometimes not.
Combine these network problems with the UI and it is a recipe for failure. When my family sits down to watch something they expect everything to work. This setup does not always fill that most basic need.
So where do I go now? I will remove the HTPC. I have not done this yet because I want to test longer before disconnecting everything. I am very glad I took that approach.
I will move to the Vizio Co-Star full-time, though doing so entails some significant hassle on my part. Those ISO movie files will not play there -- I have looked for workarounds, without success. If you know of one, please chime in in the comments below -- yes, I am crowd-sourcing my problems.
Where to Now?
For lack of an ISO solution on Google TV, I face the rather daunting task of converting ISO files to AVI format. It is not difficult just very time-consuming. Thankfully I work mainly on my laptop, so to open a file on the desktop and hit a covert button periodically is not labor-intensive. Plus I will save hard drive space.
In the meantime, I will keep the Netgear NeoTV active (it plays ISO -- hint to Google) to handle those ISO movies that have not yet been converted -- just in case Indiana Jones starts calling my kids' names.
In part four, I'll look at how well Google TV can replace a dedicated HTPC -- it certainly has to be better than Micca.
Photo Credits: Alan Buckingham