When the first Raspberry Pi was introduced, you could hear the Linux community cheer formally. A mini-PC, just as big as a credit card, but has all the essentials to take a variety of tasks, and all for just a few euros. Under the tinkerers popularity is unbroken since then, some use even 5, 10 or even more Raspberry Pis simultaneously.
However, if you can start with Linux development and the like nothing, usually makes a bow to the Micro PC. It is already the first generation was suitable also very good as a little cheaper multimedia player, but who also had a few weaknesses. The recently published Raspberry Pi 2 now offers a multiple of performance and therefore should be even better suited as a multimedia center, right?
I got me to ado a Raspberry Pi 2 nabbed including housing and wanted to try what you can do with it as to know about even without dealing with Linux times.
But let’s start at the technical data of the Pi 2:
Processor: Broadcom BCM2836 (ARM Cortex-A7), 4x 900MHz
GPU: Broadcom Video Core IV
Memory: 1GB RAM
Drives / Card Reader: SD-card slot
Network: 10/100 Ethernet jack
Connectors: HDMI, audio out, 4 x USB 2.0
Size: 85.6 x 53.98 x 17 mm
It has done a lot, especially the stronger processor makes itself felt.
I wanted a Media Player. One that can do everything, the best locally, from the network and, of course, streamed via online portal. Of course, cheap, quick to set up and easy to use, so the famous panacea. If it works?
Here before the first minor obstacle: Up to 2 Pi itself there is nothing in the box. So a micro SD card (min. 2GB), a housing and a USB power supply at least 1A and 5V, it is best to order directly if not available. Even an HDMI cable you need, of course. This drives up the price again up slightly, but is still acceptable. Then you have to opt for one of the many Kodi / XBMC distributions. For me the choice was made on the recommendation of an acquaintance on Xbian. Xbian is a ready-furnished Distribution, primarily the media center contains, in this case, Kodi.
Let’s get to the actual device. What is needed is just a PC or notebook with micro SD slot or a corresponding (USB) adapter. Whether running on the PC Windows, Linux or Mac OS does not matter. In order to install Xbian you invite just down the installer and unzip the file. Then inserts the micro SD card into the Micro SD slot of your notebook or PC, launch the installer and select the Xbian version and the destination. In general, here’s all preset properly respects only reflect exactly that the target is correctly specified with your SD card. Now just to confirm the installer does the rest.
Then you take the Micro-SD card and puts it in your Raspberry Pi 2, puts the Pi to a monitor or TV and then connects to the stream. The Pi 2 will start automatically when the power cord is connected. After the first start you Kodi leads through the first steps of the establishment. A network cable is not mandatory, for network or online streaming but course beneficial). Alternatively, a WLAN stick can be used.
Who 2 connects the Raspberry Pi directly on TV, has a great advantage: If the television HDMI-CEC support, the Pi 2 can be completely controlled via the TV remote. Otherwise a keyboard is least needed. Overall, the operation is simple and, above all, intuitive. Everything is there, where I would expect it, so it just goes out of hand. The Settings menu you need only rarely, if at all.
Alternatively, Kodi also control via smartphone and Kodi Remote App. Although I reach out of habit rather for the TV remote control, but control via smartphone works as simple – you just have to make sure that Smartphone and Raspberry Pi 2 in the same network.
Infected USB flash drives or network storage recognized Xbian problems automatically, with one exception: use external hard drives to a Y cable for the power supply did not recognize my Raspberry Pi 2. Probably the hard drive called too much power from the USB port, even if the second USB cable was connected to a power supply. Hard drives with its own power supply worked then but problems.
But now the most important: Can the Raspberry Pi 2 everything I had hoped for? Let’s start with local media: Here everything is up to full-HD video with surround sound easily and fluently. The only potential bottleneck: The 100Mbit LAN connection, but I’m here with my needs and the exception :). In principle, the little plays pretty much everything. Whether HD video in H.264 format, simple Xvid, MPEG4 or MPEG2 video, MP3 or FLAC audio, etc. For current formats up to full-HD material in Blu-ray quality so it is easily sufficient. 4K video or new HEVC or H.265 codec overwhelm the Raspberry Pi 2, however. The reason is that no hardware acceleration is available for these formats, so that the processor has to take over the calculation.
For online streaming only need to install the respective services. These Kodi provides directly the respective packages to download. What I miss here, however, are streaming portals like Netflix, Sky Go, max cathedrals etc. Available are primarily free services like YouTube or the various libraries of TV channels. The desired all-in-one solution, it is in terms of streaming platforms so ever not. Even after a long search I could not find a solution for this. Who can do without it, but it gets a very potent and effective solution to this his media collection of photos, music and movies to play and also to use various libraries.
Even though I was a bit skeptical about whether a Linux-based streaming solution is right for me, the little experiment leaves a positive impression. Although not everything works as hoped, but the setup and use is so simple that it is in principle everyone should get. The picture and sound quality is true of small runs stably without any problems and will disappear thanks to the small size just behind the TV.
In terms of value for the Raspberry Pi 2 plugged in any case all other pure media player in your pocket. Only in terms of sustainability, there is of me a slight downgrade No H.265 / HEVC support, no 4K, etc. But that is to absorb everything in terms of the low price. Another minus point is still the lack of services such as Netflix, hopefully there is a solution soon.