User-friendly home theater setup for local media and Netflix?

Ayaname Smith

Jun 23, 2013
I'm trying to find a home theater setup that will satisfy the following requirements.

  • ■ user-friendly interface so my non-tech-savvy Mom can use
    ■ 1080p Netflix support (that's user-friendly, unlike the hacks required in XBMC)
    ■ smooth playback of local media, 1080p x264 MKV videos in 10bit aka Hi10P (now commonly used by anime fansubbers)
    ■ support Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio at least
    ■ playback of files on a NAS (ex. Synology NAS)

I've been using a Boxee Box for the past year and it's worked decently, except it does NOT support playback of 10bit videos, and it is slow (interface is lagging, seeking in videos is slow, etc.)

I've recently tried running XBMC on a ZOTAC ZBOX ID83 (Core i3 3120M 2.5GHz). Local media playback including 10bit anime worked great, but Netflix support seems lacking. Also, the ZBOX died on me after 2 months. :(

Any suggestions for what's the best setup for my requirements? It can be either a set top box that works out of the box, or a small form factor computer running some kind of media center software.

Thanks in advance for your help.
what about a ps3 or soon to be ps4?

the only thing it doesnt do is play h264 mkv files. they can be converted though.

a bit more limited but its not too hard to figure out... the only thing easier is a roku but that doesnt do much else than netflix and other streaming its not an option.


what about a windows 7 media center pc?

it may be a little more complicated than a ps3 or other box however it adds quite a bit more options as well as perfect playback of pretty much anything you throw at it. i know netflix has a plugin and it doesnt look to complex as far as i can tell.

as a bonus they can surf the web to check email, youtube, news, stocks, or anything else.