Survey Results and Status - Plex Blog

Survey Results and Status

| 23 Apr 2008 | by 37 Comments

We’ve gotten over 1200 responses on the survey, and I wanted to start by just thanking everyone for taking the time to complete it (and cullman for suggesting the idea and writing the survey)! We learned a lot, and will use this information as we move towards 1.0, in terms of features and bug-fixes.

First of all, let’s look at the demographics. Here are the top five countries; I’m amazed at how many people are in Sweden (unless Pike was busy clicking).

The next countries were Canada (62 results), Germany (49), Spain (45), Norway (41), France (31), Denmark (30), and Finland (27). The long tail drops off, and we had one respondent each from Slovenia, Thailand, Taiwan, Qatar, and Jamaica (and others).
Moving on to looking at the results:
  • What kind of Mac do you plan to use as your primary OSXBMC machine? 64% of you have a Mac Mini, 11% have Macbook, 11% have Macbook Pro, 7% have iMac, 3% have Mac Pro. That’s in line with what we were expecting, although I think I was surprised that over a fifth of you are using laptops.
  • How much RAM does your Mac have? Most people here (66%) have 2GB or more, which means lot of room for a decode buffer. (Even those with only 1GB will be able to store quite a few decompressed frames).
  • Do you have multiple displays connected to your computer? We were surprised to learn that 25% of you do connect multiple displays. This means that we need to make sure that secondary/multiple screen support is solid.
  • What kind of display do you plan to use as your primary OSXBMC display? A full 75% of you will be connecting to some sort of TV (48% to an LCD). 8% use a projector, 8% use built-in display, and only 8 of you use a CRT monitor.
  • What kind of audio set up do you plan on using OSXBMC with? The majority (58%) of you make a digital connection to a receiver. Another 20% use analog connection to TV speakers or receiver. The rest use built-in speakers (6%), or external computer speakers (8%).
  • Keyboard you plan to use? 55% Bluetooth or other wireless, 22% none, 16% built-in.
  • Mouse you plan to use? 57% Bluetooth or other wireless, 24% none, 18% wired or built-in.
  • Network connection you plan to use with OSXBMC? 54% use wired connections, 17% use 802.11N, 28% use 802.11a/b/g. To those in the last category, if your wife doesn’t mind you snaking a cable through the kid’s crib, around the microwave, and under the carpet, going to a wired connection will likely really improve performance, especially with HD content.
  • Type of remote control you plan to use with OSXBMC? A full 61% of you plan to use the Apple Remote and should be very happy with the next release. 21% of you use a Universal Remote, and will be very happy with the next release (we’re going to have downloadable Harmony maps and other goodies). 3% of you use XBox 360 wireless controller, and will also be happy. Those are the officially supported options, and it looks like 85% of our users will be thrilled, and the rest will hopefully be willing to either move to one of these options, or use Remote Buddy or other third party software.
  • What kind of remote access software do you plan on using with OSXBMC? I had a bet going with cullman about this one (I believe my exact words were “There are going to be three fuckers out there using Remote Desktop, and you’re one of them.”). Turns out cullman was right, as usual. While the majority (52%) are not planning on using any remote access software, a full 48% of you use remote access software. If you wouldn’t mind satisfying my curiosity, why? The only scenario that makes sense to me is if you’re a laptop junkie and always have a laptop with you, even when you sit down to watch a movie. Otherwise, with the great remote support coming in the next version, I’m curious to know how many of you will still be using remote access software, and for what reasons.
  • Did you or do you use the original XBOX version of XBMC? This was a pleasant surprise to me, a full 38% of you have never used the original XBox version.

As you can see from the report, we’re making good progress on 0.5, and expect to be able to make a release within the next week or two.

Last, but not least, if you’re bored, head over to MacUpdate and review XBMC!

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37 Comments so far

  1. Frasse April 23rd, 2008 10:24 pm

    I have a Mac Mini 1.8 with 2 gb RAM. Connected to TV and digital receiver. I have a bluetooth keyboard and a bluetooth mouse. But I seldom use them because of the hassle of keeping them by the sofa. Instead I’m using my iPod Touch with TouchPad to control the Mac Mini, when I want to use safari, manage files or do something else not directly related to OSXBMC.

    I use my MacBook and screen sharing everytime I need to do something more advanced on the Mac Mini. Sometimes I use screen sharing only because I happen to sit infront of the MacBook.

    OSXBMC flicker alot on the remote screen. Which is very anoying but not a critical issue.

    I have the Logitech Harmony 525 and have just had Remote Buddy configured for the Mac and especially OSXBMC. However I have also other applications configured for Remote Buddy and the Harmony.

  2. Atrus April 23rd, 2008 10:26 pm

    Good to see so many Swedes are using this. I think one of the reasonens are that we have some excellent Mac-sites in Sweden (Scandianavias biggest Mac forum always report on this software for example). SO we Swedes do get information on this software from the biggest sites a lot. I guess that is why.

    Regarding remote access. I do not understand why there shouldnt be 50% using a software like that. How else are we going to control the Mac from around the world when we are not home? I mean… I would like to start a torrent download or other stuff like that when Im at work… so that when I get home I can immidiatly crawl into the couch to view the latest download. For example.

    I know that there are Torrent applications with a Web GUI. But you do not have full capabilities to the computer with only that.

    Thanks for all your efforts!

  3. elan April 23rd, 2008 10:37 pm

    @Atrus: Sorry, I think I misspoke. I was surprised that 50% of people were using remote access to control XBMC. But perhaps the people were responding in the survey that they used remote access software to control the Mac that XBMC was running on, not XBMC specifically?

  4. Atrus April 23rd, 2008 11:22 pm

    Yes, I definetly believe that the majority of the ones answering “yes I remote control” based their respons on the fact that they remote control the computer.

    At least I did that.

  5. eduo April 24th, 2008 12:06 am

    @elan: I’m convinced as well that most people understood “Remote Access” as “Remote Control” (through a web interface, dashboard widget, etc.) which would make a lot more sense from what I’ve been able to talk with others.

    In the same way that I know people have mentioned they use dual monitors and built-in keyboard just because they use a laptop but in reality they plan to see things on a TV with the lid closed and controlling with a remote. The results could be skewed both by those that misunderstood and from those that were too literal. I know people that even if they use a closed laptop with an external monitor and keyboard would say they’re using dual monitors.

    In my dreams, I wished the support you’ve given to the 360 controller would be translated into the XBMC for XBOX build and it becomes supported there as well. I don’t expect this is the case but one can dream. It would solve oh, so many problems of my current set-up (I’m holding out for a new mac mini, if it comes out and it’s good I’ll use that, if it isn’t then I’ll be able to get a current one as seconhand cheaper).

    Something I’m still amazed I haven’t seen anywhere (and I know it’s not really supported nor encouraged) is initial support for XBMC in AppleTVs. I would’ve thought entrepeneur hackers out there would’ve tried it already.

  6. eduo April 24th, 2008 12:08 am

    Atrus: I didn’t think about it. It may have been the case that the question was ambiguous. I have seen it answered as “remote control of the XBMC player” but I can see how it could also be understood as “remote control the computer in general”, not necessarily related to XBMC at all.

    I control remotely my mac through VNC and Remote Desktop, but I would never want to use XBMC remotely. I would wish to control it remotely, though.

  7. symm April 24th, 2008 2:10 am

    Either I misread the survey or perhaps it wasn’t clear. I use remote access (VNC/Apple Remote Desktop) for non-XBMC stuff – especially Handbrake as I’m still building the library for XBMC. For XBMC I usually use the Apple Remote, but my wife has the Harmony and we have a Xbox 360 controller hooked up for gaming. I’m look forward to .50 as I still have to get the bluetooth keyboard out more than I’d like as the Apple remote cannot exit out of a mode or menu sometimes.

    I’ve been so happy with the pace of development that I haven’t sent in playback bugs or examples [downloaded 1080p Apple Trailers still often have no sound :( ]. But I am seeing a new issue in .45 where it will hang at the end of a Handbrake “Normal” encoded video with “buffering”. Menu and skip returns to video selection screen.

    I’ve been tardy in donating but I fixed that tonight. I just want say “great job” to elan and the team. It’s been amazing watching how quickly this port has shaped up.

  8. Bakman April 24th, 2008 2:10 am

    I find this an excellent survey, really listening to the users – i hope you set a precedent with this kind of open communication.

    when osxbmc is finished up to all features i am looking for (reading from rar, ISO) I will actually buy a macmini just for osxbmc, amazing work!

  9. bwil April 24th, 2008 2:43 am

    I use the built-in Bonjour/Finder/Screen Sharing facilities in 10.5 so I can start new videos for my kid from the computer while I’m working, personally….

  10. Volante April 24th, 2008 3:15 am

    How will the apple remote support be for us on Mac Pro’s (with remote buddy).

  11. Matt April 24th, 2008 3:29 am


    I think you are correct in assuming that people using apple remote desktop or Leopard built in screen sharing are using it to control the mac mini and not necessarily XBMC. I always have my laptop on the coffee table so I just screen share to launch XBMC or screen share to use SABnzbd+ and load an NZB or something. Once XBMC is loaded, there is no need for remote access.


  12. keith April 24th, 2008 4:37 am

    one of the perks of having XBMC on a computer, as opposed to an Xbox, is that I can use it as a server as well as a media viewer

    so of course I’ll have iTunes downloading podcasts, Transmission downloading TV shows, etc

    I answered Screen Sharing for that, but not to view media.

    also, i don’t think mouse/keyboard really means people won’t be using remotes for the same explanation

  13. fall-line April 24th, 2008 5:49 am

    “21% of you use a Universal Remote, and will be very happy with the next release (we’re going to have downloadable Harmony maps and other goodies).”

    Awesome news – just awesome!

    Great idea to solicit feedback with the survey.

  14. fall-line April 24th, 2008 5:55 am

    I use the Apple screen sharing to access my OSXBMC mini from the home office just for when I need to setup a new version, edit or delete my Library files, setup new samba shares, etc. I don’t have any mouse or keyboard connected to the mini in the living room, and while I can (and do) accomplish a lot of setup stuff via SSH, I sometimes find that having the remote screen sharing helps me get things dialed in to the point were I can use my IR remote alone once I get back to the living room.

    Of course, now that the software is more mature, I find that I *rarely* need to remote in these days.

  15. ken April 24th, 2008 7:08 am

    I responded that I use remote access but you are correct, that’s for Mac Mini administration and not XBMC specifically.

  16. Jakob Metzger April 24th, 2008 8:24 am

    Glad to see the results posted and cant wait for .5!

    This is what I use….

    HD Projector
    Mac Mini 1.66ghz Intel Core Duo -512mb(need to work on the memory issue)
    2 External 1tb drives, locally connected. Not through SMB or AFP
    Original Xbox remote control mapped to keyboard keys
    Digital Audio Reciever

    I use Screen Sharing but its mainly for changing settings/moving files around. I dont use it as a remote though, well I do but its just for testing out different python scripts and a few things but mostly xbmc is minimized while I use VNC.

    Anything else you need us(the osxbmc community) to do for ya? Im sure we would all be happy to help!

  17. fpoil April 24th, 2008 9:08 am

    Like most of us i’m using screen sharing not for xbmc but for background stuff. I don’ t want any keyboard or mouse in my living room ( using remote buddy and harmony 785)
    For those who don’t want cable and don’t have wifi n, why not trying PLC ( the 200 mb/s are perfects for HD contents).

  18. tarzan April 24th, 2008 10:06 am

    Sorry, but what is PLC?

  19. fpoil April 24th, 2008 10:40 am

    PLC Power Line Communications : one exemple here

    but you’ve got also devolo

  20. Johan April 25th, 2008 3:06 am

    A lot of people in Sweden are using macs, and a lot of people in Sweden are downloading movies. We have extremely well developed broadband infrastructure as well. There you go :)

  21. BigJim April 25th, 2008 5:05 am

    I wish the survey had asked: will you use 720p or 1080p? I love open source as much as the next guy, but the fact is, none of the open source codecs like ffdshow are fast enough to render 1080p on the mini.

    So the 50% of you who want to go 1080p, I have serious doubts about it working on the 66% of you who have mac mini, unless we bring in coreAVC which is like twice as fast as any other codec. It is possible to buy coreAVC and compile in a way to use it on linux mplayer. Either that or get a CPU that is 2x faster, but you’d be into a bigger case than the mini, probably running osx86. Indeed I think the Mac Pro is the only Apple manufactured mac that can deliver 1080p from h.264.

    OK, sorry to be annoying, just want to stand up and be counted on the 1080p issue. I’ve read some threads about it here; some say it works; some say it doesn’t. From what I’ve seen on my HTPC a 2Ghz dual core mobile chip does not cut it for 1080p. Unless coreAVC is used.

  22. Weavus April 25th, 2008 6:27 am

    coreAVC cheats.

    Most 1080p h264 content I’ve downloaded (mostly films) plays acceptably on the mini. When the new hardware comes out (should be next week according to rumors) it should be fine.

  23. Nathaniel April 25th, 2008 7:16 am

    Interesting results, glad to hear you know what to focus on :)

    I have a brand new 2.0Ghz Mini on which I tried to run 1080p. It couldn’t even run the trailers from smoothly in quicktime, not to mention x264-encoded movies. Not that it matters, since I only have a 720p TV anyway.

    Speaking of 720p, why is there generally so little support for running LCD-native 1366×768? I’ve tried a few skins, but none of them support this resolution despite it being next to impossible to find an LCD TV that _doesn’t_ run that resolution.

  24. elan April 26th, 2008 1:06 pm

    @Nathaniel: I’m surprised to hear that, because I’ve played probably a dozen 1080p movies with my 2.0GHz Mini without problems. Maybe the downscaling to 720p is the extra hit, but that’s done by the GPU, so I doubt it.

  25. dse April 26th, 2008 8:19 pm

    @ BigJim / Nathaniel:

    At the very least, please be more specific than “1080p”, etc. See article.

  26. BluesMan April 26th, 2008 11:45 pm

    I have mini 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo and 4 GB of RAM. Playback of “1080p” movies encoded in x264 freezes in Front Row and QuickTime. Is O.K. in VLC and of course in OSX BMC, that is why I use it.

  27. Max Rogers April 27th, 2008 6:15 am

    In regard to the remote control thing. I am also one of those that thought you meant remote control as in: VNC, Remote Desktop, Screen Sharing etc.

    And I marked yes…

  28. adrian April 27th, 2008 4:12 pm

    you say why laptops? Thats easy…

    A laptop loaded with osxbmc is the ultimate media center because it has the same power but its portable, you dont even lose a bit of the experience and yet you can take it to your friends house, parents or set it up in different places at home.

    With your laptop you dont have an extra computer doing nothing most of the time, you actually keep updating it and getting content for it.

  29. DarkSheer April 30th, 2008 1:07 am

    ahhh….didn’t get to be part of the survey! :(

    Norway, Mac mini 2GB, I use Apple Remote Desktop (because I use the mini for lots of other stuff too) and I still use the old Xbox mediacenter in another room.


  30. DarkSheer April 30th, 2008 1:15 am

    Oops…didnt notice I could still do the survey. Entered my info :)


  31. BigJim April 30th, 2008 9:46 am

    Most of the HD content I watch is 6 GB 1080p h.264 rips of Blu-Ray or HD DVD discs. These are extremely popular on usenet and on private torrents, I would say they are a benchmark. I have an e6300 CPU overclocked from 1.86 up to 2.8Ghz. I am on XP but maybe I will have to put osx86 on the box to find out for sure. My experience is vlc and mplayer using ffdshow simply cannot play the h.264 mkv files without drastic stuttering and loss of audio sync. Nor can they play the 16GB 1080i .ts files. So I am skeptical that a 1.8 or 2.0 Ghz laptop CPU in an Apple mac (mini/ iMac/ laptop, all use the same CPUs) can handle the 1080p that in my experience is a standard. But if you insist I will install osx86 on this hardware and run a test. My other concern is the prejudice in the open source community against coreAVC. Why do they demonize and fight this codec, is it evil because it costs $8? Are they just jealous because it is 2x as fast as any open source codec, but oh yeah, any day now ffdshow will magically double in performance and any day now there will be a 3Ghz mac mini, I am tired of the lies and rationalizations. Anyway, the linux port of mplayer made some accomodation for compiling in a way to integrate an outboard coreAVC codec. It would also allow older macs to play 1080p. I strongly hope this can be integrated into osxbmc.

  32. elan April 30th, 2008 9:54 am

    @BigJim: Thanks for your thoughtful comments. In my experience, my Mini 2.0GHz can play the 1080p x264 rips very well. During a movie I might see a few glitches in fast action scenes, but it’s overall nearly perfect.

    The difference between XBMC and VLC right now is that XBMC has a patch applied to ffmpeg (the infamous “CABAC” patch) which gives *much* improved results on a multicore system. I think certain versions of ffdshow have the patch as well, but I’m not sure. Two well-used cores at 2.0GHz beat one overclocked to 2.8GHz.

    I think the negative attitude against CoreAVC stems from its “skirting the spec” stance to achieve higher performance. I personally don’t see an issue with it as I’d rather see a 1080p movie play without dropping frames *as long as* the skirting doesn’t produce annoying visual artifacts. In fact, one of my long term goals for OSXBMC is to allow loading Windows DLLs, which may give us a fairly easy way to be able to plug-in CoreAVC.

  33. BigJim May 1st, 2008 7:58 pm

    @elan I suspect there will be a couple different angles for plugging in coreAVC. FWIW I have a dual-core e6300 desktop CPU, and even at 2.8Ghz overclock, smplayer or vlc using ffdshow choke badly. Linux mplayer can be re-compiled to allow coreAVC plugin, but I’m on XP and am left at sea. The trick setup on XP is Media Player Classic, CoreAVC, and AC3filter. But lets get back to the mac. One more thing to emphasize, its not just mac mini that can make a great HTPC, its most mac laptops too! They’re pretty much the same hardware. And again, thank you for osxbmc.

  34. lyra May 1st, 2008 8:00 pm

    XMBC OSX is working perfectly for me except for one thing. Maybe I am just missing something in the faqs. I need to know how to make the output display on my HDTV. I got the interface on the HDTV no problem but the rest either I am missing something or this feature is not yet available with XBMC OSX.


  35. lyra May 1st, 2008 8:04 pm

    I forgot to mention my machine in case its relevant. Its one of the original MacPro with 2 dual core 5150 xeons 2.66ghz.

  36. elan May 2nd, 2008 10:14 am

    @BigJim: Like I said, I like the idea, but I don’t consider it very high priority at the moment over fixing stability issues. Also, I personally haven’t had problems playing 1080p content, and most of the people who do have ended up having other issues, like trying to stream it over 802.11b or something.

    The DLL loading is definitely attractive though as a means of adding support for closed formats as well.

    @Lyra: Not sure what you mean. If you have it on a secondary display, scroll through the display modes in Settings -> Appearance -> Screen until you see a “full screen” mode for your secondary display.

  37. lyra May 2nd, 2008 8:40 pm


    I have those settings but somehow part of display 2 is showing on the extreme edges of display 1. Some other stuff isnt exactly correct as well. I have to use VLC or use the unofficial hack for front row to use display 2 correctly.

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