H.265 videos, Kodi and the Raspberry Pi 2

June 30, 2016

I wanted a cheap media center, so I bought a Raspberry Pi 2 and installed Kodi. The movies and series are streamed from a Synology DS213+. But in the last few months, I couldn't watch several videos because it became too laggy. Why?

As a nerd, I had no choice but to buy this tiny computer. It's just brilliant what you can do with it for $35. I had the first version of the Raspberry Pi for a while, but I became aware that it isn't powerful enough to play all kind of videos. There I bought a Raspberry Pi 2 and I was execting it to be able to play pretty much anything, smoothly. So the fact that I can't play some videos is getting on my nerves. So here are the things I tried and what finally "fixed" it.

Upgrading Your Wifi Dongle

Some videos were running smoothly if they were played locally (from a USB hard drive for instance), but not if streamed from my Synology NAS. So I figured that the wireless adapter was not powerful enough (the transfer rate was lower than the bitrate of the video). So I bought a well rated wifi dongle: Edimax N150 Wi-Fi Nano USB Adapter.

This fixed the issue for some videos, but others remained unwatchable even when connected locally.

Picking a Suitable Power Adapter

I didn't know until recently what was the meaning of the colorful square that I could sometimes see in the top right corner of the screen. Do you? Well it simply means that the system is running out of power.

Because I updated from the Raspberry Pi 1 Model, I kept the same power adapter which only delivers 1A. I switched to a generic adapter that delivers 2.1A, and I know rarely see the "under power" warning.

Converting Videos

You probably don't need to try the above solutions. Here's why: the Raspberry Pi 2 cannot play H.265 videos. Until recently, I had no idea about this but I stumbled upon this thread.

So yeah, I lost weeks trying to "fix" my Raspberry Pi 2 while in fact it worked fine. To convert H.265 videos, I recommend using HandBrake which offers a simple interface for (re)-encoding videos. I personally convert the videos from H.265 to H.264 using the standard settings.