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View Full Version : best media center for my situation?




smittyben
Apr 15, 2010, 05:48 PM
Hey this is my first post.
Anyways i have about 400 movies, about 320 are in either mp4 0r m4v, Anyways the other 80 are either .mkv or .avi, they are slowly getting converted to m4v. So what i would like to do is have a media center to play my movies off of so that i can actually use my laptop.

I have been using itunes more recently because i really like the cover flow and its easy to see from far away and after proper tagging has all the info i need.
So a little bit more about my hardware. I have a 2tb raid 0(2 wd caviar black), that has two partitions one is 300 gb that i boot off of(should have done 500), anyways this partition is where i do my ripping and encoding. The other 1700gb or so are used for media storage.The raid drive is firewire btw.
What should i get to play my movies? Mac mini (refurb might be in my price range), apple tv, ps3, xbox 360, other suggestions?



smittyben
Apr 15, 2010, 05:52 PM
btw its hooked up to a 24inch 1080p monitor

smittyben
Apr 19, 2010, 11:12 AM
haha guess not.

gumbyx84
Apr 19, 2010, 11:35 AM
PS3 and XBox360 are fine if you don't mind going through all your vids by hand. They won't be well organized and IMO it (the interface) looks rather .... poopy.

Mac Mini with Plex or AppleTV w/ Boxee is MUCH better if you want the full HTPC experience. While AppleTV w/ Boxee has a nicer price point then a Max Mini, Plex is has more features and will take full advantage of the hardware its on. Also, Plex video playback is limited only by the codecs you can install. Also, as a pluse, web browsing on your TV (http://lifehacker.com/5517207/kylo-is-a-big+screen-tv+optimized-web-browser)!

I am a little biased to Plex as I know more about it (and regular XBMC) then Boxee. Also, I do not really understand the need for a "social" media center, which is how Boxee originally advertised itself.

PS Boxee is coming out with its own simple HTPC/media center, called Boxee Box (http://www.boxee.tv/box). It would be the cheapest option if you want to go with Boxee.

PSS If you aren't totally heart-set on an Apple solution, you might want to check out these articles about building your own HTPC:
http://lifehacker.com/5406563/build-a-cheap-but-powerful-boxee-media-center
http://lifehacker.com/5391308/build-a-silent-standalone-xbmc-media-center-on-the-cheap

alehel
Apr 19, 2010, 11:39 AM
I own an Apple TV and love it, but with your requirements I would recommend you take a look at the WD TV Live. Relatively cheap and supports just about anything you might try running through it. All you have to do is connect your external HD to the device and start watching. If you have everything converted to Apple TV friendly videos tagged and imported into Apple TV and you don't mind doing a bit of hacking, you could always install a bigger hd inside an Apple TV, but it will only manage up to 720p at 24 fps.

Also D-Link will be releasing a Boxee Box which is a media player which uses the Boxee media player software. It's not out yet, but worth a look.

smittyben
Apr 21, 2010, 07:11 PM
thanks for replying guys. i think im just gonna hold off for now, its almost summer and i won't be needing my computer during the day so i can just encode and stuff during the day. Ill see if that works once the summer starts then decide what i will do.

actually tried the revo for a couple of days it played the video on all of my files fine, however alot of the sound didn't work

smittyben
Apr 24, 2010, 11:19 PM
i was thinking that my laptop plays 99.5% of my movies perfectly, why fix what isn't broken.(not a perfect cliche for the situation, but you probably get the point) Anyways i just need something to surf the internet with, read digg, check emails, and take to class while my laptop s encoding movies, etc. What are your opinions/experiences with netbooks?

GermanSuplex
Apr 25, 2010, 03:19 AM
I suggest Apple TV if you are going to convert all your vids to h.264 mp4 videos.

Great interface, works great, upscales nicely... I really enjoy it and have been converting all of my DVD's to place in iTunes.

smittyben
Apr 25, 2010, 12:16 PM
At this point i have about 1.3 tb of data, which means that even if i hack the apple tv, an put a 250 gb hardrive my computer would still need to be attached to my raid box to get all f my media at the same time. I feel like that kind of defeats my purpose in getting the apple tv.

SnowLeopard2008
Apr 25, 2010, 02:46 PM
i was thinking that my laptop plays 99.5% of my movies perfectly, why fix what isn't broken.(not a perfect cliche for the situation, but you probably get the point) Anyways i just need something to surf the internet with, read digg, check emails, and take to class while my laptop s encoding movies, etc. What are your opinions/experiences with netbooks?

I suggest you sell your notebook for an iMac or some other desktop. Desktop Macs offer better performance for the price. A netbook for your usage will do just fine, but it really depends on your price range. I would go with Lenovo, recent Asus/Acer, or HP.

smittyben
Apr 25, 2010, 08:24 PM
i would say that selling my laptop is not an option. But thanks for you help, especially since i was thinking about getting a mac mini at one point which from my understanding is basically the same parts as a laptop?

shinji
Apr 25, 2010, 08:30 PM
I have a PS3 and I stream from my mac to the PS3 with the free ps3mediaserver. It works great if it's in a ps3-supported format like .mp4 or divx, but if you have it in another format ps3mediaserver will transcode it on the fly. The performance with transcoding varies by format and how your lan is connected...much better results with wired ethernet in my experience.

So that's one idea. Only thing is that the interface, as another poster said, is sort of simplistic. It's not as nice as plex or xbmc with the aeon skin. Dunno how much that matters to you.

PS3mediaserver runs on a bunch of OS's...there's also tversity, twonky, playon, etc. to do the same thing. Twonky can even run on a NAS so no computer has to be on.

If your RAID has a USB port apart from the firewire port, then you could connect it directly to the PS3 however PS3 can only handle fat32 on external drives. Obviously with that you end up with the file size limitation, which you wouldn't have with streaming.

And with the PS3 you also get some great exclusive games.

But what you could also is get a refurb mini and the turbo264 or something to speed up encoding, use that for media and stuff when you're at home, and bring your current laptop to class.

smittyben
Apr 25, 2010, 09:15 PM
does the turbo264 actually work?
as for the mac mini it is a possibility, especially since i have all of the adapters, the monitor, keyboad, mouse etc. infact the perfect situation for a mini. the only problem i see is the cost

smittyben
Apr 26, 2010, 04:15 PM
nearing 500 movies. Starting in on westerns any suggestions?

Anyways i feel like if i get a real computer such as a mac mini or other desktop, once i have a satisfactory movie collection then one of my two computers would just sit around and do nothing.

shinji
Apr 26, 2010, 04:41 PM
I'm on a mac pro now so I'm not using the turbo264. A little while back I started this thread http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=886239 about it...guy said he likes it on his mac mini. Quality without tweaking settings won't be as good as handbrake...dunno what you're using now for encodes.

One of your computers would def sit around doing nothing, though.

Thing is for the same price as a netbook you could get a ps3, or for less money you could get the wdtv, asus o!play, patriot box office, seagate theater+, etc. Those are only $100 or so.

I really recommend the PS3, even if you got it used from gamestop or eBay. It's a great machine and amazing value for the price.

smittyben
Apr 26, 2010, 07:08 PM
i Use the CLI handbrake to do my encoding.

i have tried the wdtv..... twice in fact and i returned it both times
to make a mid lengthed story short:
attempt 1 did play sound on many of my mkvs
attempt 2 undoudblty corrupted my harddrive every time i properly ejected the harddrive

dekinseattle
Apr 26, 2010, 07:53 PM
mini with Plex is what I have - I have all my media stored on a Drobo with 1.5 and 2 TB drives in it - I do have Perian installed on the mini - I bittorrent AVI files all the time and rip via Handbrake - no issues what so ever on this end - - file counts - something like 400 movies and 20 tv series (CSI, Greys, Friend, Sienfeld - most of this is bittorrent downloads/AVI files)

smittyben
Apr 26, 2010, 08:19 PM
mini with Plex is what I have - I have all my media stored on a Drobo with 1.5 and 2 TB drives in it - I do have Perian installed on the mini - I bittorrent AVI files all the time and rip via Handbrake - no issues what so ever on this end - - file counts - something like 400 movies and 20 tv series (CSI, Greys, Friend, Sienfeld - most of this is bittorrent downloads/AVI files)

i tried using plex found it too complicated for what i want, i like the simplicity of frontrow, but i know that once i get all my movies into itunes its gonna be a pain to search through

smittyben
Apr 30, 2010, 06:56 PM
how about a popcorn hour c-200? i could use my 1.5 tb drive in it, then have both a backup of my media and a media center. Would all of the hours of tagging media with itunes data become a waste of my time?

dekinseattle
Apr 30, 2010, 11:05 PM
i tried using plex found it too complicated for what i want, i like the simplicity of frontrow, but i know that once i get all my movies into itunes its gonna be a pain to search through

I'll give you Plex is a bit to set up - but once it is set up all I have to do is rip a disk, add to the correct directory and start up Plex - the program goes out and scours the web for all the IMBD or TVDB info ... if I want to change a movie poster out I hit f6 and it shows me the options out there ... with iTunes I had to do so much leg work it wasn't funny

for set up help with Plex check out ScreenCastsOnline for a freebie option there under the Mac Mini listings ...

I have little to no up-keep with Plex - were as when I ripped DVDs to iTune I spent hours typing in titles and finding the art ... Plex gives me synopsis, cast, ratings - heck it even sorts by genre, director, actor or most recently added ... I find Plex way easier and less time consuming than iTunes any day for my rips

Plex works with Handbrake and MacTheRipper items perfectly ... really sweet little set up once you get your sources defined ...

shinji
Apr 30, 2010, 11:44 PM
Lot of people love the popcorn hour on avforums and others.

You can export libraries in iTunes as xml...I'd be amazed if someone hasn't come up with a way to import into popcorn hour.

But if you already have this done and put the work into it, probably best to get an apple tv and atvflash or something. Especially if you've already encoded to an apple tv-compatible format anyway.

Personally I still think a PS3 is your best option :)

smittyben
May 1, 2010, 04:21 PM
Lot of people love the popcorn hour on avforums and others.

You can export libraries in iTunes as xml...I'd be amazed if someone hasn't come up with a way to import into popcorn hour.

But if you already have this done and put the work into it, probably best to get an apple tv and atvflash or something. Especially if you've already encoded to an apple tv-compatible format anyway.

Personally I still think a PS3 is your best option :)

Well see about the ps3, but at this point the price of a refurbished apple tv is pretty darn low, 40gb for like 145 or so.

smittyben
May 2, 2010, 06:37 PM
won't let me delete this

smittyben
May 13, 2010, 06:54 PM
so i realized today that i can stream netflix to a ps3, which makes this decision a bit easier, and i think that is what i will get!


ps. shinji i apologize for not listening to you, it seems you were right

shinji
May 13, 2010, 07:06 PM
so i realized today that i can stream netflix to a ps3, which makes this decision a bit easier, and i think that is what i will get!


ps. shinji i apologize for not listening to you, it seems you were right

Cool, you'll love it. Don't forget HDMI cables or HDMI/DVI adapter- it doesn't come with it.

smittyben
May 13, 2010, 07:16 PM
Cool, you'll love it. Don't forget HDMI cables or HDMI/DVI adapter- it doesn't come with it.

already got one, been using it to watchmy movies on a 24 inch 1080p monitor for the last year or so

speedwaygirl
May 13, 2010, 08:35 PM
Ditto on the PS3! I've got it streaming vids from the network, has a 250GB hard drive, accepts USB drives, streams Netflix AND plays games! What more could you want.....lol!

smittyben
May 14, 2010, 02:39 PM
Ditto on the PS3! I've got it streaming vids from the network, has a 250GB hard drive, accepts USB drives, streams Netflix AND plays games! What more could you want.....lol!

well since you ask! im not gonna stream my movies from my laptop to the ps3, i would love the ability to plug my mac formated drive into the ps3, but ill just have to change the format of my raid

smittyben
May 21, 2010, 05:19 PM
So i bought the ps3 which is awesome but i formated my drive to fat32 and it won't read it the file structure oes like this. drive name: PS3, folder: /PS3, Folder: Video, movies are in that folder. also ps3media server didn't work either

shinji
May 21, 2010, 05:24 PM
So i bought the ps3 which is awesome but i formated my drive to fat32 and it won't read it the file structure oes like this. drive name: PS3, folder: /PS3, Folder: Video, movies are in that folder. also ps3media server didn't work either

Video needs its own folder within root, can't be in the /PS3/ folder. /PS3/ is only for backups.

File structure has to be exactly like this: http://ps3explained.com/advanced/folder-structure/

For ps3mediaserver...are you running it on windows or os x? On os x you just need to select the correct network adapter and save it.

If you can't get it working on windows there are a lot of dlna servers that compete with it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_UPnP_AV_MediaServers

try Twonky if all else fails.

smittyben
May 21, 2010, 05:27 PM
Video needs its own folder within root, can't be in the /PS3/ folder. /PS3/ is only for backups.

File structure has to be exactly like this: http://ps3explained.com/advanced/folder-structure/

For ps3mediaserver...are you running it on windows or os x? On os x you just need to select the correct network adapter and save it.

If you can't get it working on windows there are a lot of dlna servers that compete with it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_UPnP_AV_MediaServers

try Twonky if all else fails.
osx