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Old May 13, 2012, 10:16 PM   #1
heya
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Apple TV and Media Server

Hi,
I have just bought a server and at the moment planning to see what I can do with it. My main purpose is to build a media server (with Raid 1) and then access those media from other computers in the house including the TV. That's bring my question so here it goes. Please advise:
  • Does Apple TV (new or old, I don't have one yet but I'll buy one if it does what I need it for) read media files for a NAS or Windows server?
  • I want a small form factor for a streaming device that I'll connect to my TV hence I am considering Apple TV.
  • What's my best choice of a server/media server setup that can be shared across from Mac and Windows PCs?

Looking forward to seeing your expert advice.
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Old May 13, 2012, 10:21 PM   #2
radiogoober
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1. No
2. -
3. AppleTV can only stream from an open iTunes library on a turned on computer in your household. So, if you have "The Waterboy" movie in your iTunes library, and iTunes is turned on, and Home Sharing is turned on, then, and only then, can AppleTV stream "The Waterboy" and play it on your TV. The solution for this is to setup any type of media server, network attached server, or directly attached server/harddrive and host your iTunes library on that drive. For example, I bought a Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo (2 x 3TB drives) and I host my iTunes library on that, so that means all my music, movies, tv shows, everything, is stored on that drive, and not on the main drive of my Mac. iTunes makes this a seamless and completely easy process, and it works flawlessly.
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Old May 13, 2012, 11:24 PM   #3
Otago Lad
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I currently use a windows home server setup which has approx 22TB storage and use my Destop PC (i7 processor with 24gig Ram) with iTunes running to access all the info on it. This way I'm not constrained by hard drive space on the PC (currently have 5TB left and ability still to add more storage) and iTunes works really well accessing the files on the server.

I have none/minimal delay streaming movies etc. to my apple tv's including large bluray rips exceeing 20gig. It does help though to have a good router or preferably a wired ethernet connection between your devices - I have the ASUS RT-N66U wifi router which has dual 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz up to 450Mbps concurrent on each band and is easily the best router I've had, especially wifi streaming to the ATV3 over 5GHz.

The big downside to the apple tv, as heya said, is the fact that itunes must be left on constantly in order for the appletv to access it. When I update my desktop next I'll use the current one as a standalone iTunes/media server and stick it out of sight and just remote in when I need to do anything and that will then be the perfect solution as I can use "Remote" on my iPhone/iPad to access the iTunes library and airserver to access the desktop if I don't want to use windows remote access on my laptop. Also my Boxee Box can also access everything on the server so that is an added bonus.

The lack of what I understand is true server support in the apple ecosystem has stopped me to date from taking the plunge to move to apple computer products, however I'd be interested how people in the apple ecosystem manage really large amounts of date i.e 15TB and bigger.
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Old May 14, 2012, 01:46 AM   #4
heya
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otago Lad View Post
I currently use a windows home server setup which has approx 22TB storage and use my Destop PC (i7 processor with 24gig Ram) with iTunes running to access all the info on it. This way I'm not constrained by hard drive space on the PC (currently have 5TB left and ability still to add more storage) and iTunes works really well accessing the files on the server.
Thanks a lot for sharing your setup with us. You've got a massive setup there mate. My server is really small and has only 4GB RAM (will upgrade to 8GB). I am going to use it just as a media server and occasionally as a PC as well. What other alternatives do I have as a streaming device other than Apple TV?
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Old May 14, 2012, 03:13 AM   #5
eyespii
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Wirelessly posted

Get the Western Digital tv live. It does exactly what you're asking for and it supports so many more formats than the Apple TV. I recently picked one up and use it to stream movies that I have stored on my synology nas. I don't even need to keep iTunes on. The only problem with it is the interface is so much uglier than my Apple TV, but it's worth it to be able to stream anything I want without keeping my computers on.
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Old May 14, 2012, 06:16 AM   #6
Arie
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If you are using Windows Home Server 2011, purchase iHomeServer, which keeps iTunes up and running on your home server at all times. When there are any errors, iHomeServer will simply restart iTunes automatically. When you copy new files to a folder which you specified, iHomeServer will automatically add these to your iTunes library. Best purchase ever for me.
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Old May 14, 2012, 08:26 AM   #7
jnick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otago Lad View Post
I currently use a windows home server setup which has approx 22TB storage and use my Destop PC (i7 processor with 24gig Ram) with iTunes running to access all the info on it. This way I'm not constrained by hard drive space on the PC (currently have 5TB left and ability still to add more storage) and iTunes works really well accessing the files on the server.

I have none/minimal delay streaming movies etc. to my apple tv's including large bluray rips exceeing 20gig. It does help though to have a good router or preferably a wired ethernet connection between your devices - I have the ASUS RT-N66U wifi router which has dual 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz up to 450Mbps concurrent on each band and is easily the best router I've had, especially wifi streaming to the ATV3 over 5GHz.

The big downside to the apple tv, as heya said, is the fact that itunes must be left on constantly in order for the appletv to access it.
I setup a very similar system for my parents...a WHS running 3TB of storage and an ASUS RT-N56U! Work perfectly fine with no issues. To combat the "iTunes must always be on," since my Dad's PC is on from the time he gets up until the time he goes to sleep, I simply dumped an iTunes shortcut into the startup folder on his Win7 machine. Now, he doesn't have to think about anything. iTunes is always there running for him.
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Old May 14, 2012, 08:46 AM   #8
Gjwilly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heya View Post
What other alternatives do I have as a streaming device other than Apple TV?
Sony has the SMP-N100 and the SMP-N200 and a few of the Sony Blu-Ray players have media streaming built into them now as well.
I just got the BDP-BX18 Blu-Ray player at Costco for about $60 and it has media streaming in addition to the entry-level Blu-Ray player.
The specs are exactly the same as the BDP-S185 which is the exact same piece of hardware. Sony just has two different model numbers -- one for the big-box stores and an other for the retail consumer chains.
All of the above will stream from a NAS or a DLNA.

Last edited by Gjwilly; May 14, 2012 at 08:55 AM.
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Old May 14, 2012, 10:02 AM   #9
blevins321
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I'd highly recommend using Plex. It's a combination free server application and UI for viewing on the TV. If your server is in another location, though, you can just use the server. It will index and download poster art and metadata for all of your video media. It also allows you to interface with outside websites that use Silverlight.

As far as the set-top box, the Roku series of set top boxes has a Plex client application that can browse and play the media off the server. Or alternately, if you have an iOS device already, you can get a AppleTV 2 or 3 (3 is cheaper believe it or not because people are upselling the 2 because of jailbrake availability) and use Airplay to stream the media to the ATV3. This setup would also allow you to watch your media from outside your network if you want using the Plex app ($5).
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Old May 14, 2012, 08:54 PM   #10
heya
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Thanks for all your advice guys. See, I don't mind running iTunes on the server while I use the Apple TV. Well, I'll have to keep the server running anyway if I want to access any media from it.

What if any issues do you see with that or using Apple tv in terms of its limitations?
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Old May 15, 2012, 08:44 AM   #11
blevins321
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heya View Post
Thanks for all your advice guys. See, I don't mind running iTunes on the server while I use the Apple TV. Well, I'll have to keep the server running anyway if I want to access any media from it.

What if any issues do you see with that or using Apple tv in terms of its limitations?
If all of your media is already in an iTunes-compatible format, the ATV will work extremely well with this setup. If you have other formats though, you'd have to convert them to be able to work in iTunes and the ATV. If you'd rather not do this, my Plex suggestion above would handle the live transcoding (conversion on the fly) when you try to play any media format.
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Old May 15, 2012, 05:32 PM   #12
Otago Lad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blevins321 View Post
If all of your media is already in an iTunes-compatible format, the ATV will work extremely well with this setup. If you have other formats though, you'd have to convert them to be able to work in iTunes and the ATV. If you'd rather not do this, my Plex suggestion above would handle the live transcoding (conversion on the fly) when you try to play any media format.
I agree. If you start down the road of using iTunes as your media manager and convert all media to iTunes compatible formats then the aTV setup is great. Although I've ripped all my DVD's and Blurays (approx 900), if it is something I really want the best picture and audio from I still pull out the original Bluray disc and watch it on my Bluray player.

The great advantage for me of the aTV is watching one time watch TV shows and old dvd ripped movies, instant access to media for the kids and wife but a Bluray disc through a great home theatre system still can't be beat.
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Old May 15, 2012, 07:18 PM   #13
Bymatt
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No contest about the quality of a BR disc.... however

for over a year now I have been using a very simple system to stream to my AT2. I went to this because I did not want the computer running when ever I want AV entertainment. Also didnt want anyone else fooling with it just to stream a movie to someplace.
I use HB or MDRP to get the media onto an external drive hooked to my MAC PRO. I use what ever I think best for the job to convert the AV file to iTUNES/AT2 compatible, ie 1 Video, 2 ACC 3 AC. I store the compatible files on the external drive. Color code the ready to watch ones green, watched ones grey. When I put them into iTUNES i color them blue. SO I get a few hundred iTUNES/ATV compatible files either watched or ready to watch.
Then I synch a rotation of about 15 or so on to my iPAD 1. I take the iPad 1 to the living room, bed room, and stream the movie to the applicable ATV2. The computer is long turned off and I have about 22 to 30 hours of entertainment on the iPad available to watch, interrupt, go back to, move to another ATV2, whatever. As I watch them I just delete them off the iPad and out of Itunes. Cycle some new ones over to iTUNES and synch to iPAD. The compatible files remain on the external drive until I decide I wont ever want it again. The sound is great, the video is very good with conservative HB settings. Even the wife can run it. no JB. It all just works. Just one persons simplistic idea. I have no quarrel with the grander set ups.. My hats off to you guys. For me and my use this works, it may satisfy someone else's needs.

Last edited by Bymatt; May 15, 2012 at 07:19 PM. Reason: left out sentence
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Old May 15, 2012, 07:51 PM   #14
ljonesj
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i setup an old 2000-2001 compaq computer that has the amd 1.1 k6 pc-100 133 ram that is 1.25 gb of ram i am using windows xp. with a sata pci card hooked to a wd green 1tb drive as a server for my mom i want to build a atom based little server i think i can build one for a round 200 dollars but i dont have a job at the moment so that will be a bit
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 04:22 PM   #15
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Post Creating a movie server

The way I handled this is with external hard drives, DVDFAB ripping software, iTunes and an Apple TV. I tried some free ripping software, but you get what you pay for. DVDFAB allows you to rip DVDs and Bluerays. Super easy and it has presets for Apple in 1080p. Once the file is ripped onto hard drive, go to iTunes. Choose File, then Add Folder to Library. Find the new movie, (the file name will look like a computer file name) right click on the new file, then choose Get Info. Choose Info. Change name to the name of the movie (that way when you access thru Apple TV the name looks right). At bottom, select genre (that way iTunes sorts by genre). That's it. Last step is art work. The site I use is freecovers.net (there are a few sites you can download cover art, but this works great). Once you download the cover art for the DVD or Blueray, go to iTunes, right click on new movie. Choose Get Info, Choose artwork, choose add, find the cover art you just downloaded, choose it, hit ok. All done. Now, when you go to Apple TV it looks perfect. Right name and cover art. I have about 800 movies, so far. I have a theater in basement and this looks as good as a blueray.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 04:37 PM   #16
mic j
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pshannon View Post
The way I handled this is with external hard drives, DVDFAB ripping software, iTunes and an Apple TV. I tried some free ripping software, but you get what you pay for. DVDFAB allows you to rip DVDs and Bluerays. Super easy and it has presets for Apple in 1080p. Once the file is ripped onto hard drive, go to iTunes. Choose File, then Add Folder to Library. Find the new movie, (the file name will look like a computer file name) right click on the new file, then choose Get Info. Choose Info. Change name to the name of the movie (that way when you access thru Apple TV the name looks right). At bottom, select genre (that way iTunes sorts by genre). That's it. Last step is art work. The site I use is freecovers.net (there are a few sites you can download cover art, but this works great). Once you download the cover art for the DVD or Blueray, go to iTunes, right click on new movie. Choose Get Info, Choose artwork, choose add, find the cover art you just downloaded, choose it, hit ok. All done. Now, when you go to Apple TV it looks perfect. Right name and cover art. I have about 800 movies, so far. I have a theater in basement and this looks as good as a blueray.
Awful lot of work. There are easy ways.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 04:42 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pshannon View Post
The way I handled this is with external hard drives, DVDFAB ripping software, iTunes and an Apple TV. I tried some free ripping software, but you get what you pay for. DVDFAB allows you to rip DVDs and Bluerays. Super easy and it has presets for Apple in 1080p. Once the file is ripped onto hard drive, go to iTunes. Choose File, then Add Folder to Library. Find the new movie, (the file name will look like a computer file name) right click on the new file, then choose Get Info. Choose Info. Change name to the name of the movie (that way when you access thru Apple TV the name looks right). At bottom, select genre (that way iTunes sorts by genre). That's it. Last step is art work. The site I use is freecovers.net (there are a few sites you can download cover art, but this works great). Once you download the cover art for the DVD or Blueray, go to iTunes, right click on new movie. Choose Get Info, Choose artwork, choose add, find the cover art you just downloaded, choose it, hit ok. All done. Now, when you go to Apple TV it looks perfect. Right name and cover art. I have about 800 movies, so far. I have a theater in basement and this looks as good as a blueray.
Save you some time and $$

MakeMKV > HB > Subler = Boom Protein Everywhere
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 05:22 PM   #18
mic j
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Save you some time and $$

MakeMKV > HB > Subler = Boom Protein Everywhere
Read my mind!!!!
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Old Apr 22, 2013, 05:47 PM   #19
mmc25
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why do you need subler. Handbrake support apple tv format..

Please pardon me if I am asking stupid questions. I am a novice user.. Why do we need subler. Can't we use handbrake to convert mkv to apple tv format and import into itunes.
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Old Apr 22, 2013, 07:08 PM   #20
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Subler allows you to add descriptions, tags, artwork, etc. with a quick search. Very easy and quick. It's pretty much the last step after converting with HB. Makes everything look nice and pretty :-) Then drop into itunes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmc25 View Post
Please pardon me if I am asking stupid questions. I am a novice user.. Why do we need subler. Can't we use handbrake to convert mkv to apple tv format and import into itunes.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 04:14 PM   #21
IscariotJ
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Originally Posted by Exit34 View Post
Save you some time and $$

MakeMKV > HB > Subler = Boom Protein Everywhere
Pretty much my process, except I use AnyDVD for the ripping ( used to use RipIt, but had to move on since it became abandonware ). HB / Subler are fabulous apps.

Just in case anyone's interested, I'm running a Mac Mini Server ( connected to a Drobo 5D ) to feed 2 x 2nd gen ATV's. I've also got it running Plex / StreamToMe for viewing on Mac / iPad, etc. The Mac is also used for proxying, backups, central file storage....

I do wish Apple would release a "server" version of iTunes just for feeding ATV's....
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