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Old Apr 19, 2013, 05:06 PM   #1
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help with home set up

Newb here (i should really start by saying thanks for the site as I have been lurking and reading it regularly for the past 6 months to help me decide which mac to go for).

Im looking for some pointers on how best to develop a home entertainment solution based around apple devices. We have been slowly moving from PC to Mac over the past year and now wish to get everything working together. We have a MBP, ATV3, two iphones, 1 iPod, an ipad (soon to be 2), and some other non-apple stuff (TV's, music players etc) +most of our guests/family have various iPads, iphones etc.

I need to get a back up disk fairly urgently (to replace an utter pos iomega NAS drive which never worked properly) and want it to fit in to a wider plan for how to deliver music and movies to all devices ideally. I'm not looking to be told what to do more for some guidance for avenues to investigate. All of our music is on iTunes, but I need to rip all of our movies from DVD's. It's not the biggest collection but it would be good if everyone could also access all of our movies on any device (all SD but ideally at a decent compression level).

My first thinking is to set up a storage solution and set up all TV's with ATV3's to then access the content, but not sure how best to go about it.

Needless to say - I'm new to Mac's proper having only had a proper mac for about 3 weeks.

where should I go , what should I read, what should I investigate?

thanks in anticipation
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Old Apr 19, 2013, 11:16 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by BazEP View Post
We have a [...] ATV3 [...] it would be good if everyone could also access all of our movies on any device (all SD but ideally at a decent compression level).
Well the following comment is sponsored by personal taste ... I don't use iTunes for anything more than managing apps and synching some of my music in a crapped-down format (128 kbps) with the iPhone/iPod.
For movies I'd never use any Apple-friendly format (or should I rephrase that to, I would never try and be friendly with iTunes). I just rip to my desired Hi-Q format and I rip the subtitles to STR, to be viewable almost anywhere. iTunes can't even read subtitles, you need to hard-code them (AFAIK).

So... my solution for home sharing to everything, of my movies is basically a XBMC server running on the main Mac and then everything can suck from it.
The ATV3 is a drawback. Since it hasn't been jailbroken I cannot use it as much as I'd want to (e.g to install XBMC!!). So it seems I'll have to use my (jailbroken) iPhone to remote control the Mac server and then AirPlay to the ATV. If I was to just watch on the iPhone or other device, I believe I always require jailbreak.

Plex doesn't require jailbreak (works the same as the above scenario), BUT it won't stream FLAC unless you subscribe to them (wtf?), so, no thanks.
And this is the second part of my comment, I will intend to stream my FLAC library from the same Mac, on the same XBMC server along with the movies.

All of the above is to be implemented/tested soon, but the always having to use a "remote control" (iOS device) sucks.

And I don't even know for sure if the XBMC app on iOS can actually "read" from a library on the network then stream (AirPlay) to the ATV3. I think I read somewhere I needed to use AirPlay mirroring (which is reported to be slow as a turtle).
I believe Plex can do AirPlay from the app (just like say, AirVideo, which I use to stream movies currently to the ATV3 via an iOS device, BUT I don't have a fancy menu, coverflow, synopsis and so on, which are things I'm looking for).

I guess all I've wrote so far was sort of incoherent (sorry) but then I guess, what I'm trying to say is... if you want full compatibility (which I don't know if you want because you only mention iOS on your guests but then you say "all devices" - was it supposed to mean at the same time? Or Android and others?) then you better stick to "open" backends like XBMC or Plex, which already have clients for iOS and Android (but Plex is not free) and can run a long variety of formats, unlike iTunes, which expects your files to conform to "Apple's Guidelines".

About drives I cannot comment much, since I'm still using ye olde Hard Disk Drive (since I need a lot of storage and I cannot even get 3 TB yet with SSD and if I could I would have to sell the house to buy one!!), but it works fine so far (my external USB 2.0 drive), so no problem, and I'm guessing SSDs should be marginally better, unless something else bottlenecks, like the CPU (which I'm sure must not be your case).

Oh and I forget something. Sharing via iTunes (music) seems great and all but I find two major PiTAs with that approach:
1. I have to tap too many times to reach the "Shared Library" via the "iPod App" on iOS (music).
2. It only works if you enable it in iOS settings and log in with your iTunes ID (are you willing to do that for your guests? Thought so).
Since you mention you also want movies then that's why I suggest a more "complete" approach ala Media center, otherwise, one could install a DNLA server and a client on each device to stream something simple as music.

My "Main Mac" btw (only Mac) is a Mac Mini Mid-2011.

Anyway sorry for drifting but it's late and don't wanna review what I wrote, hope you find something useful up that pile above

Last edited by ipsychedelic; Apr 19, 2013 at 11:22 PM.
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Old Apr 20, 2013, 02:35 AM   #3
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Thanks for that
Some food for thought. I am assuming guests (by which I just mean friends and family, I don't live in a hotel, although it does sometimes feel like it) will have iOS devices so that's what was leading me down the apple based option.

The aforementioned pos iomega nas drive was/is a dnla server but I never got far enough with it to figure out how best to set everything up. I'm wondering if a better version of the same thing might be an option.

Thanks again
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Old Apr 20, 2013, 11:53 AM   #4
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I think iTunes, as a sharing platform is good on paper, but then like I said you have the annoyance of having to sign in everybody to your apple ID, and the fact you'll be restricted to whatever iTunes supports.
I believe that would be Apple's way to share.

Another choice to DNLA is of course UPnP.

Of course by guests I assumed that, but anyway (and I repeat myself like a parrot hehe) sharing your iTunes ID with friends.. hmmm..

And by the way if you want to ever install XBMC or Plex on the ATV (vs just AirPlaying from another iOS device), then you should look forward an ATV2, since the ATV3 is not jailbroken and probably never will at this point.
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Old Apr 20, 2013, 01:56 PM   #5
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The easiest route is to go all iTunes. I have used XBMC, but there constantly is the problem of work-arounds, and they are frustrating. If you go the all-iTunes route, at least everything works. Frankly, the quality of the ATV3 setting on Handbrake, while it doesn't duplicate an uncompressed MKV with DTS sound, is good enough for most purposes. My friends only notice that they're watching a 1080p ATV3 file vs. an compressed MKV if (1) they're hypercritical or (2) I draw their attention to the differences.

To get around the giving away your Apple ID problem, I use Air Video with the server running on my main computer and clients and visitors running the app. If you want to avoid the "converting files into ATV format" issue, the Air Video server will convert on the fly and you can then use Airplay to send the result to your ATV3.

I use a Drobo connected to my main computer to store my media files. Although the Drobo is slow for adding files, its speed is perfectly fine for streaming 1080p video. I have heard good things about Synology's NAS units, and they come with a DNLA server.

I keep my music in two versions. One is in Apple Lossless, which is my main listening collection, played through the ATV3 and my receiver; the other is in 256AC3 VBR, which I use on my iPad, iPhone, and to play directly from the receiver (it's a DLNA client, but doesn't support Apple Lossless).
27" i7 iMac, mid 2010; Mini i5, 2011; iPad3; ATV3; iPhone 4; the Cube!

Last edited by mike457; Apr 20, 2013 at 02:07 PM.
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Old Apr 21, 2013, 02:38 AM   #6
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Right - I'm off to do some reading on air video, drobo an handbrake.

Question - how to do store your media files in two formats?
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