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Advice for my HTPC setup

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by From A Buick 8, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    Hello i am new to this forum (have been reading some for the past few days).

    I would like some advice and direction

    Here is what i have.
    Brand new iMac 3.2 ghz Intel core i3 (21.5").
    Eye TV Hybrid.
    Netgear rangemax wireless router
    Large ATX case with an AMP processor running Windows NT
    Gateway Laptop with AMP processor running windows 7

    What i want to do is this.
    Add ext hard drive(s) to the imac using firewire. Would start with 2TB but may need to add more later, i need to also use the Firewire port on the iMac with my digital camcorder from time to time so i might need a firewire hub?

    I am open to connecting the Ext HD through the router, if that is a better method (NAS?)

    On these drives i want to load all of my DVD movies and TV shows, would also use them for the DVR content gathered with the EyeTV Hybrid.

    What i then want to do is add a mac mini, AppleTv or PC to three other TV's in the house that i can use to access the material stored on the Ext hard drives.

    On the mac i would use either frontrow or plex, on the PC i would use WMC with the media browser plug in.

    The problems i see with frontrow is that i will need to have my DVD rips in Itunes in order to be able to get any real metadata. I could go with Plex but then i can not go with the AppleTv. I like the AppleTv for its ease of use (best fit for wife and kids).

    Thank you for any suggestions you may have.
  2. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

  3. macrumors 65816


    If you want a NAS, I'd get the Drobo FS
  4. macrumors 68020

    if you wanted plex in the main room, and then :apple:TVs where you're not watching as much for cost savings...

    Plex will play files that are supported by apple tv, If you convert everything to an appleTV compatible format, you can then point plex to the movies folder in the itunes media folder, and it should scrape and get all your metadata for plex, while not messing anything up for itunes. so both plex and :apple:tv can use the same folder.

    TV shows would become an issue though, because itunes will name the episodes by the title, and not season and episode number like plex wants.

    There is documentation in plex .8 that says it will support iTunes video using their media server, but i think that is broken. and i don't believe it's working in .9 yet
  5. macrumors member

    I would think hard and long before getting a rather expensive Drobo. It does have a few disadvantages which might be more important (speed and prize).

    If speed and prize pay a part in the consideration you can't go wrong with Synology and Qnap.

    If you want more safety than RAID you can decide to buy another NAS and backup the first one to the second. The major Nas players have easy setup for these configurations. Safest would be offsite (friend, family). Note that this is much safer than the vaunted drobo, because you avoid not just HDD crashes, but all other Hardware crashes(If it's offsite you also cover fire, water, electric surges and burglary). And a second Nas would still be competitive price wise with a Drobo :).
  6. macrumors 6502a

    OK first things first, if you want access to your media on multiple Macs, PC's and other devices then a NAS is a far better solution. Connecting drives to you iMac via firewire means that if you want to access the media from a mini or a PC then the iMac needs to be running all the time. The AppleTV is a special case device because it needs a computer running to access media anyway.

    You can have the best of both worlds by converting your media to an iTunes friendly format so FrontRow and the AppleTV can access it through iTunes and the same converted media will also playback fine in Plex or WMC. Meaning you could have the iMac using FrontRow, an AppleTV, a Mini running Plex and a Windows box running WMC all pulling the exact same media from a central NAS.

    Just my opinion but stay clear of the Drobo, you can get a good quality NAS and fill it with drives for the same price you'd pay for just the Drobo.
  7. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    First thank you to all who have made some great suggestions.

    Can you suggest some equipment to buy for the NAS.Ii have a Rangemax router that i can use to connect the NAS equipment.

    I like this idea, from what i have read i can store all of the files on the EXT HDD (NAS or other method) and then just reference them in itunes for the Atv.
  8. macrumors 6502a

    I use an LG HomeNAS myself, it's the only one I've ever had and it's never let me down. There are plenty of other cheaper NAS's around but I can't recommend them as I've never used them. There are plenty of reviews on the net. Just remember that what ever storage method you decide on you need to take into account some method of backing everything up. And don't listen to anyone who tells you to use RAID as a backup method.

    It's not a case of referencing them in iTunes. Just put them on your NAS and add them to iTunes as you normally would with any other media, just because their in your iTunes library dosn't mean other programs can't access them as well.
  9. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    So the itunes library should be on the NAS (or Ext HDD).
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Yep there's no reason not to have your itunes library on the NAS itself, this is how my setup is:- I have my iTunes library on my NAS supplying media to my main PC, I also have an ATV that gets it's media from the NAS through iTunes on the PC and I have an ION Nettop running XBMC that also pulls media from the NAS. My NAS is powered 24/7 but is set to sleep while I'm out at work. The only time I run into a problem is if I try to add media to iTunes while the NAS is sleeping, in this case iTunes can't access the NAS and so defaults to my PC's hard drive, not a problem I just make sure the NAS is running before adding any media to iTunes.
  11. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    I have on order a 2TB Hdd and an enclosure from OWC, i decided to not go with a NAS but i will hook the EXT HDD up to my iMac until i can swing the airport Extreme and then move it to there.

    I was going back and forth on just moving the iTunes library to the Ext drive or to somehow juat reference the files in iTunes. Based what you have said and some other post i think i will just keep the whole iTunes library on the Ext HDD.

    I am leaning towards using iDentify 2 as my tool for adding Metadata.

    I am not going to get my ATV until closer to christmas, which will give me time to load all of the movies and TV shows onto the Ext HDD, is there any type of software i can run on the iMac that will emulate the Ui of ATV.
  12. macrumors 6502


    Open Front Row on your iMac
  13. macrumors 6502a

    No, while Front Row looks and acts like the ATV versions 1 and 2 software it is nothing like the newer version 3 software.
  14. macrumors 6502


    Opps forgot he was getting the new Atv.
  15. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    i looked at some the screen shots on the apple web site, it looks like it should be easy for the wife and kids and has some eye candy appeal.

    Just found out that my cable company is make one of their box's mandatory to receive any HD signal from them at all. Where we live the only choice for high speed internet (21 Mbps down/ 1.3 up)is the cable company so i am stuck with them for a while.
  16. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    The Ext Drive enclosure and HDD, are birthday presents and my Bday is 10/7
    (Mercury Elite-AL Pro Dual Bay "Triple Interface" Multiple RAID Enclosure and Western Digital 2 TB Caviar Green SATA Intellipower 64 MB Cache)

    So i am going to get my hands on them soon and start filling with .m4v files (DVD Movies from handbrake). My new Atv (yet to be bought) will be a christmas present.

    Here is my question how should i format the Ext drive. I have an old PC that i built with the kids about 3 years ago. I would like to load windows 7 on it and use WMC to access the .m4v files as well.
  17. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    My plan was to get the Atv for our bedroom TV and upgrade an older PC and use it in the living room, both sharing the iTunes library.

    The iTunes Library runs from a firewire ext hdd (from our iMac)

    Now i am leaning towards just getting an ATV for both rooms, and using the money i was going to spend upgrading the PC to just buy a 16gb iPad.

    That way i can just use the iPad to stream any internet stuff i might want to the AtV.

  18. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    The count down starts.

    Since my local Best Buy told me they were not going to carry the new ATV, I Just ordered my ATV from the Apple store website.

  19. macrumors member

    Take a look at plexapp.com.

    I have it on my macmini that is directly connected to my TV in the living room. My wife and kids love it. I have my wife's TV shows and movies under one section and my kids under a different one. Plex will also share it's libraries across MACs so that you do not need a NAS, just get a large Firewire or USB drive and hang it off of one of the two. Plex will also stream to the iPad which is very nice to have.
  20. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    I have Plex installed on the iMac, I have been playing around with it, and it holds promise. There are things I have not figured out yet (one of them is skins).

    The ATV I just ordered is for the bedroom TV. For the family room TV I have not fully developed my plan yet.

    First plan was: I have an old PC that the kids and I built a few years back, for about $300 I could upgrade that to run windows 7 and then I was going to use that as a DVR (in family room) and use WMC to access the iTunes movies on my ext HDD.

    Second plan: For a little more money I could get another ATV plus a 16Gig iPad and use that to stream additional web content to the ATV. This plan is dependent on the announced updates for November actually happing.

    Third plan: Was to go the Mac Mini route and yes run Plex on it.

    This is still a work in progress.
  21. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    Received my AppleTV last night. Very easy to install and it is was up and running in about 20 min. The comment from the wife was "hey this is easy".

    I have a question and it may be a dumb one. We have a wireless router but i ran an ethernet cable to the ATV, how do i know which the ATV is using.

    The ethernet cable is plugged into the ATV, but going through the setup on the ATV i was not clear on which i was setting up.
  22. macrumors 68030

    From A Buick 8

    Never mind, see i said it was a dumb question. Turns out the cable i ran was not terminated correctly, once i fixed that it was very clear in the ATV setup which it was using.

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