Help me build my home theatre!

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Joe Fries, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    #1
    Hello MacRumors forums, this is my first post here and I would really like some help building the best home theatre possible.

    Some information on my living situation:
    I will be moving to an apartment in San Diego for school this fall and am in need of a home theatre/entertainment center. I have somewhere between 700-1000 DVD and Blu-Ray disks that I want to bring with me, digitally, of course. I will also have an Xbox 360 and a PS3. I also own a MBP 15" from spring of 09 and a Dell XPS Desktop PC. I will have dedicated cable internet in my apartment also.

    What I want:
    I thought I could just purchase a DVD HDD combo player and be done, but upon researching the products available, I found out that none of them suited my needs. I want to be able to store all of my DVDs, music, and photos and play them through my 1080p capable TV using the fewest amount of devices possible.

    I threw around the idea of buying a time capsule and apple TV to stream the data wirelessly, but today when I went to the local apple store to talk to the Geniuses about it, they suggested that I invest in a Mac Mini and use that as a server instead. Also, the problem with ATV is that the max output is 720p and I want to view my movies in 1080p. I know there is a solution out there and I have less than a month to find it.

    Gaming is a big deal to me also, and I was wondering if the Time capsule/Airport Extreme have any known problems connecting to Xbox 360's and keeping an open NAT.

    Budget is pretty much unlimited.
    Thanks in advance for the help.
     
  2. macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    i(am in the)cloud
    #2
    I have a similar setup.

    Content is the elephant in the room in the home theatre question. Where do you put all that stuff and how do you get access to it?

    I love my mac mini media server solution with a drobo. The drobo has been great and the ability to grow storage over time has been fantastic. I have 5 TBs of storage at the moment.

    I use a TC for sharing my internet connection and it plays well with the PS3, xbox and even the TV. It is hardwired however as I prefer wiring when I can.

    The mini is great. It serves my iMac, iPad, MBP, apple TV, iPhone, PS3 and XBOX. It is also good to have a computer on my HDTV for surfing the web.

    My library is enormous- almost 1000 movies, 1500 tv episodes and music, books, podcasts etc.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    #3
    Thanks for the response. I think I'm going to go with a mac mini with a couple of external drives. I'm going to wait and see if anything groundbreaking/worth waiting for will be released with the new Apple TV though.
     
  4. macrumors 65816

    randy98mtu

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    #4
    If you've got a month, you better get to ripping. It's going to take longer than that to process 700-1000 movies. :eek:

    If you have a Mac, install Plex and start trying things. It's nice, and I like it for the ability to play 1080p movies. And scrubbing your content is great. My only problem with it is I'm apparently just the customer Apple is looking for. I'm pretty well set in the iTunes ecosystem. And in that, Apple TV is still the best, with a few caveats of its own. As I said, Plex is great for scrubbing and it can play your 1080p movies. To me, it's the user interface and integration with iTunes that is lacking. I can't play my DRM stuff. I don't ever find myself playing music on it because I just don't like how it works with the shared library. And I miss the great photo screen saver from the Apple TV. That said, the Apple TV can't do 1080p or DTS audio being stuck with mp4's. The metadata on your movies is only what you put on them. It runs hot and has it's own dropped wireless connection issues. I just find that the overall experience is more convenient and pleasing. I'm really praying this next Apple TV opens up 1080p. If it does that, I'll be done with my Mac Mini and Plex. And FWIW, I seem to be in the minority. Most people around here seem to love Plex. I don't hate it, I just like the iTunes integration of the Apple TV better.

    So play with Plex on your current Mac and wait till September. Start making Apple Universal mp4's for your DVD's and hold off on Blurays until after the iPod event.
     
  5. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Location:
    Northern VA (outside DC)
    #5
    Do you want a copy of the DVD on your hard drive (including menu, extras, etc.) or just the actual movie part? That will make a huge difference in how much hard drive space you'll need.

    Also, make sure it's backed up. You don't want to have to do this twice.
     
  6. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #6
    A ripped DVD is about 4GB in size. A Blu-Ray can be over 40GB. That would mean you would need at least 4TB of storage, depending on the amount of Blu-Rays.

    I would say your best bet is to use a desktop PC (I'm sure you have one in your house) and use HandBrake to encode the DVDs. That will drop the size to less than 1GB depending on your settings. Menus etc will be excluded though, only the actual film will remain I think. With PC you can easily rip Blu-Rays as well and then encode them into Mac friendly format.

    1000 movies will take a long time so make sure you have fast DVD and Blu-Ray drive in your computer. It'll take ages with laptop DVD drive, thus I said use desktop drive as they are faster. You should invest on another DVD drive as well if your PC is fast enough so you can encode two at the same time (or use the Blu-Ray drive to rip)
     
  7. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    #7
    I just did a rough count and got 20 Blu Ray disks. I believe I will have my PC up and running soon and I think it has 2 drives that can burn. Should I invest in an eSATA card for my MBP so that I can transfer files faster to the external drive?
    I only am interested in the movie part of the DVD, I don't need all of the extras.
     
  8. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2004
    #8
    I have mentioned this hard math before, encoding 1000 DVD's with a c2d processor will take you about 2000 hours. With an i5 iMac it will take you about 500 hours. That is a difference of 1500 hours -- which is over two additional months of non-stop processor pegging encoding. Assuming your time is worth even a little bit of money, it would make sense to upgrade your computer before you launch into this encoding project.
     
  9. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #9
    If you are going to use your PC to rip the movies, there is no need for eSATA card in MBP as you will be transferring the movies from the PC to external drive thus get external with eSATA connection and get eSATA card/adapter for your PC if it doesn't have eSATA port.

    Also, make sure you have right format in the external. FAT32 is probably the best one as most of your movies are DVDs so the 4GB file size limit doesn't bottleneck you. For Blu-Rays, you can dedicate a ~250GB NTFS partition.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    #10
    That does seem like quite a bit of time, but I think I would rather sacrifice bringing a few DVDs over dropping $1,800 on a new laptop or desktop mac.
     
  11. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #11
    You could just update your PC. For less than 300$, you can get new mobo and six-core AMD which will be blazing fast in encodes. I know you might not want to spend money on it but for this purpose, it's better and a lot cheaper than dropping money on 8-core Mac Pro.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    #12
    Solid idea. I didn't even think about upgrading my PC. Thanks a lot. Ill definitely look into that.
    Should I go with the i5 if it is the same price, or possibly i7 for $70 more?
     
  13. macrumors 68020

    peskaa

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #13
    My suggestion would be to pick up a WD TV Live for the 1080p output to the TV, and the WD TV accepts a lot of formats (rather than the AppleTV!). This then means you won't need your PC, or any other computer, on and serving media.

    The backend for this would then be a Netgear ReadyNAS with whatever capacity of drives you need for your media.

    Total cost will be lower than a Mac Mini by itself and far more flexible.
     
  14. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #14
    i7 is worth it when encoding due Hyper-Threading (each core can drive up to two threads causing 8 virtual cores). However, at AMD's Phenom x6s, they are still faster in encoding due real cores plus the price ain't bad, 200$ for 6-core @2.8GHz IIRC. Of course if your current PC has motherboard with either LGA 1156 or LGA 1366 socket, an i5 or i7 is better because there is no need for new mobo.

    I think that wouldn't solve OP's problem as OP doesn't want to bring all his DVDs with him (that's what I understood), he wants to rip them to external HD and bring that with him, which I totally understand. That WD would be great for playing the video when it's finally ripped though. It's a good idea, upgrade the PC and use it for ripping and then buy the WD TV and hook external to it and use it for playback
     
  15. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Location:
    Northern VA (outside DC)
    #15
    I think the WD player might work for him, you put everything on a hard drive, connect it to the WD player and hit play.

    How did you end up with 1,000 dvds/blu rays? I thought I had a decent amount, but it's probably only 100. I can't imagine you'll be watching almost 3 movies a day in the next year. (Please note, I would totally have that many movies if I had the funds. 'Til then Netflix...)

    Are you going away to college? I would suggest going through your DVDs and pulling out the ones you really want and encoding them first, you can always get more onto your machine during breaks.

    Also, encoding goes quicker when the dvd is already copied onto your hard drive. You might want to start ripping them now so you can encode later.
     
  16. macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    Pa
  17. macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #17
    FYI, I am also looking for a media player solution (I currently have an :apple:TV and a WDTV Live Plus) and was just about to plunk down my money for the new Mac Mini when I saw over on the Apple support forum that many people are having an issue with the HDMI port when switching off the tv/avr or changing video sources away from the Mac Mini. It seems this causes the Mini to get into a lockup situation trying to re-sync to the video target, sometimes causing a kernel panic and often causing the mini to become unresponsive and overheat. I expect Apple will work this out given time, but until then it can be a real pain (Apple says to turn off the Mac Mini before switching the tv/avr away from the Mini!). I am now looking at the Asrock 330-HT media box (ION, dual-core Atom, space for 2nd hdd, dvd or blu-ray drive, etc.).
     
  18. macrumors 68020

    peskaa

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #18
    Hence I recommended the ReadyNAS as the storage backend. Saves having a power-sucking computer on 24/7, which in the long run will add up.
     
  19. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #19
    Yeah, I understand. I didn't say OP should take his PC with him, just rip them now at home and then put them in external (or that NAS) and bring that with him when he moves (and use for example the WD TV for playback, it has USB right?). I doubt neither of those, the NAS or WD TV can rip DVDs :p But I got your point, you were talking about playback solution when all movies are nicely ripped to an external :cool:
     
  20. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    #20
    It basically looks like we robbed a blockbuster or something. Yes, I am going away to college and I would really like whatever I have my media playing through to also allow me to use netflix, which makes the WD TV kind of useless to me. That new Boxee TV looks incredible, but it will be a long 2 months with limited media should I decide to wait. At the same time though, if the new Apple TV, that may or may not be announced at the WWDC, is coming, then it better be able to blow that boxee box away or I think apple's 4th leg will snap off of the stool.
     
  21. macrumors 68020

    steviem

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    New York, Baby!
    #21
    FAT32 would probably be bad if you want to get more blu-ray movies because of this limit.
     
  22. macrumors 68020

    peskaa

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #22
    Your limitations are going to start making this unfeasible without multiple units. AppleTV will never support Netflix, as it competes with their own iTunes service for rentals/sales, and the number of decent streamers that support 1080p with a wide range of codecs and then streaming services on top is minimal at best.

    In terms of a "right now" solution, the WDTV is the best on the market. Your Netflix can be served off the 360, and Hulu Plus off the PS3. If you don't want that number of units, then simply use the PS3 for DNLA streaming, but you'll have to watch your encodes in terms of codecs and size.


    [EDIT: Actually, just use the PS3. Forgot that you guys in the States get Netflix and Hulu on the PS3]
     
  23. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #23
    I said NTFS partition for Blu-Rays because with FAT32 you're limited to 4GB per file

     
  24. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    #24
    So if you guys had to choose between:
    1. Mac Mini
    2. WD TV + PS3 for Netflix and Hulu
    3. Wait for new Apple TV
    4. Wait for Boxee TV

    Which would you choose?
     
  25. macrumors 68020

    peskaa

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #25
    Obviously I'd pick 2. You already have the PS3, so the WD TV is a cheap buy, and ticks all the boxes. The Mac Mini would be horribly expensive in comparison, and also has an inferior TV interface (out of the box). New AppleTV is highly unlikely to do what you want it to do, as Apple want you to play their files, not your own ripped ones (the chances of getting a BD rip working at 1080p is basically nil). Boxee would be my second choice, but it's an unknown quantity at this time.
     

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