Home media solution? (long post!)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by whooleytoo, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. whooleytoo macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #1
    Rather than continue to whine that the AppleTV or Xbox 360 don't do what I want them to do (much as I love to!), I've decided to build my own home media solution instead.

    I'd appreciate any help in figuring out how the heck to get all this together. So far:

    Plan:
    1. Rip all of my CDs, DVDs and HD-DVDs (grrrr!) to a high-capacity RAID, which will be used for backup.
    2. Copy everything to a media-server (a high-capacity NAS RAID).
    3. Stream from the media-server to my TV via a media extender.
    4. ???
    5. Profit!

    What I have:
    - TV/sound system with free HDMI & component inputs.
    - 802.11g network.
    - 1 Mac, 1 PC to do the ripping/transcoding etc.
    - 1TB RAID for ripping & backup.
    - Remote control power adaptors for powering down all the devices around the house with a single click! :)

    What I need:
    Media Extender - to get the content onto the TV.
    Media Server - an NAS to store everything.
    Fast network - 802.11g doesn't cut it, and I don't know if 802.11n will. Ethernet would be better but messy. Power circuits might be an option?

    Media Extender
    An AppleTV might work, but I doubt it can stream content from anything other than a Mac/PC running iTunes. (Can it?). If not, it's not much use.

    I have a Xbox360, but it's limited to .wmvs as far as I know, plus it's difficult to find an NAS that will work with it. I could plug a hard drive with media directly into the 360 and that would work well, but I'd have to disconnect it and plug it into the PC every time I wanted to make changes. Ick.

    There are others such as Network MediaPlayer 350, but reviews have been poor - playing back HD content can stutter a lot even playing from its internal hard drive.

    [​IMG]

    Any other good (high performance!) media extenders?

    Media Server
    The TS-109 Pro looks promising, and 'claims' it can stream audio & HD video to a 360 or PS3, but so do many others. Has anyone tried this? How well does this work?

    [​IMG]

    Another option would be the Linksys NSLU2 (or just "Slug"). This doesn't have any storage, but attaches onto a USB2 drive to share it over the network. Apparently it's easy to flash the firmware and install Linux onto it, plus TwonkyMedia to share media to devices like the 360, but that's a bit daunting for me with no Linux experience.

    [​IMG]

    Fast Network
    An 802.11n network (if that's fast enough) would be ideal. The only complication is my broadband router is in another room, so I'd need two 802.11n routers. (So for example, my 360 would then connect via Ethernet to an 802.11n router under the TV, wirelessly to the second Wifi router, then via Ethernet to the broadband router, and out.) Is that too complex?

    Ethernet is straightforward, but involves lots of messy cabling.

    Using the power circuitry is a tidy option, but the speeds seem quite slow, probably about the same in real life as a 802.11g network. Example: SlingLink Turbo

    [​IMG]

    So, any advice on media extenders/media servers/home networking? :p

    Many thanks (and kudos!) to any hardened geeks who made it down this far.

    :)
     
  2. whooleytoo thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #2
    Ok, update:

    I'm cooling to the idea of using a 360 to get the content onto the TV. It just seems to be hit 'n' miss whether (or how well) it'll work with a given NAS.

    The Qnap NAS seems to get great reviews, but is quite expensive. It costs about 200 euros, add in around 190 for a 1TB internal SATA drive and you're almost at 400 euros for a solution that should (but might not) work with a 360.

    The alternative - a Mac mini with a 1TB external harddrive; plugged into the HDTV via VGA/DVI. It's a bit more expensive, but at least I'd know it would work. It would also be easy to copy files to from a Mac or PC, and if I needed to I could create a basic media library/player programme myself to present the UI on the TV.

    Has anyone tried using a Mac mini for video & audio playback on a TV? In particular, HD movie clips off a (fast) external hard drive?
     
  3. cohibadad macrumors 6502a

    cohibadad

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    #3
    I like the idea of a RAID'd NAS for media. You need the safety and size. I use :apple:TV and love it. If you had the NAS connected to your Mac/PC by gigabit ethernet and used wireless N, it would perform very well. I use AEBS with WDS to extend my wireless N and it streams beautifully. Ideally I would use all hardwired but I don't want wires everywhere. Gigabit ethernet for all connections gives you much smoother slow/FF/RW.
     
  4. whooleytoo thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #4
    Yeah, the AppleTV would be great for a media-extender, though the problem is I don't know how it works with an NAS. I know some NAS's include an iTunes server so you can stream directly from them without a Mac/PC, but I think it's music only; and I need music & video.

    I'm a little worried about the amount of grunt in the AppleTV too, I'm hoping to play HD content too, and the AppleTV can't play anything higher than 5Mbps from what I can see.

    One major plus though is that the AppleTV is quiet. The 360 is just so loud it's distracting.
     
  5. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #5
    :apple:TV requires a Bluetooth-like PIN code to enable streaming from a shared iTunes library, so all of the third party media servers are locked out from using it with the default firmware.

    Since you're looking to DIY, why not stick with the :apple:TV and just hack it to add the functionality you want?

    B
     
  6. whooleytoo thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #6
    I'd love to - it'd be an inexpensive option - but I don't know anything about hacking an AppleTV. If anyone has any pointers or tips, they'd be hugely appreciated!

    Funnily enough, I'd be a lot more comfortable coding my own media-centre interface on a Mac mini with either a Flash or Core Animation UI, than I would be hacking an AppleTV; though the mini would be a bit more expensive.

    I'm unsure though - can you get 5.1 surround sound from a mini to a HDTV (I think the TV has a DVI and two RCA audio inputs - can a mini supply surround sound via these somehow?)

    As an aside: one problem I had was I didn't know which filesystem to use on the ripping/backup RAID. Windows doesn't support HFS+, and OSX can't write to NTFS. Since I needed to rip from both OS's, and can't be limited to files of just 4GB, I'd be snookered with FAT-32.

    MacFuse (with the NTFS plugin) came to the rescue, enabling writing to NTFS volumes by mounting a Firewire NTFS drive as a writable network mount. (Might be common knowledge, bt was news to me!).
     
  7. angiesdaddy78 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    #7
    Xtream Media server

    I want to let you know that i recently Purchased an Xtream Media Server from this company called Custom Technology here i So Cal. This thing is awesome. So far I have got over 60 DVDs on it. with cover art, actors list and bios from the web. It also holds and plays Blu-Ray movies. Jefferey Asherbranner and Jason Jennings from from custom tech helped me pick out the Pro-4800. I can even hook it up in another room and stream movies to my other flat panel while I'm watching a Blu-Ray. I would recommend an Xtream Media Server to anyone. The number is 888-752-7624 and there website is www.xtreammediaservers.com
    Very Happy
     
  8. angiesdaddy78 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    #8
    Xtream Media server

    I want to let you know that i recently Purchased an Xtream Media Server from this company called Xtream Media here in So Cal. This thing is awesome. So far I have got over 60 DVDs on it. with cover art, actors list and bios from the web. It also holds and plays Blu-Ray movies. Jefferey Asherbranner and Jason Jennings from from Xtream Media helped me pick out the Pro-4800. I can even hook it up in another room and stream movies to my other flat panel while I'm watching a Blu-Ray. I would recommend an Xtream Media Server to anyone. The number is 888-752-7624 and there website is www.xtreammediaservers.com
    Very Happy
     

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