How best to create a digital library?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by lls4f, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. lls4f macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2012
    United States
    Bear with me, please. This post will probably sound like it was written by an 80 year old.

    99% of my movies are on physical discs. This obviously takes up a ton of space and isn't very practical anymore. I would love to move to having the files digitally stored and streamable. My fundamental question is what is the best way to go about this? I know how to rip DVDs, etc. I have a MBA and an Apple TV. Is using iTunes plus an external drive the best way? Is plex the best way? My ideal solution here is to have a way to get at a digital library of movies from a television (and I don't mind buying other hardware like an amazon fire tv or chrome cast or something to do it) and watch high quality movies. What has prevented me from putting things into iTunes and using the Apple TV with it is having to keep my MBA open and running while watching. This seems silly to that point I might as well just watch it on my computer if it's just me.

    I'm a total newbie to this digital library stuff. I'm sure there is no ideal/perfect solution but what is a solid workable way to do make a digital library easily accessible?
  2. 2010mini macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    Well before you go ripping, check to see if your movies came with a digital copy code you an use to redeem via iTunes.

    Also, are all your movies on DVDs or Blu-rays? This matters as it determines how much work you will need to put in to convert them for iTunes compatibility.

    for a digital library, you have many choices depending on your needs. If you want to stay in the Apple ecosystem, then rip all movies to Apple TV format. Tag them and import to iTunes. then the apple tv can play them via iTunes Home Sharing
  3. betman macrumors 6502


    Jan 15, 2013
    Doesn't Ultraviolet give you their digital copies for free if you already own a physical copy?

    Seems like they will credit you with the digital copy if you bring it to a store (or apparently you can also do this at home):
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    There are several ways to handle your challenge and I'll just say that often get bogged down or stymied by some of the equipment/devices we think will do the job. - ATV is no different.

    Here are some things to consider - are you wanting the entire DVD (or Blue Ray) available with all the additional features and main menu or just the movie itself? Would you consider a different set up that uses other types of hardware that might cost a bit more?

    1) Mac Mini with XBMC or PLEX front end is an extremely robust unit for playback of digital movies. As well, you can switch over to iTunes and do web browsing if desire. Modern Minis come with HDMI connectivity so it can go directly to your TV or AVR (receiver if it has HDMI). For that matter, there are plenty of small PC units that will do similar with Linux or Windows installed.

    2) Higher end media players such as DUNE or Medi8tor. Depending on the model, some have a hard drive within and they can also stream from another source such as NAS or DAS. I think the Dune options are a great and you can create nice screens for playback akin to XBMC/PLEX with 3rd party tools. The output is excellent thanks to the use of Sigma chipsets. These units come with a remote which makes the entire usage far more like a typical home theater system.

    3) Some Blue Ray players offer up the ability to play files on network-abled storage (DLNA etc.). Some will also allow playback from drives via USB to the player. The only caveate with direct USB play is that chances are the drive must be formatted for Windows or some form of FAT and not Mac formatted.

    For those of us old enough to remember, Kodak put out these little instamatic cameras with flashcubes. They were by design, meant to be a vehicle to get the public to buy Kodak's film. I see the ATV as being similar as a vehicle to get people to buy from the iTunes store or rent films. In this, Apple has limited the types of files that can be played.

    If you have the time, go explore the Dune and Medi8tor models as well as some Blue Ray players. Dune offers various models from the flagship to their "smart" series. I suggest examining the smart series. Also, go to the XBMC and PLEX forums on their respective sites and you'll see plenty of discussion and some helpful people contributing.

    Now for some direct opinion - I think the Blue Ray and the Dune players do the best output, followed by the XBMC/Plex options and last on the list are all those 99 dollar type of units such as ATV, WDLive, Firefly etc. For best looking screens, XBMC and PLEX. Most flexible system - Mac Mini as it can do the playback of your digital files plus typical computer tasks. I use Blue Ray playback from my network storage, XBMC on a Mac Mini and in the past used a Dune player (now in another family member's household). I have set up ATV for friends, admired its simplicity and cursed it for its limitations.
  5. Lord Hamsa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    I think a lot depends on your current and future ecosystem. If you're in a pure Apple environment (OS X, iOS, ATV), iTunes /Mac Mini/external drive* is probably the simplest solution, using home sharing for the computers and set top devices and iTunes sync for iOS devices - that lets you have one place to manage all of your media.

    The major drawback is that you're locked into that ecosystem, and the default media format (m4a) doesn't readily port to non-Apple environments.

    * Or external drives - you can always expand the storage capacity of the iTunes library by adding additional drive space if you either tell iTunes not to automatically manage files or you're clever with setting up symbolic links.

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