Laptop as media server

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Undecided, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Undecided macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    Anyone use a laptop as a dedicated (i.e., you don't constantly move it around) media server?

    The reason I ask is that I have to believe that Apple is going to come out with an ultraportable/netbook/tablet soon (June?) and I thought I'd use the Macbook as a media server at that point, instead of selling it and buying a mini.
     
  2. robotartfashion macrumors 6502

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    #2
    some people use them as plex boxes, there's info on how to run it without the screen open on ze google! :)

    good luck!
     
  3. z291977 macrumors newbie

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    Apr 23, 2007
    #3
    I run a macbook with plex. I have a usb hub for the hard drives. I keep the lid closed all the time and never had any problems at all. I think a mini may be your better choice, but I already had a macbook laying around.
     
  4. vendettabass macrumors 6502a

    vendettabass

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    #4
    I've often thought about this. I guess having a decent battery could be really useful in the event of a power outage!
     
  5. roidy macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Over the weekend I installed the 120 day free trial of WHS + iTunes on my Acer Aspire One Netbook that I nolonger use. It now serves all my iTunes media to my AppleTV from 2 1Tb USB drives and so far seems to works fine. I was suprised the little 1.6Ghz Atom processor handles it ok.
     
  6. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

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    #6
    I am thinking of doing the same thing with my powerbook.

    Do you think a 1.5GHz G4 processor can handle it? I will use it to serve my ATV.

    Any thoughts.
     
  7. rockstarjoe macrumors 6502a

    rockstarjoe

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    washington dc
    #7
    I'm using my Macbook CoreDuo (2006) hooked up via mini-DVI to HDMI to a Samsung 46" LCD. At first I didn't think it was going to work that well, but I have to tell you it is pretty awesome!

    I have a universal remote (Logitech Harmony 550) and I've programmed it to control Frontrow via the remote. My iTunes music resides on another computer (shared), but the local iTunes library is pointed at this share so all of my artwork shows up correctly.

    I stream everything in this way, over 802.11g, and it works really well. Movies look great (not HD, but still good). I highly recommend giving this a try if you already have a laptop. :)
     
  8. roidy macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    I don`t see why not, the thing with using it to just serve up the media is that iTunes on the server dosen`t have to actually play the files itself and so it`s not important to have a top of the range fast processor.
     
  9. Undecided thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Agreed! What a perfect task for a slower (not that it's slow) Mac. It just needs to keep up with the network, which doesn't take much at all.

    His 1.5 ghz G4 even has gigabit ethernet, so wired to the network is definitely the way to go (even with only 100mbit ethernet, it's preferred).

    I have a 2.26 Ghz Core 2 Duo Macbook (late 2007), already jacked with 4 GB of RAM and a 320 GB drive.

    I was going to get a mini as a media server, but now I'm thinking of waiting until June to see what Apple does. If it comes out with a netbook that runs OS X (not iPhone OS), I'd get that and relegate the Macbook to media server duty (though it's still very much a fine laptop). In my case, it wouldn't just be serving up iTunes media - it would have to actually play it.

    Heck, if such a netbook doesn't run OS X, I'm sure I'd get it anyway...:)
     
  10. JonHimself macrumors 68000

    JonHimself

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    #10
    I'm in a similar position. I have a broken macbook pro that I want to replace with a netbook AND desktop. I'm hoping that something comes out that runs OSX (or at the very least let's me download torrents while I sit at Starbucks using their wifi) so that I can buy that and a mac mini... otherwise I might have to pony up for a macbook air and then try to find a used mac mini that would be cheaper.
    Of course the mac mini would be used to serve up my iTunes content for my apple tv would basically be the media server/computer I use to rip DVDs.
     
  11. Undecided thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    I was thinking of having a Mac hooked up to my living room tv, and moving the ATV to the bedroom, or other secondary tv (which I don't actually have yet...), now that you can rent HD from iTunes. (However, per another message I posted, it doesn't look like all rentable HD is available from iTunes....at least, not yet).

    So, that Mac would have to serve up (to the ATV), rip (DVDs), convert (AVIs, MKVs), download, and play it all. Maybe even run securityspy to serve up the camera's image (though I'd have to remember to turn it off when I'm there!).
     
  12. JonHimself macrumors 68000

    JonHimself

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    #12
    When I think about these things I try not to think about money as being a hinderance (that way I'll think of the best solution first, then figure out how to budget).

    I would get the mac mini to use as my main computer.. rip dvds, convert files, downloading, be my main itunes library (audio and video) and be part of a standard computer set-up (monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc... not a tv).. then just get an apple tv for the bed room AND living room. While it would be ok to use the mac mini in the living room... when you're converting videos, downloading torrents, copying dvds AND trying to playback HD videos it could be loud and stutter a bit (I'm not sure, but I guess it could). Not to mention, at least in my experience, if I get on a tear of ripping DVDs and converting them I have boxes and discs lying around everywhere... not exactly how I would like my living room to be if that's where the mini was set-up.
     
  13. statik13 macrumors regular

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    Jun 6, 2008
    #13
    I had an old powerbook G4 that I used as a dedicated media server. It did the trick pretty nicely considering how old it was. I mostly used it for iTunes and a handful of SD quality movies.
     
  14. natebookpro macrumors 6502a

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    Maryland
    #14
    You really need very little processing power to serve up media. I have an AMD Athlon 1.3ghz with 256mb ram as my itunes server. I can stream to my Apple TV and my laptop off the servers hd without a stutter. Just to put it in perspective, when I got my iBook G4 about 6 years ago I was amazed at how much faster it was than this Athlon desktop I had.
     
  15. Undecided thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Which makes it all the more frustrating that the Time Capsule can't serve up an Itunes library to get picked up by ATVs. Maybe I'll pick up a used mini, stick a 1TB external drive on it, and use that just to rip/serve -and, like Jon, himself, says, use an ATV with each tv to play.
     
  16. natebookpro macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 25, 2008
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    Maryland
    #16
    Completely understood. I wish I could use my Time Capsule as my server. I have actually been looking at G4 MDD's online. You can pick one up that can run Leopard for around $200. Only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger is the fact that I really don't need one at all except to get Windows completely off my network. Then I also start thinking well if im spending $250 why not just try to get a mini off the refurb store for $419. Oh the dilemmas...
     
  17. TheCheapGeek macrumors 6502

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    Jul 10, 2008
    #17
    I just acquired a g4 cube and am in the process of setting it up as a media server. I think i am going to do a video series on my site about moving to a central media/file server.
     

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