Media Library/Backup/Show on HDTV

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jbeucher, May 15, 2008.

  1. jbeucher macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2008
    I currently have:

    a 3 month old Macbook with about 80GB of photos,
    an external 250 GB hardrive that serves as back for the laptop and also has a good number of home DV videos not on the laptop
    about 50 DVDs for the kids and my wife and I.

    I have hooked up the laptop to the 42" tv as an large monitor for Front Row shows for relatives and the kids; it looks superb and the kids love it. THe problem is that I end up keeping the MacBook hooked up to the TV and lose use of the Macbook while the kids are watching.

    I would like to set up something where we can access all photos, movies, (ripped) dvds on the tv from a central repository-a media library. It looks like I could view photos, movies etc with AppleTV, but I know I will (eventually) exceed the higher storage of AppleTV.

    How do I get more storage to work with AppleTV? I was thinking of getting a 1TB firewire drive so I have room to grow but I read that you can't add it to AppleTV?

    I also want to be able to backup photos and movies that I either put on the laptop or the external drive or any new Mac I get. I saw that time capsule can do this but it cannot be Raid(ed).

    The combination of time capsule, appletv and extra drive seems expensive (and I think I would have to get a 'n' router too has we have verizon fios g router).

    What is the best (cheapest) way to be able to do this? I thought maybe a Mac Mini with an external HD, hooked up directly to the TV, but then was wondering how to back up my data as well to that computer hard drive.

    Sorry for the noob questions, but I can't seem to find a solution.

  2. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816


    Jan 11, 2008
    No need to apologize for asking a question. It's a great way to find solutions. :)

    I don't have the perfect solution to your problem, but merely some suggestions. First off, the Time Capsule is also a wireless 'n' router, so if you decide to purchase that as a back-up solution, you can sell your old 'g' router, and use the Time Capsule as your wireless router instead.

    Another consideration is to look at your budget, and your time, and weigh out which is more important to you, and where you can make compromises. Here is why:

    If you do decide to purchase the :apple:TV, which sounds like exactly what you want to fit your needs, please consider the following:

    You don't have to store your entire video library on the :apple:TV device. You can purchase either hard drive version, depending on how often you're willing to switch out content in iTunes on your MB. Your external drive can still store your existing content, and you can rent, or keep your current interests loaded in iTunes, and swap out things you don't plan on watching that week or month, or however you have it set up.

    This will free up your MB, provide the family entertainment you are looking for, and keep your overall costs reasonable. Since the :apple:TV becomes the center of your entertainment system, you can probably only rip the DVD's you plan to watch on your iPod? And leave the rest in the future for watching through your standalone DVD player.

    Rented content can/will be erased after viewing, anyway, so it's not as big of a storage issue? This will also allow you to continue with your existing router, or upgrade to either the Airport Extreme Base Station, or the Time Capsule (both of which are wireless routers capable of connecting external hard drive storage, so no need to purchase both as that would be redundant).

    The only real reason to worry about the storage limits on the :apple:TV is if you're needing to have your entire library stored on the actual device, and I can't imagine the scenario that would require such. Swapping out content doesn't take very long. I suggest getting the 160GB :apple:TV, and using your existing equipment, or upgrading to the Airport Extreme or Time Capsule as well. That way you can access the data stored on your network with your MB without being cabled to the router.

    Another consideration: Streaming movies to the :apple:TV via NAS can be an issue, due to the fact that you have 3 wireless streams running simultaneously in order to get the content to your :apple:TV, (NAS->Router->(WiFI)->iTunes Server (MB)->(WiFi)->Router->(WiFi)->:apple:TV).

    There are some hacks and hardware to minimize this, but the hacks are at your own risk, and depend on your existing skills. Here is a link to a harddrive that may work better for your situation. You'd install your iTunes on this drive in order to minimize the streams (NAS/iTunes Server->Router->(WiFi)->:apple:TV).

    Good luck to you, I hope you find a solution that works well for you and your family. :)
  3. jbeucher thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2008
    Thank you digital nicotine, your post was highly informative.

    I don't 'have to have' appletv, but so far it seems the easiest and most user friendly method.

    We don't rent anything from iTunes currently, so most likely just Dvds, videos & photos etc we have already and new ones we add to the library. You are right, we don't have to keep everything on there, 160gb is a lot. It was more my ideal-hard to predict the wants of three kids under age of 6.;)

    I saw the Linkstation Live, that's pretty cool and reasonably priced. The Itunes server and web access are very cool.

    So the possible configuration could be:

    1) apple tv hooked up to the TV.
    Linkstation Live hooked up to Macbook?
    (cost of about $650 for new :apple:tv and LL)

    2) apple tv hooked up to the TV.
    If I wanted the Macbook to be free, I would need to hook the Linkstation to an airport extreme?
    (cost of about $850 for new :apple:tv and LL, and APExtreme)

    3) apple tv hooked up to the TV.
    Big external drive hooked up to APextreme.
    (cost of about $750, but no web based access).

    4) or I could do appletv + time machine but that wouldn't give me web access to the files like LL?
    (cost of about $810)

    with any of the options I would use the Macbook to swap out files on Apple TV, right?



    I also saw the LaCie Ethernet Big Disk
    but that looks like it can't be accessed via the web like Linkstation.
  4. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816


    Jan 11, 2008
    I read a lot more reviews on the Buffalo Linkstation Live since yesterday, and I'm sure I can't recommend it, as the reviews were very mixed. The main problem lies in the fact that it's using rather new tech. that Apple hasn't signed on to fully support yet. They tout that it's Mac compatible, but I checked the DLNA website, and Apple is not listed. So unless you want to be a beta tester, I can't recommend purchasing this. ;)

    I figured you had young kids, and understand how fickle they can be about their viewing choices. So here is what I'd do in your shoes, and this is the scenario I can guarantee you will save you money, and work well:

    If you purchase the 160 GB :apple:TV, and an HDMI cable (assuming you don't have one laying around), and store the iTunes content most likely to satisfy your children on the actual :apple:TV device, you can decide whether or not the Airport Extreme upgrade is necessary now, or if your existing router will be fine.

    This will free up your MB, aside from when your kids demand content not already stored on the :apple:TV. If they do ask for other content, then you'll have the option of either streaming from your MB's iTunes wirelessly, or else loading it onto the device with your MB by swapping out content on the :apple:TV. Once it's swapped out, again your MB will be freed up.

    You can also store the majority of your video library on an external hard drive you already own, and connect it to your MB via USB 2.0 cable whenever you're swapping content in iTunes. This allows you to only sync it to your MB when swapping out content, and thus freeing up your MB the majority of the time.

    If you do purchase an Airport Extreme, you can opt to swap content wirelessly between the external hard drive attached to your AE via USB 2.0, and your MB. The speed boost in 802.11n with your internet connection will depend on your ISP, as many aren't fast enough to take advantage of these speeds yet. But the speed boost will also translate to your wireless network, when streaming content between 802.11n enabled devices wirelessly. The slowest device on the network sets the speed, so if they aren't all 802.11n, then your network won't be either.

    That's the lowest cost solution. My other suggestion follows:

    You can also purchase a new or used Mac Mini to use solely as your media server. They're fairly inexpensive, and powerful enough (core 2 duo version preferably). You can use it's main hard drive to store your media, and when you outgrow that, you can attach external hard drives via USB 2.0 for even more space.

    Then utilize your wireless network to stream content from it's iTunes library to your :apple:TV, virtually replacing the function currently filled by your MB, and freeing it up.

    This solution is more expensive, but resolves existing issues, and allows room for plenty of growth in the future.

    As far as I know, streaming :apple:TV content from a NAS requires a hack, or additional software, and the reliability of this method can depend on the quality of your router, thus most likely causing the additonal expense of purchasing the Airport Extreme, or similar, and the potential risks involved with manipulating the process with hacks or 3rd party software.

    In all good conscience, these are the only scenarios I can suggest to resolve your challenges. Good luck to you, and ask any questions I may have missed or are unclear. :)

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