Newbie Needs Help with HTPC

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by co80126, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. co80126 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    #1
    So im new to the whole HTPC set up. I have about 1.5 TB of movies saved on an external HD, and i just bought a mac mini server to use as a HTPC. I have it hooked up to my samsung 46' LED. I also have a Synology DiskStation 4-Bay Network Attached Storage DS411J with 4 2TB drives that i will be hooking up to the mac mini. What I need help with are two things.

    1. I hooked up the mac mini real quick to watch a movie (running Plex) and the movie is laggy and is not very good quality (480p). Is this what I can always expect from my HTPC?

    2. Since the Synology Diskstation also comes with server software, am i better off returning the mac mini server, getting the scaled down version, putting in my own memory and then using the Diskstations server?

    Thank you in advance from a novice!!!
     
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    #2
    You put the cart before the horse. I have a standard 2.26GHz Mini with an external HD for movies. No issues whatsoever with HD or DVD movies. I use EyeTV and the existing DVD player software for movies. They work perfectly. I've never used Plex.
     
  3. cocacolakid macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    #3
    Plex is popular, but I had nothing but problems with it. It crashed frequently while watching a movie, and since it's constantly trying to monitor everything and update it's folders, it slows down the Mac.

    I use a combo of Boxee, VLC Player, and Front Row, depending on what type of file I want to play (I find Boxee doesn't always play MKV files that well, and VLC does great no matter what you throw at it). I mostly use Boxee if I want to stream a TV show, or use Front Row if I just want to quickly watch an AVI movie/TV show.

    Other than MKV files having some problems in Boxee, I have no problems playing any other types of files, and as I said, VLC Player will play everything without problems.

    There are even remotes for VLC Player and Front Row (called Back Row) you can put on your iPad or iPhone.

    If you haven't done it already, download and install Perian. It has a ton of codecs and makes Quicktime/Front Row work better.

    http://perian.org/
     
  4. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #4
    I am struggling to follow your post so let's go back a couple of steps.

    You will need a server, a client and a display(e.g. TV) for your HTPC setup.

    The mac mini can be both your server and your client. The server is basically where your media is stored. You'll need client software such as xbmc, boxee or plex installed on the mac mini. I personally prefer xbmc. The client software then streams your movies from your server (nas) or plays them directly from your mini's HDD.

    I can't answer your question about stuttering and quality without further info. How was the movie encoded? What was the source? I rip my bluray and DVD discs using makemkv. In order to stream bluray rips (1080p) I would recommend that you have an Ethernet connection between the mini and the nas or keep them on the mac mini. Most people struggle to stream 1080p via wireless connections.

    I have no issues with quality or stuttering, but some mkv files that are rips of older DVDs (e.g. The Sopranos season 1) need de-interlacing switched on (blend or auto works well).

    This is a 1080p rip of the Simpsons movie (blu-ray) playing via xbmc. The only 1080p rip that I have problems with is Apocalypto. It stutters no matter what machine or software I use even when it's stored locally.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Old screenshot of when I was moving my data and setting up xbmc to figure out what shows are in what folder

    [​IMG]




    The other option is to use handbrake and compress your media into an iTunes friendly format (I use the apple universal preset). I am OCD about quality so I keep mk full rips for the tv and compressed H264 for the iPad.
     
  5. co80126 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    #5
    i used ripit to rip my dvds, and then put them on an external HD, i am returning the mac mini server and getting the mac mini. I am using a synology 411j running 4 2tb hds. In plex it said my dvds were only 480p? i dont know how this is considering i used ripit and they look fine on my MBP, but lagged bad on my tv (samsung LED 46')

    Thank you for the help!!
     
  6. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #6
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Check the settings that you're using with ripit. Something has gone wrong somewhere.
     
  7. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    #7

    I also use ripit. It's an excellent program.

    The native resolution of DVD is 480p, so Plex is correct about that. Using an LCD front projector, my DVDs look good-very good relative to Blu-Ray. There is no stutter/lag using the DVD player software which comes with the Mac. Note that some DVDs do look worse than others, and will generally look worse if you're sitting too close to your display.

    Aside from Plex and our displays, another difference in our setups is your use of a synology 411j. I have my USB hard drives directly connected to the Mini. I don't know why the synology would create a problem, but you should definitely try a direct connection to your Mini and use the DVD player software to see if that improves your playback.
     
  8. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #8
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I cannot understand why the op has stutter when purporting to a tv versus a monitor? Is the configuration the same for both cases? Are you using the nas?
     
  9. co80126 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    #9
    i was not using the NAS at the time, just an external HD
     
  10. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #10
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

    So with an external drive you were seeing stuttering with a tv but not with a monitor?
     
  11. co80126 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    #11
    i was seeing stuttering on the TV, mac mini with external connected, connected to my Samsung LED. But when I used the external connected to my computer quality is fine???
     
  12. Seydlitz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #12
    Could it be judder? ;)

    A few things you can try: Check if the TV uses artificial smoothening. Turn it on/off to see what it does. Check the frequency. Is it 50/60 hz? 100hz? 200hz?

    Is it 24p?

    A good thing to try is to use the HDMI port which is intended for a "PC" almost every tv has such a port. The "PC" HDMI port is without any post processing, which is usually the best solution.


    On the client side: it might be a wrong interlacing setting (perhaps it's not correctly identified). Changing that setting can make a diference, but it can also seriously bork the image-quality.


    On a side note, TheSeb, why in earths name would he need to setup a server? He has a nas, any device with a modern mediaplayer can access it. He just needs to instal XBMC or PLEX, map to his NAS and it's done.

    Don't overcomplicate it ;)
     
  13. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #13
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Sorry. That's what I meant - the nas is the "server" in this case or the mac mini could be both the client and the server. I hope that makes more sense.
     

Share This Page