Question for all of you cordcutters/streamers

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by taylord22, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. taylord22 macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2012
    I'm looking to learn more about advanced networking, home theater/streaming, etc...

    I tried using the search feature on the page, and while the results it yielded were relevant, they weren't truly relevant to the beginner.

    My question to all of you is: is there an renowned guide/FAQ for streaming content around your house? I'd like to learn myself, as I get some of the principles, but can't quite put it all together.

    For instance:

    I have a tri-level home where the modem is located in the basement along with: Airport Extreme, Pioneer Vsx1021 Receiver (attached to an Airport Express), Panny Plasma, Apple TV 3, Xbox 360, PS3

    On the middle floor, about 25ft away, I will have a home office consisting of a 2012 iMac, Airport Express (latest), and printer

    I'd like to be able to stream my media library (in 1080p) to the TV in my basement, (as well as potentially the other 2 TVs in the house), and, I'd like to have backups on my CPU.

    Is my best option to purchase a time capsule and stream from my iMac to my TV using plex and Apple TV 3? Or, should I just purchase an NAS (or MacMini server for that matter)...and if I'm going to be streaming various file types, should I have a more expandable HTPC than an AppleTV 3?

    Gah, so many questions, but so many of the same (beginners) questions...which is why I figure someone has created a n00b guide, or useful FAQ/Sticky somewhere?
  2. linds15 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2012
    Great White North
    it can get complex, but ive managed to keep mine simple by doing as follows
    my main computer is a mac mini with a 3TB external with all my media on it, and itunes reading from that. with homesharing, i manage to play whatever i want from that hard drive on my ipad, ATV in the living room, and my gf can watch whatever she wants in her office through itunes.

    i recently decided to add my "most played" shows, life friends or the office onto a local HDD on my mini to relieve the external from working more than it needs to for crap playing mostly in the background

    i've also been considering a NAS, but personally dont see the value in spending ~800 to get what im looking for, just sticking with a single external for now.
  3. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Aug 7, 2006
  4. taylord22 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2012
    Thanks for the replies. That does simplify things...I'm confused as to why many on here choose the NAS option, since I assume most of our core setups are similar given the umbrella forum here...?

    Two more questions:

    What's my best bet for a backup option then? Online service? External drive?
    Should I be concerned with the hard drive speed in the new iMac?
  5. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    Depends on whether you are getting a 21" iMac(5400rpm) or 27"(7200rpm) or going SSD, then you don't have to worry at all about drive speeds.

    A lot of people go the NAS option I believe because they have more than one device and a NAS allows all of their data to be available over WiFi without it having to being stuck to a specific computer, some folks don't have desktops.

    I tried the NAS option before and with my experience it was very very slow to transfer large files to and from, even over CAT6. Less than 15MB/s transfers.

    I then had all of my external drives connected to my main iMac and just file shared anything I wanted over the network. This was fine and transfer speeds were decent but I had to make sure that computer was ALWAYS on with iTunes up and running so that anyone could access my movies, music, tv shows via aTV, iPads or however.
    I am randomly doing different things with my desktop, software testing, developing etc and I sometimes need to restart or even format/reinstall if I want which would take my entire media network out of the picture until the computer was back up and running.

    I have since used my seldom used Mac Mini as a headless server, installed ML Server, connected all of my external drives to it and it stays running 24/7, sharing music and videos, photos and running a small at home website, Calendar and Contacts server.

    For me this was my favorite and best option. I have a Time Capsule 3TB, and (2) 5th Gen Airport Extremes all connected by CAT6 to give the best signal throughout the home. Works like a champ.
  6. taylord22 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2012
    Gotcha. I plan on getting the base level 27" iMac, so I guess I won't have to worry as much about speed...I have a 5th gen AirPort Extreme, so I will have about 15ft and 2 brick walls separating the iMac from the router/TV, perhaps that's what I should be most concerned with. I'd like to pull the trigger on a time capsule, but I can't help but think an update isn't far around the corner.

    I don't think I'll have to worry much about restarting...mostly front end dev, VMFusion, and some hand raking...a weekly restart should be easy to workaround...though, I do like the idea of a dedicated Mac Mini

    Thanks for the reply
  7. Pyromonkey83 macrumors 6502

    May 24, 2009
    The other primary reason for getting a NAS is expandability and space. I got my NAS (Synology DS413j) because I was running out of space on my multiple external hard drives, and wanted an easier solution. I went with the Synology because it works with everything, and its my own personal cloud station I can access from anywhere. Also, I bought it because I can upgrade any one of the hard drives on the fly, so I will (hopefully) never have to buy another NAS for as long as SATA hard drives are still actually used.

    Overall, how you want to stream is a very difficult decision, and there is no right answer. A lot of the people here use the Apple TV and iTunes as it is the most native solution (and my personal choice) and it is easy to use. However, it is a massive pain if you already have a large library of movies and they are in lots of different formats. H.264 is a very common video format, and is widely regarded to be the best, but audio is a different story. While the ATV supports AC3 (dolby digital) and AAC, it does not support DTS, which many people prefer for its sound quality.

    The choice is ultimately yours to pick the way you want to go, but understand that there aren't really any "hassle free" ways. Going through iTunes means reconverting (or remuxing) every file. Using AirPlay or Plex involves multiple apps and streaming through multiple devices. Using a different HTPC involves having a (normally) crappy interface. Using XMBC involved jailbreaking. Everything has its pros and cons.

    If you don't have a large video library, I would strongly recommend going through home sharing on iTunes and reconverting/remuxing the files you have that iTunes wont support.
  8. cdavis11 macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2009
    I have a similar house to yours - midwest, newer tri-level.

    What I do is this:

    I have an Imac in my basement office with a crossover connection to a Silicon Dust HD Homerun. I run EyeTV 3.5.6 and record programs/dump them to iTunes from an attic mounted ATSC HD antenna. Imac is on my wireless 5Ghz N network.

    My main router is upstairs in my living room - a 2TB time capsule 4g. Internet is 30/5 cable modem.

    Secondary WDS router is an airport extreme dual band in my office. Imac gets a solid 300mb connection at all times. I have a 2TB HDD connected to the office airport extreme which I use as a secondary time machine backup destination. I have Time Machine set to backup to the time capsule, then the office airport hdd alternating. That way, I always have at least 3 full backups of my data (imac, time machine, office airport backup).

    I have a third router upstairs set up WDS. It is the older plug in style Airport Express dual band N.

    With those routers set up as WDS extending my network on both 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz I get solid signal and excellent throughput around my house.

    To pull shows/stream I have apple Tvs on my 3 televison sets. I stream netflix and stream recorded EyeTv shows from my local library without a hiccup.

    I have done some fine tuning to router setup - I recommend checking out a google project called "namebench" to check out your DNS setup and get recommendations on find tuning.

    Streaming performance in my setup is outstanding. 2 of my aTVs are wireless, one is wired. Of the 2 wireless, one is an aTV gen 3 streaming 1080p - and it is rock solid on the 5Ghz network. No hiccups, no buffering.

    I have played with all types of jailbreak plugins for the Apple Tvs - Plex and others. After trying them, and using the Roku boxes and their "channels" I have settled on a stock Apple TV (not jailbroken). It's just easier and cleaner for me, but YMMV.

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