Tryig to find a solution for my simple HTPC need

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by FrenchPB, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. FrenchPB macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005

    I currently live in a small apartment where my iMac sits on a desk not far away from the main TV. The Mac is linked to the TV with an HDMI cable, allowing me to watch downloaded sports games on that big screen using VLC.

    On my new apartment, the iMac will be in a different room upstairs, and the TV in the living room. Since I download sports games regularly and want to watch them asap not to have them spoiled, I don't have time to encode them in an itunes format.

    In order to watch those high quality videos in my living room, what would be the most simple and cheapest solution to answer my needs ? A Mac Mini in the living room as a dedicated HTPC to download and watch the videos on the TV would probably get me the best quality, but I'm looking for something much cheaper.

    Would you go Apple TV, rolu, popcorn-hour or any other multimedia box, with or without a dedicated harddrive linked to my wifi router ? I could also just get an harddrive to get the files, then plug it to the TV to watch them, but I think there will be format problem between the Mac and what the TV can recognize.

    Thanks for your help :)
  2. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Plex running on your mac and a roku box will solve the issue
  3. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Will that stream through wifi or ethernet ?
    Since I'd like to stream 1080p high quality mkv files, I'm afraid wifi won't be good enough for fluidity.

    I think the Roku box is not available in France, but I probably could get one from the UK. However, would that mean having to start the video upstairs, then hurry to the living room not to miss the start of the video ?

    Is there any way to start/stop a VLC video running on the iMac from an other room, eventually while using an iphone or an ipad in front of the TV that would be linked to the Roku box ?
  4. dgalvan123 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    Apple TV 3 with the "plex connect" solution might meet your needs. And you could use ethernet that way.

    Apple TV 2 could work with either Plex or XBMC, but nowadays it's probably $250 for a used Apple TV 2.
  5. OptyCT macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2008
    Check out an Intel NUC setup running XBMC using OpenELEC. Cheaper than a MacMini and has the flexibility that the ATV lacks. As with any streaming setup, I prefer using wired ethernet over wifi. If you have an issue running ethernet cable around the apartment, you might want to check out a power line network adapter (not sure if they work in Europe). I have one setup in my house and it works great with very little speed loss (brand is TP-Link).
  6. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Would you have to use the trailer app break to install plex connect on your aTV3 ? Won't Apple update it with an other fix to prevent that kind of use ?
  7. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    I think I've found my simple solution for the time being !
    I never thought about doing it before trying it today, but video decoding on my new Sony 55-inch W9 is very, very good. I've tried a couple of 720p mkv files, and it works flawlessly from my USB drive.

    My workflow would be as fllow : download a sports games on my USB drive using my iMac, then take the drive to the TV to watch it... as simple as that, no need to buy anything. I guess it fits my needs, but I have a couple of questions :

    * since a USB drive is FAT-formatted to be used on a Mac and on a PC (and in this case, on a TV), I understand I can't copy files larger than 4 GB. Is there a format I could use to download very large files on my Mac, copy them to the USB drive and watch them on my TV ?

    I'm afraid buying an external HD wouldn't work because of that format problem.

    * do you know any limitation with using a TV to decode video files like I'm doing ? For instance, could the TV "decode" surround sound (Dolby, DTS or whatever) if it's in the file ?

    In the end, I might still get an aTV3 fto listen to my itunes music in the living room and watch some movies, but it's nice to know I can fall back on the TV to decode high quality videos.
  8. DGPMaluco macrumors regular

    Nov 16, 2012
    How about you let your files on the Mac and access then with a raspberry pi running raspbmc? And use your iPhone as a remote, xbmc remote. That is what I am doing to watch tv shows online directly or watch what I have downloaded onto my pc
  9. danwilliams macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2008
    I currently do this and I would recommend it.
  10. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Can you remotely control your Mac with your Roku solution ? Can you start stop fast forward a video in front of your TV while your Mac is in an other room ?
  11. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    You could also give a try to PS3 Media Server to stream to your new Bravia via DLNA.
  12. FrenchPB, Nov 5, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013

    FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Would that mean streaming from the iMac to the PS3 ?
    Would that give me a better quality than having the TV decode the file on a USB drive ?
  13. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Originally created to DLNA to PS3 but today works for most Sony DLNA clients (networked TV sets and Blu-Ray players).
    Quality depends on the material and number of conversions/recompressions done. PS3MS can transcode on the fly, if your source is not compatible with Sony's DLNA formats.
    Just check it out, if it suits your needs. It's a freeware program and one of the best DLNA servers I've seen so far. Esp. if you need to stream to the format-picky Sony device.
  14. warvanov macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2011
    Do you have an Xbox 360 (Or a PS4)? I use the system video player on my Xbox 360 to stream video from my MacBook in the other room. You just need the applicaiton Playback running on your back. It's unobtrusive. The only catch is that you need to repackage .mkv files (the Xbox can't open them in .mkv format) but you don't have to do a long re-encode.
  15. danwilliams macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Yes. The Roku is very much like the AppleTV. The Roku has it's own remote. You can start, stop, pause, fast forward, and reverse a video while you are in front of your TV. More information regarding the setup here.

    It was originally built as a Netflix streaming box so it handles Netflix streaming very well. You install a PlexApp on your Roku box. And you connect it to the Plex Media Server running on your Mac.

    There are many more "apps" or "channels" you can install on the Roku box. You can view them here.
  16. StinDaWg macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2012
    You could build a Windows HTPC for $200 that will do everything you need.
  17. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Would you have any advice on where to start with that ?
  18. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Get a 35$ Raspberry Pi with Raspbmc. Or if you don't want to make your own box, get a (way more limited) Chromecast.
  19. tritonv3pro macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2013
    Used Mac Mini as another inexpensive option

    I bought a used 2006 Intel Mac mini (Core Duo) on ebay for $100 incl. shipping. All I did was max the RAM and have been using this as an HTPC with XBMC installed to watch all the content I could want. You could download the content on this Mini and watch on the same system. If you get a Core Solo you would have to install a Broadcom Cystal HD to be able to watch 1080P.
  20. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Note that you'll need to buy two licenses to enable the hardware video encoders
    before this will work with most HD content ( - but we're talking pocket money.

    After that, it works surprisingly well (or maybe not surprisingly - its pretty much the same sort of hardware that you'll find in a typical streaming box).

    Only downside - I found the Ethernet/wireless could get a bit cranky sometimes leading to skipping on a system that had worked previously. The Pi's weakness is its USB2 port (and as far as I know the wired Ethernet goes through USB2 as well).

    …but its well worth giving it a spin and fiddling around with it is far more entertaining than anything you can find on TV (just make sure you don't buy a HDMI cable that costs more than the Pi!)
  21. Uofmtiger macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    I would go with the Roku and Plex. As was mentioned above, it is possible that Appletv will have an update that will break the back door.

    If you have a PS3 already, it can work, like someone mentioned. However, if you are buying new, the Roku is cheaper.
  22. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    Another vote for this option, by far the simplest and least involved solution. The Plex Media Server running on your iMac will serve your content to the Roku in pretty much the same way iTunes would serve it to an Apple TV via home sharing, but will work with far more video codecs. Just install the Plex Media Server on your iMac, set it up by pointing it at your media library, set up your Plex account and sign in to the Plex app on the Roku. The bonus with this setup is you'll also be able to stream to nearly any other device that runs a Plex app as well (iOS, Android, other computers).

Share This Page