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Video Appliance For a Large Library On a Network?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the wants-it-all-in-one-place dept.

Data Storage 516

devjj writes "For the past year or so I have been trying (and failing) to figure out a reasonable solution for bringing my large media library to my living room. All of my media lives on an Ubuntu server that sits on my network. It's been very reliable and it's fast enough for streaming purposes. My content is exposed via SMB. It's the living room side where I keep running into problems. I am currently using Windows 7 and XBMC, but the case is too big and noisy, I don't particularly care for Windows, and the whole thing just seems overkill. What I want is a device that can present a decent UI that the non-Slashdot crowd would be able to use, but that is still powerful enough to stream full-fidelity 1080p. I dream of a small box that can transcode video over a network, but that's probably a pipe dream. The new Apple TV would be great if it could connect to network shares. What say you, Slashdot? Is what I'm looking for possible, or should I just give in to the iTunes/Amazon/whatever juggernauts?"

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wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33458948)

what was the question?

Re:wait... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459350)

How could you even think of not doing this with Microsoft Windows 7 or Microsoft Windows Phone 7? Do you realize that using knock-off "operating systems" is intellectual property theft? It's not cool. You're not slick and getting one over on "the man". It's fucking bullshit. Why do you freetards insist on removing your noses to spite your faces? Do you just tire of smelling your own bullshit? Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Phone 7 are superior to this freetard shit in every possible way. Microsoft have invested billions of dollars in blood sweat and tears to deliver an exceptional user experience and you people just take it for granted. What would you do if Microsoft were driven out of business because you thought you could steal from them and use Lumix and frebsd? You people disgust me with your Lunix and Crabble puke. Do you think you're special? Guess what... You're not! You can't think you can honestly get away with continually stealing the fruits of the billions of dollars Microsoft Research has invested in producing the intellectual property that you dorks so cavalierly pilfer to inject into your Gnom and KED and Quark shit. You all disgust me. You people need to look into the mirror and reevaluate your lives.

Re:wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459512)

Troll is too long to read, people won't bite to troll.

Mac Mini + Plex (2, Insightful)

drivelikejehu (601752) | more than 3 years ago | (#33458956)

If you can afford it, get one of the new Mac Minis and install Plex [plexapp.com] . The new version that came out yesterday is incredibly slick. It'll do all you want.

Re:Mac Mini + Plex (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459100)

A Mac Mini is just way too expensive to be abused as a streaming media player.

Re:Mac Mini + Plex (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459198)

Well, there are significant benefits of using a full computer with software such as Plex, namely the ability to use your HTPC as a DVD Player for watching media, utilizing Satellite and Cable Tuners to serve as a DVR, rip movies to your library automatically as well as serve as a distribution hub for transcoding video for mobile devices, whether they be on your local WiFi or remote.

However, this ultimately comes down to what your desires are.

I for example utilize an AppleTV (jailbroken) to mount NFS shares from my file server for my bedroom setup, and then a Mac Mini for my Living Room setup.

Re:Mac Mini + Plex: TRANSCODING SUX (-1, Flamebait)

kava_kicks (727490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459506)

Why go down this path??? When was the last time you bought, let alone hired, a DVD??? Who watches cable anymore? Why rip anything when you can download it?

More importantly, WHY DO YOU PEOPLE WASTE TIME TRANSCODING ANYTHIGN???

Just get a device that can play all of the content you already have: popcorn hour, XBMC etc etc

Re:Mac Mini + Plex (4, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459438)

As a heads-up, I just tried this and ended up having to return the system. There appears to be some bug with their HDMI which can cause the machine to kernel panic, apparently when powering on either the display or receiver it's plugged into*. A damn shame, as it's otherwise very well suited to that kind of use. A compact, quiet, and fairly cool system that doesn't use a whole lot of power but still has no problem playing back HD video. Hooking the tower back up to the TV just sucks, as it uses about 50x the energy** and is massively overkill for that kind of use, and is certainly not compact by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe I'll dig out an old unused laptop instead.

* I'm not 100% sure that's the cause, but it was as close as I ever got to diagnosing the issue. And this was after exchanging the system for a full replacement. If only only happened to one machine I'd blame the hardware, but two systems with identical problems tells me something else is at play. Of course, it could be specific to my TV+receiver combo too.

**Which only bothers me because of the power bill. Effing hippies.

Re:Mac Mini + Plex (3, Interesting)

drivelikejehu (601752) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459542)

That really sucks, but I've never run into that problem and I've had this setup going for several months now (got the mini as soon as the hdmi ones were released). I'd guess it's your TV+receiver combo then - I don't have any problems with my Kuro and Pioneer something or other receiver (the mini plugs into the receiver, the receiver goes to the TV).

Popcorn Hour (4, Informative)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 3 years ago | (#33458962)

No transcoding but it plays close to all formats

http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/ [popcornhour.com]

Re:Popcorn Hour (3, Informative)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459054)

Agreed. I also use Popcorn hour, before that I used a Avel Link Player and before that a MyIhome from El Gato ALL use the Sybas software. The Popcorn Hour handles the most encodes and you can plug in multiple servers. plus it will take a BluRay and a hard drive. Also the client for it runs on PC (XP Vista Win7) Mac 10.3 and on with a G4 of around 900mhz and up or Linux. Highly recommended

Re:Popcorn Hour (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459258)

I just looked all over their website and I can't make head or tail of what the thing really does.

Do I have to load data on it or is a just controller and link manager? Does it have native wireless capability (the spec pages say no, the comparison page says yes)? How many boxes do I need to handle 2 PCs , 1 dual-tuner satellite dish/PVR, a BD player, and 3 TVs?

I will never understand why anyone tries to sell a product the customer can't visualize. I will never understand someone who buys something the seller can't explain simply.

Re:Popcorn Hour (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459376)

It plays media streamed over a network. You need one for each TV you want to use one on. It won't do anything with your dish. You can probably use any PC on the network to serve media. Wireless is a for-pay option on each of the devices they sell.

Re:Popcorn Hour (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459402)

posting anon to preserve moderations

It's a catergory of device known as a NMT - network media tank. There are various ones, and I have a popcorn A110

You can put a hard drive in it and store/play media from there

You can hook a usb drive to it and store/play media from that

It also acts a a usb device, you can plug it into a pc and use it as a usb drive

you can plug it into a network and hook up multiple servers, either via nfs/smb or http streaming (no wifi on mine)

It runs ftp / http so you can browse it and use it, the device it self, as a server to stream media to your PC

It has 'web apps' built it so you can view many online video services and video/podcasts etc, (but not youtube afaik)

It has hdmi,composite and component out for video output

it has optical out and phono stereo for sound out (and the hdmi)

it plays just about everything i've thrown at it, full 1080p, dvd rips, xvids, crappy phone vids

no lagging, no jumping, seeking it very fast even on 18GB blu ray rips

Support for various video modes, refresh rates and 24fps, progressive/interlaced.

In terms of hooking it to your TVs think of it like a set top box - so one device per TV, unless you want to take the output and split it/distribute it.

I got it because I was fed up of a myth tv box whirring away in the corner of the living room

This thing (without a HD inside) is silent. And by silent i don't mean nearly silent, but actually silent, no moving parts.

I just point it at my video share on my linux server and it plays everything.

For movies, you may want to check out YAMJ, whichi makes it all shiny and nice (think apple TV / xbmc) but tbh I don't need any of that 'I watch, I delete'

Also, with a HD inside you can opt to have a torrent client (transmission IIRC) which will download straight on to it for your viewing pleasure..

for ease of use and WAF / Child AF totally recommend.

Re:Popcorn Hour (2, Interesting)

kava_kicks (727490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459524)

The popcorn is good, really good, but it is not perfect. The music playback is pretty crappy; the interface isn't fantastic; and it is a little buggy. I think it is pretty much perfect if ALL you want to do is play movies, but if you want to do more, I would use something else.

I still prefer XBMC and after seeing a friend put it on a re-purposed Apple TV (not just jailbroken; completely overwritten), that is the way I am going.

WD HD Live (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33458980)

Get a Western Digital HD Live box. It's cheap, tiny, quiet and plays videos with a large variety of codecs. Also does music of course, plus Pandora, Flicker, etc.

Tversity (3, Informative)

Deathnerd (1734374) | more than 3 years ago | (#33458982)

I've been using Tversity on my windows machine for 3 years now and I can honestly say it's the best solution I've ever seen. Transcoding to multiple devices with different codec/format requirement has never been simpler. I can stream to all the iPhones and computers in the house, as well as my 360 with minimal configuration.

WD HD Live is your friend. (5, Informative)

Era (193782) | more than 3 years ago | (#33458994)

You will want this: http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=735
And this: http://b-rad.cc/wdlxtv-live/

Simple, effective and above all...cheap.

Re:WD HD Live is your friend. (1)

Knightman (142928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459102)

I've stopped using anything that has a WD disk, they tend to fail too often, but not as bad as Maxtor.

Re:WD HD Live is your friend. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459176)

I've stopped using anything that has a WD disk, they tend to fail too often, but not as bad as Maxtor.

I've had the opposite experience with WD, rarely had a failure. Ditto on Maxtor through.

Re:WD HD Live is your friend. (1)

Era (193782) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459188)

No drive, its just a media player, plays any and all media from my win7 box as well as my mac.

All it wants is a network share.

Re:WD HD Live is your friend. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459174)

After checking what you've suggested, your solution seems to be EXACTLY what I've been looking for for the bedroom TV.

Thanks muchly.

Re:WD HD Live is your friend. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459464)

WDTV Live is really nice. Especially when you also have a very large storage device (a la NAS) somewhere else on your network. However, I think small nettop + ubuntu + xbmc kills that setup. It all depends on how flashy you want your UI, how big your library is, and how easy you want the setup to be. For ease of use WDTV wins. For flashy, XBMC wins. For big library, XBMC also wins. I have around 2500 tv shows and 1000 movies, all organized well, but the wdtv still chokes sometimes.

I'm surprised you are running windows 7. My ubuntu + xbmc build boots to the xbmc screen in less than 15 seconds. You tell it to replace the default window manager (Gnome, so there isnt even one running in the background).

I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you there are occasional hiccups, but nothing that takes more than 5-10 minutes to fix and nothing that has prevented me from watching something that night.

ASUS OPlay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33458998)

I've been using my ASUS OPlay! for about six months now. It does pretty well streaming from my SMB server @ 1080p. Now it they'd only add a Netflix player...

Popcornhour (2, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459014)

PopcornHour Network Media Tanks [popcornhour.com] ! We own two and LOVE 'em. Xvid, mkv, iso, vob etc. Up to 1080p.

Re:Popcornhour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459126)

Seconded.

Re:Popcornhour (1)

SchizoDuckie (1051438) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459460)

Popcorn hour and NMT mediatanks in general are just awesome. They run samba, stream your 1080p stuff through the air (mine does, over a 300mb wifi stick). Cheap (my 100% china clone was €120) and there's the NMT Community Software Installer, where you can install webservers, torrent clients, heck i'm browsing my library with my android remote! If you want an option that can connect to anything you have available, have a look at popcornhour or something with an NMT chipset.

MythTV (4, Informative)

Onthax (1322089) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459018)

MythTV, do all the processing on the backend server and have a lightweight (quiet) frontend it should bolt onto your existing ubuntu server

Re:MythTV (4, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459132)

Exactly. I've used the ~$200 Acer AspireRevo as a frontend. Full HD and everything. Even got a Windows refund! (Well, technically it's still being processed, but they've agreed I'm supposed to get one.)

Re:MythTV (4, Informative)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459184)

Being a Slackware user for many years, I went the MythTV+Slackware route when I got my HTPC up and running. One day I managed to totally break my system and decided "What the hell, let's give MythBuntu a go". What used to be a 2 hour+ set up time went down to 10-15 minutes. I actually switched my server over to Ubuntu soon afterwards and haven't looked back.

MythTV and Ubuntu (and mediabuntu) marry well together on both the backend and frontend. It's worth an afternoon to try out if you have the hardware around. I used nfs instead of smfs to connect the two, but the principles the same. Plus I have additional "TV" sets all around the house with dual booting partition. Those took a little extra time to set up but it is a bonus.

Some of the new mini SSD based machines (Like the Acer Revo) might be the way to go for the frontend. They're powerful enough and can playback HD video. MythTV works great on my Asus EEE 901 running Ubuntu Netbook remix.

Re:MythTV (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459292)

MythTV, do all the processing on the backend server and have a lightweight (quiet) frontend it should bolt onto your existing ubuntu server

Question: my server is running Debian Lenny. Can I run the backend on that?

Re:MythTV (1)

Pax00 (266436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459348)

I agree.. Been running mythtv for a while now and I love it.

There are several mythtv specific distros. I am running mythdora myself. I really like the fact it uses LVM.

Also the it's got some great plugins for weather and game emulation.

mac mini / front row (2, Informative)

sl0ppy (454532) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459030)

personally i use a mac mini with front row. i map my fileserver via smb, play content using sapphire, the hulu plugin for front row, boxee, etc.

it works reasonably well.

Re:mac mini / front row (1)

mraiser (1151329) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459104)

I agree.. Mac Mini makes the best media pc. Make sure you have VLC in addition to the apple/itunes juggernaut and you should be good to go.

Re:mac mini / front row (1)

drewpt (3975) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459124)

This is what I use too. Works great.

Re:mac mini / front row (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459494)

Does the mac mini come with the little remote? That would be super handy and possibly enough to justify the cost all by itself.

Also, what sort of output does it have? DVI? HDMI?

Re:mac mini / front row (2, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459544)

The remote isn't included, but it has the infrared port required for one. You just need to buy the remote separately, unless you want to use an iPhone/iPod touch/iPad to control your media (free "Remote" app).

The new Mac mini has both HDMI and mini DisplayPort outputs.

XBMC + Asrock ION (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459034)

check out the nvidia ion based boards and systems.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856158009&cm_re=asrock_ion-_-56-158-009-_-Product

enough muscle for 1080p, all packed into a tiny, quiet package

Re:XBMC + Asrock ION (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459178)

Seconded. An Ion system with xbmc is what I use and so far we haven't found anything it can't play... case isn't much bigger than a DVD player and even with the optional CPU fan installed it doesn't make much noise.

Re:XBMC + Asrock ION (1)

NightWhistler (542034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459204)

I agree: I've been running an EEEBox with an ion chipset for some months now, and the performance is excellent. I run mine with Ubuntu and XBMC, but I'm sure it would work equally well on Windows 7.

XBMC is one of the best interfaces out there IMHO, especially when combined with Lirc and an IR receiver (I use an ancient Irman with an USB converter).

Also, the EEEBox is quiet and is small, shiny and black... helping a lot with the wife-acceptance-factor :)

My Setup (3, Interesting)

Nexzus (673421) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459036)

I run PS3MediaServer on my fileserver. Streams (and trancodes when necessary) over the network to my PS3. Works well.

PS3 (4, Informative)

dtmancom (925636) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459046)

I researched this long and hard. I wanted what is known as a "Networked Media Tank," but I didn't have the bucks to make a poor decision and try again. I just plugged the PS3 into the receiver I already had, plugged it into the network, and pointed it at the folder on the server which had all of my music/photos/movies. On the server I installed "PS3 Media Server," which is freeware, pointed it at my media folder, and that, literally, was all it took. Plus the PS3 will play your Blu Rays, and as it is Sony, the firmware updates for new releases will always be available... unlike with the dedicated BD player I had from Samsung. Over a year later and I have never regretted the decision.

Re:PS3 (4, Informative)

r3verse (1202031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459266)

I second that. PS3, PS3 media server [http://code.google.com/p/ps3mediaserver/], HDMI into your TV. Transcodes anything the PS3 can't handle. That simple, and all for a ~$300 outlay, plus you get BD capability into the bargain. Can't be beat.

Re:PS3 (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459306)

My understanding is that there is one downside - the PS3 is pissy about video framerates. So, if you have anything that is 25fps (standard for UK and Euro TV shows and often used for their movie releases) it won't play on a USA-version PS3. Almost all dedicated "network media tanks" and most standalone bluray players will play any framerate video and do a pretty good job of matching it to your display, be it 25fps, 24fps, 30fps, etc.

Re:PS3 (1)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459514)

PS3 Media Server's transcoding can be used to correct the framerate too, if you set it up right.

Re:PS3 (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459364)

A long time ago (back when 60GB PS3s were still on the shelves) I tried this out. I found the experience to be lackluster, particularly since rewinding didn't work at all on transcoded streams. I ended up taking the PS3 back. Has this issue been resolved yet?

WDTV Live+ or PS3 (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459060)

WDTV Live+ does a pretty good job so far, and it has better Netflix support than Tivo.

However, if you want a bluray player too, PS3 is probably the way to go, I don't know of any DLNA/UPnP-capable bluray players besides a discontinued LG unit.

Just wait until Nov for the new Boxee Hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459064)

NT

WDLive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459066)

Western Digital has a small 8"x8"x2" roughly box that plays every format I have from a smb share. My only complaint is that it doesn't do a good job thumbnails of content so the interface is rough like browsing the share. There are 3rd party firmware installs that are encouraged by WD that do even more but the official one works well enough for me. Works flawlessly for about $129 or less.

PS3 or Xbox 360 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459068)

PS3 or Xbox 360 combined with PS3 Media Server / Tversity / whatever... the game consoles have intuitive UI's and can stream from any DNLA source.

Small HTPC - Like This (2, Informative)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459070)

Puget Systems Echo: http://www.pugetsystems.com/echo.php [pugetsystems.com]

There is an Atom / Ion version that may suffice for your needs (Echo I) and a more powerful Core i3 / i5 model if you need extra horsepower (Echo II). Both are very small, pretty darn quiet, and could run whatever software you'd like. I personally prefer the Windows 7 Media Center interface, but it sounds as though you aren't a big fan. Other nice options to check out are MythTV (Linux) and Boxxe (Windows or Linux).

Seriously? Did you even try Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459076)

What say you, Slashdot?

Mostly, I'd say that you earn a big Google Fail badge.

There are lots of products available that do exactly what you want: Popcorn Hour, WD HD Live, Mac Mini (get a used older one) + XBMC, build your own small linux box and run XBMC, etc...

Bandwidth (2, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459078)

Bandwidth probably won't be your limitation. The Blu-Ray format has an absolute max transfer rate of 54 Mb/s [wikipedia.org] , and only 48Mb/s for A/V bandwidth. Even movies on disc won't usually max that out, since they'll be VBR-encoded. Movies on a file server will usually be compressed all the more. Even at 50% throughput loss, a 100Mbit ethernet will still be able to keep up.

Don't know what your experience has been, but when I was using Samba, it often bogged down and caused the stream to stutter. I made my movies available over Apache w/DAV instead and the problem went away.

AppleTV (3, Informative)

term0r (471206) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459080)

I run an AppleTV and have done the following non-standard things with it:

-Hacked it to enable SSH and read/write FS
-Installed Mplayer and XBMC
-Made it so a folder called ATV on my desktop computer automatically syncs with the ATV using rsync regularly so whatever I have downloaded is always on the ATV
-Ordered and installed a Broadcom CrystalHD mini PCI card that renders video and takes processing that away from the ATV's limited CPU
-Installed kexts that support the above and a nightly build of XBMC so I can now play 720 and 1080p media using XBMC

Works perfect for me. I could install Linux on it but both myself and my partner love Apple's movie rental system and the iTunes integration for our music. So by applying the above hacks we get everything we need.
It does also support network shares with a bit of hacking.

XBMC + Acer Revo (4, Informative)

mprinkey (1434) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459098)

If you want to roll you own, use XBMC on an Acer Aspire Revo R1600 ($200). It uses the Nvidia ION LE chipset that supports h264 offloading. I would use these myself, but I already have three Popcorn Hours.

PCHs are nice, quiet, and cheap, but the UI is awful. It will require some tinkering to make nice. YAMJ is your friend (Yet Another Movie Jukebox).

Re:XBMC + Acer Revo (3, Informative)

cf18 (943501) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459230)

And here is a newbie guide for installing XBMC on Acer Revo:
http://lifehacker.com/5391308/build-a-silent-standalone-xbmc-media-center-on-the-cheap [lifehacker.com]

Re:XBMC + Acer Revo (1)

OttoErotic (934909) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459546)

Came here to post this same link. I just went with the same setup and I love it. The Revo is nice and quiet, and small enough to mount behind a wall-mounted LCD.

Any suggestions for wireless keyboard/trackpad combos? I plan to use the XBMC remote app for Android as the basic playback remote, but I'd like some kind of Bluetooth keyboard/mouse combo for more full-featured control when I need it. This [newegg.com] looks kind of swanky, but might fall into that unusable middle-range between small remote size and large keyboard functionality. Maybe something like this [newegg.com] ?

Re:XBMC + Acer Revo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459314)

The r1600 has a *really* hard time with 1080p content.

WD TV Live, PS3+UPNP, DLNA on the TV (5, Informative)

cheeni (267248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459112)

Option 1: ReadyNAS Duo [readynas.com] (built in torrent client) + WD TV Live (simple remote)
Option 2: Ubuntu server on network + PS3MediaServer [google.com] + Sony PS3 (enable HDMI CEC for use with TV remote)
Option 3: Fritz!Box 7270 [fritzbox.eu] + USB HDD + PS3 as DLNA client / built in DLNA client on TV
Option 4: ASRock ION330 + Ubuntu [blogspot.com]
Option 5: Mac Mini + Apple Remote + Plex / XBMC + NAS/USB HDD

The key bottle neck is the network, if you can run LAN cables no worries, if you decide to go wireless 802.11n will do fine for 720p, 1080p is pushing it

An experience (1)

taucross (1330311) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459114)

I have a MacBook Pro (Core 2 Duo, circa 2008) connected to an SMB share on a Windows 7 box (1055t/8GB ram) over wireless-n (~300mbit) and 1080p STILL gets the jitters - sometimes completely fucks out at high bitrates. 720p will mostly play nice, standard divx is fine too. If I close the lid of the laptop and lose the network share, it takes about 10 minutes to find the SMB share again. All I'm saying is, if a MacBook Pro is still complaining about 1080p over 300mbit wireless-n, AppleTV is a pipe dream unless in a 100% ideal situation.

My ideal setup, based on my experience, would be to store the movies locally connected to the lappy via e-sata/usb2, run a sabnzbd server on it and download via Windows 7 desktop. Nothing else will get A+ 1080p.

Re:An experience (1)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459182)

I have a MacBook Pro (Core 2 Duo, circa 2008) connected to an SMB share on a Windows 7 box (1055t/8GB ram) over wireless-n (~300mbit) and 1080p STILL gets the jitters

You realize running a serious stream over wifi is asking for trouble, right? You can't just say "oh it's 300mbit" and expect everything to arrive on time. There's a difference between bandwidth and latency, and every time the wifi has some freak drop in signal you're going to see problems. You would have to specifically configure a huge playback buffer software side.

What's wrong with XBMC? (2, Interesting)

do0b (1617057) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459122)

XMBC Live on a Atom + Ion machine.
Something like the Acer R3610 ( http://www.acer.co.uk/acer/productv.do?LanguageISOCtxParam=en&kcond61e.c2att101=68913&sp=page16e&ctx2.c2att1=17&link=ln438e&CountryISOCtxParam=UK&ctx1g.c2att92=242&ctx1.att21k=1&CRC=2669969291 [acer.co.uk] )
It can process 1080P h.264 without breaking a sweat.

Re:What's wrong with XBMC? (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459452)

Did they fix all the issues with running on ION? Hardware accel, sound over the fiber port etc.

Appliances may not be upgradable (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459144)

The beauty of a PC is that it's no big deal if a new codec comes around, and if you don't like the interface you have others to choose from.

Appliances have limitations, may not allow new codecs to be installed etc.

Find a quiet PC

apple tv solution (1)

isaaccs (1854142) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459162)

This is not something I've ever tried , but in principle, here's a simple solution: Set up one of your computers iTunes with its library stored on your SMB share. I've never run iTunes from an SMB share, but it works dandy from an AFP/NFS share, so I imagine it would work. An AppleTV can pull a stream from any iTunes on its network, so you should be then be able to connect your AppleTV to the SMB-backed iTunes and access your videos/media.

Boxee Box (1)

Daas (620469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459168)

If you can wait until November, the Boxee Box seems to be a really good option. It's boxee based (which is, itself, based on XMBC), cheap (150$), small and does pretty much everything you want.

Plus, it's sexy.

http://www.boxee.tv/box [boxee.tv]

O!Play all the way (across the sky, double rainbow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459172)

Mark one more for the O!Play. it's a fantastic little box that plays every format I've thrown at it. Other options would be the WDTV Live and the Patriot Box Office.

Apple TV with Boxee (1)

dlp211 (1722746) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459190)

Pick up a used 40GB Apple TV and throw Boxee onto it. Then just point it at your SMB share and let it populate. Cheap, queit, and efficient front end that looks good and comes with a remote control. Or wait and see if they can shoehorn Boxee onto the new Apple TV and then you get solid Netflix streaming to boot, or just wait until November and get the Boxee Box retail 199.

Re:Apple TV with Boxee (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459276)

Boxee's cool, and very simple. I run it on a 4GB MacMini.

Patriot Box Office (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459196)

I personally have a Patriot Box Office that I bought off NewEgg for $65. It is solid for what it does. Every format, streaming off a network SMB share or from its own HD. Also has a P2P bitorrent client with web browser interface that'll store your torrent files directly to a local hard drive. This is a feature missing from many of the other similar media streamers.

Problem is the interface. It's not as slick as Boxee or AppleTV. I'd go with one of those if you want it to be accessible to people not familiar with directory structures. AppleTV, btw, will read from an SMB share, I believe. The new one will not play Divx or other common formats, though.

Seth

Blu-ray + Streaming Network Shares (2, Informative)

jonbtn (530417) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459224)

I just hooked up a LG BD570 [lg.com] for <$200 that plays Blu-ray discs, Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, other online content, files on a networked CIFS share from a Windows box and has built-in wifi. Only issue I've noticed is that it doesn't play .vob files from a network share.

GeeXboX (Linux) (2, Informative)

sven_eee (196651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459232)

http://www.geexbox.org/ Its a mini Linux install using Mplayer. I had been using it for years with out issues. You can install it to a USB flash stick or LiveCD to test it out be for install

Cripes. (3, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459244)

I spent a couple hundred bucks on Newegg, put together a MicroATX box in a home theater case (looks like a DVD player, virtually silent.) I've run Linux on it and played videos with Xine, and I've had XP on there with the Mega Codec Pack's Media Player Classic. Plays everything I've ever thrown at it, including Quicktime videos (hell, it even plays Real's media, as if anyone still uses it.) I used a $35 ATI Radeon with HDMI out, and plugged it into a 65" Samsung DLP TV. Plays everything in 1080p, smooth as silk. Better even than the upsampling Samsung DVD player I bought with the TV.

May be possible with your existing equipment (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459256)

I've actually done this two ways:

1) PC in living room.... if you can, see if there's a way to hide the big noisy PC. In my condo, I have a conveniently located closet exactly on the other side of the wall from my TV. Poking a hole through the drywall and feeding AV cabling and the IR sensor for the remote was trivial. No noise, no mess, all the convenience.

2) Instead of an AppleTV, take a look at a Mac Mini. Has HDMI out, is only twice as tall as the AppleTV, and is incredibly silent. I use this with Plex (forked from XBMC) for the TV in the bedroom. I believe it's also possible to run Plex on an AppleTV, but I could be wrong.

In my setup everything is networked and all my movies are stored on a local server, an old Mac mini in the closet with the PC. Both the MediaCenter PC and the Plesk Mini can access the shares (afp or smb).

Windows and SMB is your problem (0, Troll)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459274)

If you use a real OS and a real file sharing protocol(not MS garbage) then you won't have any problems at all. I use AFP(though NFS works equally as well) to view HD media over wifi and works perfectly. Ditch windows and you will have 0 problems.(The previous sentence pretty much works in any context)

Re:Windows and SMB is your problem (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459414)

If you use a real OS and a real file sharing protocol(not MS garbage) then you won't have any problems at all. I use AFP(though NFS works equally as well) to view HD media over wifi and works perfectly. Ditch windows and you will have 0 problems.(The previous sentence pretty much works in any context)

Yes. Although at the moment I'm running a Debian box as the server, and an XP client in the livingroom running Media Player Classic. Works great. I used to have Windows 2000 Advanced Server on the same hardware (it's an old 1.4 Ghz Athlon system) and it had difficulty maintaining a single video stream without stuttering. Now I'll have a couple of laptops and my media PC all playing different AVI files off the server (the media system wired, the laptops wireless) and they play smooth as silk. The kicker really is the server. I've had Linux on the media system too, playing with Xine. That also worked extremely well, especially over NFS.

www.xtreamer.net (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459278)

I recomend the xstreamer it is about 150.00 and will play anything form a network share (picture, Video, music). it will play 1080p through the HDMI port. and suports 6.1 audio. I have 2 of these devices and they work great. It is a small box about 7" H x 1" W x 5" D. A neat feature is that you can control the xstreamer with any device compatable with Flash over the network or with the remote it comes with. it is both wired and wireless. You can also add a laptop sata harddrive up to 1 tb for more storage. It is the cheapest player that will play MKV, Divx, Xvid, Mpg, AVI, H.264 and more. The web site is www.xtreamer.net.

Shuttle XS35GT, Xtreamer (4, Informative)

De Lemming (227104) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459280)

The Shuttle XS35GT [shuttle.eu] is a fanless box with the new NVIDIA ION2 GPU, if you put a SSD drive in it it's 100% silent. It should be able to handle H.264 1080p without a problem. You can run Linux (e.g. XBMCbuntu [xbmc.org] ) or Win7 with XBMC [xbmc.org] on it. It also supports a DVD, DVD-RW or Bluray drive.

Another option is the Xtreamer [xtreamer.net] , I don't know much about it but it's cheap ($99, that's without a HD) and according to the site it can play 1080p (the new Apple TV only supports 720p). It has an option ("SideWinder") to attach external heat sinks to make it fanless.

A good place for more information is the XBMC hardware forum [xbmc.org] .

TV Set? (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459294)

Aren't there TV sets that can do this? I occasionally stream media from my PC over to my Pioneer TV set. Haven't tried it with Ubuntu, but that's on the list of experiments I have lined up - in fact, got a distribution for it just last night so I can do that this weekend.

Far Out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459296)

XBMC is the most fully featured and most efficiant media center there is, if you want a small quiet machine that can handle it, just get an ION system and put xbmc on it, full 1080p playback is flawless with VDPAU.

I'm working on a video jukebox fileserver (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459302)

with the whole focus being power, heat and noise mgmt.

simple idea: allow dynamic spin up/down of drives via some mgmt console (a truly out of band console, even allowing the system to be booted and shutdown).

I gave up on RAID. too much heat and noise and I just don't need all my drives spinning at once. I'm starting on a new project to mount 16 or more drives for use on a standard pc. way too much to keep spun up all the time.

no, auto spin-down is not working for all architectures (usb, sata, etc). I need a mgmt solution (worked out on paper, right now) that spins drives up and down for the duration of the movie (etc). even better, a way to find the drive that holds the movie file, spin that drive up, mount it and 'exportfs -a' it. when the movie is over, signal to the mgmt console that its done and the disk is cleanly unmounted from the OS and its physically spun down via power control (relays inline with the power jack on the drives, essentially).

all done via arduino control (size, cheapness, coolness factor).

at least that's my approach. raid does not make sense for such a large # of drives and I'm going to handle my redundancy by saving multiple copies across multiple drives (via software user-land hacks).

Viewsonic VOT132 (1)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459304)

Viewsonic makes an awesome little nettop box (basically it's a high end netbook without a screen) that is absolutely perfect for this.

http://www.viewsonic.com/products/vot132.htm [viewsonic.com]

Stick a USB tuner card in there and use Windows Media Center and you have a fantastic all round entertainment system for your living room - and nearly silent and very low power so you won't feel bad about having it on all the time. I don't understand why you would buy a box that can only do streaming when you can have a full computer that can do anything.

SageTV!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459312)

You might want to try SageTV (www.sagetv.com). I've been using it for the past 5-7 years with wonderful success. They also sell fanless extender boxes ($150) that can access all your media from your server. Sage plays HD, DVD, BluRay, shows pictures, etc. Plus you can access your server remotely via a laptop with their free Placeshifter software.

Have fun!!

pr0n (1)

shams42 (562402) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459330)

Just watch your porn on your laptop.

Mac Mini with Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459340)

I run a Mac Mini with Linux for each of my TV frontends. The Mac Mini is low power but with enough processor and graphics power to output 1080p over HDMI. MythTV's interface got an overhaul in 0.23, and is now much nicer and easier to use. Add Firefox or Chromium for watching streamed videos, and you've got everything you need. Plus being a full computer means that you're not tied to one interface, or even operating system, you can upgrade as new things come out and try alternatives as you come across them.

A Real Desktop OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459358)

Asus EeePC - like the notebook with no screen. Might need to add an external USB DVD drive.
wireless keyboard/trackpad like a cell phone - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823126039
Windows XP

I would prefer Kubuntu but Netflix requires Microsoft "Flash".
Nothing beats a PC for compatibility.

All right cheap and easy. (2, Interesting)

BKX (5066) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459366)

You'll need two things:

1. A computer that stores your movies. This computer must run some sort of UPnP media server software like PS3 Media Server on Windows or fuppes on Linux. It must be powerful enough to transcode in real-time your movies. Think Core 2 Duo 2GHz for 1080p, or P4 3GHz for 720p.

2. A Playstation 3 or XBox 360. This will be your display device hooked to your TV. Both are cake to use for non-computer experts and can do other fun things as well, like games, the Internet, Netflix, etc. I prefer the PS3 since it can handle Netflix without paying Microsoft a subscription fee, but if you already have an XBOX 360 with and Xbox Live account, then that may be a better idea.

All other answers to this question are lame and/or missed the point. Seriously. Making some crap computer out of spare parts and hooking it up to your TV just doesn't make sense when you probably already have a PS3 or Xbox 360 and a computer good enough to transcode on-the-fly and large enough (storage wise) to hold your media. Hell, that computer probably sits in the same spot all day, every day and never gets turned off, so put that wasted power into good use. If you're really just trying to shoehorn some old, piece of shit computer into something useful, then what you really have is a solution looking for a problem. Fuck that. Sell the POS on craigslist and be done with it.

SageTV + Media Extender (3, Informative)

chmilar (211243) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459372)

I have been using SageTV and their Media Extenders for a couple of years now, and I am very happy with it.

The basics:

1) You set up a "server" PC loaded with hard drives and tuner/capture cards, running the SageTV software.

2) At the TV, you connect a small, low-power Media Extender, which presents an identical user interface to the SageTV software.

I am using this to record broadcast TV from an antenna, watch DVD and Blu-ray rips, and (with the addition of PlayOn) watch Hulu and Comedy Central streaming.

Their website: http://sagetv.com/ [sagetv.com]

I used to use MythTV, and I find that SageTV has pretty much identical functionality, but I could remove a computer from the living room and use the small extender device instead.

SaveTV HD Theater is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459380)

I've been using Sage TV's HD200 for a while. They just released the HD300. Natively it supports nearly everything you can throw at it. The previous version lacked DTS support (but supported mkv files with AC3 encoding, which is just about why I purchased it in the first place)

SageTV HD300 Theater Media & File Format Support (I don't own one yet, but this is what I'm reading):

        File formats: AVI, ASF, MKV, MOV, MP4, QuickTime, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 PS, MPEG-2 TS, M2TS, BDMV Folder (Blu-ray), Blu-ray ISO, DVD ISO, DVD VIDEO_TS, VOB, M4A, MP3, FLAC, OGG, FLV, WAV, WMA
        Video formats: MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, XVID, H.264 up to 1080p, WMV9/VC-1 up to 1080p, MJPEG, Flash Video
        Audio formats: MP2, MP3, AAC, AAC-HE, ALAC, WMA, WMAPro (stereo downmix), PCM, Vorbis (stereo only), FLAC(stereo downmix), Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital Plus/Dolby TrueHD (stereo down-mix/pass-through), DTS/DTS-HD/DTS-MA (stereo down-mix/pass-through) AC3 (stereo down-mix/pass-through)
        Closed Caption/Subtitle Formats: EIA-608(NTSC/ATSC/QAM Closed Captioning), SSA/ASS, SRT, VobSub (sub/idx,mkv), Nero MP4 VOB Subtitles, MP4 Text, SAMI, .sub (Subviewer/MicroDVD), DVD, BDMV, M2TS
        Media sources: Online Video, external USB Mass Storage Devices, NAS or Mac/PC over SMB/CIFS, UPnP, SageTV Media Center (The flagship, SageTV HTPC software), Unofficial support of Amazon VOD, Hulu, Netflix via 3rd party PlayOn plugin
        Playlist formats supported: M3U, WPL, ASX, WAX, WVX
        Pictures: Any image formats viewable in SageTV are also viewable on the HD300 when used in extender mode. In standalone media player mode JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and GIF formats are supported.

The SageTV UI, in general, isn't great (look at the remote with the 400 buttons to get an idea). With a server and one of these dedicated units, you can customize everything. At a buck and a half it's not a bad deal.

Dvico TViX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459450)

The Dvico TViX 6640N plays pretty much any media format from local disk or over the network from SMB shares.

Samsung BD-C6900 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459456)

I'd recommend the Samsung BD-C6900 player combined with a DLNA server [Wild Media Server is my favorite, but there are many]. The player plays Bluray and supports Samsung Apps [Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, etc] and plays directly from the DLNA server. It doens't support many formats, but WMS supports transcoding and has worked really well for me.

   

XBMC on AppleTV (1)

kava_kicks (727490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459474)

Seriously, this is the way to go:
- Small appliance
- XBMC (the world's best player IMHO)
- Integrated remote
- Quiet
- Plays everything
- Connects to SMB shares
- Can use the local storage if required (I would put all the kids movies locally ... cause they are played 24/7!)
- If you get a small add-on card, it will output 1080p natively

DO NOT BUY THE NEW APPLETV:
- only 20 output
- only 3 video formats
- no local storage
- you are locked in to their walled garden
- you will need to recode all your existing content

Acer Revo + Boxee was a good solution for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33459496)

I wanted a quick cheap route without building my own HTPC, so I recently bought an Acer Aspire Revo 3610. It's an Atom 330-based system with Win 7, but you can install Linux if you prefer. It's just a little bigger than a stack of 2 DVD cases. I got mine refurb'ed for $250. I put Boxee on it and find the interface to be great - simple and remote-friendly. My non-computer-savvy in-laws use it without problems. 1080p works fine. You can point it at SMB shares. The Revo has a fan in it, but it is very quiet (Revo is next to the TV, and I can't hear it from the couch. Most of the time I can't even hear it when I'm standing next to it either). If I hadn't gotten the Revo I would have gotten a flavor of the Dell Zino.

ps3, tiny form factor pc, or tv (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459502)

The PS3 will do a lot of this but not all formats. It's a bit picky with some things. A small form factor pc connected to the tv and a lan would probably work best. I believe several other people have suggested exact models. If you have a newer tv, check if it has a ethernet jack or usb jack built in. I have the samsung series 8 led tv and it natively supports more formats than the PS3 but doesn't do DTS sound and can't fast forward or rewind mkv files (which is my only hurdle at the moment to ditching my secondary computer that I'm using as a media server so I'll also be watching this thread closely).

Roku Netflix Player + other stuff (1)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459518)

I have a Roku Netflix Player (or whatever they call it these days, one was just on woot the other day for 50$). It is an network-connected device (wireless, ethernet and also USB in the new version) which can stream Netflix and Amazon and other junk. It is about an inch high and maybe 5 inches wide and makes no noise (no fan, no hard drive, just a couple A/V ports). But also...

You can install aftermarket applications on the box, in a manner of speaking, and Roku offers an API along with detailed examples which you can modify yourself. Several people have already done so. I use the Roksbox application, despite its developer's insistence on updating the live branch of code and occasionally breaking everything. It allows me to stream live video hosted on a local (or remote, I suppose) web server. I have an Ubuntu box in the basement I use for transcoding. It works well and the UI is pretty simple, and quite end-user controllable.

After building the necessary XML files by hand for a while I wrote a couple of scripts to parse everything out of IMDB, download posters and descriptions, etc., and that goes into the display code. So when I turn on the Roku box, it pretty much "just works", so long as the network is up and I haven't mangled the XML file. My wife and baby love it; I've got tons of Elmo on there and other cartoons she can see and recognize, so there's no more playing around with DVDs and scratching them up. And we have many movies and other content on there. It's very simple to use, but the backend can take a little work unless you're a Windows person (my server is not).

I've tried using a DNS-323 NAS box as the server, which seems to work well. I just haven't switched everything over. So in short, with a Roku box, a little additional software and a server/NAS to host the files, you're good.

I'm an ex-Myth user... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459530)

I worked exhaustingly to get my MythTV setup 'finished' and gave up on it after about three full years. I had a server, a living room PC, and one/two bedroom deployments, depending on whether or not they were broken at the given time.

Streaming killed it all. The wife added Netflix, and I added Hulu (and later Plus), and we haven't looked back. We keep basically nothing, and thus are at the whims of the people controlling the services, but aside from needing a relatively-beefy Windows PC to handle the Flash and Silverlight, there's almost no overhead.

Having been at a place somewhat near yours, I'd advise you to wait and see. Things may get better, technology-wise, or you may just wind up getting hooked on Netflix...

Mac Mini and Plex (2, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459536)

Plex [plexapp.com] running on a MacMini is what I use. The mini is a solid low power platform that you can easily hook up external disk or access your NAS with. Has HDMI output for connecting to your stereo/tv etc.

Plex is made to use the apple remote control, so you don't need a keyboard/mouse after the very initial setup. There's also a iPhone/Pad/Touch app [plexapp.com] so you can control Plex or stream from the plex app to your iPhone/Touch/Pad. The main application for your mac mini is free and the iOS component is $5.

Great community of support for the app definitely better than XBMC.

iMac (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459540)

I used to use a Mac Pro on my TV, which is very quiet. It had no problem with 1080p video. I later bought a mac mini for my TV. I bought whatever they were selling in July 2009, It can do pretty much anything, although 1080p video is a bit of a stretch because the mini's CPU isn't as powerful as the pro. Specifically, it tends to skip in high-motion scenes. I really wish I spent the extra money for the faster CPU.

If you have a budget slightly over $1000, the Mac Mini with the fastest CPU will probably handle 1080p. Just remember this: The extra $1000 you spend for a general-purpose computer will buy lots and lots and lots of BluRay disks and iTunes rentals.

intel d525 + broadcom 70015 -OR- d525+ION2 (1)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 3 years ago | (#33459550)

The d525 is a dual core, 4 thread atom at 1.8Ghz.

ION2 = just a low power GPU but can decode high def easily with this CPU
bcm70015 decodes divx, xvid, wmv, mpeg4, vc1, h264.

slam these in a cheap case from newegg for 75 (includes power, is VESA mountable.

Thats a ~$225 system.

This system has zero fans and is completely quiet. no lights blinking, nothing.

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