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post #1 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello, I need help with some questions that I have.

I plan to build an ethernet network to stream/share video content from different devices throughout 4 zones. However, I have questions about internet streaming boxes and movie server set ups.

Since coming back to this forum, I've discovered a wealth of information including learning about devices such as Popcorn Hour or Dune HD etc. However, all of this seems to lead to more questions than answers.

I need suggestions on buying or building a device with a primary purpose of either being a movie server or interfacing with my movie server or NAS. I'm not worried about how well it accesses and streams online content since I can purchase something that performs that particular function.

For a movie server (or interface), my top concerns are:

1.) Having a nice GUI rather than having a file directory set up. As an example, if you can take a Redbox with the ability to play movies and put it in your house, that’s the functionality that I want. It needs to automatically display cover art when browsing or selecting movies from the server or movie storage.

2.) The ability to support subtitles or close captions. I have a hearing loss, so having access to subtitles or close captions is a huge plus for me. (However I understand HDMI does not display close captions although I could be wrong).

3.) Gigabit Ethernet compatibility if possible. I understand 10/100 is adequate for DVD streaming but I need something that can perform well when viewing Blu-ray movies or HD content from the server. If 10/100 devices are fine for HD or blu ray viewing then I can work with that.

4.) The ability to play most common video formats either in native format (original) or via up-scaling if possible.

My initial plan was to just build a HTPC and allow that to be my DVD movie server. However, there apparently are products such as set top boxes out there that serve this function and sort of neglect the need to build a HTPC.

Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas on what box might accomplish this task in a stable and efficient manner?


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post #2 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 07:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlacck View Post

Hello, I need help with some questions that I have.
I plan to build an ethernet network to stream/share video content from different devices throughout 4 zones. However, I have questions about internet streaming boxes and movie server set ups.
Since coming back to this forum, I've discovered a wealth of information including learning about devices such as Popcorn Hour or Dune HD etc. However, all of this seems to lead to more questions than answers.
I need suggestions on buying or building a device with a primary purpose of either being a movie server or interfacing with my movie server or NAS. I'm not worried about how well it accesses and streams online content since I can purchase something that performs that particular function.
For a movie server (or interface), my top concerns are:
1.) Having a nice GUI rather than having a file directory set up. As an example, if you can take a Redbox with the ability to play movies and put it in your house, that’s the functionality that I want. It needs to automatically display cover art when browsing or selecting movies from the server or movie storage
I use a PC with 7TB of HD as my 'server' & 2 BoxeeBoxs as 'media streamers' for my TVs I have ~250DVDs & 150 blurays ripped onto the server & available at the push of a few buttoms. Also Netflix & some DL'd TV shows. BoxeeBox gets the coverart & details for each movie (looks like redbox, in your example). You just have to follow naming conventions when you rip or use a program like MediaCenterMaster to manage you movie info (I used this & wholeheartedly reccomend it - autoDLing TV shows as they air is awesome-no more crappy DVR GUI).
2.) The ability to support subtitles or close captions. I have a hearing loss, so having access to subtitles or close captions is a huge plus for me. (However I understand HDMI does not display close captions although I could be wrong).
If you rip with subtitles, BoxeeBox can display them - there's a choice to have them on as default & default laungauge (my wife is not originally from US & we use Spanish subtitles as default on all movies) Many other players can also do this. MediaCenterMaster can sometimes download subtitles for a movie if you didn't/can't rip them or you need a different language
3.) Gigabit Ethernet compatibility if possible. I understand 10/100 is adequate for DVD streaming but I need something that can perform well when viewing Blu-ray movies or HD content from the server. If 10/100 devices are fine for HD or blu ray viewing then I can work with that.
100mbit is enough for BluRay streaming. WIfi is not. I have gigabit from server to router, but 100mbit for media players - I can have 2 BluRays going at one time w/o a problem and my setup isn't as fast as it could be (server is kinda slow & not optomized)
4.) The ability to play most common video formats either in native format (original) or via up-scaling if possible.
My initial plan was to just build a HTPC and allow that to be my DVD movie server. However, there apparently are products such as set top boxes out there that serve this function and sort of neglect the need to build a HTPC.
IMO, boxee box is one of the best for 'plug it in & watch movies' (it's not quite that easy, but close). Dune players seem to be more solid (but more expensive & you have to install extras to have that nice 'movie wall' feel). Popcorn hours are the original & are solid, but you have the same 'movie wall' problem as the Dune. XBMC on a HTPC is also very close to 'set & forget'. I use MakeMKV to rip DVDs & BlueRays - couple of clicks & let it go. When it's done, MediaCenterMaster renames the movie to something Boxee recognizes, downloads spanish subtitles, goes to IMDB & gets the movie details, etc - for me, it's more of a hassle changing disks during ripping than the software side.
The downsides of the boxee box are:
HD Audio bug - it will 'skip' 1-10 times per movie if using HD audio (TrueHD or DTS-HD). I don't use HD audio, so I don't have a problem
Support - Boxee developers have been VERY quiet for ~6months. There are some annoying bugs.The boxeebox hardware is getting dated, I have a feeling Boxee is working on new hardware, which if done right, will keep me as a customer.
My biggest bug is that BluRays stutter over SMB (standard windows networking). I installed a NFS server on win7 & it fixed my issue, but it took some trouble shooting & setup time.

If I had my way, I'd probably build a kick-ass HTPC & use XBMC - some of the visuals & extras are amazing. As it is, the 2 boxee boxs are Wife approved & she's techno-incompetent, so boxee it will be.
Hope that helps. It gets a lot of 'WOW' factor having 400 movies ready to go (harmony remote 'watch tv' or 'watch movie' is even easy for drunk college kids that show up from time to time)
I have ~$1k invested between 2 BoxeeBox's (watch for $150 sale at Amazon/BestBuy), HardDrives, etc. Add your media and a PC, which you would have anyway & it's a fairly cheap, nice setup.
I built a 12TB server for a friend that is full of BluRays easy to 'borrow' via USB hard drive...his kids have their own boxee because they took over his main one with netflix cartoons smile.gif


Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas on what box might accomplish this task in a stable and efficient manner?
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post #3 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 07:52 AM
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For a movie server (or interface), my top concerns are:

1.) Having a nice GUI rather than having a file directory set up. As an example, if you can take a Redbox with the ability to play movies and put it in your house, that’s the functionality that I want. It needs to automatically display cover art when browsing or selecting movies from the server or movie storage.
I've own different types of media players, and I keep coming back to Dune and PCH. They are probably one of the best media players out there. Boxee Box is good, but their support is lacking, and Intel discontinued their chip. So, what you buy is what you get. If you do not care about HD sound / surround sound Boxee Box is probably one of the best out there as well. I never consider to buy one due to the lack of support.

However, Dune and PCH have some of the best jukeboxes out there, but I do agree that XBMC is probably the best. There are new Android based media player coming out that will support XBMC, but many of them have bugs and doesn't work 100% yet! Furthermore, the Android media player do not support HD sound or ISO files. It's an Android thing, which XBMC is working on.


2.) The ability to support subtitles or close captions. I have a hearing loss, so having access to subtitles or close captions is a huge plus for me. (However I understand HDMI does not display close captions although I could be wrong).
Subtitles support will depend on how you rip your movies. A lot of people use MakeMKV because the software is easy to use. However, I've ran into some problems with BD movies lagging, stuttering and lip sync issue. So, I only use MakeMKV for DVD movies. For BD movies, I used ClownBD and rip them to main movie only M2TS file, with HD sound, AC3 secondary sound track, and English and Spanish subtitles because my parents are Spanish speaking wink.gif.


3.) Gigabit Ethernet compatibility if possible. I understand 10/100 is adequate for DVD streaming but I need something that can perform well when viewing Blu-ray movies or HD content from the server. If 10/100 devices are fine for HD or blu ray viewing then I can work with that.
I would worry about the media player supporting gigabit connection because none of the media player that say "THEY SUPPORT GIGABIT CONNECTION DO." The reason is due to their processor isn't powerful enough to support it. So, 100 mbps will do just fine

4.) The ability to play most common video formats either in native format (original) or via up-scaling if possible.
Most media players nowaday support pretty much every format.

My initial plan was to just build a HTPC and allow that to be my DVD movie server. However, there apparently are products such as set top boxes out there that serve this function and sort of neglect the need to build a HTPC.

Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas on what box might accomplish this task in a stable and efficient manner?

These are the following boxes I recommend from experience and ownership:
1) Dune Smart Series (They are reliable, dependable and easy to set up and use. Furthermore, they've got a good juboxes selection. HOWEVER, DUE TO THEIR PRICE INCREASE PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO BUY THEM. THEIR HARDWARE HAS NOT BEEN UPGRADE IT FOR A WHILE, AND I DON'T THINK THE PRICE INCREASE WARRANTS BUYING ONE, BUT THEY ARE EXCELLENT. If you don't mind spending more for less this is a good media player.

2) Popcorn Hour A210 / A300 series. The YAMJ / Eversion / EAON jukebox skin is probably one of the best out there. They are a little bit complicated to set up for your network, but once you get it going they are pretty solid. Their firmware upgrades are a PIA too, but it gets easy to do once you start doing it.

3) Mede8er MED500/400 series. This is probably the best 1185 Realtek chip media player out there. The only issue I found with this media player was it doesn't support full BD ISO. Their jukebox is similar to YAMJ. However, if you want to do TV Shows, you will have to use ThumbGen, which is kind of slow and at time PIA to use.

4) AIOS, this is probably the most inexpensive and excellent media player for the money. It is based on the 1185 Realtek chip. It does support a jukebox, but it requires some work, and if you are not computer / network savvy, it will be a little difficult to set up. Also the remote isn't very responsive, but you can fix this easy with a Harmony remote if you own one already.

5) Another option would be to build HTPC

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post #4 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 09:42 AM
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Another option would be Plex as well. http://www.plexapp.com smile.gif
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post #5 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys thanks for the replies. I took a look at some of your suggestions. Certainly what you offered helps me narrow down my options and that's exactly what I was hoping to do.

It sounds like the top choices for what I need are pretty much:

Dune HD Products
Popcorn Hour Products
Boxee

The Mede8er MED500/400 looks very interesting. it seems to have a little bit more of my attention right now. Based on what I'm seeing and reading thus far, the software and hardware seem to be a little more mature and elegant looking.

I just took a look at their website and apparently their latest firmware adds an interesting looking movie wall. However, Gus you mentioned that it doesn't support Blu Ray Iso. Is this a potential deal breaker here? Isthere a way around this so that you can view bluray content from your server?


In regards to the other products :

The Dune stuff definitely looks interesting. I'm not too concerned about price so long as the product is supported and functions well (in terms of doing what its suppose to do). I am not as worried about how well it accesses other online content or streams/records live TV. My primary needs for any of these devices are just accessing and playing the movies on my server. That said, Dune is probably worth a look if it can perform these functions reliably.

Popcorn Hour is definitely enticing but the reviews and consumer comments scare me a bit. I definitely consider myself techy (A+ certified soon to be network+ certified). However I am hearing that even techy people are having trouble getting their products to work. How bad is it really? Can anybody chip in here?

I can see the appeal of the Boxee products. It seems like a simple more "fun" product to use. I have to admit I'm not too fond of the hardware styling though. But it seems to be something that would be great for putting in the kids room or guest room. The fact that you guys say it lacks True HD audio might be a testament to its actual target audience. Would you guys say that the other products are aimed at the more serious Home video/audio/theater applications?
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post #6 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 10:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdb4133 View Post

Another option would be Plex as well. http://www.plexapp.com smile.gif


Is Plex simply software that you install on a HTPC? I'm slightly confused by exactly what it is.
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post #7 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 11:31 AM
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Is Plex simply software that you install on a HTPC? I'm slightly confused by exactly what it is.

Plex is a media server application. You install it on your PC, and then you'll need devices that are Plex "friendly," and Plex will stream to your device. If your devices doesn't support the format, it will transcode the file to a format that your device will play. It another option out there. Plex will also scrape all of your media and crate a jukebox for you.

Regarding BD ISO. The Mede8er will support non-java BD menus. Any ISO's with java menus will not be recognize by the 1185 Realtek chip. Furthermore, the realtek chips 1185 and 1186 do not recognize force subtitles. You will have to turn them on manually.

Dune and PCH media players recognize ISO format with lite and full BD menus. The PCH's does not recognize the force subs with MKV ripped files.

The only ISO filds that I've got are made from DVD TV Shows. I do not do BD ISO's. All of my movies are ripped with ClownBD as main movie only as M2TS with HD sound, AC3 track, force subs and English and Spanish language and subs as well. All of my media players have no issue playing this format. All of my media players, Dune D1, PCH-A300, PCH-A210, Mede8er MED500X2, AIOS, and WDTV2 had not issues playing this format either.

Here are a couple of pictures of my Dune D1 + Zappiti jukebox:
jukebox2.jpg

jukebox3.jpg

jukebox4.jpg

jukebox5.jpg

Here's the link for YAMJ / Eversion jukebox for the PCH

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=YAMJ+Eversion+pictures&oq=YAMJ+Eversion+pictures&gs_l=hp.3...918.6106.1.6243.24.19.1.4.4.0.175.1944.12j7.19.0...0.0...1c.8ucw7_SNNKM&psj=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=b752d12a099bb300&biw=1092&bih=533

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post #8 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Gus, thanks for the reply. There are definitely some gorgeous skins on that link you supplied. Since I am just discovering all of these products and devices, I might have a couple of silly questions: But my first question is do you download these skins directly to your streaming device (Dune, PCH etc) or do you install it on your server? Also, I looked at the Zappiti website. Is Zappiti tailor made for Dune or can the other YAMJ skins work on Dune as well?

The Plex application seems to have limited support in terms of the devices that run it. With the exception of the Ruku device (which I planned to get as my internet streaming device), the other products that Plex supports doesn't fit with anything that I have or what I planned to get. It appears to only support Goggle TV, Samung, Ruko and LG products. Has anyone had any success using it with other devices?
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post #9 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlacck View Post

Gus, thanks for the reply. There are definitely some gorgeous skins on that link you supplied. Since I am just discovering all of these products and devices, I might have a couple of silly questions: But my first question is do you download these skins directly to your streaming device (Dune, PCH etc) or do you install it on your server? Also, I looked at the Zappiti website. Is Zappiti tailor made for Dune or can the other YAMJ skins work on Dune as well?
The Plex application seems to have limited support in terms of the devices that run it. With the exception of the Ruku device (which I planned to get as my internet streaming device), the other products that Plex supports doesn't fit with anything that I have or what I planned to get. It appears to only support Goggle TV, Samung, Ruko and LG products. Has anyone had any success using it with other devices?

Zappiti is only for Dune media players. There is a skin for YAMJ that is similar to Zappiti. Yes, the output file (index) for these jukeboxes are located in my server, but I actually run the scrapping part in my W7 PC. So, I run Zappiti and YAMJ in my W7, and the scrapped information gets saved in my unRaid server. I then access Zappit and YAMJ from my Dune and PCH media players.

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post #10 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Out of curiosity, what formats are you guys storing your DVD files in? Gus you mentioned that you don't do very many ISO files. Are VOB files acceptable formats for these boxes to play DVD movies? Or do some file formats seem to read/play better than others?
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post #11 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by jlacck View Post

Out of curiosity, what formats are you guys storing your DVD files in? Gus you mentioned that you don't do very many ISO files. Are VOB files acceptable formats for these boxes to play DVD movies? Or do some file formats seem to read/play better than others?

VOB are fine, but I like to save a little bit of space by just ripping the movie only. For DVD movies, I use MakeMKV. For BD movies I use 99.99% of the time ClownBD + AnyDVD HD in the background to remove encryption. I've used MakeMKV with a few BD movies, and I had some lagging issue with some of them. So, I stopped using MakeMKV for BD movies. However, I know a lot of people who use MakeMKV for everything and they don't seem to have any issues. The only time I use ISO files is to do TV Shows.

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post #12 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I have an older version of DVD fab that I'm using. Obviously its primarily for DVDs which is fine with me since I've got over 400 DVD movies I need to archive. When I used it in the past I only ripped just the main movie and the subtitles and audio tracks I needed. However it archives to mpeg2 format which we all know is obviously native resolution.

As I mentioned I'm new to this, so I'm just trying to make sure that I understand not just what equipment works best for my needs but what formats for what I want to accomplish. That said, are you getting any benefits using MKV for ripping standard DVDs? It sounds to me that your format of choice is more or less based on conserving disc space.
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post #13 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 11:53 AM
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I have an older version of DVD fab that I'm using. Obviously its primarily for DVDs which is fine with me since I've got over 400 DVD movies I need to archive. When I used it in the past I only ripped just the main movie and the subtitles and audio tracks I needed. However it archives to mpeg2 format which we all know is obviously native resolution.
As I mentioned I'm new to this, so I'm just trying to make sure that I understand not just what equipment works best for my needs but what formats for what I want to accomplish. That said, are you getting any benefits using MKV for ripping standard DVDs? It sounds to me that your format of choice is more or less based on conserving disc space.

I used MakeMKV for DVD because is easy and fast. Best of all it is free. I use ClownBD because it is also free, it safes me space because i rip as main movie only, I can keep the BD picture and audio quality intact as well. ClownBD can rip as folder structure, or ISO by using Imgburn. DVDFab is a good software to use too. I just didn't want to spend more $$ on that. So, I bought AnyDVD HD for encryption removal mainly.

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post #14 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 01:37 PM
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Popcorn hour also just came out with the popbox which retail for 129.00 and can stream Blu ray iso and all other formats. So if pick up a couple of those popboxs you can stream from a nas through out the house.

Dunes are also very nice, but more $$ than popcorn hour, and the new popbox. We have installed both and are very solid.

If you have control4, extra vegetables just built a two way driver for both dunes and popcorn hour and popboxs that uses windows media to catergories movies and supply the metadata and cover art automatically into the control4. You then get the cover art in the c4 world(iPhones, iPads, touchscreens and on screen nav). Just push play and the movie starts up. Pretty easy for the wifey and kids, the cover art looks good but not as sexy as zappati and yamj or yadis.

Additionally, companies are building there own nas and servers that are made specifically for dunes, popcorn hour etc.

We have installed for some of our clients, this setup is for the clients that know and like burning their own movies and alot cheaper than other movie server companies.
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post #15 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 01:43 PM
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Check out extra vegetables for the setup I mentioned above. I think they show a four zone setup using popbox and dunes.

A quick side note question;

When we burn our movies to from an Iso to a mkv( to save space) using VSO converter it takes 6 hours to convert, what if anything can we do to speed that up??

When we initially burn to ISo using DVD fab it takes 30 minutes. Just looking to quicken the pace up. Thanks for the help
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post #16 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 01:44 PM
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Check out extra vegetables for the setup I mentioned above. I think they show a four zone setup using popbox and dunes.

A quick side note question;

When we burn our movies to from an Iso to a mkv( to save space) using VSO converter it takes 6 hours to convert, what if anything can we do to speed that up??

When we initially burn to ISo using DVD fab it takes 30 minutes. Just looking to quicken the pace up. Thanks for the help
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post #17 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siordia View Post

Check out extra vegetables for the setup I mentioned above. I think they show a four zone setup using popbox and dunes.
A quick side note question;
When we burn our movies to from an Iso to a mkv( to save space) using VSO converter it takes 6 hours to convert, what if anything can we do to speed that up??
When we initially burn to ISo using DVD fab it takes 30 minutes. Just looking to quicken the pace up. Thanks for the help


You may want to check out makemkv. A forum member (GusGus748s) brought it to my attention and it has worked splendidly for me thus far.

I've never had a movie take 30 minutes let alone six hours to convert to mkv. However, if you are encoding it to save space, that will definitely take a while regardless of what type of software you use. Having said all that; speaking strictly about DVDs I think Mkv is fine and definitely quick. It only takes about 12-15 minutes to build a container.

I haven't tried converting blu-rays yet so I can't speak on any experiences with that, but hopefully GusGus or others can chime in regarding there experience with the software they use.

By the way, I'll check into some of the recommendations that you made. But just out of curiosity, do you do installations for an A/V company?
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post #18 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 12:10 PM
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I been using DVD next copy to copy my dvd's into a folder. That usually takes about 15-20 min per dvd. After that is done I use Handbrake to create an MKV witht he high profile setting. As for the audio my question is with the AC3 passthru is that a good setting or should I use the AAC format with the Dolby Digital II Mixdown? I also own a WD TV Live and wanted to know if there is an XBMC or Plex version capable of being used on this?
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post #19 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enzmin89 View Post

I been using DVD next copy to copy my dvd's into a folder. That usually takes about 15-20 min per dvd. After that is done I use Handbrake to create an MKV witht he high profile setting. As for the audio my question is with the AC3 passthru is that a good setting or should I use the AAC format with the Dolby Digital II Mixdown? I also own a WD TV Live and wanted to know if there is an XBMC or Plex version capable of being used on this?

If I use Handbrake to re-encode a DVD movie for my phone / tablet, I usually rip them with AC3 passthru and ACC mixdown. WDTV doesn't support Plex or XBMC that I know of. You can use ThumgGen to build a jukebox type of thing.

Media Server: UnRaid Server: 15TB of storage and growing :).

http://www.avsforum.com/lists/display/view/id/8599

 

Home Theater Set Up:

http://www.avsforum.com/lists/display/view/id/8597

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post #20 of 23 Old 09-09-2012, 10:10 AM
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Yea I been happy with Handbrake, also Plex is awesome and I love it. I want to get a mac mini running plex with the full interface , but I dont want to spend that kind of money. Is there anything similar that i could build pc wise or get a streaming player that supports plex?
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post #21 of 23 Old 09-09-2012, 05:02 PM
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post #22 of 23 Old 09-09-2012, 07:38 PM
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that is awesome and it looks like I will be purchasing this next, thanks for the help
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post #23 of 23 Old 09-11-2012, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by jlacck View Post

You may want to check out makemkv. A forum member (GusGus748s) brought it to my attention and it has worked splendidly for me thus far.
I've never had a movie take 30 minutes let alone six hours to convert to mkv. However, if you are encoding it to save space, that will definitely take a while regardless of what type of software you use. Having said all that; speaking strictly about DVDs I think Mkv is fine and definitely quick. It only takes about 12-15 minutes to build a container.
I haven't tried converting blu-rays yet so I can't speak on any experiences with that, but hopefully GusGus or others can chime in regarding there experience with the software they use.
By the way, I'll check into some of the recommendations that you made. But just out of curiosity, do you do installations for an A/V company?


Yes, I work for an av company in Los Angeles. You can view the setup I mentioned on the extra vegetables website. And they have it on YouTube.

I'll post the pics of the cover art and metadata, which all show up on my iPhone, iPad, c4 touchscreens and the c4 on screen navigator.

It's pretty cool and easy to use, especially for wife and kids

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