Looking to buy streaming device or htpc for new home. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 12-23-2012, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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I have to warn that I am new to media streaming devices and HTPC. I have done much research but I want to make sure the gaps in my knowledge don't lead me to buy something that won't work for my purposes is overly expensive for features I don't require.
I am looking for a device or devices (cheapest option) to stream my HD movie collection to multiple tv's in the house; some of which (TV's) are 2005-2008 composite connection and one of which is HDMI. I don't have internet nor do I plan on getting it any time soon so streaming internet content is not really a concern. I have read about video game streaming or emulators, which I am interested in but is not really a primary concern. Also I don't really want to have to run cable so a wifi capable system is a requirement. I also feel I should mention that I would like each television to be able to play a different movie or media file on one tv and another on the other, at the same time. I do own a mac and all files will be moved from that machine onto the device so it must be able to work with mac. Other than that I have listed some specifics below.

Must be able to (or support):
-work with Apple or "mac" files
- WIFI
- As many file types as possible (mkv, avi, mpg.....subs)
- Able to connect via hdmi as well as composite
-Something with HD space included (at least 2TB)
- Audio streaming
-Allows for up to 4-6 TV connections
- Is reliable and stays updated
- Able to handle 1080p
-Easy to use and setup


I can't really think of anything else but if I do I will let you know. I figure it should be simple enough since I am eliminating the need for internet streaming but I don't want to mistakingly buy the wrong device. I wan't to do this the cheapest way possible without sacrificing quality and I am unsure as to whether I would require an HTPC or the streaming media player. Also I am a little confused as to what I would have to purchase for each television set to be able to receive the signal from the main device I will be buying (Do I have to buy a bunch of HTPC's or media players for each TV i want to access content on or just one HTPC, Media streaming device and then another device for each television which I wish to have access to my main library?) I will need to buy this soon so please let me know what you suggest. Thank you!
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post #2 of 14 Old 12-23-2012, 05:42 PM
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Welcome to this crazy hobby!

The best method for your setup is to purchase 1 device to store your media and a media streamer to attach to each Video/audio system.

The best storage device would be a network attached storage (NAS) device that will hold your hard drives and be accessible to all other devices on your home network. It can also be used to back up your laptops and computers. It has an advantage that it is easy to own and operate and can avoid data loss as well as expand. Some good NAS devices are made by Netgear, Qnap, Synology, Buffalo, Seagate and Western Digital

The best media streamer depends on what type of media you will be playing, what your budget constraints are, what your ease of use and reliability factors are and how much time you want to put into this hobby. The most stable media streamers with the most flexibility are made by Dune but they are also the most expensive. You should also look at players made by Popcorn hour and medi8tor as second tier providers. You may also want to look at western digital devices.

You will need to use a computer to rip the media from the shiny silver discs onto your NAS device as well as gather any metadata that you will use for navigation and presentation.

Lastly, please understand that wireless networking, at this point, is still not a reliable transmission mechanism for high-definition, Blu-ray quality, media.
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post #3 of 14 Old 12-23-2012, 08:06 PM
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Sorry.......doesn't exist. Narrow your needs to the core that are non negotiable and work backwards from there. Here's my personal list of non negotiables by priority

Reliable.....meaning it simple works when I turn it on
A neat,,usable user interface....sort options, artwork...NO FILE TREES....
1080p video
Multichannel audio
HDMI interface
An advancing, real support network with long term commitment to the device

.....not too many units fit that bill......
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post #4 of 14 Old 12-24-2012, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Sorry. Don't know how to erase the double post.
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post #5 of 14 Old 12-24-2012, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the quick reply! I have to apologize for my slow response but that was a lot to take in and I was doing some research based on your suggestions.
Well I feel like I opened pandoras box now because I was looking at some cheaply priced media streaming devices and figured that would be the most expensive component I would have to buy to make this work and then just buy some other cheap devices to attach to all the tv's (I didn't know if there was something cheaper than the media streaming devices that I would have to get on the tv end).
I understand perfectly what you are saying. To buy a NAS device for all my storage and then a media streaming device for each TV set. Although I agree that it would be the best way of doing this, my wallet may not be able to handle it all.

I was researching some NAS devices and they all seem to be around $500-$1,000. If I buy that then I would still have to shell out another $200-$500 for each media streaming device for each TV set. Maybe I am confused or you know of some cheaper options that can handle this task and fulfill all the requirements I listed above.
Before I get into any questions on the NAS, I was wondering why I would have to buy one. Couldn't I just buy a media streaming device with it's own HD, effectively combining both functions into one cheap box? If you know of any down sides to this please let me know. If I was to go with your suggestions what should I be looking for in a NAS (specs wise) to accomplish my goal?
-For example, should I be looking for a wifi capable NAS?
-What determines it's ability to handle Blue ray and high quality streaming without loss of quality? Is it the ram speed or some other value?
-Would I have to make sure that it can handle MAC formatted drives?

On the other end (media streaming devices). I was originally looking at the Western Digital 1tb Live hub media center http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Media-Center-Full-HD/dp/B004GK0GKO . I have to check if it can handle any more drive space, but I figured that I could just buy a 2TB external and attach it if I needed more. Please correct me if Im wrong in that assumption or if that setup can lead to any issues I am unaware of.
I did look at a few Media streaming devices (DUNE, EGREAT R300 looks like my second choice http://www.nikktech.com/main/articles/media-players/220-egreat-s-series-r300-network-hd-media-player ) These devices are more doable cost wise and they seem to satisfy most if not all the specs I listed in my first post. Please correct me if Im wrong or if you have any better suggestions. Also I have been reading the forums and I notice that some say the WIFI handles Blue ray quality pretty well while others say it does not. I was wondering, what kind of issues does WIFI have with streaming these high quality movies? Will it look pixelated or just skip a lot? Thank you for answering my first response. I am kind of a perfectionist and always end up doing a lot of research to find the perfect product before I shell out this kind of cash. I will do some more research but any answers or help would be appreciated.
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post #6 of 14 Old 12-24-2012, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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@ Mayhem. I listed 2 products in my second post that I thought fit the bill, but just wanted to make sure.

I guess for my purposes I would definitely require it to...
-work with Apple or "mac" files (don't know if this is even an issue as I will just be uploading these files via my mac)
- WIFI and hard wire capable (Incase wifi can't handle)
- As many file types as possible (mkv, avi, mpg.....subs)
- Able to connect via hdmi as well as composite( although if i have to buy a different device for each TV i would just use HDMI for one unit and buy a composite one for others)
-Something with HD space included (at least 2TB, unless I can just attach an external drive)
- Audio streaming
- Support for new file types stay updated
- Able to handle 1080p

I thought this was very bare in requirements. In the other forums I've seen,people have been demanding all types of support for internet content as well as what I listed so I am confused. Please understand that I am new to this particular area so I am willing to hear any suggestions. Maybe my requirements are not doable on one device and I need more than one, like a NAS device? Any help would be appreciated. I just want to be able to stream my media library to multiple sets (Now looks like I will have to buy a media streaming device for each set). Thank you.
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post #7 of 14 Old 12-24-2012, 08:57 PM
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Media streamers that can have hard drives attached are not optimized to serve as media servers to other media streamers. The media streamer is primarily there as a target on the network. A NAS will make sure that any of your streamers will be able to play any media file concurrently.

WiFi, no matter how good, will tend to have temporary speed dropouts which will show up as stuttering video and/or loss of audio during viewing of files that require higher bitrates than they can deliver at that moment in time. Sometimes, they can make the rest of the video completely out of synch, or even stop the video altogether.

When you buy the cheaper streamers, you lose out on capabilities that you may desire as well as reliability. Get a Dune Smart series media streamer for each location, they just work! Dune Smart series is the ONLY player that will play back videos with their full menu system intact.

Again, you never said what your other video/audio equipment is, what your budget is, what file types and resolutions you will need to play, what your reliability needs are, what time you want to devote to this hobby, etc.

Thjs is all for local media only and I have not touched upon internet connected media at all.
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post #8 of 14 Old 12-25-2012, 03:58 PM
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Too many requirements. You won't find a solution. The Dune line is not Mac friendly, is expensive for old technology but is of course stable since it has been around.

A more Mac friendly, with HFS+ support, company is PCH. Their new A400 will allow you to swap 3.5" hard drives easily. It also has every codec support and so on. It has composite, component and hdmi support. Comes with a built in GUI as opposed to a list based text interface. The Dune main external jukebox does NOT have Mac support so you'll be unable to manage it. That rules that company out as far as I am concerned. The PCH-A400 now has AirPlay support which is a big deal, can be managed in a neat way by an iPad and has no fan and so is quiet. The lack of Apple support in the Dune line would raise concerns for me although they are trying to catch up with some kind of iOS support. Too little too late in my opinion. They are behind when it comes to OSX programming and that will show up.

Another approach would be to get an ARM based NAS ( less expensive than the higher end Synology type units), put Plex Media Server on the NAS, or your Mac, and have say one A400 for your main TV and then put Plex clients on your other TV's. A Roku for example will run Plex and Direct Stream from the NAS. You'll run into some issues with high bitrate rips so the Roku may have to be replaced by some other Plex client. In any case I don't think you need to worry about bitrate issues to the non HD TV's.

If Roku's don't appeal then there are other inexpensive players that will work (WDTV type players). Those players can access the NAS directly or use Plex's DLNA mode.

philip
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post #9 of 14 Old 12-25-2012, 07:23 PM
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Ok......so I'm having a hard time trying to help as you're still all over the place. Let's recap some points from your reply

Wifi and Bluray or 1080p streaming.........not happening, on a consistent basis anyways. In order for a multi zone streaming solution to work, the network has to be solid. I would suggest start by pulling some Cat5 or use surface mount raceways. Power line adapters can work well in areas where wire isn't practical but multiples of adapters can be more costly than wire. I wouldn't plan on any devices until you develop your network first.

Nas.......you'll have to consider your costs here based on the size of your intended library. Full BD rips are HUGE files where compressed MP4s using Handbrake are much smaller. They also shed all of the menu extras.....if you like all that stuff, be prepared to spend big on a high capacity Nas.

Media streamers.....think long and hard on these. If the user interface is difficult to navigate or generic, trust me, no one is going to use it after the initial thrill is gone...a few weeks tops of 'wow, check this out'...and then...... Your current library content and format or containers should help with your decision on what players/ streamers will work. You are going to encounter the most frustration here as the units that play everything under the sun are often the nes with crappy GUIs or poor support and buggy. And vice versa, the units with slick GUIs are limited on file types. I was surprised to see recommendations for the new A400 popcorn units given the companies poor history of support and bugs. If I read through a companies website for their streamer and find spelling and grammar errors, it tells me something about their attention to detail and their fix it on the fly theory. Hey folks....buy our units and be our beta babies ok?....NOT.
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-25-2012, 09:32 PM
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To save on the storage device you could just use an existing PC and leave it on 24/7. It's also worth looking at Plex. The new Plex app for Samsung blu-ray players looks pretty slick.

Also, just give up on streaming HD video over WiFi right now. Don't even think about it.
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post #11 of 14 Old 12-26-2012, 05:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Also, just give up on streaming HD video over WiFi right now. Don't even think about it.
This.^

WiFi will stream 720p ok but will end up skipping with 1080p.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlknez View Post

Welcome to this crazy hobby!
The best method for your setup is to purchase 1 device to store your media and a media streamer to attach to each Video/audio system.
This.^

Just get a cheap NAS and a couple of WDTV Live SMPs will probably stream 99% of your stuff.

Most small NAS's will do what you want.
Something as small as a Shuttle KD20 OMNINAS would work fine and are about $150 (HDDs extra).
http://global.shuttle.com/news/productsDetail?productId=1629
http://www.slashgear.com/shuttle-omninas-kd20-2-bay-nas-starts-the-product-line-13247511/
http://www.slashgear.com/shuttle-omninas-kd20-nas-hands-on-06232407/


A 3TB HDD is like $130

A WDTV Live SMP can be picked up for like $80-$90 sometimes less.

So for less than $500 you can be streaming to multiple rooms as happy as Larry

Edit you could get it all from Amazon for about $450.
You could add another 3 TB HDD later. To have 6TB if you dont set up a RAID.
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post #12 of 14 Old 12-26-2012, 05:55 AM
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Just a little out of the box thinking. Would it be a viable option to buy a media streaming device for each set and then instead of a large NAS, go with one or two portable hard drives. There would be more overhead in terms of transferring your media to more than one drive, and having to move the drives to your Mac for file transfer and to the streamer for playback. but you would be able to play back directly from the streamers without WIFI. Not sure if you could use the WiFi to transfer your media to the portable drives while they are attached to the streamers but if it takes an hour or two to transfer a bluray who cares. Just transfer the files at night (any one remember the days of dial up modems when you would start a large file transfer and go to sleep while it tied up your phone line all night??)
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post #13 of 14 Old 01-01-2013, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theslydog View Post

This.^
WiFi will stream 720p ok but will end up skipping with 1080p.
This.^
Just get a cheap NAS and a couple of WDTV Live SMPs will probably stream 99% of your stuff.
Most small NAS's will do what you want.
Something as small as a Shuttle KD20 OMNINAS would work fine and are about $150 (HDDs extra).
http://global.shuttle.com/news/productsDetail?productId=1629
http://www.slashgear.com/shuttle-omninas-kd20-2-bay-nas-starts-the-product-line-13247511/
http://www.slashgear.com/shuttle-omninas-kd20-nas-hands-on-06232407/

A 3TB HDD is like $130
A WDTV Live SMP can be picked up for like $80-$90 sometimes less.
So for less than $500 you can be streaming to multiple rooms as happy as Larry
Edit you could get it all from Amazon for about $450.
You could add another 3 TB HDD later. To have 6TB if you dont set up a RAID.

I agree with this option. What is your budget or what price range did you have in mind?
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post #14 of 14 Old 02-16-2013, 04:03 AM
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This is a great thread and very interesting. I'm wondering if anyone knows which devices don't look for copy protection. For example, I have a MIB III blueray and ripped it but when I try to stream it to my Samsung BD player it cuts out after 20 min and says it's copy protected. Even if I have the disc in which I don't want to do anyway. Works fine when streamed to an older device. I'm not looking to give away my library, I just want to play any movie I want in any room I want without rummaging through my huge disc collection.

Dyslexics are teople poo.
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