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Where to begin...?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
With the news that Sony is discontinuing their Bluray Jukebox line, with no replacement on the horizon, I've decided it's time for me to move on to the world of Media Servers.

The problem, of course, is that I don't have the slightest idea where to begin. I'll briefly explain my situation, and my vision, and hopefully some genius here can point me towards the promised land.

I have a Sony DVP-CX995 and BDP-CX960, both near capacity (all totaled, approx 550 DVDs and 250 Blurays). I have 3 locations in my home where I'd like to view my content (spread across 3 different floors), Living Room, Bedroom and Home Theatre Room. Oh, and if it's of any relevance, my computer is a Mac (and we've got iPads and iPhones if controller options are available).

So I guess what I'm envisioning is a large media server connected in one of these locations (probably theatre) with remote modules (players, receivers, whatever they are called) in the other two locations accessing the content. I'm really only concerned with Video content, and in terms of that, only the feature film (don't need menus, extras, etc.).

So, that in mind, can anyone/everyone suggest where to begin?

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 11
That's a good question and there's a lot more to consider before moving forward. I've been moving in the same direction for a few months now and have asked quite a few of these 'questions' before embarking.

Well obviously you'll need one heck of a HDD array to store that many discs, worse so if they're all BD. That's going to be quite costly. You will probobly recoup enough by selling the two Sony units but since you have two already and there's pleny available in existing retail inventories, might not be a bad idea to grab a pair of the non ES units now before unobtanium. If you decide to rip and encode instead, you'll certainly be future proofing the system but with tech upgrades being what they are, for how long?

Best to decide on the streaming devices first and what you and your family need and can afford. Since you're on the Mac side already, the Apple ATV might be a great choice. It's affordable, stable and has a very user friendly and slick GUI and works very well with iPad2, the most available content to date with Airplay. It only does 720P though. You'll have to prioritize. if $$$ are really fluid, the Mac Mini would make for an excellent streamer but at $549 a bit pricey for most.

Tackle this one first as well as establishing the cost of your server whether it's a Time Capsule (works really well with Mac BTW), DROBO or a home brewed server. Check out PLEX for your front end.

As to ripping and encoding the current library, that'll be dependant on what you choose as your streamer. An all Apple solution with ATV's is going to require MP4/H.264 encodes which are stable but timely. Running with Mac Mini's as streamers allows for decoding at the unit so lot's of format flexibility there. It sounds like this will be a long term solution so best to think of longevity and uniformity here. One container to hold them all!
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Greatly appreciate the thorough, thoughtful response

Am I mistaken in thinking that there's products designed for storing media in?

I guess I'm envisioning a hard disk based media hub that's, to some degree at least, infinitely upgradeable in terms of storage.

I have an AppleTV, but I was hoping for something to actually store the media
post #4 of 11
Most of the folks here that have been successful use a 2-tier approach.

Tier 1: Media server - This is a device(s) that can be a computer or network attached storage (NAS) appliance that houses your media files. Some people purchase NAS appliances and fill them with hard drives. The advantage to a NAS appliance is simplicity, the disadvantage is expandability. I have a computer with external drive bays attached. In this case, I can keep on adding storage as needed to my computer and it fills the role of media server. I am up to 24, 2TB drives on my Media Server computer

Tier 2: Media streamer - This is a device that attaches between your home network and your video/audio system. It provides the graphic interface, presents the files that you have and sends the picture and audio to your system. You generally attach one of these at each video/audio location. Some of the more stable, popular devices are the Dune players and the Popcorn Hour players.

You will use a computer to rip your media and store it on the media server. Along with the media files, metadata files are also stored. This tells the media streamer how do display and search for your media files for navigation and launching purposes.

Please keep in mind that no matter how you go, you need to maintain a solid wired network for a good, stable watching experience.
post #5 of 11
@mlknez basically said all the advice I could give you.

I would like to add to it though

1. You are best building your own media server
How to build a Media Server
I say this since it is cheaper (my server is currently at 5TB, built myself.)

2. Streamer I'd recommend the WDtv Live + streamers. Since the file compatibility is extremely good, and it streams Netflix and Hulu plus.
post #6 of 11
Roughly guestimating, you current media collection will run somewhere around 15 terabytes and you will want room to grow. Each DVD is about 8gigabytes, and each bluray is probably about 40. That is to save all of your discs bit for bit in their folder structures with out compressing them. Technically speaking, you could buy a PC off the shelf and cram five 3TB hard drives into it. While not optimal that approach would be the "easiest" to put together.

Deciding what exactly you want to save is going to impact which media players will work for you. Some cannot play back dvd folder structures. Some cannot do DTS sound. Others cannot handle the VC1 codec. Others have a maximum bitrate of file they can play before you get choppy playback.

You can:

-Save exact copies of all your discs. This will limit your bluray playback ability, since I do not not believe any streamer can play back the menus (maybe the Dune?). This will be the fastest way to rip. Depending on your computer hardware a dvd could save in as fast as a few minutes and a bluray in under an hour.

-Save the movies and audio tracks bit for bit into a new container file. The file containers on a dvd are .VOB and .m2ts on a bluray. You can save the audio, video, and subtitles exactly as they are on the disc into new container such as .mkv. This will leave out your menus, special features, and audio and subtitle tracks you do not care for. This will take some more setup than the last step should not take much longer and will save you space.

-Compress the video streams down to take up less space. This is commonly done now with the program Handbrake. It will most likely convert the filetypes on the disc into something else. Keep in mind not only will you lose special features and menus, you will also lose quality in the process. How much you lose is subjective to you. Converting a dvd might take an hour or two, but converting a bluray could take as long as 12-24 hours.
post #7 of 11
mlknez gave you the best explanation.

I separated all of my devices to ease upgrading. UnRaid for NAS, XBMC for the media streamer. MythTV as a DVR. HDHomerun for tuners. Separate machines, but each communicates with the other.

If I need to upgrade storage, I don't need to mess around with my frontend. If I want to upgrade my DVR, I am not messing up my movies frontend. If I upgrade any of the machines I don't have to worry about configuring a tuner cartd, since the HDH is a separate ethernet-connected device.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Wow it's been a while since I approached this subject. This is where things are now.

I basically want a solution where I can take all my media (music, DVD, Bluray, etc) into one place and use it in my theatre room. I'm not currently concerned with being able to spread it throughout the house. Just a single media focal point for my theatre.

A cover art based menu and IP control would be desirable.

Media Center PC?
post #9 of 11
The previous recommendations would still stand, either a media server or NAS based solution would fit your needs.....
post #10 of 11
that right, Converting a dvd might take an hour or two, but converting a bluray could take as long as 12-24 hours. thanks 10.gif
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. Will be researching....looking at a QNAP NAS with WDTV Live.
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