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Help with choosing a media server

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am completely new to this area but not to home theater. I currently use a PS3 to watch blurays that is connected to an Denon AVR thru HMDI. Then a long HDMI cord that send video to a projector. What I would like to do is rip all the bluray movies I have to ISO and be able to watch them on some kind of media server.

I have read alot about using a NAS to store them and then be able to watch them and that sounds like something I would like to do. A frontend would really be nice to be able to make it wife-proof so that the media server can scan the NAS, find the bluray iso and create a selection screen-type menu to be able to look through the movies and play one. I am not really hung up on bd menus, just mainly the main movie.

Any suggestions as to where I should even start looking or what kind of media server I should be looking at? Also, I have wired ethernet running to my AVR already. Thank you for any help you can give.
post #2 of 10
I would suggest the new Dune HD TV303D. I've been using Dune players for quite a while now and they are very stable and work well. The new TV303D (see the review by Damian below) offers better performance than the Dune Smart series (which I also own) and with a price tag of $199 you just can't beat it.

You can use Zappiti movie cataloger. install it on a PC, point it to your NAS to scrape your movies then tell Z to store it's database to a folder on the NAS. Then from the 303D, setup an NFS share and bookmark the Z folder you saved to your NAS and set the bookmark to start on power-up. When the unit is powered on, Zappiti menu will be all that you see. From there you can select, from your entire movie collection, categories, recents and TV shows.

The BD lite function is really not that bad. I was a bit worried as the Smart series allow you to access menus for BD's but the 303D displays a list of video files it finds within the BD-ISO (largest is pretty much always the movie). It's easy and I don't find it cumbersome at all. It's easy to use and gets the job done.

In fact, I'm streaming 3D BD-ISO from my Synology without issue.

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2013/02/07/review-dune-hd-tv303d/

Note: the DTS audio issues appear to have been fixed in the latest firmware and I've noticed no problems.

There are others here that are far more knowledgeable than I but this is my 2 cents.

FTL
post #3 of 10
A NAS definitely the way to go in regards to storage for your media....choose an x86 (Intel) model from either Synology or Qnap base on your budget and storage needs. As far as front end interface, I'd stay away from Blu-Ray based hardware as some content has that dreaded Cinavia content protection....look into either Roku if going with Plex (www.plexapp.com) or Apple TV for either Plex or XBMC as the front-end interface. Roku/AppleTV are pretty wife-proof. In regards to ripping the movies from Blu-ray, software wise I use DVDFab (www.dvdfab.com), but there are other free alternatives such as MakeMKV. Thing to note if using a NAS for your contact storage in conjuction with Plex....unless the client supports the file extension/container/codec (ie .mp4, .avi, .mkv), then the Transcoding options are very limited from the NAS running Plex Server (due to the processor of the NAS, transcoding is possible, but less than ideal).
post #4 of 10
I'm not really sold on the Dune Media Players, although I have not used one....I just don't like the interface when compared to either Plex or XBMC, but it really depends on the user. A NAS with PMS and Roku client devices are what I prefer. I forgot to mention in my earlier post Google TV....I recently bought a Vizio Co-Star and I'm quite pleased with the device, Plex runs great on it and it supports so many file formats.
post #5 of 10
Maybe I'll have to buy a Dune player to test out, see if I prefer the Zappiti interface over Plex.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
So with a Dune player, am I able to bitstream the HD audio to my Denon AVR? I want to watch the bluray iso in a completely lossless format, including the audio. Am I close in saying that the Dune TV303D would be around $199 and then a NAS box would be also around $199? So I'm looking at around $400 without any hardrive space? Also, thanks for all the replies.
post #7 of 10
If you have a PC, you should give Mezzmo a try, it is much more elegant than the PS3 media server. Mezzmo is the only server I have seen that allows you to completely customize the menus that will appear on your PS3 or other device. If your PC doesn't have a large drive, add a USB drive.

I switched from a PS3 to a Samsung player a couple of years ago, but it worked great when I had one. Mezzmo has free trial.
post #8 of 10
Per Damian's review:

DTS(MA) in both mkv and Blu-ray structures downmixed to 2ch stereo. TrueHD in a Blu-ray structure downmixed to 2ch stereo. However, TrueHD in an mkv did not get downmixed, but instead was bitstreamed through. This has me thinking that downmix of standalone TrueHD tracks is not supported (in the case of a Blu-ray structure there is an embedded AC3 track which the Dune can use to downmix, no such track exists in a TrueHD mkv).

For HD Audio over HDMI, the TV303D does not downmix to multi channel PCM natively, only 2ch stereo. Using the custom patch you can add back multi channel decoding of DTS(MA), but for TrueHD you still only get the original TrueHD track bitstreamed (as mentioned above)

----

XBMC has a much better looking interface IMO but I got to the point that I just wanted a player that worked well and was reliable. Zapptiti looks good enough to me, is free and serves my needs.

XBMC running on the Dune Max will be something I'll take a good hard look at.

Cheers,
FTL
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Fasterthanlight., I gave that review a good read and learned alot about the Dune, including the comments below it mentioning that a f/w upgrade just fixed the DTS(MA) dropping issue. If I want to just bitstream all the HD audio formats to my Denon AVR (so that it can decode them all), will the Dune TV303D be able to do this? Your quote from the review has me a little confused as it mentions downmixing, which I don't want at all, I want the original HD audio track bitstreamed to the AVR.

You also mentioned setting up a NFS in your first post but the review mentions him having a problem reading bluray isos form an NFS share. You have had success with a NFS with the Dune TV303D?
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Any other suggestions or ideas? Thanks.
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