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Hello all,


I am currently attempting to create a small home media network for a house filled with people much less tech savvy than myself (hard to believe considering how much of a hard time I'm having). My recently retired father has tons of foreign dvd's which I had someone rip into video_ts folders containing VOB, BUP and IFO files which I would like to be able to stream to several locations within the house including lots of mp3 and music files. The basic setup I have envisioned, after reading up, is an NAS with all the data and several media adapters to play the files on TV's (about 3 or 4 hdtvs) with a slingbox so the media can be accessed away from home. The house uses mainly mac computers with one windows laptop also. My first purchase was a Maxtor central axis, an applecore modded appletv and a wd hd media player... and this is where the problems began to surface...


First, I would like to say that all the ripped movies work perfectly on my mac using the DVD player program (all i have to do is highlight the video_ts foler and press play), and the AppleTV although very buggy (I have to keep switching between MPlayer and Quicktime on ATV to get different files to play and that process is probably too much to expect the users to do regularly) would play all the files properly through the menu. The WD HDTV only played the VOB files, and wouldnt play through the DVD menu (which is important because aside from familiarity the foreign movies would need to have the correct subtitles enabled) which I believe are the .IFO files. There were also issues connecting to the central axis. I returned the WD HDTV media player and central axis (aside from not being comatible with ps3 and xbox360, which would save me from buying another media adapter, it only allows remote uploads 1 file at a time) and purchased an MvixBOX NAS and an Mvix 780HD media adapter. The MvixBOX does not support macs properly at this time even though it states mac compatibility on the box (but at least they had local tech support on the phone to admit this after several attempted work-arounds), and the 780HD, while a vast improvement over the WD device, will not properly play roughly 25-30% of my movies and I will have to cycle thru VOB files to watch a whole movie and some without subtitle support.


I know for a fact that I will be returning the MvixBOX, and after some research I have settled on either a synology ds-209+, qnap ts-209 II pro, or even the thecus m3800 to replace the MvixBOX (leaning towards the QNAP as it has twonky built in). I was hoping to find a fix or a better replacement for the 780HD. I am amazed that DVD player program on my mac has no problems with this but $200-$300 devices devoted solely to this cant get it done. How is it possible that decade old dvd players have the correct software to play this but in 2009 an item several times the price of a dvd player cant. These files are straight rips not encoded or transcoded or whatever the terminology would be. I was looking to start ripping my blu-rays to the HD but why bother when i cant even get the SD dvd files to work properly. I was even considering using a mac mini loaded with that DVD player program to get the job done but who wants to spend $600+ per adapter when I have 3-4 TV's to hook up?! And the mac mini's dont even have hdmi or component outputs, plus $2400 on just the adapters is too much.


After each issue I dive into forums and review sites that answer the question but present several more. Is there something I'm not getting? Various sites preach about windows media server/players, but I run mostly macs. Several sites suggest popcorn hour and similar devices, but if I have central networked storage via NAS is this necessary, plus it would also be decently expensive to buy an NMT for 3-4 hdtv's.


I apologize for being so long winded, but I wanted to be as thorough as necessary so as not to get responses which mirror the ones I have read and do not work for my situation, as it would also be a waste of time to the knowledgeable people taking their time out to help me. In nutshell I would like to centralize storage of files in a NAS device which will allow remote web access (and ability to transfer several files at a time remotely over web), has a dlna media server which could stream to my ps3 and media adapters as well as music to my stereo system, and have media adapters which would be able to properly read the files (.IFO, .VOB) I have already backed up onto external drives with the capability to read the blu-rays I plan on backing up. With one important aspect being that it must be easy to use because the people using are not tech savvy (so a friendly GUI). It would also be a plus if the adapter used an IR remote so my slingbox pro HD can control it for remote viewing...


Thank you in advance for considering my situation.


StraightForward


PS: would it be possible to have one macmini running to all 3 hdtv's and have each of them playing a different movie (several dvd player windows open) which would be controllable from each seperate TV? seeing as DVD player program is the only one I have had complete success with...
 

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any luck here or progress? unfort i have no answers, but am approaching a similar (i think) quest. curious what you've learned....
 

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I don't think you can even open up more than one DVD player window on a single Mac, so you might not be able to go with one Mac Mini. Even if you were able to open up multiple windows I don't see how you would be able to send a particular window to a specific TV.


I've been looking for a good HD streamer. I currently have an AppleTV which is just ok, but doesn't handle MKV files. I have to convert them which is a time consuming process.


The Popcorn Hour (PCH-A110) or the new Netgear EVA9150 look like they might be able to handle your needs. The popcorn hour is much cheaper. I believe it costs around $215. I don't know much about it, or how user friendly it is, but you may way to check out their website or ask in the Popcorn Hour owners thread.


The Netgear EVA9150 costs around $400. It's not even out yet and people are claiming (from the specs) that it doesn't do anything that the PCH doesn't do, aside from Wireless 802.11N. It's supposed to ship in February. Amazon has it now for pre-order. I'm probably leaning towards this one because I'm in a similar situation where the user interface needs to be friendly and pretty.


If you don't need HD, the EVA8000 might suit your needs. I think they now retail for $300. You can find them on eBay for around $250.


EDIT: One main difference between the Netgear EVA9150 and Popcorn hour is that the 9150 comes with a 500gig hard drive. You may not need that. $215 per popcorn hour is close to your $600 budget for one mac mini if you chose to only equip 3 TVs.
 
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