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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Advice on my Home Media Distribution

First off please excuse this longish post.

Currently I have 2 Mac's in the house:
iMac G5
Macbook Pro Core Duo - Connected to Westinghouse 32" LCD

TV's:
Pioneer 5080HD
Samsung 42" Plasma
Westinghouse 32" LCD

Lately I have been struggling with the best way to start serving my media to my tv's in the house. Currently I use the PS3 hooked up to the Pioneer to watch media housed on a WD external HD hooked up to the MBP. I use PS3 media server and usually copy the files to my PS3 unless they are mkv files. I find i get tons of network issues when I try to stream avi's or mkv's from the drive.

I downloaded Plex 2 days ago and started to investigate it as a front end for media serving. I am enjoying it so far and it has led me to this crossroads. We just had a child about 4 months ago and I see the need for some educational dvd's in his future and as he grows the ability for him to watch things I want him to watch.

I have nothing connected to the Samsung and this will be his play area. I have toyed with the idea of a Mac Mini but they are kind of expensive. I have a Core 2 Duo 6400, 2gb of Ram and an Nvidia card laying around. Those parts are making me think of building a Hackintosh as a front end for Plex on the Samsung. I would then buy a couple of 1tb external USB drives and hook them up to the MBP (Intel) and serve my media through it. Does anyone have a hackintosh in this manner? Are you happy with it? Will those components play back 720p mkv files ok?

I am also going to attempt to rip my (70+) DVD's over the next couple of weeks using handbrake. Since I will be getting a couple of largish TB HD do you have any recommendations on rip settings through handbrake? I am not to concerned with quality since my sets are only 768p.

My final plan is to have everything available on all the tv's in the house. I know I will still have to use the PS3 or Xbox 360 on the Pioneer to get to my media but really I will be the only one using that system for the most part.

Once again sorry for the long post but being at this crossroads has my head spinning a bit.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
I am also going to attempt to rip my (70+) DVD's over the next couple of weeks using handbrake. Since I will be getting a couple of largish TB HD do you have any recommendations on rip settings through handbrake? I am not to concerned with quality since my sets are only 768p.
A couple of notes: Handbrake won't rip your DVD's, it just transcodes. I don't need to worry thought because with a PS3 and PS3 media server, I can play DVD's directly so no need for transcoding.


Finally, Why have you not considered Apple TV?
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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So do you play your dvd's through your PS3 using PS3 media server fully ripped? I was under the assumption Handbrake rips the DVD's and transcodes the file to the user specified settings? I was thinking 1.5 to 2gb's for DVD's would be fine for me.

I did toy with the idea of an Apple TV but I have really fell in love with the Plex interface and find it much superior to FR. Plex will not run on the Apple tv.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 10:37 AM
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So do you play your dvd's through your PS3 using PS3 media server fully ripped
Yeah, I don't do it much but I can!

I find transcoding to a new format is a pain and takes a lot of time. More importantly, it typically doesn't look as good as the original rip so why bother when an GB of space costs next to nothing? In fact, I used to keep the original and the transcoded version so it actually used up more space!

I have PS3 side by side with my ATV. Both have strengths and weakness but I find I use the ATV a lot more. I use ATV exclusively for music and YouTube. PS3 with PS3 media server for photos. Video is a mixed bag.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 12:02 PM
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Do you want a centralized PVR solution as well? You don't mention it but that is hugely useful when you can record all the TV that you want in one spot and then serve it up throughout the house.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Yes I would love that but I think I am out of luck with what I have currently from Bell.

Bell 6100 - no PVR function ability
Bell 9242 - hooked to Pioneer main tv

Would like to make the 6100 have PVR functions with the ability to record HD for my wife. I own the 6100 so was thinking of selling it and upgrading to the 6131.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 12:13 PM
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But you can use your PC as a PVR - if you want to record HD you will need the Hauppauge HD-PVR (hooked yup to your BellTV box) with SageTV as your PVR software. Sage has a Mac version although I believe the HD-PVR is still in beta on the Mac.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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I will check it out. It is kind of secondary on my list right now. She tunes into her shows when they are on at this point but I can see as our child grows that becoming less and less.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 12:51 PM
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Most of my PVRed shows are kids shows. I probably have every episode of Dora, Diego, WonderPets, etc recorded on our Media Server.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 02:06 PM
 
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HAve a look at the Sage TV HD home theater, its small box which hooks to your PC and can feed your pictures music and video to your TV. its small silent and can handle pretty much any codec you throw at it. I can also go online a play clips from the web. I now have 2 around my house. (it can also act as front end to Sage TV PVR media centre software as well).
I am pretty sure it will fit your needs.
FB
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-06-30, 06:45 PM
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To watch mkv videos on ps3 you need this tool

http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multime.../mkv2vob.shtml
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-07-01, 08:51 AM
 
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ps3 media server will transcode mkv's.

PS3 Media Server - Tversity Killer?

Last edited by heinz; 2009-07-01 at 08:52 AM. Reason: Added link
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-07-01, 01:26 PM
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I recently went with Sage and as for a media server it was very easy once I got my mind around a couple things. 4 x1TB WD Green drives at
$85 a piece for 2TB of mirrored storage. You use a junk PC as a server and rip all your movies and then buy the Sage extenders. It takes about 5 minutes to install Sage and configure directories for the location of your shared media and the extenders are purely plug and play and have handled anything I have tossed at them so far. I also bought a Hauppauge HD PVR but have it sitting to the side for the moment. Need to finish setting up the media server just the way I like it first. Seems to me that getting the TV/PVR portion of it working properly is the largest battle.

Only real caveat is each extender needs to be hard wired into the network. Not an issue for me personally as I wired just about every room in the house when it was built but can be problematic.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-07-02, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice so far guys. I am leaning towards the Apple TV at this time since it seems to be the most cost efficient solution if I buy a refurb from the apple store. I will probably load XBMC on it and see how that works. I certainly like the Plex interface better but since it cannot be loaded on the Apple TV I am out of luck. I assume the Apple tv can handle MKV files at 720p?
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 2009-07-03, 09:48 AM
 
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From what I understand (and I am not an apple TV expert) It can't play back MKV files. So If you ewant to do that you might need to look into how to convert all the files into something it can handle, or use Sage with your Mac
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