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HDD / Media Player Suggestions

badadd

Standard Member
My parents want a storage system whereby they can download films and rip blu-rays to a HDD that is networked in their home.

They would like to convert their existing blu-ray collection (approx 200) to playable files and convert any future blu-rays to playable files also. They will likely buy downloadable movies from iTunes and Amazon.

As this is going to be a life long / long term investment, we have been looking at various raid HDD's, but am unsure what they would use to play the video files on their display, presumably this would be some sort of media player.

The have a Logitech harmony 1100 that they like and any suggested HDD / media player would need to work with this. My parents struggle with any form of tech, so interface of said media player must be very user friendly.

Can anyone recommend a storage system and media player?
 

Gavtech

Administrator
@badadd
Moved to Streamers and Network Media Players.
 

badadd

Standard Member
Thanks Gavtech.

After a bit more research today and speaking with Home Cinema company, it appears my 2 options are:
1. Have a media server / PC to store and have a front end
2. A large HDD i.e. Buffalo NAS drive with raid, with some sort of front end / player, connected to their display

Either way, for protection, I would definitely like to go down the raid route.

Anyone have any suggestions?
 

Iain42

Prominent Member
Hi there,

One option is to have a home server running something like Windows Home Server 2011, I'd suggest searching here and you should pick up some good info. I did.

The other option is to go for some kind of NAS, networked attached storage. Again I would have a search on the forum.
 

badadd

Standard Member
Thanks Iain, great help. Ideally, I dont want to go down the PC route / having a PC switched on to play media. There isn't much ventilation space...although I have a Windows Server 2003, that my company no longer needs, it is very tempting, but the server, despite being powerful and having raid, is huge and loud.

Would prefer some kind of NAS as mentioned in option 2 above, with a media player attached. Suggestions are welcomed, I have seen lots on the forums.

We are not restricted by a budget at this stage.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
If they are buying iTunes movies then sticking to the Apple ecosystem is the way to go in keeping things simple.

You can encode movies to work with Apple media system, iTunes doubles as a media streaming system to AppleTV clients so purchases from iTunes or digital versions suppled with Blu-ray's will sit alongside your own personal encodes.

I would strongly recommend buying a second hand Apple Mac Mini to act as the server, space it not an issue as an external HDD or RAID HDD will suffice (e.g. Lacie Quadra), the Mac Mini will service two purposes.

1) iTunes server, iTunes can run in the background naively and more stable under OSX than it will on Windows. It's also near silent so wont bother them.

2) You can use IVI Pro to create movies that have all the meta-data that iTunes uses (poster, movie info, actors etc) completely automatically, IVI is only available for OSX I'm afraid.

One problem is that it will take a long time to convert Blu-ray's on any old Mac Mini so if you wanted to get the conversion done quickly what you could do is rip all the movies on any high speed PC using Handbrake AppleTV3 preset then take the .M4V file and run it through IVI Pro it wont touch the video but will simply add the missing meta-data to the file and auto import the video into iTunes library.

You will convert the bulk of the collection much faster and all the Mini does is act as the server and means of using IVI.

If you can afford a brand new Mac Mini then it should be powerful enough to do the conversions without having a separate PC. You will need a USB Blu-ray drive (anything LG will be fine) and a copy of MakeMKV to rips Blu-ray's to the HDD. Then feed the .mkv file into IVI Pro for conversion, be sure to give it an accurate name like jaws (1975).mkv as that's what the program looks at to guess the movie.
 

badadd

Standard Member
Thanks next010, appreciate your help.

I hate to say it, but they / I are not massive fans of macs, but will do some more research on what you suggested. They have also just told me, they do prefer downloading straight from amazon now, but still do use itunes also.

I had found another thread where someone was after a similar setup, suggestions were leaning towards Popcorn Hour A-410/A-400

Any thoughts on using this device and a large 8/16TB RAID NAS setup? I like the fact it can play 3D blu-ray also.
 

Iain42

Prominent Member
Two or three of these kind of boxes around, Popcorn hour, Dune, Media8, all worth looking into.

I don't blame you or them for not liking macs, there are a lot of us like that who don't want to be locked into Apple's restrictions.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
If you want ease of use then the AppleTV is the way to go and I would think of their needs rather than what you do or do not like, just saying.

Amazon have no system for integrating movies alongside digital purchases unlike iTunes so if you go with the Popcornhour you are going to have 3 different platforms which is a complete mess in my mind.

The PCH is only good for playing files back stored on USB or NAS it has no Amazon/Netflix etc component. Here is a video of the latest UI of the PCH if you still feel like going down that road, UI is decent enough a little slow in parts.



Option number 2
Buy an Amazon FireTV but they are not officialy available in the UK yet, the FireTV would tie into the Amazon purchases and it also has Plex or XBMC (if you manually install it) you will still have to convert movies which arent H.264 to work with it but most BD's are H.264 these days.
 

Apothis

Established Member
I'd use something like a synology or qnap for the NAS/Storage, and a NUC running openelec(XBMC) as the player. Very simple to setup both.
 

badadd

Standard Member
Thank you all @next010 @Iain42 , what great responses :)! I have been patiently researching while the thread has been progressing.

@next010 my parents do not like streaming and have a bad internet connection.

I am narrowing it down. I now am 99% I want to go for a media player and NAS setup, rather than a PC or MAC, however...
@Apothis I really like the look of the intel NUC. Do you know how it fares, performance wise running openlec, against something like Popcorn?

One of my criteria was that the device works with the Logitech Harmony 1100, looks like popcorn and other media players can. How does something like the NUC / a pc or mac work with the harmony?
 

Apothis

Established Member
One of the Haswell i3 NUCs will give you pretty much the best performance with openelec you can possibly get. You can go for the i5 if you suspect you're going to need h265/4k playback in the future, but for current material, the i3 is plenty powerful enough.

It should work just fine with the Harmony, it has a built in IR sensor that you can just add in the harmony as a windows media centre remote.
 

badadd

Standard Member
Thanks @Apothis . I will do a bit more research on the NUC's before I make my final decision. I read somewhere that the fans in the NUSs can let of a "buzz" and be mildly noisy?
 

Apothis

Established Member
I dont find the fan noisy at all, but you can also get passive cooling cases with no fan if you think its likely to bother you
 

badadd

Standard Member
Thank you both. So it apears you buy the NUC then the internals separate? Does anyone know anywhere I can buy a ready made one with all internals? Happy to compare prices of i3 and i5.
 

badadd

Standard Member
Hello All! Sorry in the delay, been doing lots of research!

After much thought, I am now almost certain we want to go for the popcorn hour. I came to this decision by speaking with several home cinema companies near me.

Main reason to summarize - my parents are not very IT friendly at all. Having an out of box solution, such as the popcorn hour, that I can setup and leave alone with little fuss seems to make sense.

As mentioned before they are willing to put a bit of money into this, so going for the latest PCH model A410, makes sense. Anyone know of any reputable UK resellers?
 

GaspodeX

Standard Member
Theres several online retailers. I have an A400 and have no issues with it (there were firmware ones but all fine now).


Also - A410 does not support bluray menus - you need to rip the films as individual files. Drop me a PM if you want more info on the A400 and using it...

Given they seem to have dropped the price of the A410 to only $10US more than the 400 might as well go for the 410 ....
 
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badadd

Standard Member
@GaspodeX Thank you. I am after the 410 rather tyhan the 400, I understand it has more ram? There seem to be not too many online resellers. Found x1 on amazon.
 

badadd

Standard Member
....also there doesn't seem to be too much difference in price between the 400 and 410 in my country (uk)

But really struggling to find a supplier of the 410, suggestions welcomed!
 

badadd

Standard Member
Quick update, I have had good communication from an Amazon reseller of the PCH:

Amazon PCH Link

Apparently they get them directly from Cloud Media, so sounds legit. Haven't ordered yet until I have found the right HDD. I know people seem to be saying there is a big price difference between the A-400 and the A-410, but in my country this is a small price gap of about £30, so decided on the newer model

Been considering this one as it fits the budget:

Amazon Buffalo Link

Any thoughts? I was recommended Buffalo as good HDD manufacturer, my parents also use on of their NAS drives for their Sonos, which works very well. Someone has also mentioned NFS (Network File System), which I have been informed Buffalo drives come with.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
NFS is simply an alternative to SMB/Samba (windows networking), it offers higher performance but on a wired ethernet network there is no real need to use it, wireless network would see improved performance.

NFS can be picky due to it's configuration, I do not know if the Buffalo has it but Synology and Thecus now have the most compatible NFS as they expose more options in this area.
 

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