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  • Computer experts needed

    Where do I start? :(

    I've been looking at the WDTV2 (Live) and asked a fellow TCA'er(?) his opinions about it. He pointed me to discussion threads, so I started reading/researching/planning/etc.

    I'm interested in ripping and storing all my DVDs and Blu-Rays onto a hard drive (already done that with my CD collection) and then purchasing a couple of the WDTVs and 1 WDTV2 in order to watch my movies listen to music in different rooms.

    For now, I wanted to start with 1 WDTV (Live) to be used in the living room, and then purchase the 2 WDTVs later when I have figured out what the heck I'm doing and how I can best set up more than one in my home.

    I have 4 rooms that would need to access the central wireless router for one thing or another:

    a. Master bedroom (DSL Router and main wireless router is located here). I also have a TV system in here, which includes a TV, Blu-Ray, Directv STB. I would like to add a WDTV here in the future.

    b. Living room - I have a TV, PS3 blu-ray (not crazy about its wireless capabilities), Directv STB (will upgrade to HD-DVR), squeezebox 2-wireless. I would like to add a WDTV Live to this setup first.

    c. Study room - I have my main desktop here, and I plan to keep the wireless connection to my main router at the moment.

    d. Onix demo room - I have all my Onix audio gear in this room and would like to add a regular WDTV here in the future for streaming audio only.


    Problem 1:

    To start out, I guess unless I upgrade my computer I'm SOL with the Blu-Ray thing. I currently have a Dell Dimension 3000 (Intel 4, 2.66 GHz, 1GB RAM). Most of the BD-ROM drives have SATA connections, and I believe my computer only supports PATA/IDE. Is there a conversion? And if I could find a BD-ROM drive that has PATA/IDE, it's most likely to be very slow.

    I can use my laptop to do the ripping if I can find an external BD-ROM drive, but I guess those would be pretty expensive. So maybe it's more cost-effective if I were to upgrade my computer and get a new desktop packaged with a BD-ROM drive?

    Problem 2:

    If I were to stream Blu-Ray movies, I'd have to get a wireless gigabit router, as well as dongle for the WDTV. My current wireless router is a Belkin N-wireless F5D8233-4. I think it only does 10/100.

    a. Do I need a better router to stream Blu-ray? Possible future expansion would be to download Directv movies, etc.
    b. Irrespective of the answer to question a., would it be better (and more cost effective) to get:

    (1) a N-wireless gigabit router (my computer needs wireless access since it's not in the same room as my DSL modem), a wireline transmission like THIS, and a 4-port gigabit switch/hub like THIS and connect a CAT5/6 cable to each of the devices.

    Or, would it be better to just get (2) Just the N-wireless gigabit router and a gigabit dongle for each device? $40/device could add up quickly :(

    I guess I'd have to get a pretty good NAS hard drive, as well :)

    I know this is a long list of issues, but please help a poor guy out!!!
    PhenomeNhan Audio Video

    Your authorized ONIX dealer for the Great States of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.!
    [email protected]

  • #2
    Wow, there are a lot of variables in play here. I'm no expert, but I can get you started. Direct bluray rips will require tremendous network bandwidth and hard drive space. You will want to consider compressing the rips to h.264 to conserve both. This would allow you to have the best chance of smooth playback across your network while minimizing space requirements on your chosen server (NAS or computer).

    You can easily add a bluray device to your computer via a new internal sata ide card and power adapter. However, encoding will take a very, very long time on your current system. You may want to consider upgrading your system to avoid enduring the painfully slow process. If you do upgrade, your current system could be your server via windows shares or NAS software.

    You should get a few files ready to test streaming across the network. A 720P h264 rip (easiest on network and hard drive space), 1080p h264 rip, and a direct 1080p m2ts rip (hardest on space and bandwidth) would be a good sample. You can look at some ripping guides to determine the recommended bitrates used for the encoding process. These files should allow you to determine what bitrates your network can handle.

    As for powerline vs wireless, it will be tough to suggest something since performance seems to vary for each person. I believe a powerline may be more consistent, whereas the wireless connection will vary more for each location.

    I hope that gets you started on your research....

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the great advice, dweekie. That should point me in the right direction. I guess it might be time to retire good ol' faithful and get me a more powerful one. Why is it every time I start a new project, I always end up spending more than I want? :(
      PhenomeNhan Audio Video

      Your authorized ONIX dealer for the Great States of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.!
      [email protected]

      Comment


      • #4
        I would run cat 5 if possible and not have all that radiation running around your home.

        You'll need a good file server, mainly on the storage size. This may require a good case with the ventilation needed for a bunch of hard drives. You are looking at a RAID even though some hard drives are silly big. If you are ripping blurays they still aren't big enough.

        May want to take a look at AVS' HTPC forum. Those guys are doing this very sort of thing all the time.

        Comment


        • #5
          'Nahn - that is quite a collection of requirements.

          If I am correct, the simple pearl is that you want to rip your DVDs and store them on a device that will let you use your network to watch them on various TVs and you are looking for the hardware that allows that to happen.

          Having gone down this path, I am happy with where I ended up (video, music and photos).

          I bought a EX485 MediaSmartServer from HP. Holds 4 HDs (I have 4TB of storage) and does what you want to do, with a few twists. Plus, it uses Windows Home Server and also backs up my computers overnight. Can also be accessed remotely. The unit also has 4 USB ports and I have since added a Sans Digital TR4U to one of the USB ports (there is also an 8 bay version available) and have 1.5TB HD in it so far. This serves as my storage.

          Networking. Wireless will be disappointing - it stutters. Tried wireless and streaming video just doesn't get there. I ran CAT6 cable and all works well. Powerline ethernet adapters work for some folks, but that seems to be hit or miss.

          The front end is key - that's what plays the video, but they each have pluses and minuses. You mentioned the WDTV. There is also the Apple TV, and a whole bunch of other solutions. Forget the PS3 for this application. After WAY too much research, I got a Popcorn Hour A-110 (generically called a network media tank) because it plays just about everything audio and video relating to DVDs on the HP Server.

          Just so you understand, my requirement was to get the movies from the server through the network, into a Denon 3808 and onto the screen of a 58" plasma TV. This solution, using the Popcorn Hour, works 100% for me. They have since introduced the EX495 and Popcorn Hour 200.

          MediaSmartServer.net has a wealth of information that may prove useful to you. Certainly, there is a focus on the HP Server hardware, but they also cover much more. I'd suggest you look at the "General" and "Media Streaming" forums to start.

          Hope the info helps.
          Ray

          Comment


          • #6
            run cat5e or cat6 and get a gigabit switch, and a faster PC. The bitrate for a typical BD is 20-40 Mbps before audio and overhead so 100 mbps ethernet is a minimum assuming reliable throughput and nothing else going on on the network. Gigabit gives you wiggle room and is not that expensive anymore. I would not compress the BD's, what is the point of using a BD if you are going to reduce the quality with compression?

            I have thought about doing this type of thing, but in the end, changing a disk every 2 hours is less work than setting something like this up. If you are an old fart like Ray, with nothing to do until TCA gets some subs in stock, it could be a fun time killer, but for normal people, not worth it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by m-fine
              I have thought about doing this type of thing, but in the end, changing a disk every 2 hours is less work than setting something like this up. If you are an old fart like Ray, with nothing to do until TCA gets some subs in stock, it could be a fun time killer, but for normal people, not worth it.
              Guilty! However, now we'll have the subs AND the vids setup! Life is good! :clapper:
              Ray

              Comment


              • #8
                Yeah, but you still need to get up and change your depends every few hours.

                FWIW, I just dumped about 30 gig of data across my 100 mb cat 5 network and it averaged only 39 mbps of actual data throughput. With buffering it would have been fine to stream most BD movies, but marginal for the high bitrate ones. A 54 mbps wireless net would not cut it in most situations.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I'll definitely look into running cat6 cables where video will be delivered. I'll leave audio for wireless duty. My squeeze box has no problem with the wireless transmission.

                  Ray, I'll look into the HP media server a s well as Popcorn. Mike, I'm probably planning on further upgrades for my LS6s, and since Ray doesn't really have anything to do at the moment, I'll ship him the 6s and will have Sean send him the upgrade kit. Heck Ive signed up for Kevin's UFW12 upgrade as well. So, Ray, look for 4 packages to come your way. I'll send you two $65 checks for all your trouble ;) :D
                  PhenomeNhan Audio Video

                  Your authorized ONIX dealer for the Great States of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.!
                  [email protected]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How many movies total are you ripping - I ripped all my std dvds with just movie/sound and they range from 4-7gb depending on movie. The TB Drives are cheap now.
                    There are a few other popular choices for servers besides that HP. I have to dig them up.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cburbs
                      How many movies total are you ripping - I ripped all my std dvds with just movie/sound and they range from 4-7gb depending on movie. The TB Drives are cheap now.
                      There are a few other popular choices for servers besides that HP. I have to dig them up.
                      I have quite an extensive collection of DVDs (more than I care to count...I'm guessing around 500 or so?) :D I'm sure quite a few are floating around being borrowed at the moment. I guess I can start ripping them now and worry about the Blu-Rays later.
                      PhenomeNhan Audio Video

                      Your authorized ONIX dealer for the Great States of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.!
                      [email protected]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Depending on what you want to do on the data storage side there are many options -
                        HP Servers
                        Qnap


                        Windows Home server that alot of people love.


                        Linux based -
                        Freenas
                        Vortex
                        Unraid


                        I used to run Freenas for my squeezebox on a old PII 500 and freenas is very light weight.

                        Then I dumped those and bought an MSI Atom PC(MSI PC) as I was going to run Freenas from the CF Card.
                        I did that for a bit and than ran into a issue so I dumped it and threw windows 7 beta on it and it has been on that ever since. I also have (2) 1 tb drives in that machine. It serves as my music player and streams movies to my Tivo box.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PhenomeNhan
                          I have quite an extensive collection of DVDs (more than I care to count...I'm guessing around 500 or so?) :D I'm sure quite a few are floating around being borrowed at the moment. I guess I can start ripping them now and worry about the Blu-Rays later.
                          A small point that may save you some time later.

                          You may want to decide on the media server/front end before you start ripping. Some will play a VIDEO_TS file and some will play an ISO. Most won't play both.

                          The ISO approach (which the Popcorn Hour handles nicely) because it allows you to retain the menu stucture (VIDEO_TS doesn't) is good. Makes choosing your audio easier and gives you the opportunity to use the "scene search" feature.

                          So, pick the right format to rip so you don't need to do it again.

                          Also, send all the boxes you want and as many checks as you like. I will regard them as gifts so you don't have the burden of expecting to get anything back.

                          :crowd: :whoopie:
                          Ray

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You can start ripping the SD disks with the DELL 3000, but then it's got to be retired before you start BD processing.

                            As you should have gathered by now, forget streaming BD wireless, run the needed cables.

                            Like Ray, I run WHS, on a box I built myself a few years back while WHS was still in beta. It makes a fine media server, and with Win 7 on the htpc running Media Center, the integration is further improved.
                            There's a fine line between gardening and Madness.
                            -Cliff Clavin

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ray3
                              A small point that may save you some time later.

                              You may want to decide on the media server/front end before you start ripping. Some will play a VIDEO_TS file and some will play an ISO. Most won't play both.

                              The ISO approach (which the Popcorn Hour handles nicely) because it allows you to retain the menu stucture (VIDEO_TS doesn't) is good. Makes choosing your audio easier and gives you the opportunity to use the "scene search" feature.

                              So, pick the right format to rip so you don't need to do it again.

                              Also, send all the boxes you want and as many checks as you like. I will regard them as gifts so you don't have the burden of expecting to get anything back.

                              :crowd: :whoopie:
                              Thanks for the recommendation again, Jack. I had already planned on ripping to ISO, since WDTV/2 supports that format, rather than the video/audio_ts files. I did not think about Popcorn, but luckily, as you mentioned, it does support ISO, so that is friggin' fantastic. I hope others will too :)

                              Darn, you got me, as I didn't mention that you were supposed to send the finished upgraded products back to me :D Posting via the iPhone makes me lazy :)
                              PhenomeNhan Audio Video

                              Your authorized ONIX dealer for the Great States of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.!
                              [email protected]

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