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Old 17-01-2013, 10:00   #1
neilalford
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DVD's to a Media Server - New to all this!

I currently have an HP MicroServer running Windows Home Server 2011 which I use for music, I have an amp that can decode the files and play them back directly, all controlled by an iPhone\iPad app or from the remote of the amp itself, which all seems to work quite nicely.

I'm now considering doing something similar with my DVDs (for convenience and to give more space for Blu-Rays), but am completely new to this so looking for some advice to get me started.

Ideally, I'm imagining a system where I'd have an interface similar to DVD Profiler with cover art etc. for each film that I could browse (both on screen and on iPad\iPhone), then pick a disc for playback, getting the full menu with extras etc. Does such a thing exist?

Upstairs I have a Samsung Smart TV with a Plex server app, which I believe would handle playback on that TV, downstairs I don't have anything currently set up to do the playback (unless Virgin Media pull their finger out and release the Plex app for their TiVo, which is available for the US TiVos). I have a PC and an X-Box 360 connected to my projector and amp, but would prefer a more "lightweight" dedicated solution with no boot times etc.

I have a pretty high-end system, so quality is important (basically as good as a dedicated DVD player, I'm currently using an Oppo BDP-93 for DVD playback), all network connections will be wired so no need for wi-fi support. So any suggestions for the playback device? Preferably one with a nice iPad app for film selection as mentioned.

Also, a question about ripping the DVDs, I'm imagining some sort of sytem where I just stick the discs in and they get ripped with all soundtracks, menus, extras etc. And preferably automatically obtaining cover art, titles etc. Grouping extras discs in with the main film itself. Preferably with no loss of quality, so I'm guessing just copying the MPEG2 data straight onto the server unless there's another option that wont affect the quality. Discs are a mixture of regions, so any solution will need to deal with that.


DVD profiler puts my collection at around 1,200 to 1,300 titles (currently says 988 but I have a big pile left to enter!), so probably around 2,000 discs meaning that I guess I'm looking at 10TB+ of storage by the time I've finished!

So, basically, what of what I want to do can I actually do? And what hardware\software should I be looking at.
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Old 17-01-2013, 10:16   #2
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to be honest, for what you want you need to compromise on the whole boot up time thing and use your pc with either plex or xbmc and it will do exactly what you want. Then just rip the dvd's as iso images and you'll get all the menus and full quality.
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Old 17-01-2013, 10:27   #3
neilalford
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bumfrog View Post
to be honest, for what you want you need to compromise on the whole boot up time thing and use your pc with either plex or xbmc and it will do exactly what you want. Then just rip the dvd's as iso images and you'll get all the menus and full quality.
What about a GoogleTV box? (or something similar from a company that isn't Google) That appears to have a Plex app available, or is that more limited than the PC version?
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Old 17-01-2013, 10:47   #4
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Originally Posted by neilalford View Post
What about a GoogleTV box? (or something similar from a company that isn't Google) That appears to have a Plex app available, or is that more limited than the PC version?
no idea I'm afraid, it's too new and no idea if it will handle iso images for your dvd's. Generally most of the appliance boxes will be good for one thing and will miss out on another. The only one that's going to do exactly what you want will probably be the htpc route.

I myself was in the same situation, and just bit the bullet in the end with a low powered pc, so I just leave it on, or use sleep mode, so start up times are not really an issue.

Last edited by bumfrog; 17-01-2013 at 10:48.
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Old 17-01-2013, 11:05   #5
neilalford
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Also, browsing around has led me to the "Popcorn Hour" devices, looks like they support ISOs and have an iPad app that looks like exactly what I'd want.

Anyone have any experience of them?
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Old 17-01-2013, 11:12   #6
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Forget Popcorn Hour. If you want an easy solution install the Openelec version of XBMC. It takes about 15 minutes to set up.
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Old 18-01-2013, 09:05   #7
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Well, I've gone for a Popcorn Hour A400, as it seems to do pretty much everything I want and the iPad app looks really nice.

Just looking at the ripping now, plan is to just copy the entire DVD filesystem to disc, no recompression, so I'm looking at AnyDVD or DVDFab to handle that.

One thing a friend of mine suggested was fitting multiple DVD drives to the machine, has anyone had any experience of how well that works? I've got a decent i7 PC with a SATA drive, so I'm guessing that the DVD drive would be the bottle neck, and that it would be quite possible to run multiple drives (I can lay my hands on two or three drives easily enough and obviously they're only about a tenner each, if I wanted to add one or two more). Anyone else tried that? How well does it work? Would be nice to be able to stick a few discs in, and then come back half an hour later to start another batch!
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Old 18-01-2013, 09:26   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splobber View Post
Forget Popcorn Hour. If you want an easy solution install the Openelec version of XBMC. It takes about 15 minutes to set up.
Looks like you were ignored. Even though there is an iPad app for XBMC too.

I'd have suggested either making your micro server the XBMC box as well (assuming it near enough to the tv for a hdmi lead to stretch) or something cheap like the raspberry pi with XBMC on either openelec or raspbmc...

(I've done both - the pi is in the bedroom!)
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Old 18-01-2013, 09:37   #9
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Shall be getting a Pi for my son's room in the near future.
Been using XBMC for a few years now and loving the Openelec auto update.
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Old 18-01-2013, 10:12   #10
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Looks like you were ignored. Even though there is an iPad app for XBMC too.

I'd have suggested either making your micro server the XBMC box as well (assuming it near enough to the tv for a hdmi lead to stretch) or something cheap like the raspberry pi with XBMC on either openelec or raspbmc...

(I've done both - the pi is in the bedroom!)
I looked at the OpenElec website and it was crap, so that put me off the software. Barely any information about it, no screenshots, certainly no mention of an iPad app. Can't be bothered faffing about with linux based open source software that doesn't work like it's meant to, as I've spent enough time doing that in the past.

I'd also have needed to buy a new PC, my MicroServer doesn't have HDMI output or Dolby Digital (and doubt it has the processing power to handle Blu-Ray if I decide to go down that route) and I wouldn't want to be trying to run the media center off of my main PC as I'd then forever be having to switch between the two modes, messing about with mouse and keyboard in the living room etc.

I just want a solution that I can connect up and have it working
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Old 18-01-2013, 10:22   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilalford View Post
I looked at the OpenElec website and it was crap, so that put me off the software. Barely any information about it, no screenshots, certainly no mention of an iPad app. Can't be bothered faffing about with linux based open source software that doesn't work like it's meant to, as I've spent enough time doing that in the past.

I'd also have needed to buy a new PC, my MicroServer doesn't have HDMI output or Dolby Digital (and doubt it has the processing power to handle Blu-Ray if I decide to go down that route) and I wouldn't want to be trying to run the media center off of my main PC as I'd then forever be having to switch between the two modes, messing about with mouse and keyboard in the living room etc.

I just want a solution that I can connect up and have it working
You should have looked at the XBMC webpage then if someone had suggested XBMC on windows, would you have looked on the windows web page and expected to see information about XBMC?

Assuming you are using WHS2011, nstall a low profile graphics card in your micro server and it will do sound over the hdmi port. Add a second user that auto-boots to XBMC, and log in to your main admin user using Remote Desktop when needed. A windows media centre remote control can be added alongside using the xbmc app on iPhone, iPad, android, etc.
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Old 18-01-2013, 10:53   #12
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To be fair I've tried to love XBMC and lost the will to live twice. Maybe it's easier now, I think of myself at being passable with my knowledge of computing etc but trying to get shares to be recognised, hardware acceleration working, a working remote control etc just drove me to distraction.
I'm also pretty clueless when it comes to Linux so all the command line stuff was just not user friendly. Eventually I bought a media streamer (boxee box). I plugged it in, input my IP address and couple of settings, left it to build my library for a few hours and presto I had a nice easy to use GUI and all my scraping done.

I'm surprised by now nobody has released a proper media streamer with XBMC preinstalled.

Last edited by alsemail; 18-01-2013 at 10:59.
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Old 18-01-2013, 10:58   #13
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Popcorn Hour is old hat. I had one (A100?) for a while and then switched to XBMC a few years back and haven't looked back. Loads of nice iPad apps for it as well (I have 3 iPad one and an Android app).

Openelec is a doddle. Install, tell it where the share is and then it's done. Not sure what Popcorn Hour is like now, but was a pain in the arse with scraping, NFO creation and all that BS. XBMC can be installed to a Ł150 netbook free of charge and the Openelec version auto-updates, without any Linux knowledge at all, as well as installs the lirc files for any remote and does the configuration for you. The XBMCbuntu version does need some sudo commands to update and a bit of fiddling to get it just right, but I switched from that as I just want it to work and Openelec took care of that.
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Old 18-01-2013, 14:38   #14
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Some people can't be arsed with faffing about setting up Xbmc and such like I guess. Isn't the medi8er more renown for its scraping ease of use?
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Old 18-01-2013, 14:49   #15
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Some people can't be arsed with faffing about setting up Xbmc and such like I guess.
as splobber has said though - the basic set up is no different from setting up most other media players. At some point yer still gonna have to point it in the direction of where your media is. And if you're using a smartphone and/or tablet to control it, you just need to enable it in the settings.

Previously, yes it may have taken a lot of faffing to set up, but not anymore.

Actually the trickiest bit is making sure the media is named correctly, which applies for most media players anyhoo...
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Old 18-01-2013, 15:23   #16
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You still have to set the hardware up though.
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Old 18-01-2013, 15:29   #17
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If you buy something like a Revo, all you have to do is install the software to a USB drive and then bung it in the USB port of the PC you want to run it from. Boot from the stick and job done 30 seconds later. There's no level of complexity involved at all.
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Old 18-01-2013, 15:49   #18
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I tried XBMC a few years ago on my Revo under Windows and gave up. I then played with Boxee (based on XBMC) and quite liked it, but that's been abandoned under windows at least and has a bug where the sound channels are reversed! Tried XBMC again once Eden came and and it was easy as pie. Recently tried the XBMCBuntu version of Frodo RC1 and that worked seemlessly too. May well try going to OpenElec on a USB drive to try that too - just need to be able to run a browser as well which isn't supported as easily as running under a full OS. If I can get that going, I'll likely switch to it.
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Old 18-01-2013, 16:36   #19
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I've used XBMC for over 10 years, and used Xbox Media Player before that.

I originally installed it on an Xbox and that worked faultlessly until I bought a Revo in 2009. I have always found it very easy to setup, even from the beginning (the only hard bit was chipping the xbox for it to work). I didn't have to configure anything as I used a XBMCLive made for the Revo.

Its great and is constantly being upgraded. I now use the PVR version and use it for Live TV etc. (though the timeshift isn't quite there yet). I have Sky piped through it (admittedly it is pretty complicated to decrypt the picture on Sky Sports etc.) and it works fine.

Its great not having to install any additional software on WHS2011 and just using samba - far easier than transcoding etc. Also the scraping is incredibly easy - when you've added the folder you just tell XBMC if it contains TV shows or Films and thats it, it will start scraping with no further "faffing" around.

I've now got Revo's in two rooms and they share the same database so if we stop watching a film downstairs we can stop it and finish watching it upstairs (it will resume from the exact second you stop it downstairs). If you are watching a DVD TV series there is a tick next to each episode you have watched so you know which one you watch next - I find this pretty useful.

I've seen and used loads of other streamers, but XBMC is by far the best I've ever come across.
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Old 18-01-2013, 17:31   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilalford View Post
Ideally, I'm imagining a system where I'd have an interface similar to DVD Profiler with cover art etc. for each film that I could browse (both on screen and on iPad\iPhone), then pick a disc for playback, getting the full menu with extras etc. Does such a thing exist?
Also, a question about ripping the DVDs, I'm imagining some sort of sytem where I just stick the discs in and they get ripped with all soundtracks, menus, extras etc. And preferably automatically obtaining cover art, titles etc. Grouping extras discs in with the main film itself. Preferably with no loss of quality, so I'm guessing just copying the MPEG2 data straight onto the server unless there's another option that wont affect the quality. Discs are a mixture of regions, so any solution will need to deal with that.


DVD profiler puts my collection at around 1,200 to 1,300 titles (currently says 988 but I have a big pile left to enter!), so probably around 2,000 discs meaning that I guess I'm looking at 10TB+ of storage by the time I've finished!

So, basically, what of what I want to do can I actually do? .

You can do all of what you want to do. I'd recommend XBMC as the front end - if not then think about MediaBrowser.

If you want to preserve the whole DVD structure then you'll have to rip them as ISO's or some other one-to-one format that replicates the DVD's own file structure; the upside is, you get what you want. The downside is that you don't have the opportunity to remove some of the extraneous rubbish, like the trailers and redundant language tracks and so on.

Many who rip their DVD's in the way you want instead elect to rip into Matroska (MKV) formats and dump everything except the main feature because it saves space.

But that's up to you.

There are plenty of data scraper tools around that will automatically create the metadata XBMC (or whatever) will need to give you things like cover art and stuff.

Whatever scaprer you use it's important to plan your folder structures because it helps the scrapers to recognise what they're looking at. Espescially for TV series.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neilalford View Post
One thing a friend of mine suggested was fitting multiple DVD drives to the machine, has anyone had any experience of how well that works? I've got a decent i7 PC with a SATA drive, so I'm guessing that the DVD drive would be the bottle neck, and that it would be quite possible to run multiple drives (I can lay my hands on two or three drives easily enough and obviously they're only about a tenner each, if I wanted to add one or two more). Anyone else tried that? How well does it work? Would be nice to be able to stick a few discs in, and then come back half an hour later to start another batch!
The bottleneck is mostly how fast the optical drives can pull data off the DVD's.

Actually DVD drives aren't that bad, not really, it's just that there's a lot of data - a standard DVD-9 is over 8Gb - and optical drives fairly creep along compared with what we're used to which is hard drives.


There's a lot of useful info about all this sort of stuff here

http://www.avsforum.com/f/26/home-theater-computers

As the name suggests it's al about building a Home Theatre PC but there is plentyof stuff in there about things like XBMC
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