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What is the best Media Server??

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by Rac97crawford, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. Rac97crawford

    Rac97crawford New Member

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    This will be my first post so please forgive if I'm posting in the wrong place.

    I've been turned on to a client with a 10000 sq/ft house that is wired for just about everything... We weren't the wiring company. The owner walked it with another contractor who designed the system. Now we've been brought in to give an estimate to install all the hardware and make it work.
    Our company has alot of experience in home entertainment but hasn't had a request like this one.

    The customer wants all his equipment to be located in a central media rm. This is where the Sat Receivers will be located and the media server will live. From this room the client wants to send video form the media server out to up to 10 screens over component cable through out the house. He'll also want to do the same with the audio to even more locations in the house.

    So I have alot more questions for the client to design the system for him. I just wanted to get the hard stuff figured out first. i.e. The media server.

    Any help would be welcome, thanks, Robert
     
  2. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Robert:

    Welcome to the forum.

    First off I would wait (if your client can) until you can get him one with Windows 7 installed. They have improved Media Center and it will be able to handle cable cards, etc. I am going to be checking it out in a couple of weeks and let you know what I find out.

    One thing I would look into is Media Center extenders and an HP Media Smart Server. We have an owner of this forum that has his whole house wired and I will let him know about this thread. I am sure he can direct you in the right place.

    Parker
     
  3. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    Robert-
    I have a lot of questions before I have any answers.

    If you have 10 screens are you going to have 10 cable/sat boxes, or will there be one per person in the house? Hypothetically if you are only going to have 4 how will you prevent two people for fighting for control of the box (trying to watch two shows on one box at the same time).

    What is the purpose of the server? Will any video be output over component too? How many outputs will the server have?

    Will the audio from the whole house video sources in all the rooms be played through the TVs speakers, the whole house audio system, or will there be surround sound receivers in all or some of the rooms?

    Are there going to be any local sources in any of the rooms?

    How will all this be controlled?

    Something to note, most displays won't accept a 1080P signal over component, and once studios activate the Image Constraint Token (ICT) you may not be able to send full resolution HD over component.

    Why is the contractor who designed the system not doing the install? That is a bit of a red flag as you are going to be on the hook for anything that doesn't work, even if its a design flaw

    I am in a similar situation. I have a large house with a combination of locally controlled video sources, whole house HDTV/DVR system (not over component), and 24 zones of whole house audio,
     
  4. benogil

    benogil New Member

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    Oh no, first post. I build media servers professionally, mostly with Windows Home Server.
    I would suggest you look at how many simultaneous streams you want to display.
    It matters. The HP series are great, but the internal mechanism of balancing does cause stutters, for many once an hour. Higher spec units do not have this problem.
    There are many options, and it is best to carefully plan before you install.
    If you need more info, please let me know, or you can look at wegotserved. Good forum.
    Windows Home Server does have a connector for HTPC's.
    Many people also go with popcorn hour or sagetv.

    Ben Ogilvie

    ben@texashomeserver.com
     
  5. RTS100x5

    RTS100x5 Member

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    Hey Rac97crawford,

    I wasnt clear if you wanted a Windows based HTPC but here is one we use commercially available with a nice GUI that handles most DVD (except Blue Ray) ,CD,MP3, and has Internet radio all ready to go. www.escient.com/products/dvdm100.html

    Another Phenomenal media server is the http://kaleidescape.com/products/

    option: it is possible to send 1080p over Cat5e using HDMI / baluns on each end, but Im assuming he has cat5e prewired to each tv drop.

    Hope this helps
     
  6. Crosbycott

    Crosbycott New Member

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    TVersity Media Player is a littel quirky during boot but works well and handles many formats. It even handles internet streams video and radio. This is the one I settled for. Especially because it does not cost me a dime and works 97% of my files, be it photo, video or music.
     
  7. Jasen Chandler

    Jasen Chandler Well-Known Member

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    We've done systems this big and bigger.

    www.vidabox.com

    Rock solid.
     
  8. Stayk

    Stayk New Member

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    I thought I would never hear that statement from a user of Vidabox. All I can say is ... Overpriced!!!, Vidabox's Tech support answers the phone but cant solve any problems. You are paying thousands for a windows box running my movies and media center; all of which can be built by a modest user for a fraction of the cost. We installed a server and a client from this company and spent a good month with tech support trying to make the unit work. In the end they blamed our installers for their poor excuse of a machine. I would never recommend this company to anyone. If you really want to go with windows, look up XBMC. It blows windows media center out of the water, its open source so its always being updated, and it is fully controllable from a remote control (be it IR or IP control) If on the other hand you want a pre built unit that just works, then you need a Kaleidescape. They are expensive but they are by far the leaders in the field!!!
     
  9. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
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    Some of the ones that get a lot of credit as basic DLNA servers:

     

    TVersity

    Twonky

    and WHS.


    All of those have a fairly decent media server capability
     
  10. Yale

    Yale New Member

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    I'm running a Windows Home Server with a Windows 7 computer that uses MyMovies http://www.mymovies.dk/ software on the Home Server to grab my movies covers and related info. The Widow Media Center also uses the MyMovies software to interface with my server so I can choose by Blu-Ray/DVD/CD covers.

    I would probably set up 2 servers, one for audio and another for video.

    There are people out there with multi-Terabyte servers for their media and data... http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?s=918fb80d1c401a38128628d8fb8c30fa&t=1393939

     

    You would need a Gigabit wired network to be able to watch blu-ray movies in 2 locations (blu-ray has a very high bandwidth requirement) if you are watching DVD's or playing music files you could stream to 10 locations easily.

     

    I wouldn't send all media thru Cat-6E cable or multiple Cat-6E instead of component. Audio and Video can be converted real-time (such as Window Media Server) and sent as data and then converted back to analog to the playback devices or just left as digital to playback device (like http://www.wdtvlive.com/products/wdtv_live_plus#/highlights )

     

    And this is just the tip of the iceberg...
    Hope this is a start.
     
  11. Guest

    try mythbuntu. u may need a linux advanced user to set it up though.
    http://www.mythbuntu.org/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mythbuntu
     
  12. nhojdeslam

    nhojdeslam New Member

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    If you are interested in a non windows based Media storage device check out Envive's TheaterStation product. I have owned on now for over three years. Good looking interface and easy to opperate and they have a great customer support staff. They have been adding new features and are great at updating at no charge . The system is running a Linux based operating system running Fedora Core 12. They have all the features of the Kaliedescape system at a fraction of the cost. You can map their system as a network drive an import your content. You can also import blu-ray with any- dvd and play it back on the system. I also have the apple app and control the system any room in my house. I talk with them last week and they told me that new software was coming to have online content by the GUI. Also they will have a new update for the Apple app for 2-way control. Check out the web site. www.enviveit.com
     
  13. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
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    Reviving an older thread because so many newer threads have cut to the core of this. Recently, Ron reviewed the Google TV:


    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/forum/thread/308303/htf-review-logitech-revue-with-google-tv


    And we've been covering Windows7 Media Center in various forms:


    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/forum/thread/299750/blu-ray-dts-ma-dd-hd-bd-3d-comes-to-media-center


    Sam I think posted something up about AppleTV.


    You know, what's funny is that in 2009, this was a deeply desired but hard to get at thing. Right now the options are incredible and pretty much everywhere.
     
  14. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
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    This week, I'm going to try and have at least 3-4 hardware reviews go up on various media streaming devices and media servers. Because the field is so broad, we'll have devices from a lot of different categories. To make sure that they all stay here, I'm going to build a mini-table that goes through the features. Earlier, I posted the review for the D-Link Boxee Box. Tomorrow, I should have a review up for the Patriot Box Office



    Boxee Box Review: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/forum/thread/311831/boxee-mr-jeckyll-and-dr-hyde-an-htf-review






    PRODUCT NAME



    HD VIDEO SUPPORT



    HD AUDIO SUPPORT



    CONNECTIONS



    NETWORK SUPPORT



    EXTRA FEATURES



    REVIEW







    D-Link Boxee Box



    YES, Supports HDMI 1.3 Out, decodes X264, VC1, Flash, AVI, supports 1080P, MKV splitting.



    Will pass LPCM, DTS, DTS-MA, TrueHD, Dolby Digital, FLAC, Stereo Audio Out, SPDIF along with HDMI pass.



    Connects via HDMI. Stereo audio output or SPDIF for audio.



    Built in Wifi, 10/100 Ethernet



    Supports Vudu, Netflix, and custom Boxee Apps like NHL, etc.



    Review Found: Boxee





    Logitech Review



    Somewhat... passed through HD Video, will not split or decode files.



    Pass-Through, Stereo output



    Connects via HDMI. SPDIF also out for audio



    Built in Wifi, 10/100 Ethernet



    Supports numerous Android oriented custom apps, integrates with your cable box or DVR



    Review here: Revue





    AppleTV 2.0



    Supports iTunes HD downloads, 720P/1080



    LPCM pass through.



    Connects via HDMI



    Support for Wifi, 10/100 Ethernet



    Integrates iTunes, supports Apple Apps, Revisions expected soon



    Thread to discuss





    Patriot Box Office



    Yes. Supports HDMI 1.3 Out, Decodes X264, VC1, Flash, AVI, supports 1080P, 1080P/24hz, MKV Splitting, DVD Drive connection, BD ISO/BD Folder Structure



    LPCM, DTS, Dolby Digital, Stereo Audio out, Multi-channel FLAC SPDIF out. (Some units may be flashed for HD audio output)



    Connects Via HDMI



    Support for 10/100 Ethernet. Wifi Optional



    Supports RSS Video Streams. Support for USB Rom Drives.



    Thread To Discuss





    Popcorn Hour A-210



    Yes. Supports HDMI 1.3 Out, 3D MKV, MKV, Decodes X264, VC1, Flash, DVD/BD ISO, DVDROM drive connection, 1080P/24hz, Folder Structures



    LPCM, DTS, Dolby Digital, BD-LPCM Native, DTS-HD, TrueHD, Multi-Channel FLAC



    Connects Via HDMI, Component, Composite, Svideo (one at a time)



    Support for 10/100, Wifi Optional



    Supports RSS Video Streams, NMT Application Market, Customized Apps for many network functions



    Thread to Discuss
     
  15. AggieKyle

    AggieKyle New Member

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    Howdy: First posting. I found y'all by googling "The Best Media Server", and I appreciate the info here. It's a great jumping off point, but I would like to pose a specific scenario and get the experts' opinions. I have a unit of soldiers that's deployed and they tell me their source of entertainment is closing up shop and now they're clamoring for movies. Portable DVD players and a bunch of discs was mentioned, but that's a crazy amount of money invested in something that's probably going to come back destroyed. So I thought "Hey I've ripped all of my DVDs to my computer so I can watch them up at work, why don't I send an external hard drive to them with the movies on it". Problem is that only the person who plugs into the drive can watch so now I'm hunting for a cheap, simple (preferably tough) media server solution, which is the reason I'm here. There are a LOT of "Media Server" hard drives & equipment out there and I don't have any experience with any of them. Amazon.com has some reviews, but in my experience user reviews on networking equipment are kinda iffy because sometimes the problem that's being complained about isn't really a problem, it's a lack of knowledge preventing the person from doing what they're trying to do. So I'd like to get input from people 'in the know'. I was thinking a media server plugged into some cheapy Linksys router and the guys could plug in with Ethernet to gain access to the files. That would give everyone in the unit the ability to watch movies on their laptops, but I don't know what's good/what's not. And bear in mind they're a great bunch of guys, but I gotta keep it simple. And since anything I send over there is likely to come back destroyed I would like to keep it cheap, and "toughish" if possible (I know "tough" is usually pricey). Any help will be greatly appreciated!
     
  16. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
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    I think a big part of it goes from what you want to do and what kind of goal you have. There are a lot of things in there that make a big difference. Best is pretty subjective also; all we can really do is compare and talk about what does what.


    I have about 3 more reviews coming up this month on different options.
     
  17. AggieKyle

    AggieKyle New Member

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    OK, Simplicity & Ergonomics + Cheap. It doesn't need to be the swiss army knife of media servers that can read all kinds of files and stream Netflix, internet radio, et al, and do all kinda really cool stuff (they don't have internet connectivity at their location) and I don't want to send them a novel on how to set it up. I want to send them a harddrive with the original setup and then a second harddrive next month with newer rips and then they'll mail me the first one, wash, rinse, repeat until deployment over.
     
  18. jayjose01

    jayjose01 Member

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    I've been using XBMC on top of a windows environment (but most users are going for live set-up on a net top) and been happy with it. It's free and customizable. The best part that I like is that I can use my android phone and tablet as a remote for it ^_^ I don't think XBMC is able to handle multiple zones so you might need to have a separate instance of XBMC for each zone and just one central media server. As for media server, I would suggest for a custom build NAS using Unraid as the OS. It's a little slow but good enough for 4 simultaneous streams.
     
  19. mgdvd0

    mgdvd0 Well-Known Member

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    What about us who are running a MAC platform - What is the BEST alternative here ??
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    There are a bunch of Apple and Mac enthusiasts here, myself included. There are a few threads in the Mac forum on the AppleTV and on the elgato USB tuner.
     

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