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media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: April 19, 2014 05:16AM
Currently I have my media on an external HD hooked to a old mac mini (v3.1, built 10/2009) via FW. The mini then sends video directly to my TV, and sound to my AV amplifier. Everything is in iTunes and I'm running it through Plex on the Mini.

The mini is starting to act up and I want a solution ready to go if it dies.

Easiest, but costliest is another mini. I'm just wondering if I can recreate my setup with a Roku or ATV3. From what I'm reading - I would still need a computer running iTunes to act as the server for the ATV. So I don't gain anything with the ATV as I ould have to buy a mini to to be there server. I haven't found a straight forward answer to the Roku.

So what is my best option?



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld

Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2014 05:32AM by Ombligo.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: silvarios
Date: April 19, 2014 05:28AM
Yeah, you still need a local server for either the Apple TV 3 or any of the Roku models.

I like the Roku a lot, but it isn't perfect by any means. To be fair, I got a lot more mileage out of any of the Roku models I own (5 total, four still being used and the fifth might have a new home soon) than either the Apple TV 1 or 2, both of which I also owned for a few years. Plex is pretty slick for most of my uses and I find increasingly that I loathe iTunes.

Edit: I recommend Plex for the Roku. Since you have some experience with Plex as a front end, a transition to Plex Media Server on the back end and Plex on the Roku as a front end shouldn't be too hard. I actually prefer the RARflix private app to the official Plex Roku app. RARflix allows for more options with customizing how your media is shown on the Roku. Example: No, I don't need to necessarily see all dozen or so sorting categories when I want to view one of my libraries. "All", "Recently watched" and maybe one more category is fine.

Another tidbit, the official Plex app is no longer free for the Roku, think it is something like $5. I'm grandfathered in with the free app so I did not consider cost when comparing Plex versus RARflix. I truly prefer the latter and would be happy to pay $5 for it, not that I think $5 for the official channel is awful either. Both are pretty good. It just boils down to personal preference really.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2014 05:44AM by silvarios.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: silvarios
Date: April 19, 2014 05:48AM
Do you have another Mac or similar non Mac PC to use as a server if your current Mac goes belly up? Some models of Roku allow direct connection of storage to a USB port, so that is another consideration if you desire a stand alone media center. The included app for local storage is rather rudimentary, but you could probably hack something decent together by moving your media into the appropriate folder structure. The Roku app can read HFS Extended formatted drives.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2014 05:49AM by silvarios.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: deckeda
Date: April 19, 2014 06:52AM
Without a computer serving content, you'll need a media player that can directly take a hard disk connection, or pick up the content from a NAS.

I'm a little curious why you used Plex if everything was in iTunes and the Mac is connected to the TV. Can you just play it from iTunes and remove one layer of complexity?
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: pRICE cUBE
Date: April 19, 2014 06:58AM
I have a Roku and a Mac mini hooked up to my tv and I find myself using the Mac with wireless kb about 95% of the time. It is just faster to search and navigate, then switch to iTunes and let it run the a screen saver full of random family pictures. It is great seeing family memories up in a screen instead of buried in hard drives.



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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: flightdelayedagain
Date: April 19, 2014 07:17AM
When my Mac Mini's sound card went bad I looked for a cheap alternative device to play videos and found the Micca Speck.

[www.amazon.com]

Been using it for a little over a year now and for $40.00 you can't beat it. The user interface is clunky and nothing like you're using now but it will play just about any file type including: MKV, AVI, TS/TP, MP4/M4V, MOV, VOB, PMP, RM/RMVB, MPG, M2TS. Oh, I did have to reformat my 2TB hard drive to NTFS which was a pain but it was cheaper than replacing my Mini.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: sekker
Date: April 19, 2014 07:31AM
I use iTunes home sharing to serve my video collection to any apple device - ATV, iOS or Mac.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: Forrest
Date: April 19, 2014 07:49AM
I just googled ATV3 Plex and apparently you can run Plex on a stock ATV3 (jail breaking not required).

With the ATV3, you could also use it with iTunes to view your media. In this case, you would connect your FW drive to a computer running iTunes.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: TheTominator
Date: April 19, 2014 08:45AM
I think you want something like the WD TV Live Media Player.

It has a USB port where you connect your external hard drive.
It has HDMI and composite outputs to connect to new or old TVs.

No computer is required.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: April 19, 2014 09:26AM
So far the WD Media Player mentioned by TheTominator seems to be the best option. Reads USB 2 for the external drive - has HDMI for video and optical for audio. No Plex, but that is minor.

I'll have to look at interface and remote (IR of RF)



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld

Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: freeradical
Date: April 19, 2014 10:02AM
Yeah, I have this media player. You just hook up your drive to it. Simple.

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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: jdc
Date: April 19, 2014 10:54AM
What does "its acting up" mean exactly? It kinda sounds like you are trying to find a reason to replace it? stick poke smiley

Reinstall the system? Might just need a refresh?

If that "old" mini is destined to be replaced, I will give you $75 for it... plus 2 boxes of girl scout cookies.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: April 19, 2014 12:55PM
JDC,

I won't replace unless it dies. I just want to have a plan in place in case that happens.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld

Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: sekker
Date: April 19, 2014 01:04PM
If you have iOS devices, the ATV offers options like airplay that is a very nice added feature over just a media player.

And Netflix, etc.

Depends on whether you plan to play further in the apple walled garden.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: davemchine
Date: April 19, 2014 03:22PM
I have a friend with a Roku and he attaches a hard drive filled with video to the usb port. It works for him but I'm not sure how it handles soft subtitles. It is also limited to 4gb video files which is somewhat limiting. There may be solutions to both that I am unaware of.



Ukulele music I couldn't find anywhere else.
I’ve added some recipes and spiritual thoughts as well.
[colquhoun.info]
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: Catzilla
Date: April 19, 2014 04:00PM
Quote
sekker
If you have iOS devices, the ATV offers options like airplay that is a very nice added feature over just a media player.

And Netflix, etc.

Depends on whether you plan to play further in the apple walled garden.

Plex offers airplay like features over Roku boxes. They also have Netflix.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: silvarios
Date: April 19, 2014 05:45PM
Quote
Ombligo
So far the WD Media Player mentioned by TheTominator seems to be the best option. Reads USB 2 for the external drive - has HDMI for video and optical for audio. No Plex, but that is minor.

I'll have to look at interface and remote (IR of RF)

Roku 3 handles the same, excepting optical output. Works with USB drive app or over network with Plex.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: silvarios
Date: April 19, 2014 05:47PM
Quote
pRICE cUBE
I have a Roku and a Mac mini hooked up to my tv and I find myself using the Mac with wireless kb about 95% of the time. It is just faster to search and navigate, then switch to iTunes and let it run the a screen saver full of random family pictures. It is great seeing family memories up in a screen instead of buried in hard drives.

If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can use an app with keyboard to interact with the Roku. May, or may not be applicable for your use case.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2014 05:50PM by silvarios.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: silvarios
Date: April 19, 2014 05:49PM
Quote
deckeda
Without a computer serving content, you'll need a media player that can directly take a hard disk connection, or pick up the content from a NAS.

I'm a little curious why you used Plex if everything was in iTunes and the Mac is connected to the TV. Can you just play it from iTunes and remove one layer of complexity?

Plex is a bit more lean back friendly than interacting with iTunes. If you add the iTunes Remote app it is manageable, but computer interfaces are generally designed to sit directly in front of, not 10 feet away.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: p8712
Date: April 20, 2014 07:52AM
Just sayin'

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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: sekker
Date: April 20, 2014 09:39AM
Yeah, a raspberry PI xbmc is quite doable too
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: space-time
Date: April 20, 2014 12:12PM
Quote
sekker
Yeah, a raspberry PI xbmc is quite doable too

my friend has one and he says it's not ready for primetime. it keeps crashing.
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Re: media center.. ATV3, Roku, or ???
Posted by: p8712
Date: April 20, 2014 12:49PM
Quote
space-time
Quote
sekker
Yeah, a raspberry PI xbmc is quite doable too

my friend has one and he says it's not ready for primetime. it keeps crashing.

Which build? I've found Raspbmc is much more stable than OpenELEC. Never crashes on me. Sometimes cheap/incompatible SD cards will generate a lot of unnecessary crashes, too.

You can swap out SD card and run a variety of OS's. Plex client runs well on the pi too.
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