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SageTV and DVD server?

Discussion in 'Tech Talk - Gadgets, Gizmos and Technology' started by durl, May 12, 2008.

  1. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

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    I'm putting together a DVD server and I'm looking for a way to stream movies from the server to a TV in another room. I've read lots of positive comments about SageTV but I'm not sure if it's for me.

    Here's my situation: 1 HDTV in our media room and two other SD sets elsewhere. I plan on upgrading my SD sets to HD in the near future so I'd like to be able to send Blu-ray movies to those sets.

    Bottom-line, the only thing my server does is hold music and movies. SageTV has PVR functionality that I wouldn't use. Is there a less expensive way to get movies to my other rooms that focuses solely on streaming ripped DVD?
     
  2. smiddy

    smiddy Tain't ogre til its ogre

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    This is pretty open ended question because there are so many ways to do what you want. I'd like to understand all of your requirements and constraints before I answer this...in the interim you can take a look at my setup and see if that is something that approaches what you want.

    Out of curiosity, do you have a satellite service and which one if you do?
     
  3. Draconis

    Draconis New Member

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  4. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

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    Oh, yes...lots of options out there. So many my head is spinning. As an example, I like things like XLobby but I wasn't sure if it would do what I want to do.

    All I want my server to do is stream music (I'm using Squeezecenter already) and movies. My server is in my media room and it will eventually replace my old DVD player. I'll add a Blu-ray drive and a DVI or HDMI video card and run it to my TV.

    I have Directv service with an HR20 in my media room and an HR21 in one of the rooms where I want to stream movies. My initial plan is to use MediaShare to stream to the HR21. The other room has an R15. That's where I thought I'd put the SageTV unit.

    My stickler is that I'd like a more slick interface. Plus I'd like to be able to use a remote control to call up movies.
     
  5. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

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    I'm running XP Pro. I purposefully avoided Vista when I bought a new PC even thought I thought that might create some extra hurdles. Plus my other 2 computers on my network are running XP Pro.

    The DLink Media Lounge looks as though it will do what I want but the so-so reviews that I've read have made me hesitant. If you've had a good experience with them, please let me know what you think. Still, I like that it can handle so many video file types.
     
  6. smiddy

    smiddy Tain't ogre til its ogre

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    In that case, DirecTV is working on the DVRs to get them to receive video, it is as yet not 100 %, but it is getting there. If you have them networked you can stream MPG video now, but as yet doen't do WMV, MP4, AVI, or DFS (Windows Tuner Files) but the DVRs do recognize them. The sever I'm using is WMP 11 but it has its own limitations. I have sampled TVersity and it work pretty good and is the most compatible with DVRs. Each of the file formats has a set of video types, I have yet to get a High Definition file to work, but I know it is in the works and should be very soon to being released for the DVRs. In addition, for the lack of the actual term, multiroom viewing (MRV) is coming too, this way you can also send from one DVR to another. So not only your DVD library, but saved shows off your DVRs can be shared around your home.

    I have been using Wondershare Platinum for DVD ripping and as yet haven't ripped but a couple of my collection since I really want to find the most viable video format for streamign across my network.
     
  7. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

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    Here's what I'm looking for right now. While this may not be my dream setup it's my plan to just get this thing going.

    - nice interface. Picture of DVD along with details about the movie.
    - access the server and it's interface from other rooms.
    - remote control that would allow me to navigate and select movies. One remote that I would carry to other rooms would be just fine.

    If X-Lobby or something similar will work I'll go that route. Most of the stuff I've read is a bit confusing so I'm not sure what all it will do for me.
     
  8. smiddy

    smiddy Tain't ogre til its ogre

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    Currently my setup can do all of that...except the interface like you mentioned with the details and a kewl picture of the movie. You could setup an intranet site for the home network, where there is a webpage interface that would hyperlink to the show you want. You can put the library information into a database along with the picture. If you do it well enough you could likely market it...this is what is lacking from a lot of setups, in my estimation.

    I haven't seen X-Lobby, I will go check it out.
     
  9. funhouse69

    funhouse69 Icon

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    I've been building Home Theater PC's (HTPC) for quite some time and I have a few different solutions.

    First of all I have tried server of the Media Players on the market specifically the Netgear, D-link and Linksys and each and every one of them went back within days of getting them. To me they are just not ready for prime time. Do yourself a favor and build your own HTPC, parts are so cheap these days it will be well worth your time.

    That said each of the systems I've built all have one thing in common which is the system that is connected to the TV / Entertainment Center. which would consist of a HTPC Case, Micro ATX Motherboard as small a Hard Drive as I can get a decent Video Card (usually about 512MB of Memory) that supports HDTV. Since the Motherboard will usually have On Board Video I will use that and in the case of ASUS Motherboards they have an Optical Adapter you can get for about $10 which is perfect for providing the Dolby out in to a Surround Sound Processor. Oh yeah and you only need about 1GB of memory but it is so cheap these days I just go with 2GB. From there you can add in a Standard DVD Drive or even an HD or Blu Ray Drive if you do then make sure you follow the requirements which is usually just a 3Ghz or higher processor.

    I always use Windows XP Pro, Xlobby for the graphical (which I love!), Theater Tek which is a really nice DVD Player that performs just like a Stand Alone DVD player. Stream Zap Remotes which play well with Xlobby and Theater Tek. One note - Theater Tek as of yet does NOT support HD but I'm sure they will in future releases. One this is complete I will have the system Automatically Log On and Run Xlobby so you have full remote control of the system. Xlobby shows the movies by their cover, you select it and it will automatically launch Theater Tek.

    These systems can be built for relatively short money so I have one connected to each of my TV's in the house. I have built tons of these for family friends and even for customers.

    Now comes the second part of this which is storage. This is where you have a lot of options. Keep in mind that the average Standard Definition DVD Movie is between 4 & 5GB is size. This is without any of the added extras. So for this you need a LOT of storage. If you are looking to have upwards of 1000 movies then you are looking at 4 - 5TB of Storage!!!

    The most common things that I have built / sold is a "Media Server" which is really only a file server. In my house I built a server that has a total of 6TB of RAID 5 Storage which is only using 9 of the 16 Drive Bays so far (using 750GB Drives). I have my entire movie collection of well over 1000 full length movies (no compression) on this system and could theoretically provide data to 100 systems simultaneously on a Gig Network. That is another thing do yourself a favor and Only USE wired (does not have to be Gig) for this do NOT use Wireless, while it will certainly work you will eventually run in to issues and probably won't be happy.

    Other options would be a NAS (Network Attached Storage) Device like the D-Link DNS332 (I think that is the model #) which can be put on your network and accessed by any / all systems. I have installed 1 of these and it works very well.

    Others have opted for large hard drives in their HTPC's that they store all of their movies on which is also fine and can be shared between the HTPC's themselves. Then there is always just plan old USB Drives.

    Most people decide to go for RAID for the redundancy and the expandability and now with Windows Home Server that significantly reduces the price from full on Server.

    Couple last things - With this set up on an HDTV you are now "Upconverting" your DVD's from SD to HD which look awesome!

    Also Xlobby went from a Free Product to what will eventually be a pay product but seems that it will be bundled in with products. If you are interested in the Free version I know it is still floating around out there or just PM me and I will be happy to e-mail it to you :)

    If missed anything please feel free to let me know.
     
  10. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

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    funhouse - great info as always.

    I already have my server so the build part is done...aside from the video card upgrade and 1TB HDD to be added. I'll add more memory when I make the jump to ripping blu-ray movies.

    I'm VERY curious about X-Lobby. I love the interface and the various skins that are available. However, I'm not completely sure what all it does. I'm guessing it's not a player since that's that TheaterTek appears to do. X-Lobby is merely a front-end interface?

    I've glanced at StreamZap remotes so I know they work with TheaterTek. I haven't seen how they interact with the server, though.
     
  11. funhouse69

    funhouse69 Icon

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    X-Lobby is only the graphical front end and nothing else. X-Lobby can be used to launch your video player, music player and even X10 (I believe) lighting applications. Oh yeah it will also do pictures as well.

    So I have all of my DVD's and some pictures that I like to display on my TV all within X-Lobby.

    When I click on a DVD With my remote it will launch the DVD Application which in my case is Theater Tek.

    The new version of Xlobby comes with a built in Video / Audio Player I believe. I've seen and have some of the betas but haven't see any of the final product which from what it sounds like is out but only bundled with hardware. Unfortunately their website only refers you to resellers and their websites don't tell you squat so who knows. I think that they made a mistake making it a bundled application as I would be willing to pay for a new version but then again I am very happy with my free one that has never crashed on me once and never expires.
     
  12. funhouse69

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    When you say interact with the server I'm not sure if you are asking how that works or not. Basically server or not all you do is put all of your movies in a share that is accessible to the system connected to your desktop computer. Xlobby has the ability to consolidate multiple locations in to one seamlessly.

    So you could have 10 different locations for all of your movies once you have the location setup within Xlobby all you have to do is hit the refresh button to add any new movies / pictures / music that you've added. It is very fast and very cool.
     
  13. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

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    Xlobby sounds like the front-end I'm after. I keep coming back to SageTV for the clients in the other rooms.

    SageTV, if I understand correctly, says that you have to run SageTV Client on the server, but can SageTV integrate with XLobby so that you don't have to install SageTV Client on the server side?
     
  14. funhouse69

    funhouse69 Icon

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    I've looked at Sage before and since I'm not looking for any kind of DVR functionality so I didn't bother with it.

    So I am a little confused with your set up and what you are looking to do. If you have a system (aka client) in the other rooms that will be connected to the TV's then all you need is Xlobby, a DVD Player Application which as I mentioned my preference after trying many of them is Theater Tek and a remote control.

    To review my setup - I have a 6TB Server on my network that holds all my movies and each of my HTPC's connected to TV's throughout the house that each Run XP, Xlobby, Theater Tek and a Stream Zap remote. This allows me complete access to my DVD Library from each of my systems as well as my Laptops.

    Isn't this the setup you are looking for or am I missing something?
     
  15. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

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    Your setup sounds exactly like what I'm looking to do. The thing is, I don't have clients in the other rooms right now. That's what I figured SageTV would accomplish. I really don't want to put other PCs in those rooms. I even thought about getting an A/V distribution amplifier and running A/V cable to the other rooms.

    SageTV seemed like overkill to me since I don't need DVR capability but it appears to be a decent client since it would allow me to stream movies from the server and have a remote control element included.
     
  16. funhouse69

    funhouse69 Icon

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    Oh so you are looking at the Sage Media Extenders??? Its been a while since I've been in their site and didn't know that they were offering extenders. If this is what you are leaning towards then I say give it a shot. I assume they offer some kind of return policy.

    My only concern would be with the "Server" Application for this, each and every single one I've ever tried has crashed on me multiple times (again no history with Sage) so I would be very reluctant to put any unknown application on any of my systems especially a server with 1000 movies on it :D

    So from what I am seeing you'd be looking at an initial purchase of $250 for the Sage Server Software and one Media Extender (this is a bundle). I personally can build a system for that or less then that but like I said it seems like it might be worth a try.

    Let me know what you decide and how it works out for you.
     
  17. zerodotcom

    zerodotcom New Member

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    -funhouse
    do you have the hardware listed anywhere on this forum that you use for your media server?
    Actually, I would be interested in knowing your recommendations for sound card and video card in the clients as well.
     
  18. funhouse69

    funhouse69 Icon

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    I guess I can share the fruits of my labor and pain with everyone.

    I've actually thought about custom building these for people and selling them as either a stand alone video server or maybe even a package with a nice little client.

    I picked the Asus M2N32WS Motherboard because it has the PCI-X Slot needed for the 3Ware RAID Controller.

    As I mentioned I went through several different versions of "Server" and ended up with a true server which currently has 9-750GB Drives in it.

    This system really only needs 1-2GB of memory but I am running a non video related application on it that is a memory hog so I upgraded it to 4GB.

    So my current server has the following components in it:
    Aero Cool - Masstige Tower Case
    Mushkin HP-550 Dual Rail 550 Watt Power Supply
    ASUS - M2N32WS Motherboard
    AMD Semperon 2800+ Processor (which even that is probably over kill)
    3WARE - 9550SX 16 Port RAID Controller
    4GB of DDR2-800 Memory I like OCZ
    3 - Super Micro - CSE-M35T-1 SATA Hotswap Enclosures
    9 - Segate 750GB SATA II HDDs
    1 - Seagate 250GB SATA II HDD used as boot drive
    Simple ISA Video Card (S3 Chipset) I had kicking around

    Couple of things to keep in mind:

    • The case (Drive Bays) need to be modified a little to get the Supermicro SATA Enclosures in it.
    • I replaced ALL of the fans in the case with variable speed ones that connect to and are controlled by the motherboard.
    • The power supply is plenty powerful enough as long as you set the "Staggered Spinup" of the HDD's in the RAID Controller.
    • As this system sits it only draws about 1.2 - 1.3Amps of power after power on / bootup which is not bad (only around 150 watts).
    • I use the onboard GigE network interfaces. They work perfectly and haven't had any issues whatsoever.
    • One of the systems I built like this also being used as the HTPC as well. This only required a different video card (that supports HDTV Out). The motherboard has a pretty good onboard sound card.
    • I settled on 3Ware RAID Controllers after trying some of the ones build on different motherboard that were not reliable and Adaptec which were very reliable but took FOREVER to expand the RAID (like 24 days compared to 3ware 2-3 days!!!). I haven't had a single **Knock on wood** issue with the 3Wares in all of the servers I have built to date (about a dozen).
    • This system can handle a theoretical limit of about 100 simultaneous video streams. This would completely saturate the Gig Connection but would not hit the limits of the RAID Controller so you could probably get close to double that with both Gig Cards used. In the real world I have tested 15 or so simultaneous connections without any issues whatsoever.
    • You need to start with at least 3 drives to create a RAID 5 but once you do you can keep expanding it as much as needed (up until you get 16 drives). So you can get about 11TB with 750's and 15TB with 1TB Drives (Remember you loose the capacity of one drive for the RAID. Can't wait until Hatachi releases their 5TB Drives then you will be talking 75TB. Who the heck needs EMC :)
    The reality is that this is only a File Server with a ton of storage and I chose Windows 2003 Server for just that reason it is a very reliable OS that will handle file serving very well. You could also try Home Server now that they are getting the bugs worked out and save a good chunk of money.

    I have however also built one using Windows XP which works fine but they it has a 2TB Single Drive limit but you can make them in to a single larger drive by putting them together using spanning even though it is really a single RAID unit. I haven't made one with Vista as of yet but think that would also work well.

    I currently have about 1100 Full Quality DVDs archived on this server. To be able to have that many movies available at your finger tips is truly awesome if you are like me and can watch movies more than once.

    If I have missed anything at all let me know. This is well over a year and a half of trying this, that and the other thing to end up here and I've been thrilled with the results.

    I figured I might as well put a picture of the servers I build as well :)
    [​IMG]
     
  19. zerodotcom

    zerodotcom New Member

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    thanks for posting all that funhouse, you're the man.

    How much space does 1100 DVDs use?
     
  20. funhouse69

    funhouse69 Icon

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    I knew I forgot to mention something in that posting. I should have also posted a picture of my server and will update it in a few minutes with one.

    I double checked and I have 1076 Movies which is taking 4.8TB of space.

    As a rule of thumb you can figure the average DVD Movie uncompressed will take about 4 - 4.5GB of storage. At the same time the average Series Disc uncompressed will take about 6-7GB depending on how the disc is encoded.

    When I say Movie I mean the movie itself without any of the DVD extras which will take up a lot more space. I usually only watch them once and that it is.
     

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