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Need some A to Z advice on setting up things to stream DVDs from home server to TVs


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#1 OFFLINE   Hansen

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 11:32 AM

I have been poking around on the forums trying to find a clean answer to my question but have not had any luck so I thought I'd post a new thread. It seems there are so many options. Here's the issue and my goal. I'm looking for advice on the best way to do this. I have lots of DVDs and want to take them from the DVD disk, put them on my home server, and be able to watch them from both other TV's from within the home. What's the best way to do this? Aside from the network cabling infrastructure and home server itself, I need 2 to 3 items:

1. Some type of software to rip the DVDs to harddisks in the home server;

2. Some type of extender to place at each TV to access the home server and "play" the movies on that TV; and

3. Possibly, but not sure, some type of software on the home server to act as a intermediary to serve up the movies and perhaps compile information about the movies (like thumb nails...sorta like album covers but for movies).

I looked at My Movies and the best I could figure out is that it's not really a free add-in for home servers and you'll eventually have to pay some money once the trial is over but I may be mis-understanding how that works. In any event, looking for A to Z advice on what I need in order to do all this and how to set it up and do it?

Also, I recognize for watching the DVDs on other TVs, I will need some type media extender to take the signal from the network, and display the movies on the TV as well as be able to navigate through the library of movies. For an extender, I'm looking for something that works out of the box. REally do not want to use a HTPC as that would get expensive for each TV in house and they tend to be a bit noisy with fans running all the time. I did see some comments on Popcorn Hour. Popcorn Hour seems to have a nice product. Is that the best extender to go with for the money?

In any event, I'm really new to all this and trying to figure it all out. Looking for some advice or links that would help me figure out what the best way to do all this would be.

Thanks
HR20-700 (networked) with 750gb eSATA drive via HDMI to Panasonic 42" HD plasma
HR20-700 (networked) via HDMI to Pioneer 50" HD plasma with customized URC Complete Control MX-3000 touch screen remote using RF
HR20-700 (networked) via HDMI to Samsung 19" HD LCD
H20-100 via HDMI to Toshiba 19" HD LCD
H20-100 (now retired and collecting dust) via HDMI<DVI to Sony 42" HD plasma
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#2 OFFLINE   Bardman

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 07:20 PM

I'm in a similar boat to you, but I think you have some of the pieces already.

Your HR20s can act as extenders (using media share). I have 2 HR23s and they can "see" my HP Home Media Server (nice little box by the way), and play video files from it. Unfortunately, at this time the only videos they can see & play by themselves are Mpeg2 files. I've been using Cucusoft to rip DVDs to the server. I've been playing with TVersity and it allows the HR23s to play most video file types, but they still can't FFD or trickplay the videos. TVersity also hammers the desktop computer's processor pretty hard (~4yr old machine). my to-do list includes trying to install TVersity on the server, but that requires a bit more under the hood work as the program isn't officially supported for Windows Home Server OS.

I'm curious to see what other info you get from the members here.
My Setup:
HR23 in Family Room via HDMI to Samsung DLP
HR23 in Theater via HDMI to Mitsubishi HC1500 projector
H24 in Master Bedroom
(All above using whole home)
DTivo (6.2 with MRV) in Kid's Play room
3 DTivos "spare", unsubbed in kids rooms to pull from "thier" DTivo

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#3 OFFLINE   Pinion413

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:42 AM

I don't know how much detail I can get away with going into here due to the "legalities" of ripping copy-protected DVD's (please don't hurt me mods :) ), but here's a quick and dirty answer to your question(s);

1. DVDFab Platinum. (I'd encode to either H.264 AVI or WMV.)

2. There are a bunch of media players out there. Any DirecTV HR2x DVR should play such files over the network. I use my XBOX 360 in the living room here. You can find other manufacturers just by searching around for "network media players" or something similar.

3. TVersity works quite well, and is free. You should also be able to serve out media via Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player, or Zune (if so with either of those, encoding to WMV is your easiest bet). There are other programs out there if you search around for those too. Customer reviews in some areas could help you make a decision.

I'm not sure about anything that will give thumbnails/descriptions, unless you went with a Windows Media Center Extender. Essentially you'd configure Windows Media Center on your PC, set it up the way you want it (music, movies, etc.), and when you access it over the network via an extender, it has the same interface and playback options as WMC does on your PC.

Hope that helps slightly. :grin:
-Chris

My Setup

#4 OFFLINE   Greg Alsobrook

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 10:57 AM

2. Apple TV
3. iTunes
Opinions expressed by me are my own and do not necessarily reflect
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#5 OFFLINE   funhouse69

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 11:25 PM

I've gone the HTPC Route for my needs which hasn't been that expensive but I built lower powered PC's that may or may not work for High Def Video when I switch.

So this is my solution.

For Storage I went with a custom built server that has 9TB of total storage but can expand to over 20TB of RAID 5 using Seagate 1.5TB Drives (I recently upgraded from 750GB Drives).

For Ripping I use DVD Fab which I've found to be the most reliable solution. I've tried many others but they just don't seem to keep up with the updates needed. So far **Knock on Wood** DVD Fab has been up to date. If I have an issue ripping one of my new DVD's I check their site and sure enough they have an update (which when I bought it are free for life, which may have changed since then).

For my Home Theater PC's I am using Windows XP Pro SP2 and even SP3. I'm using ASUS Motherboard with low cost AMD Processors and 2GB of memory. I'm using the smallest hard drives I can find and will eventually switch to a Solid State Drive as soon as they come down a little.

I use a combination of Xlobby & Theater Tek. Xlobby is a really cool graphical interface that used to be free but got bought out by some company that is going to try and sell complete solutions. This displays all of my movies titles as thumbnails, which I have to download myself. There is a plug in for it that will do it but I never got it to work.

My player is Theater Tek which I think is the best DVD Player as it works like a regular DVD player and just just a software one like WinDVD. I also use a Stream Zap Remote Control which is compatible with both Xlobby and Theater Tek.

For right now I am thrilled with my solution, I've had tremendous luck and as an added bonus all of my DVD's are "Up-Converted" to 1080i and look spectacular. I do not compress my DVD's when I rip them.

I've tried several of the Media Players and was extremely disappointed with each of them for whatever reason. If it wasn't the hardware it was the software that I had to install on a PC that was the issue. I can only imagine that they've gotten better over time but still haven't found one that I would switch to just yet.

I will say the Popcorn one mentioned does sound interesting but again needs software to be loaded on to a PC which I honestly don't understand but might be willing to give one a try at some point in the future.
Was with D* for over 10 years then switched to the dark-side a few years ago and haven't looked back. I truly enjoy the 50% savings and uninterrupted service

#6 OFFLINE   deltafowler

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 11:28 PM

A mvix Z

#7 OFFLINE   durl

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 09:07 AM

I can highly recommend Popcorn Hour. I have 2 of them. For the money, it's hard to beat. I searched for quite some time for the right hardware for my setup (with some very good help from this forum) and chose PCH.

The PCH interface is a little bland but it works. Still, there are a couple of jukebox programs out there that display DVD cover art and other info to help dress it up a bit. I use something called "My Lil Movie Jukebox." You click on a DVD cover which takes you to a details screen, and you simply click on the PLAY button to watch a movie. Great for young kids.

I rip using DVDFab (free version) and create ISO files from my DVDs. They take up more space but the benefit to me (other than high quality) is that ISO preserves chapter marks which was important for my kids.

Plug in the PCH, connect an ethernet cable, choose the A/V connections to your TV, set up the links folders on the PC and you're done.

#8 OFFLINE   funhouse69

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 04:38 PM

You said you only have to link the Popcorn Hour to your folders on your PC? Does that mean you have to load software on your PC?

Also if you "Rip" the main movie only using DVD Fab you will keep all of the Chapters in tack as well and save a ton of space by getting rid of all of the "Extras" that are included in most DVD's. The only exception is Series Discs some of them you need to do the whole disc but that depends on how the disc is encoded.
Was with D* for over 10 years then switched to the dark-side a few years ago and haven't looked back. I truly enjoy the 50% savings and uninterrupted service

#9 OFFLINE   rudeney

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 09:39 PM

First of all, I DO NOT condone illegal copying and distribution of intellectual property, but I do support the right to make a fair-use backup or do hat is necessary to make media I have purchased play on my equipment.

To do this, I have a set of utilities that tie into a program called "RipItForMe". It uses a combination of FAB, FixVTS and DVD Shrink to make everything work. I've not had an issue with any DVD using this suite.

I also had a need to rip Blu-Ray. I bit the bullet and bought a copy of AnyDVD HD. It actually does the best job. With it running, any disk (DVD or BD) I put into the drive is automatically unlocked so I can copy it or use whatever utility I want. I got it mainly so I could play BB on my PC that has a non-HDCP complaint monitor.

#10 OFFLINE   durl

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 09:26 AM

You said you only have to link the Popcorn Hour to your folders on your PC? Does that mean you have to load software on your PC?

Also if you "Rip" the main movie only using DVD Fab you will keep all of the Chapters in tack as well and save a ton of space by getting rid of all of the "Extras" that are included in most DVD's. The only exception is Series Discs some of them you need to do the whole disc but that depends on how the disc is encoded.


With Popcorn Hour, there is NO software that has to be installed on a source PC. After you enter your network settings on the PCH you just have to point it to your folders (whether they be video, music, or photos) and click through as you would on a PC. Their website has a list of supported formats, and there's a LOT of them.

If you want, you can put a HDD into the PCH and download their software to the PCH itself and use it as a file server or a BitTorrent client. But there is nothing that has to be installed on a PC itself to make it stream to a PCH.

I actually do rip the Main Movie portion of my DVDs using DVDFab. I pick the Main Movie, a single audio stream, and no captions. It sure does save a lot of space, doesn't it?

#11 OFFLINE   funhouse69

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 05:26 PM

Thanks for the info...

One more question about Popcorn Hour - The way I have my movies organized on my network is by a folder per movie and in that folder I have a jpeg of the movie cover.

I've never been able to find many screen shots of the Popcorn Hour. Does it show you the movie covers in the GUI or does it only show a list?
Was with D* for over 10 years then switched to the dark-side a few years ago and haven't looked back. I truly enjoy the 50% savings and uninterrupted service

#12 OFFLINE   durl

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 11:36 PM

Popcorn Hour only shows a list. You could set up a link to your main video folder, then you'd have to click a specific movie folder, then the actual video file after that.

Honestly, the Popcorn Hour GUI does leave something to be desired. It's functional, but bland. It's a lot like clicking through Windows Explorer looking for files. There are Themes that can be applied that spice up the look somewhat, but the basic function is exactly the same. You need a jukebox program if you want to integrate cover art.

I believe there are currently only 2 jukebox programs that display cover art as part of the GUI: MLJB (My Lil' Movie Jukebox) and YAMJ (Yet Another Movie Jukebox). I went with the first one, mainly because it appeared to be the simpler to setup for me. You guys with more experience might be just fine with either.

Here's a link that will show you the basics of the two from the Networked Media Tank forum:

http://www.networked...ad.php?tid=9862

#13 OFFLINE   Hansen

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 06:11 AM

Popcorn Hour only shows a list. You could set up a link to your main video folder, then you'd have to click a specific movie folder, then the actual video file after that.

Honestly, the Popcorn Hour GUI does leave something to be desired. It's functional, but bland. It's a lot like clicking through Windows Explorer looking for files. There are Themes that can be applied that spice up the look somewhat, but the basic function is exactly the same. You need a jukebox program if you want to integrate cover art.

I believe there are currently only 2 jukebox programs that display cover art as part of the GUI: MLJB (My Lil' Movie Jukebox) and YAMJ (Yet Another Movie Jukebox). I went with the first one, mainly because it appeared to be the simpler to setup for me. You guys with more experience might be just fine with either.

Here's a link that will show you the basics of the two from the Networked Media Tank forum:

http://www.networked...ad.php?tid=9862


Here's a thread and some info that offers another solution for DVD cover art integration into Popcorn Hour using Kroozbox and MyMovies. I have not tried it as I'm still investigating all this but it does look promising.

http://www.mymovies....g=posts&t=10708

http://www.omertron.com/pch/node/50

http://www.networked...tid=9260&page=1
HR20-700 (networked) with 750gb eSATA drive via HDMI to Panasonic 42" HD plasma
HR20-700 (networked) via HDMI to Pioneer 50" HD plasma with customized URC Complete Control MX-3000 touch screen remote using RF
HR20-700 (networked) via HDMI to Samsung 19" HD LCD
H20-100 via HDMI to Toshiba 19" HD LCD
H20-100 (now retired and collecting dust) via HDMI<DVI to Sony 42" HD plasma
H21-100 via HDMI to Sony 40" HD LCD (in outdoor pavillion)

SWMLine dish

DirecTV since 1997


#14 OFFLINE   funhouse69

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 06:34 AM

So I assume that this "Jukebox" software has to be loaded on a system and not the PCH itself if you put an HDD in it?
Was with D* for over 10 years then switched to the dark-side a few years ago and haven't looked back. I truly enjoy the 50% savings and uninterrupted service

#15 OFFLINE   durl

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 08:14 AM

I'm not sure about how YAMJ works but My Lil' Movie Jukebox doesn't require an internal HDD in order to work. It looks for an "index.htm" file in a root folder, whether it be on an internal drive, a USB device, NAS, or wherever. It all depends where you told the Jukebox Setup to export the data. When the PCH turns on, it defaults to a Source screen that displays detected devices as well as the links you've built. I choose the internal HDD because that's where I loaded the index.htm file. So when I click on "Hard Drive," the jukebox program loads rather than the typical "click and dig" screen."

Here's the link for My Lil' Movie Jukebox. There's lots of detailed information as well as a "test drive" where you can see how it works.

http://www.treasure-...jukebox.htm#c13


Hansen - thanks for those links. I'm going to dig into those and see how they work.




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