ITT: Media Extenders and bending them to my will

Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
So, for most of my life so far I've had a computer in my bedroom/living room. I have tons of TV shows and films ripped to it, stored on a large external drive.

Tomorrow, I move into a new apartment. My computer will no longer be in my bedroom or living room but in a separate office/computer room. So I need to figure out a device that can take some of the weight off the host computer and run files on its own. The most demanding thing is going to be 720p x264 files in MKV containers.

As you may know, I'm a Mac guy. The Apple TV seems to be the cheapest solution. I'd have to hack full-blown Leopard onto it, which is a EULA violation. We probably shouldn't discuss that further but I know it's an option. I'm only concerned that it might choke a bit on the combination of network and HD content with such a weak processor and low RAM.

Aside from the Apple TV, do you know of any media extenders that would play the 720p files indicated? Tons seem to run XviD and DivX files, but that doesn't really do me very much good.

Satan. on

Posts

  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2008
    You could store your media in a format that's easier to work with.

    Pheezer on
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  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Would XBMC work?

    Daedalus on
  • Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    Pheezer wrote: »
    You could store your media in a format that's easier to work with.

    I know, but I already have about 1.2TB of the stuff in that format. Transcoding it would take an extremely long time and a loss of quality. Now, I probably won't notice said quality loss but the time would be agonizing.

    Daedalus wrote: »
    Would XBMC work?

    I'm not sure. I'm trying to find out if it has the horsepower for this kind of thing. I'm not exactly crazy to have an ugly gigantic black Xbox under my TV but if this is the more economical solution, that's probably what I'll do.

    Satan. on
  • firekiunfirekiun Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Satan. wrote: »
    Pheezer wrote: »
    You could store your media in a format that's easier to work with.

    I know, but I already have about 1.2TB of the stuff in that format. Transcoding it would take an extremely long time and a loss of quality. Now, I probably won't notice said quality loss but the time would be agonizing.

    Daedalus wrote: »
    Would XBMC work?

    I'm not sure. I'm trying to find out if it has the horsepower for this kind of thing. I'm not exactly crazy to have an ugly gigantic black Xbox under my TV but if this is the more economical solution, that's probably what I'll do.

    720p inx264 format huh? XBMC isn't for you then, that thing have a lot of trouble playing standard x264 files as it is, HD format will eat it alive.

    XBMC will run your DIVX and XVID files great tho, but again, don't expect HD quality.

    firekiun on
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  • TransparentTransparent Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Build a computer with these in a HTPC case?

    AMD 780G motherboard $69.99
    X2 4400+58.50
    Probably $20 for ram, $40 for a WD800, and $50 for a little media center case with a power supply.

    There, a real computer with HDMI out and hardware video decoding for about the price of an apple TV.

    Transparent on
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  • RonenRonen Registered User
    edited May 2008
    If you want to go the Mac route, I suggest just going with a full fledged Mini. I've got a 1.6GHz Core Duo with 2GB of RAM on it and it's really, really nice as a media machine running in a similar setup.

    The other nice thing about the Mini is that DVD Player under Leopard has a really, really good upscaler, so using the Mini as a DVD player is pretty great.

    Edit: XBMC is also available for OSX, although currently in beta. Works pretty well from what I've seen playing with it.

    Ronen on
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  • FatmanGamesFatmanGames Registered User
    edited May 2008
    I second the Mac Mini.

    An alternative is the Xbox 360 or PS3 (yes, seriously, even the 360 Arcade unit). With little effort, you can play most formats on these boxes. Streaming to these boxes is easy, and you could even set up dynamic transcoding (your mac would transcode dynamically and then stream) if your processor is fast enough.

    Downsides:
    360 is noisy
    PS3 doesn't support streaming surround sound

    FatmanGames on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Build a computer with these in a HTPC case?

    AMD 780G motherboard $69.99
    X2 4400+58.50
    Probably $20 for ram, $40 for a WD800, and $50 for a little media center case with a power supply.

    There, a real computer with HDMI out and hardware video decoding for about the price of an apple TV.

    This sounds like a good plan. I've heard really great things about the 780G's ability to decode video.

    edit: You'll probably want to find a Micro-ATX version, though, so you can fit it in a smaller case.

    Oh, and a 360/PS3 won't work, as these are MKV files.

    Daedalus on
  • Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    Thanks for the suggestions guys. This will most likely come to fruition during June or early July, so I may revisit it then. Building a cheap PC is probably my best option. I had considered the Mini but that's awfully expensive.

    Satan. on
  • TransparentTransparent Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Didn't notice the mobo was full size, oops.

    Transparent on
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  • Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    Damnit, another thing. HDMI doesn't work for me right now as it's an SDTV for the foreseeable future. Cheap graphics card should work just fine, right? I want the HDMI board to future-proof a bit still.

    Satan. on
  • tachyontachyon Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    You just need to play the mkvs?

    I recently bought a Popcorn Hour and love it. I don't have it networked up (future plans) but I do have a USB ext that works perfectly.

    Basically plays every file format out there. The GUI is improving, and via firmware updates, they are adding usb wireless N capability, just incase you can't run CAT5.

    Best $198 I've spent in a while.

    tachyon on
  • Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    tachyon wrote: »
    You just need to play the mkvs?

    I recently bought a Popcorn Hour and love it. I don't have it networked up (future plans) but I do have a USB ext that works perfectly.

    Basically plays every file format out there. The GUI is improving, and via firmware updates, they are adding usb wireless N capability, just incase you can't run CAT5.

    Best $198 I've spent in a while.

    H... holy shit. That's exactly what I need. Would you like a blowjob?

    Satan. on
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