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Streaming content to TV from either NAS or DIY computer

danni

New Member
Hey guys,

Currently Im searching for a solution, that can stream content (movies) to my TV.

I would rather have a NAS, than having to do some DIY, as I just want it simple and working (using less power).

But my concern with NAS, is people mentioning "Transcoding", which seems to be the issue. But when is transcoding needed?

Can someone share some light on this, and perhaps recommend a NAS? (pref. below $500 (ex disc)).

Thanks :)
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Lots of folks love their Plex.  Trancoding and fancy eat up some resources though (CPU, happy fast disk, etc.)

What you are looking for, especially in Linux land as a basic light solution is a DLNA server.  Free to install and no big learning curve.

Minidlna is one such solution I use on mega lowly devices (i.e. ARM devices with 256MB of RAM $15).

Here's a simple how-to for Raspberry Pi - should work on most Linux variations:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Media-Server-MiniDLNA/?ALLSTEPS

PS: the transcoding is just conversion of bitrates and resolutions.   Ideally your TV / set top box is robust enough to handle whatever it gets fed to it.  Then no transcoding needed.
 
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danni

New Member
What about a Plex server? 
I've been seeing multiple people writing about plex, but I still cant figure out how it works.

Here's a simple how-to for Raspberry Pi - should work on most Linux variations:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Media-Server-MiniDLNA/?ALLSTEPS
Yeah some people also recommend the new Rasberry Pi 2. But then I would have to buy external harddrives right? And how do they function in a 24/7 setup?

My TV is a Philips 47PFS7509


Thanks for recommendations so far
 
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drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
I've been seeing multiple people writing about plex, but I still cant figure out how it works.

Yeah some people also recommend the new Rasberry Pi 2. But then I would have to buy external harddrives right? And how do they function in a 24/7 setup?

My TV is a Philips 47PFS7509


Thanks for recommendations so far
The Raspberry Pi 2 is fine.   Mine has been running for a year or two.   OS just busted up on some update kernel mismash, so it's headed towards a rebuild soon.   But 24/7 for a long time.  Not running GUI, just server + SSH + various daemons.   Works good for light stuff.

Like I said, I run DLNA stuff on lowly PogoPlugs :)  Similar ARM lacking mini devices.

As far as drives, yeah need something to store your content on.  The Pi gives you flash storage you boot OS off of and some USB ports for connecting devices.

Frankly, that's why I like the Pogos I have. They support 2.5" SATA with a top connector, something a Pi cannot do.

Pi, you will run 2.5 USB drives, or USB flash.  2.5 drive should power down and do power saving mode. Good for power bill and life span of the drive per se.
 

William

pr0
Verified Provider
If you just want to mount remote FS and your content is only up to 720p a RPI probably works ok with one or two external HDDs.

If you want to store i.e. 1080p and transcode it on the fly to 720 or even less expect the need for an i3+.

If you want a non-DYI solution HP N36L/N40Ls should be fairly cheap, they offer 1.6Ghz Single/Dualcore AMDs with up to 16GB RAM and 4 Hotswap HDD trays (without HW RAID).

If you want to build something cheap (non hot-swap) you can probably get a cheap case for 50$ (100$ for one with 4 hot swap bays, but big tower), cheap Mobo for 50$ (like this), good Dualcore CPU for 50$ and have enough power for a few years as fileserver and some transcoding/downloading.
 

danni

New Member
I really like the idea of the rp2, but Im not sure Im willing to fork out 100$+ out, incase it will lag - same goes for buying a NAS.

The solution will probably be a non 24/7 DIY computer, running the minidlna
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
These are what I recommend and use all over the place for similar project.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pogoplug-Series-4-Multimedia-Sharing-Device-POGO-V4-A3-01-/390726053299

$18.95

You are going to need a drive, but you can pop the top off that (tool-less) and put a 2.5" SATA on there and done. I repurpose used 2.5" drives for these since non-important big picture.

Rooting the device is a cinch, docs out there especially easy for installing Arch Linux (works well).

So $18.95 + 1 hour of your time + 1 drive.
 

danni

New Member
@drmike

After alot of thinking, Im gonna try the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, so I just ordered that :)
 
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drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
@drmike


After alot of thinking, Im gonna try the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, so I just ordered that :)
The Pi is similar to what I sent, just more CPU cores.  It's no speed demon either :)  Plus you'll have to live with USB connected drive (which is fine if you aren't plugging the drive in and out and handling the gear much).

The Pi is a more developer friendly reuse piece of gear.  Good for project recycling.  Hard to go wrong with the Pi's.
 

AMWND

New Member
Try banana pi. More power and a GBit Interface (rpi still has the 100mbit even on rpi2).had it working for quite a while now as a nas, Openvpn server etc. 24/7. With openmediavault it is really simple to manage and Additional software like Minidlna is really easy to install and configure through a web interface. And it has an esata interface.
 
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drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Try banana pi. More power and a GBit Interface (rpi still has the 100mbit even on rpi2).had it working for quite a while now as a nas, Openvpn server etc. 24/7. With openmediavault it is really simple to manage and Additional software like Minidlna is really easy to install and configure through a web interface. And it has an esata interface.
Another fine recommendation :)

OpenMediaVault looks awesome.... Any idea about minimum spec to run it?

I'll throw Cubieboard on the stack of recommendations.   Another ARM based platform with the Truck version having SATA.

There are a slew ARM Android boxes that will suffice also and bunch of DLNA servers in the Android Market.  I avoid the Android stuff since not a full blown and accessible Linux environment absent hackery.  Nice concept and big body of software, but avoided personally where I can.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Been a while since I messed with the install side.

I believe the Noobs installer for Pi's handles all that disk setup and format.

This is what I have on mine at current:

        Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System

/dev/mmcblk0p1            2048     2507812     1252882+   e  W95 FAT16 (LBA)

/dev/mmcblk0p2         2514944    62268415    29876736   85  Linux extended

/dev/mmcblk0p3        62268416    62333951       32768   83  Linux

/dev/mmcblk0p5         2523136     2646015       61440    c  W95 FAT32 (LBA)

/dev/mmcblk0p6         2654208    62267391    29806592   83  Linux
 

mikho

Not to be taken seriously, ever!
What filesystem (FAT etc) do you recommend for the USB harddrive?


NTFS that the USB harddrive comes with, seems to be "read only" on linux, from what I can see?

exFAT might be a good choice.


Allows saving larger files then Fat32 can do, not sure how the RPi handles it bit Windows does it very good.
 

Sardonik

New Member
Although you've already gone with the Raspberry Pi, I *just* finished researching non-DIY NAS solutions for a friend and thought I'd chime in with what I came up with with regards to your original question.

After a few nights of investigation, I settled on the QNAP TS-451 4 bay NAS, currently going for around $480. I'd recommend factoring in $33 for 4GB of 3rd party RAM to improve performance an unlock the VM functionality, but it's not required.

In addition to functioning very well as a NAS, QNAP's use of a Celeron j1800 and inclusion of an HDMI port makes it a decent little HTPC as well. Their HD Station app, which works over the HDMI port, offers XBMC (now Kodi) along with a bunch of other multimedia apps and works very well. Test playback of a 1080p MKV last night was flawless. For control of HD Station, they offer a $15 IR remote (not recommended) a nice Android QRemote app for your phone/tablet or the ability to plug in a USB KB and Mouse. You can also use any MCE IR remote with the TS-451's built-in receiver, but I didn't have one handy so haven't seen how well that works.

In addition to all that, increasing the RAM to 2gb or more (fairly simple DIY operation) enables QEMU virtualization. Haven't tried this yet, but this is supposed to allow you to use the virtual OS directly over HDMI and using a USB KB/mouse in addition to providing VNC access to the VM. So the TS-451 can double as a low-powered desktop.

In essence, the TS-451 is a small Celeron j1800 based PC with a NAS focussed form factor and a very mature, custom Linux NAS OS with a ton of available add-ons. You could get more for your money building your own solution, but if you're interested in a plug-it-in-and-turn-it-on HTPC/NAS solution, this one is pretty good and extremely versatile. Two downsides that I've read about but not tested...

1) The j1800 doesn't support AES-NI, so encrypted volumes take a performance hit. Benchmarks show the transfer rate dropping from 100MBps to 70MBps.

2) The j1800 will struggle to transcode and stream high quality (BD rip) 1080p content. Lower bit-rate 1080p or 720p are fine.

After buying the TS-451, I did notice that the Asustor AS-5004t seems to be nearly identical (doesn't currently offer virtualization but is testing it in beta) and is currently $70 cheaper at around $410. It's also supposed to have a better build quality, but I don't know anything about their OS, support etc.
 

danni

New Member
@mikho

I chose exFat :)

I've pretty much got it all setup and working perfectly - installed samba, so I could add files from my windows computer.

I only got 1 issue atm. The WD external drive I bought for the pi, goes into standby mode even when being used, is there a way to disable that? - as it must be in the firmware of the hdd?

EDIT: regarding the "goes into standby mode even when being used", found that it didnt mount the drive, and used sd card instead :/
 
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