Watching Movies: Hard Drive to TV over WiFi

Reverend

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What's the best way to do this? I have a bunch of BluRays ripped to an external harddrive connected to my PC. Currently, if I want to watch them on the tv, I have to run an HDMI cable which is becoming more of a pain in the butt due to my current layout. What are my best options for a box I can attach to the tv to play the movies over the wireless network. Other features like google tv, Netflix and internet streaming would also be of interest, obviously.
 
I have AppleTV, fwiw--I really hate that iTunes will only play iTunes format movies. The jerks. The connection to my PC is also buggy as heck. Jerks.
 
Thanks in advance.
 

JoePoulson

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Feb 28, 2006
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I've used Plex media server for some time, and it's great (and free). It just installs on your PC and catalogs your movies / shows. I also use Roku devices on each TV, which gives me a Plex channel, as well as Netflix, Amazon, etc. Plus I can watch my movies and TV shows via my phone or tablets with the Plex App.
 

SumnerH

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My setup is xbmc on the computer, serving over wireless (using DLNA/upnp) to various devices around the house including a WDTV live streaming media player attached to the TV in the living room and a PS3 attached to the TV in the basement.  DLNA/upnp is pretty standard, roku and most phones and whatever can stream from it.  AppleTV can't, it's tied to the iTunes crap.
 
The WDTV live SMP is a really nice piece of hardware, IMO; I've given away 4 of them as gifts.  Handles Netflix/Hulu Plus/Twitch/etc, streams almost any format you can throw at it, and will just play off a Windows share or Unix NFS share if you don't want to run a file server.
 
http://www.amazon.com/WD-TV-Play-Media-Player/dp/B008YDUTRO/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1385063202&sr=1-2&keywords=wdtv+live
 
I went through plex, mediatomb, and ps3mediaserver (all of them are also DLNA/upnp servers) before settling on XBMC in part because I need playback on my computer anyway and in part because it has the best library management; just name your movies in the form "Star_Wars(1977).mkv" and it'll find all the metadata, artwork, etc.  As a pure server goes, mediatomb's by far the most flexible, but config is a bear.
 
XBMC library view (on the computer side):
 
 

santadevil

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I have a friend who jailbroke his Apple TV and put XMBC on it.
He's somewhat computer capable, but I was surprised he was able to pull this off himself.
 
Works really well for him.
 

AlNipper49

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Except if rev has BR discs to stream he may be fucked with gen 1 ATVs, it struggled like hell with anything not 480 for me. I never tried over Plex/DLNA though and with the transcoding occurring on the Plex server I guess it could work.

It was awesome though, it passed the wife simplicity test with flying colors
 

Reverend

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AlNipper49 said:
Except if rev has BR discs to stream he may be fucked with gen 1 ATVs, it struggled like hell with anything not 480 for me. I never tried over Plex/DLNA though and with the transcoding occurring on the Plex server I guess it could work.

It was awesome though, it passed the wife simplicity test with flying colors
 
Now we are talking.
 

derekson

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Jun 26, 2010
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If you already have an Apple TV the easiest thing to do would probably be to use handbrake or some other tool to convert your files to iTunes friendly formats and stick them in the iTunes library.
 

ninjacornelius

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Aug 18, 2005
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Poulsonator said:
I've used Plex media server for some time, and it's great (and free). It just installs on your PC and catalogs your movies / shows. I also use Roku devices on each TV, which gives me a Plex channel, as well as Netflix, Amazon, etc. Plus I can watch my movies and TV shows via my phone or tablets with the Plex App.
 
I've got this same Plex/Roku setup and I swear by it. And with MyPlex you can stream whatever's on your computer to a tablet/laptop/whatever on another network without having to worry about port forwarding. The only downside is that transcoding via Plex eats up a ton of CPU power. If you don't have a powerful enough CPU, the buffering can take forever.
 

begranter

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My parents have a bluray player and I have a PS3 and with both of them I just plug in my portable external hard-drive into the USB port and play the video.  The downsides are you have to transfer each new video file to the hard-drive and you have to make sure your player can use the specific file type (PS3 can't do MKV but can do MP4 and the bluray player is the opposite).  The plus is you don't need your computer on to watch movies.
 

weeba

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Jul 16, 2005
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SumnerH said:
My setup is xbmc on the computer, serving over wireless (using DLNA/upnp) to various devices around the house including a WDTV live streaming media player attached to the TV in the living room and a PS3 attached to the TV in the basement.  DLNA/upnp is pretty standard, roku and most phones and whatever can stream from it.  AppleTV can't, it's tied to the iTunes crap.
 
The WDTV live SMP is a really nice piece of hardware, IMO; I've given away 4 of them as gifts.  Handles Netflix/Hulu Plus/Twitch/etc, streams almost any format you can throw at it, and will just play off a Windows share or Unix NFS share if you don't want to run a file server.
 
http://www.amazon.com/WD-TV-Play-Media-Player/dp/B008YDUTRO/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1385063202&sr=1-2&keywords=wdtv+live
 
I went through plex, mediatomb, and ps3mediaserver (all of them are also DLNA/upnp servers) before settling on XBMC in part because I need playback on my computer anyway and in part because it has the best library management; just name your movies in the form "Star_Wars(1977).mkv" and it'll find all the metadata, artwork, etc.  As a pure server goes, mediatomb's by far the most flexible, but config is a bear.
 
XBMC library view (on the computer side):
 
 
Is that a certain skin? Or do I really need to rename all of my video files to match the above in order to get that functionality?
 

SumnerH

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weeba said:
 
Is that a certain skin? Or do I really need to rename all of my video files to match the above in order to get that functionality?
 
It's the Transparency skin, which I think is the most popular non-default skin.
 

santadevil

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I personally use a Popcorn Hour A300.
You can buy a wifi dongle for it, but I have it wired in with CAT6.
I love that thing.
 
Files are stored on the computer and streams effortlessly.
I also installed a 1TB drive and put most of my hi-def stuff on it, just so it's nice and accessible.
 
/edit...not really helpful to the OP though.
 

SumnerH

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Wait, XBMC can on-the-fly transcode and also serve out via DLNA? I absolutely did not know that.


It doesn't transcode, but it serves dlna. It's 50 bucks for the wdtv device which will handle whatever codec you throw at it (which is one reason I recommend it; my mom and sister both use them no problem).
 

Statman

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Jul 23, 2005
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Los Angeles, CA
Reverend said:
What's the best way to do this? I have a bunch of BluRays ripped to an external harddrive connected to my PC. Currently, if I want to watch them on the tv, I have to run an HDMI cable which is becoming more of a pain in the butt due to my current layout. What are my best options for a box I can attach to the tv to play the movies over the wireless network. Other features like google tv, Netflix and internet streaming would also be of interest, obviously.
 
For me this is the easiest and cheapest way to watch movies that are stored on my laptop on my TV in my living room:
  1. Get Google Chromecast ($35.00) and plug it into a free HDMI port up on your main TV.
  2. Go to your PC and download the Chrome browser and go to the following address and download the app to set up your device (www.google.com/chromecast/setup).
  3. Get the Google Cast installed on your Chrome browser.
  4. Hit CTRL + O on a new tab on the Chrome browser, navigate to the directory your movies are located and open the movie you want to watch.
 

gibdied

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AlNipper49 said:
Except if rev has BR discs to stream he may be fucked with gen 1 ATVs, it struggled like hell with anything not 480 for me.
You can hack, and I use that term fairly loosely in this instance, the ATV 1 and turn it into a pretty damn nice XBMC box.

First step is to open the ATV 1, pull the wireless card, and replace it with this decoder card. If you do this you'll need a wired connection (or a wireless-ethernet bridge), but if you stream high bitrate, 1080p video you'll need that anyway.

Second step is to install Crystalbuntu.

The result is an XBMC box that plays high bitrate, high profile, 1080p encodes smooth as silk. It's a cheap, fun project. I did this with my ATV 1 a couple years ago and it's been a champ ever since. It links to my NAS via SMB share and plays files directly, video and audio. Pretty sweet.
 

Stuffy McInnis

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Pytivo to push movies to a TiVo is also an option, but not what the OP was asking for. Personally, I always run into reliability issues streaming and prefer to just push the whole file. There's no risk of interruption or transcoding/ bitrate quality losses.
 

SumnerH

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Jul 18, 2005
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I'm telling you, the wdtv is a champ. I stream high def over wireless to it all the time from my xbmc box with no problems.

Avoiding transcoding key, that's the source of many problems.
 

weeba

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Jul 16, 2005
3,272
Lynn, MA
Statman said:
 
 
For me this is the easiest and cheapest way to watch movies that are stored on my laptop on my TV in my living room:
  1. Get Google Chromecast ($35.00) and plug it into a free HDMI port up on your main TV.
  2. Go to your PC and download the Chrome browser and go to the following address and download the app to set up your device (www.google.com/chromecast/setup).
  3. Get the Google Cast installed on your Chrome browser.
  4. Hit CTRL + O on a new tab on the Chrome browser, navigate to the directory your movies are located and open the movie you want to watch.
 
Neither of my computers (wired PC, wired/wireless laptop) can find my chromecast on the same network.  Any suggestions?
 

RetractableRoof

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Dec 1, 2003
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SumnerH said:
My setup is xbmc on the computer, serving over wireless (using DLNA/upnp) to various devices around the house including a WDTV live streaming media player attached to the TV in the living room and a PS3 attached to the TV in the basement.  DLNA/upnp is pretty standard, roku and most phones and whatever can stream from it.  AppleTV can't, it's tied to the iTunes crap.
 
The WDTV live SMP is a really nice piece of hardware, IMO; I've given away 4 of them as gifts.  Handles Netflix/Hulu Plus/Twitch/etc, streams almost any format you can throw at it, and will just play off a Windows share or Unix NFS share if you don't want to run a file server.
 
http://www.amazon.com/WD-TV-Play-Media-Player/dp/B008YDUTRO/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1385063202&sr=1-2&keywords=wdtv+live
 
I went through plex, mediatomb, and ps3mediaserver (all of them are also DLNA/upnp servers) before settling on XBMC in part because I need playback on my computer anyway and in part because it has the best library management; just name your movies in the form "Star_Wars(1977).mkv" and it'll find all the metadata, artwork, etc.  As a pure server goes, mediatomb's by far the most flexible, but config is a bear.
 
XBMC library view (on the computer side):
 
For those that are considering Sumner's approach, Amazon just blasted me with this: HD Live http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005KOZNBW?_encoding=UTF8&tag=sonsofsamho09-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=390957) promo which puts them on sale for $75.00.  I tried to encode the link with the SoSH referral info - hopefully I got it right.