My Media Server Adventure

A long time ago in a newsletter far, far away I talked about media hubs and their being the future of home entertainment. I mentioned that I had plans of my own to implement media services and a media hub in my home. Well, I still haven’t convinced my wife to let me digitize our collection of DVDs and serve them to media hubs throughout the house. I have decided it is time to take matters into my own hands. I will have to just show her how awesome it is going to be. Some folks just need some show and tell to help them along, my wife being one of them.

So here is the plan. I have some hardware that I have collected that I am going to use to build the media server of my dreams! At least one I can use to demonstrate how awesome it would be to have something like this in our home. What I am going to do for you my avid readers is tell you in this issue about my plan. What hardware and software I will be using and what my ultimate goal will be. I will continue to keep you up-to-date on the B.I.T.S. blog where I post all the articles for this newsletter and I may even do a few YouTube videos as work progresses.

Let’s get started. First I need some software that will do what I need it to do. I have chosen Plex ( Plex started as a community developed application for Xbox to allow the Xbox to be used as a media hub. Plex now has apps for most major mobile devices. It has apps for popular media hubs like Roku, and some TVs and DVD players are even coming with the app already installed. Plex has a media server that allows you to store, catalog, and index all of your digital media including music, films, home videos, and pictures. It has everything plus I can install it on a Windows computer just like I would any other program.

Hardware is going to be a bit different. I have some computers with a mishmash of parts laying around my home office. The goal here will be to pull together some working hardware that meets the minimum requirements for Plex Media Server which are Windows XP, 1.6ghz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and 512mb of RAM. I will install the Plex app on my iPad and on my laptop to test and demonstrate streaming movies and accessing other media.

If my wife likes what she sees and I get my kids to tell her how much they love it too, I might just get the go ahead. If I get the go ahead, my upgrade will be simple. I intend to purchase a Netgear ReadyNAS to use as my media server. Plex already had an add-in to allow the media server to run on these fantastic storage devices. As a bonus, if I don’t fill it up with movies and pictures I can use the ReadyNAS to also backup my home computers and store other files on as well. None of my TV’s has the option for the Plex software to be installed, so I plan on purchasing Roku boxes for each of the TV’s in the house. I can also use the Roku for Netflix, Hulu, and many other internet based media streaming services, so it isn’t just a one-trick pony either. Wish me luck, and don’t forget to check the blog (http://jcbits/ over the next few weeks for updates on the progress of the project.

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