Jukeboxes vs Hard Drive storage

Very nice setup Stinger.

Hmm. Your note of the network server and making it available to all media center PC's exposes a flaw in my plan: Only one disk can be played at a time using a jukebox. The media is shared, but all TV's would see the same disk. Long term thats a problem, for right now I can live with that (especially since there is storage for the speed rack for the HTPC).

I'll have to give that some thought... The cost of not waiting a year or so is a bit high in this case... I figure the setup you have costs about $3,100 versus an interim approach costing a little more than a tenth of that (and if I am roughly on track with the predictions in a year or two it will be 20-30% of what it costs now).

Don't get me wrong, a very nice setup (and definitely the right way to do it). I suppose I am in the unfortunate scenario of just having moved into the house last year. While I was able to get a lot of HA type stuff accomplished in the last year, it is now only one small piece of the open projects (and budget)....

sigh. The joys of home ownership...
 
Mike said:
. . . a flaw in my plan: Only one disk can be played at a time using a jukebox.
A potential solution is to cache a title locally. When someone wants to watch a DVD, have the system copy it down to a local hard-drive, and delete it afterward it is viewed. I would think that one of the software packages out there would be capable of this.

It will add latency, depending on how fast a DVD can be copied across the network, but an advantage is that viewing will never be interrupted with hic-ups in the network traffic.
 
A potential solution is to cache a title locally. When someone wants to watch a DVD, have the system copy it down to a local hard-drive, and delete it afterward it is viewed. I would think that one of the software packages out there would be capable of this.

Well in the case I was talking about, if the dvd in question was in the 'speed rack' of popular/new titles, then you could share it without worry of latency.

I have not looked at the extenders (the extenders will play items under my videos over the network right?), but I sure hope that electronics makers start to throw gig ethernet ports in devices...

Regardless, in a residential setting, wouldn't 100MB ethernet be plenty? Too tired and lazy enjoying my wine to go do the bandwidth calculations of DVD and then network... then again that is assuming the wire is pure and there is no actual hardware involved...

Speaking of laziness, time to order more Elk parts or I'll never get that finished and back onto this project regardless... ;)
 
MeSteve said:
Yes, 10/100 is plenty fast. I watch a DVD over USB 2.0 and it is flawless.
But USB 2 (480MBit) is almost 5 times faster than 100Mbit Ethernet. USB also has guaranteed bandwidth for audio/video.
 
electron said:
it looks bad, I tried it :p If you have a regular TV, then I wouldn't mind the DivX method, my older HTPC hooked up to my 31" TV has most of my movies stored that way. One other disadvantage of DivX is that it is much harder to fast forward etc. when using MCE.
so i just got an hdtv (i won a dell w2600 in one of their sweepstakes & it arrived yesterday) and my divx movies look pretty bad on it :)
 
I have encoded a few movies into DIVX format, using pretty high quaslity settings. The resulting files are around 2-3 gigs. The look "decent" on my 65" TV, but as mentioned, fast or dark scenes really show the flaws.

Sure there are artifacts, but that is not what stopped me. I find the problem to be the time involved!!!!! I currently have 340 movies. If you do the simple math, I think that this alone will keep you from wanting to convert the movies to DIVX format.

340 DVD's x 3.5 hours (average time per movie) to encode each = 1,190 hours

that turns out to be 46 1/2 days to encode the movies! (Thats 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!)

The other alternative is to use a program like DVD shrink. This will allow you to rip only the main movie, and any languages /audio tracks that you wish to VERY EASILY. In the preferences, I change the output to be 5 Gigs and choose burn to an ISO file in the preferences. Then you can use an MCE plugin like MY MOVIES. It will use DAEMON TOOLS to automatically mount the ISO image for playback, all seamlessly through the MCE interface. "My Movies" also has features the will grab the movie description, actors list as well as head shots for the actors when browsing through MCE movies for a movie to play.

Sure it still uses a LOT of hard drive space, but the advantage is they are compressed to 5 gigs, and not the original 9 gigs (about 50% less space) and it is a very simple and fast process. Ripping a DVD with DVD shirnk takes about 20 minutes on my 2.8 Ghz P4 system.

I really don't think there is a way around having to use large ammounts of HD space and have them available through MCE and over the network as well. a 300Gig Hard Drive will let you store around 60 movies using this method. If you drop the quality to 4 gigs per movie (Still very clear) you can get 75 on a 300 Gig drive.

Now for more math:
for around $400 you can get 4 300Gig Drives, and have enough storage space for 300 movies. Around the same price as a jukebox.

The great thing is you can buy the drives as you need them, and not have to toss all that cash out at one time.

.-----------Pro's and Con's:-----------
Hardware Jukebox
  • Quality: Original Hiqh Quality Video
  • Playback: FBI warning, Trailers and advertisements
  • Time Required: just load the jukebox
  • Compatability: Dirrect TV connection, Not MCE compatible
  • Cost: Around $300 for 400 DVD's
  • Loaning: Have to find and remove the movie from the Jukebox
  • Organizing: Have to remember what movies is in what slot
  • Damage: If the movies gets scratched you are screwed
Hard Drive Storage
  • Quality: Varies based on settings (up to original quality)
  • Playback: Straight into Feature Title (Or with full menu's)**
  • Time Required: 20-40 minutes per movie
  • Compatability: Works flawlessly in MCE and can view movies over the network
  • Cost: Around $400 for 300 Movies
  • Loaning: Movies are stored in original cases
  • Organizing: N/A
  • Damage: Still have original DVD in it's case, if it gets scratched, you can make a backup from the HD file.
** When movies are "ripped" FBI warnings, Advertisements, warnings and trailers are "unlocked" and can be skipped/FF'd through through. Disney is the ABSOLUTE for this! They put 10 trailers and suchm and do NOT allow you to skip them many times. It can take 10-15 minutes just to get to the movie!

If you do put all the movies on a Hard Drive, there is no need for a RAID that I can see. That is a waste of money IMHO. You have the originals, and can reload them if a HD does go bad. Also you can set the HD's to spin down, and should get a LONG time of use out of them, as they will only be running when a movies is being playes, verses a standard computers Hard Drive is running 99% of the time.

Another advantage of having them on the hard drive, is they could also be precisely controlled (Programmed to jump to a certain time code) and played back with any Home Automation software. For instance, select the movie, press a button and the movies starts lights, dim ect ect...

This is a pretty lengthy post for sure, but I have been investigating, working on, and implementing this for a few months now. I hope this helps clear up some of the questions issues for automated DVD playback.
 
You bring up an interesting point:

Why use RAID5 when you have the media backed up on an archival media already (the DVD's you bought).

This removes RAID controllers, an additional drive for every few hard drives.

You could distribute the storage around PC's situated around the house if they will be on. The question there becomes do you want them on all the time and I suppose is it cheaper to just buy an enclosure than power additional computers over the course of a year.

Some of the newer motherboards have 4 raid connections, 2 sata and 4 IDE, so you could jam a system with storage using 200-300GB drives (3TB for all of them using 300GB drives).

That brings it to a very different price point... If you use those plugins, it manages the variable locations and makes it seemless as well. Hmmm...
 
JohnWPB,
With MainLobby / DVDLobby, you can also have a completely automated Media experience no matter hard drive or RS232 DVD changer sourced. The source of the media is invistible to the end user. The only differences are speed to launch movie, the ability to not show previews/ FBI stuff (jump right into the movie), and software based video scaling and line doubling and backed up disks These are hard drive benefits. Changer benefits are no rip time, cheaper storage.
The price of hard drive storage is quite a bit more when you factor in the PC, the RAID card, the drives (including spares), the case, the powersupply, the SATA cords, the cooling, that large media arrays cost.

If not done well, you also have whirring noises with hard drives. Oh, and the labor to keep the PC up to snuff including replacing drives which will fail.

I think best strategy is to do both - popular stuff on HDrives, less popular in cold storage in DVD changers. The kids movies are on Hard Drive (click and play).
 
I think you are on to something there. Only thing on the automation of changers: I couldnt find one for less than say $700-$800 (but didnt spend a ton of time on it) that had RS232. Am I missing something there? I eventually figured an ocelot could be used to program it if you kept the pc and changer synched somehow.

No RAID5 on the speed rack (significantly reduces extra costs for more drives, raid cards, etc).

Changer for the bulk of the collection

Automated in one location...

Does not cost $3K

I like it.
 
Mike said:
You bring up an interesting point:

Why use RAID5 when you have the media backed up on an archival media already (the DVD's you bought).

This removes RAID controllers, an additional drive for every few hard drives.
Do you want to re-rip the 100's of DVD's more than once when a drive fails? I mean we're talking one extra drive for a lot of saved time.
 
I would use a RAID5 for any data storage. Media only accentuates that due to it's large storage capacity need. Yes there is an additional cost for a quality hardware RAID card ($300 or so) plus the extra drive, but well worth it the first time something breaks (and it will).

BTW, JohnWPB - takes 20 minutes for a DVD rip. It is dependent on CPU speed. 3 - 4 hrs is a longgggg time.....I am not using DivX but DVDShrink.
 
For something Like Raid 5 or large storage, I usually by the enterprise type drive over the standard ones. They have longer life(mtbf), longer warranty's and I have had very few problems with the drives. They cost a few more bucks, but I think if you are going to a good raid controller you might as well get good drives.

IMHO.

StevenE
 
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