I've now got the ROKU LT streamer working on my daughter TV - The interface is a bit clunky - Plex works without a problem - but the ROKU interface is not as nice as ATV and I think sound quality isn't quite as good as the ATV but to be fair I haven't tested it side by side with the same amp and speakers.
Wow, I can totally relate to this thread...
I currently have a Synology 1511+ with 5 x 3TB formatted RAID6, Macbook Pro, Mac Mini Server, iPad mini, ATV3, etc... I've been on the big journey of converting all movies/tv shows and managing everything in iTunes.
I currently point my iTunes Media folder to a share on the Synology which is then checked as a media indexing share inside of DiskStation. This allows me to use iTunes as the front-end on my computers, while having all of the iTunes media stored on the Synology, but still allows me to stream my content when away from home in my car using the DSaudio app from Synology. Anything I throw into iTunes goes on the Synology as is immediately available via the DS apps. I simply added my iTunes share to automatically mount at login in OSX. I originally tried the iTunes server built into the Synology but it's a joke. Pointing my iTunes library directly to a share on the Synology works out great for most things but I'm considering changing my workflow.
I currenlty have all of my movies/tv shows ripped as .m4v and reside in iTunes (but located on the Synology). As long as I have an instance of iTunes running, my ATV3 can see all of these files just fine. Everything, including HD content, has no problem streaming via home sharing over wireless. This is great, and considered ideal because I didn't have to jailbreak anything and all of my content is stored on the Synology.
My biggest problem with this method is that I have to have iTunes running. So, of course, the complete dork side of me that just can't let anything be good enough, I have to research all of my options to death... That landed me on this thread where I see many intriguing options.
I really wanted to give Plex Media Server a try. Since I have an ATV3, jailbreaking was out of the question and the only possible solution would be to use my iPad, iPhone, or computer to airplay the content from Plex to the ATV3. This is a possibility, but that's what I'm writing here for - to those that have done this approach, would you recommend it more so than my current solution - and if so, why? Does Plex offer any big advantages that I'm overlooking currently? The fact that my Synology box can run Plex - and all of my content is actually located on the Synology itself - it seems awfully silly to even need iTunes in the loop at all. I prefer the DSaudio app on my phone and don't use iTunes match or anything like that - I do use iTunes for music on my computer but I'd have probably no problem using Audio Station in the browser if I had to ditch iTunes.
One other thing I've been looking at a lot lately is photo/video management, especially for iPhone photos and videos. I have a daughter so I take a ton of pictures/videos. I currently use iPhoto (stored locally) and like that I can integrate that with the ATV3 so well. What I don't like however, is relying on iPhoto long-term and the fact that I'm tied to their database and their way of managing my photos. I also would like to take advantage of using the Synology DSphoto and DSvideo apps on the iPhone but that would mean my content need to be stored on the Synology. I've tried pointing iPhoto to a share on the Synology (super slow!) and also tried writing my own script to manually copy the contents of iPhoto to a share on the Synology - where I could then index all of those photos and they be sent to DSphoto - but that's just a pain and doesn't work the way I had hoped.
Anyway, that's where the more I looked into Plex, the more I got a little interested. Would Plex solve any of the listed above problems? I love Apple. And I love Synology. I don't dislike iTunes, but I'm not in love with it either. I love the interface of the ATV3. All sounds great right? Wrong. So many options. So many great options - yet, I still feel like I haven't yet found the right "combination" of all services. I can relate to many on here. What do you suggest?
Thanks for all the help and hopefully we can all figure this out together.
I haven't used Plex specifically to airplay but I have used other apps. The quality of an airplay stream has always been inferior in my experimentation. Principally I also dislike using a device a as an airplay server when the hardware exists to play the stream directly. Despite the dilemma, I still think that having itunes running is the best possible solution. Perhaps when something small like a raspberry pi can have itunes installed onto it may be the most power efficient way if you do not want a fully fledged mac os running.
It sounds like you're doing something similar to what I am. That is, I have a Synology 1812+ and am using it more as a file repository for my iTunes running on a separate Windows PC to serve up media content to my Apple TV 3 as a media server PC. I'd like to get the PC out of the equation entirely, but that doesn't seem possible yet.
I also would have like to use one box (the Synology) to stream to the ATV 3 with something like Plex, but I definitely don't want the hassle of jailbreaking the ATV 3 (if/when that's ever an option), The Synology iTunes server can't stream video content by itself either. As a solution it would be great if Synology could update their iTunes server to simply stream video content and "act" like iTunes 11 so that the ATV wouldn't know the difference.
There is also the route of a different media player (such as the Dune HD Smart D1) with some really incredible specs, but then I'd forfeit the ability to rent movies via iTunes, or the ability for anyone to play something quickyl via AirPlay on their Phones/iPads. Plus, the GUI of the ATV makes things easy for the entire family.
I'm no developer, but it seems like one potential solution would be to get an iTunes instance running on the Synology, and have that serve the Apple TV units. Does anyone know if that's even possible? What OS does the Synology run? Is there a way to run a VM on it? If so, could the VM not run an actual iTunes installation (either Mac or Windows) and share its library?
I'm talking out my arse here. I have no idea whether this is even remotely possible.
I did a quick search after asking the question; doesn't look like it's currently possible to run a VM under the Synology OS. Perhaps the way to go is to "emulate" an iTunes instance in Linux, and then run that on the Synology. Again, I have no idea whether this is in fact possible. Somebody smarter than me will have to figure that out.
Another quick search reveals that 32-bit iTunes for Windows will run under WINE on Linux. So, the next question becomes can one install WINE on the Synology units? Again - no idea here. Just spitballing.
"Merty" is no longer actively developing his Synolgoy packages, but I contacted him nevertheless and asked him what he thought of this whole endeavour. Will update when/if I hear back from him.
His blog provides links to several other "custom" Synology package repositories, though, all of which I found very interesting. I had no idea there were other, non-official package repositories out there. There's some cool, useful stuff, too - like SabNZB and Sickbeard, two apps I use regularly on another PC - along with some other stuff. Clearly there are people out there who know how to re-package stuff into a format the Synology can handle.
So, the question remains: Can iTunes be "re-factored" to run on Synology? I don't think it would even have to be a full iTunes installation; all that would really be needed is whatever portion of iTunes "talks" to the Apple TV units or marks the library as "shared." Wouldn't even have to be iTunes, I suppose, if one could figure out how to fool the ATV units into believing they were talking to an iTunes instance.
For the umpteenth time - I'm just talking out loud here; I'm not a programmer and have no idea how to actually implement any of this. I just throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks.
I've finally achieved a stable media server set-up using a Synology DS213 (3TB) and a Mini Mac Server - it now all works a treat.
This is the set-up:
Hosts all my media including my iTunes library, movies, home movies, audio books etc
Has a pctv T2 Nano Stick
I have DVB-Link running on the NAS which allows me to record TV (including HD TV) to .ts files. I also have Logitec Media Server running on the NAS.
MiniMac Server I7 Processor, 8GB RAM running Mountain Lion Server (this host all my family personal files).
On the MiniMac I'm Running iTunes and Plex Media Server. I initially had Plex Media Server running on the Synology box but DS213 doesn't have the power to enable Plex to transcode so I having decided I coud live without iTunes I decided to run PMS on the Mac as well.
I have and ATV connected to my samsung smart TV and I use this with iTunes for music and it also connects to my Amplifier and speakers - the music quality is excellent. My wife likes the ATV interface for music and making playlists from the remote control app on her iPAD
Samsung Smart TV
This use the Plex app and plays movies and recored TV excellently in HD
Daughters TV and ROKU media streamer
The Roku steams TV and music in 720p very well using the Plex App
iPhones and iPads
Uses the Plex App for movies, recorded tv and music etc with the iTunes Music Channel for play lists.
The house is wired with Cat 6 cable and I have a DrayTek Router / Gigabit Switch and a T-Link 8 Gigabit Manged Switch. I have set these up to priorites the media streams over all other traffic (except vioce over ip).
As an experiment I played and HD recorded TV show on the smart TV, a different movie on my daughters and two more different movies on iPad - they all played perfectly. The only remaining problem i have is for some reason i can't play recoreded TV shows on my iPhone 4 if they are over 2 hours long (no idea why because they play fine on everything else). I would also like to be able to stream live TV to iPads and iPhones using Plex but there isn't an avialable plug-in to do this.
Power consumption wise when not in use the system is using about 27 watts and in use it rises to over 55 watts We have solar power which reduces the running costs but without it i quess it would cost about a maximum of £60 a year to run.
I am curious as to the cost of your setup, roughly, TamThread. If you can include the cost to wire Cat6 that would be helpful too.
My cost has not included Cat6 wiring and rather just getting a DIR655 wireless router and placing the devices within 200 feet of the 801.11n router.
I have a DS111 behind the couch running Plex Server (no transcoding necessary for most of my files which are MP4 or MOV). I have 2 AppleTVs with the Plex Client running on 2 separate TVs. a 1TB hard drive was installed in my DS111.
All in I think I spend $700 for the setup including a $30 antenna for HD signals on one TV and a $100 antenna on another TV. One of these days I will upgrade my DS to record HD channels off a much better installed antenna, but for now this is running just about as great as I want.
The best thing is that my kids watch a select number of shows and movies, not just channel surf. Ever.
It seems like the ideal multifunction setup. And the one time cost and recurring Internet cost seems like the ideal way to consume media. We buy iTunes movies everyonce in a while, but never TV shows.
Looks very smilar to my setup
I am interested to know how you have got on this the dvblink software and the pctv nanostick
I had the same thing with a pair of pctv t2 290e sticks but couldnt get it stable. The software would hang due to the tv tuners. I didnt get anywhere with the software support. I eventually tried different tuners which work ok but no t2 only dvd-t
It would be really good to know what build you have, synology version and if you had any issues getting this working.
Also what software do you use to access the recorded/live tv.