Pretty sure I’m throwing way to many things into the mix to fairly determine whats working well and whats not. But for now, I’m just happy I’ve got things working. Next step: work it out backwards and repeat.
In the meantime, here’s whats working. The new release of Plex Media Server running on Windows Home Server 2011, with help from a little script by CJMURPH over in the Plex forums that essentially gets Plex running as a service — aka, nobody needs to be logged into the server. Much more secure than having to log in as the Administrator and leave the server running.
But Plex is being flaky and I’m not sure that I’ve got any of the transcoding working right. But alas, I’ve got my “portable” movie library — movies compressed with Handbrake down to 1gb mp4′s with stereo audio at 192bps for watching on tablets and netbooks — playing on all my DLNA devices.
I added BubbleUPnP Server as well, so I could use my android tablet and phone as DLNA Control Points without having to buy the Plex App for Android just yet. (Remember, we’re about doing things as cheaply as possible!) The Bubble Control Point app is smooth and intuitive, especially on the tablet. Pick your media library (movies, tv shows, music) from any server on the network, then pick which device you want to play the content on. Remember to change your streaming settings in Windows Media Player if you want a PC to be able to receive the DLNA request to play content.
I’m also running MyMovies on the WHS2011 server to gather additional metadata for my movies, although there may be some redundancy with Plex Media Manager there. We’ll have to check that out further. The main benefit of MyMovies is their android app which will filter by media type, keeps track of my bluray library, and makes sure I don’t buy discs I already own.
A few things are not working as hoped, though. MKV files are not supported by my Samsung TV. Somewhere in my workflow, I’ll have to transcode them to mp4 in order to send them straight to the TV. Fortunately, thats not high on my list of requirements. For MKVs containing surround sound audio, I’ll stream those to my OPPO-103 bluray player which can receive and decode MKVs, and play the audio through my receiver to enjoy full 5.1 surround audio.
Unfortunately, I can’t fast forward or rewind MP4 video from the android phone (using BubbleUPnP Control Point app) when streaming to the OPPO-103.I get a “No Such Container (code:710)” error. I can FF/RW when streaming to the Samsung.
Video_TS folders are also problematic. Plex doesn’t seem to like them very much. My library was showing every movie in a Video_TS folder with a Part 1 and Part 2, neither of which would play. That leaves me to figure out the best format for archiving non-encoded DVDs on the media server. Video_TS vs ISOs. I was under the impression that Plex could transcode on the fly, but I probably haven’t gotten that set up right yet. Or another DLNA server that better handles Video_TS folders. For now, full def DVDs will be watched in Windows Media Center.
As mentioned in my previous post, I also installed Win 8 on my main HTPC and installed XBMC 12 Frodo – Release Candidate 3. It wasn’t finding anything on the Plex server, but I think a deep scan may fix that. Also, I find the navigation of Win 8 a little frustrating, but I’m willing to chalk that up to the learning/comfort curve for now. I busted out the old Hillcrest Labs Loop remote, which I thought would be good for the 10′ experience on an operating system designed for a tablet, but I’m not so sure yet.
I also installed the Hulu app, which was very well integrated with the Win 8 OS.
Overall, a productive day messing around. The only major tragedy was that formatting the hard drive before installing Win 8 cost my all of my “no copy” flagged content recorded in Windows Media Center off of the premium cable channel. I’ll have to catch up on Veep another way. Maybe the HBO to Go app on the Samsung’s SmartHub.