Media Servers

The media servers are one of the first features most people discover in their new NAS and you are spoiled for choice with a smikBox NAS. You need to understand the options available as their benefits are affected by the speed of your home network, your internet connection and the power of the PC's, mobile devices, DVD, and gaming platforms in your home.

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Streaming media server software enables you to stream online channels and local media libraries to various devices throughout your home. There are lots of ways for you to enjoy your favorite movies and music. Rather than having multiple devices and remote controls, wouldn't it be easier to use just one device to stream services like Netflix, Stan, Spotify plus all the flicks and tunes you've downloaded from the Internet, ripped from CDs and DVDs to any device? How can you play your local media at HD resolution on your home TVs and home theater systems?

 
Media server information

Plex 101 - What is Plex? Plex Media Server Explained in Plain English - NAS and PC

This video explains what Plex Media Server is, how it works, and discusses some of the things you should consider to get the most out of it. It explains connecting to a computer or NAS running the Plex Server. Plex allows you to watch your media files anywhere - both in the home and over the Internet. The server software is smart enough to know what the target device is and will convert media on the fly to work with just about anything. Plex apps run on just about every mobile and computing platform out there.

Summary of tips:

  • Use Make MKV and Handbrake to copy your DVD to your network
  • Max transfer rate of blu-ray DVD as high as 20-40 mbps, so get a more powerful NAS (Quad core or i3) to run Plex.
  • Media purchased from Amazon, iTunes, Google files are a protected format so you should use their player.
  • Running Plex on a good NAS means you don't need to start up a PC when you want to use Plex, it's permanently available

PLEX vs KODI and XMBC Media server

SPANdotCOM provides a thorough explanation of the advantages of these two media server products. Although the video starts on the premise that you might choose one or the other, it's important to remember smikBox clients can install and use both. There are good reasons why you might use both, sometimes individually and in some cases using them together.

Summary of tips:

  • Plex installed in a single reasonable speed server, Kodi installed in each PC
  • Both store actual media on the NAS network
  • Kodi needs a reasonable machine to do the transcoding on the fly, Plex does transcoding on a server so less load on device playing movie
  • Plex serves media to devices outside the network, Kodi can also but more complex to setup
  • Kodi needs fast connection to NAS to bring in Blu-Ray (Could be as much as 10Gig)
  • A fast connection is essential (WiFi connection at 50Mbps when close to router, in other rooms or days with interference this will be less)
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Kodi is the go-to platform for those wanting to create their own personal media centre at home - it can be installed on a variety of devices from the Raspberry Pi to the Amazon Fire TV stick and even Android smartphones. The development community is actively creating add-ons that are pushing Kodi from strength to strength, and here we show you how you can use Kodi to watch your favourite TV shows and listen to your music library.

KODI information
How to set up KODI on a PC in NAS console

As pointed out in the above video, KODI is a distributed media server, so there are cases where you would install it in a single PC, and also on the NAS itself. Installing on the NAS would for example be helpful if you connect one of the HDMI outputs from NAS to a HD TV and use this to access the hundreds of movie and IP TV channels available through KODI.
Alternately you might install KODI on an Android computer connected to a HDMI input of your TV (details shown in video's below)

Setting up KODI means installing Add On's that stream from your chosen media sources, and it also involves setting up KODI to have the skins and appearance you prefer. Once this set up is complete, you can clone these across other devices so you don't have to repeat this install on other devices.

How to download/install a KODI configuration

If you don't have the time to tweak your KODI settings, here you can download and install a really good configuration created by Solo Man.

The configuration is available at http://www.easypvrtv.com/ where after you have made a small donation you can download and install. If you're not in a hurry you can do your own research and follow smikBox on Twitter and Facebook as we announce new configurations and skins as they come available.

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Plex is a sophisticated media management program that takes your entire collection of movies, music, and still images and presents it in a slick and navigable package. Plex sifts through your media directories and automatically downloads metadata for each file in your collection; later, when you browse through your library, you’ll see synopses, cast information, and even movie posters and TV theme songs.

Plex informational videos

How to use Plex with your NAS

This video tutorial shows you how to let your NAS become your PLEX media server. You can easily stream all of your digital content to your TV easily and in an organized manner.


Plex: Optimize, Sync and Watch Later!

Optimize your media, sync to your device or the cloud! Plex makes your content easy to access no matter where you are or what device you choose. Awesome.

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Miniature computers are tiny boxes containing just the essential processor and memory needed to perform a specific function. Some have SD memory active as a disk drive, some use SD drives (which are still expensive on a buck per gigabyte basis). For the media server discussion the options include Android based devices (which have the advantage of functioning as a media server, but also running most of the software you can download for an Android phone) and miniature computers with KODI/Plex and other applications installed.

The Android based media server devices are inexpensive and many have the advantage of coming with the correct software pre-installed.

The miniature computers can run KODI and Plex but you would need to have the technical skills to set up and support the device.

Miniature computer information

Installing an Android Stick Into Any TV

These tiny little computers can be used for a variety of purposes from secondary backup, games, education, surveillance consoles and more. Adding an android stick to an aging television re-purposes it for new helpful functions in your home or office. The small size and power consumption allows you to leave it turned on without the noise, heat and power consumption of a full sized PC.


Minix X8-H 4K Android Media Player

Minix X8-H Plus with remote and nice speed upgrade for same price avialbe http://amzn.to/1IOp6aB
Minix X8-H Plus without remote

Chromecast Review - YouTube, Plex, Gaming, Screen Mirroring, and More
Compared to the old Chromecast this new one looks a lot different but has the same feature set. It even performs about the same as the old one did in testing. It has a preemptive caching feature that will start videos faster based on what it thinks you’re about to play, and support for faster AC wireless networks both at 5 and 2.4 ghz. The new model may also have improved wireless reception thanks to its additional antennas and flexible cable that gives it some distance from the television.
 - <span class="glyphicons glyphicons-film"> </span> Media Servers DLNA — the Digital Living Network Alliance is to facilitate multiple network-aware media devices to “talk” to each other over a network without requiring user intervention. The focus for DLNA to date has been in entertainment media, making it a more specialised certification than the broader UPnP (Universal Plug & Play) protocols that it uses. The DNLA standard breaks down into 4 main types of devices. Digital Media Server, Player, Controller, Renderer. Your smikbox NAS contains the server, and your TV, DVD and other devices may contain players. It is important for your NAS to support the standard because for some devices it may be the only way to send media to them. The main drawback is that the standard is interpretted slightly differently and develop their own proprietary protocols which may not be compatible with other manufacturers devices.
Miniature computer information
Getting started with HD station
This video does not deal directly with DNLA, it explains set up of the Hybrid desk top and once set up you will use it to enable the DNLA server on your NAS (which is under DNLA server management, click on enable and press save)

DLNA home network set up with twonky media
This short video explains Twonky setup to stream DLNA to a TV, but during setup it's recommended you choose the same folders used by other media servers so your not duplicating your videos in multiple locations across your NAS.
Some great ideas to help you get the most from your smikbox!

smikbox Accessories and Add-on's
Miniature keyboard - Rii mini with touch pad
Its common for you to need to use a keyboard function when using your media player when searching for movies, find content, navigating folders or just using the web browser to for a quick search.
But using the on screen keyboard is troublesome, cumbersome, slow!
Here are some great little unltra small keyboards that you can sit beside the other remotes that will make your like easier.
TIPS:
- This is available as 2.4GHz or Blue tooth. Consider: 2.4Ghz means you must plug a USB 2.0 dongle into the unit being controlled, and its worthwhile to leave available USB free for connecting to other devices. If Blue tooth is possible its a better option to reduce USB use, but has a shorter range that 2.4Ghz connected devices.
- Available in black, white, blue, red, yellow, silver
- Try to select a unit that has backlight to see keys in the dark
- This unit is light and the curved design makes it suitable for typing with both hands whilst holding device
- The touch pad in middle is easier to use without the device slipping in your hands and quite accurate
- Keys are well separated (for use by larger finders) and have a good tactile response when pressed
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Miniature keyboard - iPazzport Bluetooth
This is a low cost version and a great start. Choose this is your unsure how often you will use the device. If features:
- Backlight
- Available in 2.4Ghz or Blue tooth
- Keys are well separated (for use by larger finders) and have a good tactile response when pressed
- The touch pad on the right is easier to use than others with right sided touch pads owing to the double tap to click and location of left and right mouse click buttons
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Miniature keyboard - Rii i6 with touch pad
A premium feature rich remote for the discerning buyer, that features:
- Backlight
- Available in 2.4Ghz or Blue tooth
- Available in black or white
- Universal remote with learning mode to replicate other remotes (turn on other dependent devices)
- Build-in Large Capacity Rechargeable Li-ion Battery: 810mA
- Max Operating Distance: 30m (Keyboard) / 8m (Remote Control)
- Keys are well separated (for use by larger finders) and have a good tactile response when pressed
- The touch pad on the right is easier to use than others with right sided pad owing to the double tap to click and location of left and right mouse click buttons
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