Can I slave a Drobo to a Bluray player to a TV screen?
December 8, 2014 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Seems like a pretty easy to navigate digital video solution: Drobo with digital video files, USB to Bluray player, HDMI to TV. Can you suggest a specific model Bluray player that will accommodate this use? I REALLY need to shift my DVD collection to some kind of HDD-based (I think?) system, but ease of navigation and simplicity of set-up is very important to me. If I am barking up the wrong tree, please suggest a more appropriate solution.
posted by Exchequer to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does it have to be a Blu-ray player?

There are so many options that it's difficult to make a specific recommendation. A lot of this will boil down to personal taste.

My current setup is a Synology NAS running Plex through a Roku 3. In the past I've used a DLNA server running on a WD MyBook to talk to (in no particular order, but not all at the same time) an AppleTV 3, a WDTV, and an XBOX 360, which worked but was kinda clunky. I also used DLNA to stream to a Samsung SmartTV, but never used it much past initial testing.

I expect that USB 3.0 is probably fast enough for this, but I currently use my LAN to connect the NAS to the Roku.

It's amazing how inexpensive some of the hardware is. Which is nice because finding out what works is sometimes a matter of trial and error.
posted by doctor tough love at 9:20 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have an Oppo Blu Ray player which I brought a while ago, after asking here. It wasn't cheap, but I had gotten fed up with the incredibly low quality of the usual suspects.

It has a USB port on the front and you can easily use the remote to navigate to files. I've only used it with a little flash drive, but I don't see why it wouldn't work with something bigger.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:20 PM on December 8, 2014

do you already own the drobo?

if not, my go-to suggestion for this sort of setup is the cheapest synology/buffalo/qnap/etc consumer NAS box with a couple hard drives, and something like the fire tv stick(which has consistently been on sale for $21-25 recently) and XBMC, which is now called kodi for seemingly the reason of needless user confusion.

NAS goes in to router, XBMC/kodi goes on to firetv stick, firetv stick goes in to tv/receiver.

That stick comes with a serviceable remote, and once you launch xbmc just never close it. You can also use smartphone apps as remotes and both the official "xbmc remote" one for ios and android, and yatse for android are awesome.

Once you fire it up basically once and get everything dialed in, it's amazingly simple and awesome to use. The XBMC remote apps are especially badass and let you browse movies in a slick coverflow-type way with pretty box art and show you plot synopsis' and stuff when you tap on them. This also works for TV shows, and seasons are handled intelligently. Every friend i've shown it has been really impressed at how slick it is.

If you want a more robust setup, the big boy firetv has a LAN jack and a beefy CPU. When i replace my whiny, janky ouya i'm currently running XBMC on though i'm at least buying that stick to try it out though. Lots of people have been super happy with it online.

If you do own the drobo i'd get some not firetv android box(only the big firetv has USB, and it's annoying to get it working right)... and still install XBMC, and plug the drobo in to that. The ouya i have could do it, but i'd never in good conscience recommend one of these things to someone. It works perfectly, but the fan is so annoying. Even when the thing is idling the fan kicks on a lot and REEEEEEEEE.

Alternatively, you could do everything i said above but if your router has a USB port, just plug the drobo in to that. Even if the performance sort of sucks, you don't need 200mbps to stream a 1080p movie at a trickle. Even a giant high bitrate 1080p rip seems to max out at maybe 40-50mbps, and most are way lower.

But really though, XBMC. I've never used the "media mode" thing on any disc player that didn't make me want to throw the thing out the window, or that could actually handle playing most file types without choking to death or really just going "lol whats an mkv".

Another alternative, on preview, that i see a lot of people mentioning using/loving is this thing. The garish clunky interface turned me off, but apparently it can and will play anything and everything under the sun off of essentially any form of storage.

I also wouldn't put anything i cared about on a drobo, since they seem to be file-corrupting hardware melting ticking time bombs, but that's a whole other post...
posted by emptythought at 4:57 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I like the idea of using the Bluray so I don't have to connect any other devices to the TV and the user interface / remote control experience stays the same. I can be flexible on this but would prefer not to.

And, I don't already own the Drobo, so I can use an alternate filebox if that makes a difference.
posted by Exchequer at 5:26 AM on December 9, 2014

Stay away from Drobo. Stick with Synology and Plex. Use a good Gigabit network Switch (HP or Netgear Pro. Install quality cat6 wiring.
posted by Mac-Expert at 5:52 AM on December 9, 2014

2nding emptythought on the WDTV - it was a PITA.

Something to consider, maybe, is that there are iOS (and maybe Android) "remote controls" for Roku and Plex (and probably lots of other stuff).

A system like XBMC or Plex that has movie / teevee metadata browsing turned out to be a must-have in order to get my family to use it. Bare-bones DLNA just didn't cut it.

I've got some time over the holidays, I may play with the Fire TV stick. Again: it's amazing how cheap this stuff is.

I don't really know much about Drobo, but I've been pretty happy with my Synology NAS. But dont neglect backing up your data (and that's more than just running your NAS in RAID 6). I've seen a Seagate portable 5TB drive on Amazon for around $100 that might be a good start. I get the feeling that affordable 6TB drives are just around the corner - which would be awesome because I'd love to exchange one or more of the WD 4TB Red drives in my Synology unit for more space - but so far it's not happened. Then again, I haven't checked on it today.

Oh, one last thing: make sure that whatever you go with supports CEC so that your remote will control volume. I have older television and A/V receiver components that don't do CEC (and I'm uncertain as to whether or not the Roku supports it). I've gone with though for a long time, but - it's getting old.
posted by doctor tough love at 6:41 AM on December 9, 2014

Response by poster: VUDU / Ultraviolet ended up being to simple to pass up, no new hardware needed, current remote / TV / Bluray player all in harmony with my DVD collection in the cloud.
posted by Exchequer at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2014

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