Best media player for my 4K TV?
January 13, 2022 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for the best way to play video from my M1 iMac to my 4K TV. I am thinking of an Apple TV or Chromecast to stream content over, but I'm also thinking of an external drive/media player.

My LG TV has plenty of streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, etc. built in, so I don’t need any help with that. Mainly what I want is to be able to take videos that exist on my iMac and play them—up to 4K quality—on my TV. (The TV has AirPlay support, but it seems M1 Macs don’t have that function for some reason; I can screen mirror to the TV but the quality is quite bad.)

I was reading about wireless hard drives and thought up a dream machine: I connect it directly to the TV via HDMI. It has a wireless connection to my iMac and I can send files over to be stored. The TV can then play any media on the drive. Does this kind of thing even exist? Any ideas would be welcome.
posted by zardoz to Technology (11 answers total)
I have a NAS (network attached storage) device that my TV can browse files on and play or I can use an app to have the device play the files on the TV (if it needs to transcode from a format that my TV can't natively play). Mine is an older Synology device but I think its a pretty common feature.

Would a really long HDMI cable from your iMac to the TV be an option?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:46 PM on January 13, 2022

Best answer: Look into Plex software - you can use it on a server or any wifi connected computer.
posted by soelo at 3:47 PM on January 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

I use an older mac mini for that. It doesn't have the limitations of the various streaming tv devices (you only get the media they allow) and since I'm rocking a mac centric network I can share media from my other devices easily.
posted by evilDoug at 4:07 PM on January 13, 2022

Response by poster: thanks for the suggestion, any, but no a long cable to the TV is what I'm trying to avoid. That's why I'd like to get a wireless connection. A mac mini sounds good, if I could get one cheaper than an Apple TV. I use Plex currently but it's through my current Chromecast, which doesn't do 4K. Which is why I may upgrade to a 4K Chromecast.
posted by zardoz at 4:46 PM on January 13, 2022

Best answer: Are you sure your LG tv doesn’t have a Plex app available? Then it could connect to the server running on your computer.
posted by supercres at 5:10 PM on January 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

I do 4K streaming from Plex with a Roku. It works very well, and the price is right - they're also easy to find used.
posted by SNACKeR at 7:42 PM on January 13, 2022

I'd consider an Apple TV 4K + the Infuse app installed on the Apple TV. You can share the video folder on iMac on the network and play the videos on the TV. (Just make sure the Infuse Pro pricing matches what you'd like to pay.)
posted by bluecore at 8:36 PM on January 13, 2022

Response by poster: I found the Plex app on the TV. I'm having some install issues but once I get it up and running hopefully that will work.
posted by zardoz at 11:34 AM on January 14, 2022

If you can't get the Plex client to work and you're not on a paid Plex Pass plan, you could also look at Emby. Like Plex there's a paid plan with more features (Emby Premiere) but if you don't need the DVR features you can use it for free. It's not perfect but it's better supported than EyeTV was there at the end.
posted by fedward at 11:49 AM on January 14, 2022

Response by poster: Plex is up and working. Only problem now is it won't stream 4K smoothly--it stops and starts and buffers. I don't know the iMac or my wifi router or the tv? I'm guessing I should buy a more robust router; I have the basic one my internet provider gave me.

Not the end of the world, though. Streaming in 1080p looks fine for now. Streaming 4K will require some more digging.
posted by zardoz at 5:37 PM on January 15, 2022

Best answer: Could be any of those things, and it could vary from file to file. Depends on the video codec for the file; if it’s something the TV can’t decode your iMac will have to transcode it (you’ll notice the huge CPU overhead). Or if it’s a slower wifi router, could be bandwidth. If you open the Plex dashboard on your iMac while the TV is trying to play it you should get some insight.
posted by supercres at 12:57 AM on January 16, 2022

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