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  1. #1
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    Wi-fi Media Storage Options

    for the geeks.

    I would like wireless access to all my media currently located on a 1TB Western Digital USB2.0external hard-drive.

    The Apple Time Capsule is an example of what I'm looking for, but seems unreliable and pricey.

    Are there any similar options out there? Is there a way to do this without building a desktop type computer/server?

    Requirements:

    -Wireless access to media via a notebook PC.
    -Storage for at least 500GB of music and movies.
    -ability to plug in additional external hard-drive

    Any ideas would be awesome.

  2. #2
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    go to newegg.com and navigate to NAS.
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  3. #3
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    You could also buy a wireless router that has a USB input, flash that router with dd-wrt firmware, and then have access to that drive from your entire network.

    edit: congrats to a jong actually posting in the correct forum!
    I think that the human mind is unique among all other forms of life in that it can spontaneously create unique thoughts and provide unique behaviors. Instead of rewarding that uniqueness we, for some reason probably because of cultural and social necessity, we chastise unique behavior and reward conformity.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chowda View Post
    go to newegg.com and navigate to NAS.
    ^ What he said.

    Does it NEED to be wireless? I'd stay away from them if I was you. Data over ethernet isn't that bad, but wireless is still a little sketch imo...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaLiStO View Post
    Does it NEED to be wireless? I'd stay away from them if I was you. Data over ethernet isn't that bad, but wireless is still a little sketch imo...
    ^ What he said.

    I'd always avoid wireless unless it is absolutely necessary - especially if you're going to chuck large media files about. At least have a wired connection to your router.

    Take a boring old 100Mbps ethernet cable. That's 100Mbps in each direction and down each and every cable simultaneously and at the same time. So with, for example, 5 cables to 5 computers that's an aggregate bandwidth of 100 * 2 * 5 = 1Gbps.

    Take a boring old 54Mbps wireless system. That 54Mbps is shared between all the computers. If computer A wants to send something to computer B, A sends it to the router at 54Mbps and then the router sends it to computer B at 54Mbps. Meanwhile all the others have to shut up. And that's before the speed is reduced by interference from all your neighbours' wireless networks, videosenders and leaky microwave ovens. The numbers don't even compare.

    edit
    If you're going to play video files then I'd seriously consider putting this storage next to your TV. Go on to eBay and search for 'network media player'. There's plenty of options and ideas to chose from there.
    Last edited by altis; 05-01-2009 at 03:35 AM.

  6. #6
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    I have mine on an external HD and access it through an airport extreme. Works just fine and my HD has a port that makes it expandable; I don't know that the Time Capsule is. Seems secure enough, and if there is someone who wants our info they will get it. You may as well make things convenient for you.

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  7. #7
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    yea couldn't you do somethign like that with an airport express?it has a usb slot so you can plug in an external drive with disk sharing. i use it for my printers but you can set it up with a hub

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by altis View Post
    ^ What he said.

    I'd always avoid wireless unless it is absolutely necessary - especially if you're going to chuck large media files about. At least have a wired connection to your router.

    Take a boring old 100Mbps ethernet cable. That's 100Mbps in each direction and down each and every cable simultaneously and at the same time. So with, for example, 5 cables to 5 computers that's an aggregate bandwidth of 100 * 2 * 5 = 1Gbps.
    Not sure where you got your info on the 5 computers at 100 Mbps = Gig but it is wrong. Yes it can be full duplex which does mean that it is 100 Mbps each direction, but you can't unless you have a Gig switch and Gig network card push 5 systems at the same time and get a Gig of data to another 100 Mbps device....

    Start out with a good wired ethernet NAS device, do not try the USB unless it is last resort.

  9. #9
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    No, you don't need a gigabit switch to push a 1Gbps across the network - a 100Mbps device is all that is required. That's why we're all using switches now instead of hubs!

    Check out the spec for the Netgear FS1xx range of 10/100Mbps switches:
    http://www.netgear.com/Products/Swit...Specifications

    Their gigabit switches are also non-blocking and support full duplex on all ports simultaneously - 32Gbps on the GS116:
    http://www.netgear.com/Products/Swit...Specifications

    Any wireless network starts to look very feeble in comparison to this.
    Last edited by altis; 05-02-2009 at 01:55 PM.

  10. #10
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    Your theory only works if they all are not hitting the same devices as any one sgment is still limited to 100 Mbps. So if you have 5 computers all hitting the same NAS hard drive, then you will not be getting Gig performance. If you have 5 computers hitting 5 different hard drive Nas devices, then assuming that your overhead is low and the devices can all keep up to 100 Mbps then you could in theory approach something higher but it still will not be a Gig...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by crackboy View Post
    yea couldn't you do somethign like that with an airport express?it has a usb slot so you can plug in an external drive with disk sharing. i use it for my printers but you can set it up with a hub

    I don't think the Airport express supports an externa drive. It supports a printer though and you can do many other cool things with it.

    If you're gonna send large amounts of data where speed is important, you may look at the new Airport Express. It has dual band so essentially you can set up one fast wifi and one slower, provided you have a computer with a fast ("g") card (300MBit/s). Then you set up the network so that one channel handles the fast data connection only and the other stuff share a slower ("n") connection.
    If you don't have a computer with a "g" wifi card, then the ideal thing would be to set up the Airport express with tho separate "n" networks and reserve one of them for the fast data and keep other trafic on the other network. But I am not sure the Airport express can be set up like this.

    Running something like a DVD (if you have saved DVD-files on the disc, ie not coded it into something smaller) over a 54MBit/s wifi works but as soon as other computers start to attract attention you might get some interupts. I doubt you could send to DVD-style movies to two separate computers at the same time over a 54Mbit/s network.

    EDIT: Actually it did work. I have a cheap Lacie USB drive connected to my Airport express and many DVD-folders on it (mostly for backup). I tried playing one DVD on my old Powerbook G4 and another on my imac (g5), both on the same wireless 54MBit/s network and both with "n" type cards. I watched for a few minutes. Smooth playback on both with no hickups.

    Playing iTunes (to an Airport express/airtunes) and one DVD over the same 54MBit/s network also worked well.
    Last edited by HitMe; 05-03-2009 at 08:28 AM.

  12. #12
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    Apple time capsule = Airport extreme with a hard drive builtin, not upgradeable (without major surgery) so you will have to have 2 drives attached to it at some point in the future. Expensive upfront, now better to get airport extreme plus your own drive.

    Apple Airport Extreme = good for your needs and works very well for both PC and Apple computers, i have found it very handy and pretty reliable. Will also still work as expected when you plug in via ethernet cable, some other products don't.

    Apple airport express = usb port only good for printing needs, notable to handle hard drive.


    I have tried other lacie products and found them very flaky and won't work properly when you try and use robocopy to keep a replicated data store synced.
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  13. #13
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    not related but is there a way to play non-itunes stuff over the airport express?

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the help guys. Some of this stuff was way over my head, but this airport express thing is cool. The total opposite way that I was looking at it.

    I will only be using this to play music and movies (mostly AVIs) through a computer as well as my TV/stereo system. Not accessing large amounts of data simultaneously. I will be using VLC for video and Foobar2000 for audio. Needs to be wireless. Fuck plugging in a HD every time I wanna listen to the dead.

    Airport: So from what you are saying, I can put my external HD next to my stereo and plug the HD into the USB and the stereo into the 1/8" jack. Then sit on my couch and control the stereo via a laptop with complete access to my HD? Would obviously need to S-video connect to play video on TV. that's okay.

    NAS: Have looked into this. I do not think you can hook up a NAS box directly to a router without a PC between. I may be confused though.

    Sensisnow / DD-wrt / USB router: This sounds great. You got lamens terms for what dd-wrt can do for me? (website seems a bit over my head). I didn't know they had USB inputs for routers. Will look into this.

  15. #15
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    I believe media streaming with an airport express can only be done using itunes. (Although it sounds like HitME was able to) They also have a reputation for about 1 year lifespan, no personal experience.

    An NAS is connected directly to your router (wired connect), no PC needed. It is then accessible from any PC on your network.

    dd-wrt is a replacement firmware for your router that can add functionality. If you have a supported router with a USB port this may be an option, but you can also brick your router if flashed incorrectly.

    As you can see their are several ways to set this up, but I still think an NAS is the cleanest, and most user friendly.

    As for streaming media over wifi... I'm able to stream video from my laptop to my ps3, both connected wirelessly (g), without problem. But it really depends on your network conditions, and the bit rate you are streaming.
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  16. #16
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    There is a neat little program called airfoil, if you get the license key for it it streams audio from any application thru the airport express to your hi-fi, the trial version only lets you do it for 20 minutes but the full version is the dogs.
    I have an express and really like it, music quality is pretty good, obviously not as good as a cd player wired into the amp but close, and the wireless printing is a life saver. It can fluctuate a bit on signal though, which can be frustrating as the time saved due to no wires is lost again but nothing is perfect. Another sweet thing is that the express can join your current wireless network so you can have internet from another wireless box, and the wireless music and printing all at the same time. I dig it.

  17. #17
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    Altis. I just did that ebay search. blew my mind. The options out there are ridiculous and endless. Basically the modified Xbox's that people had back in the day have become real for the consumer market?

    What's the best one? Are the interfaces on these things any good? I guess my real needs are a box next to the stereo system/TV that can do the following:

    -Wireless Hub/router
    -Place to plug in external hard drives and leave them there that will give me access throughout the house.
    -ability to play all audio files on my stereo (directly connected) and laptop (wireless)
    -ability to play all video files on my TV (directly connected) and laptop (wireless)
    -good non-itunes music interface
    -Ease of use. Once I plug it in, I'd like it to work without having to do too much hacker type stuff. (can't code for shit)

    Can this all be done for less than the cost of a NAS? Is it reliable? damn. crazy shit.

    Should I just get the Airport + Airfoil and wait for the whole Home Theatre PC thing to perfect itself?

  18. #18
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    ^^^all of the media players I've played with have a serious fiddle factor. They were mostly earlier models, but I think many of the same problems still exist. The two biggest problems are format/drm support and clumsy interface. Although, If all your media is DRM free and in supported formats you may not have many problems.

    I was talking with a guy the other day that really liked his D-Link medialounge HD.

    I'm curious to hear Altis's reply. Judging from his avatar, he may know what he's talking about.
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  19. #19
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    Just an honours degree in Electrical Engineering and Electronics and 30 years experience with, mostly, comms based electronics - that's all. I worked on some of the first Ethernet products when the cable was fat and yellow and worked at just 10Mbps.

    The 'network media player' is obviously the way forwards but, other than Apple, there seems to be little from the major players yet. I suspect this is all to do with pressure from the content owners who are desperate to try and hold back the unstoppable tide of copyright theft. Hence all the little companies doing it and selling stuff on ebay instead. And hence the poor user interface - ho hum.

    Other things that shaft might want to look at for more ideas are:
    Slingbox:
    http://www.slingmedia.com/
    BBC project Canvas:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04...roject_canvas/
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7932278.stm
    Dreambox:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreambox
    ShowShifter: (software solution - but a good one)
    http://showshifter.showshiftergroup.com/

    I'm sorry if this is all confusing. But hopefully, the more ideas we throw in the pot, the more you will understand exactly what you want and eventually end up with something useful to you. IMHO, the more you can get in one box the better. This should mean a more coherent user interface and fewer wiring headaches.

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