August 7th, 2012, 12:29 PM
Boxee with USB or NAS - need help deciding please!
So, after finally moving to my our new place, we're ready to upgrade our media setup. We've been using the Beta software on a first gen Apple TV for a few years now.
We've been wanting a Boxee Box for awhile now, but have waited for the price to go down, and the time to be right.
I need help deciding a few things.
1 - First off, which type of storage should I go for? We've been using 2 hard drives (1 streaming, 1 local on Apple TV) to hold everything. The larger of the two recently crashed (just music and old files), and the smaller is at capacity, so it's time to move everything to one convenient drive. I'm not sure whether a NAS or standard USB drive is better for what we need. I want to be able to store all our media (video, music) on it, which is mostly through torrents or rips from the computer, without having to save it to the computer first and transferring it over (if that's possible). And then be able to access all these files from the Boxee and any computers/smart phones in the house. Being able to access files remotely isn't a concern to me at all. However, cost is.
So, if I were to connect a standard external USB drive to the Boxee, would I be able to download my files from torrents straight to that drive, and still be able to access it as a shared drive on my Macbook, or is a NAS the only way to do what I want?
2 - and then, in searching for answers to my debate, I've found so many people discussing Boxee replacements; Plex, XBMC (have used it, not a big fan), etc.
So...should I even get a Boxee now, this late in the game? Is a Roku running Plex a better option for me? Again, cost is a factor, so the high end Roku is definitely more affordable. Is Boxee still a contender in the media center war, or should I look elsewhere? I love Boxee's software, but I don't want to be stuck with something that is dead in the water.
Thanks for the help in advance. I'm always bad at making decisions about electronics!
August 7th, 2012, 12:44 PM
The problem here is that you're asking a lot of questions that don't have cut an dry answers, but I'll put my $0.02 in.
For a home media setup, I prefer NAS. HD video files stream just fine from an NAS as long as you set a reasonable compression when you encode the videos and have a good network. You lose a bit of transfer speed, but gain the ability to access the files from anything on your network without having to use your media box as a pass through, and the ability to manage the content from your desktop.
As for boxee or other, that's a tough call. The one and only thing that keeps me from getting something other than boxee is that I have a few very specific requirements for my set top box, and I've yet to find another box that meets them.
For me, I need:
Absolutely no Windows OS or Mac OS.
Must play netflix.
Must play local media.
Must scrub local media and download titles, cover art, info, etc. and display that information is a pleasing format.
There are at least half a dozen set top boxes that do all of that except for covers & info. I don't want to browse my media by file name and random preview frames. I could also built my own set-top box, but I'd be stuck running windows (which I refuse to do) or losing the ability to access paid content like netflix because netflix refuses to support linux outside of embedded devices.
As for cost and waiting, you will spend the rest of your life in this predicament unless you change your perspective on this stuff. That's fine, it's just the way it is. Technology advances so quickly that if you wait for the price to come down, there's always going to be a new version just around the corner that will be better and faster. It's perfectly fine to run last generation's gear to save some money (I do it all the time), but for sanity's sake, you should just accept it.
August 7th, 2012, 01:21 PM
Really appreciate the quick and SUPER informative reply!
Our criteria are very similar. Has to be pretty and automated, has to play local media, and has to boot easily into it's own software (I'm over having to start up the aTV, launch into Boxee, etc. and always have the hardware limitations, and instability.)
I'm definitely leaning towards the NAS. But, from your wording, it sounds possible to access the files from my computer (a Macbook) via a network-shared drive. Does Boxee automatically make all connected drives shared to the network, or is that at least possible? The only reason to go USB over NAS would be the ability to take the Boxee and drive on trips, and also get around double the space (2TB USB) for the same price (1TB NAS).
August 8th, 2012, 10:04 AM
I stick with locally attached storage because the boxee interface is noticeably slower when interacting with network storage. It's really slow to show lists of movies and even slower if you try to skip around in a movie. I've often wondered if it's worth running an ethernet cable to boxee. I would love to have my storage be shared.
FWIW I use a 2TB local harddrive and I share a folder from my MacBook Pro (via SMB b/c AFP sharing is unreliable). The shared folder is so downloads are instantly available. I then move things over to Boxee as time and bandwidth permit.
Regarding trips, my wife and I have taken our Boxee and usb hard drive on a few long trips with great results. It all fits in a small bag and is easy to setup.
Boxee can share the local drives. I run Plex on my laptop and let it use Boxee's shared drive as the source so I can watch shows on my laptop in the garage while I exercise.
I haven't tried downloading direct to Boxee over the network, but it would probably be a mistake. Boxee is not programmed (at least to my eyes) to deal with disk latency well. For example, just look at how long it takes to display the list of shows or movies after going to screensaver. It always has to spin up the hard drive first, but it doesn't do that until you ask for the list. If the Boxee developers would just put some preemptive reads into the code when woken, the interface would "seem" so much faster to users. I can play two tv shows, one locally and one via the network, off of Boxee simultaneously, but if I try to play a 1080p high-res movie, Boxee kind of chokes.
August 9th, 2012, 02:52 PM
if you know what youre doing with your home network then just get some nas boxes and fill them with drives and manage them from your browser and then put the media you want on them. set up boxee and point it at your nas's. wired connection works best and plays blurays great at least here. then youre done. Ive got three on my network and I am happy
August 9th, 2012, 08:01 PM
I agree with the NAS solution. I have been running a 2TB NAS via wired ethernet since day one without an issue. I manage all of my files from my desktop (iMac) and it doesn't need to be on to play a movie. I take my Boxee in my M/H on trips and just dump a couple dozen movies and shows to a 500GB USB drive, the advantage is the Boxee is 12VDC and the USB drive is powered by the Boxee, nice and portable. I have NEVER has buffering or other playback issues. The only thing that could be considered an issue would be the somewhat slow transfer speed to the NAS from my MAC. But as I rip files directly to the NAS this isn't a problem due to the slow transcoding speed. You would only see this if you rip to your local drive then move the file to the NAS. I love my Boxee and it has worked very well for me, I use it every day and feel I got my money's worth. I will buy a Boxee 2 as long as the feature set is something I feel is worth the upgrade. Then I will install my old one in the RV permanently.
August 14th, 2012, 05:38 AM
Give you a little back ground on how I started off with the file sharing and media streamers.
I first started streaming to my PS3 via PC using various software transcoder like TVersity, WMP, PS3 Media Server and gave up due to codec limitations, then bought a basic streamer box and that was fine until Boxee was released. By the time i got Boxee my media library started to grow and saw an increase for the demand of streaming in the house and so gave up streaming from the PC altogether. Attached an external HDD to Boxee and enabled SMB so the drive was visible on the network which worked but transfer speeds from PC to Boxee where horrible and so gave up on that when i got a second Boxee Box (even though it worked had to keep one Boxee on 24/7) so moved to a NAS solution, thinking if i have to keep something on 24/7 why not a low profile NAS.
I have used a NAS for 2 years and I say frankly is the best solution if your network is setup correctly (should have done it way back). Plus with a NAS you can have centralized storage from all your media files for everyone in the house and possibly redundancy (I would hate to loose my family pictures that no longer reside on a single PC). Torrent/FTP/NFS client(s) was icing on the cake.
Since then i have moved to Windows Home Server 2011 so i can back up my other computers to a central location and to get gigabit transfer speeds (my DNS-323 was not fast enough) and share photos/video with family over seas.
So yes go with a good quality (gigabit Intel Atom or so) NAS or dare i say it WHS if you want to future proof your home network and take some load off you Mac for things like FTP/Torrents/streaming.
Last edited by jebise; August 14th, 2012 at 05:58 AM.