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Television Media

HDTV Archiving on a Mac for Playback on TV? 23

josefresco asks: "I have one goal for HD streaming: archiving. As we all know, the Comcast DVR box doesn't have a whole lot of HD. What can you expect with only a 120 GB hard drive? The thing really should have a 500 gigger or at least a 250. So right now, when the box gets full, in order to avoid the box automatically erasing unwatched shows, I dump the transport streams to my Mac via Firewire. I don't necessarily need to watch the shows on the Mac. At that point, I just want a solution to allow playback of the transport streams from the Mac back to the TV. Enter the Xbox 360. Might this be the answer to my problems? If not, then are there other devices that might be?"
"We've got the Mac connected to the TV right now, so technically, we can watch the streams in full high def in the current setup. You just can't control the Mac with a remote control unless you buy an infared device. Besides, when we move into our new house, it is doubtful that we'll have the Mac in such close proximity to the TV, so I really need an intermediate device (or a media extender as they're starting to be called) to playback the files off the computer.

It is unlikely that the Xbox 360 will work with the Mac out of the box, so it will probably require some hacking. It's annoying that it won't allow you to see SMB shares on the network without any special software. You either need an XP Media Center 2005 machine, or an XP machine with SP2 and something called 'Media Connect' installed in order for the Xbox to communicate with the PC. If the thing could just read SMB shares off the network, I would be golden.

There are a few devices out there that apparently fill this gap pretty well. They're dubbed 'networked DVD players', so they're essentially a DVD player with an Ethernet connection. They all have some bugs though, so I've been reluctant to jump on any of them.

Thoughts? Is the 360 the answer to my problems, or do I need to start searching in other directions?"
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HDTV Archiving on a Mac for Playback on TV?

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  • How exactly can you rup content off a Comcast DVR? I would love to know how to do this. Anyone esle been able to pull this off? Can the author elaborate? Thanks a bunch.
  • Unless you're looking for an analog connection to your TV (it sounds like you're digitally oriented), the 360 doesn't seem like the right device for you. It doesn't have any DVI or HDMI outputs. It's component or VGA only for high-def.
  • Ditch the TV and get one of those bajillion lumen projectors and a mac mini or a mini itx setup to act as as driver for it and a middle man for everything else?
  • An unholy alliance of Microsoft and Apple eh? Nice to see this kind of thing on Slashdot. Soon we will see MS Linux and SCO Windows.
  • If playback on the Mac is good, and it's in the same room as the TV, all you'll need is a $30 (IIRC) Keyspan DMR remote, a longish video cable (how does the Mac connect to the TV?), and MediaCentral. [mh1.de] MediaCentral is a new OS X media player app but it's awesome, easy to use, light on resources, and is great at playing back stored media. Runs great on a base Mini with 256 MB RAM.
    • and MediaCentral. MediaCentral is a new OS X media player app but it's awesome, easy to use, light on resources, and is great at playing back stored media. Runs great on a base Mini with 256 MB RAM.

      Thanks for the link. I'd not seen this one before and it looks ideal for my own Mac mini TV box.

  • ... when you can have such a better solution with the current Xbox. Buy it, chip it (~$60) and install Xbox Media Center and you have ALL the freedom you want. Plays from smb shares and plays streams. I don't know in particular if it can play your HDTV streams, but since it's essentially mplayer I'd say your chances are good.

    Why would you possibly consider an Xbox 360? It'll take a while for that one to get hacked and until then you'll have to live with M$'s restrictions.
  • Granted, the appeal of hacking together a solution for this would be fun. Unless you are paying a rediculous price for your existing DVR box, getting another would be the easiest way to increase your storage. My DVR service from Time Warner Cable cost $6.95 per month on top of the HDTV box I have with the normal digital cable service. A second DVR costs $16 - $17, and it requires no additional work. Cable them both up with your other gear, program one of the remotes, and bam!

    -Slashdot Junky
  • You might want to consider a networked media player such as the I-O Data AVeL LinkPlayer ProHD [iodata.com]. It has CAT5 and I have tested my friend's on my projector and Mac. I did test sending a MPEG2 TS file to the player over ethernet. No problems.
  • by Tronster ( 25566 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:38PM (#14092182) Homepage
    I have limited experience with your specific situation but do have a Mini MAC connected to my HDTV and can offer the following:

    - Should you figure a way to directly play the streams off of the Mac (I know little about PVR streams), be sure overscanning is not an issue. Both a Windows based PC and my current MiniMac overscan on my TV (with it's DVI connection), and this seems to be the standard rather than the exception when talking with a friend who has a similar setup. In my situation, currently the only solution is to buy a 3rd party product, as neither MacOS nor my TV let me set the visible bounds.

    - Should you decide to remotely control the computer, I recommend a blue tooth based solution. The media room in my house use to use an infrared keyboard and mouse which were quite problematic. When I purchased the MiniMAC, I decided to risk going blue tooth and it's been fantastic.

    Good luck.
  • Have you looked at the Roku Labs PhotoBridge HD? The v2 firmware, still in beta (perpetually so, it seems) claims to support HD MPEG-2 TS stream playback. See the link to the beta firmware on the support page of their website

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel