Stream anything to any device over a home network "catch-all" thread.

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I just noticed I have not been getting emails from Plex, despite actually being subscribed. Is the lifetime Plex Pass deal something someone can send my way? Wanted to pick it up.

EDIT: There's also the gift sub. Maybe I could work something out that way.

Any codes I've had in email in the past have been a 'for your account only' type of deal, and usually also a 'for today only!' although they do appear once or twice a year for me.

Perhaps they open it up to everyone, or do similar deals around Black Friday?

Now that I've got a fancy 4k TV that does HDR, I'm down the rabbit hole of competing formats. On my old TV, we kept a Roku Express and a Fire Stick hooked up. Both did the same basic thing. We primarily used the Roku because we preferred the cleaner UI, and because it has an app for this kids' sign language series my wife likes. It was a compromise because our sound bar doesn't support Dolby Digital+, and neither the Roku nor the TV would transcode it down to regular Dolby Digital, so any DD+ show came through in stereo.

The Fire Stick does do that transcoding, but the UI is a nightmare, and my wife really wanted that sign language app, which doesn't have a version out for Fire Stick (and I couldn't find an apk to sideload). But it does let you directly pair bluetooth headphones to it, which I used a lot for watching stuff early morning and late night. The Roku lets you do private listening through the phone app, but the audio lagged behind the video doing that, and it annoyed me. Also, and this is super minor, the Giant Bomb app on Fire Stick is way better than the one on Roku.

So now we have the better TV, so I wanted to get either the Fire Stick 4k or the Roku Ultra. Since I'm dumb and black friday happened, I wound up getting both. Now I'm trying to settle on one, and neither has everything I want.

The Roku Ultra has an ethernet port, which is nice. Possibly because of that, the private listening on the phone is actually in sync. The new TV handles downconverting DD+ to DD, so I even get surround. BUT, the Roku doesn't support HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, so it doesn't look as pretty as it potentially could.

The Fire Stick still has a nightmare interface, and still doesn't have that sign language app. But it does support HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.

So now I'm probably going to stay with the Roku as the primary streamer, but always have that little voice in my head saying "this could look nicer." They might add support later, and apparently HDR10+/Dolby Vision don't look that much better, but still. Why can't I have one device that does all the things?

You're really not missing anything by not getting HDR10+ (which only Samsung TVs support right now) or Dolby Vision. Regular HDR10 is plenty good enough. What makes a bigger difference is the quality of the HDR mastering, which seems to vary wildly between shows and platforms. E.g. The Last Jedi in HDR10 on Amazon Prime looks much better than the DV version on VUDU, which just looked way too dark to me.

The Roku has the headphone option on the remote too, if you have a pair of wired headphones. I've used it a bunch and it works pretty well.

I picked up a refurb Roku Ultra from B&H a few days ago and I am loving how much snappier it is than the Roku sticks (which I now have on all our secondary tvs). It's like night and day on button presses and response time. That and I love that the remote also has a power and volume buttons that now control my tv, as well as the aforementioned headphones jack built into the remote.

I've kicked this can for a few years, hoping for a better answer than I was finding at the time:
My spouse and I have several hundred DVD's we've collected over the decades... What's the current state of the art for digitizing those while retaining things like menus, special features, alternate audio tracks, etc. Basically, can I mount DVDs like ISO's from a graceful UI that can be used from a TV/device yet?

Rezzy wrote:

I've kicked this can for a few years, hoping for a better answer than I was finding at the time:
My spouse and I have several hundred DVD's we've collected over the decades... What's the current state of the art for digitizing those while retaining things like menus, special features, alternate audio tracks, etc. Basically, can I mount DVDs like ISO's from a graceful UI that can be used from a TV/device yet?

Why menus?

If you can live without menus, for alternate audio tracks and special features you can rip discs to MKV using something like Handbrake, and then use a media server like Plex.

MKV is a "container", so you can encode to h.264, include as many audio streams as you like, subtitles, etc. But not the disc menu. Most people digitizing stuff for home use want to save storage space, and even with terabytes of storage the difference between a 40gig Blu-Ray iso and a 5-10gig encoded file that most human eyes can't tell the difference between is pretty huge.

MKV used to be pretty sparsely supported, but these days it's incredibly useful if you're the type of person who, let's say, enjoys multiple audio tracks/dubs, and even multiple subtitle versions (I prefer to distinguish between "dubtitles" and "subtitles" for example).

The process would be similar for a Blu-ray or DVD (although with DVDs you have a lot more options for ripping, with Blu-ray MakeMKV seems the best game in town).

Step 1: Rip the DVD/Blu-ray with your software of choice (MakeMKV can rip DVDs too, for what it's worth).
Step 2: Load the unmodified file into something like Handbrake.
Step 3: Decide on quality settings and encode. For most folks the presets will be fine, but for tweaking the settings to balance speed/filesize/quality the waters are treacherous, deep, and cruel.
Step 4: With DVDs, if you've got a lot of space to you might not even want to compress/encode them. And if you were going to use ISOs anyway, don't care about space, and can live without the menus, then you could do this with Blu-rays too.
Step 5: Name them and sort them into folders in some sort of consistent fashion.

Using MakeMKV as an example, you choose which "streams" to rip. The main movie, special features, and I suppose even the disc previews/video backgrounds can all be ripped, and software like Plex can accommodate those items too.

If you're *really* obsessive you can use something like TinyMediaManager to download metadata and specify artwork for all your movies and shows.

Edit: I just tried Kodi for the first time in awhile, and it turns out that Kodi *can* handle DVD menus. Blu-ray menus are apparently hit or miss and require Java.

So it does seem like you could rip your collection to ISO, point Kodi to wherever you're storing them, and go to town.

https://kodi.wiki/view/First_time_user

If you're not sure how Kodi/Plex differ, it can be hard to explain.

IMO the biggest differences are that Kodi can be a lot more difficult to setup, as you can tweak damn near any option and setting. Even just deciding on a skin can become a journey. It's also really more focused as a media library/player, i.e. you'll install it onto a single device that's connected directly to your TV via HDMI.

Plex is a media library/media *server*. It doesn't have nearly the "swiss army" mindset of Kodi. It won't work with ISOs, and you're less able to tweak things (such as forcing it to abide by your exact metadata/artwork). But if you want to be able to stream your media library to essentially any device you can think of, it's pretty great. And depending on your setup, it can even support hardware transcoding for those streams.

So in regard to being in a home network streaming thread, I'd say the answer to your question is "no".

On a more nuanced level, you *could* use Kodi to retain everything as long as you treat it more like a device meant to be connected to a single TV.

But to truly "stream" that content elsewhere, I can't think of an option that will let you retain menus.

Chaz wrote:

So now I'm probably going to stay with the Roku as the primary streamer, but always have that little voice in my head saying "this could look nicer." They might add support later, and apparently HDR10+/Dolby Vision don't look that much better, but still. Why can't I have one device that does all the things?

If Android TV had a wider array of apps, I'd say the Shield TV is your sweet spot. What's the app your wife uses? I can check to see if it works/is in the Play Store.

ccoates wrote:

Solid gold info.

Thanks! A dedicated "Our DVD's Live Here" box is Plan B, so I'll take another look at Kodi. It's what we're already running on our phones to talk with the simple media server so score!

Got in on the geforce steam stream beta. Hmmm this might not count as streaming but maybe. What it does it allow you play steam games you own from a server. It is like stadia but only for your steam games. So you can do stuff like play the witcher from your phone, mac or whatever. Or play a demanding game on your crappy pc with all the bells and whistles. Or maybe you might just want to play games without installing them.

I think I signed up four months ago and they just now sent me the invite. I know the beta has been going on for over a year. No info on pricing or when it will be out of beta.

Baron Of Hell wrote:

Got in on the geforce steam stream beta. Hmmm this might not count as streaming but maybe. What it does it allow you play steam games you own from a server. It is like stadia but only for your steam games. So you can do stuff like play the witcher from your phone, mac or whatever. Or play a demanding game on your crappy pc with all the bells and whistles. Or maybe you might just want to play games without installing them.

I think I signed up four months ago and they just now sent me the invite. I know the beta has been going on for over a year. No info on pricing or when it will be out of beta.

Assuming this is GeForce Now, they actually allow you to stream games from Steam, Epic, and uPlay. Certain games are considered 'optimized', though, and you'll hop right into them. Other games will need to be downloaded to the server you're playing off first (though in my experience it's real fast). It's a cool service. I used it more often before I built my gaming PC when I only had a Mac in the house.

billt721 wrote:
Baron Of Hell wrote:

Got in on the geforce steam stream beta. Hmmm this might not count as streaming but maybe. What it does it allow you play steam games you own from a server. It is like stadia but only for your steam games. So you can do stuff like play the witcher from your phone, mac or whatever. Or play a demanding game on your crappy pc with all the bells and whistles. Or maybe you might just want to play games without installing them.

I think I signed up four months ago and they just now sent me the invite. I know the beta has been going on for over a year. No info on pricing or when it will be out of beta.

Assuming this is GeForce Now, they actually allow you to stream games from Steam, Epic, and uPlay. Certain games are considered 'optimized', though, and you'll hop right into them. Other games will need to be downloaded to the server you're playing off first (though in my experience it's real fast). It's a cool service. I used it more often before I built my gaming PC when I only had a Mac in the house.

Yeah it is geforce now. Nice to see they are doing multiply services.

To add to ccoates, I use Plex, and rip everything with MakeMKV (DVD and Blu-Rays) and convert with Handbrake. I've recently used this as a guide to dial in file sizes. MKV format is better than MP4, as it allows for multiple subtitle tracks.

And thanks for the TinyMediaManager recommendation as the program I've been using is pretty rough and buggy, old, and the new version is not free.

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