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Complete noob starting from scratch and feel like a chicken w/my head cut off!


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I really need some help. I get so frustrated reading so many different, disjointed things on this subject and I am hoping there is a wonderful human that can help me. So, here goes.

Ok, super noob here when it comes to this and I need to do it on the super cheap!

I've been running an old WDTV Live that I bought about 10 years ago and a similarly aged 1.5 TB hard drive. I know, I'm super lucky...lol. But now I am starting to have issues and would like to update to something more functional and less buggy (It has taken to eating my movies! Poof! Gonzo!). I prefer straightforward and functional over lots of weird options, I just want to watch my movies and listen to my music. My main focus is to be able to watch the movies that I have in my collection, mostly mp4 and avi, on any device on my network. I would love to be able to make playlists easily. I would like a nice interface, simple but not ugly, smooth and semi-intuitive but with easy override ability. I do use Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming options and I would like to use one device for all of them, on my main tv.

My setup has 3 TV's - My main TV, my kid's TV, and my mother's TV.

The main TV will be the primary TV, with access to all content on the media hard drive, my computer, and online streaming capability along with all of the control for the system. The other 2 TVs will only need access to movies, TV, and music that would be shared across the network. They use Xboxes to access the movies and music. We also may want to connect with a computer, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and an iPhone.

I have a couple of fully functional older Windows 7 PC's that I could use (I have no interest in upgrading any of my computers to Windows 10 but my sister is going to come visit and I am sure her laptop has Windows 10).

I have a 4TB hard drive that I am in the process of centralizing all of my media onto, which will be fully backed up in case of failure, and would like to just put it into whatever computer I will be using as a second hard drive that will be the master media drive.

What I am hoping for is a nice, non-snarky person who would be ever so kind as to please tell me, step by step (or links to), what I need to do to get it up and running from my current state of frantic "I have no freakin clue!" to being able to set up a system that will allow me to find the movie I want (you know, when I actually know what I want to watch /s) with simplicity, logic, and ease.

I'm not a total dumdum, just have never done this and all of the info online seems to come from an assumption of a basic understanding of the Kodi/Plex type systems...which I then try to look at that and it goes into extensive details and on and on and I'm getting more and more confused and I'm like "look, I don't want to learn music theory, I just want to learn one solo!". I think I am leaning toward the Kodi but if there are reasons why not, please feel free to let me know!

Please and Thank You!


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There are likely many solutions. Here is one suggestion:

1. A central PC with the 4TB hard drive. It will be on your network. Presumably you will be loading new additions via this box. You have this already.
2. A network connection to the area of all your TV's, preferably wired. Sounds like you have this already.
3. A box at each of the TV's connected to the network that will display the menu on each TV. The connections to the TV will be via an hdmi cable. Sound like you have this already with at least 2 Xboxes. You may want to add another xbox for the main TV (consistency/convenience).

Kodi can be installed on all the Xboxes along  with your streaming apps. Kodi can then be configured to display the menu of the movies in your library. It can also handle music but there are solutions to distributing to different areas of your home.

The technical part involved in the setup should not be too bad and lots of help is available online for all of the low level details. Suggest you start with the facility for one area and when you have it configured to your liking it can then be cloned to the others.

Buzz Marshall

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As K4Me says... theres many solutions and what they've suggested is as good a way to go as anything...

The only thing i would add would be depending on whether you want to spend money or just use what you've got laying around to consider a couple of things...

Because you've already got a few pcs kicking around they may do but having a couple of cheap boxes in the long run probably would be a good investment if you consider how much cheaper they are power wise as compared to a pc... as well from a video drive point a cheap box would probably render better then having to put up for a decent video card for each pc... but if your not wanting to spend the extra cash theres nothing wrong going with what you got...

Years ago i used to use pcs at every big screen i had in the house (4) but then when XBMP sources came out i got into using it on modded xbox's because they were meant to drive a tv while a pc really is more setup for a monitor...thats all changed now but even still, most cheap boxes are a easy way to drive a flat panel and startup quick and easy... Maybe save the one pc as a file server for awhile until you can find a cheap NAS box which is a lot cheaper and easier to run as a file server once your ready to grow that part... NAS boxes have kinda taken off in the last couple of years and tend to be expensive but if you watch around for some old discontinued ones like Linksys DNS-323 they work great and can hold a couple of 2gig or bigger drives in a box with gigibit ethernet built in... Once you move into a NAS tho you'll luv the ez it will serve up all your media content to the rest of the house and you can add another box and grow as you need... currently i am using 8 box with a pair of 2gig drives in each box and they are all on 24/7...

As well i'd use wire and find a cheap gigabit switch as a connection point to bring everything back to...

So it kinda comes down to if you want to spend anything and if so how much and where to start... so try and think of things growing going forward... you may want to start with boxes for the tv's 1st and hold off on the idea of NAS box till the last as its probably the most expensive thing