TL;DR The Apple TV 4 can run Plex or Kodi (XBMC) directly and play all my Movies, TV Shows and Music from my QNAP NAS. It’s quite a sweet setup.
I’ve finally had a bit of time to work on a project I’ve had on my back burner for quite some time, building a home entertainment system to play all of my movies and TV series that I’ve got on my NAS.
I already have a QNAP NAS and it supports running Plex or Kodi (formerly XBMC) as well as it’s own Media Center, however as I started to research the project a bit I realised that really the NAS on it’s own wasn’t going to be enough, most home media setups have a media server that can do transcoding from one format to another for the various devices that can connect to it. As the model of NAS I have (TS-239 Pro) only has an Intel Atom 1.6 GHz processor and 1GB of RAM so it wasn’t going to cut it.
My research lead me to a bunch of mini-PCs that could run Linux and in the end I drew up the following shortlist.
- The Kangaroo + - I love the form factor and portability. It runs Linux but I was dubious it’s processor was capable of heavy duty transcoding with a CPU PassMark of only 1706 (normally you need 2000+).
- The form factor of the Intel Compute Sticks were also pretty cool! Only the top of the range model has a sufficient PassMark and it is quite pricey. Also I wasn’t sure how well Fedora would run on it (Ubuntu does apparently but I still prefer Fedora).
- The System76 Meerkat and the Zareason Zini are similarly priced higher end options with more horsepower (Intel i3/5 CPUs) and storage/expansion options. These were the most flexible and expensive options.
During all of this I stumbled across some articles about running Plex and Kodi as apps on the new Apple TV 4. After I did a bit more research I realised that this might actually be the most cost effective solution of the bunch AND offer me a whole lot of flexibility in what I could run on it.
So off I went down to my local Apple store to get one and I’ve set it up like this:
┌──────────────────┐ │ │ │ TV │ │ │ └──────────────────┘ ▲ │ ┌───────────────────┐ ┌──▶│HDMI Auto Switcher │◀──┐ │ └───────────────────┘ │ ┌──────────────┐ ┌───────────────┐ │ TV Receiver │ │ Apple TV 4 │ └──────────────┘ └───────────────┘ │ ▼ ┌──────────────────────┐ │ QNAP NAS │ └──────────────────────┘
I’ve been running this setup for a couple weeks and I have to say that I’m really pleased with the setup I’ve evolved to.
I’ve not settled on Plex or Kodi for playback of my media (Music, TV Shows, Movies) - both have their pros and cons and I’m currently running both side by side, I will follow up with a sequel to this blog post with more in depth analysis.
Not only am I using the NAS for storing my Movies and TV Shows but I’m also using it to collect new ones.
I found that the interface for both SickRage and CouchPotato was a bit too technical for some people at home so I’ve got both of them setup to sync with Trakt, so whenever I add something to my Watch List on Trakt it is automatically downloaded to the NAS and available for playback on my Apple TV.
My setup looks like this:
╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳ ╳ ╳ ╳ Trakt ╳ ╳ ╳ ╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳╳ │ │ ┌───────────┴───────────┐ ┏━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━┓ ┃QNAP NAS │ │ ┃ ┃ ▼ ▼ ┃ ┃ ┌───────────────────┐ ┌────────────────────┐ ┃ ┃ │SickRage - TV Shows│ │CouchPotato - Movies│ ┃ ┃ └───────────────────┘ └────────────────────┘ ┃ ┃ │ │ ┃ ┃ └───────────┬───────────┘ ┃ ┃ │ ┃ ┃ ▼ ┃ ┃ ┌─────────────────────────────┐ ┃ ┃ │Transmission - Torrent Client│ ┃ ┃ └─────────────────────────────┘ ┃ ┃ ┃ ┗━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┛
I have to say this is a pretty sweet setup and is working really well for me so far. Compared to the other options out there this was the most cost effective AND I have access to all the other cool Apple TV Apps that are appearing.