Slow Remote Browsing of Home Theatre

Hello all,

I am busy ripping my entire DVD Collection and putting them on a Drobo 2nd Gen sitting behind an Airport Extreme 1st Gen via a Gigabit wired network. Then I access them via Front Row by putting a folder alias inside the “Movies” user folder.

Initially, it worked like a charm. But the more I rip, the more Front Row is slow to operate. It makes me grind my teeth in frustration, and the SO is really starting to doubt my move to all digital. Note that it is only slow during the initial content listing, not while accessing a single media (play, pause, fwd, bckwd is all very responsive).

I’d like to know where I got it wrong. What is the component in the chain that is causing the degradation? Should I replace the Drobo? Should I get rid of the Airport Extreme instead? Or should I dump Front Row and go for PLEX?

Any opinions or successful NAS-based Home Theatre story are welcome.

– Christophe

I believe your problem may be multi-fold. First, I have noticed problems with speed when connecting any harddisk to the airport extreme, especially when getting directory information. The second problem is with how Front Row indexes information – my setup is a little different from yours: I have my all-digital media library (with Drobo) on a Mac Pro, and use an AppleTV to display the shows. However, any time I start up iTunes, there is a noticeable delay (sometimes 30s) for iTunes to start up now that I have as much media as I do. My guess is, Front Row is re-checking your media each time you start up, and as you add items it simply will continue to slow down.

The AppleTV, in contrast, does not have a speed problem when loading the index because the index is pre-loaded during the sync process with iTunes (none of the media is actually on the AppleTV. Also note that the AppleTV is only 100bT and I still have no issues with network speed). I also have no problems with load time when starting Front Row on the host machine (Mac Pro) either.

Based on your description, my guess is that if you used iTunes to manage the movies you would not have the delays you’re talking about, but more details about your setup would be helpful. If Front Row has to check your Movies folder each startup rather than simply loading in the pre-existing index from iTunes, this would explain a lot of what you describe.


Thank you for sharing your experience.

The other problem I see is that I ripped all of my DVDs as VIDEO_TS folders. Does iTune support that? I don’t really feel like converting them to .mp4 or something like that – I just have been through the exercise of ripping them one by one.

I am thinking of a couple of solutions to solve my problem. First I am going to try to remove the folder alias from the “Movies” user folder which points to my remote folder. Instead, I am going to recreate under “Movies” the same folder structure that I have on my remote folder, and copy over the Preview.jpg file. Then, I am going to create a link or alias to the remove VIDEO_TS folder, i.e.

Movies/AMELIE/VIDEO_TS as Alias to /Volumes/RemoteFolder/Movie Files/AMELIE/VIDEO_TS

If that does not solve my speed problems, then I am going to investigate Plex. As I understand it, it does keep a local library index as well. And it can perform library rescan/update in the background.

No, iTunes does not support VIDEO_TS folders – it would indeed require transcoding them to mp4. The one advantage to mpeg-4 is that it is about 4-8x more efficient than mpeg-2 (a typical 480p DVD encode at equal quality to the original is about 1.5-2gb vs the 4-7gb of the source dvd). You would lose all menus and special features, though.

That said, if you do choose to stay with VIDEO_TS, I would be interested in hearing if your aliasing plan is at all helpful. My gut feeling, however, is that you should look at alternate software, such as Plex. Many of us out there now have our libraries digitally encoded, and it should not be the headache you are describing! :slight_smile:

Good luck!

  • Josh

See my article on the best way to do what you want to do: http://bgpictures.com/blog/2008/09/29/how-to-building-a-kaleidescape-like-system-for-a-fraction-of-the-cost/

When you ditch DVD and go Blu-Ray I have an article for that too.