Home media center

I just bought a NetGear ReadyNas Duo to connect hard drives to my home network, to stream movies and the like to our fabulous Xbox Classic media center. In the process of researching, I was wondering whether the kind of hard drive connection matters. I mean, if you plug USB hard drives into a device like that, does it run fast enough to stream one or more movies simultaneously? How many simultaneous movies or audio streams would your average home ethernet carry? My first stab at answering these questions are below.

On the left are various network and hard drive connection technologies. On the right are various uses to which I might want to put them. You can’t use a slower connection (eg. bluetooth) to drive a faster usage (eg. blu-ray quality movies). Centre column is the data rate in megabits per second (Mb/s):

EDGE mobile phone    0.23
                     0.3  cd audio
bluetooth1           0.7
                     1.3  minimal video
bluetooth2           2.1
wifi 802.11b         4.5
                     5.0  dvd mpeg-2 quality
ADSL1                8.0
ethernet 10baseT    10
USB1                12
                    15  hdtv video (from 8 to 15)
ADSL2+              24*
cable modem         30
                    40 blu-ray disc
wifi 802.11g        54
firewire800 act     65
ethernet 100baseT  100*
PCI                133
USB2 actual        240
firewire 400 theo  400
USB2 theoretical   480
wifi 802.11n       600
firewire 800 theo  800
Seagate Barracuda  960*
ethernet gigabit 1,000
SATA-150 theo    1,500
SATA-300 theo    3,000

blue = network
green = internet
red = hard drive connection
* = my setup

I’m assuming that I don’t have gigabit ethernet, because I’ve never paid it any attention in the past. Judging from the above, my 100BaseT should be more than adequate, but will be the weakest link. So that’ll be the first thing I look at if streaming seems sub-par. Coolio!

Update: Everything works swimmingly. I’ve had no problem with streaming speeds. Problems *have* occurred with some .avi files which appeared to have invalid interleave cross-stream differential parity (or something) and efforts to reverse their polarity were to no avail (transcoding software generally wouldn’t even read the files!) A quick visit or two to MiniNova fixed all that.

2 thoughts on “Home media center

  1. Moores law for storage suggests that maybe we won’t need to stream your movies to my screen – we’ll all simply have hard drives big enough for every movie ever made. :-)

  2. Hey hey!

    I toyed with the ReadyNAS but ended up getting a Terastation. However, that was back when there were only a couple of options. I made the wrong decision then, but I don’t know what the right one is now. It’s wrong, by the way, because the write speeds to my Terastation are totally hosed – bad RAID chipset. Read is plenty good for 720 tho.

    Anyways, I’m very very happy with my new setup, which is Plex (brilliant Mac OS branch of XBMC) on a Mac Mini with loadsaUSB drives in the Mac Mini and the Terastation across Gigabit ethernet.

    Hoorah for home media center setups! Now, how long will it be before you can stream my movies to your screen?!?!

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