We have dozens of options when it comes to accessing movies, series and other entertainment content. However, not all titles are available on digital platforms, it is especially the case for old movies that are really difficult to find on the internet. For this or another reason, it is common for little by little let’s build our own content collection, one that needs a good system so that we can enjoy it in the best conditions.
No server and laptop: the requirements of my media center
There are many ways to set up a media center, they are also quite varied, so before telling my own configuration let’s see the requirements that led me to choose this and not another configuration. There are several points to consider:
- A media center focused on using it from the Apple TV, but compatible with the iPad.
- No need for any computer or server always on.
- Easy to back up by backup.
- Easily portable and scalable as the collection grows.
The solution chosen after considerable consideration was an SSD connected to the router. For me it is a simple, efficient solution, of a moderate cost and, above all, that meets all the requirements that we have just seen. Before getting into the details of the precise configuration, let’s review the advantages of this system. For me the most important is that at any given moment by simply unplugging the SSD from the router and connecting it to an iPad, I have my media center ready to broadcast via HDMI to practically any TV in any hotel in the world.
A portable media center, simple and without the need for configuration.
An SSD that is significantly smaller than an iPhone and minuscule in weight which, in addition, I can back up very easily. I simply connect a second storage to the Mac, in this case a mechanical disk, and dump the entire contents of the SSD directly. I use a mechanical disk instead of an SSD for the backups for the difference in price. Little by little SSDs are becoming more affordable, but it is still much easier to find a mechanical drive with 2 or 4TB of storage for around 100 euros.
Regarding scalability, the situation is as follows: currently my entire library fits on a 1TB SSD. Looking only among the better quality brands when it comes to storage, I have seen that I it was worth more to buy a second 1TB SSD and also plug it into the router in the somewhat distant case of needing more space than opting directly for 2TB storage and leaving more than half empty.
By using the router as a hub from which to distribute the content, I gain two advantages. The first is that anyone in the house can connect, after the username and password of rigor, to the content of my SSD. Easy to enjoy the content and also to add it back. The second is that the router is already a “computer” always on, so I eliminate the need to allocate a Raspberry Pi or an old device to that task.
Velop, Sandisk and Infuse: the exact configuration
Given the benefits that, in my case, led me to choose this system, let’s talk about the specific configuration that I use. The truth is that it is quite simple, but there are some important points to keep in mind. The first item to talk about is the router.
Linksys MX10600 Velop 6 mesh tri-band whole home WiFi system (AX10600 WiFi router / extender, 525 m² coverage, 4x faster speeds, 100+ devices, 2 nodes, white)
It is it is essential that the router has a USB connection. For now it is relatively uncommon for routers to use a USB-C connection, like most newer SSDs; fortunately an adapter solves that detail. In my case I use the Velop MX5300 router, which we analyzed a while ago in Applesfera. This router model has the virtues of a mesh system, so the signal on the Apple TV, at the other point of the house with respect to the operator’s router, is really fast. Essential to be able to see the content without waiting.
This specific model also has the essential USB connector and from its configuration allows me to define a username and password to access the connected storages. In other words, not everyone who is connected to my Wi-Fi can access my media center.
SanDisk Extreme 1TB Portable SSD – NVMe, USB-C, NVMe, USB-C, Hardware Encrypted, up to 1050MB / s, Water and Dust Resistant
As for the storage itself, I opted for a Extreme Portable SSD de Sandisk de 1TB. A brand recognized for the quality of its storage and that fit within my price range. This SSD is surprisingly small and very light, ideal for moving around on the road. The disk uses a USB-C connection, but, using a small adapter included in it, we can convert the USB-C to USB-C cable to a USB-C to USB-A cable. With this we can connect it to the Velop and the iPad very easily.
And we come to the last part of the ecosystem, the customers. The application that I have chosen to access my catalog is Infuse 6, which we also analyze in Applesfera. In my case, I have chosen the Pro version of the app, but the free version, without synchronization of the metadata and the viewing history, will also help us. In the app we simply have to indicate where to find the files, the rest is automatic.
The location of metadata and covers is carried out on the Infuse servers, while the elaboration of lists by genre, by reviews, by ratings and other variables happens without us having to do anything. The app remembers where we left off from a certain reproduction and allows us to keep track of the content already seen, the new, the newly added, etc.
And without the app? On Apple TV, this or another similar app is necessary to access the content, but in the case of Mac, iPad, iPhone and PCs from the rest of the home, it is enough that we connect through SMB to the SSD in order to view the content. True, without covers or metadata, but with a very simple access.
In the end, according to the needs of each one of us, choosing one solution or another when setting up a media center is something very personal. There are many other options that may be interesting, in my particular case this configuration is the one that best suits me when using this media center.