Evolving and Expanding the Home Theater Setup

Since writing about Nearly Subscription Free TV, we've moved and that meant not only re-installing all the components of the home theater system, but even re-arranging them a bit.  The Mac Mini got moved from the smaller LCD TV to the larger Plasma TV in the family room.  But, since this is also the television that hosts the XBox360 there's the matter of "resource contention"... i.e, the wife wants to watch Dancing with the Stars while I'm playing Rocksmith.

She's perfectly happy to watch on the LCD television in the guest room, but the problem is that the only device in there is the AppleTV and it won't stream from the Mac Mini / Plex Server that's located in the family room.  The initial attempt at a solution was to get another Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable so she could access Plex from her laptop and display it on the LCD television.  While this works, it's a bit clumsy and requires taking over her MacBook Pro while she's watching anything.

Roku to the Rescue

In my quest for finding a device that would stream from the main Plex media center, it looked like a Roku was the way to go.  For $80 at Best Buy I picked up the XD model that streams 1080p.  It was dead simple to hookup; AC and HDMI.  Create a free Roku account.  Install the Plex "Private Channel" and voila!  Access to the Plex library with a simple remote control and fairly intuitive user interface.

The only issue (and it's not a Roku issue) is that Movies that we ripped from our DVDs as Video_TS folders will not stream.  This is the same issue we get when using the Plex app on iOS for the iPad or iPhone.  Apparently it has to do with licensing MPEG2.  It looks like the "solution" is to convert those Video_TS rips to MKV files.  We've got about 500 movies on the Drobo, so that's no simple undertaking.  I found a script online but it's not working for me... looks like from the comments that MacTheRipper may be the reason.

I'm still working out whether I'll convert them onesy-twosy with the MakeMKV GUI or try to write my own script.