I'm not familiar with setting up a network, so here's my question:
I'm thinking about getting a NAS to use as a media server (I'm thinking Synology DS411j). What I'd like to do, is to have access to the server via TV (TVs not made for internet access) & laptop. I'm living a nomadic lifestyle, so sometimes I'm in one place and would like to hook up the NAS to my laptop, and 2 TVs, but I don't have an internet connection at all. Other times, I'm in another place and would like to hook up the same NAS to my laptop, 1 TV, and any other guest laptops, but I have a slow satellite internet connection that is not made for downloading video. I have a Cisco Linksys E900 router that I carry with me.
What recommendations would you have to set this up?
Wireless would obviously give me more accessibility, which would be nice. But, would videos play smoothly on my devices?
Your TVs don't support network access, right? Do they have computer input so you can attach them to the audio and video outputs from the computer?
If so, you will have to "play" the movie on the laptop from the NAS box that can be attached by a network connection (wired or wireless) or USB port to the laptop and select the TV as the output monitor for the laptop. I would probably use media player classic ( http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/ ) to start, since it is free and does a good job.
Many newer LCD TVs support network access and have built in video capability so you can play certain files type (most commonly avi). If you have movies stored as iso images you would still need a player on a computer to view them.
Wireless is adequate for almost all video files (excluding full bluray iso images) as long as it has a decent signal.
With a very slow Internet connection, any movies that you play from an Internet source will have to be pretty much fully downloaded to watch them smoothly, as buffering only a small fraction will give jerky playback. Best to download the movie to your storage and then play from there.
Wireless is always an iffy proposition, esp. if you're roaming from place to place, where the environment is ever changing and full of unknowns. In general, SD (standard definition) content will work fairly well over even wireless G, at least if you can sustain 10-12Mbps or better. The problem is usually HD (high definition) content, which can be a challenge. Most HD content needs at least 25Mbps, and that pretty much requires wireless N.
With a nomadic lifestyle, I wonder whether you’d prefer a more portable solution, rather than a full-fledged router and NAS. I guess it depends on your definition of “nomadic”. I’m thinking it might be far more convenient to carry around say a small router w/ multiple-mode support (router, AP, client, repeater, etc.) and USB port so you could connect a smaller 2.5” USB drive (they make them up to 1TB). Not a RAID ready solution, of course, but highly portable.
Here’s an example of a router w/ tons of features at a killer price:
Would require installation of third party firmware, but those are incredible specs for the price. Now you can configure the router as necessary for the situation (AP, client, repeater, etc.). And you connect a NAS or use a portable USB drive for accessing storage (perhaps a subset of the NAS for those times you know you want need everything).
Duh! I don't know why I didn't think about the video files that the TV can read. That's the big question then. I'm not around my TVs atm, and I don't know for sure what all it can read. If it can't read them, then I would have to connect the NAS to the laptop and connect the laptop to the TV. Of course. I've had that problem with another TV once before.
I was trying to build a video library and I do have a portable HDD, but I'm gonna need more space than that. I was wanting to consolidate all the files into a nice & neat package with lots of room for the future, like a NAS, and be able to wirelessly connect the devices and play any file whenever.
If the TVs can't read those files, then perhaps I'll have to put this off for another time. Another time, when my tech is more friendly for this sort of thing.
Most TVs I've come across are good with AVI files on USB sticks, but not with ISO images -- I stream those (bluray ISOs) to my TVs from a big NAS attached by Ethernet cable to the network and then to a small HTPC also on the wired connection attached to the TV. Wireless and powerline proved inadequate to stream that much bandwidth.
NAS wired to network -> network wired to HTPC (1 HTPC per TV) -> HTPC wired to TV
So, to wire the network (Bear with me, I've never made a home network before), I imagine that I could wire up the devices and use my Win7 laptop to set one up in Control Panel and that should make things easier on me. Can I use a simple router to use as a, well, a router? Pardon my ignorance, but I'm use to using routers for distributing access to the Internet. Now that I say it to myself, it should be the exact same thing, but I suppose I'd need two routers (one for NAS access, and one for Internet access). Am I right?
You will only need one router for your entire network. You don't need to spend a lot and get the latest dual band, etc. A good wireless N router with 4 wired gigabit Ethernet ports, like a DLink DIR 655 will do just fine.
Think about your NAS as just another device on your network, like a printer or computer. I would recommend that you give it a reserved dynamic address in the router configuration (see you manual under Address Reservation). That way it keeps the same address so that computers/programs find it at the same address all the time -- I usually also do that with printers to eliminate problems.