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Confused about the media server capabilities of AS3102T

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Confused about the media server capabilities of AS3102T

Postby rpcll » Sun May 21, 2017 12:57 am

I'm interested in the AS3102T but I am seeing conflicting information about media transcoding.

I want to use it as a DLNA mediaserver with a Bravia TV, PS4, Panasonic Bluray Player and Android phones as clients.
This product page (https://www.asustor.com/en/product?p_id=44) says it has hardware transcoding for both H.264 and H.265 up to 4K.

Is this accurate? Can I set up a Kodi (or Plex or UMS) server on this NAS, transcode my videos in real time, and access them with my DLNA devices?
(I do not plan to connect the HDMI, purely network)

Thanks for your help!
rpcll
 
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Re: Confused about the media server capabilities of AS3102T

Postby MikeG.6.5 » Sun May 21, 2017 9:00 am

First let me tell you about one of the apps you mentioned. And how, after you use it, you likely won't want to use DLNA as a protocol for watching media.

Plex has client apps for most, if not all of the devices you listed. Each of the client apps can be installed directly and can use the media stored on your NAS pretty easily, with (hopefully) little or no RT transcoding. (More on that in a bit.) Using these client apps means you won't NEED to use DLNA. (This is a good thing, trust me...)

DLNA can interfere with tracking watched status of a TV show, episode or movie, so if you pause the show you are playing, it can hold the pause, but if you STOP playing it and want to come back at a later time, you need to scrub through to where you were. This is an inherent issue with the protocol. Plex doesn't use this protocol normally... In fact, if you have a Plex Pass, their premium level, and enable the Plex Home, DLNA is disabled, as the protocol doesn't use Plex's user ID's for tracking watched status. When you watch S01E01 completely, DLNA wouldn't automatically go to S01E02, you had to manually select it to play the next in sequence. Totally not acceptable when either binge watching or trying to stay caught up on new shows on an existing series, IMO.

If you look in my signature you will find a number of links both on these forums and on Plex's forums where I've made a number of posts on how to optimize an Asustor NAS and your media with Plex. (I go by the handle MikeG6.5 on Plex's forums.) I'm sort of the resident expert on making the app work on NASes having installed and run it on three different models now. (AS-202T, AS-304T and AS-7004T)

One of the first things you need to do, is get your media into the best Direct Playable formats, codecs and bitrates you can. You want all of your local watching to be Direct Play, and only use Transcoding for remote sessions, and then only in dire cases. The CPU in the 320x model isn't really a full blown CPU, such as what's in the 7004T. As such, it hasn't got a lot of horse power, which transcoding requires... (There is a HW Beta that can use the GPU or Quicksync with intel processors, which provides better transcoding abilities, but there are some issues with quality, especially on really high bitrate scenes...) See my post in the Tips and Tricks section for how to get that working on an Asustor NAS. I have a few guidelines for making this happen in the links in my signature, too.... :)

I tried running DLNA apps when I first got into media streaming and was severely disappointed with the results. When I had over 1000 movies and TV episodes combined, the DLNA clients wouldn't find a lot of them. So even if I knew they were there, the only way to get to them to watch them was to use a folder view. And now, with 2400+ movies and 7500+ TV episodes there is just no way I would be happy using the limits I had hit before....

Not going to long wind this anymore. Most of the information I have on the topic of Plex can be found either in my signature or by searching my user name on either forum. (over 2300 posts on Plex's forums BTW, so a lot of good info, some ranting and some opinions on that forum...) Feel free to PM me if you need more help. I can even be talked into TeamViewer sessions from time to time, if you really get stuck. Most of the time I do it for free, but if you're willing to donate, that's cool, too... :)

EDIT: It was because of my never ending efforts to make Plex work well on Asustor's NASes that the powers that be decided I might make a half decent Moderator on these forums. I hope I can live up to that expectation.
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Re: Confused about the media server capabilities of AS3102T

Postby rpcll » Sun May 21, 2017 5:51 pm

Hey Mike,
thanks for your input!

Since Plex is proprietary and wants me to sign up for an external service it's very low priority for me.
Also transcoding files myself is out of the question. I need a set-it-and-forget-it solution.

My point of reference is "Universal Media Server" I run on my 2011 Notebook and transcodes/muxes files without hiccups and serves them to all my devices using e.g. ffmpeg.

Is it correct that the hardware transcoding capabilities of the AS3102T are locked behind Plex beta app's paywall?

Does Kodi or the LooksGood Server not transcode/serve over DLNA?
rpcll
 
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Re: Confused about the media server capabilities of AS3102T

Postby MikeG.6.5 » Sun May 21, 2017 10:05 pm

I never tried Kodi, as I was firmly ensconced with Plex when it was released. XBMC was a truly bitter experience, so I had to find something that would fit my needs. Plex was it, and the costs have been well worth it, IMO, as I am a Lifetime Pass holder. The current costs for Lifetime Pass are a bit steep at $150 a shot, but as the server admin is the only one that needs that expense, and it occasionally goes on sale for $75 or $100, it's still a bargain when compared to going to the theater 2 times a week or more.

Looksgood was another disappointment, as you can only stream to one device at a time. As I was providing media to several co-workers when I worked in Alaska, I needed to be able to support more than a single streaming session. I've had 7 going at one time with Plex, and had a lot more CPU to spare for more sessions if needed. (On my AS-7004T) This also dropped XBMC from the running as I could barely get a single stream to run successfully. And repeatability was key for me. XBMC wasn't. So Plex was before Plex Pass so it was worth the investment, again.

As the HW transcoding is in Beta it is locked behind the Plex Pass. When it comes out of Beta I expect it to be released to the free users, as Plex has a tendency to give away a lot of the neatest features. Since the Beta has been going for a while now, (Several months) I expect to see it go live fairly soon.

If you want a truly "set it and forget it" setup, you really didn't look at the links I have in my signature. One of these links is to a set of scripts that can do remuxxing of the files to probably the best streaming format available, to the widest range of client devices. This would be MP4, H264 video codec with AAC stereo audio for the first audio codec. I have these scripts set up to run on any media I get before Plex even sees the media, ensuring that it's as Direct Playable as possible before I watch the media on my own devices, let alone anyone I share my server with. The scripts are completely automatic and once I had them working they are literally hands free for TV episodes. I have to juggle movies a bit after they are run, but that's due to my own file and folder structure. (With 2400+ movies I had to find an easier way to keep them. So I built a pretty specialized folder structure that allows me to find media so quickly it's not funny.) Setting up the scripts isn't hard, but it does require a bit of familiarity with Linux and some (free) outside tools. Again, the info for these scripts are in my signature. (Auto-Converting scripts.) These scripts leverage ffmpeg to do the remux, and can be tied to SABnzb, CouchPotato or other apps.

It is precisely due to Plex's proprietary nature that makes it so successful. They took an old fork of XBMC (Mac) and have it working on a wide range of hardware, from PC's to Macs to NASes and even on a router. (NeatGear's X10) Once the HW transcoding Beta goes live, it's going to open the doors for the smaller NASes out there to truly come into their own. What I could barely do with the 304T and had severe issues doing with the 202T are going to make either of these two boxes seem as though they are my 7004T with it's i3-4330 CPU instead of glorified cell phone CPU's.

You're worried about the outside account thing. Trust me, it's not as much of an issue as you think it is. And you are likely to need outside accounts for other things as you start working with your NAS in any case. Some of the accounts you may need are for Newsgroup servers, newsgroup indexing sites, perhaps a private torrent tracker, as well as the account associated to your NAS itself. (To install any apps from Asustor, you need a valid Asustor account. Every NAS manufacturer out there has this requirement to use their "store" so it's a wash.)

Again I urge you to look at the links in my signature. These are almost a hand holding walk through needed to get Plex working flawlessly on a NAS, and on Asustor's models specifically. (Many QNAP and Synology users have used them to set up their devices as well. Folder paths are different, but once you figure those out, it's easy. Just don't ask me for these paths. I don't own other NASes, and have no idea where to even start looking...) If you follow them step by step you will have a Plex environment up and running in a matter of hours, instead of a few days (or months) as I had to take. After you get it working, you will ask yourself why you hesitated. It's just that simple, easy and flawless.

If you are truly heartset on DNLA, then you are going to want a different solution. and one I won't be able to help you with. (Make it, I refuse to help anyone with it. The technology is old, outdated and really needs to be dropped for a plethora of reasons, the least of which is security. As in there isn't any security!) It's worth paying for quality, and Plex is worth the dime IMO. (Which is also why I finally went with a 7004T for my NAS. My only real regret with it is I didn't get the 7008T or 7010T instead. The extra drive bays would really be nice now, with 30TB of drives on the system. These could have all been internal instead of a mix of internal and external.)

If you look at the Kodi subforum here, you will see there are some issues with it. And LooksGood is Asustor's own home grown app. It also has it's own subforum and it has had some issues as well. And both of these apps suffer from the length of time it takes Asustor to push out updates. (Even Kodi has to go through an approval process before you can get it from App Central.) Plex can be manually installed from App Central so when an update occurs, you can be running the latest and greatest in a matter of hours instead of months.

OK, I have beaten the Plex horse to death now, and pretty badly beat up the alternatives in the process. These are my own opinions as an IT guy with almost 30 years in desktop and networking infrastructure support. If you aren't sold yet, you likely won't be, no matter what else I might say. The choice is yours, in the end... Easy and works every time, or works when it wants to work, and futzing around to get it functioning again... Your call.
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Re: Confused about the media server capabilities of AS3102T

Postby rpcll » Mon May 22, 2017 12:11 am

Thanks again Mike!

I'll keep Plex in mind but for now, to make an informed decision, I'll need to know all the details.
Especially about Kodi since it's explicitly named in the marketing materials.
rpcll
 
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Re: Confused about the media server capabilities of AS3102T

Postby sksbir » Mon May 22, 2017 3:27 pm

has far has I have read , DLNA is a standard that uses Upnp. ( https://www.dlna.org/faq )
I successfully use Upnp media server on my NAS with a recent TV ( DLNA compatible ) . You must have a good network ( wifi 5Ghz ) to get it working without freezes.
Plex client is also installed on this TV, and I use plex server on my NAS too, but NAS is sometime not powerful enough to transcode ( AS5002T ), and I don't need my TV interface let choose for me the film I want to see : folder view is very well hidden in plex interface.
Out of that, plex has some really nice features, handle all video formats, and works well with android clients.



I used kodi when my NAS was directly connected to TV with HDMI ( is there an another way ? ) and it worked well, but sometimes, NAS was not always powerful enough to get a smooth image.
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Re: Confused about the media server capabilities of AS3102T

Postby rpcll » Thu May 25, 2017 12:07 am

I just got an email from Asustor product support and I was told the "UPnP Media Server V2" beta version is able to transcode on-the-fly to PS4, Bravia TV, etc. This is great news!

Is anyone able to verify this for me by testing this out with some mkv files in H264/H265 streamed to a DLNA client like a PS4?
rpcll
 
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