Like a lot of cruisers, we like to watch movies; but most of the time the Internet is either nonexistent or slower than a one-fingered typist, making flicking through Netflix and Youtube impossible. Over the years, us cruisers have instead met in beautiful anchorages and marinas and “swapped” movies stored on our respective hard drives. With luck you would get quite a few unseen movies amongst a whole heap of movies you have already watched; scattered on multiple hard drives that you’ve collected over the years.
Recently, we’ve got a bit more cleverer, downloading Netflix and Amazon shows to our Android (or iOS) tablets so we can watch them offline. Youtube Premium also allowed us to download offline copies. We tried to play these using Chromecast on our TVs but we still needed a little bit of Internet to do this.
With my enforced downtime, I set about coming up with a much better solution, using a combination of a Synergy DS118 NAS with a single 6TB hard drive (as I didn’t want to cart anything too big on the plane with me – maybe I will invest in a bigger RAID system in time).
My first job was to consolidate all our existing movies spread across various hard drives onto a single NAS (Network Attached Storage) unit. The Synergy DS118 has a useful USB Copy function that allows me to plug in my USB Hard Drives into the NAS and copy the movies and music straight across.
Installing the Plex Media Server on the DS118 was pretty straightforward, and with this installed we can consolidate all our movies in the one place. Using Plex, we can easily scroll through all our movie titles, without seeing any duplicates. We can view all our movies on our smart TVs and tablets – all we had to do was install the relevant Plex app on each particular device. We have one older style TV in our temporary land based abode, and for this we use our Chromecast dongle. We will definitely buy smart TVs for the new catamaran that have Plex capability.
Plex is a wonderful piece of software, collecting all the metadata for each movie, including Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB Ratings, a short description, and a list of actors. This makes choosing our next movie a lot easier, especially in remote anchorages without internet. Plex also allows us to remove duplicates using the “Show Duplicates” feature of Plex that not only identifies all the movies that have multiple copies, but also allows you to identify the best copy to keep. Its super easy in Flex to delete all the other (inferior) copies.
For new content, we are going to use an Android app called PlayOn Cloud, which looks like a groovy solution. PlayOn Cloud is a streaming video recorder (SVR) located in the cloud. I can ask them to record content from Netflix, Amazon, ABC iView, Youtube and the BBC plus a few others and once that recording is complete, they email us an .mp4 file download link, which I can use to download the mp4 file to my Plex installation on my NAS. Each recording costs 50c a copy or less if you buy a larger pack.
We are also using Plex for our offline music. Our Sonos system has a Plex client so that makes integration easy. We were using Google Play Music for all our music and we were able to download an entire copy from the Internet to our hard drive so we have over 11,000 songs on our NAS, that can be accessed from our Sonos system. Now that Google have migrated me from Google Play Music to Youtube Music Premium, I’m not sure if this will allow us to continue downloading our music to a computer. Have yet to try this one out.
Finally we decided to invest in a 1080P Android TV mini projector. We ended up going for a XGIMI MOGO Pro, with Harman/Kardon Speakers and its great. No need to connect your phone, tablet or laptop, it can pull up Youtube, Plex, Amazon etc straight from the Wifi. And its battery powered meaning we can have movie nights in our upstairs lounge or on the beach under the stars.
So with all this sorted out it will be super easy for Dee to watch movies and for me to fall asleep 10 minutes in.