Best way to stream video from a Windows PC

Back in the XBMC days, most people shared their video directories via SMB from Windows machines. Is that still the preferred way with Vero/OSMC today for watching large video files (15 to 20GB 1080p MKV) or is there something newer/easier/faster?

I don’t own a NAS, just a laptop and a couple of external hard drives. The Vero 4K is hardwired with an Ethernet cable, but the laptop is WiFi only.

SMB will likely be good enough.

Is the Vero using WiFi or Ethernet?

Ethernet for Vero, wifi for laptop.

What exactly is it that you are trying to setup? If you are only planning on playing media with the Vero you can just plug the hard drives into that. If you want the option to also play media on the laptop you could use the UPnP option in Kodi.

There are a couple of issues with that. First is that you have to carry the hard drive back and forth between the PC and the Vero every time you want to transfer new videos to it (which is basically every day). Second is that Very doesn’t seem 100% compatible with my hard drive (4TB portable Western Digital). Sometimes the drive doesn’t draw enough power from the Vero and starts clicking making noises or freezes. We have troubleshot this with Sam a year ago and didn’t get anywhere.

Long story short, network sharing seems the most optimal method.

Maybe I’m missing something, but you can just use SMB for Vero and browse to the actual directory on the drive from the laptop. What’s the point of UPnP in this use case?

@sam_nazarko I have set up SMB, and everything seems to work now. The only issue is that when you enter the Movies directory from the Files menu, there is a delay of 2-3 seconds to show the movie posters (in Wall view) and you’re forced to look at the empty screen while that’s happening. It would be nice to have a caching of some sort for this scenario or another way to prevent the empty screen, otherwise it’s not great from a UX perspective.

Also, skipping forward and back causes a brief “buffering” message (1 second or less), which doesn’t happen when playing movies from a USB drive. I imagine this is a result of a network lag, and not much can be done about it, but still would be great without it.

If you press back and go back in, do you see the delay?

@sam_nazarko Good question! If you exit Movies to the Home screen and re-enter Movies right away, there is no delay. But if you exit Movies, enter the TV folder, then exit and re-enter Movies, there is a delay again, and this delay is just as long as the first one, even if you complete all these steps within 5 seconds.

This eliminates the delay being caused by the hard drive spinning up/waking up, which is what I originally thought was causing it.

Kodi won’t cache windowing that aggressively; mainly to ensure that changes are reflected promptly.

But this only happens with networked sources, and it does hinder the experience since it’s not just a half-second delay (I can provide a video if needed). If you’re already spoiled watching movies from connected media and now you get this blank screen every time, you’re like what the … !

Does everyone experience this with networked video sources?

Are you using a library, or just accessing the directories? I have noticed on V18 that the library database is a bit slow.

I added to favorites a few video sources from Files and enter them via Favorites once added. Which, I think, means you’re essentially browsing directories but still accessing the library for metadata.

Did you actually set up sources and scan them? If you did that, then I think you are correct that while you are browsing directories, you are using the database.

The idea of having the drive directly connected to the vero is because that is where you would get your maximum performance. You were talking very large rips and connecting to a source over wifi if often going to come with a bottleneck. I would think that if you had a power delivery issue a decent powered hub would take care of that but I assume that is something that was probably already tried so I will leave that alone. If you had that working you wouldn’t need to move them to put files on though. You can access the drives from over the network to take care of that.

As for the UPnP it allows you to access the library on additional machines without having to maintain multiple libraries or run a MySQL server. Of course you could just access the files at the filesystem level but what UPnP does it give you all the artwork and extra information. I was just throwing that out there as an option.

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That makes sense, I didn’t think of that.

I sort of dislike power hubs. You have this elegant portable drive that’s supposed to be bus-powered, and the hub reminds you that something’s not quite working as designed, either the drive itself or the host device. Besides, if you’re going to plug something in the AC, you might as well get a non-portable drive and get more storage for your money.

Can you use a drive connected to the Vero as any other Windows drive? Can you… ahem… torrent onto it? If so, that might something to explore.

Understood, but I can swear this wasn’t an issue back in the Xbox/XBMC days or when I had a nightly Kodi build installed on an old FireTV model. We are simply talking about loading an index of a directory plus metadata here, not reading actual movie files. I’ve simply never seen this delay before.

The bottleneck I was talking about was regarding playing very large rips, not delays in browsing via the file system. As someone already mentioned if you were browsing your content via a scraped library then it would be fast as all information would be on the Vero itself. Your big delay you are seeing is normal when you are viewing in the file section to a folder with a lot of content. If you instead browsed over to a folder with just a few dozen files I think you would see it come up pretty quick. I was using a full network MySQL setup on multiple original xboxes back in the day and I seem to recall it working very much the same as it does now.

As for the network transfer the Vero can act as a server the same as your laptop can. There is also information out there regarding installing a torrent client. I think that information is out of scope for this forum and probably best found about elsewhere.

Cool, more stuff to explore at some point.

The directory has about 200-250 movies. It’s hardly a huge library, and there was no delay retrieving the index + metadata when connected via USB. It was 100% instant. When the same drive was connected to a laptop and re-scraped, the delay started appearing. Again, this is a significant delay of 2-4 seconds. I can shoot a video if needed.

You could try going to settings->media->videos->replace file names with library titles->OFF

That setting is off