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DVD jukebox

Posted on 2006-07-08
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Last Modified: 2010-04-27
Okay this might not be the correct forum to ask this but here goes... I have been given a 15" flat touch screen and I had the great idea of making a video jukebox for my kids movies.  Something where I could take a PC and some software, put a DVD player in the PC and load movies.  The screen would show cover art or something easy and the attached TV would play the movie the child selected.  Sounds easy but I have not been able to find anything like this for less than $2,500.

I have almost no budget for this and would like to keep the interface as simple as possible.  Any ideas?  Oh, and I have no programming skills so I cannot make one for myself.
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Question by:Helixx
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garycase earned 125 total points
ID: 17069127
The least expensive way to have a reasonably large collection of readily-available movies that don't require your kids to handle the DVDs is to use a DVD jukebox -- here's a 400-DVD changer for $330:
http://www.vanns.com/shop/servlet/item/features/483408220

You would, of course, need a television (not just a monitor) for it -- you could buy a simple LCD TV for $200 or so; or you could buy a box that lets you use your existing flat screen  (I think a simple TV is a better idea).

You can do this with a PC (I have an extensive video server -- but it costs well over your budget);  and it doesn't have to be overly expensive.   If you buy/build a modest PC that will play DVD's (about $500), then all you need is a LOT of storage for the movies you want to load.  A DVD will typically occupy about 7GB of space, or you can re-compress it to 1/2 of that;  but even in compressed form you'll "eat" space very quickly.   To match the 400GB capacity of the change above you'd need about 1.5TB of disk space !!
... and since you're not a "do-it-yourselfer" with regard to setting it up, the dedicated changer would probably be a lot easier for you to set up.

But if you want to do it with a PC, here's the general concept:

(1)  Install a DVD player application on the PC  (many come with one)

(2)  Install a very-high-capacity hard drive or drives (a few large external USB units would be fine).

(3)  Start ripping your DVD's.   You'll need a ripping application that removes the copy protection from the DVD's, since they are not designed to be played from a hard disk.

(4)  The ripped DVDs can occupy as much as 8.5GB each (typically they'll be 6-7GB).   If you want them to occupy less space, use something like DVD Shrink to re-compress them to a smaller size (and perhaps only keep the movie w/out the extras).

(5)  Put all of the finished DVD's in one large "Kids Videos" directory.

(6)  Set up an icon that points to the Kids Videos directory.   Your kids can then double-click that;  then double-click the movie they want to watch; and it will play.   Simple as that.

The # of movies you can have readily-available is limited only by the amount of hard disk storage you want to buy.   You can easily keep 100 movies on a 320GB drive if you re-compress them to 3GB each (which will still look very good -- especially on a 15" screen).   ... and you can buy external 320GB drives for about $150 each.

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by:rindi
rindi earned 125 total points
ID: 17071636
As software you could checkout winamp. it was originaly for playing music, but also runs movies and DVD's now. It has jukebox functions and there are many plugins (for coverart for instance). There are so many plugins that it is possible there is also one to get a touchscreen working, but you'd have to check that out. For the rest I'd also follow gary's guide above to get the DVD's (and music CD's etc, records too) ripped to the HD.

http://winamp.com/
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