Chris Bevan

Background Looping Video for Increased Productivity?

The other weekend I picked up a LED TV to use as a monitor in the office at home. My plan is to use it to loop videos (muted) in the background while working, something that I find makes me concentrate more than just sitting all alone in a quiet office.

For a while I’ve used my iPad Pro in a similar way, though recently became inspired to install something more permanent by a certain Casey Neistat and his The Godfather on a loop studio setup.

Home Office Setup Close-up

New TV monitor mounted on the office wall.

After looking around for a suitable screen, I settled on the Sony BRAVIA 22in KLV-22P413D Full HD LED TV. I like the small size and wanted a screen capable of showing a full 1080p picture.

Strangely I would have had to jump up to a 32in screen – and pay more than double the price – to get a larger model capable of showing the same Full HD picture. Oddly both interim sized 23in and 24in models in the major brands I looked at only seemed capable of displaying 1366x768 (aka HD Ready). This Sony model seems to be specifically made for the Indian market, complete with “Made for India” splashed on the specs sticker.

Before installation

Unpacking and getting everything primed for installation.

For a few days I made good use of the built-in media player with a USB stick loaded with videos. At first I struggled to find the videos and it was only after digging to the “Playback Options” menu and finding “Device Selection” did I realise that it was mounting my single USB as two partitions and showing the empty “Media 1” partition by default. Only after selecting “Media 2” was I able to see and play my files.

Even then, getting files into a format recognised by the player took more effort than it was worth. Using the same HandBrake profile has been (surprisingly) giving me mixed results: some videos work, others just don’t. I didn’t end up spending too much time troubleshooting as the plan was always to pick up an Apple TV for streaming media, primarily via Plex.

Home Office Setup Wide

Home office setup is coming together slowly.

Back when I had an iMac I used to run everything through iTunes, converting whatever videos I wanted to watch with HandBrake into a format supported by iTunes and Home Sharing, and maintaining the metadata for each file by hand. Nowadays I’m mostly iOS with all my media sitting on my NAS, so I’m leveraging Plex wherever I can for files not available for streaming on iTunes Movies or TV Shows.

The killer feature of Plex is it’s ability to play pretty much any video format and can transcode anything else on the fly, so no more mucking about with converting files to formats that are known to work in iTunes. Almost anything you throw at it just works and is almost immediately available for viewing.

Biggest issue now is getting Plex to correctly identify videos based on the filename and length. This works well for movies and TV shows when named correctly, though falls apart for the motorsport series that I tend to download and watch.

Now to find some more slow television

22 October 2016