I'm planning my media server/HTPC build for 2-3 zones around the house and would appreciate your advice and any feedback if you've used any of the platforms mentioned below. The results of which I'd be happy to summarize for everyone at the end.
My goals/needs are as follows, in order of importance,
a) Automatic Laptop backups at home with duplication (so possibly WHS such as EX490/495)
2. Use one software interface around the house such as Windows Media center, Jriver, Sage etc for music, movies, photos, and possibly TV (or at least one for music via ipad/Android/iphone and one for TV-viewed content)
a) Use a primary HTPC/server combo or the server ONLY to contain and serve up all music around the house. What are the pros and cons of each?
b) Possible Sound-output device options; Airport expresses (cheap), squeeze box (but probably too expensive), multi channel sound card such as http://www.maudio.com/products/en_us/Delta1010LT.html
, or a CasaTunes sound card.
c) I would like to be able to select which songs get played in which zones, preferably simultaneously and use an iphone/ipad/android app to do so. I don't want to turn on the TV to select music, but the option is desirable.
d) I would like to be able control the receiver for on/off/source/volume with the app.
e) Playback options; itunes, mediamonkey, Jriver, windows media center7
f) I would use a laptop to rip to the server or HTPC and manage tags/artwork.
4. Movies and Photos;
Serve up a small ripped movie collection around the house, so I will either build htpc's, or use extenders such as the xbox (if using WMC7) or WD live/ popcorn with their interface
5. Bit torrents;
Download via htpc/laptop and transfer to the server for future playback via a htpc/xbox/wd live/ popcorn.
6. TV, 3 options;
1. If I keep my DirecTV DVR, do I still need to build a primary HTPC for music or can the server do everything and just use extenders for movies and photo serving and the use a Laptop to rip CD's to the server.
2. Cut cable and build a HTPC to view online content. Based on a core i3 Sandybridge system
3. Build my own DVR using WMC or SageTV, with Ceton/Silicon Dust tuners + a HDPVR as I want to record subscription channels (FoxSportsPlus), and in which case I need to make sure to record the programs that will be watched in zone 1 on the HTPC in Zone 1 (due to copy once restrictions), but the content could be moved to the server for storage, or use an Xbox if the recording HTPC is in another zone?
Some initial Q's
1. Would appleTV2 work any better than airport expresses WRT controls via ipad/iphone/android?
2. There seems to be an iphone app that can control a 2011 networked Denon Receiver to control its functions, anybody have an experience with this?
3. Any issues with installing a music playback software(itunes/media monkey) directly onto a WHS?
4. Are the HP Mediasmart Servers still worth buying, and is a ex490 sufficient.
5. For Movies, photos and Tv content, is the best option still using a Universal remote, any ipad/iphone/android options?
Maybe I'm asking too much, and I've also posted in other sections as I think it crosses categories