Xbox 360 as Win 7 MC Extender only - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 40 Old 12-29-2011, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
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what is the least expensive Xbox360 model I need to act as Win 7 MC extender and provide HDTV to separate HDTV and monitor? Games are nice for when kids visit but gaming is completely secondary to my need for 2 inexpensive media center extenders.

I am purchasing a new Windows 7 Slimline HP that is i7 quad, 8 GB RAM, nVidia GT530 graphics card to work with a Silicondust HDHR Prime ( 3 tuner). I want to access the tuner on 2 other TV/monitors separate from the TV/monitor the HP wil be connected to.

I also have an older Slingbox which has an S-video input from my current cable HD STB/DVR, which I intend to return once my new HP/Xbox system is in place, and would like to know if anyone has any ideas how I might continue to make use of this slingbox with the SD HDHR Prime and/or Win 7 MC. I am not hopeful based on what I have researched so far.
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post #2 of 40 Old 12-29-2011, 11:22 AM
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I've been in the same spot, I needed an extender but am not really into games, I tied the xbox, and its okay, but I think you would be better off just getting another cheap pc becasue the hd homerun can share tuners. But if you plan on playing games in the future get the xbox, I just think its a little slow, and can't do media broweser well playing .mkv's. The cheapest msrp xbox you can get is 200 bucks, you can get a soild used dual core pc on ebay for under $100.

just my 2 cents
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post #3 of 40 Old 12-29-2011, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by unc2003 View Post

I've been in the same spot, I needed an extender but am not really into games, I tied the xbox, and its okay, but I think you would be better off just getting another cheap pc becasue the hd homerun can share tuners. But if you plan on playing games in the future get the xbox, I just think its a little slow, and can't do media broweser well playing .mkv's. The cheapest msrp xbox you can get is 200 bucks, you can get a soild used dual core pc on ebay for under $100.

just my 2 cents

How have you connected your Xbox, media PC & HDHR to your network?
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post #4 of 40 Old 12-29-2011, 12:29 PM
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Look for a "broken" xbox on craigslist where only the optical drive tray is broken. Last time I looked there were a ton of them.
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post #5 of 40 Old 12-29-2011, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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do I require anything special, should I desire anything special if my goal is a good extender , good live & recorded HDTV?
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post #6 of 40 Old 12-29-2011, 01:32 PM
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I had thought about this myself....debating between getting another 360 to have extenders at all my tv's and using the desktop to serve them, or throwing together a cheap low power silent HTPC to serve the extenders and leave the main desktop out of it.

Xbox...you dont need a hard drive equipped one, so pretty much ANY of them will work. At near $100 they ran new during black friday, certainly an option at that time. Broken optical drive ones for cheap on ebay and the like is also another option....but I would add make sure it is a slim model! While not dead silent itself, they at least have a bearable amount of fan noise. All the previous ones...much too loud IMO. They are fine for playing games when things are booming and ringing etc as it gets drowned out, but would be pretty annoying for general watching tv and stuff.


Low end HTPC...you can do these for about $200 + hard drive pretty easily.

For example you can pick up this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboD...mbo794210-LM2A (and click on the link for the computer itself to find 10% off coupon, which works with that combo) + 4gb ram for about $180....then repurpose an existing hard drive since they are so expensive these days or pick up a new one of your choice......now you have a small silent low power full computer for around $200 without much fuss.

Another option I priced out recently...you can get cheap ITX case for $40, decent H61 ITX motherboard with HDMI and other usefull features for <$80, Intel G620 for about $60, 4GB ram for $20 (or 8 for around $30 if you want to run x64)....same deal with the hard drive as above...and there you have a fairly powerfull HTPC for a little bit more then above, albeit with a good bit more work, and having to pay attention to component choices for noise and power draw. Add in a decent passive video card and you will have a machine that can do any HTPC task thrown at it, if you want to move beyond the iintel graphics which are pretty capable themselves.


I think between the 2 cheap HTPCS, besides preference of course, it comes down to if you are an HD netflix user or not. The G620 and the like is going to be MUCH more powerfull then that AMD system, or similar atom/ion systems...but that amd system will play live tv, handle extenders, watch all your downloaded movies, etc just fine, but the one thing it cant do well is HD netflix. The attraction between the 2 is the form factor/noise level/simplicity for the amd system, and of course the power of the intel system.

edit---and one more thing to add as far as netflix goes...you wont be using it on the 360 either unless you have an xbox live subscription which adds $40-$60/yr to your cost there...and it is it's own app on the 360 and not part of the media center on an extender like it is in media center on an actual computer....something else to take into account there if you are a netflix user.
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post #7 of 40 Old 12-29-2011, 07:53 PM
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My question on the Xbox is how accurate is the color gamut? This is the bugaboo on HTPCs. The drivers do not produce very accurate color. The i3 Sandy Bridge iGPU is not terrible in this regard but it still a good bit off from a high quality CE device. I have an HP X280n, which while there is no easy was to measure the gamut pme it is visually a lot closer to HD 709 than even the i3 iGPU. For Live TV the HP extender makes the PC look sad. Perhaps the Xbox 360 is closer to the look of a CE device than to a PC?

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post #8 of 40 Old 12-29-2011, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtgray View Post

My question on the Xbox is how accurate is the color gamut? This is the bugaboo on HTPCs. The drivers do not produce very accurate color. The i3 Sandy Bridge iGPU is not terrible in this regard but it still a good bit off from a high quality CE device. I have an HP X280n, which while there is no easy was to measure the gamut pme it is visually a lot closer to HD 709 than even the i3 iGPU. For Live TV the HP extender makes the PC look sad. Perhaps the Xbox 360 is closer to the look of a CE device than to a PC?

I havent put a meter to a PC connected to tv yet. I have calibrated the input my 360 uses, using the 360 to display the slides and eodis3 meter. Had some difficulty initially with the xbox and tv set on expanded level vs the standard 16-235 range, then in the middle of doing so decided if I was calibrating/putting a meter on it, may as well set it for the propper range and start over despite maybe having some benefit to the expanded levels being a game system and less about video. Was much easier and dialed in fine using propper video levels.
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post #9 of 40 Old 12-30-2011, 10:02 AM
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I'm in the same boat on deciding on an extender.
When looking on ebay it appears that some Xbox have HDMI and some don't is that correct?
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post #10 of 40 Old 12-30-2011, 08:41 PM
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I think I have pretty much said screw it and will put my Tivo HD back in service for critical veiwing and use the PC and any extenders at the secondary viewing points in the house.

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post #11 of 40 Old 12-31-2011, 08:44 AM
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Well I haven't said screw it but that's what I'm doing - use Tivo HDs on primary sets and WMC w/Xbox and Linksys extenders on secondary. I like the Tivo experience a whole lot more than WMC, and the Tivos can play pretty much anything you want with the free tools available (pyTivo, kmttg, and streambaby). Extenders pretty well suck for anything other than live or recorded TV.

And correct, some Xboxes have HDMI and some don't - you have to make sure before buying. I know all the black ones (Elites and Slims) do, as well as the later white Xbox Arcade models. But you'll be much happier with the Slim because of the lower power draw and noise.
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post #12 of 40 Old 12-31-2011, 02:11 PM
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For me I could careless about the interface. I don't record much and the WMC guide is more than adequate. It is about sending out native video in the correct colorspace. The HP extender gets the colorspace and gamut right but it has some weirdness when it upscales 720P content to 1080i. Doesn't do it all the time but on content it does, it drives me crazy.

I have a new 92" Mitsubishi display and it needs the best quality source. That means feeding my DVDO DUO the content in a source direct way and letting it the Video Process do the deinterlacing, scaling and any colorspace conversions on the way to 1080P. I don't want to send the TV anything but 1080P.

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post #13 of 40 Old 01-02-2012, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by C17chief View Post

I
Low end HTPC...you can do these for about $200 + hard drive pretty easily.

Don't forget you also need Win7 for each PC, that alone is $99 ontop of the hardware..

I think there is also an issue with HTPCs not being able to view recorded tv from the Main HTPC due to copyright protection?
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post #14 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 07:31 AM
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Advantages of Xbox extender:
* Cheap (around $100 to $150 new if you find the deals). Slim will be preferred for low power consumption and noise.
* Share the recordings with main PC. You can watch, share and schedule recordings among all extenders. Basically your PC will be the whole house DVR. You can't do this with mini HTPC setups.
* No keyboard and mouse required. A remote is all you need. Your family members will thank you for that.
* Watch the show from one location and continue in another location.
* No dredded 29/59 visual artifacts on some premium channels. That's a unique problem for PC and its video cards.

Cons:
* Not a HTPC and hences lacks all other capabilities of a PC.
* Older models can be rather loud.
* IR receiver has a very narrow angle of view.

Overall, 360 extender is a better option and it is much faster than other WMC extenders.

You should not expect to use wireless for your networking. It typically won't work well unless you have a 5GHz band setup. Cat5e, MOCA or powerline networking are the ones that work.
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post #15 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 09:24 AM
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Well, I am not having much luck with a 5 GHz wireless bridge either (admittedly, it and the identical router are not top notch, with only few internal antennas). At 108 Mbps connection, it is extremely slow, especially in media browser (old version; planning to install the new one).
I am glad to hear the 360 is the fastest one. The other ones must be unwatchable.
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post #16 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

Advantages of Xbox extender:
* Cheap (around $100 to $150 new if you find the deals). Slim will be preferred for low power consumption and noise.
* Share the recordings with main PC. You can watch, share and schedule recordings among all extenders. Basically your PC will be the whole house DVR. You can't do this with mini HTPC setups.
* No keyboard and mouse required. A remote is all you need. Your family members will thank you for that.
* Watch the show from one location and continue in another location.
* No dredded 29/59 visual artifacts on some premium channels. That's a unique problem for PC and its video cards.

Cons:
* Not a HTPC and hences lacks all other capabilities of a PC.
* Older models can be rather loud.
* IR receiver has a very narrow angle of view.

Overall, 360 extender is a better option and it is much faster than other WMC extenders.

You should not expect to use wireless for your networking. It typically won't work well unless you have a 5GHz band setup. Cat5e, MOCA or powerline networking are the ones that work.

Thanks Fox!! Any hints on where you see new units 100-150 on sale? Even used ones and broken ones on ebay seem to be up over $100 these days!
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post #17 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 11:35 AM
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I have also heard there are limitations or occaisional "issues" with high end playback/streaming thru the xbox? Can anyone shed light on that? I thought about starting a new thread, but since this one is already on the xbox extender supbject I figured I would keep it all in one place...
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post #18 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by lembrey View Post

Thanks Fox!! Any hints on where you see new units 100-150 on sale? Even used ones and broken ones on ebay seem to be up over $100 these days!

Black friday deals! Also, you may want to stick with HDMI versions because it is very likely you won't get fullHD resoution on non-HDMI connections due to DRM restrictions.
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post #19 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lembrey View Post

I have also heard there are limitations or occaisional "issues" with high end playback/streaming thru the xbox? Can anyone shed light on that? I thought about starting a new thread, but since this one is already on the xbox extender supbject I figured I would keep it all in one place...

I don't know what limitations you are talking about other than the non-HDMI DRM restrictions. You can watch Live, pause, record and playback from XBox just like any cable boxes. The only limitation of WMC extender interface is that certain features of the PC WMC interface is not available to extenders (those are typically flash or Silverlight based video playbacks), e.g. Netflix (XBox has its own Netflix app) and internet TVs.
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post #20 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 12:44 PM
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Microsoft store had a few recent sales with a gift card included, which reduced the price to this range. I see they are sold out now. Deals show up from time to time, you have to watch the deal sites.
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post #21 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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rather than wireless, have had great luck with my blu ray VUDU using the latest & greatest powerline ethernet converter, no annoying video buffering since I plugged these in.

Also bought a nicle HP SLimline for the HTCP and Silicondust HDHR PRime. The PC is pretty powerful so may use for other things as well. Do the xbox extender enable viewers of TV connected to the extender to view anything other than WMC, e.g., if I am working on a spreadhseet or watching MLB TV from the HTPC can that be displayed on the Xbox monintor?
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post #22 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I might spring for the xbox live subscription after returning the Cable Co DVR box. Not sure if I need it because my LG Blu Ray players has vudu, netflix (if I pony up for netflix subscription which I have not as yet), cinema now, mlb tv. HBO GO can be had via any web browser as can ESPN 3.
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post #23 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lembrey View Post

I have also heard there are limitations or occaisional "issues" with high end playback/streaming thru the xbox? Can anyone shed light on that? I thought about starting a new thread, but since this one is already on the xbox extender supbject I figured I would keep it all in one place...

You need a decent PC to transcode formats that the 360 Media Center application does not support natively. I had some 1080p hi-def content (bluray rips of BBC's Life series) that would not transcode on an old Core 2 Duo machine I had. Once I upgraded to a newer processor, the transcoding was fast and reliable. Lower bit-rate formats should be fine on older PCs. This really only applies to content that you access through the Video or Movie Library or MediaBrowser. TV support is perfect on the 360.
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post #24 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LinuxBob View Post

rather than wireless, have had great luck with my blu ray VUDU using the latest & greatest powerline ethernet converter, no annoying video buffering since I plugged these in.

Also bought a nicle HP SLimline for the HTCP and Silicondust HDHR PRime. The PC is pretty powerful so may use for other things as well. Do the xbox extender enable viewers of TV connected to the extender to view anything other than WMC, e.g., if I am working on a spreadhseet or watching MLB TV from the HTPC can that be displayed on the Xbox monintor?

Simple answer? No.

There might be some "homebrew" VNC-type clients available if you hack your 360, I haven't really looked. But really... you are getting way beyond what the 360 was made/programmed to do with that.
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post #25 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LinuxBob View Post

I might spring for the xbox live subscription after returning the Cable Co DVR box. Not sure if I need it because my LG Blu Ray players has vudu, netflix (if I pony up for netflix subscription which I have not as yet), cinema now, mlb tv. HBO GO can be had via any web browser as can ESPN 3.

Xbox live subscription is not required for WMC extender functions. But anything outside the WMC extender interface, like Netflix and other apps, you will have to have Live Gold subscription.
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post #26 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 03:57 PM
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I'm using a slim for an extender to my main HTPC. I scored the 199.00 deal the day after BF at BB they actually had one left that their PC's didn't register. Anyway as an extender it works really well with my setup but I don't record on this machine or have any tuners. Just strictly for streams and HDVD playback. There are only two players that actually do French foreign subs right. The Toshiba's and XBox.

From what I've read this bundled 199.00 deal with Reach and Fable are the latest MS mobo's in the slim line and everything is in one chip now. I've never really been into game box in's but the slim makes a good addition to the HTPC. Plus it's teaching me electric guitar.

Three things that saved the Xbox from going back to the store.
1) Works good as a W7 extender.
2) Can play back HD DVD French foreign subtitles properly.
3) Rocksmith.
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post #27 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

Xbox live subscription is not required for WMC extender functions. But anything outside the WMC extender interface, like Netflix and other apps, you will have to have Live Gold subscription.

So even after you dl the app it still needs to connect to the MS server? If that's the case then Netflix definitely isn't worth the extra cost, your better off with any other device that doesn't charge a fee. Heck my TV has that app in there and I wouldn't even consider paying MS for that crap app.
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post #28 of 40 Old 01-03-2012, 04:58 PM
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I know Netflix definitely requires Gold Live subscription. Not sure about others because I don't use them. But I suspect most will require the same. I have 3 Xboxes and 2 live Gold accounts for games. I don't use Xbox for Netflix streaming. I use either my TV's or BD player's Netflix app for streaming. My Xboxes are all used as extenders and two of them also play games. These three XBoxes replaced my two Cable DVRs and saved me $40+ each month on my cable bill. Well worth the money.
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post #29 of 40 Old 01-04-2012, 12:15 PM
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Not to hijack the thread, but I have a DVD Library setup on my HTPC (burned onto the hard drive as regular .ts files) and my XBox 360 doesn't seem to recognize any of these movies in the extender mode. These are just regular DVD's. I would think that the XBox would recognize those???
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post #30 of 40 Old 01-04-2012, 01:05 PM
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it might be a container issue. im sure you dont want to redo them, but i am positive that if they were .mpg files they would work.

it could also be a codec issue. i remember screwing around with .ts, .m2ts, and .mkv when trying to figure out the best way to get things to play back.

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