Cheap 2nd HTPC-looking for a user interface that mirrors WMC w/o a windows 7 OS? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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I am looking to build a bedroom HTPC that passes the "easy to use wife test". We currently use Windows Media Center in Windows 7 on our main hub HTPC for OTA HDTV, DVR, music, pics, etc. I am wanting to mirror this in our bedroom over the network. I want to build a small and cheap HTPC (without having to fork out another $100 for WMC/Win7). The bedroom HTPC will not hold any files but will be attached to the network so it can grab DVR recorded TV, etc. She is used to the WMC UI, so thought of a desktop remote access program like Splashtop, but they have no support for Linux. Thought of XBMC, but the UI is different, I think, especially when accessing recorded TV files off of the network? Does anyone have info on any solution that may work well for our purposes?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 01:08 PM
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Recorded TV files?

XBox. That's the only official extender right now. A HTPC is not an official "extender" unfortunately.
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post #3 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick reply Assassin! Recorded TV files being .WTV

Was hoping for a more robust/inexpensive/high quality solution than what Xbox can provide as an extender. We don't do any gaming. Also, we would use this to stream HD content off of the internet too, and possibly add a tv tuner to it for live OTA tv.
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 02:20 PM
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Xbox and stream Netflix and Hulu and you can also watch live TV streams via the main HTPC. You can get the basic XBOX for $199 or less. Seems like a rather affordable and simple to use solution to me.
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post #5 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freetvEE View Post

Thanks for the quick reply Assassin! Recorded TV files being .WTV

Was hoping for a more robust/inexpensive/high quality solution than what Xbox can provide as an extender. We don't do any gaming. Also, we would use this to stream HD content off of the internet too, and possibly add a tv tuner to it for live OTA tv.

If you are going to use a tuner you can use something like the HD Homerun network tuner with a small internal hard drive for storage. The HD Homerun can be used by any HTPC on your network. The only limitation is that you can't record on one HTPC and watch that recording on another. For this you need an extender.
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freetvEE View Post

I am looking to build a bedroom HTPC that passes the "easy to use wife test". We currently use Windows Media Center in Windows 7 on our main hub HTPC for OTA HDTV, DVR, music, pics, etc. I am wanting to mirror this in our bedroom over the network. I want to build a small and cheap HTPC (without having to fork out another $100 for WMC/Win7). The bedroom HTPC will not hold any files but will be attached to the network so it can grab DVR recorded TV, etc. She is used to the WMC UI, so thought of a desktop remote access program like Splashtop, but they have no support for Linux. Thought of XBMC, but the UI is different, I think, especially when accessing recorded TV files off of the network? Does anyone have info on any solution that may work well for our purposes?

Thanks!

Ya know, you can grab Win 8 now for free while it's in Beta. Just a thought.
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

If you are going to use a tuner you can use something like the HD Homerun network tuner with a small internal hard drive for storage. The HD Homerun can be used by any HTPC on your network. The only limitation is that you can't record on one HTPC and watch that recording on another. For this you need an extender.

Agreed, this is what I was leaning towards, mini HTPC with SSD. Just trying to figure out how to best make it wife friendly with the WMC UI, yet inexpensive (save $100 for Windows 7 WMC)...
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post #8 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Interesting thought on Windows 8... If I loaded that on a new mini HTPC would I lose it at some point in the future since I never paid for win 7 or win 8 on the new PC? I also wonder about having to deal with glitches and a half baked OS in beta.
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-07-2012, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freetvEE View Post

I also wonder about having to deal with glitches and a half baked OS in beta.

good point.
Media Center (which the xbox uses) on 64bit Windows 8 is near unusable.
I have not done any testing in 32bit so cant speak for that version.

Use Shark007 Codecs and retain your sanity.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-08-2012, 10:40 AM
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If you can build an HTPC for under $150 - $200 (sans the OS) I would like to know where you get the parts.

Even using the most crap quality parts:

Mobo: $30 - $50
CPU: $30 - $50
Case w/o PSU: $30, With PSU: $50
Remote: $16 - $25
SSD: $50 - $100
RAM: $20 - $30

Lowest $160, highest: $305

This is without ODD to play DVD's or CD's.

Also, if you use anything other than Win 7, you will most likely have to convert .WTV files to .MSDVR files to play on other systems.

By the way, you can snag media center extenders on ebay for under $100.

Edit: P.S. Next time you buy a Windows licence, buy a 3-pack for $99, it is more cost effective.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #11 of 12 Old 03-08-2012, 11:36 AM
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You might be able to find a Vista cd key for cheap which would work as well as windows 7. Make sure you install the TV pack upgrade to play wtv files, and add the recorded tv folder to the library on the bedroom pc and you'' be good to go. Plugins (Media Browser, Netflix etc) will work, and codec support is pretty similar - you'll need a separate h264 codec, so get the shark pack.

You won't be able to watch live tv on it unless you have a network tuner (or get dvbtuner set up) but I think you can watch shows which are currently recording.
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post #12 of 12 Old 03-08-2012, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

If you can build an HTPC for under $150 - $200 (sans the OS) I would like to know where you get the parts.

Even using the most crap quality parts:

Mobo: $30 - $50
CPU: $30 - $50
Case w/o PSU: $30, With PSU: $50
Remote: $16 - $25
SSD: $50 - $100
RAM: $20 - $30

Lowest $160, highest: $305

This is without ODD to play DVD's or CD's.

Also, if you use anything other than Win 7, you will most likely have to convert .WTV files to .MSDVR files to play on other systems.

By the way, you can snag media center extenders on ebay for under $100.

Edit: P.S. Next time you buy a Windows licence, buy a 3-pack for $99, it is more cost effective.

I agree, a tough task to keep the price low, but a HTPC gives me everything I want so am leaning towards this.

As for the media center extenders on Ebay, does the User Interface resemble Vista WMC or Win 7 WMC?

For the Windows 7 3 pack, I assume you mean the upgrade? Is this legal, and does this work well, or will I need to be contantly fixing it?

Thanks!
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