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-   -   htpc build-----multiple tvs -----different programs (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/26-home-theater-computers/1441394-htpc-build-multiple-tvs-different-programs.html)

bondoben 11-26-2012 12:21 AM

Sorry, but I'm tired of reading and not getting anywhere. I want to build htpc ( or whatever it would take ) which allows me to access different downloaded movies, tv programs, streaming stuff, etc. on different tv's at the same time. Probably only two different, but maybe three. Obviously would need some type of remote device. But what other components would I need . Sources of guidance? Is this a wireless answer, or better achieved with Cat5 cable. Wiring the house isn't a problem. I just can't find clear answers. The main problem is that I don't know enough to know what questions to ask. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

highzone 11-26-2012 03:00 AM

You need to give more details in specifying what you want. First off what front end program do you want to use? There's Windows Media Center, XBMC and others. From there people can tell you what hardware and software you need. For example by downloaded movies do you mean video from streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon? Or do you mean pirated content from **********? Or do you want to copy (rip) DVDs to a hard drive? Do you want to play and/or rip Blu-rays?

And do you want to use a computer for all this or are you willing to use a Network Media Player like a Roku, WDTV, Boxee Box, Popcorn Hour, etc to do some of it? Network Media Players are small, low cost devices that play a variety of media but can't store or rip it. Some like the Roku can only handle streaming media from sites like Hulu, Netflix, Pandora while others like the WDTV can handle downloaded videos.

A lot of modern (less than 4 years old) TVs and Blu-ray players have streaming video support built-in. Also video game consoles have support for various kinds videos built-in. The Playstation 3 even supports Blu-ray playback


Generally speaking wireless is a bad idea when viewing video as it has lots of errors that require retransmission that are invisible when web surfing or during regular downloads but show up when viewing video.

bondoben 11-26-2012 10:47 AM

My problem is I just don't know enough to answer your question correctly. Whatever contraption I need I would like to use it instead of having to depend on cable. My wish list ( pipe dream maybe ) would be able to store all - most - a lot - of the movies I would like to download - stream - whatever so as to access them whenever I wanted and if possible on whatever tv I wanted. The same with tv shows and music. I was looking at this "assassin" stuff and it looked like something that would get me close. But what about the multiple tv and different output at the same time stuff? Before I start ordering stuff I want to know if I'm heading in the right direction.Thank you by the way for taking the time to answer my questions. I do collision work. That $15,000 hit to your SUV may seem monumental to most, to me it's just a bunch of parts that need to be dismantled and replaced with new stuff. It isn't that hard but I can;t explain it well to most people. I can show them. Just can't accomplish it verbally. I'm having the same problem here.

ljo000 11-26-2012 11:35 AM

What you are asking is certainly doable but there are a number of different ways of going about it depending on what you are looking to do. I'll give a few examples, then you can post back if any of them seem like they may work for you. In any case, to distribute content through the home, Cat5e or Cat6 wiring is highly recommended. This will give you the most flexibility in terms of hardware.

1. HTPC + WMC extenders.
In this case, you would have a single computer acting as a hub to store and distribute content. Extenders are either Xbox 360 or Ceton Echo which connect to the HTPC over ethernet. The HTPC would run Windows Media Center and would be able to store a media library of DVD/BR rips, as well as play and record Live TV. Live TV could be either subscription content via CableCARD or OTA/ClearQAM.

2. HTPC + other streamers / smart TVs (this is what I do)
Here you could have the same setup as above, but instead of the WMC extenders, use a combination of smart TVs and streaming devices like the WD Live. The media library on the HTPC can be shared (windows folder sharing) so the streamers can see it and the Smart TVs can access Netflix, Hulu etc on their own. To share the HTPC DVR functions, you could use something like MCE Buddy to convert the recorded programs to mkv / avi so the streamers could play them.

3. HTPC + other sources with HDMI over Cat5e matrix
This would be a bit different in that all the sources (HTPC, BluRay etc) would be in a central location with an HDMI matrix distributing the content to several TVs. The downside here is twofold: first, each source can only be duplicated, not played independently so if the HTPC was playing Live TV, everything tuned to the HTPC on the matrix would be playing the same channel (however, a true matrix can have each TV playing a different source). Second, you would need to figure out a control mechanism such as sending IR signals back to the media closet.

In the first 2 methods, the main viewing TV is connected to the HTPC directly (or through an AVR). Each method has different advantages and disadvantages. I do the second method as it was the cheapest for me to set up and works very well for my needs.

Tiddles88 11-26-2012 12:56 PM

I'd also add a NAS for bulk storage.

highzone 11-26-2012 02:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by bondoben View Post

My problem is I just don't know enough to answer your question correctly. Whatever contraption I need I would like to use it instead of having to depend on cable. My wish list ( pipe dream maybe ) would be able to store all - most - a lot - of the movies I would like to download - stream - whatever so as to access them whenever I wanted and if possible on whatever tv I wanted.... .

There's a difference between downloading and streaming a video. Both send a video file over the Internet to your PC or Network Media Player or video game console or Smart TV. But with downloading a video you have to wait until the video is completely finished downloading before you can view it. So you end up with a copy of the video stored locally so can do what you want with it including viewing it again or storing it on another device or making yet another copy. But the legal downloading services like ITunes from Apple.(They have a program for Windows as well as the Mac) cost money and have ways to limit what you can do with the video you downloaded. The illegal ones don't limit you at all.

Streaming on the other hand allows you to watch the video even as it's being sent over the Internet but you don't get a local copy of it. Only a small portion of the video is stored locally in a buffer. Generally just enough to cover delays sending the video caused by the Internet and to allow you to do some rewinding of the video. The video is stored on the streaming site so if you want to view it again you will have to stream it again. Most streaming sites keep track of where you are time wise in a video so you don't have to start at the beginning.

Many streaming services also cost money (Netflix $7.99 a month for streaming, Amazon $79 for joining Amazon Prime) or require you to watch commercials like Hulu or have both a monthly fee and require you to watch commercials like HuluPlus. Still other streaming sites allow you to purchase a video you want to be streamed on an individual basis. But if you drop the streaming service you lose access to all the videos you have or want to stream.

If you want to store downloaded (not streamed) videos (however you obtained them) you will need to store them on a hard drive. The hard drive can be in a PC or it can be in a NAS (Network Attached Storage). A NAS is basically a small dedicated computer usually running Linux (a non Windows operating system) that just looks like a bunch of hard drives to other devices on the network like a PC or Network Media Player.

bondoben 11-26-2012 06:52 PM

I'm probably starting backwards. Wife wants new tv. Ours is an old 50" projection tv. She wants HDTV. I should have started by asking HDTV or smart HDTV? Or WiFi ready HDTV?

ljo000 11-26-2012 08:04 PM

Size and budget? I think 55" is the sweet spot at the moment for pricing.

bondoben 11-26-2012 10:09 PM

Wow WoW WoW Boy did I learn something today. It's been probably 4 years or better since I've talked to a Time-Warner rep about our bill. My wife usually did. We don't have hd tv so this just never entered the picture. If we want an HDTV to work ( HDTV signal ) we have to buy a certain package in order to get the cable box. Without the box you can't get hd signals. Never thought it through. The box, as you guys well know but I didn't, takes the encryption off the signals for hd to come through. After 2 hours and three reps I finally got someone at T-W to fully explain what we had and what we needed to get an HDTV up and running with their signals. You add the internet to it and your at $120.00/mo. Right now we're at $101.00/mo., have what's needed for the HDTV, and for $8.00/mo more get 10Mbps instead of 1Mbps. for internet.The bottom line is this. It seems like they have me over a barrel. I don't see any way to same $$$ and get better programing with an HTPC. I need the internet. If I want HD I have to buy a certain minimum. 80% of what we watch is the big 4 networks. We can't use OTA because we're in a steep valley with tall trees all around. Dish/Direct came and passed. Won't work.Would like input on tv. Smart, WiFi, not smart. Thanks for your responses. They made me think.

captain_video 11-27-2012 05:17 AM

With a HTPC and a cablecard tuner you only have to rent the cablecard. With set top boxes you have to rent the box or DVR at a much higher monthly fee for as long as you keep the service. If you ever drop TWC then you can sell the tuner on ebay and use the PC for other purposes. If you rent TWC's hardware you've got nothing to show for your investment.

ljo000 11-27-2012 07:35 AM

The other option is to downgrade your service to internet only and still watch the ClearQAM channels using a non-cablecard tuner (HDHomeRun Dual) for example. This way you still have the big networks and local news but can spend the savings on streaming services like Amazon VOD (Prime is only $80/yr and has tonnes of benefits), Netflix etc.

bondoben 11-27-2012 07:50 AM

So your saying that with a cable card I get the same programming I do or would or could get as with the box only a much "smaller" sort of version? The wife has to have that "program menu" and dvr service. I can't remember, but I think the dvr can be accomplished with an HTPC and software. Am I correct on that? Thanks by the way. And about the clear QAM stuff. How do I know I can get them. How does that work?

ljo000 11-27-2012 08:39 AM

With CableCARD you'll get everything except on-demand programming. It plugs into the HTPC tuner and is much cheaper to rent from the cable co. ($2/mo). In terms of look and feel, Window Media Center controls everything and is just like a cablebox. You navigate with a remote, there is full guide information, record episode or series with various options etc.

ClearQAM is basic cable that is sent unencrypted over the coax coming into the house. The cable co. can encrypt it if they choose but some don't (comcast in my area for example). To access it, you would subscribe to internet only, then split the cable - one end going to your modem and the other to the tuner attached to the HTPC.

ncarty97 11-27-2012 09:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljo000 View Post

3. HTPC + other sources with HDMI over Cat5e matrix
This would be a bit different in that all the sources (HTPC, BluRay etc) would be in a central location with an HDMI matrix distributing the content to several TVs. The downside here is twofold: first, each source can only be duplicated, not played independently so if the HTPC was playing Live TV, everything tuned to the HTPC on the matrix would be playing the same channel (however, a true matrix can have each TV playing a different source). Second, you would need to figure out a control mechanism such as sending IR signals back to the media closet.
In the first 2 methods, the main viewing TV is connected to the HTPC directly (or through an AVR). Each method has different advantages and disadvantages. I do the second method as it was the cheapest for me to set up and works very well for my needs.

The other problem with option 3 is that PlayReady does not support displaying on multiple monitors. I tried to do this over the last year. Just want my HTPC to put out to the TV in the bedroom and the TV is the living room. Duplicating the display worked fine, but I kept getting issues were TV (recorded or live) would stop and I'd get a blue screan (not BSOD) saying something about not having a subscription or something along those lines. I even went back and did a full rebuild of the HTPC, but immediately duped the desktop on the two TV's. PlayReady wouldn't install at all, it kept telling me my display decices were not HDCP compatible, despite saying they were if I just enabled each on individually.

Even tried pushing the signal through my AVR that has a splitter and just had the same issues.

ljo000 11-27-2012 11:37 AM

I think there is a device you can get to fix this that sits inbetween the receiver and the display and to prevent 'handshake' issues. There's lots of discussions on these issues on the A/V distribution forum.

ncarty97 11-27-2012 12:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljo000 View Post

I think there is a device you can get to fix this that sits inbetween the receiver and the display and to prevent 'handshake' issues. There's lots of discussions on these issues on the A/V distribution forum.

That would be the HDMI Detecive http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=8005

A good device, but the problem is that it doesn't do anything for multiple TV issues like I described above. One of their splitters might.


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