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post #1 of 19 Old 12-19-2012, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
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My wife and I had a new home built and we close on Friday, assuming the world hasn't ended (fingers crossed). In the house there is a 17'6" * 11' media room with 2 3' x 3' 'nooks'. I had one of these nooks finished out into a closet with the window insulated, drywalled, and painted over, an A/C vent about a foot off the floor, and an exhaust fan in the ceiling. This is my media control room for the entire home (hopefully). From this room I have 6x Cat6 cables running to each of 6 locations I may at some point want a TV, so 36 total runs. Each plate of 6 will have 4 spots dedicated for 2HDMI conversions, 1 spot for standard internet connectivity, and one spot for an RF receiver.

This is where the HTPC need comes in. I have put together several 'standard' computers so the building isn't the challenge, but the what to build, because I am a noob when it comes to what all I can do. Heat/Noise/Space are not a major concern because the entire room is designed to pump cold air in and take warm air out, and has a door. My main goal is to have a system in this closet than can provide a wide variety of media (2D/3D/Streaming HD, etc.) to the various locations throughout my house, using the wiring I have already done. Spare parts wise, I have a moderate collection and I will try to get a full catalog of spare parts fairly soon. My main question is, with a reasonable budget (let's say $1500 for now), what is the best route for me to take in my situation. I realize this is probably not enough info so please ask me any further questions that would be useful.
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post #2 of 19 Old 12-19-2012, 12:58 PM
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for entertainment until someone else replies....

server and 6 mini-itx media boxes in the closet to server the 6 locations.
hdmi and rf over cat6 to each location

each location tv and remote for a very clean look.

xbmc front end?

note: the post above is my opinion. as such, when reading any recommendations from me, please do you research and seek out other recommendations and make up your own mind on your next course of action. i mean, most reasonable adults should know that, but it seems this should be stated anyways.
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post #3 of 19 Old 12-19-2012, 01:11 PM
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I think you need to be a bit more specific about your requirements.

Do you know which front end you plan on using? (WMC, XBMC, JRiver, etc.)
Will you be using the HTPC's for Live TV and DVR?
What type of media files, if any, do you have? (ISO, video folders, mkv's, etc.)
Do you plan on using the HTPC's to play actual dvd and blu-ray discs?
Do you require dvd / blu-ray menu support?
Can you be more specific about streaming? Do you meaning local files or internet services like Netflix?

Also, 3D is fairly tricky because I think only a few programs like PowerDVD and TMT5 support it. These same programs are also subject to Cinavia protection, which will prevent you from playing rips of newer blu-ray movies.

Obviously choosing the right front end is crucial, and it may guide your hardware decisions.
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post #4 of 19 Old 12-19-2012, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
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See my responses in Blue

Do you know which front end you plan on using? (WMC, XBMC, JRiver, etc.) No Idea, starting from ground up so that will be an answer I need to get

Will you be using the HTPC's for Live TV and DVR? Currently my plan is to go through DirectTv and I don't think I can do that through the PC.

What type of media files, if any, do you have? (ISO, video folders, mkv's, etc.) Right now I don't have any content ready. The theory is to rip as much of my collection of DVDs and Blurays as I reasonably can in the best quality that I can. So whatever file type that is...

Do you plan on using the HTPC's to play actual dvd and blu-ray discs? assuming that the rip/stream technology is able to reproduce the quality if the actual disc, then no that's not important.

Do you require dvd / blu-ray menu support? Assuming this is referring to the Title Menus that appear when running a disc, then no its not required

Can you be more specific about streaming? Do you meaning local files or internet services like Netflix? Both? My current main TV can stream Netflix natively, but I would prefer as much flexibility as possible.
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post #5 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok so going the route of a media server with multiple HTPC (clients?) connected to it to distribute content to multiple locations seems like the best plan. Obviously (at least to me) the first step is having the media server and at least one client to distribute the media. I know I will have an xbox 360 in my media room, can this serve as the HTPC for that room, and if so what would the limitations be?

Really looking to get some more clarification on exactly what hardware is most important in the server and clients.
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post #6 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 09:20 AM
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Personally I think I would use the box in the audio/video closet as your NAS and DVR. At each TV you will need a lightweight HTPC connected to the network rather than running an HDMI to every TV, possibly run one HDMI to your main entertainment center and use it as the control hub. Get a HDhomeRun network attached tuner so you can access it from every HTPC in the house, the only pain in the butt I see is going into the media closet to drop in a blu-ray.

Something as basic as this is all you need for your "client" HTPC's:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856102002&nm_mc=OTC-pr1c3grabb3r&cm_mmc=OTC-pr1c3grabb3r-_-Barebone+Systems+-+Mini+/+Booksize-_-Intel-_-56102002 - probably the least conspicuous client you can buy.

You can use an ipad, iphone, android device to control the main computer over your wifi network so if you run the HDMI to your main home theater you won't need a client there.


Also you mentioned Direct TV, I think its all easier if you get cable instead. Personally I would consider cutting the cord since your going down this route, HTPC's make it a lot easier to cut the cord and still access all the programming you want.
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post #7 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verti89 View Post

Ok so going the route of a media server with multiple HTPC (clients?) connected to it to distribute content to multiple locations seems like the best plan. Obviously (at least to me) the first step is having the media server and at least one client to distribute the media. I know I will have an xbox 360 in my media room, can this serve as the HTPC for that room, and if so what would the limitations be?
Really looking to get some more clarification on exactly what hardware is most important in the server and clients.

For the client systems you basically just need a basic pc with HDMI out, anything Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, llano, or trinity based should work fine. For 3D capable clients the cpu list is a little more selective.
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post #8 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Personally I think I would use the box in the audio/video closet as your NAS and DVR. At each TV you will need a lightweight HTPC connected to the network rather than running an HDMI to every TV, possibly run one HDMI to your main entertainment center and use it as the control hub. Get a HDhomeRun network attached tuner so you can access it from every HTPC in the house, the only pain in the butt I see is going into the media closet to drop in a blu-ray.
Something as basic as this is all you need for your "client" HTPC's:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856102002&nm_mc=OTC-pr1c3grabb3r&cm_mmc=OTC-pr1c3grabb3r-_-Barebone+Systems+-+Mini+/+Booksize-_-Intel-_-56102002 - probably the least conspicuous client you can buy.
You can use an ipad, iphone, android device to control the main computer over your wifi network so if you run the HDMI to your main home theater you won't need a client there.
Also you mentioned Direct TV, I think its all easier if you get cable instead. Personally I would consider cutting the cord since your going down this route, HTPC's make it a lot easier to cut the cord and still access all the programming you want.

To your first point, I already have the wire run (Cat6) from the media closet to every location i will want a TV so running HDMI isn't an issue other than i will need a standard length one from client to wall then from wall to tv. The theory behind the media server is to rip my blu-rays onto that and thereby have a library accessible from any tv connected to a client, which then eliminates the issue with going to the media closet to drop in a disk. My issue with 'cutting the cord' is that I am an avid sports fan including UFC, and to the best of my knowledge there is not as of yet a good way of getting that without a major provider, but if I am wrong, then by all means straighten me out. The preference towards DirecTV is because our cable provider here is Comcast and I they charge more for significantly less here. The question of using an xbox as a client remains. Thanks for your input I will definitely check the links and that HDhomRun product out.
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post #9 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 10:48 AM
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I would stick with DirectTV if you're satisfied with it. No point in fixing something that ain't broke.

I am a bit worried about your 3D requirement. Maybe someone who knows more can comment, but I think you're eventually going to have issues with playback of 3D movies on an HTPC considering Cinavia restrictions.
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post #10 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
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well my 3d 'requirement' is very much not required. the only room i will ever use 3D in is the media room where the media closet is located, so having a standard player for that is no issue at all.
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post #11 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 01:18 PM
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Well it all depends on what you want to do. If you're more interested in streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc., then I think something simple like a Roku is a better choice. If you want to distribute your own 2D media around the house, then I would go with OpenELEC, which employs XBMC. The mysql functions in XBMC will allow you to keep your library synchronized across all of the machines. As for hardware, an Intel Sandy or Ivy Bridge processor is a good choice. OpenELEC has a custom build designed for these processors.

Keep in mind Netflix won't work on OpenELEC. There's a Netflix plugin for the Windows version XBMC, but it doesn't work very well IMO. I personally think streaming Netflix on an HTPC is a lost cause. All of the solutions are sort of hacks to launch a web browser for playback. The only exception is the WMC Netflix plug-in, which while official, hasn't been updated in ages and kind of stinks.
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post #12 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verti89 View Post

well my 3d 'requirement' is very much not required. the only room i will ever use 3D in is the media room where the media closet is located, so having a standard player for that is no issue at all.

Yeah, nobody seems to really care about 3D
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post #13 of 19 Old 12-20-2012, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by verti89 View Post

To your first point, I already have the wire run (Cat6) from the media closet to every location i will want a TV so running HDMI isn't an issue other than i will need a standard length one from client to wall then from wall to tv. The theory behind the media server is to rip my blu-rays onto that and thereby have a library accessible from any tv connected to a client, which then eliminates the issue with going to the media closet to drop in a disk. My issue with 'cutting the cord' is that I am an avid sports fan including UFC, and to the best of my knowledge there is not as of yet a good way of getting that without a major provider, but if I am wrong, then by all means straighten me out. The preference towards DirecTV is because our cable provider here is Comcast and I they charge more for significantly less here. The question of using an xbox as a client remains. Thanks for your input I will definitely check the links and that HDhomRun product out.

Nope, the cable companies are making huge deals with sports franchises because they think this is what will save them from the cord cutting trend.

Personally my experience with using wii or other non pc devices for things like netflix is that the interface is really clunky, but supposedly the xbox works well.
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post #14 of 19 Old 12-21-2012, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by verti89 View Post

Each plate of 6 will have 4 spots dedicated for 2HDMI conversions, 1 spot for standard internet connectivity, and one spot for an RF receiver.

Are you saying that you will have HDMI extender run to each room from the HTPC room? Why? Will you have to have 6 HDMI output in HTPC?

Why not, just use Cat6 to deliver data and use an extender of sorts right in the room, connected via HDMI to the TV?

It may not apply to your situation, but we have a single HTPC that houses quad cable card tuner, and 2 dual network attached tuners, that feed into the main HTPC, which is connected to main TV.

Other 4 TV's connect to HTPC through Media Center extenders via Cat5e network. Each TV is pretty much independant from any other TV, however they share recording storage, guide, and all of the digital content, which is accesisble through a remote. There are no keyboards, no mice to deal with....

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 #15 of 19 Old 12-31-2012, 05:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Are you saying that you will have HDMI extender run to each room from the HTPC room? Why? Will you have to have 6 HDMI output in HTPC?
Why not, just use Cat6 to deliver data and use an extender of sorts right in the room, connected via HDMI to the TV?
It may not apply to your situation, but we have a single HTPC that houses quad cable card tuner, and 2 dual network attached tuners, that feed into the main HTPC, which is connected to main TV.
Other 4 TV's connect to HTPC through Media Center extenders via Cat5e network. Each TV is pretty much independant from any other TV, however they share recording storage, guide, and all of the digital content, which is accesisble through a remote. There are no keyboards, no mice to deal with....

The idea was to be able to hang a tv on the wall and have no other components visible. In situations where that doesn't matter (like living room where i have to have receiver for surround anyways) I will likely do something similar to what you suggest.
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post #16 of 19 Old 01-01-2013, 09:09 PM
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I've read that running HDMI in longer lengths gets dicey. Anything greater than 50 ft appears to be inconsistent, at best, especially at 1080p resolution. I'd consider the extender option and/or get something that can be VESA mounted behind the wall mounted TV.
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post #17 of 19 Old 01-02-2013, 02:02 PM
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I've read that running HDMI in longer lengths gets dicey. Anything greater than 50 ft appears to be inconsistent, at best, especially at 1080p resolution.

I think what OP is saying is he has Cat 6 running through his house. Cat 6 can easily handle 1080p streams, so the plan is to have it terminate to HDMI on the TV end (and the media room end if needed). I may be wrong, but if this is easily doable then I agree it's the cleanest install to have.

OP - If you're not planning to switch from DirecTV, and therefore this whole project is only for local ripped media and internet streaming media - a NAS server and windows box running WMC with xbox360 terminals would work and be easy. All your data is on the NAS, interface is easy, and then the xbox gives you all the internet streaming you'd want (netflix, hbogo, ppv etc.)

Depending on how many users you have, have you considered a closed circuit TV setup? You could have 2 xbox's and 2 DirecTV receivers in your closet, each tagged with a CCTV channel.Put one of these in each remote and buy a few extra remotes(It actually works great, amazingly) for all your rooms and you'd have this clean look with no wires. So, from each TV, say channel 1 gives you DirecTV receiver 1, chan 2 is receiver 2, 3 and 4 are the 2 xbox's. Not sure what the costs are for HD CCTV systems, but at least from a clean look aspect this seems easy. Also keeps the door open for expansion / flexibility options later on.
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post #18 of 19 Old 01-02-2013, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verti89 View Post

The idea was to be able to hang a tv on the wall and have no other components visible. In situations where that doesn't matter (like living room where i have to have receiver for surround anyways) I will likely do something similar to what you suggest.

Small devices like the Intel NUC can be hidden out of sight in most cases (maybe not yours), but it's something to consider.
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post #19 of 19 Old 01-03-2013, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by monkeymania View Post

I think what OP is saying is he has Cat 6 running through his house. Cat 6 can easily handle 1080p streams, so the plan is to have it terminate to HDMI on the TV end (and the media room end if needed). I may be wrong, but if this is easily doable then I agree it's the cleanest install to have.
OP - If you're not planning to switch from DirecTV, and therefore this whole project is only for local ripped media and internet streaming media - a NAS server and windows box running WMC with xbox360 terminals would work and be easy. All your data is on the NAS, interface is easy, and then the xbox gives you all the internet streaming you'd want (netflix, hbogo, ppv etc.)
Depending on how many users you have, have you considered a closed circuit TV setup? You could have 2 xbox's and 2 DirecTV receivers in your closet, each tagged with a CCTV channel.Put one of these in each remote and buy a few extra remotes(It actually works great, amazingly) for all your rooms and you'd have this clean look with no wires. So, from each TV, say channel 1 gives you DirecTV receiver 1, chan 2 is receiver 2, 3 and 4 are the 2 xbox's. Not sure what the costs are for HD CCTV systems, but at least from a clean look aspect this seems easy. Also keeps the door open for expansion / flexibility options later on.

You are correct on the Cat 6 comment. I felt it gave the best flexibility. As far as switching from DirectTV, right now we are actually trying the cutting the cord approach, we shall see how that goes. So let's now work under the assumption of no Cable or DirectTV. I have a Netflix subscription and don't mind a couple other subscriptions. We watch very few tv shows with any sort of dedication, and the majority of my live tv watching is live sports which with the exception of Monday Night Football I can get through over the air antenna.

Right now my question is in regards to audio handling. The media room is pre-wired for 7.2 and then the house has 6 stereo speakers placed throughout the house that will need to be sourced from the media closet. So my question is, do I go with a 7.2 receiver with multi-room support, or is there a better way to handle that?
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