Starting over with Home theater! - AVS Forum
Home Theater Computers > Starting over with Home theater!
modena1230's Avatar modena1230 01:49 PM 05-12-2013
Hello all I have a few questions in regards to building a home theater.

I've just purchased KEF Q900, Q600c Q300 and Q800ds for my speaker needs( I have a 12" Klipsch synergy sub).
I'm going to be buying an Onkyo TX-NR818 or similar receiver.

What I'd like to do is build a HTPC that will act as a Plex server (will take recommendations on other software). I like the plex server because I can stream to outside of the HTPC home network (i'll be setting up a DMZ for security).

Can you guys recommend a build for me? I'm looking to take advantage of the surround sound. Will the receiver be able to extrapolate 7.1 or grater from an HTPC? I'm guessing that I need a motherboard with minimally optical out or will simply HDMI suffice? Do I need a sound card?

The HTPC will be used for streaming Netflix, Hulu+ and Amazon OD, movie watching and PVR. Needs to be easy to use for mother in law.

Desired specs with in the build.
Budget for HTPC case and internals $500-$600.

Intel speeds above 2.6ghz
Asus or Asrock mobo
Win 7
OTA tuner card for PVR ( I want to cut the cord!)
a case that will be able to hold 4 hdd and 1 ssd
a blue ray player (preferably one with playback software).
If no playback software software that can upconvert ripped DVD's

Will also be purchasing a new TV in the near future. Looking for 55-65" non-smart, non 3D TV sub 2000.00. Recommendations?

Oh one last thing any recommendations on a universal remote (also user friendly)?

Thank you all for your help.

Please let me know if I'm dreaming with trying to acquire what I want with my budget.

RM

tential's Avatar tential 07:13 PM 05-12-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by modena1230 View Post

Hello all I have a few questions in regards to building a home theater.

I've just purchased KEF Q900, Q600c Q300 and Q800ds for my speaker needs( I have a 12" Klipsch synergy sub).
I'm going to be buying an Onkyo TX-NR818 or similar receiver.

What I'd like to do is build a HTPC that will act as a Plex server (will take recommendations on other software). I like the plex server because I can stream to outside of the HTPC home network (i'll be setting up a DMZ for security).

Can you guys recommend a build for me? I'm looking to take advantage of the surround sound. Will the receiver be able to extrapolate 7.1 or grater from an HTPC? I'm guessing that I need a motherboard with minimally optical out or will simply HDMI suffice? Do I need a sound card?

The HTPC will be used for streaming Netflix, Hulu+ and Amazon OD, movie watching and PVR. Needs to be easy to use for mother in law.

Desired specs with in the build.
Budget for HTPC case and internals $500-$600.

Intel speeds above 2.6ghz
Asus or Asrock mobo
Win 7
OTA tuner card for PVR ( I want to cut the cord!)
a case that will be able to hold 4 hdd and 1 ssd
a blue ray player (preferably one with playback software).
If no playback software software that can upconvert ripped DVD's

Will also be purchasing a new TV in the near future. Looking for 55-65" non-smart, non 3D TV sub 2000.00. Recommendations?

Oh one last thing any recommendations on a universal remote (also user friendly)?

Thank you all for your help.

Please let me know if I'm dreaming with trying to acquire what I want with my budget.

RM
CNET just review the "BEST" plasma for the price. I dunno the size but it's pretty popular and within your size range. Personally, I prefer 70-80 inch tvs and with vizio releasing a 70 inch for 1700 I'd get that and then go on here and find good calibration settings.
I think it's here
http://reviews.cnet.com/best-hdtvs/
I think the first one is it I'm not positive though but all of those are great tvs that I've seen before.

As for the rest of your requirements, will you be reencoding stuff you PVR? Because if not, I really dunno if intel is the best choice. You might be able to get away with a cheaper AMD APU and save some cash towards other components.

For cases, it's so subjective I highly suggest researching it. Some people like mini cases, some people want HTPC type cases, others just get a normal, good performance midtower and tuck it away.

As for easy interface, I've never used anything other than XBMC. Doesn't mean you can't use plex, but I love XBMC's layout. You can use a really simply interface like Quartz, if you want it to be very black and white. I use Aeon Nox. If a person cant understand how to navigate Aeon Nox once it's set up then I just don't get it.
Only downside to XBMC is that out the box it's pretty decent. To get it to be amazing though you need to sit with it, do some research, and a lot of google before you get everything you want. Everyone has such different goals when it comes to HTPC I feel like this is true fore veryone.

Remote, well if you're using XBMC, an android tablet. You get the full functionality of a tablet, and still a remote too. Wouldn't get anything else. Probably would use a Nexus 7, or some type of equivalent of that.

You're not dreaming with your budget if the remote isn't included. If it is, then still probably not. I'd need more specifics of whether you'd be doing any encoding with the machine.
hogues's Avatar hogues 08:30 PM 05-12-2013
You want to look at the Panasonic ST60 series for the TV. Look in the plasma forum, there are a bunch of links to reviews from calibrators as well as the cnet review posted above.
TornadoTJ's Avatar TornadoTJ 07:18 AM 05-13-2013
Netflix is terrible on Windows 7, and Amazon streaming is all but non-existent on any Windows system. To do what you want to do, I suggest building an HTPC for everything other than Netflix, Amazon, Hulu+, and BR playback, and use a PS3 for those four things (among others).

Also, regarding your 7.1, just send bitstream to your receiver from the HTPC, and you are all set. In the Shark007 config, you select "Same as Input" in the Audio tab.

Use the HDHomeRun tuner that fits your needs, this way all devices on your network will have access to your tuner.

What you are talking about wanting to do and the suggestion I made are exactly what and how I do it here. I have not found a better way.

To make it all easy, invest in an all-in-one remote that makes it all simple. I use a Harmony One, but there are other options.
EDIT: You'll need the Logitech PS3 "adapter" to allow the remote to control the PS3.
modena1230's Avatar modena1230 11:52 AM 05-13-2013
Thanks for all your input guys. I have a lot to think about in how I proceed from here.

I'd really like to stay away from having a PS3 and an HTPC. Why is win 7 so horrible with the streaming providers?

Do the plug-ins that are available from Plex help with UI of said streamers?

I like the idea of using a tablet as a remote but I need to weight that against having a toddler running around as well. Could be good get her into tech early or she may never want to give up the remote!

Interms of TV's I'm limmited to our entertainment center which measures 60" across and has no room for my center channel. If I could sell it I would.

Here is the TV I'm looking at. Opinions? Remebre non-smart, non-3D
http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-UN65EH6000-65-Inch-1080p-120Hz/dp/B0074FGNDC/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2FG3I3OEO9NFK&coliid=I1OX445YB8DR52

RM
JL-F1's Avatar JL-F1 02:13 PM 05-13-2013
NetFlix and Amazon Prime, for lack of better word, suck on HTPC.

PS3
then
Roku

blow HTPC versions away
mdavej's Avatar mdavej 02:33 PM 05-13-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by modena1230 View Post

I like the idea of using a tablet as a remote but I need to weight that against having a toddler running around as well. Could be good get her into tech early or she may never want to give up the remote!
Nothing against your kid, but thinking of the grimy, germ covered screen and opportunities for dropping, breaking, knocking off a chair arm, stepping on, spilling food/liquid on, and losing an expensive tablet, I wouldn't even think of using a tablet remote in that situation. Just get a normal, cheap universal you can clean and replace. Even my teenagers won't keep the iPad clean.

[soapbox]And your kid's lives will be saturated by technology soon enough. Let them interact with and learn from the real world a little longer.[/soapbox]

I also agree that streaming sucks on a PC. But I also think it sucks on a PS3, mainly because it's expensive to control with a universal remote, is slow to boot, power hungry and loud. If you use your PS3 today, then you already know this. Use the PC for TV and media files, and get some other streaming box for streaming providers (Roku, streaming blu-ray player, smart TV, etc.).
modena1230's Avatar modena1230 02:35 PM 05-13-2013
Can someone tell me how they "suck"? I currently have a roku and agree its nice but i'm trying to only have one device a HTPC. I cant imagine that these streaming providers have worse applications for an HTPC are you guys using desktop mode for large screens?
mdavej's Avatar mdavej 02:45 PM 05-13-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by modena1230 View Post

Can someone tell me how they "suck"? I currently have a roku and agree its nice but i'm trying to only have one device a HTPC. I cant imagine that these streaming providers have worse applications for an HTPC are you guys using desktop mode for large screens?
Well, if you have Win 7, the Netflix and Amazon clients are only 720p. Hulu is even worse. All are awkward to use with a remote. If you don't care about picture quality, I suppose the interfaces look ok. But I personally won't tolerate an inferior picture and sacrifice ease of use for the sake of doing everything on my PC. It's just a matter of using the right tool for the job.
boournz's Avatar boournz 02:51 PM 05-13-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by modena1230 View Post

Can someone tell me how they "suck"? I currently have a roku and agree its nice but i'm trying to only have one device a HTPC. I cant imagine that these streaming providers have worse applications for an HTPC are you guys using desktop mode for large screens?
I'm guessing they are referring to the lack of HD content.
Netflix has some HD content available via browser (more movies than tv shows and max resolution of 720p), but most HD content and 1080p is only available using a dedicated device... PS3, Roku, Smart TV, Smart DVD/Blu Ray player. If it says "Available in HD on your TV" then it requires one of these streaming apps or devices.

Amazon Prime HD is only available on dedicated devices, only SD is available on pc.

I use browser based Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc on my small screen (24") but on a big tv, HD content would be sorely missed. HD audio is also missing on pc as far as I know. There's one exception I believe the Win8 Netflix app offers 5.1 audio and 1080 resolution, but this doesn't include the "Available in HD on your TV" content.
TornadoTJ's Avatar TornadoTJ 10:10 AM 05-14-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

I also agree that streaming sucks on a PC. But I also think it sucks on a PS3, mainly because it's expensive to control with a universal remote, is slow to boot, power hungry and loud. If you use your PS3 today, then you already know this. Use the PC for TV and media files, and get some other streaming box for streaming providers (Roku, streaming blu-ray player, smart TV, etc.).

PS3 isn't loud, power hungry, or all that slow. I got rid of both my phats, two slims now. They are quiet and don't use a lot of power. That 60" plasma sitting right above my PS3 uses more power than the PS3, and puts off a whole lot more heat, not to mention the big receiver and sub that are turned on at the same time...

Expensive to make an all-in-one remote work is relative. It's $50. Relate that to how much is spent on the rest of the system. I agree it's $50 we shouldn't have to spend, but relative to what we do, it's not that big a deal.

It isn't just the lack of HD. Streaming Netflix on Windows 7 is also very choppy. And Amazon doesn't have a plug in for 7MC, so you have to get out the keyboard. Both Amazon and Netflix look and sound great on the PS3, and the Netflix interface on PS3 is light years above 7MC. Netflix on Windows 8 is far better than Windows 7, but then it's Windows 8. And there's still not an Amazon Prime Video app for Windows 8.

There is a reason the PS3 is the #1 streamer of Netflix.
modena1230's Avatar modena1230 02:00 PM 05-14-2013
Ok, so what I'm hearing is HTPC for my pvr and media server, Roku for my streaming.

With that said can someone help me put together a HTPC build?
I would really like a recommended Over The Air tuner card, dual would be nice with included dvr software. Remote not needed.
Blue ray software recommendation.

I think I'd like to have a keyboard or controller with a keypad. Any recommendations?

Thanks for all your input.

P.S.
Do I really need to go plasma for my TV?
TornadoTJ's Avatar TornadoTJ 03:49 PM 05-14-2013
HDHomeRun to fit your needs (Dual for antenna (over the air), Prime for pay/cable), Windows 7 (it has the DVR software built-in), and skip the blu ray. That's why I said PS3 for BD and streaming. Making BDs work on an HTPC is a bit of a pain, it is expensive, and simply not worth it. It's also a risky proposition as it might not always work. Or get a stand-alone BD player with built-in Netflix streaming.

Logitech K400 keyboard.

The rest, it can just be up to you. But there are plenty of threads on this forum with builds, recommendations, comments, debates, etc.

I recommend plasma. I have both and the difference is incredible. Why would you NOT want a plasma?
modena1230's Avatar modena1230 07:36 PM 05-14-2013
Ok you guys have convinced me I'm going to plop down for the Panasonic p65st60 when I can. It also covers my streaming applications.

Tornadotj thanks for your input on keyboard and tuner card. I've built higher end rigs before and will probably end up going AMD apu for experience and cost savings. I'm keen on BR drive to rip BRD.

RM
JJHTPC's Avatar JJHTPC 07:58 AM 05-16-2013
I completely disagree with blu-ray being difficult and expensive to setup on an HTPC. Furthermore having a blu-ray player and being able to rip to mkv with h.264 and full dts is a great way to store your blu-ray collection, and it works amazingly with plex.

In fact I think current setups of windows 7 with blu-ray are preatty easy. You have to purchase a blu-ray software such as tmt5 or powerdvd and a blu ray player, but that is much less $ than a PS3. The only other purchase beyond that would be anydvd to remove any blu-ray encryption, but I think that this makes the htpc an even better solution as I don't feel I have to wait on my ps3 to update to a new firmware version to watch a new title.

I don't do a ton of streaming so I can't comment on the quality of netflix hulu etc, but I have never had a problem with streaming xfinity on demand or with streaming any sports programs on the HTPC.
modena1230's Avatar modena1230 09:45 AM 05-16-2013
That's what my goal is JJ.

I already have anydvdhd. I'd like to rip all my bluerays to hdd (i know how large the files are), thats why I'm looking for a case that can hold 4 mechanicals, and ssd for restarts and to house os and playback software. Should load very quick.

I'm guessing that the smart TV that i'm looking at will resolve those "streaming issues".

Thanks for your feedback JJ! What is your HTPC rig consist of?

RM
vladd's Avatar vladd 11:05 AM 05-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by modena1230 View Post

... thats why I'm looking for a case that can hold 4 mechanicals, and ssd...

nMediaPC 6000B: 6 internal 3.5" bays + 1 external 5.25" bay. Also supports up to a full ATX motherboard.
ikkuranus's Avatar ikkuranus 11:55 AM 05-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by boournz View Post

There's one exception I believe the Win8 Netflix app offers 5.1 audio and 1080 resolution, but this doesn't include the "Available in HD on your TV" content.

The first thing I noticed when switching to the win8 netflix app was Burn Notice was finally showing in HD on the pc and that is a show marked as only available in HD on your TV.
boournz's Avatar boournz 12:33 PM 05-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikkuranus View Post

The first thing I noticed when switching to the win8 netflix app was Burn Notice was finally showing in HD on the pc and that is a show marked as only available in HD on your TV.
It has 5.1 audio, but it's not HD video. Look at Hell On Wheels in Win8 Netflix app and you'll see both the 5.1 symbol and the HD symbol which indicates HD video.


modena1230's Avatar modena1230 01:30 PM 05-16-2013
So are you saying i need to go windows 8? I'm on the fence again about a plasma. Why should I not go LED?

Thanks for the info boournz.
boournz's Avatar boournz 01:43 PM 05-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by modena1230 View Post

So are you saying i need to go windows 8? I'm on the fence again about a plasma. Why should I not go LED?

Thanks for the info boournz.
Not necessarily, I was just pointing out that the Netflix app for Win 8 does not give you access to more HD content than the using the browser or WMC plugin, it does give you 5.1 audio where the browser doesn't. If you want the most HD streaming content, use the smart TV apps as you mentioned earlier, or use a Roku, smart dvd/bluray player, ps3, etc.

I have 8 on my laptop, but my HTPC is running Win 7. If you plan to use WMC for Live TV and DVR, 7 is your best option. You'd have to pay extra to add WMC to 8, it comes with 7.
LastButNotLeast's Avatar LastButNotLeast 01:47 PM 05-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by TornadoTJ View Post

The rest, it can just be up to you. But there are plenty of threads on this forum with builds, recommendations, comments, debates, etc.
 

 

Here's one of the most helpful that I've found:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1302559/assassins-simple-beginner-htpc-buying-guide


JJHTPC's Avatar JJHTPC 09:24 AM 05-17-2013
I actualy just rebuilt recently and I couldn't be happier.

Main Rig:
Thermaltake DH-202 case (I like the LCD I setup news feeds on it, which always has me flipping over to the internet after I see a headline)
AMD A10-5700
ASRock A85X extreme 6 mobo
16gb RAM (overkill but built for future)
128gb Samsung 840 pro SSD
2tb Samsung Spinpoint (TV recording only)
Ceton Infintv4
LG Blu-Ray

Storage:
Sansdigital 4bay hardware raid connected via eSata
4X 2tb Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm Raid 5 array
This provides about 6tb of movie storage


Home Theater:
Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector
96" wall mounted tension screen with black velvet wrapped alluminum frame
Pioneer VSX 1021 7.1 reciever (connected via HDMI to HTPC) **I actually dual monitor so that the projectors frame rates get picked up by the htpc (passthrough seems to mess this up)
Klipsch
(1 x C-2 center
2 x F-20 floor standing
4 x B-2 surround)
1 x KLH sub (wow just realized this needs to be replaced it's like the bruise on the apple)


3 xbox 360s working as extenders to various tvs in the house
1 echo working currently as a doorstop (crossing fingers and waiting for functionality as these will probably replace the xboxs)

My setup works very fluidly and WAF is very high right now (the rebuild was rough)

Things I would do differently:
The sansidigital comes in a 5bay version.... wish I would have gotten that version instead.
If I were buying now I would probably buy the HDHR prime ethernet connected tuner or more likely the Ceton 6 ethernet tuner, but unfortunately I was wave 1 of the original ceton infintv4 and paid almost double what it is now to have the device early.
I may have gone with a different blu-ray burner, and possibly just a blu-ray rom as I have never burned a blu-ray and only use it for ripping my collection.

Beyond that I love my setup.

I use media browser and plex and with these two simple add ins I have a very amazing media interface, recorded tv with almost unlimited storage, and I have the ability to use plex and watch my collection anywhere via plex (hopefully Media Browser 3 will replace this so it is more seemless)
Up
Mobile  Desktop