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post #1 of 35 Old 08-03-2013, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
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So I'm finally getting fed up with my cable bill, and am contemplating my first HTPC. After reading here and elsewhere on the interwebz, especially Assassin's website, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to go about finding a solution that works for me. I'm looking for advice. I want to know if going the HTPC route is really the solution I'm after, and if so how hard/easy, worthwhile/expensive.

Here is the setup I have now:

Verizon FiOS
2 HDTVs (Living room, master bedroom)
1 DLP projector (media room) 1080p
1 CRT tv(work out room)

1 Multiroom DVR (plays recorded in any room)
2 HD STBs
1 SD STB

Master
Bluray 5.1 HTIB w/hardwire ethernet (MoCA)

Living
Bluray player w/wifi ethernet

HT
Xbox 360
PS3 (doubles as Blueray player)
Both are hardwire ethernet through 4port hub through MoCA box.
5.1 audio

Home Office
Ancient Dell desktop
Westell router w/ASUS N56 for wifi (Westell radio blows)
MacBook Pro does the lion's share of home computing via wifi


I'd like to replace all the Verizon gear with a HTPC/Media server that would effectively work the same as all the Verizon gear. I'd also like to have iTunes library access, AND streaming audio access at each location, with netflix, prime, vudu, etc. as well. I'd love to be able to rip my entire bluray/dvd collection to the HTPC, and be able to watch at any location as well. My live TV would be OTA via antenna, or cable card with cheapest service. And internet access (browser, email) at each would be nice to have.

It has to have DVR capability, and be able to play live tv at each location( w/work out room being possible exception).

So would a HTPC work? Would I need "media extenders"? Still haven't quite figured those out. Would it be prudent to have a media server external to HTPC? It would be nice to have all functionality in one box, but would be willing to separate functions to get most desirable solution.

I guess I just need to find out what hardware and software I need to perform as above, and then determine if it's worthwhile. Functionality will have to have WAF. Eliminating remotes will score MAJOR brownie points!! Each room now requires AT LEAST 2 remotes.

Your thoughts, advice? Help?

PS: Gaming would be a nice to have (Skyrim, Crysis3, etc.) but not necessary, especially due to added hardware cost/functionality. Although arcade games via emulator would be HIGHLY desirable!!
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post #2 of 35 Old 08-03-2013, 10:43 AM
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I'll start by saying youre in luck as a Verizon customer. Verizon and Comcast are the most lenient with the way they use DRM. That gives you some more options for getting recordings around your house. They could change that at any time, and your recordings would only play at the location they were recorded at, but I'll explain that in a second.

If you want to use the cable card since like I said Verizon is very permissive you can use a few different software packages - Windows Media Center, XBMC, J River, Media Portal are the ones that come to mind immediately. Likewise you can use any of those with an antenna.

All the streaming services you listed can be used on a computer, but for most of them you have to leave the media center interface to use them, or at the very least need a mouse/trackball/trackpad type remote to navigate them. I believe XBMC has done the most work getting these integrated but I dont use it. I use WMC and have Pandora, HBO Go, ESPN 3, and Xfinity on Demand running inside of it, but I need to use a remote that had mouse functions to navigate. If you want a traditional remote centric experience you will probably want to use a Roku or similar box for streaming media.

As for the different locations here are your options:
-use Windows Media Center. use one main pc and several official WMC extenders
-use any of the software packages and stick a pc at each tv.

pros of using extenders: recordings made on the main pc can be played anywhere. given that you have Verizon this is a non issue, but they could change their policy or you could be forced to switch providers. extenders are cheaper than pcs. they "share" a recording schedule meaning if you schedule the system to record CSI from your bedroom that scheduled recording will show up on all systems.

cons of extenders: they have lousy file compatibility. this is a non issue if you dont plan on ripping movies, but if you should decide to there are no extenders than can play back all common file formats. the Xbox 360 supports some streaming services, but you have to leave the DVR interface and also pay a monthly subscription to use them. The Ceton Echo doesnt support these (yet, I believe it is in development) and the discontinued extenders (which work very well for live tv) don't do streaming well if at all.

pros of multiple computers: more configurable. you can play all your media files. you can also do all the pc streaming services.

cons: you don't share recording schedules (at least in Windows Media Center. I think some of the other software packages can do this) meaning that each computer won't know that CSI is scheduled. this also will keep the recording from being centralized - each PC will store their own recordings. you can network them and access everything though.

as far as emulators, thats a definite possibility. I know it can be done with XBMC, and this is how my WMC set up looks with my emulators. when a game is selected it launches the emulator in full screen to play the game. i set two buttons on my controller to map to ALT and F4, which I press together to exit the emulator and go back into the game browser:



My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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post #3 of 35 Old 08-03-2013, 10:53 AM
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As has been said in another thread, break this down into discrete and swallowable pieces. Don't try to boil the ocean.

At the root, you (a) have FIOS, and (b) require DVR. That means, by definition, Windows Media Center and cableCARD tuner.

The idea behind that is you have one single storage tank for your recorded shows, and they get played to TVs either directly through the PC that's running Windows and MC, or else through MC extenders on remote TVs.

Same goes for live TV--but really, live TV? If you have such a setup and you're still watching live TV, you're doing it all wrong. Whatever.

Stay away from Windows 8. You want Windows 7. Just do it. CableCARD-equipped 7MC with XBox extenders (*easy* to set up) is how you do whole house DVR and TV watching with your FIOS. The older XBox Universal Media Remote (white, with the green button) is your best bet for easy and WAF. (Speaking of The Green Button, there's a whole web site dedicated to talking about this kind of application; you'll get FAR more information over there than you will here regarding this particular piece of your puzzle.)

The Windows 7 (64-bit) PC should have 8GB of RAM, an SSD for the OS (small), and a separate large capacity spinning disk for storing the recordings.

You WILL want to hardwire all of this. MoCA at least, but preferably straight Cat 6 ethernet. Yeah, it's hard. Just do it. Anything worth doing, is worth doing right. If it's not worth doing right, it's not worth doing.

You may or may not want to hook the PC in question directly to your main TV, but you probably will--it gives a little more flexibility. But plenty of people just let the recording tank PC sit in the basement or whatever, and simply stream from it using XBox. Works fine.

Others here will pipe in with advice on how to rip and store your movies. The best solution would be a mechanism that integrates completely with 7MC and/or your extenders, whatever that turns out to be today. I leave that to the experts here. You will hear all about remote storage of your ripped movies and integrated solutions to catalog them, grab the metadata, display them all nice and organized, and stream them all using the 7MC interface (and remote!).
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post #4 of 35 Old 08-03-2013, 10:57 AM
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btw, the reason I focused on 7MC is for what pittsoccer said: DRM. You may not have that problem now, but down the road is another story. One thing is certain: the content providers are *greedy*, and things are likely to get more restrictive, not less, if they think that's how to make more money.

Planning for the future means planning for DRM. Ignore the reality of DRM restrictions at your own risk. What you risk is ripping everything out by the roots a year from now should Verizon decide (or be forced) to implement the DRM stuff.
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post #5 of 35 Old 08-03-2013, 02:37 PM
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My ADD won't let me get through all that. I need pointed questions or I just move on.

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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #6 of 35 Old 08-03-2013, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

My ADD won't let me get through all that. I need pointed questions or I just move on.

Then why did you even bother to respond?

No one cares that you have a disorder that keeps you from grasping anything longer than four words. Why did you feel the need to post what you did?
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post #7 of 35 Old 08-03-2013, 06:57 PM
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Take it easy. I think you misunderstood my post. I was trying to suggest OP develop a few pointed questions for better help and replies. I tried to be nice about it by suggesting perhaps its my fault and not his. I was suggesting he form pointed questions because I sincerely thought it would help him.

I still do.

Pointed question usually get the best replies.

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post #8 of 35 Old 08-03-2013, 08:04 PM
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If you decide to go OTA I would recommend MediaPortal. It does have a learning curve. It's not as easy to setup as WMC. But you will have Whole Home DVR. You can use pcs as extenders and there is also a plugin called aMPdroid that will allow to use an Android device as an extender also.
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post #9 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Take it easy. I think you misunderstood my post. I was trying to suggest OP develop a few pointed questions for better help and replies. I tried to be nice about it by suggesting perhaps its my fault and not his. I was suggesting he form pointed questions because I sincerely thought it would help him.

I still do.

Pointed question usually get the best replies.

I'm a COMPLETE newb with this htpc stuff, so forgive my ignorance. My dilemma is that I have TONS of pointed questions!! Rather than spam the forum with all of them, I was hoping to get a general idea of what I should be considering, given my situation. That way I don't take up eveyone's time by asking questions (pointed ones) that I can search the forum for, and try and answer them myself. I don't want folks fishing for me. I just want to be taught how to fish.

Having been a member here at AVS for over a decade with only 20 something posts attests to my lurking/learn by searching method. I've been searching, and that's my dilemma. I've read so much I feel a bit overwhelmed with where to start. That's why I mentioned my current setup, and what I'd like to have in a new setup.

Besides a htpc that can pretty much do everything, including ripping, and recording what other hardware do I need to consider? If I want to be able to playback/stream any media on the htpc in other rooms/locations, what will I need?

What software will best suit me?

Based on the answers from PItt & Adam, it would seem that htpc in say, the home office, with extenders in each room would give me what I'm after, yes? Will extenders allow for separate remotes so that I can be watching/doing one thing, while the wife does is watching something different, at the same time in a different location?

Mfusick, if YOU were in my shoes, knowing what you know about all this, where would you start??? Is that pointed enough?
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post #10 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 09:06 AM
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Will extenders allow for separate remotes so that I can be watching/doing one thing, while the wife does is watching something different, at the same time in a different location?

Absolutely. That's the whole point of WMC extenders. WMC has all tuners coming into a central PC, and all the recordings are stored in one central PC. The extenders are special instances of remote desktop to that PC; you can be running up to five extenders simultaneously, and each extender sees its own instance of what looks just like WMC on the main PC. Each extender can watch its own recorded show, and if there's a spare tuner available an extender can tune and watch whatever is available on that tuner. The extenders and the main PC all share a common guide and a common recording schedule.

This is why the four and now six tuner cards from Ceton have gotten a lot of attention. While I don't watch any live TV, some households do--and so to record shows plus play live TV requires a bunch of tuners. Some people have 8 or 12 streams available to handle that.
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post #11 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 09:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blanco View Post

I'm a COMPLETE newb with this htpc stuff, so forgive my ignorance. My dilemma is that I have TONS of pointed questions!!

Your original post was a good one. It clearly enumerated your assets and goals. Save the pointed questions until you've identified your subprojects.

You are probably going to make some mistakes or major project revisions along the way, and given your highlighting of the importance of WAF, I'd recommend proceeding in a manner that insulates her as much as possible from your experimenting. The 7MC suggestion does seem like a good fit for your needs, and you'll almost assuredly have a use for at least one PC, so that's where I'd begin. Leave the existing setup in place, buy the components for a new PC, and get it working as a DVR recording OTA. Focus on just that...it's enough of a rabbit hole to get you started until you find out what you really want.
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post #12 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 09:27 AM
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You have 4 locations.

You will need:
1 HTPC with Windows 7 Running Windows Media Center, CableCard tuner (3,4 or 6 tuner versions available)
3 Media Center Extenders with their own remotes.

You already have an XBOX 360, which can serve as an extender, so you will need to get a remote for it (programmable like Harmony or similar) to controle the XBOX and the TV, as if they were 1 unit (volume, mute, power for TV, and power, guide, channel up/down, select for XBOX)

So, you will need to get 2 more extenders, or xbox 360's. They don't have to be new, or have funcational disc drive, as long as they can connect to the network, and respond to remote control commands.

Done!

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 #13 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 09:37 AM
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Extenders are great for recorded tv but really lousy for movie files (like bluray rips) and streaming services (like Netflix or Hulu).

The Xbox 360 can do most streaming services, but you have to pay for an Xbox Live subscription and leave the main HTPC interface and go into the gaming one. It has limited codec compatibility and cannot play bitrates found in most bluray discs.

The Ceton Echo (and the discontinued extenders by Linksys, DLink, HP, Samsung, and Niveus) not only have the same limitations in terms of file playback but they also support no current streaming services. Ceton is still actively developing the Echo so there is some hope there of more file formats and online services but that is kind of hard to budget an expensive whole house system around.

So if you have no interest remuxing bluray discs into mkv files or watching HBO Go extenders will work great. I use a 360 and a Linksys DMA 2100 at my house. In the bedroom I added a second box to the extender to handle Netflix, Watch ESPN, and movie library playback.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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post #14 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

Extenders are great for recorded tv but really lousy for movie files (like bluray rips) and streaming services (like Netflix or Hulu).
+1

You are better off using something else for streaming. If you don't have smart TV's that can stream already, Chromecast is cheap and works very well. Roku, Apple TV, Streaming BD players are all good alternatives. You can technically make WMC do almost everything, but it's not going to do it well. If you can be patient, Echo extenders will most likely stream everything in the near future, just not at the moment.

As for remotes, if I were you I'd get a cheap universal for every room. I prefer JP1 remotes due to their extremely low cost ($3-$8) and programmability, but Harmony is a very good, very popular option. Media center remotes work ok, but most won't control any other devices. A few can control the power and volume on your TV. An Inteset remote like THIS is a good option if you want to go that route. Those are backlit, which is nice. Harmony 200/300 is very popular but I don't really know why since they can only do one macro. If you went with harmony, I'd recommend a refurb 600 at a minimum. Those usually run under $40 shipped.
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post #15 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by EricN View Post

Your original post was a good one. It clearly enumerated your assets and goals. Save the pointed questions until you've identified your subprojects.

You are probably going to make some mistakes or major project revisions along the way, and given your highlighting of the importance of WAF, I'd recommend proceeding in a manner that insulates her as much as possible from your experimenting. The 7MC suggestion does seem like a good fit for your needs, and you'll almost assuredly have a use for at least one PC, so that's where I'd begin. Leave the existing setup in place, buy the components for a new PC, and get it working as a DVR recording OTA. Focus on just that...it's enough of a rabbit hole to get you started until you find out what you really want.

Sounds like a logical first step. Just need to make sure I accommodate all my needs with appropriate hardware. Care more about quality/reliability/longevity over price.

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Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

You have 4 locations.

You will need:
1 HTPC with Windows 7 Running Windows Media Center, CableCard tuner (3,4 or 6 tuner versions available)
3 Media Center Extenders with their own remotes.

You already have an XBOX 360, which can serve as an extender, so you will need to get a remote for it (programmable like Harmony or similar) to controle the XBOX and the TV, as if they were 1 unit (volume, mute, power for TV, and power, guide, channel up/down, select for XBOX)

So, you will need to get 2 more extenders, or xbox 360's. They don't have to be new, or have funcational disc drive, as long as they can connect to the network, and respond to remote control commands.

Done!

Sounds straightforward, but apparently they don't handle bluray ripped media well. Based on other post here. Could it really be that easy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

Extenders are great for recorded tv but really lousy for movie files (like bluray rips) and streaming services (like Netflix or Hulu).

The Xbox 360 can do most streaming services, but you have to pay for an Xbox Live subscription and leave the main HTPC interface and go into the gaming one. It has limited codec compatibility and cannot play bitrates found in most bluray discs.

The Ceton Echo (and the discontinued extenders by Linksys, DLink, HP, Samsung, and Niveus) not only have the same limitations in terms of file playback but they also support no current streaming services. Ceton is still actively developing the Echo so there is some hope there of more file formats and online services but that is kind of hard to budget an expensive whole house system around.

So if you have no interest remuxing bluray discs into mkv files or watching HBO Go extenders will work great. I use a 360 and a Linksys DMA 2100 at my house. In the bedroom I added a second box to the extender to handle Netflix, Watch ESPN, and movie library playback.

Already have Live for online gaming, so no issue there. Leaving one interface for another isn't a show stopper depending on how easy/seamless it is to switch between the 2. Bluray playback is a MUST.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

+1

You are better off using something else for streaming. If you don't have smart TV's that can stream already, Chromecast is cheap and works very well. Roku, Apple TV, Streaming BD players are all good alternatives. You can technically make WMC do almost everything, but it's not going to do it well. If you can be patient, Echo extenders will most likely stream everything in the near future, just not at the moment.

As for remotes, if I were you I'd get a cheap universal for every room. I prefer JP1 remotes due to their extremely low cost ($3-$8) and programmability, but Harmony is a very good, very popular option. Media center remotes work ok, but most won't control any other devices. A few can control the power and volume on your TV. An Inteset remote like THIS is a good option if you want to go that route. Those are backlit, which is nice. Harmony 200/300 is very popular but I don't really know why since they can only do one macro. If you went with harmony, I'd recommend a refurb 600 at a minimum. Those usually run under $40 shipped.

So you are saying Netflix, Prime, etc through htpc isn't very good?


So is this a reasonable idea?:

HTPC in home office, where space and noise aren't an issue.
It will have mutiple TV tuners, for recording/watching more than one thing at once.
Allow for ripping of audio, DVD, and Bluray discs.
Store media to be played on extenders ( Music of various formats, recorded tv shows,DVDs, AND Blurays)
Allow for emulator based games on htpc, as well as extenders.

Extenders can playback all htpc based media, in high quality.


Is there a real difference between that setup, and say a "Media Server", with pc's at each location? I mean from a performance/application perspective, not cost.
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post #16 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 12:47 PM
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So you are saying Netflix, Prime, etc through htpc isn't very good?

In some cases the answer is no the PC quality is no where near as good. Unless you use the new Windows 8 app for Netflix you can't get 5.1 audio or 1080p video. Most of the other services are that way too - PCs are limited to lower quality (likely due to piracy concerns). Vudu just recently started allowing PCs to access high definition video and 5.1 audio.

There are also very few remote centric ways to use these programs - to use Pandora you have to open the Pandora website. Same with Prime. There are some ways to do it inside WMC, but you still need a mouse/trackpad/track ball to navigate and select things.
Quote:
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Extenders can playback all htpc based media, in high quality.


Lets make sure we are using the same lingo. If you mean Windows Media Center extenders (such as the Ceton Echo and Xbox 360) then no, they cannot. They cannot play high bitrates (files over approximately 20mbps), they cannot play DTS, DTS-MA, and True HD audio, and cannot open some containers. They absolutely cannot play every kind of file a PC can.

If by extender you mean a smaller, more modest PC at each location then yes, this will work. A PC can be set up to play all media types, a WMC extender cannot.
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Is there a real difference between that setup, and say a "Media Server", with pc's at each location? I mean from a performance/application perspective, not cost.

PCs being more configurable is one difference. The other is driven more by your cable company (being Fios thats in your benefit).

Many cable providers mark all the channels outside of local ones as "copy once." That means only the PC that recorded it can play it. So if you set a recording in your bedroom, and try watching it in your living room, you will get an error. Verizon uses this on very few channels - I *think* only HBO/Showtime/etc - they might not even use it there. That means you can record anything anywhere and watch it anywhere. Verizon could, however, change all of this over night.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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post #17 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 12:53 PM
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Blanco,

I will try to get you a good reply. I just saw your post and I have to run out for a bit. Stay tuned. PM me if I forget by tonight at 8pm. I owe you biggrin.gif

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post #18 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 01:04 PM
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You are probably going to make some mistakes or major project revisions along the way

+1000
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post #19 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 01:04 PM
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OP, the users who post guidance for WMC+Extenders post that same guidance to every newcomer in the forums

It's good advice for DVR, and if you only want a whole home DVR (where you *kind of* keep the recordings on your HDDs) then it's great. If all of your movies are DVDs or you don't mind running Handbrake to lower the bitrate of nearly every blu-ray rip (which takes a long time) then the extenders should serve you fairly well.

If you are interested in whole home FLAC audio libraries and full blu ray rips everywhere then you really need an HTPC in each location. If you want an integrated DVR / game console / all-format-capable audio/video solution you again need an HTPC in each location. X360s are probably the closest otherwise since they can add emulators, play some significant game selections, DVDs, most music formats, and most videos (assuming a low enough bit rate).

You don't need WMC for cablecard DVR, especially with FiOS, but in the setup options to start with you really have 3 decent ones
  1. Use WMC and shoehorn everything else within WMC (Mediabrowser or XBMC launching from within WMC - giving you better artwork, playback options, addition of games, and plugins for streaming - XBMC)
  2. - kind of along with Option 1 you can start with several WMC HTPCs or a single one with several extenders
  3. Use XBMC and a different DVR for cablecard content (mediaportal, 4theRecord, or NPVR) - or just Mediaportal altogether. You gain a central TV server model with NPVR, and either frontend allows a synchronized home library
  4. Use XBMC and integrate WMC Guide / WMC Recorded TV into XBMCs main menu (lose the whole-home part but can combine all HTPC recorded TV libraries to each HTPC)


Essentially this is the direction I went smile.gif chronologically (though I never used extenders - just a primary and secondary HTPC). I'm currently at 4, but desperately hope for NPVRs .NET4 and XBMC Gothams internal player updates to clean up issues so that I can go back to the BEST solution - which for me is 3
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post #20 of 35 Old 08-05-2013, 02:58 PM
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OP, the users who post guidance for WMC+Extenders post that same guidance to every newcomer in the forums

Well, when the discussion starts with "must have DVR and high WAF," you propose what's right.

If you live by yourself, you can do pretty much anything you like.

There's a difference between "it works" and "it's right for the situation at hand". This is why web forums are free, and consultants to solve a real problem cost money. Everyone remember, the advice you get here is worth 100% of what you paid for it (including mine, admittedly).

I'm sure your neighbor who loves Porsches would tell you, buy a 911 Turbo no matter what--without hearing the message that all you want to do is toodle around the neighborhood for 2500 miles/year with your two small kids in tow. Yes, technically the 911 will serve the task (for now)...
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post #21 of 35 Old 08-06-2013, 10:01 AM
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Extenders are great for recorded tv but really lousy for movie files (like bluray rips) and streaming services (like Netflix or Hulu).

The Xbox 360 can do most streaming services, but you have to pay for an Xbox Live subscription and leave the main HTPC interface and go into the gaming one. It has limited codec compatibility and cannot play bitrates found in most bluray discs.

The Ceton Echo (and the discontinued extenders by Linksys, DLink, HP, Samsung, and Niveus) not only have the same limitations in terms of file playback but they also support no current streaming services. Ceton is still actively developing the Echo so there is some hope there of more file formats and online services but that is kind of hard to budget an expensive whole house system around.

So if you have no interest remuxing bluray discs into mkv files or watching HBO Go extenders will work great. I use a 360 and a Linksys DMA 2100 at my house. In the bedroom I added a second box to the extender to handle Netflix, Watch ESPN, and movie library playback.

Most people don't have 55" plus TV's and surround sound systems around the house, some do (their houses are usually featured on "Cribs" or "Real Housewives of..."), but most don't. So, there is no reason to want 1:1 BD rip and pure 7.2 raw sound.

Most people have 1 TV that is larger, 55" and up, and the rest are under 42" which you can throw 480p on and not notice the difference, and just built in speakers, or a sound bar. Once again, there may be people who have 90" Plazma in the bedroom with a 7.2 sound and shakers built into the bed, but most don't.

One can always keep the 1:1 rip for the "big" TV, and compatible XVID or DIVX rip for the extenders.

Can't fix online access, other than installing PlayOn, which works with extenders for youtube, and other tube services.

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 #23 of 35 Old 08-06-2013, 10:26 AM
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I have no idea why someone would want to rip two copies of a movie, manage two libraries (how would you do that with extenders?), and buy hard drives to hold duplicate copies.

Having a small PC at every tv (which he is already considering given that he wants bluray playback and has several surround systems) will give him a consistent experience in every room of the house and save a lot of time.

I'm not even arguing on quality of video/audio grounds; I'm saying that would be a ton of extra work to set up and manage.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
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I want all I can get. I'm a greedy pig.

Bigger and better. Too much is almost enough

Wait'll you go to prison and meet Bubba...
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post #25 of 35 Old 08-07-2013, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

Extenders are great for recorded tv but really lousy for movie files (like bluray rips) and streaming services (like Netflix or Hulu).

The Xbox 360 can do most streaming services, but you have to pay for an Xbox Live subscription and leave the main HTPC interface and go into the gaming one. It has limited codec compatibility and cannot play bitrates found in most bluray discs.

The Ceton Echo (and the discontinued extenders by Linksys, DLink, HP, Samsung, and Niveus) not only have the same limitations in terms of file playback but they also support no current streaming services. Ceton is still actively developing the Echo so there is some hope there of more file formats and online services but that is kind of hard to budget an expensive whole house system around.

So if you have no interest remuxing bluray discs into mkv files or watching HBO Go extenders will work great. I use a 360 and a Linksys DMA 2100 at my house. In the bedroom I added a second box to the extender to handle Netflix, Watch ESPN, and movie library playback.

Most people don't have 55" plus TV's and surround sound systems around the house, some do (their houses are usually featured on "Cribs" or "Real Housewives of..."), but most don't. So, there is no reason to want 1:1 BD rip and pure 7.2 raw sound.

Most people have 1 TV that is larger, 55" and up, and the rest are under 42" which you can throw 480p on and not notice the difference, and just built in speakers, or a sound bar. Once again, there may be people who have 90" Plazma in the bedroom with a 7.2 sound and shakers built into the bed, but most don't.

One can always keep the 1:1 rip for the "big" TV, and compatible XVID or DIVX rip for the extenders.

Can't fix online access, other than installing PlayOn, which works with extenders for youtube, and other tube services.

Smallest tv in any room is 46", and by the time I'm done, every room with tv will have at least 5.1 audio. It would be really nice to have my entire library of movies dvd, and bluray accessible from each tv/projector with no down conversion( is that the right lingo?). 1080P FTW!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

I have no idea why someone would want to rip two copies of a movie, manage two libraries (how would you do that with extenders?), and buy hard drives to hold duplicate copies.

Having a small PC at every tv (which he is already considering given that he wants bluray playback and has several surround systems) will give him a consistent experience in every room of the house and save a lot of time.

I'm not even arguing on quality of video/audio grounds; I'm saying that would be a ton of extra work to set up and manage.

I think having a pc at each tv might be the route I need in order to have the versatility I want.


What does everyone use for an "On Screen Guide" for television programming? Is that built in to WMC? Also, I was looking at JRiver stuff, how does that fit in with WMC?
Sounds like maybe I should just start with an htpc that 1)stores & plays media 2)rips discs 3)Functions as DVR and allow live tv watching. Once I have a working machine, THEN worry about adding other machines/rooms. Does that sound like a reasonable plan?

Blueiedgod, "5 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $3.99/month!!!" is what I'm after with ability to add whole house internet access, and media playback. Game emulation is highly desirable, but not necessary.
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post #26 of 35 Old 08-07-2013, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

I have no idea why someone would want to rip two copies of a movie, manage two libraries (how would you do that with extenders?), and buy hard drives to hold duplicate copies.

Having a small PC at every tv (which he is already considering given that he wants bluray playback and has several surround systems) will give him a consistent experience in every room of the house and save a lot of time.

I'm not even arguing on quality of video/audio grounds; I'm saying that would be a ton of extra work to set up and manage.

Weigh the cost of having 4 PC's around the house vs. the cost of hard drives and extenders.

What is the lowest cost HTPC that can be used reliably? How much does it cost? Multiply by 4. Can a SFF PC sufficient to work here be built for under $129?

Wil;l it be more work to set up 4 HTPC's? Or just set handbrake to convert the existing 1:1 BD collection to XVID for extender use?

An XVID od DIVX compressed BD movie will take 1 - 1.5 Gb, i.e. one could fit anywhere from 1,333 to 2.000 movies on a single $60 2 Tb Hard drive. If the same person has a 1:1 BD collection (30 Gb), then he/she would have to have 60 Tb drive array.

Does the cost of an additional 2 Tb drive ($60) really break the bank when one had to spend close to $2,000 on hard drives for the 60 Tb array?

Double the costs if one considers redundancy, or some sort of back up.

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 #27 of 35 Old 08-07-2013, 09:58 AM
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Smallest tv in any room is 46", and by the time I'm done, every room with tv will have at least 5.1 audio. It would be really nice to have my entire library of movies dvd, and bluray accessible from each tv/projector with no down conversion( is that the right lingo?). 1080P FTW!!
I think having a pc at each tv might be the route I need in order to have the versatility I want.


What does everyone use for an "On Screen Guide" for television programming? Is that built in to WMC? Also, I was looking at JRiver stuff, how does that fit in with WMC?
Sounds like maybe I should just start with an htpc that 1)stores & plays media 2)rips discs 3)Functions as DVR and allow live tv watching. Once I have a working machine, THEN worry about adding other machines/rooms. Does that sound like a reasonable plan?

Blueiedgod, "5 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $3.99/month!!!" is what I'm after with ability to add whole house internet access, and media playback. Game emulation is highly desirable, but not necessary.

Yes, guide is built into WMC.

Multiple HTPC approach won't work if you decide to use Cable as your TV provider. Most cable companies are flagging everything as "copy once" which means it can only be played back on the machine it was recorded, or a synced extender. Verizon FiOS and a handful of smaller cable TV providers have not gotten around to flag everything, yet, but I am sure they will at some point.

So, yes, if you are going to use OTA, multiple HTPCs will work, but each one of them will have its own guide and its own recording schedule. You can link up all of the hard drives in them, or force them to record on one hard drive, but it will not solve the issue of "I am in the bedroom, and can't remember if I scheduled show such and such to record, since it won't show up in the recording schedule on the bedroom PC if it were scheduled on the living room pc"

I would move ripping discs to a deciated dekstop machine, not HTPC. Leave HTPC, be just that, whole house DVR, and don't touch it.

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 #28 of 35 Old 08-07-2013, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes, guide is built into WMC.

Multiple HTPC approach won't work if you decide to use Cable as your TV provider. Most cable companies are flagging everything as "copy once" which means it can only be played back on the machine it was recorded, or a synced extender. Verizon FiOS and a handful of smaller cable TV providers have not gotten around to flag everything, yet, but I am sure they will at some point.

So, yes, if you are going to use OTA, multiple HTPCs will work, but each one of them will have its own guide and its own recording schedule. You can link up all of the hard drives in them, or force them to record on one hard drive, but it will not solve the issue of "I am in the bedroom, and can't remember if I scheduled show such and such to record, since it won't show up in the recording schedule on the bedroom PC if it were scheduled on the living room pc"

I would move ripping discs to a deciated dekstop machine, not HTPC. Leave HTPC, be just that, whole house DVR, and don't touch it.

I've done some more reading, and I think my situation is very similar to this thread: Click Here

So is there no way of using multiple pcs, but with a centralized dvr, with one schedule for all machines? With the htpc method, I'd like the same functionality I have now with the Verizon STBs, with the added flexibility mentioned above (movies, music, games, etc.).
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post #29 of 35 Old 08-07-2013, 11:47 AM
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Well, when the discussion starts with "must have DVR and high WAF," you propose what's right.
You can have DVR with high WAF and no extenders
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

Multiple HTPC approach won't work if you decide to use Cable as your TV provider. Most cable companies are flagging everything as "copy once" which means it can only be played back on the machine it was recorded, or a synced extender. Verizon FiOS and a handful of smaller cable TV providers have not gotten around to flag everything, yet, but I am sure they will at some point.

So, yes, if you are going to use OTA, multiple HTPCs will work, but each one of them will have its own guide and its own recording schedule. You can link up all of the hard drives in them, or force them to record on one hard drive, but it will not solve the issue of "I am in the bedroom, and can't remember if I scheduled show such and such to record, since it won't show up in the recording schedule on the bedroom PC if it were scheduled on the living room pc"

Most of the smaller cable providers are the ones that are marking copy once, and it's the big name cable provider (Comcast) that is marking nearly everything copy-free. Also, OP specifically says they are on Verizon. The only other option in Dallas, TX happens to be Comcast, so there is nothing to worry about going the multiple HTPC route. Also, I'd heavily disagree with
Quote:
providers have not gotten around to flag everything, yet, but I am sure they will at some point
Comcast and Verizon have had plenty of time and reason to go Copy-Once, yet they haven't and there is no reason to believe that it's something they haven't "gotten around to" doing.
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post #30 of 35 Old 08-07-2013, 11:59 AM
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So is there no way of using multiple pcs, but with a centralized dvr, with one schedule for all machines? With the htpc method, I'd like the same functionality I have now with the Verizon STBs, with the added flexibility mentioned above (movies, music, games, etc.).

I have multiple de-centralized DVR/HTPCs, and it's honestly not a big deal. I explained that all recordings should be scheduled from the living room, and they are

If you venture into Netflix, Hulu, and Sickbeard territory you really don't want/need the DVR as much anyway. It's mostly reserved for live tv with pause/rewind functions rather than a tv recordings warehouse. If you have a server, you'll prbably begin to focus more on getting high quality shows to the server (usually DVD/blu ray rips or the less savory sources) rather than scheduling a bunch of recordings on your DVR
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