Advice request - Limited space / IR control / HDMI + Composite video - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 05:54 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
jjb94941's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I have a situation that may be unusual. And then again, all of you experts out there may have seen the equivalent requirement many times in the past.

My situation is as follows:

1. I have a home theater with HDMI connections directly to my projector and audio / component video to my pre-pro.
2. I use the home theater devices to drive A/V for the entire house using component video originating from the theater pre-pro, controlled by I/R blasters throughout the house. I have Home Theater Master MX-700 remotes programmed appropriately for each area in the house so that the user interface is equivalent, regardless of where in the house one is watching but of course the I/R controls are different depending on the particular TV in the area.
3. Audio to the whole house is driven by the Home theater pre-pro. Theater audio is Dolby 5.1 and for the rest of the house is stereo.
4. I'm currently using a U-Verse DVR and a Blu-Ray projector as my main A/V source for video in the theater and the rest of the house.
5. I have limited space in the cabinet that currently houses the DVR and DVD player (the one slot is 16.5" wide 7.5" tall and 19" deep; the other is 21X5X19). If possible I'd like to use one of these slots to house the HTPC and if necessary the other for disk drive(s).

I''d like to replace the DVR and Blu-ray player with a HTPC. Of course it will be necessary to be able to control it via I/R and it should have both HDMI and component video output. Also, I'd like to retain the 5.1 audio for the theater and stereo for the rest of the house. I'm familiar with Windows 7, so would like to stick with that (or maybe Windows 8 if I have to!). I suspect I'll be using XBMC unless you guys advise otherwise.

What hardware / software combination do you recommend?

Thanks for any advice.

Julian
jjb94941 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 06:01 PM
AVS Special Member
 
pittsoccer33's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Pittsburgh (East Liberty)
Posts: 1,931
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 115 Post(s)
Liked: 208
You can find video cards with component output. I'm not sure how common they are anymore but I own a geforce 8600 that has a component breakout pigtail.

I'm not sure how I would do audio. Windows officially only supports one audio device at a time.

Who is your cable provider? The dvr part might not allow you to use xbmc.

edit I see you have att. would you consider switching to a cable company? if not there is no way to get rid of their box. you can still record onto your pc with a capture device, but only cable will allow you to ditch their box entirely.

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
pittsoccer33 is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 08-19-2013, 06:11 PM
AVS Special Member
 
pittsoccer33's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Pittsburgh (East Liberty)
Posts: 1,931
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 115 Post(s)
Liked: 208
right now do you just have have one uverse box? I assume that means every tv has to watch the same thing?

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
pittsoccer33 is offline  
post #4 of 10 Old 08-20-2013, 01:58 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
jjb94941's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
That's correct. I have only one U-Verse box; everyone watches the same thing; no problem... only my wife and I here and fortunately (for more than one reason!) we get along well smile.gif
jjb94941 is offline  
post #5 of 10 Old 08-20-2013, 02:09 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
jjb94941's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
You can find video cards with component output. I'm not sure how common they are anymore but I own a geforce 8600 that has a component breakout pigtail. Thanks. That addresses my first concern

I'm not sure how I would do audio. Windows officially only supports one audio device at a time. If the HTPC becomes the only video source, then I can feed the audio (5.1) into the pre-pro and the pre-pro can convert to stereo for stereo-only areas, as I'm currently doing with the DVR and Blu-Ray player, right?

Who is your cable provider? The dvr part might not allow you to use xbmc.

edit I see you have att. would you consider switching to a cable company? if not there is no way to get rid of their box. you can still record onto your pc with a capture device, but only cable will allow you to ditch their box entirely. Sure. I'm completely agnostic re cable providers
jjb94941 is offline  
post #6 of 10 Old 08-20-2013, 06:35 AM
AVS Special Member
 
pittsoccer33's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Pittsburgh (East Liberty)
Posts: 1,931
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 115 Post(s)
Liked: 208
Can you explain how your IR system works? And what model pre-pro do you have?

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
pittsoccer33 is offline  
post #7 of 10 Old 08-20-2013, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
jjb94941's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I have I/R receivers throughout the house wired to flashers that I have in the theater enabling me to control all of the devices in the theater.

The pre-pro is an Anthem AVM-20. (Since the Anthem has only one (or maybe two: I don't remember!) component out, I have a device to split the signal into multiple component streams for distribution to the other locations in the house. I also have an I/R controlled device to enable the speakers throughout the house to be turned on / off independently).
jjb94941 is offline  
post #8 of 10 Old 08-20-2013, 08:06 AM
AVS Special Member
 
pittsoccer33's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Pittsburgh (East Liberty)
Posts: 1,931
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 115 Post(s)
Liked: 208
To use a computer as a DVR you have two options:

1) use a capture device. this means you need to have a set top box from your tv provider. you will record the box's output onto your computer.
-pro: you have the largest number of options regarding software, recordings are free of DRM, you have the largest choice of tv providers
-con: you have to rent their box and change channels with IR blasters. only one channel can be recorded and/or watched live at once.

2) use a cablecard tuner. instead of having a set top box, you connect the cable coming out of your wall into the tuner. the pc is then your "cable box."
-pro: can record and/or watch up to six things at once with one tuner device, more integrated (ie no ir blasters), meets your goal of getting rid of their box
-con: only 100% supported software in Windows Media Center (you may have more options depending on who your provider is), some recordings could have DRM, limits you to only cable companies as a tv provider

To use your htpc as a DVR and get rid of the providers set top box you have to use the cablecard tuner. Hauppauge makes a two tuner USB device that sells for $99 up to Ceton's six tuner devices that go for $299.

Which cable providers do you have access to? Do you subscribe to premium channels like HBO and Cinemax? Comcast Xfinity and Verizon Fios are the most lenient with DRM. That means you would have options outside of Windows Media Center. Most of the other providers nationwide restrict recording and will force you into WMC.

***The component video issue worries me a little. Component is an unprotected connection. Someone else will have to chime in and say whether or not a video card's component output will pass the Digital Cable Advisor (a WMC tool to authenticate your PC for cablecard) and be able to pass Copy Once programming. I *think* that as long as one of your PC's outputs (the HDMI in this case) can pass the Digital Cable Advisor that you are good to go, but please get confirmation of this. I say I think that because my Nvidia 8600 GT passed the advisor, though I never tried using the component output.

This is the following system configuration that makes sense to me. Are you interested in 3D bluray? Will you be ripping blurays? do you have an AMD or Intel preference?

-CPU and motherboard w/ either Intel or AMD integrated graphics. the HDMI will go to your projector, the SPDIF to your pre-pro
-
8GB or RAM

-a secondary video card to w/ component out. this is usally called an HDTV connection by manufacturers. the only ones I see available on Newegg are all older AMD models. They will still work for your purposes, and I know Nvidia had some models with the connection.

-a SSD drive to host windows

-secondary hard drive(s) to hold recordings

-350ish watt PSU. this would be dependent on the number of hard drives and the model of secondary video card you install

-a bluray drive. I have an LG. You could ask for some more opinions to see if the manufacturer really matters (I just bought the cheapest burner available)

-a tv tuner. you have three connection options, USB, network ethernet (doesnt connect to the pc but to your home network), or PCIe. Since you're trying to save space a Ceton PCIe might be what you want to stick with.

-a USB based IR receiver for accepting commands from your whole home system.

as for software:

-your DVR/interface software will depend on your cable provider. the safest bet is WMC, but XBMC, J River, and Media Portal all support cablecard on some level.

-Windows can't natively play bluray the way it can DVD so you definitely need extra software. You have two options with this
1) official bluray playback software. there are 3 or 4 different programs available. this will give you full menus and behave exactly like your hardware bluray player
2) a combination of AnyDVD (to break the disc's encryption) and a customizable player. This typically just plays the longest MPLS file on the bluray disc, which is usually the movie and not a making of documentary. Depending on the software you have the ability to pick different MPLS files.

I like Arcsoft Total Media Theater the most for bluray playback - it integrates the nicest with Windows Media Center . You can get other opinions on it vs Nero, Power DVD, and Win DVD.

Of course, a large number of AVS posters rip their blurays to MKV files. They retain the original video and audio streams and throw out everything else. This gives a huge number of playback options and forgoes the need for dedicated bluray playback software. Plus it looks cool navigating your library of movies.

There are some other considerations too and hopefully others chime in. You will want something beefier than integrated graphics if you want to run hardware intensive upscaling software for your projector.
jjb94941 likes this.

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
pittsoccer33 is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 08-20-2013, 10:09 AM
AVS Special Member
 
blueiedgod's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Amherst, NY
Posts: 1,582
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 96 Post(s)
Liked: 71
First question is what do you want an HTPC?

Second, your system is WAAAAAY too complicated and limited in functionality.

This is what we have for the "whole house DVR":
a) HTPC wunning Windows Media Center connected to the AVR and TV in the Family room controlled with a remote.
b) 5 Media Center Extenders on the network connected to 5 TV's controlled with individual remotes.
c) 10 total tuners (6x CableCard for encrypted and copyright protected cable) and 4x ATSC for OTA channels on the network.
d) 20 Tb RAID array on the network.

End result: Each TV can view content independant from the others. Each TV is a DVR, capable of recording, pausing, rewinding and fast forwarding live TV, and viewing recorded TV programs, as well as movies from the digital collection, play music, and so forth.

Recording schedule is storage (TV, movies, music, etc) are shared and unified. One can pause/stop in one room, and continue from that spot in another.

No IR blasters, not repeaters, no multiple audio wires, speakers, etc. Just a Cat5e wire and 24 port switch. Other computers are on the wired network, as well as 5 routers turned into access points to give 100% wi-fi coverage for the wireless devices.

IP cams are used as a baby monitors (or security cameras) that can be picked up on any wireless device (iphone, android phone, iPad, ePad, laptops) or wired devices (HTPC, other PC's) in the house, or when needed outside access is granted too.

Try getting multiple TV's on with any provider, and you will be hit with multi-box rental fees, add DVR for another fee. This set up only cost $3.99/month to rent a single CableCard. And trust me, if you think 2 tuners in a DVR is enough, we thought 2 was enough until we got 4, then 8, and now 10. Same with storage. 4 Tb may be enough initially, but we are running out of room on the 20 Tb array.
jjb94941 likes this.

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!!!
blueiedgod is offline  
post #10 of 10 Old 08-20-2013, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
jjb94941's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
To Pitsoccer33 and Blueidgod: Thanks very, very much for your generous time and advice. I'll try to digest it all and if you don't mind, I'll contact you independently if I have any further questions.

Julian
jjb94941 is offline  
Reply Home Theater Computers

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off