Please recommend a Windows Media Center Extender - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 07:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a Windows 7 HTPC in my living room. I use Windows Media Center to record some TV shows (off air antenna). I want to be able to watch those recorded TV shows on my bedroom TV. I already have an off air antenna connected to my bedroom TV, so I can already watch live shows, I just want to be able to watch the recorded shows from my HTPC. And I need to be able to do this using my home network wifi (I don't want to run long cables). Streaming pictures, music and other media is not important.

I understand I can do this with certain Windows Media Extenders. But it's confusing which ones can play my recorded shows as most just say you can play files (such as music, pictures, etc.). Please recommend a box that can stream recorded shows off my HTPC's Windows Media Center. Preferably, I'd like the lowest cost device which also has the smallest footprint. The bedroom TV is hung on the wall, so there is no table to set-up a box. If possible, I'd like a small device that could be stuck to the TV somehow. My bedroom TV has HDMI inputs, so that's preferable.

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post #2 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 08:13 AM
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Xbox 360 Slim 4GB version. The only other option is the Ceton Echo, but that still has some software issues.

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post #3 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 08:30 AM
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The ceton echo works just fine for Live/Recorded TV, especially considering the source the OP has is OTA. It has the smallest footprint of any extender but low cost and small footprint often do not go hand in hand.

I'm ready for this, BTW..

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post #4 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 08:45 AM
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Any current or older model media extender will work with Windows 7 for what the OP wants. There are models from Linksys, HP, and D-Link that have been discontinued as well as older models of the X-Box 360. The latest X-Box 360 and the Ceton Echo are the only extenders currently in production. Apparently there were also models from Samsung and Niveus that I had previously been unaware of. Here's a link to wikipedia that lists all of the models:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Media_Center_Extender

As for the Ceton Echo "working just fine," there are a lot of us that don't share Sammy2's optimism or enthusiasm for this device. I can only assume that the Echo is the only WMC extender he has had experience with and was enthralled with the ability to control WMC remotely. I have personally used almost all of the extenders from HP, Linksys, Ceton, and Microsoft and I'm not much of a fan of any of them. The interface is lackluster, sluggish, and slow to respond to remote commands. Other than that, they do work fairly well for what they're intended.

I was involved in the beta testing program for the Echo and I ended up returning both units they sent me because they was less than satisfactory, IMHO (they flat out sucked). I didn't find it to work any better than any of the older extenders that could be purchased used on ebay for much less. The one good thing about the Echo is that it has an extremely small footprint by comparison and uses far less energy. I would recommend that if you are considering the Echo to buy it from a vendor like Newegg or Amazon that has a liberal return policy.
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post #5 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 09:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses. I always thought of the Xbox as a gaming console first. I'm not a gamer and was hoping for a device that took the gaming out of it so it would be smaller and cheaper. The Ceton looks the most impressive, with all the features that I need and a small box, but $180 is kinda steep! Was hoping to stay under $100, but I'll keep this on my watch list.

captain_video, thanks for the link. Looks like extenders are a dying breed as most are discontinued. I'll have to research some of the older models. And not too many of them on e-bay either, while the ones on Amazon are still holding a high value for discontinued products. This tells me there is demand for them.

One more question: I have a Nexus 7 tablet. Are there any apps that will allow me to watch my recorded shows from my HTPC's media center on my tablet? If yes, I could then watch it on my bedroom TV via an HDMI cable from my tablet. Not sure if this is an alternative.

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post #6 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 09:15 AM
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If you ever want to move the PC to Windows 8, Xbox 360 is the only one supports that platform. Echo, as well as the other old extenders, will not work with Windows 8 Media Center.
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post #7 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 09:17 AM
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One more question: I have a Nexus 7 tablet. Are there any apps that will allow me to watch my recorded shows from my HTPC's media center on my tablet? If yes, I could then watch it on my bedroom TV via an HDMI cable from my tablet. Not sure if this is an alternative.

Remote Potato
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post #8 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 09:28 AM
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post #9 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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If you ever want to move the PC to Windows 8, Xbox 360 is the only one supports that platform. Echo, as well as the other old extenders, will not work with Windows 8 Media Center.

Wow! I'm glad I have no reason to upgrade to Windows 8. Windows 7 is doing whatever I want to do just fine.

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Remote Potato

Neat idea, but no Android app. I'm also a bit skeptical of programs that run in a web browser.
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Gamestop is selling used Xbox 360 Slims for $119 http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/10/psa-nows-the-time-to-snap-up-cheap-last-generation-consoles/

Seems like the best way to go! I think I'll just buy the slim version and place it somewhere in the bedroom, then run a long HDMI cable to the TV. At $119, it's looks like the best bet out there. Thanks!

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post #10 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 09:44 AM
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You can often get a new Slim for $99 during holiday sales (Black Friday). Especially this year, the XBOX One will be released. I assume Xbox 360 will be even cheaper by then. I have 3 Xbox 360s for my 3 TVs acting as TV box. Only one if used for game.
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post #11 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 09:46 AM
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Wow! I'm glad I have no reason to upgrade to Windows 8. Windows 7 is doing whatever I want to do just fine.
Neat idea, but no Android app. I'm also a bit skeptical of programs that run in a web browser.
Seems like the best way to go! I think I'll just buy the slim version and place it somewhere in the bedroom, then run a long HDMI cable to the TV. At $119, it's looks like the best bet out there. Thanks!

Wrong...they do have an Android app that interfaces directly with Remote Potato, and its called 'Remote Media Center' in the Play Store. I've been using it for a bit on my Galaxy S4 and it interfaces and works with RP just fine.
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post #12 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 09:52 AM
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I've advocated using a Linksys DMA2100 extender in conjunction with a Google TV device. After adding the Plex app on the Google TV I have access 100% of my archived media, DVR recordings, FM radio, Netflix, Pandora, and a web browser.

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post #13 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 10:05 AM
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I love my Echoes, in spite of a few bugs. Just watch for sales. The downside of Xbox besides the size and poor remote response is that many end up sounding like a 747 after a few years. I have both and much prefer Echo due to the size and low power use. Older extenders work ok, but won't wake your PC without some tricks. Since my PC is asleep most of the time, WOL is a must for me.

Remote Potato works fine on every platform I tried it on.

The Google TV thing is a good idea. I never thought of that. But my BD players do pretty much the same thing.
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post #14 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 10:26 AM
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None of the solutions are guaranteed to work over wi-fi. Resolve the networking stumbling block, i.e. run the wire, or utilize other wired networking methods (MoCA, or Powerline), then you can choose any of the extenders that are supported by your OS.

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 70 Old 10-10-2013, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowardV View Post

One more question: I have a Nexus 7 tablet. Are there any apps that will allow me to watch my recorded shows from my HTPC's media center on my tablet? If yes, I could then watch it on my bedroom TV via an HDMI cable from my tablet. Not sure if this is an alternative.

Remote Potato

Plex / Serenity and MB3 android apps will do this too.

You need an MHL adapter to go from micro USB to HDMI unless that tablet has HDMI out on it (I do not know if it does or not).

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post #16 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 10:35 AM
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I love my Echoes, in spite of a few bugs. Just watch for sales. The downside of Xbox besides the size and poor remote response is that many end up sounding like a 747 after a few years. I have both and much prefer Echo due to the size and low power use. Older extenders work ok, but won't wake your PC without some tricks. Since my PC is asleep most of the time, WOL is a must for me.

Remote Potato works fine on every platform I tried it on.

The Google TV thing is a good idea. I never thought of that. But my BD players do pretty much the same thing.

Serenity android app is specifically made to be run with a remote on GTV using Plex as the back end.

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post #17 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 10:46 AM
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From my experience, I've found my Echos to be less responsive to the remotes than my X-Boxes. I also think the X-Boxes still have a superior picture, especially with 1080i content. (which a lot of OTA content is broadcast in)

X-Box Pros:
Stable
Reliable
Good quality
WiFi*

X-Box Cons:
Big
Power Hungry
(Depending on age/model) Noisy

Echo Pros:
Small
Efficient

Echo Cons:
Expensive
????

The cons seem to vary greatly depending on who you talk to and that I think is the biggest reason why I wouldn't get an Echo right now. They seem to work great for some tasks, not so much for others. They seem great in some people's setups, not so much in others'. Some will tell you they reboot or freeze often, others will tell you it hasn't happened in months. Some think its faster, others think its slower.

The one thing I feel confident saying about purchasing the Echo: It's a crap shoot.

I can't speak to the other extenders as I haven't used them, but unless you found one for next to nothing, I'd probably be more inclined to get a new X-Box on sale.

*X-Box does support WiFi but people have reported mixed results using WiFi and HD video. It's going to depend on your network. If you go the X-Box route, I'd try WiFi and see if it works for you, then buy a MoCa or Powerline bridge if necessary.

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post #18 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 11:11 AM
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Been following threads for a while, new to the forum, yada yada yada

 

I'm well aware that there is much angst and many gripes regarding the echo.  I also am aware that a number of users are rather pleased with them.

 

My question here, is one of getting my bearings straight.  I'm just setting out on the HTPC prospects and have high hopes.  I currently have a MOXI with two mates in the house, works great, easily replaced the drive when it went out a couple years in, but I'd like to step the game up a bit and get all of our movies, music etc integrated into a more elegant package.

 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong here:  (want to be sure I have the right idea from the start, rather than dig in only to find out I was wrong the whole time)

 

 (1) Live and Recorded CopyOnce TV served from one pc to multiple locations/devices, WMC is the only choice?  Due to DTCP-IP?

 

 (2) I'm on Verizon FiOS, CopyOnce is in fact an issue for me, yes?  (I'd be shocked if not, but worth asking just to be sure)

 

 (3) Remote locations could be HTPC's in their own right (reading from one centralized storehouse) or extenders (piggybacking off of a host HTPC)?

 

 (4) XBOX and Echo - any limitations on guide programming once set up at the host HTPC?

 

 (5) What is the current state of Netflix/Hulu/etc via extenders?  No go on Echo (Android upgrade crashburn), XBOX?

 

 

I'm not terribly concerned about codecs and file types at this point, as our existing library is largely yet to be converted anyway, I'll just be sure to convert to compatible types once I reach that point. 

 

What kind of sale prices can I expect for the Echo?  How (in)frequently do they go on sale?

 

 

Any elephants in the room I should know about?  Again, I'm just getting started here and want to start in the right direction for my needs.

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post #19 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 11:57 AM
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1. WMC is the only option due to that is the only PC solution bother to be certified by CableLabs. No certification, not play. DTCP-IP has nothing to do with it. WMC uses PlayReady DRM.
2. Some premium channels like HBO etc. are copy-once.
3. WMC extender is the only thing possible on remote location in order to playback the copy-once recording from host. A PC can't serve as WMC extender.
4. They behave exactly like WMC on host PC.
5. There is a WMC flash plug-in for Netflix. But it is limited to 2-ch stereo and SD resolution IIRC. Pretty much useless IMO. Not sure if it works for extender or not. Xbox has its own Netflix player but you need pay Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to use it.

Echo is pretty much an abandoned product. I would not recommend anyone to purchase it, especially it still costs way too high.
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post #20 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 12:07 PM
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 (1) Live and Recorded CopyOnce TV served from one pc to multiple locations/devices, WMC is the only choice?  Due to DTCP-IP?

WMC is the only choice, but it it is not because of DTCP-IP. It is because none of the other DVR software has licensed or implemented a Cablelabs approved DRM. DTCP-IP is a related technology but it is not the reason
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 (2) I'm on Verizon FiOS, CopyOnce is in fact an issue for me, yes?  (I'd be shocked if not, but worth asking just to be sure)

At this point everything but premium movie channels like HBO are Copy Freely (someone correct me if my info is outdated)
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 (3) Remote locations could be HTPC's in their own right (reading from one centralized storehouse) or extenders (piggybacking off of a host HTPC)?

Depends how you want to use the system and what software you use. WMC does not have the ability built in to manage a master recording schedule for multiple PCs. When you add a recording on an extender that will show up on the HTPC and all other extenders guides. Not so with multiple PCs. An extender can also share a tuner, so if TV1 and TV2 are watching the same channel, they will only use one tuner. I *think* multiple PCs will need to each use their own tuner. Also, if the recording is copy once as you noted only the PC that recorded it (or a related extender) can play it.
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 (4) XBOX and Echo - any limitations on guide programming once set up at the host HTPC?

Not sure what you mean. The guide on every extender should look the same at the HTPC. I have a 360 and a DMA2100 - they both display the same channels.
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 (5) What is the current state of Netflix/Hulu/etc via extenders?  No go on Echo (Android upgrade crashburn), XBOX?

Most of the extenders were discontinued before Netflix Watch Instant existed. The x280n and DSM750 have some random/outdated services built into them (like Live365). The DMA2100 does nothing but extend WMC. The 360 has a number of services that are updated often. The trade off is that you must ALSO subscribe to Xbox Live Gold, the fee based online gaming platform. That exists outside of WMC, so you need to go into the main 360 dashboard to access Netflix, Watch ESPN, etc.
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Any elephants in the room I should know about?  Again, I'm just getting started here and want to start in the right direction for my needs.

You mentioned backing up movies - extenders all have crappy codec and container support. You have to understand their limitations and encode your media appropriately to use them. If you want to remux movies (meaning you don't touch the audio and video in anyway) you can do DVDs pretty easily. WTV is the extender format of choice and it plays very well with DVDs. Blurays are another story. No extender supports the codecs and bitrates used on bluray discs. They must have their video compressed and audio converted.

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post #21 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 12:37 PM
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If you don't have premium channels then you could use a network cablecard tuner and add recordedTV shares from the other HTPC to a bedroom HTPC. You would have two full WMC builds and the recordedTV folder should be accessible between locations. The TV tuners would also be shared across the network.

Your limitations would be that you lose the ability to pause a recording from one location and resume from that spot in the other. The size and cost would more than likely be more than the extenders mentioned. You are still relying on WiFi for HD, it may or may not work well at your location, always run a cable if possible. If running a cable isn't possible, then look again and see if it is still not possible, then ask a friend to look.

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post #22 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 01:13 PM
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Verizon has put some channels on MPEG4 encoding. Some old extenders (linksys, DLink etc.) are reportedly not very good at MPEG4 playback. Xbox 360s are ok but there are reports that some channels of MPEG4 doesn't work really well with it. Echo, on the other hand, is reportedly working better on those same channels than Xbox.
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post #23 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Wrong...they do have an Android app that interfaces directly with Remote Potato, and its called 'Remote Media Center' in the Play Store. I've been using it for a bit on my Galaxy S4 and it interfaces and works with RP just fine.

You're right! For some reason their webpage only lists the Apple Store. So I got everything running, but the video pauses every 10 seconds and then resumes (at 720p resolution with my tablet). I tried a lower quality, but it didn't play at all. Remote Potato recommends downloading a different video player. I haven't done that yet and not looking forward to getting a bunch of new software loaded. I also tried to access my HTPC with my notebook computer's web browser. It also kept freezing once every 10 seconds - even at lower quality. And I can see that forwarding through commercials will be a task too. Generally, it's a neat idea, but too much hassle for me and my purposes.

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None of the solutions are guaranteed to work over wi-fi. Resolve the networking stumbling block, i.e. run the wire, or utilize other wired networking methods (MoCA, or Powerline), then you can choose any of the extenders that are supported by your OS.

You know...this is what I'm afraid of. I know good old wires is king. In an apartment that I don't own, I hate to go through all the work of running cables.

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You need an MHL adapter to go from micro USB to HDMI unless that tablet has HDMI out on it (I do not know if it does or not).

It's on order from Amazon and supposed to be here today! A slimport HDMI to Micro USB adapter. With my luck, I'm certain something will still go wrong (starting with Amazon mailed it via USPS!).

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If you don't have premium channels then you could use a network cablecard tuner and add recordedTV shares from the other HTPC to a bedroom HTPC. You would have two full WMC builds and the recordedTV folder should be accessible between locations. The TV tuners would also be shared across the network.

Your limitations would be that you lose the ability to pause a recording from one location and resume from that spot in the other. The size and cost would more than likely be more than the extenders mentioned. You are still relying on WiFi for HD, it may or may not work well at your location, always run a cable if possible. If running a cable isn't possible, then look again and see if it is still not possible, then ask a friend to look.

I'm afraid it'll eventually come down to running cables and installing a 2nd HTPC. I barely ever watch TV. I just want to record the 10:00 pm local news so I can start watching it when I go to bet at 10:30 pm. That's it! No movies or other shows. Just seems like too much work to do something simple. Heck, another idea would be just adding a TIVO! On the other hand, I do enjoy gadgets and paying a subscription service like TIVO just doesn't feel right. I think I'll start with a cheap Xbox and see how that will work first.

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post #24 of 70 Old 10-10-2013, 01:58 PM
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Use MX Player for android with the ffmpeg codec library for dts support. This codec used to be included but dts didn't like so you can find it on XDA developer's website.

I hope you didn't pay more than about $10 for that MHL adapter. That is what they are over at monoprice.com

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post #25 of 70 Old 10-11-2013, 12:47 AM
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As others have suggested, you may want to consider using Plex with one of their front ends on a compatible device. Although they don't say anything, but Plex can play the WTV files that W7MC records in. It can transcode WTV files as well to whatever format needed by the front end for the device.

I personally done this to play some of my W7MC DVR recordings on my Roku machines and Android devices by locally, and remote locations--friend's home internet, 3G, or 4G. It works well for what it is.

This isn't a perfect solution. Commercial skipping is hit and miss. Fast forward and rewind don't work well. This is may be from the need to the transcode, and, possibly, my PC that the Plex Media Server sits on isn't very powerful. But it does work for WTV file playback. And since you said you're just wanting to play OTA DVR, shouldn't be an issue with any copy once flags.
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post #26 of 70 Old 10-11-2013, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by HowardV View Post

You know...this is what I'm afraid of. I know good old wires is king. In an apartment that I don't own, I hate to go through all the work of running cables.

Back in the 90's when we were renting an apartment, I ran ethernet wires under the mouldings. If your apartment is carpeted, there is enough room between the moulding and the carpet to push a wire in the gap. If you have hard wood floors, you can remove the moulding, andput the wire behind, or use Cable TV installer approach and staple the wire to the mouldings.

The positive is that you don't need to buy 1000 ft spool of wire. Most apartments can be wired with a 100 ft spool.

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 70 Old 10-12-2013, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Plex / Serenity and MB3 android apps will do this too.

You need an MHL adapter to go from micro USB to HDMI unless that tablet has HDMI out on it (I do not know if it does or not).

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Use MX Player for android with the ffmpeg codec library for dts support. This codec used to be included but dts didn't like so you can find it on XDA developer's website.

I hope you didn't pay more than about $10 for that MHL adapter. That is what they are over at monoprice.com

As I just found out, neither of the MHL adapters work. The Nexus 7 uses "slimport" which is a competing technology against MHL. And monoprice doesn't carry any slimport adapters. This is getting frustrating! So I still can't display what's on my Nexus 7 tablet on my TV.

I visited Gamestop and they have the Xbox 360 slim for $119. But they advised me it doesn't work as a Media Center Extender over wifi. As suggested here, I'd have to run a cable to watch HD shows in 1080. He said 720p may work, but it could be choppy.

As I was thinking, I have an extra notebook PC (Windows 7) laying around (I keep it as a back-up). I'll just set it up as a 2nd Media Center for the bedroom TV. I also have a network drive that I'll use to store the recorded media center shows. I'll see if it'll stream via wifi. If not, I'll just have to run a cable. I'll report back, but first I have to concentrate on finishing my tax returns! I filed for an extension and October 15th is the deadline. No playing until that's finished! Unfortunately, the government shut-down won't extend my time :-(

McIntosh MX-119 Pre/Pro
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post #28 of 70 Old 10-13-2013, 12:24 AM
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... the Xbox 360 slim for $119. But they advised me it doesn't work as a Media Center Extender over wifi. ...

it's not that it won't work. It may not work well. You may have better success if the PC with WMC on it wired to the network. The issue with using WiFi is that is more susceptible to various interference and WMC tends to be a bit of a bandwidth hog.

In my personal experience, I have tried out the 360 as a media extender with both the PC with WMC and Xbox over WiFi. It was years ago. I got it working. But wasn't ideal. It was definitely hit and miss.

Given what you're to do, I still think something like a Roku and Plex may be a good solution for you. Since the new Roku uses WiFi and bluetooth, you can stick the box behind the TV. If the TV isn't a smartTV, you'll get the smartTV functionality with the Roku with things such as Netflix, Hulu, AmazonVOD and so forth. I would suggest one an android stick, but they're still hit and miss. There maybe be something in the Raspberry Pi arena that could work for you.
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post #29 of 70 Old 10-13-2013, 06:13 AM
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Maybe get a Chromecast for $35.

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post #30 of 70 Old 10-13-2013, 08:00 PM
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I don't think Chromecast is at point, yet, to be viable option. It's possible to stream that local media such as DVR via tabcasting, but it's very depend on the LAN bandwidth and the power of the machine to transcode. Plus, it's not exactly bedroom friendly.

Although, I assume you mean to use Nexus7 and cast to the TV. Unfortunately, the applications that make use of it, is still limited. I haven't kept on it, but the ones that let you cast whatever is on the devices screen have been disabled. Hopefully, something like Plex will add the feature in the near future.
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