Do I need a HTPC? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-31-2013, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everybody, I am putting together a pretty nice home theater from scratch and should have it up and running within a couple of weeks. The hardware includes an Integra DHC-80.3 pre-amp/processor and an Oppo BDP-103 Blu-Ray player.

One of my sources for audio/video content will be a desktop PC in a different room of my house. This PC will have a RAID that will ultimately contain about 9TB of media, mostly MKV and FLAC files. This PC with the media library is connected to a gigabit ethernet switch, and my new home theater will be able to connect to this switch as well.

My question: Considering the networking capabilities and support for various media formats of the Integra and Oppo, how useful would it be to have an HTPC running Linux/XBMC for this setup? I understand the Oppo can play both MKV and FLAC files from a network source. I believe the Integra can play FLAC files by itself, but not MKV. I've played around with XBMC a little but have not used it in a home theater environment yet. Is the XBMC interface alone enough reason for me to effort and expense of adding a HTPC to my system?
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-31-2013, 07:49 AM
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depends...
do you want a HTPC? that would be the biggest question to answer to determine if you do you need one...
how is the UI on the oppo or integra? if the UI sucks, then you wont want to listen to music, or watch movies... (ie it will just not be worth the hassle...)

on the other hand, for music, do you really want to settle for a system that requires the TV/Projector to be on in order to Listen to music? maybe the front panel on the integra is "good enough", or maybe it isn't... assuming you can pick a playlist using just the front panel...
I prefer Sonos, for my music, partly because of the nice/easy UI... and I like the whole house audio thing... but anyway, you need to figure out what your wants and needs are...

also with a HTPC you end up with what is technically just a PC connected to your HT, so you could, if you wanted, have all the benefits of having a PC connected to your HT... surf web, read email, etc... most of those things don't interest me, but to each their own...
but I do like having youtube on my theater...

anyway, at the end of the day UI and user experience trump everything...
so whatever you end up doing, don't just focus on what works, focus on how well it works for you (and anyone else who may wander by and like to use it...)

NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-31-2013, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joel md View Post

Hi everybody, I am putting together a pretty nice home theater from scratch and should have it up and running within a couple of weeks. The hardware includes an Integra DHC-80.3 pre-amp/processor and an Oppo BDP-103 Blu-Ray player.

One of my sources for audio/video content will be a desktop PC in a different room of my house. This PC will have a RAID that will ultimately contain about 9TB of media, mostly MKV and FLAC files. This PC with the media library is connected to a gigabit ethernet switch, and my new home theater will be able to connect to this switch as well.

My question: Considering the networking capabilities and support for various media formats of the Integra and Oppo, how useful would it be to have an HTPC running Linux/XBMC for this setup? I understand the Oppo can play both MKV and FLAC files from a network source. I believe the Integra can play FLAC files by itself, but not MKV. I've played around with XBMC a little but have not used it in a home theater environment yet. Is the XBMC interface alone enough reason for me to effort and expense of adding a HTPC to my system?

The PC you describe sounds more like a media server to me. Generally, it's a good idea to separate machines into clients (consumers of data) and servers (providers of data). If you decide to go the server route, you can design a proper backup solution, too. Losing 9 Tb of data would suck.

Really, the first thing you have to decide is whether or not you have use for an HTPC. If the answer to that is "yes", then you have only to decide what the purpose of the HTPC is.. are you planning on receiving live TV? If so, that reduces your options. If your purpose is just movie and music playback, than just about any front end will do. I run linux on my workstation, but I think I'd avoid it in an HTPC application. Just way too much tweaking.
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-31-2013, 11:58 PM
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It's hard to say. To some of us, especially in this forum, a BR player and something that kind player MKV is redundant because most just rip the BR disc to an MKV.

As others have said, depends on what you plan to use it for. If the BR player can do DNLA playback, you may be able to just install Plex Media Server on the PC in the other and use the DNLA for your MKV playback. Along the same lines, you could use Android or iOS mobile device you can connect to either your Integra or TV using PMS and the appropriate Plex front end player.

The HTPC is useful for other online services. I use mine a lot for watching live sports through various online services. Plus, the HTPC lets me use the higher bandwidth options that are not available on the mobile apps. Plus, it's easier to use with VPN service and the sport services. Don't have take into account if there is a GPS check. Plus, some video channels I like don't have a good app experience.

For me, I use Media Center as a DVR. And with little fuss, it's easy to setup an PC as Media Center extender. Not a cheap option for this. But since Comcast is encrypting everything now in my area, I use my HTPC to watch any TV with a HDHomerun HDHR3CC, which feeds mutliple TVs.
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post #5 of 12 Old 11-01-2013, 02:19 PM
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Yes you do.. If you're stepping up to Integra, why would you want to cut corners now. Another $200 for a perfect solution (NUC) is worth every penny. Go for it.
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post #6 of 12 Old 11-01-2013, 02:46 PM
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^
This. I have been looking at a NUC for HTPC use in another room. As long as you don't plan to use your HTPC for gaming/Steam Box, a NUC is more than adequate for 1080p/lossless audio. The best part is that they are fairly inexpensive comparatively speaking and crazy compact. Good way to go.

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post #7 of 12 Old 11-05-2013, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
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I appreciate the responses. I'll probably be venturing into the HTPC world soon!
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post #8 of 12 Old 11-05-2013, 12:28 PM
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+1 with a nice system like yours I would think along the lines of limitations, flexibility and of course eye candy. A dedicated htpc that can play flawless HD content and provide beautiful visuals is critical. If its going to sound great it should look the part. Do you want really nice or awesome??
And it doesn't have to get complicated. Openelec NUC with what you already have would be a great compliment.

BTW..is your server up already? There's a lot of information here about raid vs flexraid etc..
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post #9 of 12 Old 11-05-2013, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wpbpete View Post

BTW..is your server up already? There's a lot of information here about raid vs flexraid etc..

No, I'm still trying to figure out that part. What I have is three NTFS-formatted 3TB hard drives filled with lots of MKV files, totaling around 8TB of data. Ideally I would like to get an enclosure (some thing like this) and create some sort of RAID that is attached via RAID card (or something else) to my main desktop PC that I have running most of the time. I'm familiar with RAID 1 and RAID 5. Not so familiar with some of the newer concepts like unRAID and flexRAID.
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post #10 of 12 Old 11-05-2013, 08:26 PM
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ummm...If you haven't had the chance to take a look at this thread http://www.avsforum.com/t/1438027/mfusicks-how-to-build-an-affordable-30tb-flexraid-media-server-information-requested or this one http://www.avsforum.com/t/1302559/assassins-simple-beginner-htpc-buying-guide now may be a good time. For simplicity, I went the all in one route. I already owned a 1tb My book so i added a 3tb and 1tb hdd to my build and just let XBMC/MB3 do their thing smile.gif
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post #11 of 12 Old 11-05-2013, 09:58 PM
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I'd ditch the dlna hope for an oppo blu ray player and spend the difference on a htpc

Take a look at some xbmc screenshots. Once you have all the eye candy when browsing your entire digital library of blurays, DVDs, and CDs you can't go back to scrolling your shares in a bland dlna list of files like the oppo, ps3, etc

Go xbmc, you can use openelec and you won't even have to purchase software or a windows license. Also don't bother with more than 4GB of ram. OE won't even use 2, but it hardly saves money to purchase 2 instead of 4
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post #12 of 12 Old 11-05-2013, 10:03 PM
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Of course, 3D might be a reason to keep it simple with a blu ray player. 3D isnt perfectly straightforward on htpcs just yet and requires more investment (dollars) and setup time for software
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