Do I just suck it up and get 10 cable boxes or do I go for a matrix switch? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
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I am helping a friend finish off his home theather.

My friend has maybe 10 TVS in his house, 5 or 6 upstairs and he added 4 downstairs for football season.

Since there are only 2 adults and 2 young children in the house he hates the idea of firing up 10 cable boxes and paying 10 monthly fees.

We were thinking about matrix switches but that leads to the problem of, if you have a 4 input x 8 output matrix box how do you track what sources someone is watching? I can see the son switch his TV to source 2 and then changing the channel on source 2 which father is watching in the basement.

He will then start to curse his name at the top of his lungs to change the channel back.

He had someone design his home theater, his plan was to just get a tuner for every tv. However with the lifetime cost of 5 extra receiver charges and the upfront cost of all those receiver we were trying to figure a better way. He figure he can save $2500 in 4 or 5 years if he can figure a way to go to only 4 or 5 source on the 10 TVs.

The professional that installed his system sold him two MX-980 Remotes. But I don't think think they have any way to support feedback of information that could be used to see what sources are being watched.

My friend plans to die in this house so return on investment could be longer term however any HA enthusiast knows equipment has a limited life as cooler stuff always comes out.

I use CQC and was thinking about that for him, but running touch panels wouldnt be cost effective and he already has a really expensive remote control system.. I also dont have the time/enegy to support this as he lives an hour away. Is there any sub $1000 method of controlling the matrix swtiches that will have some method of keeping track of what sources are in use?




Is there a good way to do this other then CQC (or similar home automation package) with touchpanels at each location?
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post #2 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 08:20 AM
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How PC savvy is he? Is SageTV with extenders not an option? Then he could 1 extender per TV, plus 1-4 tuners.

I'm not sure the upfront cost would be any different, as 10 extenders is $2000, plus SageTV+tuners, however there's no monthly cost and then he gets TIVO-type functionality and DVD playback on the TVs to boot.

One other thought is a simple splitter off a single box or extender downstairs if he thinks all TVs will watch the same game. Won't work for multiple games though.

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post #3 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 09:21 AM
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Another similar option for cable / FIOS is a Windows Media Center with cable card. You could get a WMC with 4 cable cards. That way you could watch / record 4 things at once and have a shared DVR experience. At each location you could use a Xbox 360 Arcade (199.99) or some other media center extender although most of the others from dlink and linksys are more costly than a 360 and do less. You can even get TV's with the extender built in to simplify. This way there is no switching or feedback just individual control at each location. Two examples of pretty complete solutions are from Niveus Media and VidaBox. Both of those companies can tie into whole house automation as well. The cost in this scenario is higher up front but much lower monthly since you just have 4 cablecards rather than 4-10 cable boxes or dvrs.
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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That was my first thought as that is what I have... I am tivo guy.. I get away with 2 over the air and one cable tuner. But he is a sports guys. He would need a ton of HD-PVRS

He put 3 TVS over the bar area in a row.. that is the issue, getting 3 games on there for football season.

Then the other 330 days of the year reusing those boxes.



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Originally Posted by IVB View Post

How PC savvy is he? Is SageTV with extenders not an option? Then he could 1 extender per TV, plus 1-4 tuners.

I'm not sure the upfront cost would be any different, as 10 extenders is $2000, plus SageTV+tuners, however there's no monthly cost and then he gets TIVO-type functionality and DVD playback on the TVs to boot.

One other thought is a simple splitter off a single box or extender downstairs if he thinks all TVs will watch the same game. Won't work for multiple games though.

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post #5 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 11:01 AM
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How far does he live from the broadcast antennas? Does he need cable/DirecTV, or are the games on OTA?

I have 1 HDHR with dual HD tuners, and a PCI card with another one. That's 3 OTA HD feeds, plus the one HD-PVR for HD channels only on DirecTV.

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post #6 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 01:20 PM
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My kids get basic cable in their rooms. If they want to watch HBO they go downstairs.
My kitchen and bathroom tv's also get basic cable. That eliminates a lot of cable boxes.
If I were doing his setup, I would get 4 cable boxes and 4 1x2 switches. The boxes either feed the upstairs tv's or the bank of downstairs tv's.
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post #7 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 02:10 PM
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I would suggest dropping the cable idea and going with Sat service. I don't know what the cable company charges for additional boxes...but it's 4.99 with the sat people...and you can even use dual tuner receivers with RF remotes.

Better picture and sound than cable...and probably cheaper than cable.

Cheers,
BT
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post #8 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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He needs to go directv to get nfl sunday ticket.. but issue with that is there is no basic cable for directv.. every tv needs a box... you would want to get HD boxes so you are looking at $100 a pop I think...
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post #9 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 05:22 PM
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4 satellite boxes
10 TV's
1 matrix switch for component video
CQC for control

Tell the kid he can have tuner #2 on weeknights, the wife can have tuner #3, etc etc.

This may be your most inexpensive option since 4x8 Extron switches are readily available on Ebay for cheap. You may not even need CQC if you let each tuner "belong" to certain family members most of the time.
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post #10 of 14 Old 11-01-2008, 08:55 PM
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How many concurrent NFL games would he watch/interested in? If it's only 2-3, he'd only need 2-3 HD-PVRs. Get the HDHR for OTA HD, and it's a pretty solid solution.

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post #11 of 14 Old 11-03-2008, 05:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by personalt View Post

Is there any sub $1000 method of controlling the matrix swtiches that will have some method of keeping track of what sources are in use?

One method that we suggest to our dealer is to simply assign a DVR to each family member. That way, each family member simply brings up the box that is assigned to them on the TV they want to watch from. There is always the possibily of someone mistakingly picking one of the boxes that doesn't "belong" to then but this "system" should work well almost all the time.

Sergio D
VidaBox, LLC
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post #12 of 14 Old 11-03-2008, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vidabox View Post

One method that we suggest to our dealer is to simply assign a DVR to each family member. That way, each family member simply brings up the box that is assigned to them on the TV they want to watch from. There is always the possibily of someone mistakingly picking one of the boxes that doesn't "belong" to then but this "system" should work well almost all the time.

This would be my advice too. The MX-980s can prompt the homeowners for their name & room they are in which would in turn configure the matrix switch to display their specific cable box on that TV.

Do the MX-980's have an RF base station right now? An MSC-400 would be a good fit to pair them up with as it could track power on the cable boxes and also provide serial control of the matrix switch.

The "control" part of this is the real magic that will make or break this installation. Connecting 10 displays to 4 cable boxes through a matrix switch is fairly straightforward. Reliably controlling it with an easy to use interface that works every time for any family member is the real trick!
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-04-2008, 05:45 AM
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Outstanding thread!

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post #14 of 14 Old 11-04-2008, 06:11 AM
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Quote:


Is there any sub $1000 method of controlling the matrix swtiches that will have some method of keeping track of what sources are in use?


I now have 7 flat panels and 1 projection system with usually 3 people in the house.

I have 2 DRVs and 1 Cable box in the closet connected to my Extron matrix switch. Everything is control through CQC.

To keep track of which one is used I simply code it all in CQC. The DVRs are simply DVR1, DVR2, Cable boxes are BOX1, BOX2...I have some FTA equipment too that I play around with so they are all available in every room. Example... on my Nokia 770 touch screens (I Have 5 around the house) I can show DVR2 is being used in BR3 (Bedroom 3).


The OP definitely should consider using less Cable boxes since there are only 4 people in the house.

IVB, has great suggestions too but I havent looked at SageTV since I needed HD before any PC had HD working. I would assume HD works fine over PC based PVRs??? I also found Cable Box PVRs just easier to work with over all....stacking them, controlling them and so on.

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