Considering HTPC: can I leave it on 24/7, are they quite... recommendations please - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 02-19-2013, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Dear all,

I am going to be axing Virgin Media's TV service and upgrade my broadband to 100Mbps. Hooray!! So I was hoping to get a Smart TV that did everything, and I thought I had found it. Samsung 46ES6800. Unfortunately, and it is my only real beef with the thing, is that it doesn't have a dual tuner so I cannot record one show while watching another.

Right so I did a bit of digging around and although I could get a dual tuner PVR the best bet might be a HTPC. Mainly because I would like to be able to browse the web and stream from there as well. My desired solution:
1.) I want something I can keep on 24/7, mostly because of recording
2.) The fan needs to be quiet
3.) Electricity consumption low
4.) Blu ray player (in case someone swings by with an optical disc)
5.) USB 3.0 x 4 (sort of a thumbsuck this one, but four feels enough)
6.) Case to look like a PVR

Can anyone recommend a bit of kit that would do all the above and does it well?

TIA,

Charles
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post #2 of 16 Old 02-20-2013, 09:14 AM
 
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post #3 of 16 Old 02-22-2013, 01:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Quantumstate!

Only trouble is I am in the UK, and this product does not appear to be available here mad.gif
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post #4 of 16 Old 02-22-2013, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by cjhanslow View Post

Thanks Quantumstate!

Only trouble is I am in the UK, and this product does not appear to be available here mad.gif

A product from the main page or the website as a whole?

Start from their recommended cases article and then go through the rest of the components

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article75-page1.html

I've also followed them for a while, great reference
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post #5 of 16 Old 02-22-2013, 08:09 AM
 
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post #6 of 16 Old 02-22-2013, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by cjhanslow View Post

Only trouble is I am in the UK, and this product does not appear to be available here mad.gif

http://www.tinygreenpc.com/
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post #7 of 16 Old 02-25-2013, 02:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi EricN,

That is genius!!

http://www.tinygreenpc.com/microsvr.aspx

A little pricey, but it's good. Do you own one of these, or have some experience with them:
  • It says 4 x internal 2.5" HDD... really? I can see how you could connect a 4 bay drive cage via eSATA, but how would you fit 4 " drives inside that little box?! mSATA is for SSD, which would make sense.
  • And how would you connect a dual TV tuner and a Blu-ray player... USB?

Cheers,

Charles
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post #8 of 16 Old 02-25-2013, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi quantumstate,

I am a doofess, I went straight to "Today's:"... http://www.silentpcreview.com/HDPLEX_H5.TODD

I have read the "Case Basics & Recommendations" article now, thanks. Very informative. Still not sure what all to do, but I am studying atm so perhaps I need to write my exam (this Sat, wish me luck) and pick this up again in earnest.

That tinygreenpc looks pretty good though.

Cheers,

Charles
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post #9 of 16 Old 02-25-2013, 08:51 AM
 
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post #10 of 16 Old 02-26-2013, 12:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks quantumstate. As I am cramming hectically for an exam (I was hoping to be better prepared at this stage eek.gif ) I can't get too into this, but will do from Sunday (day after exam). My feeling is that you are right, but that is disappointing. I just don't get, as I am sure everyone on this forum has heard a thousand times, why a decent all-in-one prebuilt consumer product isn't out there already. Smart TVs have PVR capability (to external storage, I could live with that) but none have dual or tripple tuners - that's ridiculous!! Dual tuners are not expensive to manufacture, surely no more expensive to fit than single tuners and unlikely to be any bigger... so why not install one. And now that people have been used to watching one channel as they record another (for a long long time now), anything less is a step back and so largely negates the point of featuring PVR in the Smart TV. What I mean is a user would end up paying for a feature they won't use because they will just go and buy an external PVR and record everything on there. Ridiculous!!

Secondly, the web browsers on Smart TVs and PVRs are not interactive --- yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn!

So, HTPC it is. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of hit and miss in this option hence my posting this thread. With a Smart TV or consumer PVR you can send it back if it doesn't perform. You build your on HTPC and, apart from being way more effort, you might not be able to send things back quite so easily. I can tinker and faff around with all this, but I am not really an enthusiast and would rather not.

Anyway, that is my rant over, won't do it again. I will get on the HTPC route and refer to the silentpcreview articles as I go. I will surely have some questions along the way, and would be most grateful to you and everyone else on avsforum.com for any support you may offer.

Thanks,

Charles
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post #11 of 16 Old 02-26-2013, 06:44 AM
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I have had good luck with the ION based Zotac Zboxes. I have 3 of them (a couple of different models). They have a lot of different models with various combinations of features and hardware (barebones, with or without hard drive and RAM, AMD/Intel, NVidia graphics - and they do have a model with a blu-ray player - http://www.amazon.com/Zotac-ZBOXHD-ID34BR-Intel-Blu-ray-Mini-PC/dp/B0044DE7XK/ref=sr_1_7?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1361888331&sr=1-7&keywords=zotac+zbox

I use one of these in my dedicated home theater room as a mythfrontend. Your problem in linux with these might be around using flash. I don't use much flash so I can't say. But using XBMC I do stream Amazon, CNet and other internet channels just fine - and everything I've sent to myth plays fine.

Also, if you are a cable subscriber and your Smart TV supports use as a DLNA client (which I'm sure it does) there is now beta software out there for the HD Homerun prime to playback content via DLNA. This could add tuners to your TV. http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/19/hdhomerun-prime-beta-update-for-dlna-streaming-is-live/. Watch out for the CCI flags... Might want to wait for that to mature though... Or if you are only interested in ATSC/QAM tuning you can wait to they have devices that allow DLNA streaming sans cable card (supposedly upcoming)

I have an HD Homerun Prime but I haven't tried this because I have a mythfrontend connected to every TV so I have no need.

I'm with Quantumstate on the 5Ghz wireless N. I recently moved and decided to make my primary wireless network at home 5Ghz N and I have a few access points for almost complete coverage around the house and it works flawlessly for streaming. Problem is that some of my legacy devices don't support 5Ghz so I still have a few 2.4Ghz APs in the house (including the guest network). I can tell you that in my area from time to time there is a lot of interference to the point where the 2.4Ghz network is useless. I spent time troubleshooting it with a spectrum analyzer and somebody has some device in my area that completely destroys the 2.4ghz span that they turn on from time to time. I'd never want to depend on it. I've never had a problem with 5Ghz, and no one else in my area is even running any 5Ghz networks, and not many devices run on that frequency either. I have thought about setting up a 2.4Ghz N network since I have more devices compatible with 2.4Ghz N than 5Ghz N and 2.4 N would be faster than 2.4G. Just haven't gotten around to it yet - which indicates I really don't need it I guess smile.gif


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post #12 of 16 Old 02-26-2013, 06:56 AM
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Another good resource:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1302559/assassins-simple-beginner-htpc-buying-guide


Downloadable FREE demo discs:

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post #13 of 16 Old 02-26-2013, 09:39 AM
 
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post #14 of 16 Old 02-26-2013, 01:14 PM
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Thing is, there are so many transmission stream protocols, for ATSC, cable, satellite, and so on, that I'm surprised they bother to put tuners in TVs at all anymore. Nice thing about an HTPC is you can install the tuners -you- need (and the best ones possible), as well as the best possible video card, which hopefully has hardware decode and encode.

That's related to another problem with devices you can't easily upgrade yourself either in software or hardware... It's why I still have a HTPC connected to each TV even though I have a roku, a smart blu-ray player and a smart TV, all with some type of DLNA capability. I for sure will run into a file format that won't work on these devices and nothing I can do but transcode and hope I find the right sauce. Never really a problem with my HTPCs.
Quote:
Hey, best of luck on your exam man. I recently took the PMI-ACP exam, but failed it because of the terrible ($3,000) classes I took at "SmartPath".

PMI-ACP huh? I was thinking about getting that, but at this point I have little desire or time to devote to certs. Maybe next year I'll get back on the cert train. I do have the Scrum Master certs... (CSM, CPO, CSP).
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Yep, classic. You have an inconsiderate oaf who's streaming video or music on 2.4GHz. Unlikely to be downloading, with that duty-cycle.

I'm not sure what kind of setup you have, but for my specialized application I use a Ubiquity NanoBridge M2. Superb. Most of UBNT's products are. (and cheap!) Use it to make your signal directional, or use its spectrum analyzer to find him and jam him!

For my 2.4Ghz home and guest network I have some old Linksys WRT54Gs running DD-WRT working as access points. For my 5Ghz network I have a couple of Netgear WNDR3300/4000s running DD-WRT and for an outdoor security camera I didn't have the foresight to run a wired connection to (could you believe I specified where to put an electrical outlet for this security camera but didn't realize I hadn't specified to run cat 6 there when building the house and didn't even think about it until I went to set up my security system? One day I'll rectify that, but my current solution has been trouble free so I guess I'm in no hurry) I use a ubiquiti M5 NSM5 as a wireless 5ghz bridge.

I like the ubiquiti products. If I didn't already have this hardware that I've amassed over the years that still is useful and doesn't seem to break I'd probably have gotten a suite of Ubiquiti products to set up my home.


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post #15 of 16 Old 02-26-2013, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by quantumstate View Post

Yep, classic. You have an inconsiderate oaf who's streaming video or music on 2.4GHz. Unlikely to be downloading, with that duty-cycle.

Or he's microwaving popcorn. Buy him an air-popper and see if the problem goes away.
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post #16 of 16 Old 02-26-2013, 03:44 PM
 
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