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Distributing HDTV at reasonable cost

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
If you are wiring for whole house video distribution, are there any cost effective options? It seems the baluns are very expensive ($300-500) for incorporating several rooms into a system.

It almost seems like, since an HTPC will be at the center of my system, Media Extenders may be the most reasonable way to go. They allow each TV to control it's own content (assumming enough tuners), are wireless, and do HDTV. At $250, it seems like it might be a reasonable option at this point.

To be honest, a cheap PC with HDMI out networked to the main HTPC is cheap than some of the baluns I've seen.
post #2 of 40
IMO (and that of many/most others here) the most cost effective way to distribute HD is over component.

I've done projects (DIY) both ways, Cat5e and baluns as well as 5 conductor mini-coax and there's not a _huge_ cost difference but mini-coax was certainly less.

You're looking at (roughly) $200 - $400 for minicoax (depending on length and number of runs) ~$20 per location in compression connectors and ~$250 (used) to ~$1200 (new 8x4) for a matrix switch (+ whatever you decide to do for control).

Hope that's helpful.

Cheers.
post #3 of 40
yeah, we all distribute HD over component.

The difference betwen HDMI and component isnt much and component doesnt have connection issues (signal and physical).
post #4 of 40
Media center and Extenders would be great but they do not extend DVDs so it is a entire non-starter for me. I'm very happy with my $150 8x8 switcher and $160 baluns. I can distribute 1080i with no signal handshaking worries, length of cable worries, with easy to pull and terminate catx cable. Nothing like scrolling through your movies pictorially, clicking/touching one and have it play.
post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by stickyfingers View Post

You're looking at (roughly) $200 - $400 for minicoax (depending on length and number of runs) ~$20 per location in compression connectors and ~$250 (used) to ~$1200 (new 8x4) for a matrix switch (+ whatever you decide to do for control).

Sorry for my noob-ness, but what is mini-coax? As explained in my post in another thread (link), I distributed my component using preterminated RG59 cables. My runs to the matrix switcher are all 25 ft., which in my research didn't seem to be long enough for signal loss, and so far everything works great.
post #6 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renesis View Post

Sorry for my noob-ness, but what is mini-coax? As explained in my post in another thread (link), I distributed my component using preterminated RG59 cables. My runs to the matrix switcher are all 25 ft., which in my research didn't seem to be long enough for signal loss, and so far everything works great.

In essence, mini-coax is simply a "thinner" version of RG59.

If you already ran RG59, you're set!
post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeljc70 View Post

...It almost seems like, since an HTPC will be at the center of my system, Media Extenders may be the most reasonable way to go. They allow each TV to control it's own content (assumming enough tuners), are wireless, and do HDTV. At $250, it seems like it might be a reasonable option at this point.

Wireless Media Extenders can't handle HDTV.

If you are computer savy--particularly Linux savy--a network of Myth machines can do what you want. Set up a master backend with tuners to record cable or OTA, store music and DVD video. Put as many frontends around the house as you like. The Mac Mini makes a nice, quiet, inexpensive HD capable front end. Besides playing all your content, you can set up schedules and manage the system from any front end. As a bonus, you get automatic commerical detection and skipping and the most advanced PVR out there.

Food for thought.

Craig
post #8 of 40
Hi,

You may want to have a look at Sagetv. It will extend recorded tv (HD and SD), music, pictures, some web based content (podcasts, etc.), and ripped DVD's. It will support full pc based clients, the hauppauge mvp for SD clients and the Sagetv STX-HD100 for HD clients. There are versions available for Windows, Linux and Mac. Of course, wiring just means one little cat-5 cable to each extender.

Check it out: http://www.sagetv.com

HTH

J
post #9 of 40
Also with an HTPC I don't think you can watch two different things from two different location at the same time can you? I would think this is a limitation with Sage TV also.

Please correct me if I am wrong.
post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertmee View Post

Media center and Extenders would be great but they do not extend DVDs so it is a entire non-starter for me. I'm very happy with my $150 8x8 switcher and $160 baluns. I can distribute 1080i with no signal handshaking worries, length of cable worries, with easy to pull and terminate catx cable. Nothing like scrolling through your movies pictorially, clicking/touching one and have it play.

So what do you use (software-wise) to scroll through your movies and what is doing to playing? PC, DVD player, what?

Is your TV tied to a PC somewhere that has the video out connected through a matrix switch?
post #11 of 40
Regarding the mini-coax, Is there a distance limitation? I'm about 150' cable run from source to tv....

From a future-proof setup, I imagine a bundle of dour cat-6 + a couple coax will cover most outcomes with baluns?
post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmilin View Post

Also with an HTPC I don't think you can watch two different things from two different location at the same time can you? I would think this is a limitation with Sage TV also.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

You can watch as many live tv programs (simultaneously) as you have tuners in your server. As for recordings, it is no problem to watch the same or different recordings from different clients at the same time.

I have a server with two sd tuners and two ATSC ota tuners. We have two HD capable pc clients. With a total of four tuners it is no problem for each client to watch different programs at the same time.

Hope that made sense.

J
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmilin View Post

So what do you use (software-wise) to scroll through your movies and what is doing to playing? PC, DVD player, what?

Is your TV tied to a PC somewhere that has the video out connected through a matrix switch?

Software wise I use Sagetv.

In my case we have a pc connected to each of our tv's. The pc's do all the playback.

With the HD extender sage released right before xmas a pc is no longer needed for each tv. The ideal setup would be a server located in your AV rack/closet etc to do all the recording and storage of tv programs and ripped DVD's. You would then locate an HD extender near each tv. These extenders are completely silent, 1080p capable and offer both component and HDMI for HD viewing.

As for playing back physical DVD's you could use a pc (if you are using pc clients) or a DVD player if you are using the HD extender. The one shortcoming of the HD extender is the lack of an optical drive.

You should really check out Sage at the address I linked above.

HTH.

J
post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertmee View Post

Media center and Extenders would be great but they do not extend DVDs so it is a entire non-starter for me. I'm very happy with my $150 8x8 switcher and $160 baluns. I can distribute 1080i with no signal handshaking worries, length of cable worries, with easy to pull and terminate catx cable. Nothing like scrolling through your movies pictorially, clicking/touching one and have it play.

The new Linksys media extender comes in a version with a DVD player. The non-DVD player one will play a DVD in the HTPC.
post #15 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pvr4Craig View Post

Wireless Media Extenders can't handle HDTV.


Craig

"The Linksys Media Center Extender model DMA2200 also includes a built-in upscaling DVD player so you can enjoy sharp and amazing detail at 720p, 1080i or 1080p resolution."

"allow easy access to premium cable, high-definition TV, popular video formats including DivX, music, paid movies, photos and more from any TV in the house, with a wired or wireless network connection"
post #16 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stickyfingers View Post

IMO (and that of many/most others here) the most cost effective way to distribute HD is over component.

I've done projects (DIY) both ways, Cat5e and baluns as well as 5 conductor mini-coax and there's not a _huge_ cost difference but mini-coax was certainly less.

You're looking at (roughly) $200 - $400 for minicoax (depending on length and number of runs) ~$20 per location in compression connectors and ~$250 (used) to ~$1200 (new 8x4) for a matrix switch (+ whatever you decide to do for control).

Hope that's helpful.

Cheers.

Going the wiring route, that does seem the most reasonable way. For under $200, it looks like you can get 350ft of wiring.

Since component has no audio, do you generally just run to speakers in the room (assuming in-wall speakers)? I currently have in-wall speakers and all the runs go to my media closet. However, sometimes I want to just listen through the TV speakers. I think it is kind of nice to have that option. I am guessing that is just 2 more wires for audio for the TV.
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeljc70 View Post

The new Linksys media extender comes in a version with a DVD player. The non-DVD player one will play a DVD in the HTPC.

Point being who wants to handle individual DVDs...When it can send DVDs from a changer, call me.
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmilin View Post

So what do you use (software-wise) to scroll through your movies and what is doing to playing? PC, DVD player, what?

Is your TV tied to a PC somewhere that has the video out connected through a matrix switch?

I use CQC to display the movies and control my matrix switch and Sony 400 DVD changer remotely.
post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertmee View Post

I use CQC to display the movies and control my matrix switch and Sony 400 DVD changer remotely.

So if I wanted too I could use CQC and an HTPC with ripped DVDs couldn't I? I don't have a DVD changer and really don't want one. I was thinking of going the ripped DVD route with a matrix switch.

So does CQC have a listing of the movies in you changer somehow. I'm guessing you set this up in CQC whenever you add or remove DVDs from the changer.
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JAHarris View Post

Software wise I use Sagetv.

In my case we have a pc connected to each of our tv's. The pc's do all the playback.

With the HD extender sage released right before xmas a pc is no longer needed for each tv. The ideal setup would be a server located in your AV rack/closet etc to do all the recording and storage of tv programs and ripped DVD's. You would then locate an HD extender near each tv. These extenders are completely silent, 1080p capable and offer both component and HDMI for HD viewing.

As for playing back physical DVD's you could use a pc (if you are using pc clients) or a DVD player if you are using the HD extender. The one shortcoming of the HD extender is the lack of an optical drive.

You should really check out Sage at the address I linked above.

HTH.

J

You know I have looked at their web site but I don't understand how their devices work exactly. Maybe I am stupid but looking at their diagrams doesn't help me. To be honest, your explanation has helped me more then their web site has.

So with SageTV I could use one PC as my media center, install the SageTV software on it, and then buy their media extender for each display. The PC could have TV tuners, ripped DVDs, and recorded programs (from the TV tuners I presume).

As far as control, do you access all of your various content with their extender remote?

So do the extenders need to be SageTV extenders?
post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmilin View Post

So if I wanted too I could use CQC and an HTPC with ripped DVDs couldn't I? I don't have a DVD changer and really don't want one. I was thinking of going the ripped DVD route with a matrix switch.

So does CQC have a listing of the movies in you changer somehow. I'm guessing you set this up in CQC whenever you add or remove DVDs from the changer.

Yes, you can use ripped, changer or a combo of both. There are two methods for adding DVD info. CQC has its own DVD repository where it grabs the Metadata and stores it. I think it requires that you put the DVD in the drive at least once. The other alternative (which is what I use) is to use DVDProfiler. You enter all your DVD UPC bar codes into profiler, it looks up all the DVD info/coverart, etc. CQC has a DVDProfiler driver for grabbing all that info and displaying it.
post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertmee View Post

Yes, you can use ripped, changer or a combo of both. There are two methods for adding DVD info. CQC has its own DVD repository where it grabs the Metadata and stores it. I think it requires that you put the DVD in the drive at least once. The other alternative (which is what I use) is to use DVDProfiler. You enter all your DVD UPC bar codes into profiler, it looks up all the DVD info/coverart, etc. CQC has a DVDProfiler driver for grabbing all that info and displaying it.

So you use a tablet type device (N800) to select the movies or can you use the TV screen with a remote of some type to show the available movies, cover art, etc.

With SageTV, it looks like you use the tv screen and a remote to choose what you want to watch.
post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmilin View Post

So you use a tablet type device (N800) to select the movies or can you use the TV screen with a remote of some type to show the available movies, cover art, etc.

With SageTV, it looks like you use the tv screen and a remote to choose what you want to watch.

You can do either, although depending on how you are getting the DVD video to the TV screen, it may involve switching inputs on your TV, or if using your PC to drive the TV, launching and aborting your software DVD player. Here's a screen shot of my Nokia with movies for browsing:

post #24 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stickyfingers View Post

IMO (and that of many/most others here) the most cost effective way to distribute HD is over component.

I've done projects (DIY) both ways, Cat5e and baluns as well as 5 conductor mini-coax and there's not a _huge_ cost difference but mini-coax was certainly less.

You're looking at (roughly) $200 - $400 for minicoax (depending on length and number of runs) ~$20 per location in compression connectors and ~$250 (used) to ~$1200 (new 8x4) for a matrix switch (+ whatever you decide to do for control).

Hope that's helpful.

Cheers.

In looking into this, I see one problem: many sources don't have composite video outputs. I looked, and adapters from HDMI to composite are quiet expensive. For example, HTPCs or DVD players don't have composite out. Is the switch you are using take HDMI/DVI and convert to composite?
post #25 of 40
Quote:


In looking into this, I see one problem: many sources don't have composite video outputs. I looked, and adapters from HDMI to composite are quiet expensive. For example, HTPCs or DVD players don't have composite out. Is the switch you are using take HDMI/DVI and convert to composite?

You mean, component? Composite is not HD video. Component is HD, its the red,green, blue connections.

Component does exist on most source equipment made today, 2 years from now who knows. Composite (Yellow connection) does too.


What DVD player doesnt have a Component video connection?

HTPCs have DVI out and we use a DVI to Component adapter (I have two HTPC).

The cheapest way to distribute HD is over component and buying everything from ebay.
post #26 of 40
Quote:


So does CQC have a listing of the movies in you changer somehow. I'm guessing you set this up in CQC whenever you add or remove DVDs from the changer.


You create your DVD library in CQC by using a 3rd party software package called DVDProfile (small extra cost). You enter all your DVDs in DVDProfiler then export the database to a XML file. You copy the XML file and the folder with all the coverart files to your CQC machine and CQC reads the XML file and cover art.

When creating your DVD library in DVDProfile you have to add a where your movie is saved on your network, you edit the NOTE section and enter this info.

example....[ONLINELOCATION="\\\\Avserver\\M1\\movies\\310 TO YUMA\\VIDEO_TS.IFO"]


CQC doesnt automatically setup your DVD library so this part is still pretty manual. It would be great to automate it some day. I havent followed the lastest and greatest events at CQC so who knows what is happening now.
post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray View Post

HTPCs have DVI out and we use a DVI to Component adapter (I have two HTPC).

The cheapest way to distribute HD is over component and buying everything from ebay.

That was my next question. How to you get the video signal out of the PC? So you are just using the video card in the PC and converting the signal to component. Then routing the component to an input on the matrix switch.

CQC handles controlling the switch and also what the output of the HTPC video will be such as the ripped DVD? Does the HTPC need to have CQC installed on it? Why have two HTPCs? Could you have two video cards in the same PC? I guess this wouldn't give you two different movies at the same time because you can't route movie one to video card one and movie two to video card two?
post #28 of 40
Quote:


That was my next question. How to you get the video signal out of the PC?

HTPC has just a normal DVI video card something like a ATI 2400 or Radeon G8600 (I think those are the numbers). I then simply connect a DVI to Component video adapter so I can plug my HTPC into my Extron video switch.

Quote:


CQC handles controlling the switch and also what the output of the HTPC video will be such as the ripped DVD?

CQC controls the Extron over a Serial connection. Note: CQC is a software package running on ANOTHER PC, that PC has a serial board so I can connect upto 8 different serial devices (I can expand if needed).

CQC controls the HTPC too. CQC knows where the ripped movie is...example \\\\Avserver\\M1\\movies\\310 TO YUMA\\VIDEO_TS.IFO. CQC can control movie playback software on the HTPC, Zoomplayer or TheaterTek are the most commonly used. Both have IP based remote control ability. CQC simply tells the playback software to play the video_ts.ifo file. Clear as mud

Quote:


Does the HTPC need to have CQC installed on it?

Well if you want to START a program on the HTPC you need to install a CQC app server program but that is about it.

Quote:


Why have two HTPCs? Could you have two video cards in the same PC? I guess this wouldn't give you two different movies at the same time because you can't route movie one to video card one and movie two to video card two?

Move playback software can not play more then one movie on a PC so two video cards wont matter. It would be nice to have a very high end HTPC and have the ability to play two movies concurrently but it just doesnt exist today. The only thing that is need here is playback software everything else would work. We actually can playback music concurrently, I can have up to 4 songs playing at once through my HTPC. Sound cards have multiple zones and Music playback software can select a zone on the sound card ( ie...CQC and JRiver)

I have a CQC PC to control everything, that PC also plays back music to all zones (up to 4 concurrent songs). I have 2 HTPCs, one is a low end PC (about $300) for normal SD DVD playback, its still great!! and I built a custom high end HTPC to playback BluRay and HD-DVDs.




Im sure this is all confusing, I hope Im helping a little. CQC is confusing at first but just when you think you are totally lost everything starts to make sense.
post #29 of 40
pmilin, I just read your thread, very nice job so far. Russound fits nicely in with CQC, if you didnt know.

www.charmedquark.com is the website, click on the forum and you will get a good idea of what people are doing with CQC.

btw, why didnt you create your full house audio solution on here? Heck, I didnt even know that forum existed
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray View Post

Im sure this is all confusing, I hope Im helping a little. CQC is confusing at first but just when you think you are totally lost everything starts to make sense.

I think I understand. The level of detail you provided helps a lot. As far as video playback goes, CQC on your CQC PC talks to a small CQC server on your HTPC. This CQC server launches and makes calls to the movie playback software on the HTPC to play, pause, fwd, etc. when instructed to do so by the main CQC PC. Am I right so far?

The movie goes out the video card like it normally would and the sound goes out the sound card. You then connect the PC through the required converters to an input on the matrix switch (audio and video?). CQC also controls the switch so that the proper HTPC is mapped to the desired display.

I guess this all happens as a result of some macro or program that you setup in CQC and tie to a particular button on the CQC interface.

Clear as mud indeed.
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