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"Whole home" HTPC

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I know several satellite and cable companies offer a "whole home" DVR service. I've been thinking about building a HTPC for many, many years now, starting back when I had just one television. Now we'll have four. Is a HTPC still a viable option? I'd love to be able to set, watch, and delete recordings from any of the televisions in the house.

Any ideas and/or feedback would be appreciated.
post #2 of 10
Very easily doable.

For straight DVR stuff, any PC will do. Great details are available over at another site, the green button dot tv.

The best, easiest whole house DVR solution is Windows Media Center. (Use Windows 7 for the best results.) All setup and recording and guide management and whatnot is done on one PC; remote TVs are handled via WMC extenders, usually XBox (could also be Ceton Echo). The extenders are special instances of remote desktop into that single PC, so all "set, watch, delete recordings" can be done from anywhere and it all actually happens on the main box.

I've taken off the shelf PCs, added tuners and a hard drive, and made them into WMC machines.

Some people hook the PC straight to the TV; you'll need a PC or a video card that has suitable output, such as HDMI; you'll also need a WMC remote control setup, with IR receiver and a suitable remote.

Other people sit the PC somewhere remote, and simply use an extender at each TV. There are pros and cons to each approach.

The key for stability is, set the machine up to be a DVR and pretty much nothing else.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by adam1991 View Post

The key for stability is, set the machine up to be a DVR and pretty much nothing else.

Thanks for the response.

So you wouldn't use this as a full HTPC setup, to where I can stream Netflix/Hulu? Strictly DVR?
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by adam1991 View Post


The best, easiest whole house DVR solution is Windows Media Center. (Use Windows 7 for the best results.)

I will give you 'the easiest', but the best will depend on your needs. MC is far easier to setup than a lot of the competition, but the same ease makes it less configurable than other options too. In saying that it has some great features..
post #5 of 10
WMC on the main PC will give you streaming Netflix. For other things, I use the web browser and a wireless keyboard/mouse (although the new Media Center Cast plugin is great for watching Youtube stuff and listening to my Google Play music, all using the WMC remote control).

On any TV using an extender, Netflix/Hulu are a different matter. I say, use a Roku or something; others hack around and do other things within WMC to try to make it all work. It depends on how hard you want to work at it, and what level of appliance-type behavior you want.

This is one of those things you have to think about when you consider whether you should plug the PC itself into your TV or leave the PC sitting in a corner somewhere and simply use extenders on all TVs.

What I don't do is use the PC for non-media tasks.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by NurseWizzle View Post

Thanks for the response.

So you wouldn't use this as a full HTPC setup, to where I can stream Netflix/Hulu? Strictly DVR?

Netflix is already integrated into WMC. HULU desktop can be easily integrated into WMC.

You can use XBOX360 on other TV's to access all of your content, including NetFlix (Live Gold required for Netflix, but not for Media Center Extender)
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

Netflix is already integrated into WMC. HULU desktop can be easily integrated into WMC.

You can use XBOX360 on other TV's to access all of your content, including NetFlix (Live Gold required for Netflix, but not for Media Center Extender)
But Netflix in WMC sucks (720p max, numerous bugs and missing features), and continues to get worse with every new feature Netflix rolls out but MS ignores. And Hulu isn't really integrated. You just get a link in WMC to launch it.

And paying MS on top of what I'm already paying Netflix just for the privilege of watching it on their stupid box is not something I'm the least bit interested in.

You'll get much better (and cheaper) results not trying to shoehorn everything into WMC.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I feel like I'm getting more confused the more I read!!!
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
I feel like I'm getting more confused the more I read!!!
post #10 of 10
Sorry, but there are many ways to accomplish your goal, and everyone, including myself, is going to give you slightly different advice. So you have to weigh the options and decide for yourself what is best. Personally, I want the best picture quality, lowest cost, and most ease of use. I'm with Adam on using WMC and Extenders for cable TV DVR functions and Roku or BD player or Chromecast for Netflix, Hulu, etc. And if you have any smart TVs, use their built-in streaming apps. Otherwise you're looking at more complexity and expense and lower picture quality. I wish there were a good, all-in-one solution, but there isn't yet. There may be soon, if Ceton gets its act together with the Echo, but that hasn't happened yet.

A simple universal remote in each room can integrate everything quite nicely. Just program it so you press the TV button to watch TV, press the Netflix button to what Netflix, and so on. That's very simple for anyone to use, and the actual device doing the streaming doesn't matter. So full WMC integration of everything isn't necessary.
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