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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The obvious statement is that I am a noob, so direct me to the correct page if this is already answered.


I am looking to control 3 TV's with one HTPC. Each TV should be able to show an independent screen when connected. I would like to use Windows Media Center but am open to anything that works. The caveat is that I do not want to use Media Extenders since I have my DVD's burned (VIDEO_TS) to a homeserver and extenders choke on the codec.


Is this possible or do I need 3 separate PC's, one for each TV and just have them all tie into one server with the Movie and Music content?
 

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What do you mean control 3 TVs? And Independent?


I assume you mean to connect 3 displays at the output of the HTPC. It is possible to connect more than 3 if you so wish.


Need to know more details: what video cards do you have? What are you trying to achieve with 3 screens?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have 3 TV's (displays) each in a seperate room, In-law living room, family living room and Master bedroom. On each display I would like to have access to view Movies, slideshows (family pictures) and play music that is stored on a separate network shared server. The user at each display should be able to execute any of the above functions independate from one another (e.g. user 1 watches Movies while user 2 watches a slideshow).


I am tyring to duplicate the experience I have today with one PC running WMC connected to one TV. Currently, with my remote I hit one button, my TV changes display to the DVI (PC), the audio reciever changes to the PC channel (video2), and WMC starts on the PC. Then I can control WMC through my remote to select the movie, music or picture I want to run.


A couple of backnotes:

Any wiring necessary can be done as my house is underconstruction and no walls are in place yet.

My "current" PC died and so I am open to buying anything I need to accomplish the task (within reason).

The price I would like to stay around is roughly $400 - $600 per PC if I need 3 and $2000 if I can buy 1 PC. (Even if the numbers in my head are way off, I would like to know how to do it... for future consideration)
 

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I think you'll need to have a small pc in each room and have a central media server. Each pc will then access the shared files. You'll probably also want to make sure you have a gigabit network to ensure throughput. If you go wireless, you'll need an N-spec card and router/switch.
 

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Take a look at the Popcorn Hour , would be cheaper than 3 PC's. Do a search for threads in this forum. A few members have gone this route and retired HTPC's.


Use cat6 cable for your network and have multiple outlets in each room for equipment placement, easier to do with no walls up yet.
 

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Ok, I have the same situation...3 TVs, ripped movies, etc.


Keep the HTPC and either connect it to one TV or put it somewhere else where no one will touch it. Then, get SageTV and 3 SageTV HD200 extenders. The only thing it can't do well is High Def Audio like Dolby TruHD and DTS-MA. It will pass through the cores of these codecs, but your receiver/TV will have to decode them..
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by James_stewart /forum/post/16857201


Yeah it sounds like you'll definitely be better off with a pc in each room and a main server. I would recommend the Dell Hybrid machine as your satellite PC's. They're (8"x3") and have HDMI, optical, blu-ray if you want. check them out at http://www.dell.com/hybrid

That's intriguing. Anyone know how an integrated Intel X3100 with 2GB shared memory would perform with a Core2 Duo T4200? Having to go with any processor higher than the 4200 would make this too expensive and I'd be better off going with a home built system in my server closet with HDMI and IR over CAT6.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadmas /forum/post/16856725


The caveat is that I do not want to use Media Extenders since I have my DVD's burned (VIDEO_TS) to a homeserver and extenders choke on the codec.

That's because you are looking at the wrong extenders.


A cheap computer running Sage Server with a couple of tuners hooked in and 3 Sage HD200 extenders elsewhere on the network will give you 3 independent controlled but identical DVR interfaces that will also playback ripped DVDs without breaking a sweat.


Seriously, Sage HD Extenders playback Video_TS folder structures better than computers do.


-Suntan
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan /forum/post/16857687


That's because you are looking at the wrong extenders.


A cheap computer running Sage Server with a couple of tuners hooked in and 3 Sage HD200 extenders elsewhere on the network will give you 3 independent controlled but identical DVR interfaces that will also playback ripped DVDs without breaking a sweat.


Seriously, Sage HD Extenders playback Video_TS folder structures better than computers do.


-Suntan

I could not agree more here. I had an HTPC for about 4-5 years and when I built my new home with the ability to run cat 5 everywhere, I did. Then I got 3 HD200 extenders and can do everything I want except web browsing on my nice big TV. DVD, Blu-Ray, PVR, PlayOn (Netflix).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you all for the responses. I will be looking into each of these suggestions and will start a new post if I have questions on the specific approach I take:


2MchBst - Gigabit router and switch will be purchased. Everything will be wired.


DJWikiera - I will be investigating Popcorn Hour, I saw it mentioned on a couple other posts but never followed the link.


James_stewart - I will be looking into this as option #2 since the consensus is for Sage. But, knowing me, I will more than likely buy both and test them to see which fits my specific situation/preferences.


Beefcake - This looks like the recommended approach, I will purchase one and test it. My receiver currently has the decoders built in and I will make sure the displays (2 will not have a receiver) have them as well.


jrwalte - I admit I am lost with your comment about the processor but I gather it is sarcastic and you believe the better approach is the Sage since the Dell would be too expensive. That said, I will have a server closet in the basement and I already have an 8 port IR receiver that I used for my original 1 PC 1 TV setup.


Sultan - That is exactly what I am looking for and why I took back my Xbox as an Extender. But I never read that any other extenders could handle the playback... good to hear Sage can.

When you say "Minus the high definition audio tracks" in your second post are you referring to the part about having the receiver decode the Dolby Digital or DTS? So it can handle it but not decode it, the receiver has to do that.


MrBobb - Yes, I was testing the Xbox specifically but looked into MCE extenders and was hearing the same reply about all of them that none of them handle the ripped TS folder.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadmas /forum/post/16862932


Thank you all for the responses. I will be looking into each of these suggestions and will start a new post if I have questions on the specific approach I take:


2MchBst - Gigabit router and switch will be purchased. Everything will be wired.


DJWikiera - I will be investigating Popcorn Hour, I saw it mentioned on a couple other posts but never followed the link.


James_stewart - I will be looking into this as option #2 since the consensus is for Sage. But, knowing me, I will more than likely buy both and test them to see which fits my specific situation/preferences.


Beefcake - This looks like the recommended approach, I will purchase one and test it. My receiver currently has the decoders built in and I will make sure the displays (2 will not have a receiver) have them as well.


jrwalte - I admit I am lost with your comment about the processor but I gather it is sarcastic and you believe the better approach is the Sage since the Dell would be too expensive. That said, I will have a server closet in the basement and I already have an 8 port IR receiver that I used for my original 1 PC 1 TV setup.


Sultan - That is exactly what I am looking for and why I took back my Xbox as an Extender. But I never read that any other extenders could handle the playback... good to hear Sage can.

When you say "Minus the high definition audio tracks" in your second post are you referring to the part about having the receiver decode the Dolby Digital or DTS? So it can handle it but not decode it, the receiver has to do that.


MrBobb - Yes, I was testing the Xbox specifically but looked into MCE extenders and was hearing the same reply about all of them that none of them handle the ripped TS folder.

Sage extenders can only send out 5.1 audio. They will take the DTS core out of 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio. Stay away from the Dell's, the Intel integrated graphics are not up to snuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I understand, thank you for the clarification stlbearboy, I can only decode to 5.1 channel and not any higher. That is not a deal breaker for me since I am only putting in a 5.1 speaker arrangement, but for future consideration, is there any way to over come this and get 7.1?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadmas /forum/post/16862932


When you say "Minus the high definition audio tracks"

No. I am not referring to DVDs at all. I am talking about Blu Ray rips.


The HD200 will output DD & DTS bitstream via the spdif port *and* it will output the bitstream signal out of the HDMI connector. If you connect a receiver either through the HDMI or the SPDIF port, you will get full audio support for any audio track found on a DVD.


The HD200 will also decode DD and put it out through the 2 ch analog outs, but it will not decode DTS and output it through the analog connections (you will just get silence if you pick the DTS track I believe.) But honestly, if you are using the 2 ch analog outs of the extender, you really aren't missing anything between the DD and DTS track on a DVD.


The audio on Blu Rays are a lot more complicated. The HD200 will still provide a traditional DD & DTS bitstream even from blu ray rips. But it can not (as of this time, supposedly they are working to add this feature) provide the high resolution DTS HD-MA or Dolby TrueHD audio tracks to receivers that are equipped to play them back.


Long story short, if you are just looking to access DVD rips through your system, and you will feed the output to a receiver via a digital connection, the Sage extenders fully support it.


If you want to learn more about it, I suggest googling for the differences between traditional dolby digital and TrueHD then doing the same for traditional DTS and DTS HD-MA.


-Suntan
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Wow, thanks for all the info Suntan. I will check out the differences of the audio formats to make sure I make the educated decision.


PanamaMike (nice name) I have looked over Popcorn Hour and the info that is on the site looks good, but there is much more investigating to do. Originally I was just going to build 3 econo PC's since they will be stored in a server room but I don’t think I can beat the Popcorn price to build one. If it truly works and is better (or close and cheaper) than the Sage option, I will get it.


jrwalte - what ever equipment I get I will place it in the server room and control it from there. I love the non clutter look.
 

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Sage's main benefit over a PCH comes into play if you want to add tuners to the server PC and then have TV DVR capability through the extenders. Then Sage is *much* more polished and capable than a PCH (which I believe can to some similar things, but you have to setup GB-PVR on a computer and it is a bit of a work around.)


If you are strictly looking for DVD playback, either one will do that. However, Sage will offer better uniformity between the three different TVs. Watching a show half way through then go get in bed and watch the rest is a matter of stopping it on one Sage extender and then pressing play again on the other. Don't know if multiple PCHs can do this.


-Suntan
 
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