Boy! You have a fair number of requirements. I have implemented some of what you are wanting to do. So, I thought that I would take a stab at this. Just a word a warning. I'm fairly Apple-driven. But, I know about and can offer pros/cons price/performance on many other options as I explored them all (Squeezebox, Sonos, Russound Collage, etc. etc. for audio distribution) and too many options to mention on the video side. I'll tackle each requirement in turn. I've broken it up into audio distribution and video distribution.
Assumptions (Wired infrastructure)
- Music stored in central location unit for audio distribution through 4 zones
In your diagram, you didn't show keypads but I assume that you have cat5/16/4 speaker cable wired to a keypad location in each zone all going to the mechanical closet. Also, 2 16/2 speaker cable going to the speakers from the keypad in room to the speakers in that room.
I used a Nuvo Simplese
system $1,199 as it provided me with 4 zones (8 speakers) of amplification, IR repeater system, keypads, remote, and up to 4 separate sources and it was cheaper than the competition. Also, being a class D amp it runs VERY cool which is important given all the cr*p errrrr equipment I have in what is essentially a large closet.
My sources are:
1. Apple TV ----$229+tax
2. old laptop used for Pandora radio feed ---free
3. iPod dock with IR control for guests/parties/kids ---$100
4. iPod dock (different brand so that ir commands from other dock don't conflict) for wife's ipod (she has 160GB ipod classic)
Playback Control, etc.
Well. With a keypad in each room I can chose which source I want to listen to in that particular room independent of other rooms. Each room can listen to a different source simultaneously (e.g. Ipod in say room 2 and 3, and Pandora room 1, and Apple Tv room 4). I really like this system as it gave me the multi-zone, multi-source capability I was wanting. You can go with a stereo amp, speaker switcher box, and plain volume controls but I found that all of that didn't get me where I wanted to go.
-- I have my entire music library synced with the AppleTV. With the free Apple Remote software, I turned my iPhone into a touch screen interface into my music collection. I don't need to mess with IR/RF. I just utilize my existing wifi instead. The Remote app also works with the iPod touch. Best of all during parties the interface is simple enough that friends can take control of the music if they (and I)
like. FYI: I also use the Appletv for podcasts I subscribe to and for Internet Radio. I know that you mentioned FM. If you really want local FM stations that you can't get over Internet Radio, you could always get an FM tuner, set your presets, hook it up to the Nuvo and program a universal remote to skip through your presets. The Nuvo keypads have an integrated IR receiver and send the IR to the Nuvo unit in the closet which in turn has IR emitters to get the IR commands to the FM Tuner.
This next part is on the video side but if I wanted to get really cool and geeky I could route the video output from the AppleTV to a RF modulator $20 tuned to a particular channel and then send the signal to every TV in the house so that I could do video also. It'd be like having an AppleTV "channel" in every room in the house. But, as I already have Mac minis, Tivos, dvd players, ps3, etc in the various rooms, it is not something I'm terribly interested in doing. But, just thought I would throw it out there.
Now I COULD have gone with an Apple Airport Express instead of an AppleTV at roughly half the price $99. But, that solution requires that I have a PC/Mac somewhere always on to serve up music. I felt that the savings in energy and having a totally independent source for my music was worth the extra money.
2. Old Laptop
-- I use an iphone/ipod touch app called RemoteTap which allows me to VNC (essenstially see my laptop screen on my iPhone over wifi) to control the web browser where I have Pandora running. I made the resolution on the laptop as low as possible 800x600 so that the representation of the PC screen on my iPhone would be large and easier to read/control. I just have the laptop hooked to the Nuvo with a simple RCA to headphone cable $6 at RatShack. Again, I'm using my iPhone as essentially a touchscreen remote. If you don't already have an iPhone, I would recommend an iPod Touch. At $199, it's the cheapest touch screen remote out there with appropriate apps. You can use it to control AppleTV, computer with iTunes, XBMC/Plex, Tivo DVR, DirecTV DVR, ATT DVR, etc. I can't recommend it highly enough.
3 and 4. iPod Dock
-- Great for the kids and wife as they can listen to their iPod stuff in their room/study which they control via the IR remote that came with the dock. They use shuffle mode and just skip forward if they don't like the current song.
Phew! I hope all that made sense. I did a fair amount of research and that is the solution I came to. Although, there are MANY other viable systems/solutions out there.
Assumptions (Wireless infrastructure)
There are a number of wireless audio distribution systems out there:
Sonos - wireless with built in amplification, iphone/ipod touch control app
Logitech Squeezebox -- wireless with all-in-one lcd/amp/speakers
Apple Airport Express and Apple TV -- need to have local amplification, music server (PC/MAC) running iTunes, iphone/ipod touch control. Good for patio boombox as it can be simply unplugged and taken inside during inclement weather.
- * Movies in HD format stored in a central location unit that can be pulled up from 4 rooms/zones in my house on TV, projector, and Macs
Here I couldn't agree with DaveGee more. If you are talking HD movies, you are taking gobs and gobs of hard drive space. You need a PLACE for that. 1 HD movie can take up to 50GB. 50 movies is 2.5TB. You will want to have RAID of some kind (unraid/freeraid/ZFS/pre-built RAID NAS). The last thing you want is to spend all the effort to get your movies and stuff onto your drive and then have to re-do your work if a drive goes bad. You can look at doing a DIY File Server(unraid,freeraid,ZFS, etc) or look at pre-built NAS solutions such as Synology DS409+, QNAP units, Seagate BlackStore 440, and others. HD has high bandwidth requirements. You will need both a high performance NAS/Fileserver that can handle it and a gigabit network also.
If you plan on streaming full HD (blu-ray rips, etc), you WILL want a wired Gigabit network. Wireless N could possibly work but performance will depend on a great many factors: size of the house, wireless signal strength vagrancies, QOS settings, etc. If you go wireless, I would recommend having two separate networks. One for internet surfing etc. and one for audio/video distribution.
- Internal TV Tuner (or through USB connection like EyeTV if internal tuner is not best option)
- DVR/PVR capability with storage on central location unit. Would like capability to record at least 2 shows at same time
- FM Tuner (same conditions as for TV tuner)
- Ability to stream Netflix, Hulu, etc.
- Ability to control with a RF remote so I can have the unit stored away if I choose
- Ability to use XBMC or PLEX
- Must be easy to use for WAF
Some of these at least to me seem mutually exclusive. For example, you mention being able to control with RF which infers that the equipment is centrally stored in the closet. But the Netflix, Hulu, XBMC/PLEX, DVR/PVR stuff infers a local playback device (pc/mac/dune/other media playback device). Also, you mention WAF here. The last thing you want is a big, noisy tower HTPC for dvr/pvr, etc. Also, the thing I don't like about DVR/PVR capability for pcs/mac is that it is only good for local over-the-air broadcasts you can't record any cables channels bitstreams. That lack of functionality is a big deal in my book which is why a dedicated pvr/dvr is better in my book.
For the DVR/PVR stuff, I think that you would be better off with a Tivo, DirecTV, or other dedicated DVR. Tivo is the most flexible as you can easily transfer videos off the Tivo to your mac/pc and burn to DVD or store permanently on your RAID/NAS box. Also, with a wired network, it is very easy to transfer your recorded around the house to other tivos.
HD Movies, Hulu, and Netflix playback
Since you mention HD Movies, Hulu, Netflix, I would recommend a Mac Mini running Plex in each location you want to playback that combination of things. It is a small quiet unit. The current Mac Mini is capable of playing back blu-ray rips and any other HD material I get off the net. Plex also has Hulu/Netflix capability via plug-ins. While the current mac minis don't have HDMI, they do have a Display Port connection. You can get a cheap DisplayPort to HDMI adapter from monoprice. Also, you will need a special optical cable (monoprice again) to get digital sound (Dolby Digital/DTS) to your receiver. Also, you can have use the mac mini to playback you MP3 collection via iTunes for rooms (Family/Media Room), Pandora where you may not have distributed audio set up.
Standard DVD, Music, Rent movies, etc.
In rooms where you don't need HD, Hulu and Netflix streaming (kids/guest room), you could go with an AppleTV with XBMC installed. I've set it up with access to only kids movies and music.
In summary, for audio distribution I have the Nuvo Amp/Controller with the AppleTV, laptop, ipod docks with control either via Iphone or IR remote. The AppleTV has wireless N so I don't need a network wire (although I do have a wired network) to sync it to my mac mini in the study which I use to manage my library, playlists, etc.
For DVR/PVR duties, I have a number of Tivos (Family room, media room, master bedroom).
For movie/internet content(netflix/hulu) playback, I use a Mac Mini in the Family and Media room with AppleTVs in the kids room for std. DVD, music, etc.
Last but not least, I have a Open Solaris/ZFS fileserver to store all my Music, Movies, and Pictures. I share via NFS for fast performance for my movies. I mount those NFS directories from my Mac Minis and AppleTVs(except for "audio server" AppleTV which I sync with my Mac Mini in the study)
I hope that is helpful to you. Good luck on whatever you decide.