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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My question may cause many a great deal of humor for those more knowledgeable than I am ... but I'm going to ask anyway so I can learn what I don't know. Please contribute and teach me... But also simplify things in easy-to-understand lingo.

BACKGROUND: I am trying to finalize decisions for my family room / theater room and distributed audio/video to a few rooms in the house. Here are the features that I am really wanting to do.
  • 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
  • Music stored in central location unit for audio distribution through 4 zones
  • 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

MY QUESTION: Is there any difference between a Media Server a NAS and a HTPC?


I have tried to do as much reading up on each of these and hear them mentioned in many threads but they all seem to be the same from what I can tell and when I look at them online (Yes, this is your cue to laugh).


Based on my wish list above, what are my options for a centralized storage unit?
 

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NAS is network attached storage. Its a device that presents your data over the network to a client such as an HTPC. A NAS doesn't record TV or run HTPC software. Its function is for data storage.


HTPC is a device which plays back your content, records TV, and houses your data. You can use it in conjunction with a NAS for more data storage.


A media server adds on to a NAS in that it can run additional apps to transcode files on the fly to play on systems which do not natively play the native file format. It can also server as an iTunes server, and provide a central backup for clients. 'Media Server' and NAS are usually one in the same unless you use it for more than it was intended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Almost:


Thanks for the concise explanation of each of those. So let me see if I understand some applications of each of them:

NAS - This would be a decent option if all I wanted to do was store all of my media in a location that could be called up on my network (2 macs throughout the house and a laptop) and could be accessed through XBMC or Plex. It would basically do nothing else on my wish list so I would most likely want to rule this one out for my needs.

Media Server - In a similar manner, it seems like this method is best only for storing my media

HTPC - Seems like this would fit most of my needs (Record TV, store media, playback).


.....So what HTPC options are out there for Macs?


I know there is the Mini. But is that something I can control with RF universal remote and have it stored away in another room? Don't I need more than just the Mini to make it work (a NAS like Drobo for example to store the content??)


Anything else commercial for Macs instead of the DIY route for an HTPC?
 

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Quote:
Please contribute and teach me... But also simplify things in easy-to-understand lingo

Lingo is one thing, why don't you tell us in your lingo what you've been able to do so far in terms of HT? Do you use EyeTV? Do you know how to screen share from one Mac to another? Do you know how to stream a video from one Mac to another over your network, and if so, how well does that work out? Do you share one iTunes library over your several Macs right now? How many of your "zones" or viewing locations have HDTVs, AVRs and speakers already? How many of your Macs are already connected to your TVs and how has playback gone with Plex and Front Row so far?

Quote:
So what HTPC options are out there for Macs?

It's foolish to expect an answer this question because folks have already been discussing HTPC options for Macs here at AVS for 6 years. That's a lot of ground you have to catch up. A response I can give you that might help is this:


1) Based on the wish list that you've described, you can achieve your goals. It's really a question of implementation and budget. Many of us do something very similar to what you describe. The WAF will be a pretty big variable for you, though, since you're not really up to speed. So first, you get up to speed, you start living with your nascent HTPC network and controlling things, only then can you start choosing and whittling options down to the bare minimum before you present the solution to your wife.


2) Any Mac can serve as an HTPC, it's just that a Mini usually offers the best price to performance ratio.

Quote:
NAS - This would be a decent option if all I wanted to do was store all of my media in a location that could be called up on my network (2 macs throughout the house and a laptop) and could be accessed through XBMC or Plex. It would basically do nothing else on my wish list so I would most likely want to rule this one out for my needs

That's not the conclusion you should draw about a NAS, or from what almostinsane was telling you, just yet.


Take one step back from the definitions you've just received--your wish list includes storage, right? Massive amounts of storage. There's no rule that says you have to have "Network Attached Storage" but in many cases, it does make things easier when you hope to distribute content all around your house than only having DAS "Direct attached storage," i.e. hard drives in enclosures directly attached to your Macs over firewire or USB. Many of us have storage all over the place--a mix of NAS and DAS. Additionally, don't forget that you have to account for Time Machine, multiple backups of important files like your iTunes music library, and backups and cloned volumes with SuperDuper.


And not all NAS devices are expensive. An AirDisk--that's what Apple calls USB hard drives connected to their Airport Extreme basestations--is a form of NAS, a very simple and quite nice one. I have 3TB (two 1.5TB WD Green drives) hooked up to my Extreme as separate AirDisks, and all 6 Macs in my house can pull content from them easily.


But, where a NAS can add value is if you have individuals in several viewing locations that want to watch different programming independently...you'll have 2 Macs and a laptop running Plex, right...three viewing locations...what if there were three of you who all wanted to watch different EyeTV recordings at the same time...and your EyeTV archive is on a single external firewire drive hooked up to one of the Macs? In this example you'd be asking a single Mac to function as a "media server" as well as a playback device, and demanding a lot from a single external drive, especially with high def that's not going to work out that well, hence why some here go with a NAS, because NAS hardware is usually better designed just to serve up media to multiple users over your network simultaneously.

Quote:
pulled up from 4 rooms/zones in my house on TV, projector, and Macs
Quote:
I know there is the Mini. But is that something I can control with RF universal remote and have it stored away in another room?

An RF remote is a added complication and expense, there are RF options for Macs in the HT, but most of us here probably use the Apple remote or remote apps on an iPod touch/iPhone. It's the "storing away in another room" concept that I think you need to think through. This gets back to something you said in your original post--where you talked of "distributed audio/video to a few rooms in the house"--there's a difference in approach when it comes to this, so it's best for you to decide this up front.


Most of us set up a gigabit/wireless network, then employ multiple Macs (and/or aTV, Airport Express, some other device) one Mac/device in each viewing area, connected to each HDTV, relying on Leopard's built-in sharing. It's the storage--the big noisy collections of drives--that often we tuck away out of sight--a la a NAS, which can be anywhere as long as it is somewhere on your gigabit network. The other approach, which is not discussed much here, is to have one central Mac connected to some sort of whole house distribution amp--which in turn feeds audio and video to all your displays around the house.


Me, I like the multiple Mac all connected over the network approach, we have 6 Macs in the house, gigabit and wireless, a mixture of NAS and DAS, 4 EyeTV tuners, several iPod touches, the Apple remote and screen-sharing laptops serve as remotes.

Quote:
Anything else commercial for Macs instead of the DIY route for an HTPC?

Huh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/18259841


Lingo is one thing, why don't you tell us in your lingo what you've been able to do so far in terms of HT?

My basement is framed up and I have pulled all of the low voltage wiring for electrical outlets and lighting. There is no drywall up yet in the basement and I have complete access into the upstairs through several routes to the locations I need.


I am now ready to do the structured wiring as soon as I can figure out what particular wiring I will be using for certain aspects. For example: HDMI cable vs. HDMI over Cat5e (due to potential long runs and desire to do AV distribution, etc.) and also as soon as I can figure out where the best location will be for my needs.


Here are the layout options I have come up with:

OPTION 1: Everything in mechanical room. This is my preferred setup if I can connect to it be reliably (through RF control in Family Room for example).







OPTION 2: All AV components are in built-in cabinetry on front wall of family room. Some components (router, storage of media) would preferably still be in mechanical room to try to maintain aesthetics and minimize noise. An additional concern with this method is that it could limit future upgrading options for HDTV size and limit the size of projection screen I might be able to use.







Option 3: Components at back of room in built-in cabinet to keep front wall with "clutter-free" appearance. Would have to modify existing back wall and closet (which was already slated for specific use but could share the space). One thing I don't like about this option is that I was planning on seating all across the full back wall (although I guess the component shelving could start above the top of the seating). I would still likely want to keep some equipment in the mechanical room that wasn't necessary in the cabinet.










Upstairs Layout




Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/18259841


Do you use EyeTV? Do you know how to screen share from one Mac to another? Do you know how to stream a video from one Mac to another over your network, and if so, how well does that work out? Do you share one iTunes library over your several Macs right now? How many of your "zones" or viewing locations have HDTVs, AVRs and speakers already? How many of your Macs are already connected to your TVs and how has playback gone with Plex and Front Row so far?

I switched from PC to Macs about 9 months ago and am still learning my way around and haven't had experience with the things you listed. I currently have 1 iMac and a laptop connected on my network. The additional iMac will be added to the basement in the future. I do not have EyeTV yet. I still use cable for the my TV viewing on my HDTV. I have not started using Plex yet because I felt like I should figure out my storage first and then start ripping directly to that instead of my iMac.


Here is a graph of what I currently own and where I am planning on using them. Mind you, some of the things in the graph may not even be the right way (or best way) to accomplish my wants/wishes so feel free to critique and see what I might have overlooked.


 

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Another thing to consider, given your design options, is the question of front ends. Your plans indicate a "hub." That hub could be any old Mac with a bunch a hard drives hooked up to it. You could stream from that "hub" to Apple TV's throughout the house. That's a potentially cheaper route than a mac mini for every TV. Of course, that would preclude the DVR function, so maybe it's not for you.


Finally, how do you plan on distributing the audio? Does your AVR handle 4 zones? If you don't have solid plans yet, have you looked into Air Tunes? That's a pretty slick way of tackling the room to room music problem. I'll also second the Airdisk solution: I use that a lot...Time Machine and Apple TV. While it can be problematic in a pure wireless scenario with HD material, even if one component is wired (ie Mac or ATV) it's pretty sweet. Simple streaming from the Airdisk to my Macbook is smooth as butter.


I'm done rambling. Good luck!
 
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What it all comes down is this...


1 - You need a PLACE to store all of your content. This can be a single NAS or a single tower Mac or it could even be stretched across multiple devices. In my mind the less fragmentation the better for simplicity but so long as you know where all of the content is it really doesn't matter (provided the STBs can pull from multiple sources).


2 - You need a device (STB) in each zone to ACCESS, SELECT, PLAY AND CONTROL said content. This box would be directly connected to your TV **AND** zone speakers**. It would be your method of selecting and playing whatever content you want to play (be it movies or zoned audio). This box must be of sufficient POWER to play audio (not a problem) and the various formats of video in your collection. If for example you have a lot of downloaded 1080p movies something like an AppleTV would not be your best fist choice... Stock it simply CAN'T play movies of that quality and even with the assistance of 3rd party hardware accelerators combined with the newest versions of (alpha/beta) XBMC 1080p is likely to too much of a strain on the device. So perhaps a Mac Mini (more expensive but more powerful) might be a better solution... However then you loose the HDMI output that HTPC folks generally find more appealing. So in short finding a simply STB that meets all of your needs isn't going to be so simple.


** Back to zoned audio... almost any STB you choose will pose an additional problem... Audio out is normally 'line-level' or 'unamplified' and as such you will need to address this shortcoming in some way shape or form... POWERED speakers is one way (not my 1st choice), another would be separate AMPs for each zone/speaker-pair. The inclusion of an AMP adds its own unique problems... Powering them off when not needed and volume control are just two of them.


If it sounds like something as 'simple' as 4 zones of audio seems so overly complex you're not alone...
 

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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.
  • Music stored in central location unit for audio distribution through 4 zones


Assumptions (Wired infrastructure)

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.

Nuvo Simplese

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.


1. AppleTV -- 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.

DVR/PVR playback/control

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.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fdlozano /forum/post/18292367


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.

Nuvo Simplese

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.

Interesting and not an outrageously bad price given it removes the need to have separate AMPS for each of the 4 zones and even going on the cheap that'll cost 400 or more especially if you want relatively small amps that can be tucked away for people like me without a rack... However I have a few questions...


1 - If the 2 iPods are already in use then if a 3rd zone wanted to access the mp3 collection they'd be out of luck (unless the AppleTV wasn't in use I guess)


2 - How do you handle song selection this seems to always be the sticking point that causes me to re-abandon my whole house audio project... Actually can you call it a project when you can't even get past the the first step (planning out the system) ?



3 - Every zone has the ability to select any source they like (even if its already being used by someone else (in a different zone)?


4 - Finally is their any way to determine if a specific source is in use other than assuming if Audio comes one someone else is using the source.
 

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1 - If the 2 iPods are already in use then if a 3rd zone wanted to access the mp3 collection they'd be out of luck (unless the AppleTV wasn't in use I guess)

yes. You are right. But, if you really need 4 simultaneous mp3 "feeds" you just get another ipod or appletv. There are one box systems digital music servers that provide multiple feeds in one box such as Russound SMS3 Media Server $1,899 or Nuvo's Music Port $599 (requires PC with appropriate sound cards and more expensive Essentia 6 zone system $1,999.) As you can see from these prices it is cheaper to just use Apple TVs or ipods to achieve however many simultaneous streams you need. But, again you have to ask yourself, how many simultaneous MP3 streams do you want/need? The Nuvo only has capability for 4 sources so you have to put a little though into your choice of source equipment. You may want to do Pandora, Satelite/cable box for access to those music channels, Sirius/XM tuner, etc. I have a friend who has the same Nuvo system and he has a XM tuner to listen to MLB games (He's a huge baseball fan), AppleTV (mp3, podcasts, Internet Radio), and a baby monitor to listen to the newborn. Picking the right combination depends completely on your listening habits. The combinations are endless.

2 - How do you handle song selection this seems to always be the sticking point that causes me to re-abandon my whole house audio project... Actually can you call it a project when you can't even get past the the first step (planning out the system) ?


Upon further thought I realized that I the ipod IR docs are much cheaper than when I bought mine a year and a half back. So, I'll restate what I mentioned in my initial reply.

Option 1: Ipod w/ Apple Universal Dock ($49)

Pros: Cheap especially if you already have an iPod to use.

If you don't have an iPod, you can purchase one up to 160GB capacity , fill it with your music and now you have a portable AND a home MP3 "server". But.....read below

Cons: You are limited to skip forward or back via the Apple Remote or a Universal Remote. No visual/gui interface for song selection. So, recommended mode of operation is to put the iPod into shuffle all songs mode and do the skip forward/back thing. No way to skip directly from say Jazz to Rock. For some, this level of control is good enough.

Option 2: AppleTV + iPod Touch ($229 + $199)
Pros: Gain Internet Radio capability not present with option 1. If you have a large music collection, then the price of the AppleTV is $20 cheaper than getting an Ipod classic 160GB not counting the $49 dock that you would need to purchase also with the ipod option. Lastly, but most importantly, the improved song selection/control. With the iPod touch "paired" with the AppleTV you can chose your songs right from the Ipod Touch using the free Apple Remote App. Look at the link to get a better idea as to how cool browsing you music collection is via the app http://www.apple.com/itunes/remote/ or better yet you can visit a nearby Apple Store and try it out first hand.


Cons: More expensive than option 1. AppleTV Not portable (duh).

3 - Every zone has the ability to select any source they like (even if its already being used by someone else (in a different zone)?

yes. There is no concept of a locking out a source say to prevent the kids from changing up what you are listening to (at least with the Simplese) The twice more expensive Nuvo Essentia has that feature. If it really becomes a problem, you can come to an agreement that source 1 is for you only, source 2 is dedicated to the wife and so on.

4 - Finally is their any way to determine if a specific source is in use other than assuming if Audio comes one someone else is using the source.

No. At least not with the Nuvo Simplese, I'm not aware of any system that offers that feature. Although, that doesn't mean they don't exist. Also, you can't always assume that if there is no audio that it isn't being used. You could have a case where the iPod/AppleTV playback was never stopped from when it was last used.


I hope that helps. Have you decided on the other parts of the equation (pvr/dvr, xmbc/plex)? Just curious.
 

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Great info and stated well but the answers were what I had though.. I guess I'm just asking too much from a system and/or the system that really fits most of my wishes is priced too high for me to afford.


In the end I'd like to be able to pick up an iPod Touch or an iPad and be able to pick a song from my collection and play it in the zone I'm currently in and have that same ability in each of the other 3 zones simultaneously.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdlozano /forum/post/18297443


I hope that helps. Have you decided on the other parts of the equation (pvr/dvr, xmbc/plex)? Just curious.

I've got an HD Home Run (dual tuner) for capturing the major networks and PBS + CSPAN (on and QVC... wheeee) that are still being provided unscrambled by my provider (my cable company gotta a waiver approved from the FCC so they can scramble ALL of the QAM stations - thankfully its only in one specific area and its not my area but I do have great concerns going forward.


I have a strong feeling unprotected QAM stations will be a thing of the past if the FCC keeps approving waivers all the time, making a lot of people here in the Mac (and Linux) HT world very very unhappy... Windows users can just implement a CabeCARD solution... Something that isn't very likely for us since Jobs wants no part of it and only slightly less likely for Linux since its open-source and can't really implement a 'bullet-proof' HDCP service.


I'm going back and forth between XBMC and vanilla AppleTV... The new revamp gave me something to think about where prior to that it was XBMC all the way. XMBC is just too much of a moving target for me... I am drawn to the hottest, newest eye-candy the daily builds implement but along with that comes a level of instability that will drive my wive crazy. The temptation to 'play' with XBMC is far to great for me to resist so... ATV may once again be my final choice. The last sticking point is with XBMC and a $20 chip (and the removal of wireless) the XBMC can do 1080 with little stress and that $20 chip will do nothing for ATV on its own. Decisions decisions..


Storage I got in spades... 6TB and counting.. being served by a clone box acting as a NAS.
 

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In the end I'd like to be able to pick up an iPod Touch or an iPad and be able to pick a song from my collection and play it in the zone I'm currently in and have that same ability in each of the other 3 zones simultaneously.


You can achieve the above. It would take 4 AppleTVs and 4 iPod Touchs'. You would have an AppleTV dedicated to each zone. You would just permanently select the appropriate AppleTv (i.e. source) on the keypad in each room. I advise that you name each AppleTV something like Master Bed ATV, Den ATV, etc. It makes it easier to manage the 4 Appletv from your "master" mac/pc where you would manage your library and manage the syncing to the AppleTVs serving as audio servers. Also, it helps when connectioning the iPod touch's to them you know to connect to the right one.


With the above, you get 4 simultaneous, independent streams/feeds of your MP3 collection, podcast, Internet Radio. I haven't tried it but I believe that you could just have one ipod touch "connected" to all 4 AppleTVs giving you the ability to control all 4 AppleTVs from just one iPod Touch. But, by having 4 ipod touch's you can have a person in each room at the same time each picking something different at the same time. Granted, this setup may be cost prohibitive for your budget. But, you could incrementally build up to that over time. It is the most cost effective, WAF-approved solution that I can think of. Hopefully, others can chime in as I'm interested in other people's thoughts/solutions.



Although, it may sound kinda dumb, you could even fabricate/buy a wall mount that you could snap on/off the ipod touch to give you that traditional wall mount lcd control thing you see with other high-end audio distribution systems vs. having it laying somewhere in the room. Again just a thought.


I also had a few additional comments on the movie playback issue regarding the XBMC vs. AppleTV conundrum you posed. I myself have struggled with this myself.

XBMC --

Pros: can play practically everything, slick looking UI, 1080p playback capability, auto-generation of meta-data info, plugins for additional functionality. Ripping of DVDs takes 30min vs. hours with Handbrake to make the movie iTunes/iPhone compatible.

Cons: Take a fair bit of technical knowledge to set up correctly. Sometimes normal mortals get lost in the ui if they accidentally bring up context menu for example when you are the Movies section with Library mode enable.


AppleTV

Pros: Simple ui (hard to press "the wrong button"), easy management of content through iTunes. Keeps your movies, music, pictures all in the Apple ecosystem.

Cons: Limited video format support. Have to use long hours long process (e.g. Handbrake) to convert DVDs to Apple approved format. No support for 1080p content. Meta data has to be manually created using MetaX or iFlicks. Like you said, not as much eye-candy from Apple's presentation of movie/music content.
 

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Yes... I guess we both agree it's a matter of choices and living with the results of those choices... Something that I have a hard time coming to grips with and as a result living with nothing even close to what I'd like (aka not implementing anything).


It's somewhat similar to the problem of the 1st time computer buyer dealing with the knowledge that 'If I wait 6 months I can buy a better computer for less money'. The fact is, that will ALWAYS be true so if you don't just bite the bullet and buy something you'll never buy a system.


So I guess it's time to %&*# or get off the pot (so to speak) and make the best of it. (Angels can be heard singing in the background) And for me... given my wife is going to be very upset with anything that behaves badly or becomes unusable the ATV using the native OS seems like my best way to go.


Pro's (just as you said)


- I can't really screw with it (this really is a big pro trust me)

- It just works for everything*


* Once the library is filled...


Con's (just as you said)


- No 1080p

- Limited format support

- Loads of META data issues....


600ish Movie CDs and 15? (maybe more) different TV shows all with complete seasons all the treks, the 2 stargates, the CSIs, Buffy, Angle, X-Files, Andromeda, Battle Star and I might buy the new one that just finished up... so some run 7ish seasons but then you have big ones like the 1st Stargate (11 seasons?) and the CSIs they're all still running its a LOT of discs. That translates into.... I don't even wanna think about how much work. I never throw anything out so I must have at least 5 or 6 systems that can all be ripping DISCs and I've got a couple of spare external DVD drives that can be put on the newest editions to the computer room... So I could have 7 maybe more different DVD DISCs being ripped concurrently the big issue is (as you stated) META data and thats a whole new can of worms... but even still I'm thinking 6TB might not even fit the bill.



See this is why I have so many 'false starts'... I either over think it work involved and it talks me out of moving forward or I over think the compromises and it (again) talk me out of moving forward.
 

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Wow! You have ALOT of DVDs. I'm jealous. If you had stayed with doing a straight rip with removing menus and extras (for use in XBMC), you'd use roughly 4GB per movie on average. For TV shows, which average 45 minutes, you're looking at roughly 1.25GB per episode. 600 movies would roughly equal 2.4TB. You may be able to fit everything on 6GB. You'll be able to fit it all for sure if you convert the DVD to mpeg4 using Handbrake or Elgato turbo 264 hd for use on the Appletv.


Either way you go, you have ALOT of work ahead of you. I suggest breaking up the projects into two phases ripping then meta-tagging all the movies/tv shows. Good Luck!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fdlozano /forum/post/18301487


Cons: Limited video format support. Have to use long hours long process (e.g. Handbrake) to convert DVDs to Apple approved format. No support for 1080p content. Meta data has to be manually created using MetaX or iFlicks. Like you said, not as much eye-candy from Apple's presentation of movie/music content.

I actually think the "eye candy" for movies in the "vanilla" ATV UI is pretty slick...especially the "parade of posters". It's got a jukebox feel that I really dig. Although, I am comparing it to the plain-jane file system that many of the dedicated media players sport today. Each to their own though
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach1_8 /forum/post/18304122


I actually think the "eye candy" for movies in the "vanilla" ATV UI is pretty slick...especially the "parade of posters". It's got a jukebox feel that I really dig. Although, I am comparing it to the plain-jane file system that many of the dedicated media players sport today. Each to their own though

While I do agree the new ATV UI is very easy on the eyes (aka nice) I think what fdlozano was try to say is the variety of UI choices is much greater and in a few cases much more robust with XBMC. But those skins usually come at a very big price especially when you're pushing at the upper limits of your boxes CPU. In short sluggish and crashy.
 
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