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Discussion Starter #1
So, we have two little tykes at home. One is 5 and one is 8. I want them to be able to access our HTPC on their TV downstairs. First off, is it best to do this (our home is not wired for ethernet) using power lines or wireless? Second, what sort of box should I use for them to be able to access the HTPC. Third, if they are downstairs on their TV and we are upstairs on our TV, can they watch one thing while we watch another or can only one person access the XBMC front-end at a time? Fourth, are there any sorts of parental controls or make it so, on their TV, they can only access certain movies, tv shows, music? Thanks people!
 

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What exactly will they be watching - is this going to be a Windows Media Center cablecard setup where they will watch live tv or do you just plan to back up family friendly movies and tv shows?


If it is the later you will have a lot more options.
 

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An xBox 360 as an extender will do the trick for you. I don't have one but my understanding is it will do all you want.


You can use powerline ethenret adaptors or MoCa (ethernet over CoAx) if you already have CoAx between the HTPC and the location of the xBox. You will also need a router.


Best bet would be to pull Cat6 between them. My house was wired for Cat5 years ago when we were doing a major remodel and Cat6 wasn't available. It works well on my Gig network but if your doing it now, go with Cat6.


EDIT: Let m add though that the xBox doesn't play nice with mkv (just like native windows). In this situation, you'll need a second HTPC. Also, your HTPC will need lots of RAM to act as a host to the extender.
 

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Discussion Starter #4

Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150104


What exactly will they be watching - is this going to be a Windows Media Center cablecard setup where they will watch live tv or do you just plan to back up family friendly movies and tv shows?

If it is the later you will have a lot more options.

No live TV. We do not have cable or satellite. So it will be purely backups OR the option for things like Netflix for Kids and (hopefully) PBS Kids.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150116


An xBox 360 as an extender will do the trick for you. I don't have one but my understanding is it will do all you want.

You can use powerline ethenret adaptors or MoCa (ethernet over CoAx) if you already have CoAx between the HTPC and the location of the xBox. You will also need a router.

Best bet would be to pull Cat6 between them. My house was wired for Cat5 years ago when we were doing a major remodel and Cat6 wasn't available. It works well on my Gig network but if your doing it now, go with Cat6.

We are renting, so running wire through holes in walls and floors would probably not sit well with the land lady. hehe I have two xboxes actually, but I wasn't sure if there was a smaller option and one, again, that would allow for some restrictions to be put in place as to what can be selected. A sort of "child lock" on things we don't want them having complete access to.


Also, Sammy, what is that picture from on your profile???? I always see it and it seems familiar but I can't place it!!! haha
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfhancock  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150127


No live TV. We do not have cable or satellite. So it will be purely backups OR the option for things like Netflix for Kids and (hopefully) PBS Kids.

We are renting, so running wire through holes in walls and floors would probably not sit well with the land lady. hehe I have two xboxes actually, but I wasn't sure if there was a smaller option and one, again, that would allow for some restrictions to be put in place as to what can be selected. A sort of "child lock" on things we don't want them having complete access to.

Also, Sammy, what is that picture from on your profile???? I always see it and it seems familiar but I can't place it!!! haha

See my edit above too.


That is "Lara"; or Julie Chistie from the 1965 classic Doctor Zhivago .
 

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Discussion Starter #6

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150116


EDIT: Let m add though that the xBox doesn't play nice with mkv (just like native windows). In this situation, you'll need a second HTPC. Also, your HTPC will need lots of RAM to act as a host to the extender.

I will have a lot of MKV... so that won't work out. Will I need an actual second HTPC or are there cheaper options for this? I will have 8GB ram in my HTPC. Is that "lots"?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150140


That is "Lara"; or Julie Chistie from the 1965 classic Doctor Zhivago .

Aha! I remember now! Thanks, haha. It was driving me nuts!
 

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Honestly, something as cheap as a Samsung bluray player or newer Roku could work for you.


It will really depend on how you back up your media. If you are using solely dvds, for example, and not doing anything but remuxing them from .vob files to something like .mpg or even .mkv, there are many very inexpensive players that will be able to play them. The Samsung BD-E5700 for example has wifi built in and will allow access to Netflix. I believe there are Netflix parental controls but I am not familiar.


You just need to know what kind of media you have. Container, codecs, and bitrate. Not all players are created equally. The number 1 advantage of using a PC would be your ability to configure it to play just about anything. The downside is cost. If thats not a problem then by all means build a cheaper pc.


Hard wired is the best way to go. It is really the only option for anything high definition. If there are tv's in both locations I am assuming there is coaxial cable there (could be a poor assumption). In that case I would think of using moca adapters.


Controlling access to any streaming player would be relatively easy. Your Xbmc pc will be your "server." You just don't include any folders containing non approved videos. Some devices will log directly into the PC network shares, like a Boxee Box or another PC. Others will need server software like Plex or TVersity running.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
And they can watch what they want on one TV while we watch something else on the other TV, correct?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfhancock  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150142


I will have a lot of MKV... so that won't work out. Will I need an actual second HTPC or are there cheaper options for this? I will have 8GB ram in my HTPC. Is that "lots"?

Aha! I remember now! Thanks, haha. It was driving me nuts!

The upcoming Echo from Ceton may fit the bill for you but the specs haven't been anounced yet. I assume that it will support mkv though.
 

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Sure - let my set up by your for some inspiration:


I have all media connected to my Windows Media Center pc. On it I also run the server software TVersity.


My players are

1)htpc in my living room

2) xbox 360 in living room (though it's only media purpose is for my Slingbox)

3) a Linksys DMA 2100 extender in my bedroom (purely for WMC live tv and some movies)

4) a Logitech Revue in my bedroom (for some more movies types the DMA2100 cannot play)


I am experimenting with Plex now, but I'm going to ignore that and talk about how I use TVersity, just to give an example of how you might accomplish your goal.


TVersity runs 24/7 on my PC. In it's configuration menu you add the folders with the media you want to watch. It broadcasts itself over your home network and it can be seen by my Xbox 360, Revue, and my cell phone.


The Revue can play most media formats and codecs except DTS audio and mpeg2 video. So any file I have outside of those will play on the Revue. Because TVersity is broadcasting the media library to it, I can go scroll through and select what I'd like to watch from there. The library consists of only media locations I add on the PC.


A Revue isn't an ideal player, but it gets the job done. I could in theory be watching a bluray disc on my PC, an mkv file on my revue, and listening to an mp3 on my phone. The only limitations would be network bandwidth and hard drive speed.


Doing a set up like that will not add much stress to your PC's CPU or memory - all the computer needs to do is spin the hard drive and spit the file out onto the network.


Where your PC performance will be great impacted would be transcoding. Programs like Plex and TVersity can convert media on the fly. That would be useful on my Revue to convert mpeg2 video to h264 video in real time so I can watch it. That will take up an enormous amount of system resources and could force your htpc to a hault. I don't do it.
 

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Does the DMA 2100 play mkv?
 

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It might with specific codecs (like mpeg and aac) but I don't think it does at all. Its really only useful for playing wmc recordings and live tv. Its just totally obsolete.


It also only works in conjunction with wmc. So you need to have that running and configured. Unlike the hp and dlink extenders its only purpose is wmc
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150240


Does the DMA 2100 play mkv?

Mine has a horrible time playing most movies, even with a Cat5e connection. It doesn't like MKV with H.264/DTS-HD for sure.


You could build a pretty inexpensive HTPC with just a G530 CPU, H61 mini-ITX board, 64GB SSD, 4GB RAM and a small case with a built-in PSU for them and then not have to worry at all what it plays.
 

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Discussion Starter #14

Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150335


You could build a pretty inexpensive HTPC with just a G530 CPU, H61 mini-ITX board, 64GB SSD, 4GB RAM and a small case with a built-in PSU for them and then not have to worry at all what it plays.

What price range are we looking at? I've just put ~$1000 into my first HTPC. The final pieces are in the mail as we speak! So, building another would likely not make it through the "girlfriend approval process" after the cost of this main one. haha
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150335


Mine has a horrible time playing most movies, even with a Cat5e connection. It doesn't like MKV with H.264/DTS-HD for sure.

You could build a pretty inexpensive HTPC with just a G530 CPU, H61 mini-ITX board, 64GB SSD, 4GB RAM and a small case with a built-in PSU for them and then not have to worry at all what it plays.

I'll probably end up doing that or waiting for the Echo's specs. I don't need it in a rush as I don't even have the Little TV for the kitchen yet.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfhancock  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150392


What price range are we looking at? I've just put ~$1000 into my first HTPC. The final pieces are in the mail as we speak! So, building another would likely not make it through the "girlfriend approval process" after the cost of this main one. haha

That looks like the $250 to $300 range plus O.S.
 

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With Windows 7, around $400. You can do better with some shopping around and looking for sales though.


The tough part with an extender or media player is you just don't know if it's going to work with what you have until you've bought it and tried it. When it doesn't work are you willing to re-encode your movies or set up a transcoding streamer on the system that's serving the media? If so, then you can get away with one -- just know what you're in for.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion  /t/1416627/kids-and-htpcs#post_22150335


Mine has a horrible time playing most movies, even with a Cat5e connection. It doesn't like MKV with H.264/DTS-HD for sure.

You could build a pretty inexpensive HTPC with just a G530 CPU, H61 mini-ITX board, 64GB SSD, 4GB RAM and a small case with a built-in PSU for them and then not have to worry at all what it plays.

+1. I've long since given up on trying to play computer files on standalone devices. If you want it to deal with AVI, MKV, OGM, etc, just build a low-cost computer. You could build a system like the one StardogChampion is suggesting for less than $300 (not including the cost of a Windows license if you go that route, free if using Linux). Hmm, you might not even need the SSD for XBMC Live as I believe you can run it off off a flash drive. Not sure if you can use Netflix with Linux, though.
 

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Having keys is a good thing.
 

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I'd search around the digital media player forum and see what they think.


There is such a wide range of players and capabilities. The most expensive ones are as much or more than a PC you could build. Some do cover art, some dont. Some have Netflix, some don't.


In the sub $200 range I am of the belief that the Boxee Box, WDTV Live, and Netgear Neo TV 550 can do the widest range of formats (though I'm fairly certain the Netgear won't do internet services).
 
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