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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all, I've recently become interested in building a home theater pc but the more I read I would like to take the plunge and create an entire home theater from the ground up. A big factor for this build will be the wife acceptance factor and the budget. I'd like to keep it around $2000-2500 but could be pushed to $3000. I'll list out what I would like to do and hopefully you will have some software/hardware recommendations for me.


I would like to have a server running Windows 2008 R2 starting with 5 or so 2tb drives but able to add more as budget allows. It would be nice to have some sort of raid solution and be able to see all the drives pooled as one, I like what I've read about flexRAID but am not sure if it would be best for my setup. I would like to be able to put a DVD/Blu-ray in and have it automatically ripped and made available to the HTPC. Also I would be storing all music, television, pictures on the server.


For the HTPC I would like to be able view and access all the media stored on the server in a central portal, I've read some on XBMC, Media Portal, and 7MC but again am not sure which would be best for my setup. For the time being I don't have need to get cable into the htpc and will continue using comcasts box to watch/record television (Maybe next year I will take the leap to try to ditch the cable company boxes). I am thinking about setting up a netflix subscription as well, so being able to stream netflix will be a plus. In addition to playing dvd/bluray rips I'd like to be able to play rented dvd/blurays.


I currently have:

Vizio SV420XVT1A 42in 1080p 120Hz LCD

Comcast DVR DCH3416

Nintendo Wii


and would like to have it all be able to be played in surround sound either 5.1 or 7.1 I know little to nothing about surround sound but more is better maybe? And also future proofing is always a plus. I think I need an AV Reciever for this? With AVRs I see it is possible to upscale all the sources which seems to be nice. And again, am not sure what would be best for my setup.


To control it all I would like to invest in a logitch harmony remote I think this would be the best solution for simplicity, yes? And a bluetooth keyboard for other PC tasks, maybe the wife can use facebook on the HTPC?


In short:


1. Server running Windows Server 2008 R2.

2. Ability to add more hard drives to a pooled storage.

3. Automatically rip and manage Movies.

4. Serve video/music/pictures to HTCP and other network connected device.

5. All-in-one media portal for HTPC (or close to it)

6. Play DVD/Bluray rips and physical disks

7. Have everything available in surround sound.

8. Control everything from one remote.


Quetions:

1. What hardware for server.

2. Software for disk managment.

3. What hardware for htpc.

4. Software for media management.

5. Software for media display.

6. Is it possible to get wife approval?



Sorry for the long post but I have so many questions, probably even more. Just hard to organize all my thoughts into a post. If anything is unclear please ask and thank you for taking the time to answer any of it.


Edit:

The actual purchase/build won't be until late January most likely.
 

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I'll bite off a bit:

Big fan of unRaid for your server needs. Like anything there are pros and cons, but the almost unlimited flexibility has been a lifesaver on this end. Sure, 5 drives might sound like a lot, but depending on how you configure things that might only end up being 6tb or so and you might find yourself quickly running out of room.

My only advice at this point is to start off a bit small before trying to make everything work the first time. The fewer things you have to troubleshoot, the better off you'll be in the long run...
 

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3. Automatically rip and manage Movies.


nothing is really automatic but I like


MakeMKV to rip my BD's .... and Media Browser within WMC is awesome. Also unraid is a great way to go. It runs on a USB THumb drive.
 

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In short:


1. Server running Windows Server 2008 R2.

Is there a reason you want Server 2008?


2. Ability to add more hard drives to a pooled storage.

3. Automatically rip and manage Movies.

4. Serve video/music/pictures to HTCP and other network connected device.

As someone already mentioned Unraid is a big favorite amongst people in this forum. When I'm ready to take the plunge and build a NAS I'm going with unraid for a couple reasons: Easy expandability, ability to spin down drives when not in use, easier to rebuild than a traditional raid array


5. All-in-one media portal for HTPC (or close to it)

Define what you mean by all in one. What exactly are you looking to do with your HTPC?


6. Play DVD/Bluray rips and physical disks

Possible via BR drive


7. Have everything available in surround sound.

There is a stickied thread with information on video cards that can provide this. I believe ATI started supported this on the 5xxx series and higher.


8. Control everything from one remote.

By everything I'm assuming you mean tv, stb, pc, etc? In that case there are a ton of universal remote controls out there, it's just what your budget dictates.


Quetions:

1. What hardware for server.

Server = media storage or server = htpc?


2. Software for disk managment.

The popular storage OS (unraid, freenas, openfiler) have their own management


3. What hardware for htpc.

4. Software for media management.

All dependent on what you're ultimately looking to do


5. Software for media display.

Explain this better


6. Is it possible to get wife approval?

Depends on how you sell it
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeriser /forum/post/19598800


6. Is it possible to get wife approval?

My Moto, "It's easier to get forgiven than to get permission!" Of course, I usually set everything up in my shop and get it working practically flawless before exposing the Wife (family) to it. That way the only questions you have to answer is how it works, not why it's NOT working!


Good luck!!


BT
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeriser /forum/post/19598800


To control it all I would like to invest in a logitch harmony remote I think this would be the best solution for simplicity, yes? And a bluetooth keyboard for other PC tasks, maybe the wife can use facebook on the HTPC?

I'll take this paragraph. I strongly recommend going with an RF remote especially if you are going to be controlling multiple devices with the remote (stereo, display, htpc) since WAF is important to you. You'll spend a few hundred dollars but it's worth it IMO. Logitech is a decent start. Universal Remote Control (URC) is a step up and what I recommend. Look at their MX line of remotes.


Regarding using your HTPC as a normal computer (e.g. facebook) when sitting on a couch. That depends on how big your display is and personal preference. I sit 14' away and have a 115" screen and I still don't like to browse the web or do typical computer things on my htpc but that's me. You said you have a 42" TV? Don't count on browsing the web or using facebook on your HTPC unless you sit very close to the display. Don't try to use this as a selling point to your wife as I doubt she'll like it. A laptop works best for that sort of stuff IMO. If you want to test it out with her, temporarily hook up whatever computer you currently have to your TV and have her try it.


I also question your use of Server 2008R2. Do you really need that? If all you want is a place to store your media with some redundancy, then I also recommend Unraid. It's solid and extremely easy to setup/use.


Regarding the wife. Start out small and keep it simple. Only have your HTPC do what both you and her really want it to do with her priorities being more important (if she doesn't like it, she won't use it and then she probably won't want you spending money on your new hobby). If you do it right, HTPC's can certainly be wife friendly.
 

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forget the fancy remote... get an automation package instead... CQC & Main Lobby are two good ones, but there are others... remote = one way communications... Automation control = 2 way, plus the ability to have much more complex macro's and much much more...


+1 vote for unRAID... very nice setup...


have you looked at sageTV and their HD extenders? very nice combo... doesn't quite do everything yet... (ie netflix and hulu are a bit lacking... needs playon)


MyMovies has some auto rip features, has really good metadata... might be worth looking into...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the replys, very helpful especially about using web stuff on the TV.


Unraid sounds like a good idea, server 2008 was just something I was thinking of playing with for the home network, but I guess thats really just another project that should be separate.


As for the software on the home theater I've been looking at mediaportal and xbmc and am having a hard time choosing. I think maybe mediaportal since it looks like they have a plugin for netflix and I can't find any solid information about it for xbmc.


I was trying to find a receiver to start with and was interested in this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-161-_-Product

I'm sure this isn't exactly the right forum for this hardware but I wonder if this would be a good start?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Somewhatlost /forum/post/19603172


forget the fancy remote... get an automation package instead... CQC & Main Lobby are two good ones, but there are others... remote = one way communications... Automation control = 2 way, plus the ability to have much more complex macro's and much much more...


+1 vote for unRAID... very nice setup...


have you looked at sageTV and their HD extenders? very nice combo... doesn't quite do everything yet... (ie netflix and hulu are a bit lacking... needs playon)


MyMovies has some auto rip features, has really good metadata... might be worth looking into...

I like the looks of MyMovies and the automatic copying would be a nice feature. But it might look like it is only a feature for WHS?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeriser
Thanks for the replys, very helpful especially about using web stuff on the TV.


Unraid sounds like a good idea, server 2008 was just something I was thinking of playing with for the home network, but I guess thats really just another project that should be separate.


As for the software on the home theater I've been looking at mediaportal and xbmc and am having a hard time choosing. I think maybe mediaportal since it looks like they have a plugin for netflix and I can't find any solid information about it for xbmc.


I was trying to find a receiver to start with and was interested in this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-161-_-Product

I'm sure this isn't exactly the right forum for this hardware but I wonder if this would be a good start?
I haven't used MediaPortal but I know XBMC does not have a netflix plugin, at least I haven't found one. I'd read up more on MediaPortal's Netflix plugin because Boxee supported Netflix but the UI was horrendous and it didn't do HD streams despite Netflix opening it to PCs. 7MC does have an official Netflix plug-in.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeriser /forum/post/19604156


I like the looks of MyMovies and the automatic copying would be a nice feature. But it might look like it is only a feature for WHS?

true, WHS only... and you have to pay or contribute metadata/etc to get that feature....

I do not know how well it works either... I don't use that feature as I have unRAID, and not sure how that would work, or even if it could... but it is an option...


MyMovies also has a semi-auto rip from any PC running their collection manager, it works well, but it doesn't strip out all the crap... at least I have not found a way to make it strip out all the crap... so I just end up doing it the old fashioned way with DVDshrink...

but the quality of their Metadata is very good...
 
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