2012 Multi-room HTPC

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by DaveF, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Another thing to consider: virus software. I've had a McAfee anti-virus that came with my Dell. Since I installed the Ceton card, I had to run the TV Signal setup every time I rebooted the computer in order for Windows Media Center to find the CableCARD. Well, my free subscription expired on the first of the year and I uninstalled the McAfee software and replaced it with Avast. Since then, no problems in Windows Media Center with the CableCARD.
     
  2. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Looking closely...Antec power supplies don't ship with power cords. I'll have to make sure I've got one or buy one, after all :)
     
  3. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I've revised my proposed build list with links, costs, and software items that might be necessary. This is meant to be realistic but not final.

    I've still got a lot of practical questions to sort out, and the specific hardware choices are still preliminary.








    Item



    Cost



    Details



    Link





    Extender



    $300



    Ceton Echo (??)



    http://cetoncorp.com/company/press/





    Tuner



    $290



    Ceton InfiniTV 4



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815706001





    Hard Drive



    $220



    WD Caviar Green 3TB SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Bare Drive



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136874





    Hard Drive



    $220



    WD Caviar Green 3TB SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Bare Drive



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136874





    CPU



    $150



    Intel Core i3-2125 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115093





    Motherboard



    $125



    GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128495





    Blu-ray



    $110



    LITE-ON 12X BD-R with 3D



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106348





    Case



    $90



    SILVERSTONE Grandia GD05B



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163166





    AnyDVD HD



    $80



    AnyDVD HD 1 yr Upgrades



    http://www.slysoft.com/en/anydvdhd.html





    RAM



    $47



    G.SKILL Ripjaws X 8GB F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231428





    Power Supply



    $40



    Antec NEO ECO 400C



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371029





    Remote IR Port



    $30



    Hauppauge PCTV Remote Kit



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116071





    Assassin Guide



    $25



    HTPC Build Guides



    http://assassinhtpcblog.com/?page_id=136





    Neo Theme



    $12



    MediaBrowser Theme



    http://www.mediabrowser.tv/store/details/33





    Power Cable



    $4



    Link Depot 6 ft.



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812189160





    Windows 7



    $0



    Family Pack









    MediaBrowser



    $0



    Windows Media Center enhancement software



    http://www.mediabrowser.tv/





    Keyboard & Mouse



    $0













    HDMI Cable



    $0













    Total



    $1,743
     
  4. Mark Breaux

    Mark Breaux Auditioning

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    How far along are you? How are assassin guides?
     
  5. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    List looks good.

    I think Assassin does a good job with guides. The problem with all guides, though, is that hardware, hardware prices, and goals change on a daily/hourly basis. And so you can come up with suggestions for people, but I think a lot of people do a good job getting exactly what they are after and coming to case-by-case evaluation.. because the price of X today isn't the price of X tomorrow; and the value of it today doesn't stay the same, etc.

    I also think you have to evaluate your goals - and who you're trying to satisfy.

    Dave, I like your choices. You have to remember though if this is going to be in the livingroom you're bottling up a bit of heat so it won't be dead quiet. That's a tradeoff. But done right, it should be very nice. :)
     
  6. Mark Breaux

    Mark Breaux Auditioning

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    Another question: Are you doing this over 802.11n wireless, physical ethernet, or powerline? Instead of doing cable, could you do OTA with the same tuner?
    I have DirecTV right now and their DVRs are great. (haven't tried whole house DVR yet but hear it works great) and I would love to go to a HULU, NETFLIX, XBOX 360, and OTA setup. I think that would cover 90% of my shows and my wifes shows and give us movies.
    Mark
     
  7. Andrew Pierce

    Andrew Pierce Stunt Coordinator

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    From the original post -- "Grid guide still won't take up the entire screen."
    Apart from making the grid guide way more attractive with colorful logos, the My Channel Logos utility lets you increase the number of rows on the program browser up to 11 (which is way too many to take in all at once -- one begins to understand why it defaults to far fewer). $3.40 well spent -- http://mychannellogos.com/default.aspx
    If the Ceton Echo is slow in coming out, I'd recommend something like the Zotac ZBox Nano AD10-PLUS (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856173030) loaded with Windows 7 as your extender. Tiny and surprisingly high performance. You could probably mount it on the backside of your TV.
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Thanks. I'll check that out.
     
  9. Mark Breaux

    Mark Breaux Auditioning

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    Thanks a lot for the reply. Glad you are still researching. Hopefully we can help each other out. Assassin and AVS forums are really helping me understand the things I need to know to pull off this project the best way possible. I think i am starting to get together my goals.
    So far this is what I have:
    **No cable subscription
    **OTA HD
    **Netflix
    **Hulu (quick question: does WMC or XBMC allow you to view hulu from the webpage or does it act like the hulu apps on xbox and ipad etc preventing you from seeing some tv shows? Can you record the shows?)
    **Rip DVDs and Blurays
    **unRAID or similiar NAS (I want to use unRAID or other free nas software so that i can reuse my current desktop)
    **HTPC on wife's TV (until we finish our basement and then on the movie screen)
    **xbox 360 on my TV
    **ability to add more as we add TVs (it bugs me that an xbox is the only extender but I see the Zotac box so hopefully their will be more things like that.)
    **wireless or powerline adapters (if need be i will wire it but i don't want to)
    **iPAD, laptop, etc can use media library.
    I think that is it. I know I am asking a lot so i assume some of these will not be possible or they will cost too much for the benefit. I am not necessarily looking to save money but as the OP said we need WAF!!
     
  10. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    As for more extenders: Ceton is said to have the "Echo" coming out. Matt estimates it will be out this summer.

    I've read negative things about Netflix on HTPC. I've also read on the Xbox it requires running the Netflix application outside the Media Center application and also requires you have a Gold account. I don't use Netflix so i've not spent much time thinking about it, but you should make sure it's an OK solution if you're an avid subscriber.

    Matt, here, or someone some other place said Hulu can be set up with an HTPC for a good experience. That was a concern and something I read assuaged my concerns on that. :)
     
  11. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    I've had no trouble setting up Hulu, Netflix, ITV, BBC.. PlayOn/TubeCore or SecondRunTV both accomplish it with fair ease. You don't have to have a gold account to make Netflix run on Media center, just a netflix subscription. The interface isn't perfect, but it's usable. There are more things in the works, soon



     
  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I'd just read some comments that people didn't care for the Netflix PC interface. I've no experience with Netflix streaming. I've not subscribed in over decade :)

    And I meant to say that using Netflix on the Xbox requires a Gold account. Unless you can avoid that with an extender configuration.
    http://www.xbox.com/en-US/Live/Partners/Netflix/Home
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Ripped



    Discs



    Per Disc (GB)



    Total (GB)





    DVD (*)



    190



    9.7



    1843





    DVD TV



    204



    9.7



    1979





    Blu-ray (**)



    33



    50



    1650





    Blu TV



    35



    50



    1750





    Blu New (***)



    20



    50



    1000





    TV DVR



    100



    6.6



    660





    Music



    400







    15





    Windows











    25





    Total











    8922











    Library unboxed, I recounted.(*) I'm gonna need a bigger boat :) (**)



    I've got to think about this. Spending $660 on hard drives alone is unappealing. I've got to learn about a RAID, what the starting costs are, and make an judicious decision on how to approach this. This is a lousy time to be considering a 9 TB purchase (sigh)





    (*) TV series is a good counting. Movies is a bit loose regarding two-disc special editions, but close enough for this.

    (**) "Planet Earth" caught my eye with is 6 x 50BD label, so I assumed the worse, all 50 GB Blu-rays.

    (***) Estimated purchases in the 12 months. I don't buy many movies. In large part because I have unopened DVDs bought Black Friday 2007.
     
  14. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Also: I'm seen some speculation the Ceton Echo will be as low as $150, based on the 'less than the xbox' comment from Ceton. I have no idea, but I hope so, since that would make it a much easier purchase.
     
  15. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    Ceton has pretty well committed to this.
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    That's good news.

    I've done some reading on the MediaBrowser software. I like how it's a 7MC plug-in, and should be a nice integrated experience for TV and movies. But I realize it requires a fair bit of handholding and manual naming of ripped media.That will be tedious and error prone with 400+ discs, including about 30 seasons of TV. But the results look nice.

    I've seen recommendations of Total Media Theater 5, but especially after reading about MediaBrowser, I don't understand what benefit there is to TMT. It seems like just a Blu-ray player.
    We're so backlogged on TV from the holidays and the move, that our Tivos are overflowing. I'm tempted to buy a Tivo Premiere to alleviate the acute problem. But that $20 monthly is a problem.



    I'm also starting to rethink my plan of ripping all my discs. Cost is prohibitive in the short term; creating a 10 TB drive to hold it all looks to be $1000. Drobo, unRaid, or WHS system: it's all 3x$220 drives and a hardware box. I might be better off going with a single 3 TB drive and a 64 GB SSD boot disc. I'll prioritize what movies / shows to rip. I can play with transcoding / compression. If the system is a success smashing success, I could buy a second drive and install it with minor effort and keep ripping. And then plan out more space as drive prices fall, capacities increase, and build a 10 TB box in the future. And with the separate boot drive, I can presumably move and rebuild my media storage setup without borking the system's setup.


    This decision leaves one major decision for me: what case?

    Do I get a Silverstone that can hold, at most three drives (a boot and two data drives) and plan to build a standalone storage box in the future?


    Or do I get a case than can hold 4+ drives, and plunking in multiple drives as I go along, without a fancy-pants networked storage RAID device?
     
  17. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I played with the demo Premiere at Best Buy last night. I left ambivalent. The Tivo pause/play/rewind features are as awesome as every. I love the 6-second hop-back Tivo has after a fast-forward. (I fear losing that one awesome detail on a 7MC system). And the Premiere's 30-second jump is cool. And going up from the TivoHD's 20 hours of storage to the 45 hours on the Premiere would be really great. A pair of Premieres, with its' 5x faster transfer speed would also be good. And I liked the live video available when navigating the menu.

    But the interaction at the menu level, the guide, the HD interface...it felt sluggish, unimproved over TivoHD. It wasn't painfully slow, but it crossed that threshold to where I noticed the brief hesitation with every menu selection. The HD interface isn't finished: one level deep and the old SD menu returns. The guide interface is unchanged from the Tivo HD, and no more responsive. It's a good design, but I had the impression the Premiere had some new awesome way to find, explore, and select TV shows. I never saw it.


    And the $200 price jump for the XL, with 150 hrs storage, is steep.

    The whole affair felt half-baked. Not lousy, but not impressive.

    I'm increasingly interested in a media center system. As a luxury item, I want a single box to watch TV or movies on. As I toggle between Tivo to the Blu-ray to watch some Prison Break on DVD, I am annoyed by devices turning on and off, and waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the Blu-ray to come up, and then swapping discs when I've seen the four episodes, and then a power and input switcharoo to get back to TV.




    Still, it is tempting in the short term to upgrade one Tivo: if I could buy a Premiere for $99 and keep my $11/mo sub, it would probably be a good buy. Presumably, I could swap the cable card from the current HD to the new Premiere without a cable-co service call. I should contact Tivo about it pricing.
     
  18. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    At TCF, I'm told the BestBuy unit is not current and there is a significantly improved update including a new Guide for the Premiere.

    I'm suffering analysis paralysis :)

    I need more space than I can buy initially, so I'm a bit unsure of what to do there. Case and drive choices are in flux.

    Drives are expensive, and there are rumors prices will come down sooner than later. So wait and hope to save $200 - $300?

    Ceton is working on a 6-tuner card. That would be the bees knees. I could wait for that...but cost and release date unknown.

    And then there's the Q; six-tuner system that some say will play Blu-ray and DVD rips. This could be a solution. But cost and release date unknown.

    And of course iVy Bridge is coming out soon, and I always hate buying right before a major product launch :)


    Practically: I need a new case option that will hold at least 3 x 3.5" internal, 1xSSD, and 1x5" external blu-ray. And then see if there is likely big new hardware from Ceton in SPring or not until Fall. My upgrade plan starts feeling like Spring, early Summer. Need some time for understand our new budget and some insurance cost issues. But I'd like to have an improved solution before Fall. I'm increasingly dissatisfied with the Tivo and Blu-ray player setup.
     
  19. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    Dave, I've got a bunch of very big MCE updates in about.. 10 days.
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Sounds good. My planning will continue. My buying has been frozen, having reviewed the household budget, until we can sort out selling the house and house-buying plans.

    Bah! Stupid life-events interfering with my toys ;)
     

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