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Home movie servers-Kaleidescape type systems (1 Viewer)

Mike Bassi

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Mike Bassi
Ok, I have a client that had this really cool system. It was like a Kaleidescape system, but he made it at home, with his own, or some kind of format so that he can search his system for movies and play whatever he wants at anytime. It was windows based and he had several hard drives on this system that was able to have over 500 movies, concerts and tv shows. Much like a tivo I guess, but he was able to put bly ray and HD stuff in this storage system and playback everything perfectly. My question is, how does one do this? I don't have $20k to spend on such a system, but he only paid 3k for the computer stuff, did his own programming and his system was pretty cool. How do I do this?
 

hodedofome

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Aaron Smith
There are many free and open-source type media center applications out there that will play all sorts of formats. You can do just about everything except play blu-ray files in Vista Media Center with the My Movies plugin. I love My Movies, but I don't believe Media Center will play blu-ray at this time??? I know there are plenty of other media center apps out there that will allow you to do this, and you don't need a $3k computer to do it either.

I'm using a $400 HP Vista Media Center machine I bought on buy.com added a tv tuner to watch and record tv, and if I ever need to play blu-ray I may or may not need a $100-200 video card and $100 blu-ray drive. I already rip my dvd's on the 500gb hard drive and I'm streaming it all through my xbox 360 in the living room. I'm also streaming the netflix "watch now" movies but they aren't in the best quality at this time.
 

Mike Bassi

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Aaron, thank you so much for the reply. How does one learn how to do this? I don't mind spending a few bucks on a computer system, but how does one do all of this? Sorry about the questions as I am just a beginner.
Also where does one look for formats for such things?
Mike
 

Robert_J

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That is one of many solutions for your idea. I'm planning on using a stand alone digital media player and storage on my home network. That way if I add another player, all of the media is available to it as well. The Popcorn Hour is one of many players on the market. This one gets great reviews.

-Robert
 

hodedofome

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Aaron Smith
My only concern with many of the current media centers available for purchase right now is ripping blu-ray/hd-dvd onto the hard drive and playing it throughout the house. DVD's are pretty easy, but blu-ray/hd-dvd have a lot of encryption schemes and you can't even play uncompressed audio at this time until the new ASUS sound card comes out this summer. To me it's still bleeding edge unless Niveus or some of those people have applications to do it easily. I would call them to find out how that works. Playing a disc is one thing, ripping it to the hard drive and playing it on a nice media center interface throughout the house with all the encryption is another.

I can tell you that setting everything up on my own, it's definitely not plug-and-play or install-and-play. Configuring My Movies and the netflix plugin and the plugin to play .vob files and such, it's a bunch of hacks and long hours of errors and such.

If you just want to record and play live tv, and stream music and pictures throughout the house, it's pretty easy - Vista Media Center does that out of the box. It's because Microsoft and Hollywood discourages or is against ripping movies/blu-ray/hd-dvd to a hard drive is where it becomes a problem.

I'll reply later with details when I have more time.
 

hodedofome

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Aaron Smith

Popcorn Hour is great, but won't allow you to have uncompressed audio from blu-ray/hd-dvd unfortunately. Not sure if this is important to some people.
 

Mike Bassi

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That would be a big concern as to not being able to rip Blu Ray movies and then have the ability to play them. I know there is a way around that, and my client had some way of doing this, but I don't know what it is. Ill ask the people at Niveus Media about this. Ill also ask my client as well. Any other advice could you give? I'm only looking to hook up to the main tv. Getting on line from the TV might not be that inportant.
 

hodedofome

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Aaron Smith
You can definitely rip blu-ray/hd-dvd's to your hard drive using current software SlySoft AnyDVD HD You can play the ripped movies using current software as well. Having it all work seamlessly in a "media center" application is where it gets tough. First off, until the new ASUS sound card Audiophilia: ASUS Previews HDMI Sound Card With Hidden Video Talents comes out, the best you can do is have down-sampled audio via the analog audio ports. Once the Asus card comes out this summer, you can have your uncompressed audio and video via analog or HDMI to your receiver. As far as I know, you won't be able to play the ripped blu-ray/hd-dvd movies from within media center (there may be media center apps that can, I just don't know), it would need to launch another program to play the movie like these:

Software to play blu-ray/hd-dvd:
DVD & Video Playback - Corel WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-ray - Corel Corporation
#1 DVD Player Software - CyberLink PowerDVD – Playback Software for DVDs and Blu-ray Discs
ArcSoft TotalMedia Extreme: Your complete high definition software suite for Home Entertainment

Each has good and bad, as far as I know there isn't a perfect solution. I think the Total Media Theater has support for uncompressed audio but I'm not sure about PowerDVD or WINDVD. I haven't used any of these products as I haven't got into blu-ray yet, I would suggest checking out the media center pc area of avsforum.com or thegreenbutton.com for further questions on this, or ask your client.

Media Center applications that replace Vista Media Center:
GB-PVR
SageTV
XBMC
MediaPortal
And many others...

If you feel like making your own PC, here is an excellent guide Guide to Building a HD HTPC - AVS Forum

Once again when you do this on your own get ready for a lot of tweaking and errors, trying to get all this software to work together can be a real pain, but plenty have done it.
 

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