How To Consolidate As Much Kit As Possible

Buttoneer

Standard Member
Hello all, new here but excited to be posting since I've followed links to these forums for many years. I'm a bit stuck and without a clear train of thought right now so thought it was time to test out your expertise.

I think that broadly this is the right place to pose my question but it's tricky because it covers network audio, video, PVR, backup, photography and pretty much everything entertainment based.

What I want to do is remove boxes and clutter, using as few bits of kit as possible and making sure that what I do use is going to run reasonably faultlessly.

Here's what I have now;

Livingroom;
Netgear DG834n ADSL2 router and wireless networking point connected to comtrend power networking around the home.

Topfield TF5800 HDD recorder
XBox 360 (comtrend to network)
Sony Playstation 3 (wifi to network)

Denon Micro Hi Fi driving a pair of Mordaunt Short floor standing speakers
Yamaha 5.1 AV amp driving Mission NX 5.1 system
Turntable

HP 3210 all-in-one device (contrend to network via gigabit router)
Desktop PC used for; internet, email, spreadsheets, gaming and photo processing (comtrend to network via gigabit router)
Enormous number of CD's

Bedroom 1;
Windows Home Server mule PC made from an old Shuttle XPC with a 1TB drive and a 500Gb external USB drive for backing up the server used for; holding CD collection ripped into high bitrate MP3 but not FLAC or Apple lossless, backing up computers, holding photo collection (essentially backup), some video, and farming occasional torrents. Connected via the Comtrend powerline network adaptor.
DAB Clock Radio.

Bedroom 2;
Logitech iPod dock clock radio

Additionally there is an Apple Powerbook (current generation) and a Fujitsu-Siemens lifebook (old thing with Celeron processor) both connecting via wifi and a pair of iPhones doing the same.

I want to clean up my act, reduce the amount of 'stuff' I have and at the same time maximise flexibility. I suppose what I'd like to have is just one PC which takes the place of the WHS, the Topfield and the desktop PC but I don't know how do-able that is. I think probably the demands of the gaming PC will be too much and I'll have to maintain a separate PC for that.

Is it possible to replace the WHS and Topfield with a new WHS that sits under the TV with a twin tuner passive cooling etc? Will I have appliance-standard access to TV through that, which will not confuse the parents if I leave them for a couple of hours with the remote? Will it 'work' like a set top box and also serve up the music collection to, say, two further sources without interrupting TV?

I assume I can throw away the Hifi pretty much immediately and replace it with a Sonos 90 hidden in a cupboard with the AV amp which means all my CD's can be thrown into the loft too. Maybe re-rip into a better format first? Not sure about that one considering the effort.

I think the consoles need to stay as they are because there are too many format specific titles I want to play.

I've been looking at the ripNAS and Tranquil PC's so far but because I have no tuner in my WHS I have no idea what its media credentials are and more importantly how it all works.

Maybe I'd be better off going for a fully Apple solution with a Snow leopard Mini Mac server, Apple TV, and iTunes adaptors?

Lots of disjointed thoughts and ramblings I know, but hope someone can make sense of it. I suppose I know what I'm ultimately looking for in terms of functionality if not for physical form.

I know this is the right site for this advice and hopefully I got the right forum too but any help people can give to clarifying what might be possible (and what might not be) will be helpful.
 

Buttoneer

Standard Member
Anybody? Have I asked too much, in the wrong place? Can anyone suggest somewhere else I can ask?

I've already tried a windows home server forum.
 

dwhite

Distinguished Member
Move to a more appropriate forum (hopefully). If its still not getting response ask the Mod of this section to move it.
 

Buttoneer

Standard Member
Thank you. I appreciate it's a mish-mash question which spreads it across potentially a whole lot of sub-fora here but I'm confident that this is the website for the right people!
 

Lampshader

Active Member
Do you use the WHS pc as a pc or just like a NAS?

Id build a gaming HTPC in the living room with a dual tuner tv card (either DVB-T or DVB-S2 depending if you have freeview or freesat). This will get rid of the hdd recorder the hp pc and the desktop pc.

Id build a quite server with at least 4tb of storage to hold all my data, cd's, dvd's and blurays. You can place this out the way somewhere quite or in a cupboard (like my servers). You can control this server by using Real VNC from the htpc in the living room.

this should get rid of :-
Topfield TF5800 HDD recorder
Denon Micro Hi Fi driving a pair of Mordaunt Short floor standing speakers
HP 3210 all-in-one device
Desktop PC
Enormous number of CD's
 

Buttoneer

Standard Member
The WHS is used like a NAS. Used for backing up the gaming PC, the two laptops, and for storage of everything (I use synctoy) so I have maybe three copies of all my files. Been bitten by hard drive crashes once before ;)

The HP is a printer thingy rather than a PC, so it won't get rid of that. However I could probably already chuck that into another room somewhere...
 

Buttoneer

Standard Member
Well I went ahead and rashly purchased a couple of bits of Sonos kit at the weekend just to get the ball rolling, so I have liberated the Mini-system and CD's from the living room with the purchase of a Sonos ZP90 and just to make sure it was a worthwhile thing to do I also wasted some cash on an S5 so I can stream the music to more than one room.

The PC is still the sticky part.

If Windows Home Server is good enough in its media parts to work well as a HTPC, or can be given a nice from end with program guide etc that would have to be the real winner, right? I'd just be interested to know if anyone has managed to do this successfully.
 

kjmacphee

Standard Member
...

If Windows Home Server is good enough in its media parts to work well as a HTPC, or can be given a nice from end with program guide etc that would have to be the real winner, right? I'd just be interested to know if anyone has managed to do this successfully.
You're asking a lot of the WHS. That's really not what the OS is for and installing any sort of media player (along with associated hardware) will be completely unsupported.

I did read a blog/post somewhere months ago about installing VMC on a WHS. You could have a look. Personally I would keep WHS for what it is good at and build a dedicated HTPC for the Living room.

[EDIT] ... found the link ... sounds like an almighty cludge and still need two boxes.
 
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Buttoneer

Standard Member
The WHS is set up to store recorded TV so I assumed (yeah I know...) that it ought to handle tuner hardware.
 

kjmacphee

Standard Member
The WHS is set up to store recorded TV so I assumed (yeah I know...) that it ought to handle tuner hardware.
It will shift the shows that you specify from the media centre(s) to the WHS ... which are then available for viewing from the media centre(s) (it will also transcode to a useless Zune format if you wish).
 

RBJTech

Active Member
The WHS is set up to store recorded TV so I assumed (yeah I know...) that it ought to handle tuner hardware.

The current version of WHS is not setup for WMC at all - and is one of the huge disappointments with WHS. The next version codenamed vail may have this but I'm not holding my breath. I've got it to run the latest WMP, so streams nicely, but it'll have no support for tuners out of the box.

Best combo as has been said is a WHS or NAS somewhere out of sight/earshot - effectively network storage and a quiet 'nice looking' Media Centre PC as the centre of your AV world... :D
 

kjmacphee

Standard Member
The current version of WHS is not setup for WMC at all - and is one of the huge disappointments with WHS. The next version codenamed vail may have this but I'm not holding my breath. I've got it to run the latest WMP, so streams nicely, but it'll have no support for tuners out of the box.

...
There is at least a little bit of MC integration now. You can view some useless statistics in MC if that's your bag and, as I mentioned, you can set it up to move some/all of your Recorded TV to the WHS.

Personally I hope they don't go too media-happy in Vail. It'll require a much pokier (and more power-hungry) machine.
 

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