New House! Home AV / networking / Streaming from PC

Ste2

Novice Member
Hello all,

Good news for me - I am getting my own house :clap: But I am now worrying about how to satisfy my media appetite!

I currently have a decent 'bedroom' set up with; a capable PC, a Denon AV amp + 5.1, a Toshiba flat screen and a Logitech harmony remote.

I watch a lot of DivX content on this set up, which is easy in one room as I just flip the inputs on the amp/tv and control the content with my wireless mouse.....

In my new house though, the PC will be upstairs and the home cinema set up in the lounge (downstairs). Therein lies the problem - even if I were to run 40 meter cables round the house I would loose functionality as the mouse wouldn't work.

So - how do I get round this? media server on a home network? (I dont mind running cat6 everywhere if it is going to be worth it!)

Oh and the girlfriend (who I am moving in with) just took delivery of a fairly nifty Sony VAIO laptop.... could I use this as a media server? it has an HDMI out

would a laptop as a media server be compatible with a harmony remote?! hmmm

Thanks for reading - any guidance is appriciated
Ste2
 

Ste2

Novice Member
OK - not alot of help here then :laugh:

after a bit of research it appears that cat5e cabeling + HTPC + NAS = solution.

Looks like this is going to get expensive so it needs to do more than just play DivX on a big screen! :suicide:

It seems that there are more and more products that can just pull and play stuff (e.g. Qnap NMA1000, PS3, Xbox and some of the newer blue-ray players +TV's) can anybody talk up the HTPC enough to convince me it is worth investing in? What other cool stuff can I do with it that I couldn't do with any of the above alternatives?

...am I not better off pouring HTPC money into a TV with DLNA? (I will probably want a bigger screen after a while & I am not too bothered about Blu-ray or gaming at present so maybe a DLNA TV is the answer)....hmmmmm
 

Enwezor

Novice Member
I suggest you got and have a look at the HTPC forum under Computers.
There is an HTPC FAQ right at the top which is simply brilliant with numerous links off this thread.
It will graphically demonstrate what is possible.

I am just building this sort of set-up myself.

Personally, I have decided (and I am certainly not advocating this as the best way forward - think it is an individual choice) to build a home network which I have done with 2 stretches of cat 6 to each room so I now have a backbone which gets any data anywhere via the switch at the top of the house.

Now, I am currently building an HTPC which will also go in the office at the top of the house and will connect directly to a monitor in the office and my 40 inch telly (Via AV Receiver) using HDMI over cat 6. You can control your PC via IR over cat 6 too or via USB/IR over cat6 - many choices.
I don't believe the keyboard speed will be too fast as you only get USB 1.1 over cat6 - you have to spend a lot of money to get USB 2.0 speed but for HTPC uses in the lounge, I think that is fine.

Anyway, I think you have a lot of choices to make and quite a lot of reading too to get you up to speed. Good luck!
 

Ste2

Novice Member
not a particularly charitable quote when you're asking for help now is it?
Sorry Graham - it was meant in irony hence the ":laugh:"

Enwezor - thank you for the constructive reply. I have realised in the past few days I have a lot to get my head around!

I am assuming that you have a cat6 input in your TV? I do not have this luxury at present.

I guess 'install wise' I need to make sure I get my network right as I dont want to have to rewire / wish I had done things differently!

HTPC seems a far more preferable 'front end' due to the future proof / customisation edge other options. Althoguh I will want it to do more though for the cost!

OK - more reading to do, apologies for the n00b-ness
 

TH3R4POR

Novice Member
I am assuming that you have a cat6 input in your TV? I do not have this luxury at present.
You would be better off using cat5e, its cheaper and will serve you just fine, it's also easier to route. Cat6 is more expensive and harder work, without much difference in results.

The TV doesn't have cat5/6 inputs, you use Balun connectors to get the HDMI output like these - HDMI Over Cat 5 Balun HDMI Extender CAT5e / CAT6 1080p 50m Only

You can always buy a PS3 for the front end, it's cheap and easy. Plus you get to play Blu-Ray, DVD, BBC iplayer, you-tube, games etc without additional hardware ;)

:thumbsup:
 
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Ste2

Novice Member
You would be better off using cat5e, its cheaper and will serve you just fine, it's also easier to route. Cat6 is more expensive and harder work, without much difference in results.

The TV doesn't have cat5/6 inputs, you use Balun connectors to get the HDMI output like these - HDMI Over Cat 5 Balun HDMI Extender CAT5e / CAT6 1080p 50m Only

You can always buy a PS3 for the front end, it's cheap and easy. Plus you get to play Blu-Ray, DVD, BBC iplayer, you-tube, games etc without additional hardware ;)

:thumbsup:
Thanks for the comments TH3R4POR, I have now looked into buying a slim PS3 and was almost completely sold...

the only problem seems to be the incompatibility with some video formats and (e.g. mkv) and even if it could it won't read file sizes over 4GB (FAT32)....and if I had a NAS I would have to format this to inferior FAT32 for the PS3 to see it!

So I thought NTFS=Microsoft=xBox!! but guess what blu-ray = Sony! :facepalm: Looks like I cannot have my cake and eat it. Which is a shame because the PS3 came so close.

Thinking out loud - I could do without Blu-Ray if the xBox was a decent front end media centre - but I suspect it isn’t because I don’t see it being talked about as much as the PS3 media centre. :facepalm: hmmmmmmmm

I now need to be really sold on a HTPC OR settle for the PS3/Xbox and be a little disappointed!

I suspect a HTPC, as with any PC will involve an endless amount of tweeks and software updates to get it to do behave like a 'component part' of a homecinema set up.... arrrrrgh!!!

* the console thing for me is very much a "nice to have"... I never play on my dads PS3 (downstairs) and I spend much more time on my PC

I genuinely thought this wouldn’t be that difficult!

** if I have misstated anything above, please let me know :thumbsup:

*** and NO - I am not PS3 bashing - far from it. I may well plump for this over the far more complex HTPC route!

Still muchas thinking to do..

Thanks again...
 
If streaming HD video is important I wouldnt bother with either of the games consoles - neither of them natively support MKV containers and (on the xbox) it annoyed the hell out of me. I would say either get a HTPC or a media player, I got a popcorn hour which was small and silent and handles everything I can throw at it. There are loads of different media players (Or network media tanks as some are called) with slightly different abilities one of which would probally suit you.
 

TH3R4POR

Novice Member
Thanks for the comments TH3R4POR, I have now looked into buying a slim PS3 and was almost completely sold...

the only problem seems to be the incompatibility with some video formats and (e.g. mkv) and even if it could it won't read file sizes over 4GB (FAT32)....and if I had a NAS I would have to format this to inferior FAT32 for the PS3 to see it!

So I thought NTFS=Microsoft=xBox!! but guess what blu-ray = Sony! :facepalm:
I use PS3 Media Server (PS3 Media Server - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) which is a free client that runs on your PC and transcodes anything the PS3 can't play on the fly, I've yet to find a format that it won't play (mkv, blu-ray, HD-DVD etc are all fine). I suggested the PS3 as it sounds like your setup and needs are very similar to mine and the PS3 option is very popular on the movie sites I am a member of..

You just run it on the PC and it detects any PS3 on your network, the PC is picked up a media server on your PS3, I then have a PS3/Sony remote control and it all works perfectly playing the films from the PC via the PS3 :)

The front-end isn't as nice as some of the xp/vista media servers you can get but the proper Sony bluetooth remote control, the formats it will play, and price more than make up for the GUI. It obviously also plays MP3s etc through the same server interface without the need to transfer everything to a HDD attached to the PS3.

*** and NO - I am not PS3 bashing - far from it. I may well plump for this over the far more complex HTPC route!
Bash away, I'm not a fanboy or particularly protective about the console I have, if I didn't like it I'd buy an ex-box ;D

I liked the look of the Popcorn Hour (or WD) media player boxes but comparing the prices and what they are actually capable of doing the PS3 made far more sense to me than a simple media player. Get yourself an iphone and you can connect that to the PS3 for viewing your Media for free too, it can do more than just play games.
 
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Ste2

Novice Member
If streaming HD video is important I wouldnt bother with either of the games consoles - neither of them natively support MKV containers and (on the xbox) it annoyed the hell out of me. I would say either get a HTPC or a media player, I got a popcorn hour which was small and silent and handles everything I can throw at it. There are loads of different media players (Or network media tanks as some are called) with slightly different abilities one of which would probally suit you.
Thanks Fe_man2000 - Popcorn Hour looks like a comprehensive outofthebox solution for my needs. I will look into this :thumbsup:

I use PS3 Media Server
Interesting. This also appears to run off some NAS boxes too which is another box checked. Just to be clear, this completely gets around the FAT32 issue (you definatley can run everything off NTFS?!)....

I will have to try this on the old mans PS3, as well as seeing whether I can cope with the GUI...
 

TH3R4POR

Novice Member
Just to be clear, this completely gets around the FAT32 issue (you definatley can run everything off NTFS?!)....
Yup that doesn't matter, NTFS is fine. The PS3 is the only thing that requires FAT32 in it's file structure, both my PCs are xp (and laptop is Vista) so are formatted to NTFS. PS3 Media runs on a PC (or Mac or linux) so runs whatever you have on that PC.

Its a small download and is free so worth testing to see if it suits you if you can get your hands on a spare PS3. Just run it and thats it, it only starts doing something when you select a film from the PC (from the PS3 ) and start playing it, other than that it just sits in the background.

You might hate it after you try it anyways but no harm done :facepalm:

IF you do go the PS3 option I can't recommend the bluetooth remote enough, it makes it like a 'proper' Home Theatre system (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-Blu-Ra..._1?ie=UTF8&s=videogames&qid=1277753139&sr=8-1)
 
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Enwezor

Novice Member
My suggestion is to take your time and perhaps start with a list of requirements of what your new set-up must be able to do. Once you have developed that over time, you can look into the solutions.

It's too easy to get bogged down with the tech.
 

Ste2

Novice Member
Yup that doesn't matter, NTFS is fine. The PS3 is the only thing that requires FAT32 in it's file structure, both my PCs are xp (and laptop is Vista) so are formatted to NTFS. PS3 Media runs on a PC (or Mac or linux) so runs whatever you have on that PC.

Its a small download and is free so worth testing to see if it suits you if you can get your hands on a spare PS3. Just run it and thats it, it only starts doing something when you select a film from the PC (from the PS3 ) and start playing it, other than that it just sits in the background.

You might hate it after you try it anyways but no harm done :facepalm:

IF you do go the PS3 option I can't recommend the bluetooth remote enough, it makes it like a 'proper' Home Theatre system (Sony Blu-Ray Disc Remote Control (PS3): Amazon.co.uk: PC & Video Games)

TH3R4POR - tried the PS3 Media Server and love it (performing well even on the wireless)! I think my dad is also going to be impressed to when he gets back from holiday! :thumbsup:

HTPC is somthing I may look at again but not for now as it seems that the PS3 offers too much value to be overlooked.

Will be buying a slim next week with my pay packet :)

Now I need to look for a NAS that runs utorrent and PS3 Media Server....

Thank you everyone for your help :smashin:
 

TH3R4POR

Novice Member
Excellent news, glad you liked it! :)

I’ve been using it for 2+ years and not had any issues at all, and am yet to find a format that won’t run. The ease of setup/use is excellent too, quite literally plug and play (unless you use wireless and then you don’t even need to plug ;)). I have never used wireless to stream anything as my PS3 is hardwired into my network so that’s interesting to know it seems to work fine on wifi.


You’re requirements are still following mine now with the NAS then, I’ve just built a Freenas box out of an old PC and some new Samsung HDDs, I don’t require uTorrent anymore as I have a VPS which I just use FTP to connect to.


Good luck!

Dave
 

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