Making a lovely, digitally enhanced home

Hi folks.

I’m thinking I’d like to sort the house out with a nice bit of digital integration. I’m sure it’s possible and not too expensive, but I don’t know the how and where of it. So here’s what I’d like to do, perhaps you guys can tell me how?

  • Have wifi (duh).
  • Have some shared storage. Perhaps a smalls server/router+wifi thingy somewhere
  • Be able to pipe music from the central server to any laptop of a stereo (eg, with Logitech Jukebox?)
  • Be able to do the same with video? Eg, from the server to my TV.

…doable? Possible? Let me know.

Totally doable. You can buy a NAS device which supports DLNA media streaming and maybe an iTunes server. Or you could build your own with some older hardware you might have, load it up with fat hard drives and run FreeNAS or linux or even Windows Home Server (although I’d wait til they fix the file corruption issues).

Whether you build or buy the NAS device you can set it up near a wireless router so it will be accessable by any device on your house network. Any computer should be able to read/write/stream video/audio/files on the server and you can use a PS3, Xbox 360 or a cheap DLNA set top box to watch stuff on your TV.

Maybe NAS device, running the slimline software for the new Logitech Squeezebox Duet

That would be extremely sexy.

Then just get the vid up. Which as you say, I’ve heard can be done with a hacked 360 media player.

This is no problem to set up. I have a setup with a file server in the gaming den that services my 37" HDTV and a small media center PC (the ACER Aspire L5100 which i totally recommend) in the living room, set up with a 32" HDTV and a pair of active speakers.

I stream everything from the den to the living room over Wi-fi. Work like a charm for everything but HD-stuff. Then you need to have it locally on the L5100 or use a network cable.

Sounds like win to me. I’m just having a think about it all and thinking about the cost. The gear isn’t too bad, but the big TV and stereo certainly are!

Yeah, with the current pricing for PC’s the TV and Stereo is actually the largest chunk of cash. If you are going for 5.1 surround i would certainly look into getting wireless back speakers.

For video are you thinking SD or HD? That also makes a big difference in cost.

No idea. There’s not a requirement out here for that yet. The lowest need right now is HD/SD/BluRay stuff. Stereo, speakers and wireless and NAS is where I’m at right now. The DVD player and whatnot can wait.

I had my parents run CAT-6 from every room to the basement utility closet last time they did a wiring upgrade. This has paid off amazingly well, I put a gigabit switch down there with a Terabyte NAS, and it’s pretty smooth. I install MediaMonkey on my machines, and point them at the audio folder on the NAS, and done.

I have yet to set up the HTPC, but I’m looking forward to it.

What I did.

I’ve been experimenting with different iterations of this idea for about five years, and while I haven’t settled into a permanent solution, I have a good idea what it’ll look like.

I have a Drobo attached to my main Windows based custom built HTPC in the living room with about a T of storage right now. It is attached to my main tv and I have my remote programmed to work off an IR panel built into my case. Works pretty damn good with Mediaportal. I loaded tversity at some point to get stuff streaming to my XBOX360.

Since then I added a Popcorn Hour A-100 to the bedroom. It is a sub-$200 box that has a lot of neat features. The video engine is based on the same chipset as is built into blu-ray players so it has a lot of horsepower. You can throw almost any file format at it and it’ll play. It has HDMI out which was really nice, and simplified my wiring scheme quite abit. Some people have had stability issues but mine has been golden since I took it out of the box. It didn’t work with tversity without some serious futzing on my part, but that is a tversity issue. They bundle a nice-ish streaming solution of their own called myiHome, but I’m not using it because it seemed silly to have two software pieces doing the same task.

The nice thing is that via tversity I now can stream to the Popcorn Hour, my XBOX360, my PS3, my Archos, my PSP, you name it. I have been traveling for work alot and thought it might be nice to be able to watch content on the road from home. Kind of a budget slingbox. I was investigating writing or finding some sort of product to transcode on the fly to flash video and lo and behold tversity does that too! So I can stream to any device with decent flash support which includes the Wii (which is just silly but a neat application).

My solution down the road is a dedicated windows box that I’ll lock away in a closet with the Drobo and take the burden off my HTPC because it doubles as my main game machine and nothing is more annoying than playing Oblivion and having the girlfriend hit the flash portal on tversity and start an on the fly encode. But I have what I wanted which is flexibility, and the ability to stream to just about anything.

I’ll second the popcorn hour. I just finally got one (long waiting list) and it’s very impressive in the ability to decode and stream just about anything you throw at it while only using 8 watts of power(I’m sure wumpus will like that). The only big issue I had were some heat problems which I solved with a little 40mm fan mod. The product is still pretty rough around the edges but it got a lot of the main feature set right.

These make nice replacements for my hauppauge mediamvp’s since those are SD only.

It sounds… cool.

I will pass this to my techy friend for his interest :D

Meanwhile. I think I’ll buy an iphone from the US and get it unlocked here. Hmm!

That popcorn hour looks awesome, especially for $200. I just use PC’s running mythtv because of their flexibility (the 360 and PS3 both suck), but the heat generated and price of electricity are making that popcorn look perfect. Definitely going to do more research on it, thanks for the link guys.

So what’s the deal with the Popcorn hour? I don’t see a place to order them in the US, or even get on some kind of list.

click on sign up

Once you create an account you are basically in line then. They will email you when they are ready for you to place an order. When you do get the email I think you have a 3 day window to place your order.

Ahh, thanks. Rereading the front page with that in mind it makes more sense. Guess they don’t want/cant handle much business atm or you would think they would do a better job of wording it.

So the Popcorn hour looks like it might be a decent replacement for XBMC.