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Old 04-11-2013, 07:24 PM   #5941
NikonsAndVStroms
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Originally Posted by McNeal View Post
I've got a question. My wife and I are fed up with our cable bill and have been thinking about pulling the plug. We've got Netflix and I can get the major networks in HD with an antenna. I'm starting to explore XBMC to run on a PC. Now, since I'll be buying a PC to run the software I've thought about building/buying a PC that could also be used as a game machine. Is anyone here doing something similar? Is there something obvious I'm missing that would preclude using a HTPC system as a gaming system? From my early exploration it seems often HTPC's are weak on the video end for the requirements for gaming. Viewed another way I'm guessing there'd be nothing stopping me from using a gaming platform for a HTPC.

I didn't see a thread dedicated to HTPC stuff, but even if there was my question is a bit of a cross over.

Comments, opinions?
Are you going to build? Or just buy?

If the latter check out the X51 from Alienware, here it is in comparison to an XBox 360:



And on its side:


You can get it with a GTX 660 for just over 1,000 dollars.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:58 PM   #5942
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Originally Posted by NikonsAndVStroms View Post
Are you going to build? Or just buy?

If the latter check out the X51 from Alienware, here it is in comparison to an XBox 360:
Build verses buy is one of the things I need to figure out. Since I'd like to convert my DVD's into some format so that I can view them on demand means additional storage and something tells me that X51 doesn't have the space or power for 3 or 4 drives.


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Old 04-12-2013, 12:37 AM   #5943
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Originally Posted by McNeal View Post
Build verses buy is one of the things I need to figure out. Since I'd like to convert my DVD's into some format so that I can view them on demand means additional storage and something tells me that X51 doesn't have the space or power for 3 or 4 drives.


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Buy a Roku3 for $99, use it for streaming everything to the TV, including stuff on your PC. The remote with earphone jack is to die for when you're watching porn late at night and don't want to disturb the family. It also doubles as a game controller but the game collection is very limited right now and may never go beyond "casual gaming" like Angry Birds.

I've slowly been ripping my 400+ DVD collection to MP4s for streaming and there are a couple of apps you can add to the Roku for streaming your own content, including some workarounds for iTunes.

As for Gaming vs HTPC, gaming is geared for performance and can easily be used for htpc *but* it will probably be noisy unless you focus on acoustics. HTPCs are designed to be quiet and a smaller form factor.
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:40 AM   #5944
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You could get an Ouya, instead, when it'll come out. It's $99 as well, and it's a bone-fide Android micro-console.

A decent gaming HTPC needs an AMD Fusion APU, like the upcoming A10-6700 (and some high-bandwidth memory, like 2133 MHz).
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Old 04-12-2013, 08:21 AM   #5945
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Originally Posted by Jonnylotto View Post
Buy a Roku3 for $99, use it for streaming everything to the TV, including stuff on your PC. The remote with earphone jack is to die for when you're watching porn late at night and don't want to disturb the family. It also doubles as a game controller but the game collection is very limited right now and may never go beyond "casual gaming" like Angry Birds.

I've slowly been ripping my 400+ DVD collection to MP4s for streaming and there are a couple of apps you can add to the Roku for streaming your own content, including some workarounds for iTunes.

As for Gaming vs HTPC, gaming is geared for performance and can easily be used for htpc *but* it will probably be noisy unless you focus on acoustics. HTPCs are designed to be quiet and a smaller form factor.
I figured I would be using something like a Roku for our second TV and that it could stream from the main HTPC. I'm not to worried about noise and there might even be some benefit if the box makes it so others don't want to watch TV, movies, or whatnot from that room. I'm deaf, well not exactly ... I've got a profound hearing loss, and wear hearing aids. I've got a device that transmits the sound wirelessly from the output source to my hearing aids so I don't hear any external noise such as fans.

So, I would like to have something that can rip all of my DVD's so that I can watch them on demand from either TV, run Netflix and maybe Hulu applications, record HD broadcast TV so that I can time shift my viewing, and play some games using my nice large screen TV. So, what I'm trying to decide and get opinions on is creating such a composite system possible? I think so. Would I save money? Has anyone done something like what I'm trying to do and have opinions they'd like to share.
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Old 04-12-2013, 11:15 AM   #5946
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Originally Posted by McNeal View Post
I figured I would be using something like a Roku for our second TV and that it could stream from the main HTPC. I'm not to worried about noise and there might even be some benefit if the box makes it so others don't want to watch TV, movies, or whatnot from that room. I'm deaf, well not exactly ... I've got a profound hearing loss, and wear hearing aids. I've got a device that transmits the sound wirelessly from the output source to my hearing aids so I don't hear any external noise such as fans.

So, I would like to have something that can rip all of my DVD's so that I can watch them on demand from either TV, run Netflix and maybe Hulu applications, record HD broadcast TV so that I can time shift my viewing, and play some games using my nice large screen TV. So, what I'm trying to decide and get opinions on is creating such a composite system possible? I think so. Would I save money? Has anyone done something like what I'm trying to do and have opinions they'd like to share.
You're adding functionality so you're spending money, period.

It used to be "on Demand" movie watching meant getting up and loading the disc into the tray and pushing "play".

You'll get a lot more information from these guys than you will here:

http://www.avsforum.com/
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:01 PM   #5947
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You're adding functionality so you're spending money, period.
So true.
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It used to be "on Demand" movie watching meant getting up and loading the disc into the tray and pushing "play".
A first world probably for sure. Another benefit of having the DVD's on demand is that I've got a couple of grandchildren that visit. We've already lost a couple of DVD's that have been scratched because little hands aren't so gentle. Some I can replace, but others not so easily. Scan 'em once and then lock the DVD's up.
Quote:
You'll get a lot more information from these guys than you will here:

http://www.avsforum.com/
Thanks.
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:00 PM   #5948
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Originally Posted by McNeal View Post
So true.

A first world probably for sure. Another benefit of having the DVD's on demand is that I've got a couple of grandchildren that visit. We've already lost a couple of DVD's that have been scratched because little hands aren't so gentle. Some I can replace, but others not so easily. Scan 'em once and then lock the DVD's up.


Thanks.
Same thing here. My youngest was swapping discs in the BluRay player before she was 3 years old. I bought a SkipDRx to take care of that problem.
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:00 AM   #5949
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Originally Posted by McNeal View Post
I figured I would be using something like a Roku for our second TV and that it could stream from the main HTPC. I'm not to worried about noise and there might even be some benefit if the box makes it so others don't want to watch TV, movies, or whatnot from that room. I'm deaf, well not exactly ... I've got a profound hearing loss, and wear hearing aids. I've got a device that transmits the sound wirelessly from the output source to my hearing aids so I don't hear any external noise such as fans.

So, I would like to have something that can rip all of my DVD's so that I can watch them on demand from either TV, run Netflix and maybe Hulu applications, record HD broadcast TV so that I can time shift my viewing, and play some games using my nice large screen TV. So, what I'm trying to decide and get opinions on is creating such a composite system possible? I think so. Would I save money? Has anyone done something like what I'm trying to do and have opinions they'd like to share.
Basically you want a computer. Ripping DVD's and even Blu-Rays is easy nowdays and I am well versed in it. I am a fairly hardcore geek, and have been doing computer support for the last 5 years professionally and tinkering with the stuff for the last 12 years.

There are several ways to accomplish what you want to do. What I'm going to describe is what I recommend and what will work well, but is by no means the only way to accomplish this. I will write this guide so you can rip, and play back Blu-Ray movies. For DVD's the requirements will be slightly less.

First, lets take a look at what you'll need hardware wise for this venture:

1. A computer to rip, compress (aka encode), and house your digitized movies.
2. On each TV you'll need a blu-ray movie player that can play movies from network shares and can connect to a wired computer network. Most can do this by default and I can help pick one out. The Roku might work but I've never used one.
3. A wired computer network between the computer, and each blu-ray player on each TV.

Now for software:
For ripping Blu-Rays and DVD's I highly recommend AnyDVDHD . That'll get rid of any copy protection and digital rights management junk on the movies and pull the movies files onto your hard drive from the disc.

Next, you'll want to compress your movie file so it's easier to play over the network. This part gets slightly complicated but needless to say you'll want the free program Handbrake. You might need a couple other free programs to prepare the files for conversion. I can show you the ropes if you'd like, that goes too for the handbrake settings. Now converting movies is extremely processor intensive. Basically the faster your CPU/processor in the computer the faster the movie is compressed. Depending on quality settings you can compress a DVD in about one to three hours depending largely on your processor. A blu-ray can take 8-12 hours or more. These times can be lessened if you want crappy compressions that loose video quality. I'm kind of a stickler for quality, and you only have to compress the movie once so I say do it right the first time. For specifics on hardware for this computer ask me.

Anyway, after your movie is converted you'll need to house it somewhere. Depending on how many movies you have you will probably want a 2TB (about 1000GB is in 1TB) hard drive at a minimum. This isn't that complicated until you want to back up your digitized movies in case your hard drive fails. I highly highly highly recommend backing up your movies. Nothing sucks more than loosing 3-4 years of digitized movies and having to start over again; don't ask me how I know.

To back things up you'll want what's called a RAID system which basically for your purposes we'll keep it simple. We'll do RAID level '1' called mirroring which means you plug two hard drives of the same size (and ideally the same model) into the computer and when the RAID is setup on the computer it will automatically back up every bit of data from the first hard drive to the second. You won't ever see the second hard drive unless you need it and will never have to manually back up any data.

So for hard drives (storage) I would say a minimum of two 2TB drives in a Raid 1 'mirroring' setup this gives you a total usable space of 2TB since the second drive is an exact copy of the first. If you're buying new computer components most main boards support Raid 1 if you buy parts seperately, if you buy a pre-built computer like a Dell or whatnot you'll probably need an add-on card for the RAID. So after you have your storage hard drives I would buy a 500GB-1TB hard drive to be your system and encoding drive. It's a good idea to keep the movies and the system drives separate. Then lastly you'll need a blu-ray drive for the computer which are about $50-60 these days.

For the comptuer network I would wire it up. You'll need some Cat5e or Cat6 network cables and a network switch. Depending on how the house is located and everything is situated you might want to put the Cat5e/6 cables through the walls of the house but that's up to you. Another option that I've had mixed results with is the powerline networking adapters. Basically it uses the existing power wiring in the house to transmit network signals. It's easier then running network cables through the walls but I've seen flakiness with some of the powerline adapters. If you do go the powerline route buy all the same brand and model of adapters, and make sure your speeds on the adapters are 200Mbits/sec or higher.

Then after that's all setup and you have a couple movies compressed you'll share the movie folder over the network and then you connect to the share from your Blu-ray players and play the movie(s) on the TV's.


Now if you want to use the computer for gaming you can eliminate one of the blu-ray players and connect the computer directly to one of the TV's. The drawback to this is the fans and hard drives can be slightly loud (relative to a quiet room) in the computer which could be a distraction.

Another option IF both TV's are within 50 feet of where the computer could be located is you can connect the computer to both TV's with 50 foot HDMI cables; I wouldn't go further then 50 feet with HDMI or the signal degrades. If this works out you wouldn't need the computer network stuff. Then to access and control the computer you could remotely control it from an iPad/Tablet or a laptop computer from your couch over the WIFI and start your movie playing through that remote connection to whichever TV.

The basic configuration for the computer remains the same either route you just eliminate the network and some complexity.




Anyway that's all I feel like writing for now, PM me or post here for more info.
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:27 AM   #5950
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blah blah blah



Anyway that's all I feel like writing for now, PM me or post here for more info.
You do know this is 2013, right?

Between 802.11ac & n, Homeplug AV and wireless HDMI repeaters there's 0 reason to run a wired home network or 50' HDMI cables, especially for a single family home. The only required wire (and even this is debatable) is between the broadband modem & router and the primary ripping station and NAS box.

and I know you've heard this one: "RAID is not a backup".
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:30 AM   #5951
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You do know this is 2013, right?

Between 802.11ac & n, Homeplug AV and wireless HDMI repeaters there's 0 reason to run a wired home network or 50' HDMI cables, especially for a single family home. The only required wire (and even this is debatable) is between the broadband modem & router and the primary ripping station and NAS box.

and I know you've heard this one: "RAID is not a backup".
Hey if you have a better idea then feel free to post your setup. I like my way.

Thanks for your valuable input.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:05 AM   #5952
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Hey if you have a better idea then feel free to post your setup. I like my way.

Thanks for your valuable input.
Quote:
My wife and I are fed up with our cable bill and have been thinking about pulling the plug.
I thought this was a clear indication that he wanted to get away from wiring?
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:42 AM   #5953
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Hey if you have a better idea then feel free to post your setup. I like my way.

Thanks for your valuable input.
I was wanting information or opinions on combining the two systems, a gaming machine and HTPC, wondering if anyone had done that and what conclusions they came to.

I'm not worried about the nuts of bolts of putting the system together since I've been working in the computer industry for 30 years. I've ported various flavors of Unix (Version 7, BSD, SysV, SunOS, Solaris, and Linux) to more hardware than I care to remember.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:39 AM   #5954
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Originally Posted by McNeal View Post
I was wanting information or opinions on combining the two systems, a gaming machine and HTPC, wondering if anyone had done that and what conclusions they came to.

I'm not worried about the nuts of bolts of putting the system together since I've been working in the computer industry for 30 years. I've ported various flavors of Unix (Version 7, BSD, SysV, SunOS, Solaris, and Linux) to more hardware than I care to remember.
Not sure I'd combine them.

Generally gaming rigs are power-hungry noise makers in a mid-tower or larger case for airflow and HTPCs are quiet mini-ATXs with a big HDD and 1080p output capability that have to be on for hours everyday.

If you're looking for just a media server, you can load Tomato onto just about any WAP that supports USB-connected HDDs and you've got a Plex server. (have that at my house on a NetGear 3500 with a 1TB external drive attached.) Plex playback is now supported on Roku and just about any recent Samsung TV or BluRay player and there are iOS and Android apps for it, too.
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Old 04-15-2013, 11:30 AM   #5955
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Generally gaming rigs are power-hungry noise makers in a mid-tower or larger case for airflow and HTPCs are quiet mini-ATXs with a big HDD and 1080p output capability that have to be on for hours everyday.
If you look back a few posts you might notice that I stated I've got an unusual situation. I've got a profound hearing loss and wear hearing aids. For watching TV, playing games, or just listening to music I've got a device that wireless distributes the sound to my hearing aids. This means that noise from a computer wouldn't bother me and such noise might have the added benefit of keeping others out of my TV room.

I need to do some more research into the Home Theater space and then ask questions on the avsforum.

So, any rumors on Fallout 4?
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