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101 posts

Master Geek


# 106700 30-Jul-2012 11:54
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Hey all,

I have been rocking a HTPC for years now, and now that some of the smarter TVs are getting cheaper I am looking to reduce the amount of kit in my lounge and get a nicer/bigger TV. The HTPC is getting old, is noisy, and is having some difficulty with certain file types skipping/stalling.

My current setup
37 inch Sony TV - pre digital TV but post HDMI.
Win 7 based PC running mainly out of WMC
I use My Movies for my movie collection.
Dual DVB-s Tuners (in Newlands, Wellington but no DVB-t reception currently - getting assessed by an aerial aerial guy to see what he can do).
FreeNas 0.7.2 server in a back room on wired network hosting all files except TV recordings
5.1 setup 

What I want to do
Bigger TV - 50 inch will fit just, so looking at 46 & 47, but could do 50 if I have to
Direct streaming of NAS stored files to TV (DLNA or via file share)
Want to be able to record/watch free TV, DVBs/DVBt decision will need to be made before I buy. Not very keen on dropping down to a single tuner like most TVs with built in PVR are set up to do.

From my research so far
Samsung TVs seem best for format compatibility over DLNA, this is a new tech for me, but my FreeNas seems set up for it. I have tried testing, but have had no luck using XBMC on my laptop. I am not sure if something might be getting blocked by my router (Linksys E2000) or windows firewall.  Further research needed or help from geekzone people please.
All the TVs I have looked at have had single DVBt tuners built in, it looks like I will need a PVR of some sort. Keen for best interface possible. If I am getting a PVR I am not sure if I want to spend heaps on a aerial to upgrade to DVBt.

What are your opinions people? What shall I do?

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  # 663950 30-Jul-2012 13:08
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Remember any integration of smarts into your telly are a, another thing in it to break, and b, you're dependent on the manufacturer to provide firmware updates, c and the manufacturer to allow differing formats.





Previously known as psycik

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  # 663959 30-Jul-2012 13:25
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i'd just warn you from spending too much money on a tv now.

google tv will slowly get here, and when it does that will open up a lot more options. xbmc is running on android and soon on google tv (if its not already). so soon (a year or 2) you will be able to buy a tv with a inbuilt computer powerful enough to run a media centre.

i tried the DLNA route with my LG tv, the menus were very annoying, it couldnt handle DTS audio (but you can batch convert your files if your tv doesnt support a certain codec), playback was perfect however.

personally i want more from a TV than just file playback, I want movie/tv show descriptions, I want to be able to stream content easily (tvnz on demand, hulu, netflix, vudu etc (there is a PC app called playon which supports DLNA/Upnp which should work with a tv as well to provide on demand services)).

but if all you want is the ability to watch your videos and you dont care about movie descriptions/posters, then any major brand tv should support most codecs. I suggest taking a usb stick with a few sample files and see how well each tv plays them back in store.

every tv ive seen with built in tv have been very limited and more of gimmick (this may have changed in the last 6 months).

also the next year will be interesting for HTPCs, with raspberrypis leading the way for cheap low powered HTPCs, there should be some more coming out with some more grunt.

personally i would recommend Samsung. (LG have a funny CEC spec, which isnt standard, so if you switch back to HTPCs this could be a little annoying)

 
 
 
 


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  # 663960 30-Jul-2012 13:25
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I don't think this is the best solution (even for myself) but it works and is very reliable and flexible.

PVR (I would be hard pressed to call it a HTPC) running XP with a Celeron 2.2GHz CPU and GBPVR. It has two video capture cards; a Hauppauge Nova-t 500 so I can record two HD channels at once and a Hauppauge PVR250 so I can record the output from my TCL cable box for non Freeview channels. The channel change is handled by a USB-UIRT IR emitter.

Given the PC is only recording you can use a pretty lowly machine to do that so long as it has sufficient drive space. I have never felt the need to either upgrade the memory, CPU or OS on the machine.

The PVR does not do playback which makes life much easier. I use a Popcorn Hour A200 which is connected to shares on the PVR so it can playback content. The PCH is also connected to my server drives which have all my other content and I use yamj to generate the HTML listing so it looks good on the PCH. The PCH is brillliant in that it can pretty much anything without re-encoding, even our troublesome AAC-HE LATM audio.

Everything is controlled via a Harmony 880 remote so the family can negotiate it. And I can access the epg and schedule recordings using any PC/tablet/phone in the house via GBPVR's web interface.




Staying in Wellington. Check out my AirBnB in the Wellington CBD.  https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/32019730  Mention GZ to get a 10% discount

 

System One: Popcorn Hour A200,  PS3 SuperSlim, NPVR and Plex Server running on Gigabyte Brix (Windows 10 Pro), Sony BDP-S390 BD player, Pioneer AVR, Raspberry Pi running Kodi and Plex, Panasonic 60" 3D plasma, Google Chromecast

System Two: Popcorn Hour A200 ,  Oppo BDP-80 BluRay Player with hardware mode to be region free, Vivitek HD1080P 1080P DLP projector with 100" screen, Denon AVRS730H 7.2 Channel Dolby Atmos/DTS-X AV Receiver, Samsung 4K player, Google Chromecast, Odroid C2 running Kodi and Plex

 

 


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Ultimate Geek
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  # 663961 30-Jul-2012 13:27
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IMHO: Don't buy a TV for it's features - get the one with the best picture (within your budget), and do the clever bits elsewhere.

The OpenElec version of XBMC is worth a look. Installs on a memory stick and becomes the boot device for the PC. I had stability issues with XBMC on Ubuntu, but the OpenElec build seems to be bullet proof.




Things are LookingUp....  A photo from my back yard :-)
http://www.astrophotogallery.org/u141-rodm.html 


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  # 663973 30-Jul-2012 13:39
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LookingUp: IMHO: Don't buy a TV for it's features - get the one with the best picture (within your budget), and do the clever bits elsewhere.

The OpenElec version of XBMC is worth a look. Installs on a memory stick and becomes the boot device for the PC. I had stability issues with XBMC on Ubuntu, but the OpenElec build seems to be bullet proof.


the latest xbmcbuntu (v11) is really good, v10 and below i had issues with and preferred openelec, but now 2 of my machines run xbmcbuntu (handy being able to boot into a full GUI OS if needed, most of the time just ssh into it if needed though).



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Master Geek


  # 664050 30-Jul-2012 15:35
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I didn't think I would get much support from people on GZ... in response to what people have said (I have summarized)...
  • Remember any integration of smarts into your telly are a, another thing in it to break, and b, you're dependent on the manufacturer to provide firmware updates, c and the manufacturer to allow differing formats. 
Yea, same as every other program or system out there
  • Suggestions for XBMC, google TV, apple TV etc
I am trying to be more "zen" and have a less is more approach. I do see today that there is a XBMC build for Raspberry Pi been made, not MPEG-2 support tho. Also want something I can build today rather than constantly waiting for the next tech to come out. I have waited long enough.
  • What about the future? Hulu/netflix etc
Samsung Smart TV has an "app store" which you can download apps to run these services. I understand that TVNZ on demand and TV3 on demand are able to be streamed fullscreen via inbuilt internet browser.
  • Dont like the tv companies interfaces...
So far I like the Samsung smart TV interface. Looks reasonably pretty to me.

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  # 664972 31-Jul-2012 21:41
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LookingUp: IMHO: Don't buy a TV for it's features - get the one with the best picture (within your budget), and do the clever bits elsewhere.



^^^^ This!

Pick the TV because it has a good picture and adequate inputs. Don't compromise any of these to get something with gimmicky apps or other features - they are almost always over-rated, implemented in a medoicre way, and leave you swinging in the wind without much support once the TV manufacturer has moved on to a newer model.

Sticking with an HTPC might actually be the most minimalist "zen" way to do what you want, esp since you appear to be in an area that lacks terrestrial FV coverage. One HTPC box, correctly built, can do most of what you want in one unit (dual satellite tuners, play blu-rays & DVDs, burn shows to disk if you want, stream shows to other rooms, stream files from NAS, Youtube, or whatever else you want to do) and run off one remote. Expandable, customisable and upgradeable.

Otherwise, you are looking at solutions that involve more clutter - you need at least a satellite STB, a Blu Ray player, and potentially other boxes (DVD recorder?) depending on what you want to do. The set-up will be easier, but it won't be more minimalist or less cluttered.

 
 
 
 


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Ultimate Geek
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  # 665202 1-Aug-2012 09:48
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pwapwap:
  • Suggestions for XBMC, google TV, apple TV etc
I am trying to be more "zen" and have a less is more approach. I do see today that there is a XBMC build for Raspberry Pi been made, not MPEG-2 support tho. Also want something I can build today rather than constantly waiting for the next tech to come out. I have waited long enough.


I understand what you are trying to do here. My wife hates the look and size of the HTPC in the living room, and just wants the simplicity of the TV and nothing else. There is also the issue of the noise, although this isn't that bad.

With this said, we would find it hard to move away from the features that MediaPortal gives with TV, movies, music and photos.

The alternative, and this is something that I have just recently done for a friend, is to move the HTPC from the lounge where you watch TV and place it in a cupboard. My friend had an airing cupboard where he terminated his DVB-S and DVB-T cables, and also all the Cat6 the runs throughout the house. It now houses the HTPC, switches and routers. We ran a 15m HDMI cable from the capboard to the TV (in the wall) and a cable for the IR remote. It all works perfectly and is neatly hidden away with no noise.




My HTPC - Case Antec Fusion Remote, MOBO Intel DH67BLB3, CPU Intel Core i5-2400S 2.5 GHz, RAM 8GB  DDR3 1333, HDD 120Gig Corsair Force Series 3 SSD system | WD Caviar Black 2TB data, Tuners Black Gold BGT3595 dual DVB-S/S2, dual DVB-T, Video nVIDIA GeForce GT 520, 1024MB, Sound Intel® High Definition Audio (onboard), OS Windows 7 x64

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  # 665422 1-Aug-2012 13:55
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What about a HTPC in a standard audio receiver form factor? If it's quiet enough it would not look any different to all the other boxes in the cabinet such as the AVR, BD player etc. Some examples I have seen look pretty good.

I myself use a box form factor server (slightly larger than a Shuttle) and while I did get complaints earlier, being able to readily record shows for my wife from a web interface, sold her.




Staying in Wellington. Check out my AirBnB in the Wellington CBD.  https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/32019730  Mention GZ to get a 10% discount

 

System One: Popcorn Hour A200,  PS3 SuperSlim, NPVR and Plex Server running on Gigabyte Brix (Windows 10 Pro), Sony BDP-S390 BD player, Pioneer AVR, Raspberry Pi running Kodi and Plex, Panasonic 60" 3D plasma, Google Chromecast

System Two: Popcorn Hour A200 ,  Oppo BDP-80 BluRay Player with hardware mode to be region free, Vivitek HD1080P 1080P DLP projector with 100" screen, Denon AVRS730H 7.2 Channel Dolby Atmos/DTS-X AV Receiver, Samsung 4K player, Google Chromecast, Odroid C2 running Kodi and Plex

 

 


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  # 665707 1-Aug-2012 20:20
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One of the guys at work showed me some pictures about 18 months ago of a HTPC build he had done to deal with not wanting the look of a computer in the living room.

He got hold of one of the very old (1980s vintage) VCRs that had died - from back when they were really expensive, quite large, and really solidly built. He gutted it at build his HTPC inside it, with the DVD slot-drive behind the tape flap and a bit of creative Dremel-work at the back to get the cables in.

It I recall that it looked as if it blended in quite well (although admittedly it was a bit on the retro side), and just looked like he still had a VCR.



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Master Geek


  # 665722 1-Aug-2012 21:04
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OK some updates...

Aerial guy came and managed to get us good DVBt signal.

I found that the interface I like (Samsung smart hub) also comes in their Blu-ray players, and that their high end one also has dual DVBt tuners in it so I got one. This means I can get any TV I like and still have the interface.

Struggling to get Fuppes/DLNA to work with the allshare.

I have played with various iterations of the settings in FreeNAS/fuppes. I have found that pretty much any profile but the DLNA one will show the Bluray Player as 4 remote devices in the Fuppes interface (MediaServer, MediaRenderer and 2 unknown). My NAS does not show up in Allshare at all.

So my NAS can see the player as a UPNP enabled device, but not the other way around. 

Any people with experience with FreeNas 0.7.2 and UPNP/DLNA I would appreciate a PM with some hints. If/when I get it working I promise to post a good explanation of how I got it to work. 


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Master Geek
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  # 671640 12-Aug-2012 23:54
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I really think DLNA et al is quite failed compared to it's conception and promise. Client devices have differing abilities in terms of playback, which means that they often need a server that  transcodes.  Server devices have different abilities in terms of transcoding.

IMHO you should get a playback device that will play anything you throw at it, and does so from an open storage technology, which basically means (in paractical terms) playback from windows files shares (aka CIFS/SMB). Any server be it BSD, windows, linux, OSX will support that serving up files via that protocol, or NFS if you prefer that.

For a player that will do any file format, you want a computer that you control the software on, not some proprietary thing like appleTV or the implementation you'll find inside your TV. I highly recommend a small ION based box running XBMC. It does all video formats I have ever thrown at it, has good metadata gathering, and is well supported on all OS platforms that are likely to crop up.

As far as transport between server and client is concerned, don't waste time on wireless unless you have consistently good -n hardware. Wired is peerless for transporting the necessary bitrates.

So the answer comes down to:

1. Any white box computer in your basement/cupboard/garage with large hard drives and an OS, because all OSes can act as a simple file server; plus;

2. Small low power reasonably pretty computers next to all your TVs, plugged via HDMI and running XBMC.

3. Wired 100M networking.

Sorry you don't get to ditch the HTPC, but you do get the ugly box out of the lounge :)

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