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54 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 58603 15-Mar-2010 22:09
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Hi folks,

I have been researching TVs for PC connectivity on and off for a few weeks, but am not getting too far. The want is to be able to watch movies/recorded TV in AVI/MPEG/whatever formats from a PC (NAS or dedicated media PC - undecided) as well as watch regular terrestrial/Sat TV, DVDs etc.

The TV will be in the lounge, the PC/NAS will be in the comms cupboard in the hallway. It's a new home and I've fully wired it with 1km of Cat6 and Sky-compatible RG6 coax, GIB isn't on yet, so some changes are still do-able if need be.

So besides Full HD, 1080p, built-in freeview, several HDMI inputs and possibly a USB port for cameras, what am I looking for, to connect say a 50" LCD TV in one room over our LAN/HAN to our Media PC in the hall cupboard?

I have seen DNLA compatible TVs that seem to use a single ethernet port on the rear, which would be useful. Does anyone know of any NZ available DLNA TVs? I've seen 1 or 2 from Sony and Samsung I think, but imagine they're pretty new (and expensive).

What's the deal with DMR/DMP - is this anything to do with it, or likely to confuse me (!!)

Some TVs have a 15-pin connector presumably for SVGA but this is where my knowledge lets me down - what kinds of signals can be sent down UTP cable? I "just" want to connect a TV to a PC and watch movies. If I had to go a low-tech route and bring-up an XP desktop on the TV, so be it...but then I need KVM extenders..(I have posted about those before) ideally a direct, wired TV/PC connection would be the go.

Budget for the TV is around $2-2.5k but the last time I bought a TV, it had teak-effect sides so let me know what you know ;-)

I fully appreciate your thoughts, have at it :-)


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423 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 307590 15-Mar-2010 22:21
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The 15-pin (D-Sub) connector is intended for PC input (although you probably want to use a high resolution than SVGA). Unfortunately, that signal is unbalanced and meant to travel over coaxial cables, whereas UTP is twisted pair and designed for balanced signals. You probably won't get good results mixing the two without a proper balun.

There's two options I'd suggest looking at. Not necessarily the best options for you, but have a look anyway.

One is to run HDMI over Cat6. You can't do it natively (same reasons as mentioned above), but there are balun adaptors that convert the signal so it can be transmitted over Cat6, and then converted back into an HDMI signal. You'd need HDMI (or at least DVI) output on the PC, but that's pretty common these days. You might be able to do the same with the D-Sub signal, but I haven't seen equipment for it.

The other option is a networked hardware media player to go with the TV. This is a small set-top box that connects to your network and your TV, so instead of transmitting a video signal down the cable, you'd transmit the PC data format, and the player would convert that into something your TV can view. Alternatively you could use a PC for this purpose.

Either option will probably run you a few hundred dollars, but will probably be considerably cheaper than the premium on a TV with native support for DLNA.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 307603 15-Mar-2010 22:39
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Thanks heaps for that -

I;d had the DVI -> HDMI -> Cat6 -> HDMI solution offerned before but the baluns (AFAIK) are a $200 a piece right now (they're new I think)

Regarding Media Players - this sounds like the go - but which ones are available in NZ (Wikipedia lists about 6 of 'em) I just came across "Popcorn Hour" which sounds just the job - http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/index.php?pluginoption=productinfo&item_id=12.

Very many thanks :-)
Russ

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  Reply # 307642 16-Mar-2010 06:28
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There was a whole topic that was dedicated to the popcornhour which seems to have been removed. I am not sure if the topics have been moved somewhere else. AFAIK the one thing the popcornhour could not do was audio from our Freeview|HD service but other then that does sound like a good option.
How far away from the TV is the comms cabinet? If it is 10 meters of less you could just run a HDMI cable. They can go a bit further then that but start getting quite expensive.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64

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  Reply # 307648 16-Mar-2010 06:58
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Forget DLNA on the TV. While this has been commonplace on a lot of TV's for the past couple of years IMHO it's a waste of time.

Concept is great but unfortunately it just don't work as well as it could or should.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 307659 16-Mar-2010 07:54
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Nety: There was a whole topic that was dedicated to the popcornhour which seems to have been removed.


If anyone finds it, I'd be keen to read it :-)

Nety: AFAIK the one thing the popcornhour could not do was audio from our Freeview|HD service but other then that does sound like a good option.


Well that's OK for me, the TV will have a built-in FreeView Tuner - the issue I had that you reminded me of is that it's very well connecting DVI+HDMI over UTP to the PopcornHour, but  how do you feed the o/p of the soundcard through to it as well?

Can you get PC Video-cards with HDMI o/p?? *shrug*

Nety: How far away from the TV is the comms cabinet? If it is 10 meters of less you could just run a HDMI cable.


About 10m - although as I said in the original post, I've already wired the whole place up with Cat6. I'm not going to be running any other cables in the walls :-)

Thanks very much :-)







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Master Geek
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  Reply # 307660 16-Mar-2010 07:56
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sbiddle: Forget DLNA on the TV. While this has been commonplace on a lot of TV's for the past couple of years IMHO it's a waste of time.

Concept is great but unfortunately it just don't work as well as it could or should.


If I can sort something around a Media Player like the PopcornHour, then I can forget DLNA (and pay less for the TV too!)

Thanks a lot.
Russ

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  Reply # 307685 16-Mar-2010 09:43
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There are heaps of little media players or even small little computers now.

Sorry but I can't remember the name but I know someone here will know the ones I'm thinking of.  Think it was Asus or Dell or something did these little tiny thin computers on stands, some had optical drives etc.

There is also the likes of the WDTV High Definition Media Player which are comparible to the popcorn hour.
eg http://www.dse.co.nz/dse.shop/4b9e9b8802cf0b542741c0a87f3b06f2/Product/View/XH9885


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  Reply # 307694 16-Mar-2010 09:59
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phptek: [snip] the issue I had that you reminded me of is that it's very well connecting DVI+HDMI over UTP to the PopcornHour, but  how do you feed the o/p of the soundcard through to it as well?



The popcornhour does not work like that. It steams the media file over the network so the PC/server that has the media file stored on it is just sharing the file. The PCH is doing the doing the decoding of the file and sending both the video and sound to the TV/amp via HDMI.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 307695 16-Mar-2010 10:01
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Nety: The popcornhour does not work like that. It steams the media file over the network so the PC/server that has the media file stored on it is just sharing the file. The PCH is doing the doing the decoding of the file and sending both the video and sound to the TV/amp via HDMI.


Of course it is! *slaps head*

Thanks a lot for clearing that up :-)

Cheers
Russ

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 307713 16-Mar-2010 10:39
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Nety: AFAIK the one thing the popcornhour could not do was audio from our Freeview|HD service but other then that does sound like a good option.

The newer models from Popcornhour (A-200 and C-200) handle Freeview HE-AAC audio OK. Full specifications of the players are here:
A-200 Technical Specifications
C-200 Technical Specifications

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  Reply # 307719 16-Mar-2010 10:48
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What about Xbox media centres ? Not that I have actually used one, but I did investigate implementing one a couple of years ago. Component out only would be the limitation, but if you're watching D/L AVI's etc, does it really matter if it's not HDMI ?

I opted for a MediaGate 350 in the end, only because I scored it at importers cost. The MediaGate was somewhat more compact than the Xbox, and probably ran a bit quieter, and had 802.11G wireless ( not good for streaming VOB's and MPEG2's - OK with AVI's) . Otherwise I would have opted for the Xbox.




My thoughts are no longer my own and is probably representative of our media-controlled government




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Master Geek
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  Reply # 307733 16-Mar-2010 11:06
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SepticSceptic: What about Xbox media centres ? Not that I have actually used one, but I did investigate implementing one a couple of years ago. Component out only would be the limitation, but if you're watching D/L AVI's etc, does it really matter if it's not HDMI ?


Would be good to allow for the max range of formats/encapsulations as possible. New TVs come with multiple HDMI i/p these days, so keen to use that if possible - plus seems to be "easier" (thoigh expensive-ish) to convert HDMI -> IP -> HDMI.

SepticSceptic: I opted for a MediaGate 350 in the end, only because I scored it at importers cost. The MediaGate was somewhat more compact than the Xbox, and probably ran a bit quieter, and had 802.11G wireless ( not good for streaming VOB's and MPEG2's - OK with AVI's) . Otherwise I would have opted for the Xbox.


Thanks! I will check out the MediaGate too to maximise options. I'm not keen on a gaming box. I don't play computer games and am far more familliar with PC based technology so a NAS is no giant leap away from that.

Thanks heaps for your input, I'll check the MediaGate.

Cheers
Russ

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Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 307734 16-Mar-2010 11:09
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One thing that you might not have thought of... what about your remote control? how do you intend to control the htpc if it's in the cupboard?



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 307745 16-Mar-2010 11:30
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rvangelder: One thing that you might not have thought of... what about your remote control? how do you intend to control the htpc if it's in the cupboard?


An excellent question that I've been thinking about for 6 months or more. The problem with the finding the answer to the question is it's kinda tied-in with the solution I eventually find for the original question I've asked here! :-)

I looked into KVM extenders that send KVM signals over UTP but they can be expensive and require several RJ45 connections (which I do have as it goes.) and I'm still unsure of which one would be the best bet.

If I'm right about the functionality of the PopcornHour and similar devices, (I've only known of their existnce of all of 24h, so could be well-wrong) they have IR remotes which allows you to interact with the media file currently being played from the media PC in the cupboard. They even have mini-displays so you can navigate files without using the TV at all - but I fail to see the utility of this at this early stage.

I'll be looking more into these devices after work tonight and will post my findings here.

Thanks a lot :-)
Russ


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  Reply # 307751 16-Mar-2010 11:37
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phptek:
SepticSceptic: What about Xbox media centres ? Not that I have actually used one, but I did investigate implementing one a couple of years ago. Component out only would be the limitation, but if you're watching D/L AVI's etc, does it really matter if it's not HDMI ?


Would be good to allow for the max range of formats/encapsulations as possible. New TVs come with multiple HDMI i/p these days, so keen to use that if possible - plus seems to be "easier" (thoigh expensive-ish) to convert HDMI -> IP -> HDMI.

SepticSceptic: I opted for a MediaGate 350 in the end, only because I scored it at importers cost. The MediaGate was somewhat more compact than the Xbox, and probably ran a bit quieter, and had 802.11G wireless ( not good for streaming VOB's and MPEG2's - OK with AVI's) . Otherwise I would have opted for the Xbox.


Thanks! I will check out the MediaGate too to maximise options. I'm not keen on a gaming box. I don't play computer games and am far more familliar with PC based technology so a NAS is no giant leap away from that.

Thanks heaps for your input, I'll check the MediaGate.

Cheers

Russ


Not sure why you would want to convert HDMI to IP, and back to HDMI if you are using a NAS ? Unless you are looking at using your TV as an extra large monitor.

Ahh, yes you are - so you are looking at 2 options PC- TV connectivity, and NAS to TV connectivity ...

Go for the good quality HDMI 10m connection from PC to TV ( assuming that your PC does support HDMI out ? ). Works well for me. You could go to 15m at a pinch without a booster, but your mileage my vary - cable quality, as well as device quality starts playing a big factor at anything more than 10m.

There are a few MediaGates for sale on TM occasionally, some without the wireless, some with. But Popcorn Hours, etc are all worth investigating. Most of the media player / extenders of that era (2-4 years ago) are based on the Sigma chipset, which had a couple of major issues with some AVI container objects - MKV I think ? Something like that anyway - If it doesn't play, I just transcode ...

More recent media players are more adept at handling more formats, have HDMI, better wireless, etc.

One of the main advantages of the MediaGate 350 was that you could plonk in a hDD, and transfer files to the MediaGate, and take away for watching elsewhere.

Also had USB input as well for playing from external USB devices like HDD's and thumbdrives.

But if starting afresh, I would like USB input as above, wireless 802.11n, a decent remote control, HDD capability, and most importantly the ability to handle MKV formats ( is that ripped Blu-Ray format perhaps) ?

 




My thoughts are no longer my own and is probably representative of our media-controlled government


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