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  Reply # 307752 16-Mar-2010 11:37
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Here it is, this is the link I was thinking about which you may find interesting:
http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=84&topicid=57558

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  Reply # 307763 16-Mar-2010 12:02
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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


You wouldn't need to use the Xbox as a gaming machine, not a gamer myself, and being a close cousin to the PC environment, much of the functionality of the media interface is very similar to the PC.

Do take the time to look at xbox media centre forums - xbmc.org - an open source project. Good interfaces, codecs galore, a continual work in progress, unlike the dedicated media extenders - there always seems to be a tradeoff ... do throughly read any reviews ...

You maybe swayed :-)

 




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  Reply # 307787 16-Mar-2010 12:55
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Jaxson: Here it is, this is the link I was thinking about which you may find interesting:
http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=84&topicid=57558


Sure was! Thanks heaps for that.

So what I'm getting here is that there are at least 2 main ways to acheive PC/TV connectivity (but probably more!)

1). NAS/XBox/PC with media server O/S & software --> HDMI [+UTP] --> TV
2). NAS/XBox/PC with media server O/S & software --> HDMI [+UTP] --> Media Center (MediaGate/Popcorn Hour) --> HDMI --> TV

Notwithstanding hardware/codec and chipset compatibility issues.

So doesn't 1). imply the Media Server is in the same room? How do you use an IR remote with that - yet another device? Apologies if someone already aluded to this. I'll go back and check tonight.

I'm liking 2). at present.

Still more research needed - thanks so much for all the links and help everyone, it's been really useful.

Cheers :-)
Russ

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  Reply # 307796 16-Mar-2010 13:21
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You said that the Gib is still off.
Run a couple of 10m HDMI cables from your data room to your TV. It will save you heaps in the long run. They are cheaper than CAT5 to HDMI baluns, and they are for purpose.
You could use the cat5 to run some sort of IR sender for your remotes (or use an RF remote - Logitech do one I think)

I have a WDTV HD Live box - it is great, runs over HDMI to TV, however if you want DTS/5.1 audio, you will need to run an optical audio cable to your HT amp as well (may want one of them in the wall too - can't do optical over cat5 without it costing a fortune)

Will you want to record TV? A media center box (or XBMC) may be useful.

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  Reply # 307797 16-Mar-2010 13:22
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If you go to pbtech.co.nz and query for "media players" you will get quite a variety. I just noticed they had quite a few models in stock the other day. There is also xtreamer (www.xtreamer.com.au - if you order from them you dont pay GST).

I have had a mediagate MG-350HD for nearly 3 years now. The 350HD was replaced by the 450HD - the 350HD has a DVI video out (so you need a DVI-HDMI convertor cable and  you need to hook up the audio seperately) and IDE disk support - the 450HD was changed to support SATA hard drive and had a 'normal' HDMI connector. Both of these models had wireless g (and RJ45 plug)  - wireless g works fine for most 'downloaded' files. Both these boxes have probably been superseded now - the new mediagate boxes are built by a different manufacturer - so cant really comment on them.

I think you have probably sussed that the main things to consider are;

1) Does the box have room for a hard drive inside (mine does but I have always streamed from the PC hard drive so have never installed an internal drive)

2) Most will let you hook up an external USB HDD maybe thats all you want

3) Wired or wireless connection - depending out what sort of wireless access point you have I would go for 802.11n - wireless G may struggle on HD files.

4) Codecs supported - 'most' support a huge array these days - but compare them. mkv container is used a lot for HD files these days for example.

5) Fan noise - check some reviews - the MG350 didnt have a fan and never gets hot - but I never bothered with a hard drive. Some are apparently very annoying some let you tweak the fan speed.

6) Software releases - does the manufacturer release regular fixes/improvements? - some manufacturers have also released their code - this lets the real geeks potentially add all sorts of wonderful enhancements that they usually let the world have for free

7) Internet connectivity - the old mediagate lets you connect to a bunch of web radio sites - the newer boxes have youtube/picassa/facebook/you-name-it

8) The chip onboard - the processor. As they are basically a computer in a little box they have a media chip that has onboard decoding etc built in. If the chip doesnt have inbuilt decoding for a type of file (video/audio)  they will usually never be able to play it.

9) Assuming you are going for the 'I have a share on my PC and I want to browse/play the files via my media box which is hooked up to the TV' scenario - one gotcha could be windows 7. The little media boxes usually have a linux kernal and use Samba to access the PC shared folders. MS has hacked about with folder sharing in Win 7 and broken earlier version of Samba - so you would/should check that any box you are looking at will work with Win 7.

10) Check they do a reasonable job of upscaling the picture - I think they pretty much all will upscale to 1080p though.

 

This all sounds like a lot to take in perhaps - but I would have to say that I really love my Mediagate box - its great to just turn it on, browse my files and play back movies/music via the tv. Best thing I have bought for ages.




Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself - A. H. Weiler



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  Reply # 307833 16-Mar-2010 14:42
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trig42: You said that the Gib is still off.
Run a couple of 10m HDMI cables from your data room to your TV. It will save you heaps in the long run. They are cheaper than CAT5 to HDMI baluns, and they are for purpose.
You could use the cat5 to run some sort of IR sender for your remotes (or use an RF remote - Logitech do one I think)

I have a WDTV HD Live box - it is great, runs over HDMI to TV, however if you want DTS/5.1 audio, you will need to run an optical audio cable to your HT amp as well (may want one of them in the wall too - can't do optical over cat5 without it costing a fortune)

Will you want to record TV? A media center box (or XBMC) may be useful.


Hi and thanks for your response :-)

trig42: Run a couple of 10m HDMI cables from your data room to your TV


I see where this is going - I was under the impression from several folk in the trade that Cat6 would be the best bet in that much of what I was after, signal-wise could be converted to IP and run over Cat6. This saves me worrying about additional formats of cable (HDMI-cable, Audio-cable or whatever-the-near-future-brings-cable).

But I do apreciate the opinion :-)

trig24: You could use the cat5 to run some sort of IR sender for your remotes (or use an RF remote - Logitech do one I think)


Sure, I have investigated these and I've not seen aything yet that seems to do the job. I do have more research to do though.

TBH I am really keen on keeping the no. devices to a minimum (I get confused v.easily). The server will be there anyway (as a fileserver on the HAN and the media-server - I appreciate previous comments on kit-quality for the PC/Media-box and have noted them) so the only extra kit that *seems* to be needed is a media-receuver device which *seems* to have IR built-in. (MediaGate, Popcorn Hour and their ilk).

Like I said before, I will check this out tonight though and post-back what I find :-)

trig42: Will you want to record TV? A media center box (or XBMC) may be useful.


This is by no means a requirement. Perhaps a TiVO or similar device or even a simple HDD recorder would suffice at a later date, but it's not something I've really needed since the days of VHS in the 80s :-)

I'm still assimialting what the differences/commonlaities are between XMBC, Media Servers (hardware+software) and the like. Give me a few days aye ;-) not too fussed on crash-hot audio either.

Thanks so much once again.
Russ

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  Reply # 308531 17-Mar-2010 23:01
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I'm still assimialting what the differences/commonlaities are between XMBC, Media Servers (hardware+software) and the like. Give me a few days aye ;-) not too fussed on crash-hot audio either.




Our very own moderator posted this:
http://www.geekzone.co.nz/content.asp?contentid=8582
NETGEAR EVA2000 Digital Entertainer Live review
(media Server)




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




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  Reply # 308592 18-Mar-2010 08:07
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SepticSceptic: Our very own moderator posted this:
http://www.geekzone.co.nz/content.asp?contentid=8582
NETGEAR EVA2000 Digital Entertainer Live review
(media Server)


Ah! I remember reading this now, but didn't really know what I was looking at back then - I do now. Amazing what a bit of context gives you!

Many thanks, I now have a spreadhseet for product comparison.

Cheers
Russ



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  Reply # 308916 18-Mar-2010 21:03
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OK gang, so this is what I'm keen to do:

On the 'sending end': Media PC content (XP Media Edition) passed via a DVI-HDMI connector then HDMI-Ethernet Balun, over the HAN, to NMT, via HDMI to the TV.

Question: The website for the HDMI-Ethernet balun I found, strongly suggests *not* to send hi-quality media files over a switched network. Problem is, that's exactly how my network is designed (Uses a commodity 10/100 24-port switch) - if anyone cares to add anything to this, is it problem? Not a problem? I'm keen to hear. These baluns will be a key component of my network.

On the 'receiving end' I'm keen to purhcase an NMT - there's an A200 and an Egreat RG-R1 on TM at the mo, experiences/issues with both would be very interesting to hear about :-)

One thing has bothered me in researching these NMTs that none seem to explain - or perhaps the answer is implicit: How easy is it to use the IR remote to Fast forward, rewind, stop, pause media streamed over the network? What control do these things tend to give you?

Thanks again for all your help, it's been emotional (10c for telling me where that quote is from!)

Cheers ;-)
Russ





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  Reply # 308931 18-Mar-2010 21:39
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robjg63: If you go to pbtech.co.nz and query for "media players" you will get quite a variety. I just noticed they had quite a few models in stock the other day. There is also xtreamer (www.xtreamer.com.au - if you order from them you dont pay GST).


Holy crap! There are 23 on PBT - and the Xtreamer looks good too.

OK, I'm fully thrown now - so what am I looking for for a difference between them. If it's got external HDD capability all good I s'pose and not at all fussed with WLAN - but what's the real difference, in summary I mean:

- User Firwmware updateble
- Chipsets (Dictates codecs and formats)
- Wired LAN socket
- 1080p HDMI

robjg63: 1) Does the box have room for a hard drive inside (mine does but I have always streamed from the PC hard drive so have never installed an internal drive)


Yup, about all I'd use mine for too. What O/S and other software do you run on your PC to make everything play nicely together?

robjg63: 2) Most will let you hook up an external USB HDD maybe thats all you want


USB would be useful, not at all crucial.

robjg63: 3) Wired or wireless connection - depending out what sort of wireless access point you have I would go for 802.11n - wireless G may struggle on HD files.


Wired.

robjg63: 4) Codecs supported - 'most' support a huge array these days - but compare them. mkv container is used a lot for HD files these days for example.


I have a headache from looking at all the formats! Im inclined to transcode if the device doesn't support. Only going to watching dowloaded AVIs and "DVD files"

robjg63: 5) Fan noise - check some reviews - the MG350 didnt have a fan and never gets hot - but I never bothered with a hard drive. Some are apparently very annoying some let you tweak the fan speed.


Yeah, noted :-)

robjg63: 6) Software releases - does the manufacturer release regular fixes/improvements? - some manufacturers have also released their code - this lets the real geeks potentially add all sorts of wonderful enhancements that they usually let the world have for free


Yeah, I'd consider this an issue - more so, if you can manually update firmware or increase functionality with custom scripting.

robjg63: 7) Internet connectivity - the old mediagate lets you connect to a bunch of web radio sites - the newer boxes have youtube/picassa/facebook/you-name-it


Not fussed with this at all.

robjg63: 8) The chip onboard - the processor. As they are basically a computer in a little box they have a media chip that has onboard decoding etc built in. If the chip doesnt have inbuilt decoding for a type of file (video/audio)  they will usually never be able to play it.


Yeah, understood, although isn't that what firmware is? *shrug* (If the chipset is (E)PROM ??)

robjg63: 9) Assuming you are going for the 'I have a share on my PC and I want to browse/play the files via my media box which is hooked up to the TV' scenario
- that's me :-)

robjg63: - one gotcha could be windows 7. The little media boxes usually have a linux kernal and use Samba to access the PC shared folders. MS has hacked about with folder sharing in Win 7 and broken earlier version of Samba - so you would/should check that any box you are looking at will work with Win 7.


Maybe I'll stick to XP for now..people at work having probs with W7...

robjg63:
This all sounds like a lot to take in perhaps - but I would have to say that I really love my Mediagate box - its great to just turn it on, browse my files and play back movies/music via the tv. Best thing I have bought for ages.


It is a lot - absolutely! - I like the sound of being able to have something "just work" - great ad for the MG450 :-)

Thanks so much taking the time to post.
Cheers
Russ

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  Reply # 308935 18-Mar-2010 21:51
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Out of left field - and slightly more expensive - why not go with one of the cheaper laptops with HDMI out that I see advertised fairly frequently? Windows 7 comes with a media player incorporated, tied to your network with either cable or wireless-N. You can get a remote control & usb receiver kit for $50-60. It is fairly quiet, and has a disc to store content locally if it won't stream fast enough. You then have quite a bit more flexibility, for instance you can add a USB Freeview dongle later if you want to record with it, change the software used, add/change codecs as required, and install non-PVR software as well (photo slideshows, music jukeboxes).

This is what I am currently considering moving to for my setup.

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  Reply # 308937 18-Mar-2010 21:57
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phptek: OK gang, so this is what I'm keen to do:

Question: The website for the HDMI-Ethernet balun I found, strongly suggests *not* to send hi-quality media files over a switched network. Problem is, that's exactly how my network is designed (Uses a commodity 10/100 24-port switch) - if anyone cares to add anything to this, is it problem? Not a problem? I'm keen to hear. These baluns will be a key component of my network.



HDMI-Ethernet baluns should definitely not be used over a switched network.  The 2 network cables that run between the baluns are simply used as a replacement for a pre-made HDMI cable of the desired length.  Use of the word 'ethernet' in the description is misleading.  It's simply a method of getting the signal from source to display, using CAT5/6 cable which is easier to wire over a long distance than thick HDMI cable - a network switch should not be anywhere in the link.



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Reply # 309235 19-Mar-2010 18:21
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smarsden:
phptek: OK gang, so this is what I'm keen to do:

Question: The website for the HDMI-Ethernet balun I found, strongly suggests *not* to send hi-quality media files over a switched network. Problem is, that's exactly how my network is designed (Uses a commodity 10/100 24-port switch) - if anyone cares to add anything to this, is it problem? Not a problem? I'm keen to hear. These baluns will be a key component of my network.



HDMI-Ethernet baluns should definitely not be used over a switched network.  The 2 network cables that run between the baluns are simply used as a replacement for a pre-made HDMI cable of the desired length.  Use of the word 'ethernet' in the description is misleading.  It's simply a method of getting the signal from source to display, using CAT5/6 cable which is easier to wire over a long distance than thick HDMI cable - a network switch should not be anywhere in the link.


After much reading I now understand why this is so. I had assumed that a balun converts the HDMI signal to IP - no, it just enables the HDMI signal to run over UTP, hence it being unable to be routed through a network switch.

I have however come across an alternative - a system out of the US which does convert HDMI to IP and allows your media data to be run over a LAN/HAN with apparantly minimal loss at the receiving end.

http://www.justaddpower.com/vmchk/Home-Theater/View-all-products.html

Here's a brief review: http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/14/just-add-power-introduces-projector-connector-hdmi-over-ip-solut/

UK info and distributer (heaps of detaild info) http://www.hdmi-over-ip.co.uk/products.html - they're on Twitter too: http://twitter.com/hdmioverip

Problem: Hella expensive...and so new that there is as yet no NZ reseller. I have contacted them for more info though.

Failing an affordable device such as this - I could go the HDMI switch way. Fortunately I have enough Cat6 run to each wall-faceplate to allow this to work. It just means that my LAN isn't as flexible as I thought it might be. :-(

Given that I'll be using a rackmount patch-panel anyway in the comms cupboard, once these things become more available, it'll be easier to chop and change my patch cables around.

Thanks again to all who've contributed. I feel suitably equipped to go forth and investiage further.

Cheers
Russ

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