|2007-12-06, 02:56 AM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2007
Confusing HTPC Setup
Alright so what I want to do is essentially have a multi-zone home theater system in my house and I want some advice. But I can't afford thousands of dollars worth of high end home theater stuff... so, in the spirit of McGiver, I need to do with what I have.
First I'll start off by describing what I want to set up and currently have
- Logitech Z-5500 Speaker Set with all parts still intact and fully functional
- Custom Home Theater system compromised of 4 Energy Connoisseur
and a Pioneer 5.1 channel reciever along with a Velodyne 10inch subwoofer.
- Computer1 - Intel Q6700 Core-Duo, 2GB Ram, 600GB HDD (across a raid 1), Nvidia 8800GTS GPU.
- Old Computer - Intel E6300, 2GB Ram, 500GB HDD (across 3 HDD's), ATI All-In-Wonder X1900
- RCA 60inch 1080i rear projection TV
- Epson 1690 1080i projector
- Old Old Computer - Intel P4 630 3.0GHZ, 1GB Ram, No HDD, Nvidia 6800GS
Now ideally, what I want to do is have 3 different audio/video zones in the house. 2 of them being a combination of both and 1 being just a random audio zone in the dining room/kitchen area.
Computer 1 I want to hook up to the projector (along with its own monitor) and the custom home theater system, which will only need to playback things from the computer itself. It is going to be connected through an optical output through to the receiver. I am mostly intending to use it as a Gaming Machine and/or movie watching.
The Old computer I want to hook up to the 60inch projection rear projection TV and provide audio through the Z-5500 speaker system. This computer will be doing the majority of the work and act as the file server for music, movies, tv recordings etc. It is also ideally going to be powering the third audio zone through the use of Desktop Multiplier and running another instance of a front end program.
Now to bring it all together, both computers will be connected through Gigabit wired LAN. The third audio zone will likely consist of a small touch screen display with its cabling running back to Old Computer connected as a terminal for Desktop Multiplier.
Now all that describing and stuff aside, time for my questions.
1) I've heard that Creative EAX isn't supported on the optical outputs from the sound cards because the sound is decoded at the receiver and not the PC? Is this true? Is there a possible work around, without switching back to mini-stereo connectors? The reason I really want to stick with optical out is because Coax and Mini-stereo sound find on the Z-5500 speakers but the poor sound quality really becomes noticeable when you hook it up to the much higher end speakers.
2) What are some good media center front ends for Ubuntu (or just Linux overall)? Hopefully supporting lots of the common online media plug ins such as Flash, Quicktime, Xvid etc. Desktop Multiplier only runs on Linux so for the Old Computer I am restricted to using Linux. I will be running the other computer on either Windows XP Professional or Windows Vista Ultimate which leads me to my next question.
3) Does anyone have any ideas on how well Windows and Linux work with each other? I understand that a good chuck of servers are running Linux with a targeted audience of Windows users, but you know.. Computers can be weird and annoying like that.
4) The TV Tuner issue. I will be restricted in terms of PCI slots since I will likely have to add an extra sound card for the third audio zone. But as for inputs there will likely be a DVD player, Satellite, and standard Cable. I know the All in Wonder card does have a TV/FM tuner, but I've heard that Satellite signals can cause issues for TV tuners? (I have only 1 PCI slot remaining on this computer)
5) For controlling the Old Computer, I don't want to have a keyboard and mouse since it is in a casual living room setting. I've heard about the Gyro remotes that let you move the mouse sort of like the Wii controller? Are these worth buying or should I stay far away from them? Also if they are worth the money, do they provide an alternative method for text input or is a keyboard still required? Or is the best way to go is a universal remote such as the Logitech Harmonies along with a keyboard + mouse?
6) Are there any good sound cards that you'd recommend since all I have right now is on board sound? My last proper sound card died spectacularly with lots of smoke and burning.
7) Finally... If you've gotten this far. Any suggestions? Advice? Comments? Criticism? (Asides from "Just do it the proper way and save some money and get someone who knows what they're doing to install it you silly fool")
|2007-12-06, 08:44 AM||#2|
Join Date: Dec 2001
orizvi, that is a very long post and as a new member you are asking a lot of questions that cross many forums.
My recommendation is to review the forums since most of your questions are asked elsewhere and then ask specific questions in existing threads.
|2007-12-07, 01:34 AM||#3|
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: London, ON
I recommend that you allocate the 3 systems as follows...
1. New system 1, main workstation connected to monitor and computer system.
2. Old system 2, dedicated HTPC system connected to TV and sound system.
3. Old, old system 3, dedicated file server.
The onboard sound should be adequate (assuming systems 1 & 2 have HD audio.) I don't think it is possible to control two sound cards separately on one PC, at least not easily or cheaply. You could connect the other PCs' audio to the extra receiver zones as required.
You probably want to put the money into a large drive for the server instead of a sound card. Another option may be to put the 600GB array into the server and reallocate the other drives across the 3 systems as system drives.
Options for the server include Windows 2000 (if you have it), Windows Home Server and Linux running Samba (for Windows compatibility.)
Options for the HTPC include Windows MCE (XP or Vista), plain Windows XP with third party applications, Linux MCE and Linux with MythTV, among others. These have all been discussed elsewhere here.
The Gyration mouse/keyboard combinations are nice for HTPC. Using the mouse in the air takes some getting used to but they also work on a surface like a regular mouse. Logitech also makes wireless mouse/keyboard combos that work well.
There are a number of options for remote controls. Pick one that is well supported by the O/S and applications you want to run. Most IR remotes can be emulated by Logitech Harmony and other learning remotes. There are a few exceptions though.
|2007-12-11, 04:28 PM||#4|
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Fredericton, NB
With the arrival of the SageTV HDTV extender, I would suggest that you look at using SageTV as your HTPC server and interface software. SageTV runs on just about anything, including Linux and Mac OS.
This route allows you to consolidate all of the best PC parts and the lions share of storage into one system and then just sell off the leftover parts and buy SageTV HDTV media extenders for the other TVs/locations.
This would greatly simplify both the setup and the usage of the system once totally installed.
As far as tuner support goes, the only thing that SageTV does not support is CableCARD. Here is a mostly complete list of tuner devices and sources that are compatible with SageTV.
SageTV is also capable of working with cable STBs that have properly working firewire ports and it is also capable of working with the R5000-HD mod: http://www.nextcomwireless.com/r5000/home.htm
Matter of fact, you may even want to consider just building one big (Storage and Tuners) SageTV server and putting it in a corner and just use the new SageTV HDTV extender for all locations.