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Discussion Starter #61
Lots to absorb , but loving it!

Re file server ideas.. whats the story with storage devices like these ( Mediasonic/Hotbox PROBOX l

Seem like an interesting storage solution.. more capacity and potential redundancy than a single external USB drive, but not quite the complexity of NAS, and yet handles up to 4 HD drives (which none of my current pc's can)

From what I read to date, each drive is seen as a seperate letter.
 

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Normally referred to as DAS (Direct Attached Storage), different from Network (NAS).
Have not used, don't know. It looks like only the interface is different and no RAID options...

The biggest advantage of using Brix-like PCs, is attaching them to the back of the TV,
connect to power, network and TV and forget about it. Grabbing files from the network.
On the other hand, this might be a steep price to pay: about $500 to make your TV smart...:)

But if you want to keep the option to see the desktop on TV - Win or Mac - there are no real alternatives.
Otherwise, you might look into having Chromecast do the basic HTPC job (saving some $450 in the process).
Or something in between like WD TV Live (PBO is my favorite in this category)...
1) No but a mATX PC that can will cost about the same price.
Mini-ITX will do just as well.
http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showpost.php?p=1931161&postcount=39
 

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Discussion Starter #63
Hmmm DAS. Who knew ! I will check em out furhter.

And it seems they do have RAID options as well : http://www.mediasonic.ca/

Re the back of the TV options vs desktop, yup, I think I'm coming full circle and am back to desktop (one sutaible to the task).
that conclusion!

As to the $35 Chromecast solution, that may indeed be good for one of my other HDTVs!! Comparison here re Chromecast, Roku2 and AppleTV: http://readwrite.com/2013/12/10/compare-roku-2-apple-tv-chromecast
 

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Another option is to have one HTPC, dedicated server or player/server, that has media server software installed and to use a Roku, WD TV Live or similar device on the other TVs. That can be easier to manage and a lot cheaper than having several HTPCs. Dedicated media players generally cost close to $100 vs close to $400 (plus O/S) for a low end HTPC. The server HTPC and network will need to be a little more robust to handle all the recording, server and playback functions but the savings on the other players will more than pay for it.
 

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Comparison here re Chromecast, Roku2 and AppleTV...
Keep in mind that Chromecast is in very active development (see its own thred below).
And even if it is dropped (like Nexus Q was), it will most likely be left open to hacking.

Unlimited possibilities...:)
 

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Another option is to have one HTPC, dedicated server or player/server, that has media server software installed and to use a Roku, WD TV Live or similar device on the other TVs. That can be easier to manage and a lot cheaper than having several HTPCs. Dedicated media players generally cost close to $100 vs close to $400 (plus O/S) for a low end HTPC. The server HTPC and network will need to be a little more robust to handle all the recording, server and playback functions but the savings on the other players will more than pay for it.
Unless you need a lot of browsing, etc and ends up mostly just media playback.. this might be one of the better ideas.

Though, with this, you would need to more settle on WHICH media server, etc you were choosing to use.. to make sure your playback devices (roku, etc) support them.
 

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TV support may be the major issue. That can probably be worked around but maybe not 100%. The big advantage with HTPCs is, of course, their flexibility. The big disadvantage is the need for more powerful hardware to support a larger, underlying OS. Then there is the software configuration and maintenance requirement, which can be ongoing.
 

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Yeah, its always a toss up.. and depending on what want, if you want the same experience in each location in the house, etc.

EG: in the living room, I have my laptop there normally.. so don't need the TV for web browsing, etc. TV is a smart TV, so does Netflix out of the box. Its got a built in plex app, so really no HTPC needed there.
But in the basement that's another story.. so it needs to be a more full functioned HTPC.
 

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Discussion Starter #69
Yes each room is different, and thats kinnda what I was refering re "suitable" devices for Room1,Room2,Room3 etc. Didnt really mean to say each room needed an HTPC, just that, in my case, I wanted to 'smarten up' the TVs and refresh some of the exsiting pcs, as appropriate. But to it do it right, one really should take th opportunity to look at hte while house view

My immediate focus is my DEN and BASEMENT which have the biggest screens, heaviest use, oldest failing machines amd largest impact if I ever cut the cable cord! The thread has been really helpful in giving some options and cautions.

My current thinking is this:

COMMON elements
  • retain existing cable modem/router, giagbit swithes
  • replace flakey wireless router in den
DEN: (large LED HDTV, main vieiwing and PVR room)
  • retain HDPVR cable terminal for now
  • replace failing XP with desktop HTPC (likely ASUS) for internet streaming via pc, live tv, PVR, and music playback
  • try to configure with bootable SSD plus local 1 TB drive
  • Install XBMR for Windows or Media Portal
  • Add DAS storage (4 bay) via USB3 ,as main/backup for a/v media file share (photo/video/music)
  • add HD homerun to new router to pursue live TV and PVR capability
  • pursue ipad (or more like a new tablet) dedicated to DEN for remote control of live tv, pvr and streaming functions. this is critical to WAF or it will never fly
  • retain roku3 if still neeed ; if not redeploy to another room
  • re-evaluate smart functions already existing in blu-ray
BASEMENT: (large projection HDTV, event night viewing and music playback and recording)
  • retain HD cable terminal for now
  • replace failing XP with desktop HTPC (likely ASUS) for internet streaming via pc, music playback, audio conversions
  • try to configure with bootable SSD plus local 1 TB drive
  • try to salvage exisitng PCI M-AUDIO 24.96 audio card for legacy vinyl to digital conversions, and digital playback to AVR
  • Add HDMI switch to toggle bluray/pc to HDMI in projector
  • Install XBMR for Windows or Media Portal
  • pursue new tablet dedicated to BASEMENT for remote control
  • access DAS files as a shared drive
  • re-evaluate smart functions already existing in blu-ray
All other room/pcs/hdtvs: no htpcs;no significant change for now other than to access the DAS and smarten up some tvs to access Netflix, and access recored HD homerun shows
 

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Two tablets as remotes? Won't Harmony do?
What is "smart functions already existing in blu-ray"? You have two Blu-ray players?
Why internal 1TB drive if you have a shared DAS? As a fast local intermediary?
 

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Discussion Starter #71
REMOTE - I'm sure harmony would work for all my tv's, but we like to keep the remote in the room where the tv is, just like a traditional remote. I hope an entry level mini tablet will do the trick. One for the den. One for the basement. I don't want to have my wife running room to room to use a shared remote.

SMART FUNCTIONS OF BLU RAY. It's a basic Panasonic BDT 210 but it came with streaming-media services, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Pandora, Skype, and CinemaNow. It may even have more now. And there is an iPad app for it. So it has potential. Yes two blu ray players, one in den, one in basement. $100 range.

1TB DRIVE. Yes mainly for speed but also its cost effective storage for source or backup use.
 

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That seems like a good setup so far

Yeah, LIKELY that roku wouldn't be needed in the den. Could re-locate to anther room.. and at min, access media via DLNA, and then give you some other stuff like Netflix, etc as well through it.

Using media portal, xmbc, there are a ton of remotes apps avail for remote functions, so you should be OK there.. now OTHER functions outside of XMBC/media portal they likely wont do much though :(
Still may need a keyboard/mouse combo of some form handy.
I have this one http://www8.hp.com/ca/en/products/oas/product-detail.html?oid=5059442#!tab=features
and its great.. small, and the top right is a little touch pad for moving the mouse around.

Now I would agree with FOUR, that on the basement one.. (or whichever one DOESNT have the DAS and the larger storage) doesn't need to have a 1tb drive.
With a proper setup.. with XMBC or media portal.. these should be set up as CHILD units anyways, and would be accessing the database and content on the other machine anyways.. so don't need a large drive.
 

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Discussion Starter #73
Is the issue around including a 1TB drive about added power consumption and heat? That is, why the concern my thoughts to add a 1TB drive?
 

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Agreed. My WD Green 1.5 TB drive has been running in my Ineo Poseidon NAS enclosure at around 6-7 watts idle and around 10 watts full speed. No significant issues with heat or power.

Sent from my LG-P999 using Tapatalk 2
 

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No, I wouldn't worry about power, etc.

Its just, on the 2ndary location... IF that one, is not HOSTING the media itself.. if it is stored on the OTHER HTPC, it is extra and not needed.

One would act as a 'server' HTPC, while the other would be a 'child'... which really would just need the OS, core apps installed to TALK to the database/etc stored on the main server one.
 

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Discussion Starter #77
Re SSD's, I see many options out there to upgrade exisitng pcs, or build from scratch,... ..but hardly any purchase options for a new pre-configured desktop pc's with an SSD boot drive (like off the web sites of Dell, Asus, TigerDirect, Newegg, etc).

Guess I need to look elsewhere (where?) or consider more a kit approach and build my own...or revert back again to non-desktop form factors with mSATA SSD slots.
 

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HTPC is almost a textbook example where DIY pays off.
Since you want particular components: mobo, case, drives, fans, etc.

MemoryExpress is a decent place to start.
For a boot drive (around 100GB) be ready to pay $1/GB.
I like the EVO Samsung line...
 

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Discussion Starter #79
Some interesting setups here : http://mymediaexperience.com/htpc-builds/

But seems pricey. Thier suggested VALUE system comprises of :

Case Silverstone GD06B Micro ATX
CPU Intel Core i3-3225 LGA 1155
Motherboard ASRock DDR3 1333 Intel LGA 1155 (H77M)
Hard Drive Samsung 840 120GB SATA III Solid State Drive (SSD)
Memory Kingston HyperX LoVo 4 GB Kit 1600 DDR3 SDRAM
Optical Drive Pioneer 15x SATA Internal BD/DVD/CD Burner
Power Supply Antec EarthWatts EA-380D
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Remote control Flirc USB IR receiver
Hard Drive (Optional) Western Digital 3 TB Caviar Green

I priced it up at Amazon.ca for fun and it came in at $800 $CDN with WIndows (without the 3 TB drive and remote)

As compared to say this : http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/MX49423 at half the price of $400 (without SSD and remote)
 

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This is something I'd start with:
Intel Core™ i3-4340 Processor
Gigabyte H87N-WIFI Motherboard 270
RipjawsX Series 16GB DDR3 RAM 160
840 EVO Series Solid State Drive 120
SG05 Black Case w/ 450w PS 130
Total bill - $680. Has WiFi and Bluetooth.
No OS, no HDD, ODD, Kb/Mouse/Remote...

Same ballpark would be the BRIX setup:
BRIX Ultra Compact PC Kit w/ Core™ i3-4010U 350
PM841 Series Internal mSATA 130
Signature DDR3 16GB 150
Total bill - $630.

The Value built on the MyMedia site uses i3-3225 - the lowest end CPU with HD4000.
With the 4th generation - unfortunately - Intel doesn't sell the Iris/IrisPro CPUs separately.
Not that you need anything above HD4600 for a regular HTPC...
 
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