Setting up a Media Centre/Server for multiple TVs

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Setting up a Media Centre/Server for multiple TVs

Post#1 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:03 pm

Hi Everyone,

I need some advice please. I have been using Windows Media Centre for about 7 years with a single TV in the lounge. We are moving to a bigger house where we want to be able to have full WMC functionality on 3 TV's in our new home. We would also like to have a single media server where everything is recorded to/stored and accessed from any TV but the TV's must be able to act independently. So we will be able to watch/record/pause etc different channels in different rooms but if we record something in one room it is available to be watched in another for example.

Can anyone recommend the best ways to achieve this setup? (We will have a CAT6 wired network in place and a plant room for servers/switches as required. I am based in the UK.)

Thank you

Olly
OllyN
 
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Post#2 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:11 pm

You will probably want to use extenders with gigabit networking. I can not speak to the region but I have had good luck with Xbox 360's in extender mode. I have them set to boot into extender mode.
tletourneau
 
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Thanks,
Tom

Post#3 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:23 pm

Thanks for the reply.

If I use extenders can I use each TV independently with all TV coming through a central Media Centre? If so which Extenders are the best to use? I don't want to use Xbox 360's due to noise and size (they are big and ugly IMO)

I read that MWC can support 5 extenders simultaneously but will that allow 5 different channels to be watched/recorded/paused etc at the same time?

Thank you

Olly
OllyN
 
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Post#4 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:56 pm

XBox 360, the current model, is not noisy at all.

Plus, it is really your only choice. Suck it up and go that route. Also suck it up and make sure you run wired gigabit ethernet. Period. Do not pass Go, do not come here and whine about how "that's too hard, besides wireless should work just fine". It doesn't. You need to hard wire. Suck it up. Beyond the 2GB of RAM needed to boot the PC and run WMC, each extender requires 1GB of RAM available to it on the WMC PC. So, for two extenders you need 4GB installed; for 5 extenders, you'll install 8GB. Period. Do not pass Go, do not come here and whine about how it shouldn't be that way. It is. Suck it up.

And yes, each TV behaves independently. The WMC box has a single guide and a single recording tank where everything is recorded to, and it manages all the tuners you have installed. It can send recorded TV to any extender, and it dynamically assigns a tuner to an extender if that extender user decides it wants to watch live TV.

You can control your WMC and recording schedule from any TV; you're actually controlling the WMC itself.

You may have more than 5 extenders configured, but you may have no more than 5 simultaneously active at any given time. That's how it is. Period. Suck it up.

If for some God forsaken reason you're watching live TV and the recording schedule wants the tuner you're using, it will pop up and ask.

In summary: go get an XBox 360 4GB and configure it to boot into WMC automatically, install it, and watch it happen just like you want. Then got get 4 more to round out your stable.
adam1991
 
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Post#5 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:17 pm

Great post adam1991, thank you. Clearly I need to suck it up

As I mentioned in my original post I will be running a Cat6 wired network to all TV's etc... I believe that is the same thing? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Understanding how WMC works with extenders helps a great deal, thanks. RAM requirement isn't an issue. To play devils advocate what are the other options for extenders? I'm happy to build small extender PC's if that is a good option but will go Xbox 360 if it really is the only option. Also would Xbox One be better?

Thank you

Olly
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Post#6 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:22 pm

The Xbox one does not have the extender functionality like the 360 has. Some other extenders are the Ceton Echo and the Linksys DMA2100/2200. The Ceton Echo is being sold new, but I recommend buying from a place with a good return policy in case you run into issues with it, which many of us have. The Linksys can be found on eBay and such.
RyC
 
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Post#7 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:42 pm

Thank you RyC, the Linksys DMA2100 seems like a great option at first look. Small and silent and readily available in the UK on ebay. I'll investigate further.
OllyN
 
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Post#8 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:55 pm

Adam's seemingly rigid guidelines aren't that rigid. Although I would agree 2gb + 1gb per extender is best, and Gigabit networking, prior to my updating to that I ran a WMC with 3gb of RAM running 3 extenders, over a 10/100 network with no problems at all.

Also the 360 is by no means your only option. Plenty of people in here have had luck with other extenders. The echo is $100 now apparently (and is quieter and takes less power and has a smaller footprint). I am running 2 with no issues (in addition to one 360).
Cryofax
 
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Post#9 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:59 pm

As others have mentioned the 360's aren't the only option but they do work well. As for the networking the cat 6 is fine just be sure to get a gigabit switch. As far as I know you can not build extenders, it has to do with the PlayReady software as I recall. 10/100 will work until you start getting a few HD streams going, at least that's been my experience.
tletourneau
 
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Thanks,
Tom

Post#10 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:08 pm

You cannot build an extender. You cannot use a computer as an extender. You must buy an extender.

Yes, there are discontinued extenders. Buy them cheap, if you wish. And Ceton has their Echo; again, buy it cheap if you wish. But be prepared to return it, unless you enjoy your audio and video being out of sync by a noticeable bit.

The only extender that works worth a damn overall is XBox 360.
adam1991
 
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Post#11 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:02 am

Thank you for all your help.

I've done a bit of reading around and many people do say the other extenders are under-powered and general consensus is to go with the new Xbox 360's that are fast and quiet.

The tips on RAM and Gigabit network and switches etc are great! Please let me know any other do's and don't before I get started on this set up.

What about TV's, what are the consideration as I will need to buy 2 new tv's at least?

Thank you

Olly
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Post#12 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:37 am

Also, if you plan to watch either Freeview HD or Freesat HD then only the 360 or the Echo (not sold in the UK) will work due to the h.264 codec that is used.
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Post#13 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:59 am

Good point. Thank you. I will be watching Freeview HD and was considering sticking a Freesat dish up while the scaffolding is up for the reroof
OllyN
 
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Post#14 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:42 pm

To throw a spanner in the works - it depends on whether a single guide is required.

If a single recording location is required, then the xbox 360 is the way to go.

If not, then multiple small pcs running win 7 HP, and a single PC running win 7 HP with dvblogic software could do the job (or combination of both). With this setup, you have the main PC as a server (with all tuners), and each satelitte PC is connected and uses a virtual tuner. If you go and get the connected edition, they all share the same guide data, but not the recordings.

Added to this, that dvblink, are planning to add functionality, similar to other media players, whereby should 2 recordings (or live tv viewings) be using the same transponder, then only the 1 tuner will be utilised. This is not yet released software, unfortunately.


Tony
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Post#15 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:21 pm

Thanks Tony.

I was thinking of doing this before I understood how the extenders worked but for me a central storage location is preferred.
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Post#16 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:30 pm

Hi Olly,

I did find this, the other day:

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=523

it looks interesting, but unforunately, not had chance to play with it yet!
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Post#17 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:56 pm

OllyN wrote:
What about TV's, what are the consideration as I will need to buy 2 new tv's at least?

Thank you

Olly


Depends on location, usage, and what will be played on it. For example I have purchased all 720p led tv's for every other location in the house not being the main livingroom (one exception is an old 42" inch that was in the living room and is now in the exercise/guest room. Reasons. I was able to source each one of the 32" tv's for $120 each or less (using craigslist or store sales) 720p was ok due to the size of the screen and that in most the locations it is meant for guests and for my kids (pre-K age). So there was no need to splurge for higher def long term as by the time that they care 1080p and possibly 4k will be at a bargain bin price availability. I also used LED in all other non-living room locations due to less options for controlling light sources and how they might effect the viewing angle if the tv's were plasma.
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Post#18 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:05 pm

I've never had a problem with my Echoes, aside from the zoom bug. They are small, efficient and quiet, the opposite if Xbox. I hate Xbox more than Adam hates Echo. It may take a few years, but your Xbox will eventually sound like a 747.
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Post#19 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:36 pm

I've had two XBoxen for 3 years now, and neither of them is loud. Neither of them has even become louder as time went on.

Truly, I would love to see what XBox machines people are talking about when they complain about them being "loud".
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Post#20 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:21 am

I have one of the original "white" Xbox 360, that when you turn it on, you can hear the fan spinning (kind of like having a box fan on high, but not that loud).

Overall its louder then the Xbox 360 Slim model, but if you're watching TV, the TV volume would drown out the fan noise.

adam1991 wrote:I've had two XBoxen for 3 years now, and neither of them is loud. Neither of them has even become louder as time went on.

Truly, I would love to see what XBox machines people are talking about when they complain about them being "loud".
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