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 home media center dream box

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keysersuse
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PostSubject: home media center dream box   Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:57 pm

have a question for you guys, if you were to build a box that you could plug into your tv, sat/cable box, use as your repository for all your music, videos, and have internet all from the comfort of your living room, how would you build your kit?

I am still on 11.1 and I have increasingly found that my stereo player gathers dust, haven't fired my dvd player up in weeks, and essentially, with the new flat screens everywhere which can plug into the graphics card like a monitor, well I would mind slapping something together which I could put on a shelf in my living room and go from there.

what hardware would you use, I have noticed that with Ati cards you can use the opengl driver bundled with the distro, but Nvidia still seems to be a pain. also, which software packages from the repos and why?
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bdquick
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PostSubject: Re: home media center dream box   Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:45 pm

Are you just wanting something to surf the internet, play music, and watch movies with on your big screen, or are you wanting to build more like a DVR?

If you're going for the first part it should be easy enough to just use a base install with the proper codecs installed.

If you're going more the DVR, mega entertainment route then I would suggest looking into mythTV. The hardest part of it is getting the tuners working properly.

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keysersuse
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PostSubject: Re: home media center dream box   Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:26 am

well pretty much be able to watch dish/cable then switch over to internet if i'd like, keep my dvd/cd library within the hardrive (that's simple) and also have the ability to record shows if I like.

I have an idea of how to do it, but I was essentially asking if you were to do something like this, what hardware would you build your dream multimedia/internet box with and what software would you use to achieve this.
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PostSubject: Re: home media center dream box   Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:06 pm

Well the specs on my mythtv machine that I built a couple of years ago are:
AMD X2 3400 (or something like that)
8GB RAM
2 250GB SATA drives
motherboard has NVIDIA chipset (because I have best luck with NVIDIA)
5.1 surround sound with optical out
2 Haupauge PVR250 tv capture cards

Must admit I never moved mine into the living room, because my cable company came out with HD and a DVR just after I built it.



If I was doing it today I'd go for a quad core AMD, and get as much RAM as you can afford. That is more important for video transcoding than the processor, especially when you have multiple cores. Get yourself a good wireless keyboard for running the pc from your favorite seat. You'll have to research what cards will work for the tv signals in your country.

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PostSubject: Re: home media center dream box   Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:30 am

I don't have a *lot* of experience with what you're thinking of, so you may want to take what I say with a grain of salt, but I have experimented with many of the pieces over the years, and, like Einstien, conduct "thought experiments" occasionally (aka daydreaming) Very Happy .

Overall, I agree with bdquick's recommendations. I'd look for a motherboard that works well with Linux (I'm with bdquick; I like nVidia chipsets), and that takes a *lot* of memory, then fill it to capacity with memory. Any reasonably fast processor, preferably multi core, will work OK. A decent video card, I prefer nVidia (I've had fewer problems with nVidia than ATI. Actually, in my limited experience I've had fewer problems with *anything* than ATI, but my non-nVidia experience is rather dated. The more recent ATI drivers supposedly have gotten better. YMMV.) As much hard drive space as you can, and count on adding more later. I've had good luck with several Hauppauge TV cards, but I've never tried any other brand. As many TV cards as you want tuners. 2 makes sense, more than 4 seems excessive to me; if you really *need* more than that, you probably want multiple machines for redundancy (and space) anyway. A decent sound card, although the onboard sound is getting mighty good these days; you might try it first and see if you need something better. *Good* speakers, Altec-Lansing and Creative have good ones if you get past the cheapest ones they sell. Wireless keyboard and mouse; I'm a Logitech fan, but again, limited to no experience with anything else. I'm still using CRT monitors, so I won't even talk about screens. Very Happy (Except to say I'm a big fan of multiple screens; how else can you reasonably watch the game, Dirty Harry, surf the net and play freecell at the same time?)

Linux as OS; need I say I prefer OpenSuse. Very Happy
MythTV; I haven't used the last several versions. I hope it's easier to set up than it used to be; even if it's not, it's worth the effort.

Again the disclaimer; this tome was written by a guy who only has a dial-up account, and hasn't had TV reception for over a year. (Cable doesn't come out this far, dish TV/internet costs too much, and my antenna blew down in a storm and I've never gotten a new one and put it back up. It takes a 30' mast at the peak of my 18' ridge to get any decent reception. Got better things to do.)

clown

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PostSubject: Re: home media center dream box   Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:20 pm

Well Bozo and bdquick pretty much covered it all. Have to agree with them about the nvidia chipsets and nvidia gpu's. Never had good luck with ati's .lots of ram and hdd space with the option to add more.

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keysersuse
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PostSubject: Re: home media center dream box   Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:08 pm

sorry for the time it took me to reply, have had a really busy couple weeks here....

Ok great, so bozo you mention Hauppauge, that was actually one of my concerns, because, at least since 10.1, openSuSE seems fairly painless in all other areas.

also bdquick you mention tv signals and computability with cards are you talking about digital and analogue, the US went pure digital last year right? I am back in Mexico so everything is still transmitted as it was in the 1940's but I have a dish set up that does provide digital signals with HD...I am lost on that one, could you educate me?

so I am looking at mobo that plays well with linux,
say 6 gbs ram
nvidia card
two sata 1tb hdd
and a haupauge tv card.

one more thing though guys, I have never used a tv card in any of my kits, so when you say tuners you mean that I could essentially set up myth to look at each or...again I need an education on this... I always assumed that you slap a tv card in, you set up the program of you choice to access it and in the gui of same program you view you menus and channels.

geez I am all of a sudden feeling like the noob I was when I was weened of off win98 Sad
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bdquick
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PostSubject: Re: home media center dream box   Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:35 pm

I will apology upfront if this does not make sense. I've been flying all night and only got in a few hours of napping since yesterday morning.

Yes on the compatibility I was talking like Analog and Digital here in the states. Like the older TV cards I have will no longer work for over the air (antenna) transmissions because of the analog to digital switch. However these cards still work fine with my cable tv provider's basic cable. They will not decode my digital channels (those above channel 99) or the high definition channels. I have no idea what signals are used in Mexico. They may match what we use in the US, or be completely different. I think that most European companies use a different signal type than we do. I would think any card sold in your country should work though.

Another way to do it is to just use only channel 3/4 (like when you use VCR/DVD player) on your TV card and change channels on your satellite/cable receiver. This can be achieved using your computer with a program called IRBlaster (or something like that). I've not used this myself, so no idea how difficult it is to get working.

Sounds like a nice system you are building.

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PostSubject: Re: home media center dream box   Sun Aug 08, 2010 2:43 pm

Awesome, that's what I wasn't really sure about as far as signal, there has been no mandatory digital switch, but since I am a dish then it wouldn't be a problem, I am about to get the components, have to by on the net from tigerdirect of other provider, they have a place in a city close by where they sell items, but they are either antiquated hardware components or five times the price...it's tough to stay updated here, my wacom which I bought in the US sent me back 2k, but before I bought it, I went to the wacom site to see if there were sellers here in Mexico, and when I call they wanted 4.5k.....friggen nuts...

it's weird here, you can buy all sorts of things cheaper in the U.S., for example shoes and clothes, and yet their tags say made in Mexico! the economy here is still fairly protectionist and even though it's made here (like cars) they are exported brought back into the country and sold as imported !?! forget about tech, there is no way I can afford buying here.


thanks guys for your help. I have been wondering for the longest time how to simply combine everything into one sit down place where the family can surf the net, listen to music, watch their movies and cable...now I wonder how soon before the kids start fighting over it! Laughing
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