Home Entertainment Schmamblings
Between the last article and this one I have been busy putting together our home entertainment system.
Since I like Visio, I made a diagram in Visio.
Interesting items in this setup :
- Popcorn Hour media player
- Western Digital MyBook NAS
- DVB-T antenna
This setup does not include digital cable television. Currently we get a couple of real good stations through our antenna. So we get to see the news and several very good shows. This is more than enough for us for what tv is concerned.
We also use it for radio. The disadvantage is that your tv has to be on, because it contains DVB-T decoder.
The Popcorn Hour media player is the device that connects to all media that is not tv or radio : it streams off the MyBook NAS, internet stations and USB storage. It is also capable of acting as a server, but I do not have an internal drive for it yet. That internal drive is going to be a Compact Flash card with a CF to SATA converter module.
For two reasons : it’s fast, quiet and cool. Well, that’s three reasons. So three reasons then : fast, quiet, cool and cheap. Again, the four reasons for using a CF to SATA converter are : fast, quiet, cool, cheap and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope.
This is not the ultimate setup. There is no ultimate setup. Video format wars, hardware vs software dialectic, smaller and faster components, network technology advancements and Boxee are all things that make your setup quite crappy in regard to the ultimate setup. Which does not exist, but would currently be something like a mix between LinuxMCE, Boxee and Apple TV. All of this working flawlessy of course, playing every media format known to man.
The disadvantages of our current setup are :
- Popcorn Hour does not have a movie or music jukebox built in
- Popcorn Hour does not seem to play .mp4 files that my Lacie Cinema Premier did play. They play but there is no sound. And by playing them, the Philips Soundbar is audiophonically tilted, refusing to play any more sound.
- .mkv files seem to work best for the Popcorn Hour. But alas they do not play well on the Vista laptop using either VLC or Mediaplayer, nor on the Aspire One using VLC. Apparently MPlayer would be the solution for the Aspire. One more media player removed from bliss.
- There is no tv recording.
- There are three remotes. This will be remedied in the future with a Logitech Harmony 885.
You could probably come up with a couple more disadvantages, but I’m quite happy with this setup. My main requirement was bridging the lean-forward pc media environment to the lean-back television world. Having the complete South Park collection at my fingertips sitting in a comfy sofa is a great feeling. A reward for all those years of neck- and backache inducing late night pc sessions.
Note : you could be thinking when reading this article that the all the devices in the network have access to the internet. But this is not so. Only the laptop currently has got an internet connection in the form of a USB modem using the GSM network. The real internet will be installed on March 10.