Advice on how to change to smaller footprint & lower power consumption

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Advice on how to change to smaller footprint & lower power consumption

I'm moving to a new house and the layout of the family room will be forcing me to make some changes. In the previous house I had a large StudioTech media cabinet that could host my large HTPC (Zalman case). This cabinet will not fit in the new family room. So I'm considering getting a new smaller cabinet or going with a new small build and external tuners (HDHomerun). Factoring in is how I want to watch TV - currently OTA, but maybe going to cablecard. Don't really want to go to a setup where I have to control STB's with IR Blasters, so I guess Satellite is out. Also my current cpu/mobo is getting long in the tooth and needs a refresh. In general I feel like going smaller and simpler.

I'm also in the mood for saving some electricity. Currently running MCE and WHS boxes 24/7. The WHS runs 9 "green" drives (1TB,1.5TB,2TB drives) but still seems excessive to me. I figure going with less drives with larger capacity would pay for itself. The HTPC is also sitting on 2 storage drives worth 3TB. If I do a new setup go with one small drive and move recordings to WHS.

Next I want to dump my Linksys extenders and go with either xbox (as low as $200 on sale) or SFF PC's.

Not sure if I make my main HTPC a i3-2100T if it would drive 4-6 HDHomerun recordings and a couple of extenders.

 

What are some recommendations for reducing my footprint? Shouldn't break the bank and should be an evolution over time.

 

BTW - also on the table is reducing my 9TB (including duplication) DVD library. Everything is stored in Video_TS .vob. But I don't have time to go manually convert each DVD one by one

 

Mike Garcen's picture
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since you have them, i'm curious why you want to drop the Linksys extenders? I ask because they'll probably consume significantly less power than the XBox360's would. Those also would draw way less power than any HTPC you could build.

you don't mention if you're going with the HDHomeRun PRIME CableCARD or just the standard one. That will impact what i say next, depending on whether you need to worry about copy protection or not for the higher channels.

The Core i3-2100t should be able to record that many programs fine, but where you'll definitely hit the bottleneck is going to be on driving extenders if you're maxing out your recordings. How much RAM do you have?

Also, you don't say what your WHS is built on, but in addition to your hard drives the platform is something else to look into.

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

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WHS is homebuilt P5Q-EM C2D E7200 with Antec Earthwats 380W PSU

Im not sure yet about OTA vs Cablecard. Assume the one that requires the most resources(cablecard)

Extenders are not being used because we dont like them due to performance, so its cind of pointless sticking to them. I also want more content support, so Im also leaning towards PC's instead of xbox

Mike Garcen's picture
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ok, so your WHS isn't that power consuming, you're correct that minimizing the number of drives is probably the best thing you can do to save some power.

Now, onto your configuration...I agree with you that the Extender's just suck. However, if you do decide to go CableCARD, then you have as much concern about copy protection than system resources. If anything you record on your main HTPC via CableCARD is flagged Copy Once, then you will NOT be able to play that program on any other HTPC--only an MCX Extender connected to it would work.

Now, what you could do is go with something like the CETON or SiliconDust PRIME and then use the Network Sharing Tuner to associate a specific tuner to each system, but then that gets messy as each system would have to individually record the program.

So for starters, you need to decide if you're going to be able to live with only watching some (if not all) of your TV recordings from only one system?

Btw, have you thought about boxes like the Roku or Boxee Box? Those are optimized video players that wouldn't be able to play your recorded TV, BUT, they draw SIGNIFICANTLY LESS power than any HTPC you could build.

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

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I did not realize this! I definately would want all recordings available to all TV's

And if not possible then I agree that Roku/Boxee is a better way to go. BUT, I do want live/recorded TV everywhere. Is there no way around this, like moving the recordings to WHS, or compressing the recordings?

Mike Garcen's picture
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it 100% depends on your MSO (Cable company) on how they protect their content. Very very few will leave all the channels copy-freely. I've heard the majority will Copy-Once the premium channels, but leave the basics open. Where are you based? Who's your cable company?

As you state, you want TV everywhere, so the fool-proof way of doing this will be extenders--you mentioned your displeasure in the performance of the Linksys, the XBox360 is a bit faster, but still not as fast as a client, and then it draws a lot more power than the Linksys as well. is that acceptable?

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

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Northern Virginia outside of DC. I have not done a full investigation but I believe my options are Comcast & Verizon Fios

If I go with xboxes then all my DVD rips are unplayable. The xboxes wont be on all day and night, so I guess this is acceptable especially with the low prices they go for these days.

But I also want to move recordings to a tablet. Sounds like this is a no-no with cable copy protection?

Mike Garcen's picture
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i believe it was Verizon FiOS in some areas that didn't copy protect at all. Unless someone is in your particular region with experience however, it's all just assumptions since the MSOs are not standard--what Comcast in the Bay Area does is different than Comcast in Atlanta. Only other way to test is to get it and find out.

And yes, the copy-once flag would prevent you from compressing and sending to a tablet unless you used something similar to a slingbox...but then it's not exactly seemless.

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

Aaron Ledger's picture
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In general, Comcast doesn't apply Copy Once except for premiums like HBO and FIOS doesn't apply Copy Once at all IIRC.

As long as you aren't dealing with Copy Once recordings, you can do as you please with them.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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Joined: 6 Feb 2007

Interesting - thanks for the info. I will check out who does what in my area.

So main PC: I can donate a C2D E8400 to the cause and stick with big (atx) and figure something out, or go with new case/mobo/cpu. Based on what is currently available or coming down in the near future, if I go with new, what would be the recommendation

Question 2 - what format should I compress my DVD/BR to for best video/audio so that it can play on all types of extenders, minimize space usage on my server, while retaining optimum quality. And Im looking for something that does not require too much human interfention. Is there a guide out there that I can be pointed to?

Thanks!

umdivx's picture
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Joined: 25 Jul 2007

fstrydom wrote:
If I go with xboxes then all my DVD rips are unplayable.

Not true at all. Yes they won't play back Video_TS folder rips, but if you re-container them to M2TS or .wtv they will play back just fine.

I was doing .wtv for dvd rips for my kids but lately i've been doing M2TS as I can convert a dvd or BD to .mkv via www.makemkv.com then I use mkv2vob http://www.videohelp.com/tools/mkv2vob to convert the mkv's to M2TS files. Once they are in M2TS they play natively on my xbox's.

 

Quote:
But I also want to move recordings to a tablet. Sounds like this is a no-no with cable copy protection?

You won't get premium channels like HBO, but for the most part everything else is playable. I still have to use DVRMSToolbox to convert the .wtv's to a tablet friendly format though.

-Josh

Editor | Twitter: @UMDivX |

 

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