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HTPC/NAS project idea (a vision for a near future project)

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hello,

My dad and I was talking about some system to replace his out-of-date home cinema system that is dieing.
I havent really had a really good look at what is possible but I saw a video from another website and thought id ask if it was possible.

I am looking for a way to:
- play blu-rays
- play standard and high quality videos through a vlc player-like fashion.
- play classic games, like some snes games (or of that era and quality)

- Also, for use as a NAS to store data off from other machines, a media hub in which we are all able to access the same music library and play songs from our own machines (if this is too difficult to do or too network intensive, as an alternative we would still store our music on it but also have our own localized copies of specific songs/albums to listen to on our machines)
- Be a machine that I can power up and down without having to reach for a mouse or keyboard. something that boots up straight onto an OS would be preferred (however this may interfere with the above requirement)
- Be able to control the machine via remote.

A good start would be if anyone knows if this could be done and with what potential software so I could look deeper into a specific area myself rather than looking through other solutions which dont do everything I need it to do.

Below I have included a form from the complete beginners guide to help with what I'm asking for.

Thanks in advanced!

PS. currently no budget has been given, expect that it is not an issue at the moment as we just want to know if it is possible to do as our own project rather than buying something instead.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
5- This functionality will be my guiding principal in all decisions
4- This functionality is highly important and I would prefer not to sacrifice it
3- This functionality should be present given reasonable compatibility with my other goals
2- If this functionality is present it will probably be used
1- If this functionality is present it may be used
0- This functionality is insignificant

Video features:
*Playing DVD: 4
*Playing Blu-Ray: 4
*Playing HD-DVD: 0
*Playing archived video files at up to 1080p: 4
Audio features:
*High-quality output for external amplifier: 3
*Multi-channel positional output for 5.1/7.1 audio: 4 (i think built in 7.1 will be good enough to start off with)
PVR (Tivo-esque) features: 1
*Scheduled recording & playback of HD signals: 1
*Time-shifting of "live" TV: 0
*Simultaneous recording & time-shifting: 0
*Viewing and recording a combined total of more than 2 HD channels simultaneously: 0
Storage features:
*Store compressed audio files: 4
*Store uncompressed audio files: 4
*Store compressed video: 4
*Store high-def video: 4
*Read from SD/MMD/Compact Flash etc: 1
"Computing" features:
*Browse web & send/read e-mail: 2
*Archive CDs/DVDs: 2
*Archive Blu-Ray discs: 0
*Archive HD-DVD discs: 0
*Burn DVD (+R, -R, DL): 0
Gaming features:
*Play "classic" video games: 3
*Play "modern" video games: 1
*Play "latest" video games: 0
Network features:
*Playing streaming internet video (Hulu, YouTube): 3
*Play streaming internet/local audio (Pandora): 2
*Play streaming local compressed video: 3
*Play streaming local high-def video: 3
*Serve streaming audio: 1
*Serve streaming video: 1
Aesthetic features: (I dont think this matters at the moment, id rather get something that works)
*Small physical footprint: 1
*Attractive/professional appearance: 1
*Outward appearance indistinguishable from home audio/video components: 2
*Low noise levels: 2
*Low power consumption: 2
post #2 of 3
Yes that all can easily be done. First consider do you mind having a louder machine or quiet. If your going to quiet I would suggest go with a home server and a smaller HTPC to stream to. I have a pc running windows 8 running as a server in my office and HTPC in my bedroom with a the TV tuners. I have a small HDD in HTPC and copy recorded tv shows over to the server every few days. If noise levels are not a problem then making it a dual purpose a machine is no problem.
As for software, if you are adding tv tuners for recording then WMC is the easiest to setup and get running. If not then there is XMBC it is free and very good. If you use seperate HTPC and Server I like plex its is based on XMBC but has some extra parts, like android and IOS apps that you have to pay for. The Plex server and media center programs for windows is free. Plex can transcode video files on the fly and sever over the internet to phones tablets and pcs. If your sticking to on them XMBC is probably a better choice, the media player end of Plex is very similar to XMBC. Now to Play Bluray you will need a program that can decrypt and play bluray like Power DVD. Once installed I think you should be able to play bluray with XMBC.
Hardware requirements are easily attained either an AMD apu or an I3/I5 will provide everything you will need to playback 1080p. The sound can bypass the audio and sent directly through the HDMI cable for processing at the Amp. The motherboard size you would need is a MATX or ITX, the later being more expensive but smaller. The MATX will give you more SATA connections for more HDDs. I would start with a couple 2 or 3TB drives and add more as needed. You would also need a bluray rom to play blurays and DVDs. As far what specific hardware it all depended when your about to do this.
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post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ounderfla69 View Post

First consider do you mind having a louder machine or quiet. If your going to quiet I would suggest go with a home server and a smaller HTPC to stream to. I have a pc running windows 8 running as a server in my office and HTPC in my bedroom with a the TV tuners. I have a small HDD in HTPC and copy recorded tv shows over to the server every few days. If noise levels are not a problem then making it a dual purpose a machine is no problem.

I think the noise level of a normal PC is not going to be a problem... as I mentioned before, its more about having flexability in being able to turn it on and off. TV tuners are also not necessary because we wont be removing our cable DVR box. I was just thinking that it would probably be used to record certain programs if it could... its not a requirement though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ounderfla69 View Post

As for software, if you are adding tv tuners for recording then WMC is the easiest to setup and get running. If not then there is XMBC it is free and very good. If you use seperate HTPC and Server I like plex its is based on XMBC but has some extra parts, like android and IOS apps that you have to pay for. The Plex server and media center programs for windows is free. Plex can transcode video files on the fly and sever over the internet to phones tablets and pcs. If your sticking to on them XMBC is probably a better choice, the media player end of Plex is very similar to XMBC. Now to Play Bluray you will need a program that can decrypt and play bluray like Power DVD. Once installed I think you should be able to play bluray with XMBC.

Im sorry but I was unable to understand what you meant here... I think only having one machine is the optimum solution if its possible, so i think xmbc is the correct choice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ounderfla69 View Post

Hardware requirements are easily attained either an AMD apu or an I3/I5 will provide everything you will need to playback 1080p. The sound can bypass the audio and sent directly through the HDMI cable for processing at the Amp. The motherboard size you would need is a MATX or ITX, the later being more expensive but smaller. The MATX will give you more SATA connections for more HDDs. I would start with a couple 2 or 3TB drives and add more as needed. You would also need a bluray rom to play blurays and DVDs. As far what specific hardware it all depended when your about to do this.

well... I already have a PC that I could use to set up and test if it works as we want it to.... I dont want to buy a machine if it doesnt fit what we initially want.
As with the audio, because we want to replace a home cinema system, is it ok to have the picture going to the TV but the sound going to some sort of PC 7.1 surround system or something?
Also, I think 2x2TB is enough, running in RAID so I can make sure the data is at least some what backed up.
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