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How Do You Handle Home Media? 381

carpoolio writes "Yahoo's Tech Tuesday has an interesting series on bridging the PC/home entertainment gap. The solutions are fairly complicated, and very Windows-centric. As I store more media on my PowerBook, I'm finding more ways I can't listen to or view it on my stereo and TV. One example: TiVo Desktop won't stream AAC files - only MP3s - from iTunes to TiVo. That's an easy fix, but still: how do you get stuff off of your computer and onto your TV, stereo, etc.?"
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How Do You Handle Home Media?

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  • by systimax ( 324144 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:29PM (#10780954)

    • That's exactly what I do. I run the ccxstream server from my linux box for content on demand.

      It's wonderful.
      • Ditto... XBMC plays it all... some content is local to the Xbox, but the vast majority arrives from either iTunes shares or Samba elsewhere on the network.

        We also have the new dual tuner DVR HDTV box from Comcast in two rooms... 120GB each... it's great for recording shows and pausing live TV (even HDTV)... too bad you can't watch the shows that are stored on one box from another... that would be a sweet feature...
    • I'll second. I actually serve my content to XBMC from Samba shares on a box running ArchLinux.

      No AAC support, but then, everything I buy from iTunes I immediately burn to CD and re-rip as MP3 anyway... I've had to rebuild my desktops too often to not burn a physical copy of anything I buy electronicly.
    • Exactly, plays pretty much every format there is. At least I don't know any that it doesn't.
    • With the DAAP Protocol It works great with iTunes Playlists...

      I just wish I could get it to listen to the party shuffle stream, or if they could break the airtunes protocol so i can "Send to Xbox" from my iTunes, it would be the best item I have used for my xbox
    • I have a windows server and a linux server sharing things up over samba shares(simple workgroupd from the windows computer, samba on the linux box)Very little extra configuration is necesarry on the x-box end. Also you can set up your xbox to boot right to x-box media center and this can be done for as cheeply as $150 bucks ($120 dollar used xbox, $20-40 modchip, no larger hard drive is needed unless you want to physically stor things on your x-box.) The only thing this thing cant do for me is DVR, but I pl
    • Just chiming in w/my endorsement of XBMC. It's how I play all my media. Actual files are stored on a windows or linux box (I have one of each, and files are put wherever I have space :), and then played on XBMC via SMB.

      I can even stream shows off my TiVo using the ccxstream searver and TivoX (module for TivoWeb).

      It truly is wonderful :)
    • I'll second, third, fifth or whatever this sentiment.

      I use Samba on my server to give files to my XBox downstairs.

      For music, I have playlists that are generated for XMMS, WinAmp and XBMC stored with all of my music. The only downside of this is that I have about 13,000 tracks in my "jukebox" with the following hierarchy:

      first character of artist name

      • artist
        • album
        • tracks

      and for some reason the scan on the top level directory is pretty slow. Otherwise it's great.

      For movies I either use XVid e

    • I gave up on trying to build media PCs and went with softmodded xboxes and XBMC. Full compatibility, high definition output, $20 remote control that works great, and minimal hacking to make it all go. I have a 1.2 TB Linux server that serves up SMB. You will not find a better, more cost effective way to do it.

      I still need to get the noscramble.o hack done to my Tivo. With a streaming server, you can watch stuff on your Tivo with XBMC.
  • by J3zmund ( 301962 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:29PM (#10780956)
    By jacking the audio out from my computer into an AUX audio in on my home theater. I play my music loud enough that the noisy pc fans aren't a problem. Video out is another story. My mini-ITX box combined with Windows XP provided horrible results.
    • You are of course right.
      But allow me a few remarks:
      1)If power goes down while you are listening to your music there is a chance that you may loose some data or even have a damaged HD.
      2)Especially if you're running Windows, your system can be rendered unusable by a number of reasons. How long would it take you to rebuild the entire system installing the OS and all the software that you are using.
      3)How long does it take to boot your system? A minute, half a minute perhaps?

      I could go on, but you get the point
  • Myth(TV) (Score:5, Informative)

    by Perrin7 ( 671365 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:29PM (#10780961)
    • Re:Myth(TV) (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yep, Myth works great! Audio, video, photos... I use a couple hauppage pvr250's for encoding my tv to mpeg. A cheap GeForce4 for tv out, and an SB Audigy to hook up to my stereo. Add in Dynamic MP3 Lister ( with a few mods for Ogg and http-auth support and I've got my music anywhere I've got a net connection.
    • Re:Myth(TV) (Score:5, Informative)

      by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@y a h o o . com> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @07:38PM (#10782361)
      MythTV is good but it's far too complicated to set up for the average user. And if you want to play DVD's or Windows Media files, you've still gotta install that support separately, which is another headache under Linux.

      I'm sure a lot of people will take the "I did it, therefore it's easy enough for my mom to do it" tack, but that's just not the case. Obviously MythTV has fans and I guess I'm one of them, but even I, with 20 years of experience building and maintaining computers, could not get MythTV doing everything I wanted it to do before giving up. And the way I feel is, if it takes me that long just to get something working, and if I still can't get it to do everything I want it to do, then it's not worth dealing with.

      Right now I run Windows XP on a server that's hooked up to my Dolby Digital receiver through S-video (both in and out) and optical audio out. I'd use component if my TV supported component, but it doesn't so I don't worry about it. Anyway, I've got it set to login automatically, and I've also get it set up to use magic packet as well as remote desktop connections so even though I leave that PC off most of the time (for various reasons), I can activate it from anywhere and immediately start either playing through the home theater system or streaming to another PC.

      Software-wise, I use Media Portal when I'm sitting in front of my TV, an OSS app for Windows that's similar to MythTV but works well "out of the box". It looks great, it runs great, and it plays pretty much every format that you've got a codec for on your machine already - which, if you're like most Windows users, is pretty much all of them anyway. The experience is not unlike running Windows Media Center. In fact, I'm not sure what I can do with Media Center that I can't do with Media Portal, and they look very, very similar. I also have this PC set up as a TiVo server, so I can use that as a front end as well (though I generally don't, but I've tried it out since they made the HMO free).

      I can watch DVD's with this PC, any movie format you can name, I could watch TV if I wanted to set that up, and since I have all my music stored in MP3 format (why the originala submitter is using DRM-protected AAC is beyond me), I have no problems whatsoever playing music through Media Portal, streaming it to another PC using iTunes or whatever other app I want, or streaming it to my TiVo.

      In short, I can do pretty much anything, and apart from the costs of Windows and the hardware (which is mostly comprised of second-hand parts from old PC's), I haven't spent a dime on anything. I'd peg the total cost including Windows, a new capture card, and a new hard drive at less than $200.

      Could you build a functional Myth box cheaper? Maybe. Could you mod an Xbox and build a server for it cheaper? I doubt it. But my solution was much easier to set up and is easier to use than either of these other solutions anyway (my wife can use it, and she knows nothing about computers). And I have to spend zero time maintaining it or adding features or upgrades. It just works, and I can play all of my media files without problem anywhere in the house.

      I will say that I make a point of completely avoiding any DRM protection at the source, which makes things a lot easier. I'd advise everybody to do this. Instead of buying Apple's AAC files, buy CD's and rip them to MP3 (or Ogg if you prefer, but MP3 has greater hardware and software support, which I think is important). If you rip a DVD, make sure to strip the Macrovision and CSS, which most DVD rippers will do (go ahead and violate the DMCA - the DMCA violates fair use laws as it is). There are lots of ways to avoid DRM and this will help you avoid headaches later.
  • My setup (Score:5, Informative)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:30PM (#10780963) Homepage Journal

    Video: ATI Radeon 9800 Pro w/TV out (composite & svideo). A coax line runs composite -> the TV in line of my receiver.
    Audio: Audigy 2 card with coax running from the SPDIF connector to the receiver's digital TV in.
    To control it all: an ATI Remote Wonder [] remote control. It works by RF with ~10M of range so the source computer makes its noise in another room.

    The Remote Wonder works well under Linux and MacOSX although you may have to google for drivers.
  • Dear carpoolio (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashnutt ( 807047 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:30PM (#10780970) Journal
    This is a response to your question about 'How Do You Handle Home Media?'.

    In reading the question, you have actually answered the solution yourself. As you point at problems simply eliminate that area. You pointed to Tivo not streaming then eliminate that component from the problem.

    There is nothing preventing you from hooking the computer to a stereo tuner solving the issue or hooking a composite video card to a TV (better would be a DVI input directly to a flat panel). If the component doesn't suite your needs then that component is not part of the solution. That goes for the Windows Centric issue you addressed; if it doesn't solve the need than there are non-proprietary solutions, I think the name start with L or something someone.

    Really, Tivo and other you named are fighting a battle that may be hard won. The proprietary market seems to have slowed in response, yet the onslaught of FOSS solutions hasn't eroded over the years. The FOSS solutions seem to now fit needs faster than their proprietary relatives. Now if the true lower level hardware could be non-proprietary so you could order a manufacture to assemble components you designed in a collective community. Don't like Intel great IBM has some neat PowerPC chips don't like the video card drivers great we'll build it to your specs - this is a dream not achievable just yet.
  • cheap setup... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:30PM (#10780972)
    TV-out with an old Voodoo3 3000 and a simple 16 bit cheap SoundBlaster from 10 years ago to cheap cables. I mean, after all, it's mostly divx or another format for downloaded movies.

    For serious music I usually burn the SHNs/FLACs to CD and play them in my stereo.

    I have tried using my Tivo for MP3s but I just don't see the point. Maybe if I could use it for video I would. That would be a lot easier than screwing around with TV-out and waiting for the screen to resize, etc. I have a feeling that won't come to fruition from Tivo though ;)
  • by phallstrom ( 69697 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:30PM (#10780973)
    I bought a low-end Dell server with room for a lot of disk space, a 160gb drive (for now), and a $5 sound card. Converted all my CD's using EAC and FLAC and at the moment am using flac123 to play them. Sound out the server, up the wall, across the ceiling, up through the ceiling into the livingroom and into the stereo.

    Works great. One of these days I'll put a web interface on it and be done with it.
  • by arbi ( 704462 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:31PM (#10780983)
    I have a networked computer in my living room with these things plugged into it:

    1) TV
    2) Stereo
    3) Wireless Keyboard / Mouse

    It works. I'm really not sure what the issue is here. :P
  • a few ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anjrober ( 150253 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:32PM (#10780995)
    this has been an issue I (we all) have been fighting for a while. I recently saw an interesting system called sonos ( It's an amp with built in mp3 decoder and wifi/wired connections. It comes with an ipod-with-screen based remote. You can connect them together and use one as a standard RCA input (for things like a tuner, dvd, etc) and all other amps share that central source. All amps play mp3s and stream web radio. This does not come out until later this year.

    For now, I'm using Tivo home media and not really loving it.
  • by ChiGodOfKarma ( 829932 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:32PM (#10780999)
    I am running into similar problems with getting my media from my PC to my entertainment center. The best solution I have seen to date is to build my own PVR. I have even managed to find ATX cases that look just like the stereo components I have, with little LCD displays and all. The hardest question I am having is which software to run? Windows Media Center is the best option so far and I am not thrilled with it.
  • Airport Extreme (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:32PM (#10781002)

    For $130, you can plug it in anywhere in your house, and play anything that iTunes can play from any computer. As a bonus, its also a 802.11g extender and printer server.
    • Airport Express! (Score:3, Informative)

      by teamhasnoi ( 554944 )
      which uses Airport Extreme (which is Apple's awful way of marketing their new '802.11G' wireless).

      Not to pick nits. ;)

    • Re:Airport Extreme (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mike Farooki ( 85314 )
      I second the Airport Extreme. An added bonus is the AE's mini-TOSLINK digital optical output.
    • From what I can tell, it's rather less useful if you don't have a laptop in the same room where the Airport Express is plugged in.
      • Wait till the iPod has 802.11g built-in. My guess is that would solve the problem in a pretty ridiculously awesome way, provided they upped the battery life again (802.11g sucking down power for extended period of time can't be good, no matter how efficient it is).


    • Old iMac for audio (Score:2, Informative)

      by sdpinpdx ( 66786 ) *
      I bought a couple of old iMacs on ebay for $200 each (400MHz G3s), and am using one next to my stereo to run iTunes. This works far better than the Gateway connected DVD player I bought specifically for that purpose.

      A remote would be nice, but I'm too cheap to buy the one that's specifically designed for iTunes. I'd rather find some kind of IR USB dongle that can receive the codes from the remotes I already have on my coffee table, and tie that to iTunes with some applescript. I haven't found one yet.
  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:33PM (#10781008) Homepage
    I have a fairly complex halloween decorations [] and christmas lights [] setup (includes X10 controls for the lights and a webcam), but I leave the VCR programming up to my wife.
  • by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <drew.zhrodague@net> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:33PM (#10781012) Homepage Journal
    I use MythTV [], of course! Actually, I use KnoppMyth [], but -- same thing.

    FABULOUS TiVo replacement, but sometimes a bit hard to get working, especially if you only have seemingly random hardware, or just whatever is laying arround. The machine I dedicate for this is piped into my TV, stereo, local network, and it is convenient to drag-and-drop whatever media files I want (including MAME ROMs!) onto the MythTV box, and play away! Check it out, it really is worth it. Use an MPEG tuner card if you can.
    • I would like to not only second the recommendation for MythTV, but also say that for this Linuz newbie, the experience of installing and using MythTV was fantastic. The community is extremely helpful, the Wikis are updated with the most important stuff and the latest version installed without any hitches. My wife can't believe it's free. I can't believe it was so easy.

      Enough gushing.
      • I'm thirding it. MythTV, 200gig, PVR-250 and a GeForce FX with DVI out to a 55" Mitsu. Digital Optical to a Sony reciever. Also have 2 other computers and an XBox that act as front ends throughout the house. Excellent media handling, TV recording, DVD watching and ripping, Weather, News, and web surfing capabilities. Newer versions even do video phone.

        Actually, my setup is slightly fubared at the moment. It seems the 6xxx series nVidia drivers dork up the DVI out, no vhold. I'm currently using S-V
  • Easy Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nwbvt ( 768631 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:33PM (#10781014)
    My computer is my TV/stereo. I got a cheap TV tuner a couple years ago and it works fine, and I have my computer connected to my stereo. As a cheap college student, this is especially good as it also saves cash (TV tuners are much cheaper than TVs and I don't have to buy a seperate set of PC speakers) and space.
  • by Sabalon ( 1684 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:33PM (#10781019)
    I have a notebook setup just for this. The bad thing is that it has an ATI card in there for TV out which is a pain to get working with Linux, so for now I'm just using Windows. I can play vids for the kids and stream my favorite radio stations.

    The next step is to get MythTV running on the box, which has a much easier interface and can do more, such as image galleries, etc...

    The biggest problem I have is input. Right now the notebook is on top of the entertainment center because of the aforementioned kids. And it's running windows so things like forcing video out is a pain, plus my wife doesn't know how to work it. And what idiot decided that play/pause in media player should be Control-P instead of space.

    My main mythtv box has a remote controller for the video capture card, but I have nothing to hook to the notebook. I guess I need to bite the bullet and either buy some cheap IR receiver for use with lirc or threaten to burn the house down by building my own.

    I'm surprised no company has come out with a USB based IR receiver that can be taught so you can control all your apps with it. Seems like a simple little item, not much needed to make and could be sold cheap enough to return a decent product and get lots of people to buy.
    • My solution: I bought a ATI USB wonder. Then using xkbd I was able to map all the keys out on the remote, and set up the config file for MythTV to do whatever I wanted. This remote is great, because it has a number of buttons that are used specifically for this (labeled a - h if I remember correctly). Its also RF not IR so you don't have to have line of site.
    • I'm surprised no company has come out with a USB based IR receiver that can be taught so you can control all your apps with it.

      As someone else mentioned, keyspan makes some remotes [] that work well. It looks like the express remote replaced their digital media remote, which has been out for years. The software is totally customizable and allows it to recognize the signals from a JVC VCR remote, which most universal remotes have no problem sending. I've had mine set up to control BSPlayer and iTunes and a f
  • MythTV (Score:3, Informative)

    by crow ( 16139 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:34PM (#10781028) Homepage Journal
    I have my Myth box handling all my video, photos, and music.

    In general, you have to deal with two sides of the issue: the format you get your media in, and the formats that your output device can handle. For me, that means I can do just about anything that doesn't have DRM involved. If instead of running your own system directly connected to you media setup, you rely on some consumer electronic solution (TiVo, etc.), you're going to have to deal with the formats accepted by that system. This is one reason a roll-your-own approach is so enticing.
  • Squeezebox (Score:5, Informative)

    by jallison ( 693397 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:34PM (#10781033) Journal
    For audio I use a Squeezebox [ []]. This is an 802.11 gizmo that allows you to stream music from computer to stereo. Works well.

    I've not conquered the video thing yet. I like the idea of having easy access to the digital media, but I don't like the idea of having a computer in the family room. Computers go in the office, where there's a desk and a proper work environment.

    • Re:Squeezebox (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Petronius ( 515525 )
      Squeezebox is the greatest thing ever invented. The Shoutcast plugin for it is awesome.
    • Re:Squeezebox (Score:3, Informative)

      by thnmnt ( 62145 )
      ditto the squeezebox. i've got 2 of them, 1 wired and 1 wireless, running in sync (if i choose) in different rooms of the house. slimserver (opensource software) runs on a basically discarded dell pIII running mandrake 10 that i upgraded to 512mb of ram. i can use the squeezebox remote to play music, build playlists etc or i can access the web page from my desktop - or from a wireless handheld. i even have slimserver doing bitrate transcoding (down to 96k) so i can listen to my home music from on the road v
  • Since you own a PowerBook anyway, the Apple method would be to invest in an Airport card [] and a wireless Airport Express [] to send iTunes music to your stereo.
  • Airpot Express (Score:2, Informative)

    by kuwan ( 443684 )
    Apple's Airport Express [] has been the perfect solution to play music from my computer. It would be nice if you could play more than just stuff from iTunes, but it's a really great product and great for vacations too.

    I'd love to see something like this that you could use to broadcast Video too, but for that I'll have to wait I guess.

    Free Flat Screens [] | Free iPod Photo [] | It really works! []
  • what i do for video (Score:2, Informative)

    by geekschmoe ( 244913 ) for ripping dvd's to high quality divx


    $60 DVD burner (fits 6 divx movies per dvd): te=sr:S EARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG


    $80 divx/dvd player: =7


  • Very carefully. That shit's expensive.
  • I connect my laptop to my TV via S-video (no HDTV yet) and to the stereo with a conventional 1/8" jack.
    For movies, I mount a fileshare and stream DivX recordings of DVDs over wireless, with the laptop using the TV as a "second monitor".
    For audio, my main stereo is already connected to my desktop PC, which streams my FLAC and MP3 files from the same file server.
  • "Out" cards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alaren ( 682568 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:35PM (#10781043)

    " do you get stuff off of your computer and onto your TV, stereo, etc.?"

    I have an old ATI All-in-Wonder. It has TV-Out jacks that go straight into my TV. I also have a sound card with a mini-plug out, and a simple mini-to-RCA cable connects my computer to my stereo. Seems pretty simple... am I misunderstanding the question?

    I'm not being deliberately dense. I just think the article is a bit whacky. Calling it "difficult" seems like a real overstatement... the difficulty isn't watching your media on your TV or listening to your music on your stereo, it really isn't. The difficulty is when your applicances are all in different rooms (mine aren't, obviously, or I'd have cables strung across the house).

    But even then, why stream your stuff through special wireless streamers or hard-drive loaders that are format-sensitive when you can just use something like this []?

    Just seems like people are making this needlessly complex. But then, maybe that's the way we slashdotters like it...?

    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @06:36PM (#10781758)
      Just seems like people are making this needlessly complex. But then, maybe that's the way we slashdotters like it...?
      Ah, now you're getting it!

      There's a saying out there that goes something like this: "Every program will expand in scope until it becomes a framework." This is the same deal -- "Every home theatre solution will expand in scope until you can play a movie in the living room while sitting on the toilet." To do otherwise just wouldn't be geeky enough!
  • Line out on sound card (or optical out) to Sterio system. All the line out needs is a plug adapter from 3/8" stereo to Dual RCA Mono (Composite?) connectors. Video either from RGB/DVI out to TV or through S-Video/Composite out on the Video card. Of course, usually I just watch whatever it is on my monitor anyways.
  • I burn mp3s to a CD and play that in my 5 disk DVD/CD/MP3 changer. I dont mess with video from my computer and dont care what is on TV.
  • mini-itx HTPC / PVR (Score:4, Informative)

    by enrico_suave ( 179651 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:38PM (#10781100) Homepage
    That pulls/plays content from it's local drives and from over the network. My buddy uses a MediaMVP [] to good effect for pulling mpeg2, mp3, photo's, etc content over a wired network to his TV [].

    That and some ball bearings, and prestone antifreeze...

  • Very simple. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:39PM (#10781104) Homepage
    I run everything through my PC.

    Sound-out from all the appliances goes into the PC's line-in port using a $4 RCA-to-miniplug adapter from Radio Shack. The PC spits it out through two sets of Klipsch Promedia 2.1s (the microphone port is rerouted to act as a speaker port thanks to the motherboard software).

    Video from the PC/DVD player isn't a problem; the S-Video out jack from the GeForce 5200 card routes that to the TV while sound goes through the Klipsches. This creates some interesting situations; I can mute a DVD and play music over it or watch video footage while I work on it.

    Other devices are routed through an S-video/A-V switch into the PC or TV as needed
  • mmsv2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daserver ( 524964 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:39PM (#10781113) Homepage
    Very media centric multimedia system for linux: []
  • Stereo? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by uberjoe ( 726765 )
    I keep all of my music (1400 tracks) on my computer and play them with juk. I don't bother to play them on the stereo at all. I have a powered subwoofer and four speakers on my pc which can put out far better sound then my small aiwa 3 disc changer, with two non powered speakers.
  • I use MythTV as my home theater PC. Of course it does the TiVo-like PVR stuff with TV shows, but I also have ripped all of my CDs onto it and use the MythMusic module to play tunes through my stereo. with a nice front-end. I have several other computers around the house that simply NFS-mount the music dir so I can get the tracks onto my iPod, etc.

    There's not much better than a Myth PC hooked up to a HDTV and a nice stereo system.... I highly recommend it. It's a nice way to control your home media witho
  • one possibility... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bani ( 467531 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:41PM (#10781134)
    Hauppauge MediaMVP []

    it runs linux, and is hackable: t/projects/mvpbtv/ ftware.html pg=main ?f=38
  • I don't have a TV or a stereo, and I don't listen to music or watch movies, but I do have a laptop, and it is very easy to connect it to a very large plasma or an lcd screen. Or a projector. It is also very easy to connect a sound system to the laptop. So a laptop can be your entertainment center.

  • by nharmon ( 97591 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:43PM (#10781158)
    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this. But there is a product for the Playstation 2 called Gameshark Media Player which allows you to connect to a PC server (running windows or linux) and stream video, music, or even pictures to your television.

    I've only played with it a little bit, but so far it seems to be very usable.
    • by Casca ( 4032 )
      I have it too, and its more gimmicky than useful IMHO. I have a couple of issues with it:

      Can't turn PS2 on/off remotely.
      It doesn't let you FF/RW during playback of videos.
      Their playlist interface is hideous.
      Takes forever to load up when you first turn it on.
      If your gameshark disk gets borked, you have to buy a new copy of the software (no way to back it up).
  • My setup... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nexzus ( 673421 )
    I use a program called ' QCast Tuner []', for the PS2, to watch DIVX movies and MPEG TV show captures. It uses a small java server application to stream the content over a network to the PS2. It's a pretty decent program, well worth the fifty bucks or so, although lately the company seems dead.

    For audio, I have a device called the Audiotron [] from Turtle Beach. It can stream MP3's and full size wav files from Windows or SMB shares, and is really easy to use. It can also stream from some Internet radio stations.

    • As the message below this one states, the QCast SW was sold to Gameshark -- I don't know its long term future or if it is even still being supported. I picked mine up at Best Buy for $10! Haven't tried it yet.
  • how do you get stuff off of your computer and onto your TV, stereo, etc.?

    you insensitive clod!. But on a more serious note...I find it very convenient to use one setup for all my "entertainment needs".

    A TV Tuner card and capture software nicely double up as TV, VCR and (albeit rudimentary) TiVo, while a 5.1 surround sound system provides the desired audio capability. Don't need no fancy-schmancy "bridging PC/home entertainment" crap when everything's a PC.

    The only thing lacking in my setup is a way t

  • philips dvp642 (Score:2, Interesting)

    Evil, evil Wal-mart has the philips dvp642 for like $80 or less. It is a dvd player that plays divx and a million other formats. I can fit 9 hours or so of reasonable quality mpeg4 (divx) video on a dvd-rom. At 9 hours a disk it isn't the best quality but it is good enough to get 18 episodes of teletubies and boohbah on a disk -- which keeps my 7 month old happy for quite a long time :^) Certainly the cheapest way to go especially if you need a new dvd player anyway.
  • I did have my tv-out run to the vcr and all that, but I eventually just quit bothering and started using my PC with it's progressive scan screen and 5.1 audio for everything.

    Someone I know went a step further and uses a projector & a real HI-FI with his PC.

  • mini-itx + freevo (Score:3, Informative)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) <asv@ivoss. c o m> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:46PM (#10781196) Homepage Journal
    About a year ago I decided to build a mediapc to play mp3, divx, aac, flac, shn, along with the traditional CD's and DVD's, and mame games. I had a budget of $500.

    I ended up building a mini-itx 2ghz athlon nforce2 machine using a coolermaster case that looked just like a stereo component.

    For software I deicded to use gentoo and freevo. [] For input I have a standard remote, a wireless keyboard, and a wireless game controller.

    the box []

    on the rack []

    playing tapper []

    I already have a Tivo so I didn't bother setting up the TV features, but it works great as an all purpose media player.

  • My approach is from the low-tech-but-works dept.

    I have a DVD-RW drive, a number of DVD-Rs and DVD-RWs, and CD-Rs and CD-RWs. Depending on what the media format is, I convert it to something appropriate, write it onto a DVD, VideoCD or MP3-CD, and play it on my DVD player.

    It works for me, YMMV.
  • Instead of putting your PC in your stereo/home theater stack why not a simple control box with IR in, an LCD, IR OUT and an Ethernet jack? You could use something like an EZ80 from Zilog and then run your Video and Audio cables back to your server closet or home office to your noisy ultra mega server. A real hardware person might be able to hack in support for an ATA CDROM/DVD Drive into the controller and have it attach to the server through TCP/IP so you could have a convenient optical drive. Maybe a CF
  • Media Center (Score:5, Informative)

    by McFly69 ( 603543 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:48PM (#10781226) Homepage
    got a test box of Windows Media Center 2005. Works great with all audio files and even plays/records High Def TV :) It handles hi-def signal from the roof antena and the sat system. Provides Dolby digital optical output directly to my receiver.
  • One RCA plug going from my PVR computer to my TV. One 1/8 male stereo to two male RCA plugs going to my TV. A second such cord going to my stereo.

    Any other questions?!

  • Media Center 2005 (Score:3, Informative)

    by phishst1k ( 520646 ) <dubbedover@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:50PM (#10781255) Homepage
    Usefull resource: It's all about Media Center and includes downloads, knowledge base and howto's. That's how I set up my Media Box. I use a Antec Aria case with a Athlon64 3200+ and 1gb of RAM. It has a hauppauge 32552 tv tuner and a ATI 9600 graphics card. I run XP Media Center 2005. I have the audio output hooked to a stereo head unit type thing which runs to two speakers. Obviously I went with a nice 19" LCD for this and haven't had a problem yet. It's actually pretty impressive to see this for the first time when most people walk in and ask where my TV is or where that sound is coming from :P
  • Laptop == Component (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DotWarner ( 56614 )
    We have an old laptop running XP in our entertainment center in a component slot. Hooked up to it is a wireless keyboard, which floats around the living room sofas with the same random Brownian motion of the rest of the remotes, with the exception of never getting lost between the cushions.

    It's a bit of a pain to use, because it's old and slow, but it gets the job done. I think part of the problem is that it's very difficult to cool--we tried running one of those fan-pads underneath it, but it was rather n
  • Apparently, there aren't too many old school programmers here who believe in KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). All sound goes to my stereo by way of this very expensive, complicated device. []

    Games & movies go in the PS2. Done.
  • uphill both ways through 4 foot snow drifts...

    and not no wimpy DVD either... i'm talking heavy laserdiscs!

  • MythTV [] plays my OGG's [] just fine, as does my wife's Rio Karma []. Given the openness and Freedom of OGG (not to mention quality) versus MP3 and AAC, any new device I am going to use must be able to play OGG. I regret that I got my Aiwa MP3 car stereo before I knew about OGG, but at least it has a line in for things like the Karma. Or, I might just replace it with a Linux based deck.
  • by youngerpants ( 255314 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @05:57PM (#10781318)
    I have 2 cables

    1 x audio
    1 x s-vhs-scart

    plug into ANY pc setup and you can view what is on your screen on the TV and listen to sound through your stereo.

    I have an old ibm thinkpad t21 with a wifi card which sits under my tv and acts as the home media centre.

    pretty simple really, and I've been doing it for 7 years!
  • mp3's, wma's, and uncompressed WAV files go to the audiotron. it sounds better than any other digital music player out there.

    view my Divx's? I can not think of the model but my GoVideo DVD player has a pcmcia slot in the back that I put in a ethernet card so I can watch Divx mpeg1 and mpeg2 files from my media server.

    finally, mpeg1 and mpeg2 can easily be converted for my replayTV to playback.

    instead of som hokey configuration of a laptop or pc sitting in the living room I have hardware that will do w
  • No Tivo, xbox or PS2 here. Home-brew PVR records direct to DivX, all files uploaded to SMB shares on server, and all PCs have the K++ mega-codec pack installed so they can all read almost any type of encoded media.

    Windows Media Player then runs everything from the server's shares.

    Works for me, and I find DivX is great for size and quality balance.
  • by sjwoo ( 526878 )

    Here's my HTPC (home theater PC) setup:

    The core: Athlon XP 2800+, 160GB HD, ATI Radeon 9600, Hauppauge WinDVR-250MCE, DVD-ROM, CDROM
    OS: WinXP Pro
    Software: PowerDVD 5.0, SageTV 2.1
    Network: Netgear Powerline Networking
    Video Output: 27" TV, InFocus SP4805 Projector (to 76" screen)
    Audio Output: harmon/kardon Dolby Pro-Logic 5.1 system

    About the only thing I wish I had was Ethernet (so I don't have to dump movies onto a DVD-RW), but I'm in an old house (circa 1844) and the prospect of running cable just

  • by abcxyz ( 142455 ) * on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @06:02PM (#10781384) Homepage
    I currently use an old laptop running FC2 with an 802.11b connection back to my "linux server" where all our music CD's have been ripped. The laptop connects to the USB speaker input on the surround sound receiver. Works rather well for setting up playlists, and not needing to swap CD's in and out of the real CD player magazine.

    Two issues with this setup: (1) 2.4Ghz microwave over, and (2) 2.4Ghz cordless phone. You can't make popcorn or talk on the phone and stream the music at the same time! I suppose it's sort of a "mute" feature....

    -- Rick
  • I have a Fedora Core 2 box (800mhz w/ 512 megs of ram) acting as a Samba server, with 2 200gig drives in it.

    In the living room connected to a 5.1 surround sounc system and 32" TV, I have a 1.4ghz Tbird w/ 256 megs of ram running winXP. It runs a program named "Media Portal" that I found on Source Forge that looks almost exactly like Windows Media Centre, except its free, and is a bit more customizable. I have a wireless keyboard and mouse to control it, and If I have to do anything major, I use VNC from on
  • Mac Solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by iiioxx ( 610652 ) <> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @06:03PM (#10781389)
    Since you mentioned getting files from your PowerBook, I'll offer two good Mac-centric solutions:

    1) Audio only. Simple. Use an Airport Express. Setup is easy, it acts as a Wi-Fi access point, and you can stream music from iTunes to the built-in audio out port. Run an RCA stereo adapter cable from the Airport Express to your stereo's inputs and bang - streaming music solution. Price $130.

    2) Audio and video. Also simple. Get an EyeHome from Elgato [], install the server software on your Mac, and then stream your MP3's, AAC's, DivX movies, MPEG2 movies, etc. to your TV or home theater receiver. Price $200.

    I own both of these products, and both are very solid, and great at bridging the media gap between the computer and the TV/stereo.

  • A true geek is never happy with their current setup and I know mine could use some improvement, but for the record:

    I was too lazy to run Cat5 downstairs (explaination below), so my downstairs Panasonic HDTV (projection) has my cable modem and 802.11g router by it. I have a Hauppage MediaMVP connected to the TV and 5.1 surround sound system and wired into the wireless router. I had three choices -- run cable from my upstairs computer, use a wireless bridge (I was too cheap to buy one), or go this route.
  • Thin client! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PiGuy ( 531424 ) <<ude.ipw> <ta> <lerriuqs>> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @06:07PM (#10781438) Homepage
    I acquired a "broken" Neoware thin client which serves this purpose quite well. I simply netboot it from my main box, have it run X and esd, and connect its sound output to my stereo system. Its built-in sound isn't so great, but it's got a free PCI slot, so I can plug in just about any sound card I want.
  • Brace yourself... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Howski ( 785338 )
    ...yes, it's another MythTV solution. Personally, I use KnoppMyth [] for its utterly trivial installation.

    MythTV obviously does TiVo-like functionality, and it does it extraordinarily well, i might add. MythDVD (using Xine for menu support) for DVDs. My whole music collection is in mp3 format anyway, so MythMusic is fine for me.

    I used to have the mp3's all on the MythTV box, but once I got my iPod it seemed silly to have a IEEE1394 connection from the iPod to the WindowsXP box, and a piddling 100Mb/s
  • by Zed2K ( 313037 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @06:11PM (#10781479)
    I have a squeezebox ( for streaming mp3's from my linux box to my receiver downstairs. Now what I want to add is another box just like it that will do video. It must be open source, support all the codecs, run under linux and allow me to dump the contents of a dvd to a hard drive and stream it across to the box to play on the tv. I want to be able to dump all my dvd's to a massive set of hard drives and have it all accessible at the touch of a button. This kind of thing just doesn't exist yet. I don't want to put a full blown PC downstairs next to my tv to do this either.
  • by torpor ( 458 )

    The 'net is your hard drive. Delete, I say. Let the winds blow to you what they will.

    You don't need 8gigs of TV show. It isn't actually doing you any good to hoard all this so-called 'valuable content'. Some would consider it a kind of cancer ...
  • iBook
    Composite & Stereo to VCR thru home theater receiver to TV
    Watch & listen works with two button presses.
    But since I mostly just listen,
    & since watch is a bit of a waste
    (Given a $100 Sony DVD player w/component video...)
    Will soon move to Airport express and forget watching.
    Of course I have little or no stored video to worry about.
  • My media PC is a AthlonXP 3200 with 2GB of RAM and around 2.2TB of disk space. It has an ATI 9800 Pro All-in-Wonder for graphics and uses the soundstorm digital output for sound. It lives in a 6U rackmount case along with most of my audio gear (Integra DTR-8.2 and some Sony CD and DVD jukeboxes).

    All that lives in a closet.

    Control is the main issue. I have several solutions for that, however.
    One is an ATI remote wonder. I can have the PC directly output to my TV or to my Projector, giving me a desktop and
  • I've said it before (Score:3, Informative)

    by multiplexo ( 27356 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @06:20PM (#10781558) Journal
    and I'll say it again. SliMP3 []. This is a player controlled by either a PC running Doze, a Macintosh running OS/X or a Linux system. It has digital and audio outs and works with your existing PC/Mac/Linux based solution to find your music files and stream them over the network to the player. It also allows you to stream streaming media stations using MP3 (not WM or RAM unfortunately, so no BBC) from your computer to the player. I have one of these hooked up to my clock radio and it's fantastic. Plus, as a bonus, the volume control goes up to 11 for that extra bit of loudness you can't get with other streaming media solutions.

  • by macslut ( 724441 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @08:51PM (#10782944)
    1) Get a big ol' pipe full of bandwidth.
    2) Load your Mac up with a Terabyte of disk space (I have 4 internal 250GB drives... just cheap drives, they don't need to be fast. Mine were $150 each)
    3) Fire up Azureus as your BitTorrent client (make sure to avoid crashes by installing the latest beta, B8 or greater).
    4) Purchase the $150 eyeHome from El Gato.

    You're all set!

    I have about 250GB of music (mostly AACs encoded at 192K, but some MP3s and a rare OGG, ALE or FLAC). I also have about 250GB of video, either DVDs, 3ivx, DivX, and videos with other crazy codecs.

    eyeHome connects to my entertainment system with component, composite or svideo cables and optical digital or composite audio cables. It connects to the home network via 10/100BaseT Ethernet (router or crossover cable) or WiFi (Airport Express). The box itself is tiny and light. There's no interface on the box outside of a red power light which turns green when connected. I routinely unplug the unit and take it with me from living room to bedroom, or take it with me on vacation.

    It connects using Rendezvous...amazingly fast and really is easier than most VCR setups.

    The audio/video quality is amazing, but that's kinda to be expected because you're sending the actual files to the unit, not some compressed stream. The impact on my Mac isn't noticeable...Activity Monitor shows less than 1% cpu use even when viewing a DVD. Surprisingly, the impact on the network is just as insignificant.

    The unit plays:
    iPhoto albums and slideshows, or any images in your Pictures directory
    Videos in your Movies directory
    Music and playlists in iTunes
    It also allows you to put aliases in these directories...My Movies directory has an alias to another 250GB drive.

    Now with BitTorrent, what I have is like a time-traveling Tivo! If I miss something on Tivo, I just head over to and download it. Often I can find HDTV versions that are much better quality than the crappy HDTV programming I get from Comcast (who totally over-compresses).

    I also have a Formac Studio TVR for recording shows on my Mac. This works pretty well, especially with the scheduling feature.

    The eyeHome is only available for Macintosh and OS X. If this was the only thing I used a Macintosh for, it would be well worth the purchase of the Mac...of course I *do* use the Mac for everything else as well since I can't even notice when the eyeHome is in use.

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound