Author Topic: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!  (Read 2103 times)

USMCStitch

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I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« on: May 21, 2009, 06:39:51 pm »
Hello all!
This will probably be a long post.  sorry :(

I've been reading forums (here and elsewhere), studying hardware, comparing websites and devices, etc... for 2 months now.  TBH, I am feeling completely overwhelmed with information.  I am getting confused with all the acronyms and whatnot.  I can't seem to find the answers to my particular problems, either because I am not understanding what i am reading, or its mired in a bunch of stuff that is unrelated to what i am looking for.  SO, i decided to come to the source of information, to brave the flames, and the RTFAs and what not, in hopes that some kind soul will help me get what i'm looking for. 

Here's what I want to do:
- Have a Core Hybrid (CH) in the Living room, connected via GBE to a 3TB File Server which houses all my DVDs, Music, Pictures.
- I want the CH to be a PVR to record my shows (like the HDMusic Channel [padilla?], DiscoveryHD and HistoryHD, and unfortunately Mexican Soap Operas [for the wife])
- I want the CH to control the cable TV and stream all my channels to the other Media Directors (is that the right term?) that will be in the bedrooms (along w/ the movies, and music etc), starting with the Master Bedroom, and possibly working into my Office and the Kids' & Guest bedrooms.

The ultimate goal here is to have the kids bedroom, guest bedroom, and office to not have a TV, but to use their computers for everything, like watching movies, music, doing computer stuff, and watching TV.  They have dual 22" WSLCDs, except for my office which is stupidly geeked out.  The master bedroom has a 32" HDLCD that will be connected to a media Director for the same stuff.

Here's what i have to work with:
- The house is wired Cat6 w/ GBE Switches/Router so bandwidth is no problem
- I have Comcast Digital Starter package.  For those unfamiliar with that, it has 1-99 standard-def channels that come w/ basic cable (like nbc, fox, abc, discovery, univision, history, mtv etc...) plus standard HD channels like FoxHD, CBSHD, CNNHD, HLNHD, HistoryHD, DiscoveryHD, HD Music Channel (whatever that is called) etc...  and the music channels (which are the highest channels [like 800's for us].  The music channels are the stuff like Hip-Hop, or Adult Alternative, or Soundscapes, or Jazz.
- The Comcast HD converter cable box (i'll get the type when i get home for lunch)
 We DO NOT have premium stuff like HBO or Starz or HD Sports, stuff like the Military Channel (which is a travesty in my opinion,  that is the ONLY premium channel i want) or whatever, and never plan on getting them.

My equipment so far is:
- Antec SFF case
- ASUS P5N7A-VM LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300/nForce 730i HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
- Intel Core 2 Quad Proc
- 4GB RAM
- 40 GB SATA HDD (will be connected to file server in office for saves)
- Blue Ray DVD Player

As far as TV Tuners and PVRs and whatever, i am not sure what i need or in what quantities.  I was think about dual tuners, maybe 2 two of them for all the rooms.  I just don't know.  This is where you guys come in!!

Can someone un-fu@k me and tell me what i need to do? 

Thanks in advance,

USMCStitch

PcCowboy

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2009, 07:29:02 pm »

 Well I think you are in a good place. (and not to many flamers here)

Now then you know what you want and you have your cat6 so you purty much just need to get it all to work
As far as what you want to do I thinks its all possible with mce. With the possible exception of having certain MD's not having tv. But the more expirinced users will be able to tell you more. I would think its
possible but idk.

Now then to have mce use the content from your FS it needs to be on the mce "internal" network (its recommended to have mce be your network center, this means IT serves up DHCP to the network)
Then just make sure the media is shared and your core should find it.

I'm not sure just how much you have read up on mce but the core uses two NIC's one for the external network (your feed from the web) and one for its internal network. Anything you want to be used by mce MUST be on the internal network. It works best to have the core be the center of your network. (but you don't "HAVE" to. Ya I know the mce gods will smite me.... ;-)

Itsik

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2009, 07:53:22 pm »
OK, here goes ...

With what you have you can definetly do what you want without too much hussle. You'll just need to throw another nic inside (i'd go for an intel gig nic with boot rom) and you're pretty much ready to go.
Your first desicion should be with what ver. of lmce to go with.
The current stable ver. is 0710, and it is indeed stable. The downside of it is that it does not support your mother board out of the box, which means installing 0710 is some what tricky. But if you have some vary basic computer knoledge, then with the wiki and a little help you can get it installed and working.
The newer ver. is 0810. Altough this version supports your hardware out of the box, it is still in alpha stage and it is still not ready for every day use, so I'd wait for it to mature.
For your video recording needs, a pvr-150 for analoge broadcast and HDhomerun for your HD channels are supported out of the box. All you need to do is connect them and set the system to use them. Again, info on how to do this is all over the forum and wiki, or you can join the #linuxmce irc channel on freenode.net, where you will easily find some one who can help you out.
As for the MD's in the rooms, if the computers in those rooms can boot from the network (pxe boot) and their hardware is supported then any of these can be used as an MD and provide you access to all your media and control over your whole house from every one of them.
If the hardware on them does not work with linuxmce, you will have to find hardware that works.

Hope this helps
Itsik

merkur2k

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2009, 08:48:05 pm »
Be carefull on the HD stuff, every cable service i know of encrypts these channels and requires you to use their box to view them. And since there currently is no HD capture solution that works in linux, youre sol there. The HDHomeRun will *NOT* help in this case, it is for unecrypted channels only. And last I knew comcast is now encrypting every single channel. Hauppauge has a component input capture device that will be suitable for this eventually, but as of right now there are no drivers for linux. Your only choice if you must have PVR functionality is to use an SD capture device like the hauppague PVR-x50 cards with svideo from the cable box. Which of course means your HD programs will be turned into SD recordings.
Other than that it looks like youve got a pretty good start on a full house solution and have a good plan for the future.

USMCStitch

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2009, 09:17:00 pm »
All,

Thanks for your replies.  I've been reading and re-reading them to suckle the information and cognate, with my brain, the info therin. 

I am a Network Admin and have about 20+ yrs of computer experience, and about 3-4 years w/ linux, so I'm not scared of "getting my hands dirty" inside a PC. 

I understand what Cowboy is saying about the MD being the DHCP server, and I don't think that is a problem, though i generally setup my network(s) with static, as i do alot of rdp or ftp.  I did read that, but forgot about the extra NIC. 

@ Itsik - I'm not too too scared of playing w/ 0710 to get it to work w/ the MB.  I"m sure i can figure it out.  And the fact that the computers (which are new) in the bedrooms can watch TV is a good thing.  BUT....

Merkur has given me pause, and is f-ing up my Chi.  :'(   Just kidding, but not really.  If i understand you correctly, I will not be able to rec'd my HD (which honestly is the whole reason i want to pvr.  I REALLY want to grab some of those concerts off that music channel and to record my HD shows.  24 in SD is, well, the sux).   Not recording my HD makes me a sad panda.

So basically, I need to add
1 GBE NIC
1 PVR-xxx
1 HDHomerun -  this 1 unit will provide TV for 4+1 rooms?  the +1 being the living room. 
So I WON'T need a TV Tuner in my PC (like this: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner / Encoder 1229 PCI-Express x1 Interface)?  Or is this the same as the PVR-x50?  i'm so confused on the Tuners and PVRs.

EDIT:  Oh, and also, using the information above about my Comcast, is that QAM and/or ATSC?  WTH is that anyway?  and if my above Comcast isn't QAM or ATSC, then what is it?
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 09:20:34 pm by USMCStitch »

Pnuts

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2009, 09:40:29 pm »
Be carefull on the HD stuff, every cable service i know of encrypts these channels and requires you to use their box to view them. And since there currently is no HD capture solution that works in linux, youre sol there. The HDHomeRun will *NOT* help in this case, it is for unecrypted channels only. And last I knew comcast is now encrypting every single channel. Hauppauge has a component input capture device that will be suitable for this eventually, but as of right now there are no drivers for linux. Your only choice if you must have PVR functionality is to use an SD capture device like the hauppague PVR-x50 cards with svideo from the cable box. Which of course means your HD programs will be turned into SD recordings.
Other than that it looks like youve got a pretty good start on a full house solution and have a good plan for the future.

Not True.

I have the Comcast Digital starterpack in the San Francisco, California, Bay Area and only the premium channels are encrypted. Infact, I get several channels that are not broadcast through the cable box even, including a few HD ones like KOFY.

The down side is that only 6 channels come with call signs already, the others are all identified as unknown. Because of this I have to manually set what each channel is before I can get the guide data to download properly.

I use the HDHomerun

Edit: Comcast uses QAM
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 09:42:26 pm by Pnuts »

merkur2k

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2009, 09:49:19 pm »
Yeah, I'm pretty pissed about the whole HD content protection BS too, the industry has decided that its ok to stomp all over our fair use rights just to protect their failing market and unwillingness to adapt to the current market. Its really not just a linux issue, but linux does get hit the hardest.
The HDHomerun is a good solution for network HD channels (cbs, nbc, fox, etc) if you can receive antenna dtv broadcasts in your area or if your cable provider sends them in the clear (they are required to do so by the fcc but it seems most just ignore this law and encrypt them anyway). You need a tuner for each stream being shown or recorded at the same time, and each HDHomerun provides 2 tuners. For instance if you only ever use 2 TVs at the same time, then you only need 2 tuners. However if you use 4 TVs *and* record 2 shows all at the same time, you would need a total of 6 tuners.
The second nic is very important for the plug n play stuff to work, LMCE recognizes new devices on the network when they do a DHCP request.

merkur2k

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2009, 09:51:43 pm »
Be carefull on the HD stuff, every cable service i know of encrypts these channels and requires you to use their box to view them. And since there currently is no HD capture solution that works in linux, youre sol there. The HDHomeRun will *NOT* help in this case, it is for unecrypted channels only. And last I knew comcast is now encrypting every single channel. Hauppauge has a component input capture device that will be suitable for this eventually, but as of right now there are no drivers for linux. Your only choice if you must have PVR functionality is to use an SD capture device like the hauppague PVR-x50 cards with svideo from the cable box. Which of course means your HD programs will be turned into SD recordings.
Other than that it looks like youve got a pretty good start on a full house solution and have a good plan for the future.

Not True.

I have the Comcast Digital starterpack in the San Francisco, California, Bay Area and only the premium channels are encrypted. Infact, I get several channels that are not broadcast through the cable box even, including a few HD ones like KOFY.

The down side is that only 6 channels come with call signs already, the others are all identified as unknown. Because of this I have to manually set what each channel is before I can get the guide data to download properly.

I use the HDHomerun

Edit: Comcast uses QAM
Ahh ok. I dont have comcast myself but a friend was just complaining to me that he had to get a comcast specific settop box because his generic one suddenly stopped working. It sounded to me like they had switched from clear QAM to something else. Just as a warning, it seems like your milage may vary here. And comcast is constantly screwing with this stuff anyway so something that works today might not work tomorrow, with no warning.

Pnuts

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2009, 10:00:58 pm »
Ahh ok. I dont have comcast myself but a friend was just complaining to me that he had to get a comcast specific settop box because his generic one suddenly stopped working. It sounded to me like they had switched from clear QAM to something else. Just as a warning, it seems like your milage may vary here. And comcast is constantly screwing with this stuff anyway so something that works today might not work tomorrow, with no warning.

I agree, who knows if\when comcast will change this. Before I bought my HDHomerun, i did a bunch of google searches where people praised comcast for sending most of teh channels without encryption. This was one of the deciding factors before I bought it. Something to note though, I did find several reports of Comcast switching channels around every now and then. While its easy to fix, I imagine its annoying. Has not happened to me yet... <knocks on wood>

Pnuts

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2009, 10:02:49 pm »
Here is a good website to scan through to get an idea of what you get in your area with what providers:

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Working_QAM_cable_layout

USMCStitch

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2009, 10:26:02 pm »
Yeah, I'm pretty pissed about the whole HD content protection BS too, the industry has decided that its ok to stomp all over our fair use rights just to protect their failing market and unwillingness to adapt to the current market. Its really not just a linux issue, but linux does get hit the hardest.
The HDHomerun is a good solution for network HD channels (cbs, nbc, fox, etc) if you can receive antenna dtv broadcasts in your area or if your cable provider sends them in the clear (they are required to do so by the fcc but it seems most just ignore this law and encrypt them anyway). You need a tuner for each stream being shown or recorded at the same time, and each HDHomerun provides 2 tuners. For instance if you only ever use 2 TVs at the same time, then you only need 2 tuners. However if you use 4 TVs *and* record 2 shows all at the same time, you would need a total of 6 tuners.
The second nic is very important for the plug n play stuff to work, LinuxMCE recognizes new devices on the network when they do a DHCP request.

I do not want to get rolling on Comcast.  I'm so pissed at them right now....*takes blood pressure meds*.  If i could curb stomp an entire company/corporation, it would be Comcast and Blockbuster.  But enough of that.
This sounds like just the ticket.
 
*snip*
Not True.

I have the Comcast Digital starterpack in the San Francisco, California, Bay Area and only the premium channels are encrypted. Infact, I get several channels that are not broadcast through the cable box even, including a few HD ones like KOFY.

The down side is that only 6 channels come with call signs already, the others are all identified as unknown. Because of this I have to manually set what each channel is before I can get the guide data to download properly.

I use the HDHomerun

Edit: Comcast uses QAM

My Chi is being re-centered.  Thanks for that little nugget of goodness Pnut.

EDIT ADD:  Another thing that has bothered/concerned me.  What about the EPG that comcast gives out.  Does that carry over to the HDHomerun?  do i have to pay for a service like that ServiceDirect or whatever it is?

Ok so added my new revised list:

1 - GBE NIC
2-3 HDHomeruns (to power 5 "TV's" and 1 record)
DO NOT NEED added TV Tuner or PVR Cards (Right??)

ps.  thanks for the website Pnuts.  But i have no idea wtf that is.  :-[

PPS.  Thanks again to everyone that is posting.  You are a salvation in my world and using your info has helped me greatly.  (didn't even know about that HDHomerun thingy.  PROPS)
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 10:41:04 pm by USMCStitch »

skeptic

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2009, 10:48:13 pm »
Be carefull on the HD stuff, every cable service i know of encrypts these channels and requires you to use their box to view them. And since there currently is no HD capture solution that works in linux, youre sol there. The HDHomeRun will *NOT* help in this case, it is for unecrypted channels only. And last I knew comcast is now encrypting every single channel.
Incorrect.
I have the Comcast Digital starterpack in the San Francisco, California, Bay Area and only the premium channels are encrypted. Infact, I get several channels that are not broadcast through the cable box even, including a few HD ones like KOFY.

The down side is that only 6 channels come with call signs already, the others are all identified as unknown. Because of this I have to manually set what each channel is before I can get the guide data to download properly.

I use the HDHomerun

Edit: Comcast uses QAM
Pretty much the same thing here.  I JUST got a HDHomeRun last week, and now my Comcast Cable STBs are sitting on the counter waiting to go back to Comcast. 

I have been using STBs with the video routed through a PVR-150 to get to Myth.  The advantage to using STBs is they are the only way I know of to get every channel, including premium channels, into Myth.  It requires using an IR blaster to change the channel of the STB (I have a couple USBUIRTs) , and a capture card to accept s-video/composite video (I have a PVR-150 that I was using).  It's SD only, so if you watch through Myth or watch a recorded show it's SD.  It also means if someone sits down and starts flipping channels on the cable box while Myth is recording then the the recording is messed up.

With a combination of HDHomeRun and analog tv cards (what I'm currently using) you are supposedly limited to channels 1-99, although I am picking up a handful of other stations as well.  Like Pnuts mentioned, I even get a couple channels you don't see with the STB, but they are uninteresting.  All in all, I'm getting something like 53 digital channels, many in HD, via HDHomeRun.  The rest I can get with my PVR-150.  I no longer need to worry about the wife or kids switching to the STB input and changing channels while something else is supposed to be recording.  I'm not limited to the number of STBs I have for the number of shows I can watch/record at the same time, I can always buy more tv tuners if what I have isn't enough and not pay additional STB rental fees.  While recording analog cable isn't as clear as recording s-video from the STB, the HDHomeRun picture, especially on HD programming, is fantastic.

As Pnuts mentioned, only about 10 stations in HDHomeRun were identified.  I used PIP with Myth/HDHomeRun in one window and Comcast STB in the other to find which channels were which, then used the Schedules Direct report feature for my listing to get the xmltvid and put that in Mythweb channel configuration.  A bit of a hassle, but not that hard.  Do a quick search, I recently posted my experience and it's a bit more detailed.


To address a question you posted while I was slowly and distractely typing this, you most likely WILL need PVR cards for the channels that are currently analog only.  Yes, the Comcast digital package still has a number of analog only channels, but I have heard that they are working to convert them all to digital in the near future.  Whatever "near future" is.

totallymaxed

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2009, 10:48:46 pm »
Yeah, I'm pretty pissed about the whole HD content protection BS too, the industry has decided that its ok to stomp all over our fair use rights just to protect their failing market and unwillingness to adapt to the current market. Its really not just a linux issue, but linux does get hit the hardest.
The HDHomerun is a good solution for network HD channels (cbs, nbc, fox, etc) if you can receive antenna dtv broadcasts in your area or if your cable provider sends them in the clear (they are required to do so by the fcc but it seems most just ignore this law and encrypt them anyway). You need a tuner for each stream being shown or recorded at the same time, and each HDHomerun provides 2 tuners. For instance if you only ever use 2 TVs at the same time, then you only need 2 tuners. However if you use 4 TVs *and* record 2 shows all at the same time, you would need a total of 6 tuners.
The second nic is very important for the plug n play stuff to work, LinuxMCE recognizes new devices on the network when they do a DHCP request.

I do not want to get rolling on Comcast.  I'm so pissed at them right now....*takes blood pressure meds*.  If i could curb stomp an entire company/corporation, it would be Comcast and Blockbuster.  But enough of that.
This sounds like just the ticket.
 
*snip*
Not True.

I have the Comcast Digital starterpack in the San Francisco, California, Bay Area and only the premium channels are encrypted. Infact, I get several channels that are not broadcast through the cable box even, including a few HD ones like KOFY.

The down side is that only 6 channels come with call signs already, the others are all identified as unknown. Because of this I have to manually set what each channel is before I can get the guide data to download properly.

I use the HDHomerun

Edit: Comcast uses QAM

My Chi is being re-centered.  Thanks for that little nugget of goodness Pnut.

Ok so added my new revised list:

1 - GBE NIC
2-3 HDHomeruns (to power 5 "TV's" and 1 record)
DO NOT NEED added TV Tuner or PVR Cards (Right??)

ps.  thanks for the website Pnuts.  But i have no idea wtf that is.  :-[

PPS.  Thanks again to everyone that is posting.  You are a salvation in my world and using your info has helped me greatly.  (didn't even know about that HDHomerun thingy.  PROPS)

Hi There,

You might want to consider an alternate approach for your installation...see this thread http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=7332.msg46423#msg46423 to get a flavour of what I am talking about. The approach suggested by me in this earlier thread revolves around using HDMI to CAT5/6 converters to distribute the output of any sources like HD Cable boxes etc to any screen in your house. Using HDMI switchers (eg say 6 HDMI inputs to 1 HDMI output...all selectable by rs232 control) and HDMI 1 to N splitters (N being say 8-12 outputs carrying whatever you inject into the input) all hooked up to HDMI->Cat5/6 converters means that you can route full quality HDMI signal to any screen in your house without any digitising or quality loss. The downside is two fold (as pointed out in the other thread) more hardware for HDMI signla switching and more CAT5/6 cables. The upside is full HD 'without compromise' picture quality everywhere you need it. Have a think about what your needs are and what your priorities are and then see how those two requirements fit with the various approaches proposed here - none are wrong or right...all have merits and would give you a good system. But only you can really be the judge of which fits best for you and your family.

Ask more questions if you need to.

All the best

Andrew
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skeptic

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2009, 10:53:58 pm »
I did find several reports of Comcast switching channels around every now and then. While its easy to fix, I imagine its annoying. Has not happened to me yet... <knocks on wood>

Good point, I forgot to mention this directly.  Until they get everything converted to digital I expect them to slowly convert channels from analog to digital, as well as move them from one "channel" to another.  I know this happens because I had to quit using the tuner part of my PVR due to too a couple key channels no longer being broadcast in analog.  All in all, I see this as a good thing, and hopefully they will get everything in digital and not move channels around.  Until then, it's probably a good idea to occasionally do a channel scan from within Myth.

skeptic

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed, please help!
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2009, 11:31:42 pm »
Hi There,

You might want to consider an alternate approach for your installation...see this thread http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=7332.msg46423#msg46423 to get a flavour of what I am talking about. The approach suggested by me in this earlier thread revolves around using HDMI to CAT5/6 converters to distribute the output of any sources like HD Cable boxes etc to any screen in your house. Using HDMI switchers (eg say 6 HDMI inputs to 1 HDMI output...all selectable by rs232 control) and HDMI 1 to N splitters (N being say 8-12 outputs carrying whatever you inject into the input) all hooked up to HDMI->Cat5/6 converters means that you can route full quality HDMI signal to any screen in your house without any digitising or quality loss. The downside is two fold (as pointed out in the other thread) more hardware for HDMI signla switching and more CAT5/6 cables. The upside is full HD 'without compromise' picture quality everywhere you need it. Have a think about what your needs are and what your priorities are and then see how those two requirements fit with the various approaches proposed here - none are wrong or right...all have merits and would give you a good system. But only you can really be the judge of which fits best for you and your family.

Ask more questions if you need to.

All the best

Andrew
I just read through that thread, curiosity mostly.  Unless I missed something, that approach would work well for controlling a STB and piping video directly to various places, but would not be able to capture/record any of that video.  Am I reading that right?

I also didn't see how it would fit into the OPs goal:

"The ultimate goal here is to have the kids bedroom, guest bedroom, and office to not have a TV, but to use their computers for everything, like watching movies, music, doing computer stuff, and watching TV. "

An interesting approach though, I'd like to hear more about functionality if it fits the OPs setup and goals (very similar to mine) without getting caught up in techy details that make it a bit hard for a non-A/V expert like myself to follow.