Can you help me decide how to build my home theater?
November 13, 2010 12:08 AM Subscribe
Yet another Can you help me decide how to build my home theater question
I'm looking to finally put together a "real" living room home theater setup and would appreciate some recommendations on equipment, configurations, setup, etc. I have read all the previous askmefi questions regarding home theater posted in the last 12 months, but Im hoping to accomplish what I want with the equipment I have.
Here are my requirements:
- R1 - Ability to watch Blu-ray movies
- R2 - Ability to watch DVD movies
- R3 - Ability to watch videos (movies, tv episodes, etc) ripped from DVD to file system (i.e. in VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders; NOT converted to AVI/MP4/WMV, etc)
- R4 - Ability to watch videos in AVI/WMV/MP4 containers
- R5 - Ability to watch videos in MKV containers
- R6 - Ability to watch streaming Netflix, Hulu, etc
- R7 - Reuse what equipment is decent but willing to spend up to $1000 total if it will make a big difference
- N1 - No need to record TV shows/movies (a la Tivo)
- N2 - No need to watch HD TV from over the air (not available in my city)
Here is all the equipment I currently own:
E5 - MacBookPro (Early 2008 non-unibody) (referred to henceforth at MBP)
- E1 - Vizio VO420E 1080p HDTV
- E2 - Sony Playstation 3 (60GB non-slim 2006 Launch model - wireless G only)
- E3 - LG 5.1 Surround Sound System (cheap crappy one; sorry, dont know the model #)
- E4 - Windows 7 PC on 5 year old hardware (referred to henceforth at Win7PC)
- AMD Athlon64 X2 3800 2.0GhZ
- Asus A8N-SLI Premium Motherboard
- ATI Radeon 9250 (I think) No HDMI out
- 4x 1GB Memory sticks (unstable though; more stable with 2x 1GB sticks)
- Gigabyte Wireless G network adapter
- 1x 200GB Boot drive (SATA)
- 2x 1.5TB Data Drives (SATA) (movies, tv shows, backups, etc)
E6 - Various hard drives:
- 2.4 GhZ CPU
- 2x 2GB Memory sticks
- 128GB Boot SSD
- 1x 1TB external USB drive (movies, tv shows, etc)
E7 - Prolink Hurricane 6300G DSL Modem/Wireless G Router (provided from ISP)
- 1x 500GB 2.5"
- 1x 200GB 2.5"
E8 - VPN Subscription terminating in the US
- PS3 connected to Vizio TV via HDMI
- PS3 connected to LG 5.1 Surround Sound System via optical audio cable
- Win7PC in bedroom connected to LAN via wireless G
- MBP in bedroom connected to LAN via wireless G (but capable of wireless N)
- C1 - I live outside the US, thus the need for the VPN (E8) to get to Netflix, Hulu, etc
- C2 - The PS3 doesnt play MKV files natively. What are ways I can view MKVs on my TV?
- C3 - No SAN to function as central repository for media. Dont know if I really NEED one, but it would be nice.
Currently, my media is scattered between the Win7PC and 1TB drive that goes with my MBP
- C4 - Wireless LAN is G only and dont want to run any wires
- C5 - Prefer devices that are 220v but can support 110v if theyre not TOO power hungry
Here is what I THINK I need to do to achieve the above listed Requirements and overcome/eliminate the Complications:
D2 - Buy Media center PC (MCPC) and/or Streaming Device (Roku, WD TV Live, Google TV, etc)
- D1 - Buy new wireless router that supports wireless N and PPTP VPN
- Configure existing dsl modem/router to bridge mode and disable the wireless G.
- Connect new wireless router to dsl modem and config new router for G and N (eliminating C4)
- Configure wireless router to route PS3 traffic over the VPN (eliminating C1 above and accomplishing R6)
D3 - Buy SAN and install the 2x 1.5TB drives currently in Win7PC into the SAN (eliminating C3)
D4 - Install software on PC to transcode MKV files to be played by PS3 (eliminating C2)
- Q1 - How can I make the most of my PS3? It plays Blurays, DVDs and most media file containers,
so it appears to satisfy R1, R2 and R4. Ive read recently that it now support Neflix, Hulu,
Pandora, etc. so it appears to satisfy R6, OR DOES IT? Is a Roku/Google TV/Apple TV better?
- Q2 - Do I want to make the PS3 the centerpiece of my Home Theater or am I better off getting a HTPC?
I dont play games on the PS3, only Blu-rays and AVIs on USB sticks, so thats why Im favoring
using it for as much as I can, but I'm not married to it, so if an HTPC with Win7 will
give me more flexibility and isnt too expensive, I'll definitely consider it. (See Q3 below)
Also, the PS3 is 4 years old, so a hardware failure wouldnt be unexpected.
- Q3 - Should I replace the current Win7PC? Its in a mid-tower ATX case and I installed Windows 7 Home Premium
on it last year. I tried installing PS3 Media Server
on it, but playback of files to the PS3 is VERY choppy with lots of pausing to buffer.
Dont know if this is due to the CPU (which I have read is NOT good at transcoding on the fly)
or due to streaming over Wireless G instead of Wireless N. The PS3 does only have Wireless G though.
- Q4 - Any recommendations on wireless routers that support VPN? DD-WRT Forums seem to recommend
Netgear WNDR3700 and Asus RT-N16. Im thinking of installing DD-WRT so I can do policy
based routing of only PS3 traffic over the VPN so I can access Netflix, etc
- Q5 - Is it worth replacing the crappy LG surround sound system? It only has like 3 inputs (optical, coax
and analog red/white). It does do a decent job when Im watching Blu-rays and the audio is piped
to it through the optical cable, though. Audio recommendations welcome!
Sorry if this is a little disjointed and for including all the details but I'm trying to be as complete as possible.
Feel free to ask any questions or point out any complications/problems Ive missed.