Getting Started on my Quest

Quest Begins

OK Start of the Media Center/TV Top Box/NAS Drive/Wireless-N quest

So I am starting to look at the different solutions out there to stream both your home AV library and those cool stuff streaming from the internet.

Lets start out by saying, that as of this moment there isn’t one box to rule them all solution. There are different possible solutions depending on your requirements.

Do you have a requirement to stream BluRay ISOs?
Do you have to have loss-less audio streaming?
Do you have a Wireless-N Router already? Or do you just have Wireless-G
Do you have a USB 2.0 External Hard Drive with your music and video?
Do you have a NAS Drive where the HD is visible to anywhere on the network
Do you own a Game Console like PS3 or XBox360?
Do you own a Tivo HD?

What UI do you like the best? This is what will be displayed on your TV to allow you to select movies, music, photos, etc.

There are a number of different UI’s to control your new living room. Here is a list of some of them. Some are just from the device itself, like the Tivo UI

  • Tivo U
  • PS3 UI
  • XBox360 UI
  • Boxee (My personal favorite at the moment)
  • Plex (Mac OS Based)
  • Windows Media Center
  • XBMC (Xbox Media Center, which I believe was the start of Boxee)
  • Google Media Server
  • Myth TV (Yeah, this still exists)
  • and many more.

The different “set-top” boxes that are out. Note, that my definition is any box, for any purpose that you might have attached to your TV or AVR that will display/server or do anything with your media and display it on the TV

  • WD HD TV
  • Apple TV
  • Dune 3.0
  • Mac Mini/Windows/Linux boxes. Basically any Home Theater PC or HTPC.
  • Popcorn Hour
  • ASUS O!Play
  • and many more

Media Player comparison grid at

So here is my current setup

  • 52” LCD TV – Toshiba
  • Onkyo AVR, only one HDMI out to my TV, everything is hooked up through the AVR to get to the TV
  • PS3
  • Tivo HD
  • MacBook Laptop which I can hookup to my TV, which has Boxee installed.
  • External USB/FireWire 1TB HD. Right now hooked up to my Windows box in my office, so right now it is not being streamed to my TV. (One of the things I need to figure out)

I promise in the next posts I will post pictures.

With this setup, I now embark on my quest. Stay Tuned.


    • Max Andersen
    • March 15th, 2010

    I gave up on any NAS or remote streaming and just attached a Mac Mini to my TV. Life is much better without having to yell on the streaming being crappy.

    • Yep, that is a great solution. As the Mac Mini has a powerful enough CPU to handle BluRay ISOs directly on the Mac. You can also run Boxee on it, correct? I also guess, if you add up the cost for a Wireless-N Router, NAS HD and some set top box to stream to, you probably reach the same price point as just getting a Mac Mini and installing some software.

      How is the sound from the Mini? I am assuming you have it setup in your Living Room near the TV? Also, is your Mac Mini hard wired to your network, or via Wireless?

        • Max Andersen
        • March 16th, 2010

        The Mini’s sound output is a dual stero and optical audio jack. Thus you can get full digital sourround from it with a cheap adapter.

        Blueray I just put into my PS3 – never bothered ripping them since they get so freaking huge 😉

        My mini is wireless, just because I don’t have a wire but it has a USB drive mounted with all the data.

        One thing I would really like to find is a way for it to detect new media (DVD, USB/Camera card, etc.) and simply just auto-rip it so I don’t have to tell the wife how she gets her photos and film available on the media server beyond just inserting the disk.

    • I am almost there Max. 🙂

    • Warwick
    • March 15th, 2010

    Hey Mark…. I’m happy that you are doing this…. as I’ve been working on my home media server setup also. And it’s nice to see you writing all this stuff down.

    Just wanted to confirm though… Boxee was, and is, based on the XBMC code. Even the latest Beta release of Boxee still uses ALL the video/audio libraries from XBMC.

    I really like Boxee but much prefer the ‘library’ aspects of XBMC… and although Boxee has some cool apps to pull streams direct from the intertubes. I download everything through newsgroups using SABNzbd+, then use TV Rename and Ember Media Manager to set the naming conventions for TV shows and Movies.

    My current setup is:

    Master bedroom: Samsung 50″ Plasma 720p, Apple TV (hacked and used solely for XBMC, although I do also have Boxee on there)

    Family room: 126″ Projection Screen, Panasonic 1080p projector, Denon AV receiver (150W x 7 Channels), PS3, Wii.

    We use AT&T Uverse throughout the house. Also, have a Buffalo Linkstation 1TB NAS, with 2x 2TB HD for movies and TV shows and music.

    • That sounds sweet. Yes, Boxee is based on XBMC. I need to stop by your house some day and check out your setup.

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