Media Centres (or Get Your Kits Out!)

Redd Tedd

NRU Member
26 Apr 2017
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South West, UK
Hey folks,

Sorry for the title, I wanted to be sensible, but then the inner kid came out.

At the moment I'm pondering (selling the idea to my wife!) changing the way we set up our viewing pleasure.

Currently:
Sky+ HD subscription (robbing gits) - for TV and DVR
Mac Mini 2012 (server version) - for ermmm.. movies and TV from 'other' sources
NAS drive for archiving and backup

This kit sits in the lounge and has LAN connections to the hub. The Mac has VLC on it for general playing of media and Spotify for music. I've just installed the free version of Plex and I'm trying it out (my Mrs does not currently like it, but she generally dislikes things she hasn't mastered yet)

I currently pipe the feed from Sky and the Mac to our bedroom via WHDMI. This is OK, but the IR signal is a bit patchy. I have the kit to go HDMI over LAN, but haven't found the time to put it in yet...

What I'm pondering:

Lose Sky (robbing gits)
Get a new Freeview aerial and booster set in the loft, splitting the signal to all outlets in the house.
Get a SiliconDust HDHomeRun Quattto and link it to the Mac
Get a subscription to Plex to support DVR capabilities
Probably upgrade the drives again in the Mac to bigger SS drives for speed
Finally install the HDMI over LAN to we get better feeds upstairs (i can control the Mac via my phone/ iPad)

The reason I'm posting is
1/ I feel you guys are good to fire things off in case there are better ideas
2/ It's always fun talking about tech with your mates
3/ My only concern is that we watch a lot of Nat Geo and Discovery and I can't find any 'reliable' info that tells me how to get it, other than Sky et al (and I don't want to pay subs to any of them). I'd be happy paying a small fee to an online provider to stream it, but they seem to be few and far between.

Folks - what do we think?

<3
 

glenwilson

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Our set-up is nearly the same as we have Sky+, same Mac Mini and we have Virgin for broadband. I also have a low powered PC (mini ATX motherboard in a small cheap case all of which cost £96 - I already had spare HDDs ) which has a 12TB capacity Drobo attached to it and that gets used to back up photos, other data and as an iTunes server with films and music backed up there too. Virgin supplied a Tivo box which was/is effing awful so I never used it - they have since released a new version which I may get - costs nothing and try to see what that is like. If that is OK then I would definitely ditch Sky. Also have a couple if Apple TVs (3rd and 4th gen). Have subs to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

I used to have the full Sky package but then realised there was hardly any films on that we would watch and those that we would watch I would buy the BluRay or get on iTunes. Also had sport but the amount of times my football team was on was few and far between and as I don't watch general football it seemed a waste of money. So I ditched movies and sport and the savings made there meant that we could either rent or buy movies and still be saving £s. It is now over a year without movies and sport but Amazon/Netflix are now coming in to their own with both movies and original content. There are a few channels that we watch that aren't on Freeview or Freesat otherwise I would go that way.

Not sure if NatGeo or Discovery have Apple TV apps but that is maybe an option if they do. For sports I use NowTV and get a day pass when I want to watch my footie team. Also with NowTV you can get a box for £29 with 3 months viewing which has Nat Geo and Discovery for £10 a month. A 3 month entertainment pass can be had for £17. I have also seen offers with Pringles and other stuff for sports and entertainment passes so maybe that would be an option?

Amazon product
Running Ethernet around the house is worthwhile and buying the cable and doing it yourself is cheap and easy to do as you can run the length of cable you need.

On the Mac Mini I added a 2TB HDD and a 250GB SSD and have them working as a hybrid drive. Not hyper fast for video editing but does a decent job for what I need. I also have an external 4TB USB3 HDD connected to it. This is fine as a media server and music and HD films are great over the network. The other server box will stream music and HD video just fine too - you really don't need anything too powerful for that.

Sky are moving to streaming for all their channels in the next year or so and then doing away with the dish.

Update: Just ordered the new Virgin box. If that is Ok I will definitely get rid of Sky. Virgin's old Tivo box was awful with a nasty interface that really put me off using it.
 
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lakaelo

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3/ My only concern is that we watch a lot of Nat Geo and Discovery and I can't find any 'reliable' info that tells me how to get it, other than Sky et al (and I don't want to pay subs to any of them). I'd be happy paying a small fee to an online provider to stream it, but they seem to be few and far between.
same here. i also canceled sky germany some month back for the same reason. got it over our german telekom for just 5.- € more / month.

here in germany you can also get this "documentary" channel like discoveryover amazon channels. maybe worth a look if there is a equal offer in UK.
 

glenwilson

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One thing I have found useful fot locating noisy devices out of the way are these USB leads. They are powered so you don’t lose that much speed even over 10m. You can use upto three in a chain and still get decent results. Not super fast but if you have a noisy NAS, PC or other device you can put it out of the way. I use it to run a web cam so I can check stuff when we are on holiday. I also run one from the Playstation around the room and have a hub under the sofa to plug in controllers and other game stuff that saves having really long wires across the room. At £11 it is very good.

Amazon product
 
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glenwilson

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The USB lead above has been really useful. I have used one with the PS3 as we use a wired controller with that and as my Mrs likes Skylanders (yes I know) and you need to plug in a portal thingy. With such a cable I have installed a hub under the sofa with the cable routed around the room and out of sight. Not noticed any lag at all on the controller and now no chance of tripping over a cable that blends in with the carpet. Us old folks need to be careful!

Only USB 2 speeds is the downside.