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well_armed

My HTPC, XBMC, and Control4 Integration Thread

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Excellent, that's what I have already. I just can't figure out how to get my htpc to boot up and display any signal on my projector. The only way I get it to work is if I boot up to my monitor and once windows starts, I can plug in the hdmi cable to the htpc which is connected to a receiver which in turn is connected to my projector. Needless to say it's a pretty clunky setup right now.

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Update:

I pulled my HTPC off the rack and replaced it with a new Mac Mini. Much more stable system. I was having to restart my Windows box bi-weekly, and the video card was crapping out. Figured it was a sunk cost and to just jump the shark.

I also am switching from a DAS setup to a NAS by Synology. The DAS was managed by the HTPC, but I realize that I need a standalone server/NAS solution to help the system run better. Essentially separate network and video duties. Plus the NAS that I am buying is apple friendly, and incorporates Time Machine and server iTunes.

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I also have started using Boxee much more than XBMC. Having the iPad with C4 app, Xfinity app, and Remote Mouse App, I really dont need C4 driver integration (so I can use a standard C4 remote). Its fast and easy with the iPad.

I am also convinced that C4 should not make a media player, it should just partner with Boxee or XBMC or some other media platform for its IP drivers and let people select their own hardware.

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I tried doing a Control4 and Mac integration project a little while ago. I was unhappy with the results (mostly the limitations of the Mac, its display capabilities, and my component switching needs).
I pulled my HTPC off the rack and replaced it with a new Mac Mini. Much more stable system.

I'm also a Mac user (plus Linux and BSD) and have been pondering a media player solution. How does the new Mac Mini overcome your original objections to the Mac solution? Or is it simply the lesser of two evils compared to crappy Windows? Did you try or consider a dedicated player like the Dune and if so what does it lack compared to Boxee on the Mini?

Are you doing Blu-Ray and 1080p?

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I'm also a Mac user (plus Linux and BSD) and have been pondering a media player solution. How does the new Mac Mini overcome your original objections to the Mac solution? Or is it simply the lesser of two evils compared to crappy Windows? Did you try or consider a dedicated player like the Dune and if so what does it lack compared to Boxee on the Mini?

Are you doing Blu-Ray and 1080p?

I am also a Mac household, it shares nicer over the network (files, itunes sharing, etc.), has a rock solid OS that my wife can easily use, and has little features like LAN wake up (so I can put it to sleep).

Dedicated media players are good and bad. They are inexpensive, and integrate well with C4 navigator, but they are hardware/software locked. One issue take for example is scraping for cover art and metadata, that is where XBMC and boxee shine as almost everyone's video files are named differently (I use IMDB titles).

Having your own box with a supported 3rd party app, allows for flexibility in the UI experience. Not happy with XBMC? Switch to Boxee. Not happy with Boxee? Use iTunes.

With an iPad I can easily switch between apps to control C4 sources, cable box, and Mac mini with related apps (air mouse is great), while surfing the net on the side. C4 touchscreens are useless to me, and I think the market knows this as I sold mine for $300 after the iPad came out.

I am doing Blu-ray and 1080p over the mac mini using MakeMkv software (H.264 codec ripper). It rips the blu-ray into a single .mkv file which both XBMC, boxee, and a ton other systems read.

What is interesting was that the LG blu ray dvd/rom in my PC works in my Apple without drivers. I can't play movies, but I can rip blu-rays no problem using 3rd party stuff like toast, etc.

Its just my opinion, but there is no point for C4 to do a media player. They should just make a driver to work with Boxee and XBMC and build an App inside their system to control the computer box located anywhere on the network. Hell it could be on a USB stick or preloaded on the Home Controller via the app store.

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I am doing Blu-ray and 1080p over the mac mini using MakeMkv software (H.264 codec ripper). It rips the blu-ray into a single .mkv file which both XBMC, boxee, and a ton other systems read.

What is interesting was that the LG blu ray dvd/rom in my PC works in my Apple without drivers. I can't play movies, but I can rip blu-rays no problem using 3rd party stuff like toast, etc.

Does that mean you are using the Mini to do the ripping or are you doing it on a Mac Pro? Or a separate Windows system?

If not on the Mini, did you ever try it there? If on a Mac Pro, what's the configuration (cores, RAM)? I'm unlikely to buy one but would be good to know for comparison.

Are you using the Mini with standard hardware or did you add something special for display? Does it do 1080p? 1080i?

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Where/what rack is that? Or did you build it, it looks pretty custom... I need to get some kind of rack going in the closet as stacking and using the shelves just isn't cutting it anymore... Also, what are you using for ventilation?

I love your setup!

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I am doing Blu-ray and 1080p over the mac mini using MakeMkv software (H.264 codec ripper). It rips the blu-ray into a single .mkv file which both XBMC' date=' boxee, and a ton other systems read.

What is interesting was that the LG blu ray dvd/rom in my PC works in my Apple without drivers. I can't play movies, but I can rip blu-rays no problem using 3rd party stuff like toast, etc.[/quote']

Does that mean you are using the Mini to do the ripping or are you doing it on a Mac Pro? Or a separate Windows system?

If not on the Mini, did you ever try it there? If on a Mac Pro, what's the configuration (cores, RAM)? I'm unlikely to buy one but would be good to know for comparison.

Are you using the Mini with standard hardware or did you add something special for display? Does it do 1080p? 1080i?

Mac Pro connected to the network. It's a 2009 Quad Core? with 5GB of ram.

Stock Mac Mini, plays 1080p just fine.

Where/what rack is that? Or did you build it, it looks pretty custom... I need to get some kind of rack going in the closet as stacking and using the shelves just isn't cutting it anymore... Also, what are you using for ventilation?

I love your setup!

Both or stock racks.

I use a panasonic fan vented to the outside with a C4 switch, and AccessCard temp. gauge will trip it on if it gets hot in there.

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Mac Pro connected to the network. It's a 2009 Quad Core? with 5GB of ram.

Does MakeMkv maintain all the DVD/BD menu and chapter information?

Does it have transcode into H.264 and thus take lots of CPU? A current gen MacBookPro (if I could talk the wife into letting me buy another) could do that about as fast, though it might be glowing at the end.

What's your viewing setup (screen size, seating distance, display resolution)? I'm asking about perceived image quality. What differences can you see between original disc and ripped copy?

Note: I have a 1080p projector on an approx 8' wide SI BD screen and the main seating location is just over 12 feet (just a bit closer than it should be). DVD looks pretty good probably because my Sony receiver has a Faroudja processor but it's noticeably softer compared to BD. BD is outstanding. If ripping the DVD that way caused a further loss of DVD image quality I would not be pleased.

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I have a Pioneer (non-elite) 60" Plasma. Image quality with the computer versus Sony Blu ray player are non-perceivable.

Try it and see.

http://www.makemkv.com/

* Reads DVD and Blu-ray discs

* Reads Blu-ray discs protected with latest versions of AACS and BD+

* Preserves all video and audio tracks, including HD audio

* Preserves chapters information

* Preserves all meta-information (track language, audio type)

* Fast conversion - converts as fast as your drive can read data.

* No additional software is required for conversion or decryption.

* Available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux

* Functionality to open DVD discs is free and will always stay free.

* All features (including Blu-ray decryption and processing) are free during BETA.

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Try it and see.

Sold. I'll try it. I like that it works on my Mac and on Linux. But I won't be able to see how it looks for awhile because I have to leave for a few weeks at the middle of next week and don't have a cable here to hook up my Mac or my Linux system to my receiver.

That reminds me of another question: What's the audio out from your Mini? Optical? Does your support all the "fancy" Blu-Ray audio formats?

And the Mini works with the "sleep proxy" in the Airport/Time Capsule so that it can be set to go to sleep but will respond via WOL from the Time Capsule?

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What is interesting was that the LG blu ray dvd/rom in my PC works in my Apple without drivers. I can't play movies, but I can rip blu-rays no problem using 3rd party stuff like toast, etc.

I really wish the was native blu-ray playback on the mac! But I am doing the same thing as you, ripping the collection to MKV, and of course occasionally using a standalone blu-ray player to appease the wife...

Where/what rack is that? Or did you build it' date=' it looks pretty custom... I need to get some kind of rack going in the closet as stacking and using the shelves just isn't cutting it anymore... Also, what are you using for ventilation?

I love your setup![/quote']

Both or stock racks.

I use a panasonic fan vented to the outside with a C4 switch, and AccessCard temp. gauge will trip it on if it gets hot in there.

Well I was looking at the lower rack, the left photo in http://i914.photobucket.com/albums/ac349/andrealperry/Control4/Slide5.jpg

That one almost looks hand built.

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Try it and see.

Sold. I'll try it. I like that it works on my Mac and on Linux. But I won't be able to see how it looks for awhile because I have to leave for a few weeks at the middle of next week and don't have a cable here to hook up my Mac or my Linux system to my receiver.

That reminds me of another question: What's the audio out from your Mini? Optical? Does your support all the "fancy" Blu-Ray audio formats?

And the Mini works with the "sleep proxy" in the Airport/Time Capsule so that it can be set to go to sleep but will respond via WOL from the Time Capsule?

Yes to all of that. From apple's website. http://www.apple.com/macmini/specs.html

* Audio line in minijack (digital/analog)

* Audio line out/headphone minijack (digital/analog)

* HDMI port supports multichannel audio output

* Support for Apple iPhone headset with microphone

Not sure what you mean by "all the fancy blu-ray formats" because XBMC and Boxee take care of the file playback' date=' not a native Apple application.

What is interesting was that the LG blu ray dvd/rom in my PC works in my Apple without drivers. I can't play movies' date=' but I can rip blu-rays no problem using 3rd party stuff like toast, etc.[/quote']

I really wish the was native blu-ray playback on the mac! But I am doing the same thing as you, ripping the collection to MKV, and of course occasionally using a standalone blu-ray player to appease the wife...

Where/what rack is that? Or did you build it' date=' it looks pretty custom... I need to get some kind of rack going in the closet as stacking and using the shelves just isn't cutting it anymore... Also, what are you using for ventilation?

I love your setup![/quote']

Both or stock racks.

I use a panasonic fan vented to the outside with a C4 switch, and AccessCard temp. gauge will trip it on if it gets hot in there.

Well I was looking at the lower rack, the left photo in http://i914.photobucket.com/albums/ac349/andrealperry/Control4/Slide5.jpg

That one almost looks hand built.

http://www.smarthome.com/8758-7/Avrak-AV-48-48-Inch-7-Shelves-450-Lb-Rotating-Rack/p.aspx

I put wheels on the bottom so I could get access to the back by rolling it out.

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Remember that Mac OS XBMC does not support the ability to change your output signal to match video refresh rate (24/60).

This is PC version only. However, I have not found this to be an issue with my setup, utilizing Mac Mini (set at 24hz) > Pioneer SC-05> Pioneer PD60 Plasma (Video set at 72hz in advanced mode).

Just make sure you are happy with whatever output is coming from the Apple box (24 or 60 NTSC). Most people have a hard time understanding 24fps material, tv refresh rate, true 1080p progressive scan, blah, blah.

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