Finding the right HTPC case

Have went through 3 different HTPC cases. Every change made me happy but not for very long.
What Bothers me most is the lack of any on case display. Why? Bling factor is one of them but not the main reason for wanting one.
Wanting a LCD or OSD is for music and time.
If i’m listening to music from my HTPC which I often do i’d rather not have the TV on just to go through what I want to play or to see what is playing.
It can cause burn-in on the TV and is a waste of electricity.
With a small LCD display on front of case can scroll through music and see what’s playing with out the need of TV being on. Plus I like looking below the TV while waiting for Supernatural to come on and see what time it is or how much longer I must wait.

There are the beautiful cases that incorporate a excellent 7″ touchscreen LCD on front of the case.
The cost is now $360 to $800 which has dropped significantly over the last 2 years.
Is it awesome? HELL YES! Is it really needed? Nope.
Bling factor  +50!! Usefulness not so much let’s think about this. Will I be watching any movies on it? Not a chance I have a 60″ HDTV it is connected to.
So this leaves the only useful option to see what music is on when TV is off and what time it is.
This can all be done on a LCD that is 2 x 20 in size and will accomplish what is useful.

If I had $360 to blow sure i’d get one of these awesome displays of techgeekiness. Flex my HTPC muscle.

Now to finding a case that has the feature of a small LCD display is another quest.
They are out there but not in the huge numbers they should be.
I’ve located the model I want and it has been discontinued and costs $275 used:-(
Can always go ahead and pull the DVD drive from my HTPC and add the nMEDIAPC Silver Aluminum Panel PRO-LCD-S 5.25 drive bay slot. This would accomplish what I am looking for.
But I just don’t want to give up my DVD/Bluray slot for a LCD display panel. I want both!
Have I ever used the DVD drive? No, but why should I give that option up.

Then there is the nMEDIAPC Black HTPC 2800B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case 
Which costs $89.99 and the LCD panel isn’t programmable which means i’d still have to purchase the nMEDIAPC Silver Aluminum Panel PRO-LCD-S:-(

The search for HTPC case bliss continues on. Will I find that sexy sleek case I’ve always wanted but could never have?
Will the case continue to allude me? Or will I just be crushed under the mad chase of case bliss?

 

 

FCC says it will “unlock the set-top box”

This is an article from last month.
But the truth is cable companies are charging the consumer large monthly fee’s for cable boxes and encryptions they put in place.
All the more reason to move to a Media Center /PVR/DVR based setup or a NAS.
Whatever is decided or if ever it is. Why not save on those monthly fees. Buying the hardware will pay for it self in a years time.

Verizon:
HD Cbl box-

Read article:
http://arstechnica.com/business/2016/01/tom-wheeler-fires-back-at-cable-lobby-says-cable-box-fees-are-too-high/

Antenna’s

This part was supposed to be at the bottom of part 1 post.

Antenna’s are very much needed if you plan on using over the air broadcast.
There are indoor antenna’s and outside as well.
I’ll level with you I have only used an indoor antenna to retrieve OTA HDTV.
And I personally liked it but issue I had was reception. With an outdoor antenna this wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

So you decided outdoor is it! first figure out where your antenna will best work and what type will best work for you. There are different antenna’s medium multi-directional, small directional, amplified, etc.

Visit here to figure this out= http://www.antennaweb.org/

This page is a suggestion based webpage so don’t use it as the end all be all answer. Do a bit of homework regarding hardware.
What I have read and would use is a small multi-directional antenna.
You’ll want to find out where broadcast antenna’s are located in your area. If your in the middle of no where a small multi-directional would not be the answer for you most likely need an amplified antenna.

Seriously there isn’t much to post regarding this.
Picking hardware will be the biggest thing in my opinion so shop at the obvious places.

Part 1- Home Theater PC, Android Box,Extenders, Hardware & Software

Part One

Been thinking about all the different things I’ve tried and hardware & software configurations I have went through.
Decided to go a head and post what I know on this subject as best as I can to help others wanting to cut the cable boxes out. Or for those who just want a media center to stream video or play avi’s and other formats.
This blog will cover both OTA and cable card setups. And anything HTPC/Media Center related.

Considering making my blog solely about media centers and hardware.

Hardware:

Computer hardware: Intel, Amd based pre-built or custom built, Android based boxes small fits in palm of your hand. Names of  some of these boxes are Amazon Fire TV, Matricom G-Box Q, MXIII Amlogic S802, DIAOTEC S82 Android Smart TV Box, Onvo 4k and there are other Android based boxes that usually ship from China but are significantly cheaper.
Raspberry-pi ,  Raspberry Pi 2.
I am using the CMX AML8726- MX Android Box with Jelly Bean (Cost for the Android box on Ebay $32 shipped) in one room. A Intel Atom box in My bedroom Kodibuntu, In the living room have a custom built AMD 6 core HTPC Windows 7 x64 based with Kodi. And have also used and fully setup Raspberry-Pi box.
If I have missed any hardware please comment I will add any hardware I may have missed.

CMX AML8726-MX Android Media Box.
CMX AML8726-MX Android Media Box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I placed the Galaxy s4 next to Android Media box for size comparison.
The Raspberry-Pi:

Another compact option for your media watching pleasure.
Another compact option for your media watching pleasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backend Software for Kodi Media Center AKA:Operating System Kodi can be installed on: Windows 7, 8, 8.1 , 10 although for Live TV not a good choice Windows Media Center no longer supported in OS. Mac OS X, Linux, Free Scale ,BSD, Android, IOS, Raspberry-Pi.
There is also the very old and now abandoned Windows xp media center edition 2005 and quite a few other Media Center programs available.
Will try to cover them as I continue to add to the blog.

Tuners are for watching and recording live television.
Can buy hardware tuners that use cable cards or OTA=Over The Air.
What is a cable card?
CableCARD is a special-use PC Card device that allows consumers in the United States to view and record digital cable television channels on digital video recorders, personal computers and television sets without the use of other equipment such as a set top box (STB) provided by a cable television company. The card may be provided by the local cable provider; usually for a nominal monthly fee.
Full detail explanation of cable card can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CableCARD

What is OTA=Over the Air?

Terrestrial television (redirect from Overtheair television) television reception by traditional receiving antennas, which can receive overtheair HDTV signals.

Hardware to receive and record Live Television:

Cable card reader hardware:
Manufacturer Silicondust: HDHomerun Prime 3-Tuners, Hdhomerun Expand 4-Tuners “Europe Only”.  Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 Dual Tuner Digital CableCARD Receiver, Ceton InfiniTV 6 PCIe – 5205-DCT06IN-PCIE – Six-tuner , Ceton InfiniTV 6 ETH network tuner , The older model Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe, Ceton InfiniTV 4 USB This I believe has been discontinued.

What I have listed here is some of the more popular models available. I’m sure there are others out there. Importance is choosing the tuners that are right for you and your setup. Always do your homework before making this very important choice. The Tuners you choose will the be the backbone of your HTPC’s recording and scheduling & live viewing.

OTA Hardware: Aka: Over The Air
These devices are tuners that will connect to your Media Center.
I have only used 1-USB OTA tuner the Kworld KW-UB443 U2.

Kworld USB single Tuner
Kworld USB single Tuner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This list is huge so I am going to just add a link to Newegg page with these type tuners.
http://www.newegg.com/Video-Devices-TV-Tuners/SubCategory/ID-47/Page-2

In order to get OTA aka: Over the Air signals you will need a digital antenna.
These can be purchased on the nets or at your local Walmart, Home Depot’s and other places.
This can get costly depending on the hardware /Antenna you want.
The better and higher the antenna the better signal and range you will get.
Can check what over the air channels are in your area by going to this web page. Just put your zip code in and click go. US only for this link.
http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/dtvmaps/

SlingBox:

What is a sling box? What does it do?
A Slingbox is a physical device that you attach to your cablebox/DVR and it allows you to control and view your TV/cablebox/DVR content from afar using a broadband Internet connection.

Products and more info can be found on the home page.  http://www.slingbox.com/
These devices start at $149 new. But good news is you can watch TV and DVR from afar using Kodi without the cost of buying an expensive Slingbox which I will later explain how to setup within Kodi. That is if you decide Kodi media center is for you.

Internet connectivity:
Regardless of your setup you will need broadband internet. And for streaming and extenders you will want 100mb/1gb Router if you are setup to service more than 1 room 100mb/1gb switches are highly recommended .
Wireless is just not cut out for 1080 resolution video and even 720 resolution will give you issues.  So NO wireless don’t bother.
And wireless is not stable a drop during a recording will be a mess. You will want a steady stable internet connection.

Kodi “Jarvis” 16.0 RC-1 Eminence 2.0 Skin

Have been using XBMC now Kodi for around 3 years. And out of the many skins I have used I prefer Eminence over all others.

With the latest  Kodi RC-1-RC=Release Candidate the skin Eminence will half work for a bit after installing the latest Kodi.

Noticed some issues did arise after a bit so went and installed the beta of Eminence 2.0 while it isn’t finished I can use it.
It lacks the finesse of the full release that works for previous Kodi version 15.2.

Go ahead give it a try the beta is not in any repository as of yet. So will require a manual install and download.
It is 5-6 files that will need installed.

Selling Pioneer tower speakers

My Wife & children gave me new speakers for my home theater setup this Christmas which is a upgrade. My self built system had 3 different brand speakers. 1-Polk sub woofer,1-Polk Center speaker, 1-set Pioneer tower speakers as front surrounds and 1-set of Sony’s for the surround backs. Setup is all Polk audio speakers YAY!  Very pleased with quality of these speakers. Polk speakers have always sounded great to me.

Had the Pioneer set used as front left & right.
The Model #S-H453F-K. I paid $400 + tax a few years back for them.
Checking Ebay these sell used from $150-$390.
And Pioneer still has set retail cost as $400.

The one thing that makes these speakers fantastic is they can handle a wide frequency range. Meaning they are great surrounds and equally great for music.

Asking $120 will work out shipping.
If serious contact me @ smiseks@hotmail.com
Label email header ATTN: PIONEER

Pioneer

Specifications
These are floor-standing, 3-way loudspeakers that also include a 6.5” passive radiator, increasing efficiency and limiting distortion. Our HF Waveguide technology produces superior imaging, allowing you to discern where on the “stage” the musicians were located during recording. The stylish S-H453F-K’s can handle the wide frequency range of DVD-Audio and SACD, two high-resolution audio formats that offer much higher quality vs. CD. And their magnets are shielded so they won’t damage your TV if positioned next to it. Engineered in the U.S.

 

LG 60UF7700-4k UHDTV

Purchased this television a few months ago.

And reviews  looked well enough I ended up passing on this television for the Sony XBR-55X850C 55″ 4K Ultra HD 2160p 120Hz LED HDTV Active 3d (4K x 2K)
Hang in there at start if this blog I stated that I purchased the LG but also stated I purchased the Sony as well. Just hang in there it will make sense soon.

Issues with the Sony TV right off is the Active 3d glasses they are expensive! When you have a family of 4 and enjoy company over once in a while $49.99 a pair of glasses is just absurd. While the Samsung active 3d glasses I did have from my Samsung HDTV that was active 3d worked with the Sony they did not work 100% matter a fact they sucked! so blurry felt like I was drunk.
2nd biggest issue to me was brightness. This Tv was plain dull 0 pop it couldn’t light the room up pitch dark to find a 50 cent piece on a black floor.
3rd issue this TV had shit side viewing angles TERRIBLE!
There was upsides to this television the Android OS kicked ass and PlayStation Now could stream play PS2 &3 game I believe using a PS4 controller and could install Android Apps from the Play Store \that also worked with he PS4 controller. Not to mention could install and use Kodi as well.

This was not enough for me to keep the TV set. The Picture quality to me just wasn’t there.
So back to Best Buy it went.

Now I have my eye back on the LG, Samsung and the Vizio all 4k smart television sets.
The LG and Samsung plain and simple had the picture quality Vizio was beautiful but did not come close to the quality of picture the Samsung and LG were putting out.
The Samsung had 2 models I looked at curved and standard. I don’t like the curve. SO after much looking the LG won me heart

Get it home instantly realized remote did not turn TV on and just seemed off a bit. Blew it off figured setup dealio not a big deal.
Few weeks pass now the button on TV just doesn’t respond without man handling it. Few days later screen flashlighting on bottom right is unbearable.
Contact LG they send someone out quickly to try and feed me that this flashlighing  is common but issue with the remote and power button is a mainboard issue which needed repaired
MAINBOARD REPAIRED! this TV isn’t even 90 days old!!!.
So screw it I go ahead and do a return I spent $1,600+ on this TV I am not getting it repaired!
Bring swapped TV back home from get go I can see a difference the remote powered TV on right away. And not a damn bit of flashlighting at all. Even the picture quality is improved and also noticed that the FW updated to 4.0 something my 1st TV was locked at 3.0.0.1 and would not update I tried many times.

With the initial issue aside the LG TV is seriously a kick ass television set. I don’t blame LG for the dud I got this can happen to any manufacturer.. Onl thing that does bother me is that they send these techs out to try and run BS that flashlighting is OK. Let me tell you this is NOT okay!!  it hurts picture quality terribly  by making black non-uniform.

Do not ever let any one tell you flashlighting or also called bleed through as being normal and okay.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve had 2 favorite televisions. My Philips 52″ LCD and this is the 3rd Tv since my Philips I like more than it. Took 3 different TV’s to beat me old Philips out.