Digital home takes shape

I’m slowly moving forward with defining how our new ‘digital home’ will look like. After owning the same small hifi for 8 years or so, along with a small TV and only one computer purchase (an Acer laptop a few years ago), I think I deserve an upgrade!
The TV’s been identified – a nice 40″, 2 Mega pixel Sony LCD. Surround sound will be from a Bose 3-2-1 or Sony DAV-x10 – Bose sound quality is better but it’s more expensive, Sony looks good and only one controller is needed to operate both surround sound and the TV. Mrs Saul wants a solution with the minimum number of speakers…
Mrs Saul will have a new laptop to use. The current Acer will trudge along for a year or so more as a general laptop/iTunes controller, streaming to an Airport Express plugged into the sound system. I may upgrade the Acer with an N enabled wifi card.
Central shared and backup storage was supposed to be provided by ‘AirDisk’, a usb drive attached to my new Apple Extreme router. This really isn’t working as it should do. Assuming Apple don’t release a firmware upgrade that improves things in the immediate future, I’ll use a Linksys NSLU2 to store all our content centrally, wired to the . The disk attached to the Apple router can continue as a general back up disk. Surprisingly, despite trawling the electronics shops of London today, I couldn’t find an NSLU2. If I can’t get one in Dubai either, I’ll order it from Amazon.
A decent way of playing music and downloaded or ripped content (legal content of course) directly on the TV or straight to the sound system is proving difficult. Current media-centres from the likes of D-Link and Netgear get good reviews from the press, but bad reviews from users. They also lack Blu-ray or HD-DVD, Gb ethernet and N wifi. Sony have a nice new media-centre PC out, but it seems like expensive overkill and doesn’t have a Blu-ray drive. I think a new, HDMI enabled and Blu-ray equipped laptop may be a good compromise in a few months’ time, unless other vendors get their act together and bring out something that works and has up to date networking.
I’m also not sure of the best way of getting music to the bedroom. I see there are several wifi enabled players on the market, but I need something that will read from a shared drive, rather than going through a PC. It should also be able to integrate with playlists created in iTunes.
I’m surprised that no one vendor has quite managed to pull all of this together yet.

5 Responses to “Digital home takes shape”

  1. James Dickens Says:

    If you are or have some friends that are solaris admins, you can setup a Solaris Nevada server using ZFS and CIFS to be a storage server if you check out I just built a new fileserver/media server, zfs is simple to admin the new additions to nevada make it easy to deal with storage and with a few minutes of shell scripting you can create automatic snapshots. So you can recover from most accidents with out having to worry about setting up backups.
    The server I built claims to support hd playback using the on-board video, but I haven’t tried it yet.

  2. Bluey Says:

    Just as as small comment – there is a very capabile home video, music player with wifi internet, blu-ray and 60GB HD that is getting better by the day – PS3… it’s about 1699dhs now.
    I use one with plus couple of external hard drives and use sync toy to back up / update.
    It’s not perfect, but I can watch mpgs, listen to mp3s, aac, etc and all is on on the ipod, laptop and avail on the PS3. As well as having the most cost effective blu-ray player…

  3. Patrick Johnson Says:

    Chris – just a thought, how about a Roku Soundbridge for your bedroom? That’s how I stream music from my Winamp library (iTunes also works) into my bedroom. We live in the Old Town and it works perfectly with our wireless router. Cheers, Patrick

  4. Chris Says:

    Thanks all.
    James, I’ll have a look at your blog.
    Bluey, good suggestion…
    Patrick – where did you get your Soundbridge from? They look like just the right thing.

  5. Ray Says:

    I’m using a NSLU2 with a 500gig to stream music to my living room stereo via a Roku as well.
    They’re both tiny and don’t use a bunch of juice or make noise.
    Also, the quality is phenomenal. I rip all my CDs into FLAC files which the slug transcodes to WAV before sending them to the Roku. With the optical ouput of the Roku running directly into my receiver I have virtually instant access to perfect copies of every CD I own.

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