Digital Home Setup advice

Thread: Digital Home Setup advice

  1. zinedunc's Avatar

    zinedunc said:

    Help Digital Home Setup advice

    Greetings one-an-all,

    Now as you can see, I'm a newbie, so hope I've posted this in the right Forum? I have tried searching, but I'm not sure my question is answered elsewhere - apologies if it is!

    Right, well I'm after some digital home advice from anyone here who knows more than me - and there's plenty of you out there, so please don't be shy...

    OK, I'll start with my current "assets"...
    1. our digital music collection - bigger than an iPod Touch, smaller than an iPod Classic
    2. my laptop - 160GB hard drive and currently the home to our iTunes Library and recent photos
    3. my girlfriends's laptop - no digital library of any significance
    4. my (fairly old) desktop machine - with a 250GB HDD and used as backup space for the important files (music and photos etc) from the laptops
    5. a USB external 160GB HDD - originally the backup drive to the desktop before I bought my laptop as my primary machine. Still the backup to the data on the desktop (well, until I breach 155GB worth of data)
    6. my iPod
    7. my girlfriend's Nano
    8. a 32" Samsung TV
    9. Standard stereo / hi-fi
    10. DVD player
    11. Sky Plus
    12. Wii
    So as you can see, I'm not exactly cutting edge. Now, my dilemna (sp???)...

    I'm considering some form of digital home setup and have looked at solutions that include one or more of the following...
    1. iPod dock
    2. Logitech Duet
    3. NAS drive
    4. PS3 / X-Box
    5. Phillips Streamium
    6. Sony Giga-Juke
    7. Media Centre PC
    8. Surrond Sound system
    9. a small, cheap computer (Asus eee or similar)
    10. etc
    But I can't work out which solutions fit my requirements best. What I'd like is for...
    1. us to have a central source of music and photos that we can both access from our 3 current PC's and potentially a small, cheap computer too
    2. either of us to be able to update the central store of music or photos from our own PC / laptop - so either of us can buy a CD and add it to the iTunes library for example
    3. my girlfriend and I to be able to update the music on our own iPods via our own laptops(currently, I do all of this for both of us on my laptop)
    4. the ability to easily play the digital music in the house on a system with a decent quality of sound at a good volume and without needing to switch on several different devices in doing so - i.e. good enough for enjoying music whilst just sat in the lounge without much fuss, but also good for providing music for a house party.
    5. us to easily be able to access the central store of our photos from any computer, or wireless digi-photo frame, or even to display photos on the TV in the lounge
    6. the ability to take a portion (or maybe all) of my music and / or photo collection with me on my small cheap computer (I know I will have my music on my iPod, but something in me wants to be abel to do this, don't ask me why!!!)
    We don't really have any digital movie collection to speak of, so right now, that's not an overly important aspect for me, so I think that's everything. Please ask if it's not.

    Now, do I want the world on a biscuit, or is what I'm after easier than it appears to me????

    Thanks in advance for any recommendations / suggestions that you learned folk can provide.
  2. liveseytowers's Avatar

    liveseytowers said:

    Default Re: Digital Home Setup advice

    Good post, looking forward to hearing some suggestions as you've pretty much summed up what I want to know but couldn't be arsed to type up!

    There are so many different ways of doing things but the way I see it is that its no good if the GF can't work it which is the problem I have most of the time with things that I set up. Far to nerdy for the mrs to figure out.
  3. TwoPlAnKs's Avatar

    TwoPlAnKs said:

    Default Re: Digital Home Setup advice

    Piece of piss mate.

    I'll tell you how to do it the expensive "buying stuff" way and you can adopt it to fit the parts you already have.

    Get a server or a decent NAS device (I'd go server - this could be your old desktop if you want)

    Put a heap of disk in it - go with RAID 5 if you want a bit of speed and security. Put a decent operating system on it (something unix or NT based, like Ubuntu or (if you must) XP).

    Run a media server - you can do this with windows media player i think, i use mediatomb for ubuntu which is very simple and easy. Tell the media server to share all your stuff.
    Share the directories with all your stuff on them to the network - NFS or windows file sharing will work. Windows filesharing without a domain can be an unreliable heap of junk but generally once its working it will be fine.

    I don't know iTunes but i use a program with similar functionality where you can just point the directory of music to be wherever you want - figure out how/if you can do that in itunes, then map a drive letter on each laptop/pc to the shared folders of media and point that to be your music directory. This way each machine in the house is using the same music store, so whoever rips cds or whatever will go to the same place. If iTunes is a twat about doing that then you will need to use one of the many alternatives.

    Playstations and Xboxes can both stream video and music and other content from a media server, or indeeed the shared drive but media server is better, and put it on a tv so you could get one of those. You also get specialist devices for doing that, which could be cheaper than the console if you aren't into gaming, or a media center PC to sit under your computer which would also let you browse the web/youtube etc. at house parties. consider getting a remote control for it that lets you play and stop videos etc. and also works like a wii remote as a mouse.

    You could get a wifi radio like the freecom musicpal (i have one and its ace) and connect this up to the media server. This gives you all your music and has a line out to plug into the stereo. It will also let you listen to online radio stations as an added bonus.

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] this does your wifi photo frame stuff although the reviews say it doesnt work. There will certainly be a product that can pull photos down and display them from a media server, shared drive, or specialist server program - its just a matter of finding it. About 10 more seconds of googling should do it.

    The mp3 players obviously will need to be synchronised but if you have itunes working with a central music store you could use any pc in the house to synchronise them up - i just have a horrible feeling that itunes wont like sharing a datastore or will accuse you of copyright fuckery if you try it.

    The key to the whole thing is the central server will all your stuff on it. Either a dedicated server, your desktop pc, or a nas device on 24/7 would do it. then you just power on your client devices and connect them with whatever server technology they support. I've described the most likely ones - the media server and the shared drives. Get them set up on your server and you're laughing - you can add whatever you want in terms of wifi radios, photo frames, laptops and media center pcs.

    The final thing you need is a backup solution. Good to see you are backing up at the moment - I bet loads of people have all their kid's baby photos just one mouse click away from being lost forever. Enough USB disks to hold all your data is one way, perhaps having two sets would be ideal, have one plugged in all the time and set up a scheduled task to xcopy(windows) or cp(linux) your data to the drive every night.

    Alternatively a NAS device at the other end of the house could be safer but pricier. You certainly get NAS devices for this purpose that will hold incremental snapshots of your data for up to 30 days or whatever, so you can roll back as far as you want. It's all about how paranoid you want to be - I know some people even go as far as fire proof safes or giving a hard drive with a copy of all their data to a friend or relative to store in their house, much like businesses would do.