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Author Topic: Home Theater Upgrade  (Read 15195 times)

toasterking

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2015, 11:47:24 PM »

Which standard are you trying to use for mirroring anyway, Dave? It seems to me that we are in the midst of a format war and no one is really winning yet. My 2-year-old ultrabook convertible has Intel WiDi, my new BlackBerry has Miracast, and iOS uses Airplay. We have one of each of these devices and nothing to pair them with for wireless display!
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HA Dave

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2015, 10:21:14 AM »

Which standard are you trying to use for mirroring anyway, Dave? It seems to me that we are in the midst of a format war and no one is really winning yet. My 2-year-old ultrabook convertible has Intel WiDi, my new BlackBerry has Miracast, and iOS uses Airplay. We have one of each of these devices and nothing to pair them with for wireless display!

Thank you for asking! To be honest... I know nothing about mirroring yet.

I was looking at the Blue Ray players at Best Buy and the sales rep recommended the Sony BDP-S3200. Partly because it had all the features I was looking for (WiFi connectivity and on-line streaming from numerous content providers) AND... it has "screen mirroring" which the sales guy had seen at friends house and was very impressed by. Probably not my best purchase.  

I am really impressed with the appearance of the BR movies and the now better resolution of my old DVD's too. It is nice to have all the extra/added free content from providers like Crackle... and I will likely subscribe to a provider like Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix.


With the theater up and running I started researching the mirroring setup. I quickly discovered my iPhone [airplay] wasn't compatible with the Sony format. So... so much for sharing phone pictures on the BIG screen. I have an old android tablet that may or may not work. I don't know if apps on my 8.1 windows laptop will be compatible or not.

Do you have any insight? Suggested Sites for research?  

The player wasn't real pricey. I didn't pay more than I had planned anyway. I don't know if I could have purchased a better player for my needs. If I end-up not using the mirroring... oh well. But I would like to see that work!

I was thinking.... always a risky endeavor.... that if I replaced the old audio receiver that I now by-pass with the HDMI (and use a digital input cable) with a new model that has several HDMI inputs (I've already found one).
I could then buy and connect an Apple Play device and connect that to the theater.... and be able to throw those iPhone snapshots up on the screen through the Apple TV Device. Plus... we could Facetime with the grandkids on the big screen as well (very Jetson's-like).

But... being married I'd need a better cover story than the truth provides.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 10:45:41 AM by HA Dave »
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dhouston

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2015, 12:16:32 PM »

Sniff, sniff...     hmmm, I neither smell nor see any smoke...     my wireless KB/Trackpad worked at boot...     I do see the Windows 8.1 Start screen on my 50" Vizio TV.  :)

Now I have a chicken/egg problem. I need to connect to my hidden, MAC ADDR filtered WiFi but I don't know how to access the command line under the Windows 8.1 Start screen. From a Start Menu I can access the command line and query the OS for its MAC addresses (both wired and wireless). But, I need to connect to the Internet to install the Start8 Start Menu. My older router logged all attempts to connect so I could get the MAC ADDR that way but my new router only logs successful connections. I'll have to turn off MAC ADDR filtering, connect , get the MAC ADDR, then enter it and again enable MAC ADDR filtering. Or it might be simpler to string a CAT5 cable to make a wired connection then install Start8 and get the WiFi MAC ADDR.
EDIT: I managed to find the command line under the Windows 8.1 Start screen and got the MAC ADDR. I am now connected to my network and the Internet and have installed the Start8 trial version. Once I get it going and kill the pre-installed Symantec McAfee app which is interfering at every step, I should be able to begin evaluating things.  

Things will need to wait a couple of days as I have a medical appointment tomorrow and I'd rather have nothing pending when I start the project.

But, so far, all systems are GO and I'm very pleased with this new setup. It looks like it will do exactly what I expected of it.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 06:05:40 PM by dhouston »
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dhouston

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2015, 01:00:08 PM »

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dave w

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2015, 09:07:01 PM »

So, I guess I'll smoke test everything ...
Yes, I use that Las Vegas time saving method also.
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HA Dave

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2015, 09:54:54 PM »

Sniff, sniff...     hmmm, I neither smell nor see any smoke...     my wireless KB/Trackpad worked at boot...     I do see the Windows 8.1 Start screen on my 50" Vizio TV.  :).............. so far, all systems are GO and I'm very pleased with this new setup. It looks like it will do exactly what I expected of it.

YEA!!!! I always love it when a plan comes together.
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toasterking

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2015, 10:12:32 PM »

Do you have any insight?

I was just curious to see how you were planning to go about it.  Actually, I haven't done a lot of research myself because my ultrabook and my BlackBerry both have Micro HDMI connectors and it's very easy to just plug in the cable and start a video playing, whichever device it happens to be on.  We can supposedly do that on the iOS devices, also, with the appropriate "Digital AV Adapter," though we haven't bought or tried that.  I just find it kind of comical that we have several devices capable of sending video wirelessly, yet each is locked to a different proprietary protocol to do it.  My mother has a JVC TV that can receive video wirelessly using yet another protocol (I don't recall the name at the moment) which is incompatible with all three.  For this to work for the consumer, he/she would have to settle on one wireless video standard and then use that standard as the primary deciding factor when purchasing all their products!  Even choosing to buy all of one's products from the same manufacturer usually isn't possible except in the case of an unusual company like Samsung, which makes TVs, laptops, Android tablets, Android phones, and even Windows Phones.

Since I have HDMI ports on everything, I have assumed that if I really want to settle on one of those standards and start using it, they're all open to me so long as I can find compatible dongles for both the sending and receiving devices.  It doesn't beat the convenience of having the functionality built into the handheld devices, but I figure that if we're watching something on TV, we won't be going far with those devices anyway, so what's one more thing to set on the table?  (But iPhone 5s --> Lightning Digital AV Adapter --> HDMI adapter cable --> Miracast dongle -- that's a bit much!)  I'm not seeing a lot of dongles available for sending of video, though; mostly just for receiving.  That means I'd need a receiving dongle for each protocol and a separate port HDMI port on my TV (or an expensive switcher) to accommodate each of them, or a lot of device swapping which means I have to get up and plug something in anyway.  Hardly worth it!  I think I'll just wait this one out.

I expect that which standard wins will be determined by economics and its backing companies' strength in advertising to consumers and promoting to manufacturers.  As it is, the situation is still not nearly as bad as it was in the early 80s where we'd take our movie on Betamax to a friend's house to watch, only to find out that they only have a LaserDisc machine.  In that race, VHS won and gained ubiquity because of economics and a longer recording time, but certainly not because it was technically superior.

I'm aware that I'm getting a little off-topic here, so that's probably enough rambling!
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dhouston

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2015, 06:23:15 AM »

So, I guess I'll smoke test everything ...
Yes, I use that Las Vegas time saving method also.
Normally, I only read the documentation upon seeing smoke. -:)
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dave w

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2015, 08:29:33 PM »

 rofl
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dhouston

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2015, 10:22:57 AM »

After getting rid of the McAfee software that came pre-installed I am able to test streaming and can report that streaming Amazon Prime via Firefox works just as well as using the Vizio app for Amazon Prime. Actually, the Firefox route provides a much easier to navigate user interface and I can detect no loss of quality in 1080P video or the audio.

I'll try to report more later - yesterday's activity left me exhausted so I'm going to kickback and watch a few episodes of Justified before digging deeper into the Q190 configuration.

I would have saved $50 had I waited a few days.
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/desktops/lenovo/q-series/q190/
For one day only it was $150.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2015, 07:01:26 AM by dhouston »
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HA Dave

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2015, 11:38:19 AM »

I was just curious to see how you were planning to go about it........ because my ultrabook and my BlackBerry both have Micro HDMI connectors and it's very easy to just plug in the cable and start a video playing, whichever device it happens to be on.  We can supposedly do that on the iOS devices, also, with the appropriate "Digital AV Adapter," though we haven't bought or tried that.  I just find it kind of comical that we have several devices capable of sending video wirelessly, yet each is locked to a different proprietary protocol to do it.

I wouldn't really need "several devices" I'd just have to commit to only ONE... and stick with it. My wife is elderly (which works out well as so am I) and those old women DO like their iphones. So an Apple TV device.... and I am golden. But... the best way to use the iPhone to the bigger screen would be with Facetime (with the grandkids).... and I think the upstairs 50 inch would be best for that.

Currently.... I just ordered an HDMI "splitter" (actually amplifies and duplicates). I also ordered a converter that reduces the HDMI 1080p down to an analog 480 in a RCA video composite format. Which... I hope to convert to channel 3. This allows me to simulcast my theater movies into a near-by bath room. I know... a lot of work for a little wow factor of having the movie play in the bathroom but its been a feature [of the theater] for years.

I might be able to exploit this TV channel feature to present the theater image to the upstairs TV as well. Years ago... I had accomplished something similar using X10's video sender/receiver units. There are such units that use HDMI 1080 quality video now.

Since I have HDMI ports on everything, I have assumed that if I really want to settle on one of those standards and start using it, they're all open to me so long as I can find compatible dongles for both the sending and receiving devices. ................................. That means I'd need a receiving dongle for each protocol and a separate port HDMI port on my TV (or an expensive switcher) to accommodate each of them, or a lot of device swapping which means I have to get up and plug something in anyway.  Hardly worth it!  I think I'll just wait this one out.

Yep... HDMI has become to A/V what USB was/is to PC connectivity. I Have found an audio receiver/selector that has four [4] HDMI pass thur's. That could solve a lot of hardwire connectivity problems right there.

I have used the YouTube app which allows me to play YouTube videos on the big screen! Pretty slick... but has nothing to do with phone/tablet/PC connectivity. The device [BR player/dongle] app assigns a temporary "key or code" that is then entered at a specified Site... using whatever browser you select (phone/tablet/PC). This allows the Site to then feed the device with the YouTube you then select.

Pretty cool. And that would be a great way for me to show-off my favorite or latest Youtube created video. Or... display a cycling video for me to watch while on my bicycle trainer (I actually do that).   

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Modern automation is much more than turning things on and off.
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dhouston

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #26 on: January 24, 2015, 01:04:31 PM »

Now that I've had a little time, I've installed all the Windows 8.1 updates and looked at the Q190 configuration.

The Q190 recognized my TV on its HDMI port and configured things for 1920x1080. I found the Q190 WiFi MAC ADDR and connected to my router using instructions I found at...
http://pcsupport.about.com/od/windows-8/a/command-prompt-windows-8.htm

At the command prompt entering ipconfig /all will display a page or two of configuration data. You may need to scroll to find the WiFi adapter MAC ADDR.

Once connected to my router via WiFi, I downloaded and installed Start8 which gives me a Windows 7 style Start menu and screen.

I uninstalled McAfee Internet Security, activated Windows Defender and installed Avast antivirus.

Recent tests of my ADSL speed  show  ~8.5 Mbps - with 10Mbps recommended for HD my setup would appear to be somewhat marginal. Although, Netflix recommends 5 Mbps for HD. https://help.netflix.com/en/node/306
http://testinternetspeed.org/

I see a maximum 5 bars on WiFi connection (same as Smart TV).

I found this article that explains some of the issues.
http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/tech-tips-and-tricks/dave-taylor-hdmi-article.html

I have both a $20 Logitech K400 wireless KB/Touchpad and a $23 Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard (N9Z-00001). I prefer the latter but both work well.

My Vizio TV has Vizio Apps for Amazon, Netflix, Crackle, Hulu and a few others. I have tested streaming Amazon & Netflix via Firefox and both seem to work about as well as  using the built-in Vizio Apps. I have seen a couple of brief interruptions but that also occurs occasionally with feeding the TV directly via WiFi. I do prefer the online user interfaces which are easier to navigate than the Vizio Apps.

I will likely try ESPN via Sling TV once baseball season rolls around. http://www.sling.com/

EDIT: I need to investigate further but think the video interruptions may be are related to the Windows Sleep function. A swipe of the Touchpad seems to cure them. No more interruptions after resetting Power options to sleep after 1 hour inactivity.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 09:33:54 AM by dhouston »
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HA Dave

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2015, 12:18:29 AM »

That sounds like a nice setup dhouston.

Back in the days of windows 95.... I spent a huge amount of money trying to video chat (with my now wife) with a latest-greatest Pentium processor PC (I built myself from parts I bought at a computer show), a new Dcam (nearly as big as a brick), and a HUGE new 32" TV. It was fun but video-chat could barely be done using the computer and dial-up back then.

I've often thought of running my Home Theater using a laptop. But the projector is intimidating enough for the wife... so I stayed pretty old school. Which is now HD and working great (even the bathroom TV).

But your details makes me think I should consider connecting my normal laptop to the TV. It would be much easier to only have a (wireless) keyboard on my lap than a laptop with a powered cooling pad under it. AND... a wireless keyboard would be much easier to store or set aside than the laptop. I might try the setup with my (old) Vista laptop. I could let it run 24/7 and run my Home Automation on it too (fingers crossed).

I too have been looking at "content providers" I think Hulu looks like my best choice... for me because it looks like they have all the old StarTrek shows. $8 a month.

You've sure given me (and others too I'd guess) a lot of ideas to mull over. THANKS!
« Last Edit: January 25, 2015, 12:48:00 AM by HA Dave »
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Modern automation is much more than turning things on and off.
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dhouston

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2015, 07:13:19 AM »

My latest laptop has an HDMI port and I considered using it but decided it was too bulky, used more power and was, overall, less convenient. Another factor is that my TV is about 15' from my recliner (beyond optimal range http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimum_HDTV_viewing_distance#Manufacturers.27_recommendations) and, at that distance, browsing the web is not ideal as small print is harder to see than even on print contracts. I had seen that earlier when I tried a miniPC running Android. So, I decided to keep the laptop beside my recliner, powered down, except for times when I need more serious and up-close browsing power. On the Q190 I'll probably have Firefox tabs for Google News, Amazon Prime, Netflix, local weather and Sling TV - switching between them as needed/desired.

For my setup, the 500GB HDD is superfluous but I might decide to use the Q190 as a desktop PC with a regular monitor. There are other, similar PCs w/o the HDD but most come w/o an operating system. And, while I strongly dislike the Windows 8/8.1 user interface, I knew from my laptop experience that Start8 gives a Windows 7 style UI.  I don't need a DVD R/W drive nor Blu-ray player but both are add-on options. The numerous USB ports would allow for connecting a CM15A, CM11A (with USB/Serial adapter), etc. making the Q190 the main HA interface. I don't know whether Windows Speech is ready for primetime but it might be useful in place of a mouse/touchpad or as an HA interface (with appropriate software).

One highly desirable feature would be an API for my Vizio Smart TV to allow me integrate things even more. AFAIK, there is no such API but I expect them to start appearing given the Internet of Things thing. There is an optional Lenovo handheld remote w/KB that works with certain TVs providing better integration. It might be worth investigation. A learning remote would be even better.

I have a Toshiba DVR620KU DVD R/W VCR R/W but it does not upconvert. I have to use the various adjustments available on my TV but they are all less than optimal. I find it sadly disconcerting to see a young Alyssa Milano looking as wide as she is tall. I had a DVD player which did a decent job of upconverting. If the Lenova DVD add-on upconverts (unknown) it might be worthwhile for those with large libraries of DVDs.

This is probably the simplest HTPC/HAPC route for those averse to tinkering with hardware.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 08:26:30 AM by dhouston »
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HA Dave

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Re: Home Theater Upgrade
« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2015, 09:01:17 AM »

At one time... I had my own Web Site but that got too complex (and a little expensive). I had, had pictures of my Home Theater setup there as well as some other projects. Those were the days.

I took a Panoramic image of my theater this morning. It gives a decent idea of the setup.
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Modern automation is much more than turning things on and off.
The use of Home Automation is limited... only by our imaginations.
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