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PecanEater
Jul 12, 2010, 02:48 PM
I’m a neophyte doing research to set up my first HTPC. I’m posting this to solicit advice on my options. Is there any 10 foot UI based system that I can run on a Apple (Mac Mini) that will integrate access to my iTunes music libary, online television and movies (Hulu, netflix, etc), and a QAM tuner with DVI capability for the little bit of live TV I watch (no cable TV!)? I’m looking for system that will allow me to control this all via a 10ft UI with as little keyboard and mouse time as possible.

I’ve been doing a lot of online reading and it seems that in the Mac world Plex + Elgato EyeTV Hybrid are the best regarded options to suit my purpose. However, my understanding is that these two won’t play well together and I would have to switch between the two. My understanding is that outside the Mac world with Windows Media Center 7 I could have this all in one 10ft UI.

Am I correct that in contrast to the other HTPC options - Plex, Boxee, XBMC – only WMC7 offers television tuning with DVI capability?

I generally enjoy apple products but I'm thinking of going with a Dell Zeno.



irishv
Jul 12, 2010, 05:03 PM
My new Mac Mini arrived from Amazon on Friday, and I spent the weekend setting it up to replace my AppleTV. A full review will be coming, but just thought I'd respond as my goals were the same as yours. I have a large iTunes library (~750GB of Music, TV Shows, Movies) and want a simple way to access it along with OTA HD, online sources (Hulu, ESPN3). This is replacing cable for me, so DVR capabilities would be a plus, although giving my wife the ability to control everything with a single Harmony remote is more important.

My solution thus far has been Mac Mini, Plex, and an HDHomeRun tuner. The HDHomeRun picks up all the local stations in very clear HD. It is plugged into my Time Capsule and the streams can be viewed on any computer on my network (via ethernet or wireless N). Right now I'm using the Plex plugin for it, which works well for watching individual channels. There is no program guide or DVR capabilities yet, although it does let you pause live tv. EyeTV will give you this, although I haven't tried it yet. You should be able to launch EyeTV in fullscreen mode from the Plex Applications menu, and it should seamlessly switch between the two.

Non-DRM'ed music and movies from my iTunes library work perfectly. Plex scrapes meta data for movies and presents everything very well. I'm still working on TV Shows, as mine are managed by iTunes so they don't use the right naming standard for Plex to pick up automatically. There is a big update to Plex coming out sometime soon (hopefully) that should fix this.

Online content works perfectly aside from fast forwarding in some sources. Hulu, ESPN3, HGTV, I've found the online music plugins a great addition that I did not expect. Pandora, NPR, and the Live Music Archive are all great.

My outstanding items are deciding whether to buy EyeTV to get a program guide/DVR, fix the TV show issue, and finish configuring my Harmony 880 so everything is just a click or two away.

To answer your question, WMC7 probably offers most of this in a pretty good package. Plex has a very active developer community, though, and once Plex .9 is released it should have most of my minor concerns addressed.


However, my understanding is that these two won’t play well together and I would have to switch between the two.

Just wanted to add that these should play well together. Launching apps from Plex works very well and can all be done with the remote. Hitting menu on the remote should close EyeTV and relaunch Plex. It works with Front Row, I just haven't confirmed EyeTV yet.

PecanEater
Jul 12, 2010, 07:48 PM
irishv, thanks for the reply. From my reading, EyeTV can't be configured to switch to Plex as it does to Front Row. It's disappointing. I'd prefer to go with an Apple system but this seems like a serious flaw for me. If I'm going to fork out the money for a HTPC I'd like to be able to do everything from one simple interface. I'm also attempting to make a user friendly interface for my wife. Frustrating.

irishv
Jul 12, 2010, 09:55 PM
irishv, thanks for the reply. From my reading, EyeTV can't be configured to switch to Plex as it does to Front Row. It's disappointing. I'd prefer to go with an Apple system but this seems like a serious flaw for me. If I'm going to fork out the money for a HTPC I'd like to be able to do everything from one simple interface. I'm also attempting to make a user friendly interface for my wife. Frustrating.

Yeah, I get the frustration. Over the years I've learned that's par for the course with Apple products. It's very easy to get 80% of what you want, but the last 20% is damn near impossible. From the Plex forums it sounds like Plex doesn't like giving up the remote to EyeTV, although RemoteBuddy could offer possible solutions. Simply setting up multiple activities on the Harmony remote could also work, although I want to avoid that. It's too bad the devs over there (or Apple for that matter) aren't very interested in live tv integration.

http://forums.plexapp.com/index.php?/topic/10428-tip-plex-eyetv-harmony-heaven-without-remote-buddy-etc/

http://forums.elgato.com/viewtopic.php?f=117&t=7423&p=37459&hilit=plex#p37459

Another possible solution is Front Row + the EyeTV plugin. Not as slick as Plex, but it appears to work.

http://forums.elgato.com/viewtopic.php?f=91&t=2113

Tilpots
Jul 13, 2010, 10:47 PM
irishv, thanks for the reply. From my reading, EyeTV can't be configured to switch to Plex as it does to Front Row. It's disappointing. I'd prefer to go with an Apple system but this seems like a serious flaw for me. If I'm going to fork out the money for a HTPC I'd like to be able to do everything from one simple interface. I'm also attempting to make a user friendly interface for my wife. Frustrating.

Just an FYI, if you launch EyeTV from Plex, when you quit EyeTV, Plex will automagically re-open.

PecanEater
Jul 14, 2010, 08:16 AM
Just an FYI, if you launch EyeTV from Plex, when you quit EyeTV, Plex will automagically re-open.

Thanks for the info.

irishv
Jul 15, 2010, 09:18 PM
Just an FYI, if you launch EyeTV from Plex, when you quit EyeTV, Plex will automagically re-open.

Good to hear. Have you had any issues using the remote inside EyeTV after launching from Plex?

Tilpots
Jul 15, 2010, 09:58 PM
Good to hear. Have you had any issues using the remote inside EyeTV after launching from Plex?

No. Can't remember that ever being an issue, but I do have Candleair installed.

BigDukeSix
Jan 25, 2011, 02:20 PM
Good info. Irishv, have you had any issues/updates since your initial post? And, do you have an external antenna connected to your tuner?