servin’ up fun

18 01 2013

More of a personal post than a story update. I do plan to have 007 content for you this Sunday — either the whole finale at once and then a quiet week, or splitting it up across two weeks. Probably the latter. Anyways.

I want to make a home media server. Specifically, a PC attached to my television, so I can watch digital video files (FLV/AVI/MP4) and Bluray movies, as well as emulate arcade games and such on my TV. Maybe even use Steam’s big picture mode. In the background it’ll run a personal Minecraft server and some other odds and ends. I know the basics of what I need to do all of that, hardwarewise.

What I don’t know is how exactly to control all of this. Either the software to run on the system, or the hardware that tells that software what to do.

What should I be running so I can launch video files, play discs, or launch a game emulator — and how do I control it? Is there a remote control designed for this sort of thing, or maybe an iPhone app? Do I need some special media server software? Most of the stuff I’ve looked at is focused on delivering media over your LAN but I don’t need that, the PC’s gonna be connected to the TV, it just has to launch playback (or a game emulator like MAME) on demand.

I don’t need something overblown here; no $200 home media server solution thing. I just wanna launch video and launch applications, and do it using a reasonably efficient and simple control method. Done.

Again, requirements are that it works under Windows 7, it can playback AVI and FLV and MP4 (maybe MKV too), it can launch executables on demand, and that it be controllable without having to bust out a keyboard and mouse.

Any suggestions?

Edit: Looks like the answer is XMBC — it has plug-ins for everything, even arcade emulation, and is open source. I’m okay with alternative suggestions though, and control suggestions. Or PC hardware suggestions.

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5 responses

18 01 2013
Benny

I have a similar setup as you describe and after having tried all sorts of solutions I ended up using a wireless mini-keyboard with built-in touchpad. If a mini keyboard aren’t an option you could always go for a USB/IR remote control like this one: http://www.amazon.com/SANOXY-Wireless-Remote-Control-Mouse/dp/B001M56DI0/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Best of luck to you. :)

18 01 2013
Konstantin

In my experience, a mini-keyboard with built-in trackball has been the least bad solution for basic operation (running video files and updating MAL). For anything more complex than that, I just remote desktop in from my desktop.

18 01 2013
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Yeah, that’s looking viable — it’ll give me the ability to deal with anything that pops up.

20 01 2013
sana

Another little piece of advise:
MKVs or other high quality mediaformats are quite hungry on processorpower in the higher parts(1080p), so don’t cheap there if you want these formats.

another option for controlling would be a rdp app. Basically you have full mouse function over your phone. Not sure if there is an iphone version. I only worked with the android app. Just use WLAN, then you don’t need to open the port to the net.

20 01 2013
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Yeah, I’m opting for a computer very much like this one:
http://mymediaexperience.com/htpc-builds/performance-htpc/
Probably with a slightly better video card in case I wanna play a current gen game on it. It should have enough power for Bluray and 1080p.

I’ve ordered a miniature keyboard with touchpad mouse built in. It was pretty cheap, so it that flops I’ll get a plug-in for XBMC which lets me control it via web browser, and use my phone.

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