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Thread: Us HTPC'ers have much to learn from you guys

  1. #11
    lez
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peoples
    i dont understand what your paying for with charmed quark....that apps like mce, or meedio dont have...with plugins

    Ok I understood what the other guy said, but after reading that I wondered if I was still on the vodka.......

    I take it cq? is freeware or cheap, and its like mce, then I get lost, it does / does not have plugins, like meedio?

    I thought I had sussed Anglish.
    Lez, more widely known as flez1966

  2. #12
    ivb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peoples
    i dont understand what your paying for with charmed quark....that apps like mce, or meedio dont have...with plugins
    Honestly there's just no comparison. If you're looking for the ability to direct-connect many back-end devices, and create a simple UI that's stable and that non-techies can use [i.e., my wife, 4 yr old kid, MIL/FIL, brain-dead BIL], this is your only real option. I speak from experience - I own copies of Girder, Meedio, paypal'ed support for myHTPC, spent countless hours on XLobby...

    MCE & Meedio are meant for front-end control only, and don't give you simple ability to create new interfaces that can reliably work over a network or on a PDA-level device. Hence they give you 10% of the complexity of any real system. CQC is $200 for the base, which is all I need to run above. Meedio is $80. For the extra $120 you get:
    1) Stability. Plug-ins just don't work reliably. MCE really doesn't work reliably especially when you add in a ton of components [i.e. HDTV, XM, ...] When you have a single package driving both the front-end and back-end, there are no handshakes that need to happen.
    2) Back-end control. Imagine this, and this is all possible within 3-6 months:
    - To leave your house: You punch in an exit code to your security system. CQC then: turns off all TVs, radios, stops playback of any audio, turns off lights, turns off heat.
    - To enter your house: Press an RF button on your keychain. CQC turns on any desired lights, turns up heat, disables security system, unlocks and opens door
    3) Ludicrously simple Front-end screen painting ability. The interface editor makes it trivial to paint screens that are usable either over your PC or your PDA.

    Check out this screenshot for my HTPC control via my PDA-cellphone. It's the CQC interface editor and the resultant screen where I display some songs AND the status of my Denon receiver. can it get any simpler than this? If I wanted to display anything else [ie temperature], or add a command button [ie close curtains/turn lights on/heat up], it would truly be trivial.



  3. #13
    ivb
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    Quote Originally Posted by lez
    Ok I understood what the other guy said, but after reading that I wondered if I was still on the vodka.......

    I take it cq? is freeware or cheap, and its like mce, then I get lost, it does / does not have plugins, like meedio?

    I thought I had sussed Anglish.
    CQC is $200 for the base package, $300 for the full deal. It sounds expensive only until you realize how much you'll have to pay to achieve same fxnlty. [Girder + NetRemote + HomeSeer + Meedio].

    If you use freeware/shareware, you won't have close to the same level of functionality, and the current state is that it's too unstable for the non-techies to turn over control of their house to it.

    After all, in 4-8 weeks my HTPC will be the primary controller for heating, irrigation, and all A/V content. I have no standalone TV system and all my DVDs & CDs are in the attic. If the HTPC dies, you'll be cold as hell with nothing to watch or listen to. If it was just me, I wouldn't care. As it's a wife, 4 yr old, and 2 yr old who'll kick my a$$, I won't do ANYTHING that's not guaranteed stable and brain-dead simple to use.

    Plus, for the cool factor, I can put one of the $250 3400s I posted above in every room and independently control what the TV/speakers in that room listen to, or synch up with any other room. That type of stuff costs $000s via creston or AMX.

  4. #14
    It's not really that small...No, seriously. judoGTI's Avatar
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    Nice job, I have an HTPC using Sage too, what frontend is that? Obviously you have your whole house wired, I only have my TV. Looks good though!
    '02 GTI
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  5. #15
    Variable Bitrate spyhunter's Avatar
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    Wow very cool. And i thought my simple htpc was cool. I'm impressed.
    Alex
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  6. #16
    ivb
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    Before I say anything else, you should note that i'm displaying my receiver status & can control on the same UI. Sage cannot do that right now. That's key for me as I have my equipment in a separate room from the TV [only way wife would let me get a plasma], and otherwise I was constantly guessing whether the receiver was on or not.

    To do the Denon control, paint the screens, and all other back-end integration, I use CQC [www.charmedquark.com, forum is at http://charmedquark.com/phpBB2/index.php ]. As mentioned 2 posts above, it only took me about 30 minutes to do each screen [and I'm not a techie]. But the advantage of CQC over NetRemote/Girder/HomeSeer/MainLobby [which is what you'd need to replace it] is that it's a single program, so there's no integration issues.

    I have about 300 CDs, 100 DVDs, 300GB of SD-TV, 25ish hours of HDTV ripped. I decided that every manufacturer that tries to create an integrated front end is targeting the mass market, and hence they make something for the lowest common denominator. I decided to just make my own.

    WAF and non-techie control is now much higher.

  7. #17
    Constant Bitrate donde's Avatar
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    what hardware did you have to get to perform all those functions?

    How does CQC browse music and video databases? Can it browse without album arrt, and sort by genre or artist via id3 tags? Could it read files off of a server instead of having them stored locally?

    Sorry for all the questions, your project just looks so interesting. Thanks

  8. #18
    ivb
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    I'll respond with 2 posts:
    1) Cost
    CQC is pretty low-weight. This is from a thread I posted on avsforumc.om. I updated some of the specifics since that posting, but it's generally accurate.
    __________________________________________________ _______________
    I do both Home Theater [initial goal], and am now in the process of adding on Home Automation capabilities to my system. I initially started in Home Automation b/c I wanted to display my receiver status on a custom-painted screen, and the package I bought to do that offered so many other useful items for seriously low cost that it would be a sin not to.

    Thought I'd post what I have for my HT/HA PC server in terms of hardware/software. My approach assumes a 2+box approach: One for the server that strictly acts as the TV recording server, HA server, and file server. The other box(es) can then be dedicated to playback for each TV. I personally did this as boxes are dang cheap, plus for this posting it's too much to deal with client PCs and the cpu/mobo/vidcard combos as those are such heated arguments. (ATI sucks! no ATI rocks but Intel sucks!). Let's leave it at - one of my clients cost me <$500.

    This is what I'd have to spend to replace it immediately without waiting for sales, all from newegg [except for vidcard]. This assumes I have to repay for software, which of course I wouldn't.

    The $ amount I came up with: $1416. $846 for hardware, $420 for software. I put links against each item so you can see where I got the $ amount.

    This gets you 1TB of usable storage, a legit copy of XP, a client license for Sage [as you now have to link your HTPC client to this server], and CQC [charmed quark systems, my HT/HA package].

    I believe I got everything, there may be 1-2 things that I forgot, but it doesn't change the fundamental premise that it is not crushingly expensive to add some serious storage, pretty front-end, and strong back-end HA capabilities to an HTPC system.

    Hardware: $996
    Asus A7V600 - $56 (Can't actually buy this anymore, but there's many choices at this dollar amount)
    AMD 2400 - $68 (far more than needed, but i'm spec'ing out my rebuild here. My CPU is typically 1-15%)
    512MB - $44
    ATI 9000 Pro - $25 on eBay
    CD Drive - $22
    Antec Sonata II + 450W PS - $80
    2 x 250GB PATA - $202
    40GB Boot HD - $45
    2 x 250GB SATA - $187
    Keybd + Mouse - $8
    KVM (as now both PCs have to share the display - $19
    Hauppauge PVR-150 TV Tuner Card - $90
    Fusion HDTV Tuner Card - $150

    Software: $420
    XP Home - $100
    CQC - the glue for the entire system plus custom screen building utility - $200
    JRMC V11 - music mgmt software - $40
    Sage TV - PVR software - $80
    DVDProfiler - DVD mgmt software - Free
    ZoomPlayer - automation-controllable audio renderer - Free

    FWIW, I use TheaterTek on the client-side to handle DVD playback. It's the best I've seen, much easier than ZoomPlayer plus codecs.

  9. #19
    ivb
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    Quote Originally Posted by donde
    How does CQC browse music and video databases? Can it browse without album arrt, and sort by genre or artist via id3 tags? Could it read files off of a server instead of having them stored locally?
    For music, it links to the XML generated by JR Media Center.
    For video, in 3 weeks it'll link directly to DVDProfiler.

    It can browse without album art - as a matter of fact, I just added a button toggling display between art/art+text/just text.

    CQC is meant to be network-distributed. It's designed to read files off a server.

  10. #20
    Raw Wave tj!2k4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P3rv3rt B3ar
    Damn thief! will u rip all my ideas....

    kidding...


    But now seriously... its freaking ugly, get that tablet rather!
    It's a tablet in a cradle...

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