For Christmas this year the wife and I are planning on getting our kids Smart TV's and building a Media Server for the house network. While I have plenty of experience building and maintaining home pc's and some experience running a server, I am kind of at a loss as to what hardware I need or would be good for such a build. Any server we build needs to potentially be able to handle simultaneous streaming to 4 devices (the 3 smart tv's and an xbox 360 or PS3). I am looking at rackmount server cases with hotswapable drivebays for ease of expansion. More bays the better to allow for future expansion.
Approximate Purchase Date: e.g.: Starting Beginning of October
Budget Range: $3000 after taxes/shipping
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Media Streaming/Transcoding, data storage
Are you buying a monitor: No
Do you need to buy OS: Yes (looking at WHS or Win8)
Future expansion is very important
Simultaneous streaming is much preferred, again 3 smart tv's and Xbox360
Possible transcoding for a PS3 (game systems are on same None Smart HDTV so might just be easier to stream to Xbox)
720P's are for the kids and in that price range and size seem to be the only smart tv's we can find seriously doubt the kids will notice a difference. Got a 1080p in the front room and this box will be hooked directly into it.
Not sure if that case will work. I already have over 1TB of media between an 750gb external drive, my laptop and what has been placed on the PS3. Have quite a few DVD's and BluRay's to digitize so the kids don't mess the disks up. This is why I was looking at the RPC-4224 as that way I can expand as I need and still keep it all internal.
Gonna hardwire everything. I occasionally run into issues now with netflix on my PS3 and XBox (both wireless) when my wife and I are uploading our work for the day to the banks. Programs are bandwidth hogs.
If you're looking to store movies onto a central location for the kids to view, I don't think a "Smart TV" isn't going to be able to access those movies by itself. You still need some sort of Media Extender to be able to view that content.
I'd also ask what is your video source for live TV - Cable, Satellite, or Free Over-The-Air transmissions?
Finally, looking at your build I noted you listed a PCI-X RAID controller. You do know that this is iffy, at best, as to whether or not it will even work in a PCI slot (completely incompatible with PCI-E), and if it does, it's limited by the PCI slot's speed.
Compatible is one thing. Streaming from a central source is another. Now I may be completely off in this and if I am: 1) Please, someone correct me and 2) I'm sorry! Otherwise, please confirm with someone more knowledgeable than I am.
I asked about your live TV set up because I wanted to introduce you to the Ceton family of products. There's actually a number of cablecard TV Tuner cards that should be compatible with your cable company.
Now the selling points for these types of tuner cards are that they replace a set top box (so long as you don't mind losing Pay-Per-View) and that they're network-able. Individual tuners can be assigned to other PCs or Extenders. As an example, if you had a quad-tuner cable card solution installed in your main HTPC, you could assign one tuner to a parent's bedroom PC/extender and one each of two children's bedroom PC/extenders, and still leave one tuner for the living room. Each system/extender would act as if a physical TV Tuner card was installed.
Now, how many TV Tuners you need is going to depend on how many systems you want to connect. My personal recommendation would be two tuners for the main system, and one each for the parent's bedroom and kid's bedrooms. Yes, you can install multiple devices into a single solution.
Regardless of which TV Tuner solution you decide upon (and assuming you still need an extender device to stream local media to your TVs), I'd like you to take a look at the Ceton Echo. As I understand, it's currently in Beta Testing with a scheduled release at the end of the year. With this device, connected either via hardwire Cat5 or MoCA networking, it acts as if a full fledged HTPC is connected to the monitor. The only thing it lacks is an optical drive (which you want to avoid, anyway).
Also, if your kids are old enough to have smartphones, there is a Ceton Companion App that would allow them to control the extender from a smartphone.
All in all, the above recommendation is based on my belief that a Smart TV isn't going to be able to directly pull media stored on a PC. My first recommendation would be to go to Best Buy, where you intend to purchase these TVs, and ask a tech, "How do I display two or more locally stored media files, simultaneously onto multiple Smart TVs from my PC?".
SimonB530 - You're kind of hijacking this thread. I'd recommend you copy this post into a new thread and then edit this post with a link to the new thread. You should be able to edit this post, copy all, start a new thread and paste all. Your links should be preserved. Then either delete this post or edit it to state something along the lines of, "looking for something similar, please see my new post", with a link to your new thread.
Thanks again WolfShadw. I'll take a look at the cable tuners. The wife and I hadn't thought of linking the cable tv and we rarely use PPV anyway. Only thing is our local cable company is very restrictive so I am not sure if this is something we can do. Might be an option if TimeWarner actually does buy them out though.
AS for the tv's we found those particular models at one of our local best buy stores and then I downloaded the manual from the manufacturer. The tv's are DLNA certified so they should be good.