wasn't sure if this is the right place to leave an article/review suggestion, so if it isn't no need to flame me for being thick.
For a long time I've been looking for a way to have centralized (live) TV broadcasting/streaming throughout the home network. So, here's my suggestion for a possible review of a server+client set-up. Essentially it's the analog of having a NSLU2+Roku Soundbridge streaming, but for live video instead of audio only.
My idea for the set-up is as follows:
1- a device "A" (a live video/TV server) to which one could connect several video sources, like a cable STB, Sat STB and perhaps the possibility to add a third device.
2- Device "A" would be connected to a router and able to stream its output to UPnP clients on the network. Also, the ability to be controlled from the UPnP clients would be required, as well as a good IR blaster to relay IR commands to the input devices.
3- Device "A" would also have to be low-power, as it would probably be on for long periods of time. By low power I mean something like 30w or less.
4- The ability to send out two independent streams simultaneously would be nice, but not essential.
5- Devices of type "B" (the clients) would be able to receive the stream, relay it to a TV set via HD capable connectors, like DVI, hdmi or at least component. These would also have to be low power - ideally not a PC.
Needless to say that for live streaming the most important thing is that there are no hiccups (ever) at any stage of the process, device "A" or "B".
Currently I can only think of two possibilities that would come close to achieving what is required of device "A". The SlingBox or a dedicated PC.
The SlingBox falls short in two important points, like image quality (very low max resolution supported), only one video source supported.
A PC is more flexible, but has its own shortcomings, like power consumption (except perhaps a Via nano/mini system??), size, software/hardware set-up time, and ability to support several video sources (unless one were to add extra video capture cards, at the expense of power and size). Two things that also worry me about the PC solution are the ability to consistently encode and relay high-quality video (>=720p) in real time without any hiccups and the flexibility of existing software servers.
For device "B", at first I thought the recently reviewed D-Link 520 would fit the bill, but after reading the review it doesn't look like it would be very comfortable with MPEG4 or HD streams. Even though HD isn't a very important point at the moment, if the combo is to be future proof, it should be capable of handling it.
Anyway, my point is that surely there are lots of people out there who would like a setup like this, some for the comfort and flexibility, others simply for the convenience of viewing their TV STB's output from any room in the house. As far as I know this issue hasn't been addressed in any reviews before (here or elsewhere). So perhaps an article about this would help out myself and others out there while possibly raising manufacturer's awareness to the lack of such products in the market right now.
If you made it this far, many thanks and congrats for your perseverance!
The setup you describe is the goal of many HTPC builders. It is a work in progress given the state of the various technologies.
Server solutions all must be PC based at this point, as there are no "appliances" in this area. Key issue here is DRM, which limits what can be streamed and essentially forces users to break U.S. laws to convert even content they own for streaming.
On the client end, things are evolving with products like the DSM-520 just starting to sprout DVI/HDMI connections.
While we may not have had an article meeting your specific needs, we will continue to expand our converage in this area, so stay tuned.