0DVB LogicPlanning a new networked home media setup

In the com­ing months I will be buy­ing a new prop­erty, and to go with my new home, I’ve been read­ing up lots on how I might integ­rate a new home media setup.  In recent months sev­er­al excit­ing new options have become avail­able, which finally makes the sort of setup I have always desired a real pos­sib­il­ity.

Cur­rently, I have 1 HTPC which lives under the lounge TV and con­tains a Black­Gold twin freeview-HD tuner.  Upstairs in the attic I have a Win­dows Serv­er 2008 R2 serv­er which con­tains a RAID card and approx 8Tb of stor­age.  The HTPC is respons­ible for record­ing TV, whilst the serv­er con­tains vari­ous media and doc­u­ment lib­rar­ies.  The serv­er runs 24.7, wheras the HTPC sleeps unless we are watch­ing or record­ing TV.  We also have a bed­room TV with built-in freeview which isn’t con­nec­ted to the media-net­work.

Whilst this sys­tem is fine, and has served me well for a num­ber of years, I would like to find ways to also do the fol­low­ing

  • Man­age TV record­ings from my android phone, or via the web.
  • Store the recor­ded TV on the serv­er auto­mat­ic­ally, rather than on the HTPC.
  • Record the TV in a way that makes it access­ible on oth­er plat­forms or devices (i.e. not in WTV format)
  • Hook the bed­room TV into the net­work, so recor­ded TV and all my stored media can be watched in the bed­room — most likely by put­ting a second HTPC into the bed­room.
  • Carry out TV record­ing on the serv­er, so the HTPC can be switched off, rather than left on standby, and also so that it can be smal­ler, lower powered, and quieter.
  • Replace the stor­age sys­tem in my serv­er, which cur­rently uses hard­ware raid, which whilst fast, can only be expan­ded up to 8 drives, which proves very costly when it comes time to replace the whole array.  I also have prob­lems, doc­u­mented on anoth­er art­icle, where the raid array drops drives because the card expects enter­prise class drives, and desktop drives don’t have TLER / CCTL enabled.

My serv­er already has mul­tiple roles, includ­ing web and FTP serv­ers as well as metadata man­age­ment and auto­mated down­load­ing of vari­ous media (e.g. pod­casts).  It runs win­dows, and many of the apps I run on it are win­dows only.  I can eas­ily put the TV cards I have in it, but Media Cen­ter isn’t avail­able on Win­dows Serv­er 2008.  Due to the serv­er roles I use it for, I don’t want to replace Serv­er 2008 R2 with Win­dows 7 (which does include Media Cen­ter) so a solu­tion which provides TV record­ing without Media Centrer would be ideal.  This would also address the prob­lem of recor­ded files being in WTV format, which isn’t very com­pat­ible with oth­er devices or plat­forms.  The second issue I have is that I would like to oper­ate a soft­ware-based raid-like stor­age sys­tem which is much more flex­ible and expand­able than hard­ware-raid.  The best solu­tion for this is UnRAID, but sadly this is a stan­dalone solu­tion, and wont run under Win­dows (without messy things like vir­tu­al machines which are too risky for the import­ance of my data).

The first pos­sib­il­ity I have iden­ti­fied for my stor­age needs is FlexRAID.  This is an UnRAID like sys­tem which runs on top of Win­dows.  It is still cur­rently in devel­op­ment, and vari­ous parts are either alpha or beta, but it appears to offer all the fea­tures I want, and is being act­ively developed and sup­por­ted.  I will be play­ing around with it in the upcom­ing weeks.

The solu­tion to the remain­ing issues is (hope­fully) all in 1.  DVBLogic’s DVBLink Con­nect Serv­er provides a cent­ral­ised serv­er record­ing sys­tem which shares TV cards via net­work to Media Cen­ter, Android, Boxee, DLNA devices and more.  It enables pooled-record­ing for Media Cen­ter, watch­ing TV on mobile devices (Win­dows Phone 7, Android, IOS), and remote man­age­ment of record­ings via web or mobile.  It will run on the serv­er which can con­tain TV cards, and store recor­ded TV along with all oth­er media.  Unsur­pris­ingly it isn’t free, but giv­en the fea­ture list (and matur­ity) the price of €21 is very reas­on­able!

New Media Home Setup

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