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Multi-room viewing on the cheap


Having a single video server in your home that can multicast HD streams to separate client set-top boxes is something that a few companies are working on (and is something I would very much like to have), but no one has perfected it.

Dave Zatz over at Zatz Not Funny decided that he didn't want to wait. He came up with a very straightforward way to get HD video from his TiVo to two separate displays using a TiVo HD, a component cable, a 35' HDMI cable and a drill (it isn't a real project unless power tools are involved).

Of course, Dave's solution doesn't allow for separate programs on each of the displays; however, it does solve the problem of needing to buy two TiVo HDs.

I am using a similar low-tech method of getting SD video from one of my DirecTV R10 (aka DirecTiVo) units to 3 separate TVs.

I ran a coax cable out from the DirecTiVo (which was already connected to a 32" LCD in our family room via S-video) to the input of a video switch I installed in the basement. The switch connects to all of the cable lines running through the house and distributes the video signal from the DirecTiVo. I use IR remote transmitters to allow the DirecTiVo to be controlled from any room in the house. It's very low-tech, but really handy.

Have you used low-tech methods to get the most out of your home theater equipment? If so, post a comment in the discussion and tell us about it. 
8 comments
cwise
cwise

I currently have a Tivo with 2 channels but can only save them to the box itself. I am using satelite connection. What would I need to be able to record movies to a dvd and start a "colection" of movies?

ratruitt
ratruitt

What is needed is a HD capable video modulator. For non-HD I run the TiVo output into a VM and insert the signal into a video amplifier that goes to all the house TVs. The TiVo is now channel 63 on any TV in the house. IR can be routed via the same cables back to the wiring closet to control the TiVo unit (RF could also be used). This method also allows for stereo / surround audio to go to all TVs also. A second solution is a SlingBox and run network cable instead of Coax. Check out Smarthome.com for ideas.

jelwood
jelwood

Sounds like it is worth a try - enough so that I am ordering a Tivo. However with respect to using the IR Remote from any room in the house I thought that IR Remotes were line of sight devices. How would that work? Jim

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I work as a business/market development rep for a major provider in the structured cabling/home theater installation industry. We carry many manufacturer's products and handle everything from a $500.00 bathroom audio system to multi-million dollar dedicated home theaters. I know of Smarthome, but have no personal bias because they are neither a competitor nor a client of mine as we work in different countries they deal with end users and I deal with installers, developers and designers, they are simply a mass online retailer, not a specialist in their industry as they like to claim (and neither am I but my clients are). Most products they offer are low end junk knockoffs or products that never competed on the market due to poor quality or performance, which are priced equivalent to their few good products. A great deal of them are not available in Canada because they simply don't pass CSA standards for resale in Canada. For example, they will price a no name structured cabling system, (prebuilt with cheap splitters?) to a Channel Vision cab. The CV cab is pretty cheap for the market, but also very high quality product, and yet the low end product sees a price hike to be inline with Channel Vision, thus offering an illusion that the product compares in quality. These low end splitters are sometimes quite a fire hazard also which will void yoru home owners fire insurance. Whenit comes to IR, that's eay, you can even get IR over Coax products for less than $20.00 these days from reputable manufacturers. Do yourself a favour, find a local low voltage wiring installer (most alarm/bult-in vacuum companies do this stuff too) or home theater designer to handle structured cabling and RF modulation. They at least have quality products and know what they are talking about. ***Plus they build to code and don't void your home insurance as many products do. Even overthe counter hardware solutions will often void your fire insurance as they are not compliant off the shelf.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

While there are many ways of splitting an HD signal, the proper way to retain your signal is to use an HDTV musltiswitch, generally incorprated into a structured wiring system. The use of proper modulation will provide constant LNB voltage and offer an amplified antenna/cable input (-2dBmZ). Without this, you end up watching the same show on both sets, you lose signal quality and don't et proper channel filtering. ESPECIALLY when using satellite or digital cable boxes (the bane of structured cabling systems). A half decent amplified multiswitch will run about $250.00 dealer cost, just under $500.00 list. A decent switch, a professional switch will run $400.00 dealer cost and about $1000.00 list. On the cheap? Yeah it can be done, sorta, but it is cheap. Using a structured cabling system and IR repeaters will offer individual viewing of your channel choices and also offer independent IR control from rooms equipped with IR repeaters (dirt cheap from Russound, Channel Vision or Channel Plus).

wrey
wrey

He probably meant a RF control, just like the BOSE stereo systems have, and I think that the wireless controls of the XBOX 360. Not that you would want to play a game without looking at the screen. :-)

sMoRTy71
sMoRTy71

I use a set of RCA IR blasters that have wired emitter nodes that sit in front of the device you want to control. This allows you to place the unit out of site. Of course, you could set the device across the room from your equipment and control multiple devices. Here is the D940 on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/26ahyd

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