To provide a sample set up of a Media Center living room, here is how I have set things up:
1. The network: Upgraded everything to Gigabit 6 months ago. It is incredibly inexpensive (D-Link gigabit router is down to $50!). This allows me to move data around the network at lightening speeds while ensuring that nothing slows down gaming.
2. The printers: I was fed up with having to leave a PC on to share printers across the network so I installed 2 Trendware print servers.They attach to the network and our 2 USB printers (1 photo printer, 1 b&w laser) so that they are available to everyone, all the time. Again, incredibly inexpensive at only $60 per unit! If you are sharing printers, I would highly recommend it.
3. The media loop: To ensure the greatest speed between the XBOX 360 that is attached to the TV and the kitchen based media server, they are installed on their own gigabit loop. Want to see pictures or listen to music in the living room? No problem, turn on the XBOX, hit the media center button and voila! Everying at your fingertips in full HD, large screen glory (HD projector to be added at a future date).
4. The gaming loop: We have multiple machines on their own loop in the toyroom. My machine is for video editing, backups (with many 250GB drives installed) and gaming with the boys. Again, on it’s own loop to ensure that when they are beating me up in Age of Empires III that there are no delays.
5. The network loop: A single gigabit router attaches to the other routers and is attached to a Linksys wireless router which leads to the internet. I use wireless infrequently, but it is handy at times and is readily available when needed. Personally, I prefer a hardwired gigabit network connection.
And there you have it, a sample of a network set up where every machine can get to a single central machine to share pictures, music and videos. The next stage will be a full blown Media Center system that will also do TV. I just have to figure out the best way to do HD first. Can’t live without HD.
Where is the single cursed iPod in the home? Attached to the kitchen computer unable to share in the fun because of the cursed proprietary approach.
And yes, I have many remotes that have been brought together by one of mankind’s greatest inventions .. the Harmony remote.