Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

Home TV broadcasting (HDMI/streaming over IP)

At home we have one central media PC (a Mac Mini) in the lounge. We only ever watch stuff either off BluRay or streamed from BBC iPlayer of Netflix. As an aside, we have recently cancelled our television licsnse; you no longer need one if you do not watch live TV.

The HDMI outputs from the Mac Mini and the BluRay player are mixed/switched by my Onkyo amplifier. At present it just drives the projector screen, but that does not work during the day (bright light) and is a pain to bring down for short viewings.

Therefore we are getting another screen to go above the fireplace, which is about 10m away. However, the route an HDMI cable would have to take to be tidy, and having just moved in and spent a lot on decorating I want it tidy, would make it too long for the signal. However, I did get a CAT6 ethernet socket installed near where I want the fixed wall mount TV.

Further, we want a TV in our bedroom, ideally on the ceiling mounted above the bed so we can watch it from the bed. Again, there is easy access to my home network since most of the distribution happens in the loft.

We don’t actually watch much TV thus having one centralised source will be fine. The other source would be CCTV probably (for example seeing who is at the door when we are in the lounge) but again that is over Internet Protocol (IP) via the home network.

What I therefore want is the ability to broadcast an HDMI signal over IP. I’m currently considering two solutions:

1) Getting a Rasberry Pi and using XBMC to stream the video.

2) Buying a device to do it, like the StarTech HDMI over IP Extender.

3) Buy screens that have the capability to stream media built in, such as a Samsung D7000

Option 1 would be good since I’d like to do something similar in the office. We are taking another floor and I’d like to have a virtual window between the floors – live streaming to connect the rooms in effect. First things first I need to get my mits on a Raspberry Pi though!

In the mean time for home though option 3 looks like the most practical since I’ve not actually got the screens. Therefore I’ve placed the order for one of those big Samsungs (which also look very purdy!) and will report on how easy they are to use for streaing from Netflix and such!

Update: 55″ Samsung D7000 (UE55D7000)

I went with the IP-enabled TV option, pictured right. It is a beautiful piece of kit – I especially like the thin, translucent bezel. However, it was a bit of a pain to use at first. I spent while fighting with its Web browser getting increasingly enraged by the very poor “touchpad” on the remote control (which sprayed so much infrared around it caused my projector screen to randomly go up and down, and was almost useless as a mouse control) and the fact that there was no sensible way to use the keyboard.

In fact, on Googleing it transpires that you cannot connect a keyboard by bluetooth or any other means which seems daft for a Web-enabled device! I had (foolishly) assumed that one could do so. I tried the smartphone app and that is just a very basic volume / channel control so no use there.

However, on returning to the home screen it told me it had finished downloading various apps, including ones for Netflix and LoveFilm! *facepalm* The apps were very straight forwards to use, apart from an annoying buy in Netflix where it does not recognise email addresses with hyphens – a problem for those of us with hyphenated names! I got around that by changing the email address I use for Netflix.

Once into the apps everything has gone smoothly and the quality is superb. I still wish to be able to stream content from local sources so the next step is to investigate DNLA/

Update: StarTech

I bought a StarTech HDMI over IP extender thinking it would do what I wanted, but it turns out that this is purely a Windows device that allows you to drive a screen from your Windows PC via the network. 🙁

I thought it would function as a “bridge” between two HDMI ports (one in from my lounge AV stack, one out to the TV at the far end of the lounge or to the TV in the bedroom) but looking at the manual there is no such functionality. Back to the drawing board…