Home Theater PC Setup for Entire Family

Today I received an email from one of our avid readers it read the following:

Thanks to your site I got my home media server setup to work flawlessly.  I use a
2010 mac mini, plex, sabnzbd, sickbeard, couchpotato, and headphones.

I'm currently working on setting up a media server for my parents.

They have 4 TV's. living room, theatre room, bedroom/reading nook, and gym.
The whole house and outside patio is wired with built in speakers which can be
controlled from a receiver on the main floor.  also, the entire house is
wired with CAT5e ethernet cables.
They would like to keep at least one cable box in the house for sports packages
and HD cable news programing.  Therefore, I need a solution that incorporates
a DVR or Tivo like device. I would also like to give them an HD webcam setup in
the living room so they can Skype.
What would you recommend?



This made me think, what a perfect time to make a post about setting up a HTPC for the whole family.  Obviously P needs some specific answers, but I feel that our response could be beneficial to other readers of the site as well, so here goes!

There are a few ways you can really do this:
1) You can have your parents have an independent Plex setup
2) You can setup a slave/master setup where your media server is the master and your parents clients are the slaves.
This second way is how I set my parents up because they are very technologically illiterate and this removes all of the maintenance for them.  Assuming your folks are the same this is what we’d recommend.  Using Plex really makes this setup shine.  Also, having a Apple setup makes this simpler and more elegant as well.
1.  Get wired Rokus for each of his parents TVs and install the Plex channel.
2.  Point them to your Plex server….now each Roku Box has full access to your media server
3.  Hook the cable DVR box up to the main TV, add a Harmony 900 remote with 4 activities, 1) watch TV (this turns on cable), 2) watch media center, 3) Main Zone Music and 4) Zone 2 Music
4.  I am assuming the parents AVR has multi-zone, and that the non-main room speakers have in-wall volume control.  Hook all those wires together and attach to Zone 2 on back of AVR, and hook up main room (i’m assuming theatre room) to main zone speaker inputs
5.  Setup up Harmony 900.  We would be glad to assist with this if you need help with it.
6.  Setup your Sickbeard PVR to record shows that your family wants or, since its web-based, enable them to add shows
7.  Again, if you gets them the mini, Authorize your parents computer via home sharing (or if he’s subscribed iTunes Match), and tada! Your parents have tons of music (thank you headphones!)
8.  When folks hit Zone 2 Music, that sets AVR to Zone 2, which you could buy a single Airport Express, and then use the Remote App to control music through the AVR (and iTunes Airplay is going to Airport Express hooked up to AVR)
9.  In terms of webcams, I’d get an old iSight or something cheap to accomplish this.
MacMini – $600
Rokus – $99 each although now 2 for $159 so total is $320
iPod Touch – $199
Remote App – Free!
Harmony 900 – $250 on amazon
Proving your parents with an awesome home media experience – Priceless!

This article courtesy of TotalHTPC Charles, thanks Charles!

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