Windows Media Center experience throughout the house with rack-mounted Extenders

Microsoft’s customer installer blog takes a look at how you can use Media Center Extenders to distribute audio and video around the home. They show how you can put all your AV equipment, PC and Extenders in the same rack and then each Extender’s video and audio is connected to a switcher and then sent to a display and speakers in each room. Obviously it would need some kind of IR repeater to enable the remote controls but it’s an interesting solution for whole home entertainment, personally I prefer having the Extenders in the room with the display and use the network to distribute the content, what do you think?

Read the post for more details

In this design approach shown above, all five Extenders are located in the rack with the Windows Media Center PC, with the Extender’s video output connected to dedicated, in room, displays. This connection can be done via one of the various methods used to extend video between rooms that exists today (primarily baluns, and in-wall wiring) In addition, the audio from each Extender is routed to an audio switcher and amplifier, then on to speakers in each room.

For the user who simply wants a display with speakers (and no distributed audio speakers) in each room, traditional A/V or cat 5 wiring can be used to bring the audio and video signals to the displays. We highly recommend using HDMI or component video to ensure HD performance on the display. For distances over 25 feet, an HDMI or component video extender can carry the signal up to 150 feet or more (depending on model/mfg used).

Consumer Electronics Installer Blog : Windows Media Center experience throughout the house with rack-mounted Extenders

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4 thoughts on “Windows Media Center experience throughout the house with rack-mounted Extenders

  1. I have never understood the attraction of having everything in an equipment closet. It has always seemed to me that having central media storage, but indepedent networked media players with separate amps, speakers and separates was the way to go. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

    That approach simplifies wiring, allows one to fix problems where the media is being used, allows the user to add physical media (e.g. DVDs, CDs, flash memory) where the media is being used, allows the user to see the often informative displays on the devices and allows for flexibility in swapping out and upgrading components without major a major redesign of the system.

    For example, I am considering replacing one of our Roku Soundbridges with the Squeezebox Duet. This would never happen with components in a closet. In fact neither of these devices could even be used with such a system.

    Friends I know who have such systems have complained that they quickly become outdated and that any change requires a vist (and charge) from the custom installer.

    These systems may be useful for people whose budgets significantly exceeds their interest in customizing their media consumption experience, but that group is a pretty small minority.

    This comment reprinted on my blog here http://thunor.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!71C238B5E0E3724D!524.entry

  2. Great comment DW, but keep in mind this post is only one of several topologies or design strategies for getting the Media Center experience into the home. Shortly you should see a post for the other topologies as well, including “Local Extenders” (vs. this one called Central Extenders).

    I’m looking forward to your comments on each – but like all things, each has it’s own share of pros and cons and only the Customer and custom installer can descide which is right for a particular customer.

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