The Custom Integrator Show 004
Installment 004 is a continuation of where we left off in 003 with looking at some of the characteristics of the Windows Media Center PC itself. This time we start evaluating the criteria for the audio subsystems based upon the implementation requirements. There are a lot of issues to consider when potentially delivering 7.1 channels of audio with support for the lossless codecs of Blu-ray Disc playback while simultaneously outputting 2 channels or even 5.1 channels of audio to a Multi Room Audio (MRA) system. In addition, you may need to support the Windows Media infrastructure in conjunction with an iTunes library or a Zune collection. There are tradeoffs with the different approaches and we start to peel back the layers to come up with a list of requirements and deliverables to consider as you develop your list of hardware solutions and best practices. To further illustrate the point of how complex the implementation can become, you also have to consider how you are going to synchronize the Multi Room Audio components to an associated Multi Room Video (MRV) distribution solution.
A common scenario, even in a smaller home, potentially includes one or more Windows Media Center PCs, several Extenders for Windows Media Center, and several high definition sources. You really have to nail down your options and design approaches before you can make any types of decisions on what the Windows Media Center PC itself needs to deliver. You have to think through how you are going to design the building blocks to meet your client’s vision for how they want to consume content in the different living spaces within their home. We can almost guarantee that you will encounter many of these scenarios as your Windows Media Center business grows, so we try to lay the foundation early on and definitely will return to this topic in future installments.
We will start with a complex, but potentially real, client:
- They want Windows Media Center to be the only interface they need across all of their TVs, PCs, and notebooks when accessing any of the sources of entertainment within their home.
- They initially want to start with three rooms that are connected together into one large living and entertainment space.
- They want it to be scalable as they expand into other rooms, as new technologies are added, or as new features become available.
- They want a display in each of the three rooms.
- They want a minimum of 5.1 audio in each room.
- They want to be able to watch the same football game in each room and they want the audio and video for all three rooms to be in synch with no delays.
- They want to be able to control it from any of the rooms with the same remote.
- They have several other displays and notebooks throughout the house and they want access to as much of the content as they can on as many devices as they can.
- They want the best sound and video experience they can get for a reasonable investment.
- They love music, music videos, and specifically DVDs with the ability to select specific songs.
- They have started their Blu-ray collection and want to be able to watch them in any one of the rooms.
- They already have a considerable digital music, picture, and video collection.
- They would like to record TV and watch it anywhere.
- They would like to be able to play Xbox games in at least the living room.
- They occasionally want to be able have individualized Windows Media Center experiences in each room.
- They want all of the equipment centralized and out of sight.
We will try to build on this concept over time to provide a better understanding of how to answer questions like:
- How do you package and convey the new Windows Media Center-based services and entertainment experiences so you can develop a list of tangible deliverables based upon how the client anticipates consuming specific types of content.
- How do you choose an optimized infrastructure design based on the technical requirements and match those up with the products available.
- How do you design a control platform based on a client’s lifestyle and how they envision interacting with the services you provide.
- How do you define the checklist of required technical specifications, ,features, and connectivity options when deciding the best components to use.
- How can you compartmentalize groups of deliverables so that you can bill based on completing individual phases of the project.
- Where are the potential technical risks and what customization and tweaks will you need to perform when delivering the solution so you can account for them in your contracts.
Our goal is to help you gain a lot more insight into better and more creative ways to be successful at delivering great multi room Windows Media Center-based ecosystems. This is the start of what we hope is a series of shows that present the issues – and hopefully the solutions.