Streaming different video sources to home network

jfalner

Estimable
Jul 28, 2015
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4,510
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My home was destroyed by a tornado last year, and when I rebuilt, I had the foresight to prewire my house with CAT6 Ethernet. Lotsa jacks in every room, so I can hook up all my electronic goodies. Part of the purpose was to enable streaming of audio and video from one location in the house to another.

Now streaming from a PC to a television is easy—there's a million different ways to go about that. But I'm looking for something a little different. Thinking ahead again, I had the contractor go ahead and wire for a satellite dish, and run it to the living room. My cable (television and Internet) comes in there as well. I'd like to make that the "media center" of the house, and add a game console and a Blu-ray player into the mix, so that I can watch cable or satellite, watch DVD's, play console games, or stream media from an NAS elsewhere in the residence.

Now here's the big question—how can I stream all these different video sources (cable, satellite dish, game console, Blu-ray player, etcetera) from that location across my hardwired network to other devices?

As a somewhat exaggerated idea of what I'm looking for, let's say I have friends over and they are in the middle of a very hot game of "Super Smash Bros." in the living room. I want to step into the kitchen and make some snacks for everyone, and want to keep up with the action on the kitchen television while cooking. Or perhaps my girlfriend brings over an old VCR so we can watch her old home movies on VHS, but we would rather lounge in the bedroom and watch on that television instead of piling up on the uncomfortable couch, while also capturing the video for safekeeping on a PC in my home office.

I've looked at a number of different commercial devices and read numerous posts here, but I'm not sure anything I've seen yet would quite meet the bill. I doubt I would ever want or need to stream more than one video source at a time (such as cable to one bedroom and Blu-ray player to another), but it would be nice to allow someone to watch satellite from a bedroom while someone actually in the living room at that television played a video game.

My house is not quite finished, so I've bought no equipment or televisions yet. I was hoping to get advice from the good people here before venturing off to an electronics store or the Internet. Can someone point me in the right direction?

Much thanks!
 
Given that all your sources will have HDMI outputs you won't be streaming as much as distributing these sources to multiple displays. That mean you need a matrix HDMI switcher that outputs on CAT6 to use the network cable instead of HDMI.
A matrix switcher will be described as (inputs)x(outputs). Many of them require 2 CAT5/6 cables per output. Here is an example
https://www.octavainc.com/HDMI%20Ethernet%20matrix%20switch%204x4.html
If you can get one that uses 10base T as the conversion standard you would only need one CAT6.
You would need a converter at each display.
http://www.amazon.com/Matrix-Receivers-Sources-Displays-via-Cable-100ft/dp/B00OMAJBCC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1438099478&sr=8-2&keywords=hdmi+matrix+8x8
 

jfalner

Estimable
Jul 28, 2015
3
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4,510
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Good suggestion, but unfortunately, the particular product you mentioned has some issues with my situation. First is that it is a rackmount unit. I don't have any "negative space" in the living room walls where it could be flush-mounted and properly ventilated, and even a mini-rack in the living room would be, well, aesthetically ugly.

I found another issue when reading the installation manual (RTFM, don't ya know?). This particular switcher uses Power over Cable (PoC) , apparently for the availability of remote infrared control from the hardware at the destination location. Instead of acting like a network device, it simply is using the CAT6 to pass along electrical signals, and requires a pair of them if you intend to use the IR control functionality. Having prewired means that the destinations mostly have only a single connection to the network available. There's a clear notice to not connect it to/through a network router or switch due to the PoC, which eliminates the possibility of being able to have the destination TV's (which will obviously be smart TV's) stream from files on an NAS or computer on the network.

But your suggestion does inspire some other possibilities I'm going to look into as soon as I can do some deep digging through Newegg and similar sites. Thanks for the ideas—I'll follow up if I come up with an elegant (and hopefully, affordable) solution. :)
 

jfalner

Estimable
Jul 28, 2015
3
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4,510
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A followup on this—someone suggested I take a look at this article:

http://www.howtogeek.com/118075/how-to-stream-videos-and-music-over-the-network-using-vlc/

I tried this out on my computer, using HTTP and the default MPEG-4 protocols (H.264 with MP3). Opened up my other beloved media player, Media Player Classic Home Cinema (also known as MPC-HC), and it worked beautifully. (Albeit a bit sluggishly—the on-the-fly transcoding and playback on a single computer over the network was a bit much for my laptop.) There were numerous stream options (protocol, encoding, etcetera), so I'd wager there's one for nearly any smart TV.

I note that among the media source options in VLC is Capture Device. I don't know that putting a computer with a video capture card in the living room would exactly be an elegant solution either, but if I could find a hardware unit that did exactly this combination of things, I could easily pipe any video source of my choice into it in the living room, and have it all through the house. My televisions could access the stream as a network resource over the house network, yet still be free to pull from an NAS, a computer, or the Internet. It would be ideal, and would eliminate such requirements as dedicated or paired CAT6 cables, PoE or PoC, or extra hardware for decoding at the destination.

Anyone familiar with a hardware device that accomplishes this seemingly rather simple feat?
 
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