How to get the most from your Front Room Cinema
I host lots of film nights. Either for just myself and the family, or for friends and new comers too. And everyone who comes to watch a film is very impressed and jealous of our Front Room Cinema (see what I did there?).
Its not because it is fancy or self automated, although that is coming (did I say that out loud). It is in fact very humble. It just works really well and seamlessly. I have no need to change over wires, insert disks, fiddle with remotes. It is all thanks to using the right kit and software carefully selected to give the best viewing experience. We use a Media Centre to store all of our films and media on making it user friendly.
Friends will often say to me that they would love to have something like we have. But wouldn’t know where to start. I am here today to tell them (and you) it is easy!!!
Firstly, you have 2 choices. Windows or Mac. Thats it. We have used both and if I am brutely honest I love features on both. But I am now being drawn to Windows more and more. I have been using an iMac for 2 years with no complaints. But have now switched to Windows and the added flexibility and upgradablity is so much more appealling.
If you do go the Mac route, you will need a Mini DVI to HDMI adapter if using iMac or Macbook, and optical cable with 3.5mm adapter (enabling 5.1 sound through an AV reciever) and lots of external storage, either through USB drives or NAS drives. Also you will need some good front end software as from my experience FrontRow is pretty poor. I used PLEX. It works really well and looks very “Mac” like.
PC on the other hand is more flexible. I would reccomend getting a pre built HTPC with HDMI out so picture and the sound is coming down one wire into the AV reciever or TV. Also HTPC’s can take lots of storage internally (oo er). Not only that it is possible to fit them with blu ray drives and freeview cards enabling a total home theartre experience. One point though about HTPC’s is that if you are going to have them under the TV make sure it has silent fans and heatsink. The last thing you want is it sounding like Heathrow in your Front Room.
We have recently switched sides and gone PC. We have one with bluray, dual satellite cards, and enough storage to back all my films onto. With one button we are watching films, listening to music or recording TV. All through Windows Media Centre.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though. Both formats have good solutions. But at Front Room Cinema we prefer the flexibility of PC’s even without the pretty boy looks.
If you want some ideas on Specs, or system set ups please pop us an email.