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Help with HTPC S/W choice

Well, I've got xLobby working, sort of...

When I play an mpg movie it works ok. When I play an avi, the movie plays, but the web server stops responding. The same thing seems to happen if I go into the configuration window a couple times. I end up having to restart xLobby. I also haven't been able to get any kind of remote control working for the movies. All I can do is start them, no control to stop, pause, etc. According to their forums, this is supposed to be available, but turning on the feature is not intuitive.

Not trying to get these things fixed here, just relating my experiences in case anyone else is trying to do something similar.


Senior Member
Well, don't take this the wrong way please, but there's only so much you can expect from a free app. The folks have day jobs, so this isn't their primary focus.

That type of support is what you can expect from the commercial s/w packages. I know with CQC, i'm sure with ML, you'd have more help than you can handle from both end-users and Dean/DavidL.
I hear you. It was worth a shot. I suspect I will go through just as much or more work learning and configuring the commercial packages, so some up front learning isn't bad. Since no one package does everything I need, I want to play a bit with the alternatives before I decide which works best.
Based on the responses and what I've learned, I think I'm going to do the following:
1) For now, I'll leave the automation on MisterHouse, it's working. At some future point I'll consider HomeSeer and the plugin to connect it to ML.
2) Get several of the ML products to start building the A/V system:
ML/ML Server
River MediaCenter
A couple USB-UIRTs

I can get a bundle that also includes MusicLobby, WeatherLobby, and WebLobby. Would these be useful? Are there any other major pieces I'll need?


Senior Member
Those are excellent choices. Couple of notes:
cinemar will soon be selling the latest TheaterTek with the new MLtheaterTek plugin that provides for 2 way control from any PC over TheaterTek running on any other PC.

You could run an IR LAN via currently unused Cat5 wires in the house and not have to use multiple USB_UIRTs.

Cinemar now has Server hardware preloaded with Cinemar software and the brand new Samsung Q1 wireless handheld preloaded. Pulll them out of the box, turn them on and things work! This is definately the fast path. A bit more expensive then if you did all the trial / error / work but cheap if your time is worth anything.
Cinemar's website will shortly be updated with these new offerings.
And in a couple of months, Cinemar's in wall touchscreen offering will be available that works with the above. Plugin and start clicking!
Thanks David. I've already got the server. It's got an ATI AIW 8500DV card, CDROM, DVD writer, integrated audio, and plenty of spare bays, slots, usb and serial ports, etc. I've also got a PVR150 card to plug into it. I'm not looking for high end yet, so I think this will be enough to get started.

Thanks for the reminder about distributing the IR via cat5. I had forgotten that I already did this on a limited basis. I put a xantech receiver in the family room and connected it to a distribution block in the wiring closet via cat5. This lets me control the receiver that I put in the closet. I thought I would need one USB-UIRT for each of the HTPCs and the server. It sounds like you're saying that as long as I have one connected to the MLServer that it could control everything?



Another option for your media is to use the original Xbox (hacked) with XBMC. From my PC server, I stream DVD ISOs, mp3, downloaded TV shows, weather info, internet radio, etc to my home theater with the Xbox. With the AV pack I have digital audio and HD resolutions. Great interface and FREE. You can get a used Xbox with AV pack on Craigslist for under $100 if you keep your eyes open.
Thanks lazyone. I've already got enough hardware, now I need to start using it. I'm also hoping whatever I do can eventually integrate with my automation and security solution.
Well, after several days of research I know more, but realize I still don't know enough. I think I'm over analyzing this decision! ;)

I've downloaded demo code for MainLobby and CQC. I still haven't found the one killer feature that helps me choose one over the other. As soon as my Linux download finishes I'll decide which one to try first. :eek:


Senior Member
Several days of research? If it makes you feel any better, I looked at both for 20 months before purchasing! (I just looked it up - i'm member # 375/12-19-03 on the cinemar forum, CQC was shortly after that but I didn't join the forum for a while). I kept dragging my feet until myHTPC gave up the goat.

Here's some reasons others have chosen one versus the other. I'm not debating the value of any of these to anyone else, only that I know others have placed enough value on them to consider them to be deciding factors. To be fair, i'll list the same # for both of them.

MainLobby Deciding Factors (for some)
1) Allows you to use Flash programming in interfaces, which gives the ability to create dynamic and attractive screens
2) Lots of prepackaged GUI image packs available for purchase
3) Integration with HomeSeer allows support of legacy devices
4) Pre-fab scenarios (DVDLobby/MusicLobby/WeatherLobby/etc) allow for minimal work "out-of-the-box" to get a completely functional and attractive system

CQC Deciding Factors (for some)
1) ~100 hardware&software devices directly supported, several more in development/beta right now for release in the next few months.
2) Single Vendor for both front-end & back-end eliminates need to integrate packages from different vendors to get support for your devices, reducing potential points of failure
3) Cost
4) Development tools and driver source code available as part of regular package allows anyone to create/extend drivers.

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
I would also add on the CQC front:

- Full network distribution from the ground up
- Very high stability. You won't find any customer on our support forum complaining about the stability of the product. This is not the case with some other products.
- Very good customer relations. You won't find any negative customers on our support forum complaining about how we do business or treat them. This is definitely not the case with some other products.
- Very active development. You won't find any customers on our support forums complaining that we aren't moving forward fast enough. This is also very much not the case with some other products.

All our customers are happy customers, every single one. Feel free to PM some of them and ask them their opinions, and do some reading on the support fora of the candidate products. We bend over backwards to make our product work for them. This, I think, though not a 'feature', is a strong differentiating factor when other things seem to abe about the same for your technical needs.

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
BTW, I just saw on the CQC forum that someone has a Caddx driver about ready to go, so hopefully that'll also make your decision easier. I think that that driver, plus the Yamaha 1500 driver that is about to be posted, will put at 100 devices supported.