Well, it was years in the making, and the accumulation of germs ideas I’ve been holding on to for ages, but my home theater is finally done.
The TV is a 30″ HD, hooked up via HDMI-DVI to an Intel Mac Mini, a DVD Recorder, and my Dreamcast for the occasional game. The Mac is also hooked up to the receiver via Toslink for 5.1 surround, the Internet via the fastest available residential connection in the area, and to basic cable, via an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid.
For software I’m using FrontRow to play back our library of movies (mostly DivX rips from DVDs I purchased), music, and 5 years worth of photos, plus HD television downloaded using TVShows.app, which finds torrents and sends them to Transmission — the best Mac Torrent client out there. Elgato’s EyeTV software runs full screen and allows us to find, record and playback live TV, just like a PVR. And all that media is stored on a LaCie 320GB d2 Extreme drive connected over FireWire 400 (the drive rocks my sock, by the way). And I can control it all from my Logitech Harmony remote.
We can do everything we could with Digital Cable, and more. I even have a Folder Action script set-up to clean out downloaded shows after 2 weeks if I don’t archive them. And our total television bill is $8 a month — our Internet bill is up to $50, but we’re still saving $100 a month!
Addendum: and last night we place shifted a TV show (Law & Order, woo!) acquired in the living room, onto the 18″ monitor in our bedroom. It turns out that previous problems with doing so were related to the latency of the crappy external drive (or more accurately, the enclosure) I was using, and not the wireless network or the under-powered computer in our room (a G4 Cube running at 450Mhz) like I had suspected.
Phase 2 is to get communications going properly. I’ve ordered a gorgeous Bluetooth headset, that comes with a nice little dock, and I’m working on making Skype play nicely with a big screen (the main Skype window is too tiny to be useful on my TV).