gt; This hits the nail on the head. with no immediate visual feedback in
Indeed, my S.O. is similarly interested in seeing track information. Thus
I'm going with several touchpad computers running NetRemote. These
interface via 802.11g to a server running J.River's Media Center. The audio
is output from the server itself on different zones. This way I'll be able
to interface the output zones into a Russound system and get simple volume
and source selection wall plates in the rooms. The idea being that a
touchpad can be used to select a playlist or other material (web radio, fm
tuner, tv, mp3) for a zone and then any wall plate in the system can select
that zone and hear its audio. Handy for using the touchpad in the kitchen
for selecting the playlist for the sunroom or deck which won't have their
own touchpad controller.
This also frees me from having to use a central multi-zone amplifier and
speaker cable runs from it to each room. I can just run CAT5 to the keypads
since they have their own amps built into them. Then it's just speaker wire
from the keypads up to the in-wall/ceiling speakers. I'm not ignoring the
fact the keypad amps are relatively low powered. In the rooms they'll be
used they will be more than sufficient. For anything requiring greater
amplification, like the outside deck and rock speakers, I'll be able to use
a single amp for it. Adding one or two simple amps is, frankly, quite a bit
less expensive than getting a big multi-zone amplifier. And since I'll only
be needing 'more sound' in just one place it makes more sense economically.
The one downside to using simple A-bus keypads is their volume can only be
controlled from the keypad itself. You cannot send signals to the keypads
to alter their volume level. At least not from the central end on the CAY5
line. You can send the keypad IR signals from a remote to adjust it. It's
not really all that critical for us to have central control of the volume
levels. At least not critical enough to spend the considerable greater
amout of dollars to get into bidirectionally controllable keypads or
centrally amplified systems that would allow it. Worst case I could simple
tack on a Xantech IR distribution network and send IR from central location
out to the rooms and control them that way. But I really don't forsee the
need for it.
I could, eventually, use a handheld PDA with NetRemote PPC and a WiFi card
to do many of the same things. But I've generally found using them is more
trouble than it's worth. They're too fragile, too expensive and their
battery life makes them too much of a maintenance issue. That they can be
used from "anywhere" doesn't really matter all that much for the sort of
usage we'll be putting it through.
Now, if and when the S.O. grasps the entire concept and expresses a desire
to have a more flexible handheld control then everything will already be in
place to make it easy to implement.
It's tough to balance everything, factors like ease-of-use (not being a pain
in the ass), cost and on-going maintenance are my biggest concerns. While
it might be worthwhile to consider something like a Crestron, the stories I
hear of on-going upgrade and setup change costs, combined with the vendor's
tendency to harshly discourage DIY work, make it something I'd rather avoid.
Setting up my own stuff using NetRemote, Media Center and the like might be
a bit of an adventure it's something I'm