TV in Every Room, wirelessly

If you’ve got kids, or want a TV in the bedroom but don’t want to have to run new aerial cables through the roof, this article might just be able to help.

How would you like to have access to your terrestrial TV, Recorded Programs, Movies, Music, Music Videos etc in every room where there is a TV? It’s remarkably simple with Kodi (the new name for XBMC).

androidThe easiest way to set everything up is to use a main server which will store all your media, hook it up to your wireless network (or preferably hook this one in directly with a cable into your router/access point). If you’ve got multiple TVs you want to hook in, you’ll need a reasonably powerful machine for this ‘server’ machine, since it could be accessed by 2 or 3 other machines at a time. The TVs in the other rooms can be powered by much smaller machines, such as an Android TV Box which can be found for around $100 or less. Many of the Android boxes have wireless connectivity and XBMC/Kodi works a treat on Android.

For the server machine we recommend a Linux based solution (or Windows if you’re more familiar with it) rather than an OSX solution. If you have an Intel Mac system, Ubuntu 14.04.1 works really quite nicely – though older versions of Ubuntu are a bit temperamental on the Mac. If you’re not interested in Live TV then the Mac on OSX would work just as well, but if you do want Live TV then you need to be aware that the range of TV Tuners is extremely limited. I’ve used a Sony PlayTV on my system and it’s been rock solid (but no Mac Drivers, hence Linux).

If you’re going down the Android route, just install Kodi for Android by following the instructions at the Kodi Wiki.

Of course, if you have old PCs or Macs laying around (we used a 2009 20″ iMac for the Kids TV in the back room for now – though they’ll probably want a bigger screen soon!) you can install Kodi on all sorts of devices. The Celeron Intel NUC works a treat for Kodi and comes with built in infrared and wireless network – and is small enough to screw onto the back of most flat screen TVs.

Once you have your computers installed with Kodi, you’ll need to make sure that Samba is installed on the server machine, unless the server is Windows or OSX based since these can share files natively. Set up shares for the media folders you wish to share so that your other Kodi systems can connect to them. Then, you can simply Add Source in the client Kodi systems and the media will be added automatically. Kodi comes with an SMB (Samba/Windows filesharing) client built in and it’s supremely easy and efficient to use. On our WirelessN network with an iMac at the other end of the house, all media streams perfectly well – including the Live TV. The PlayTV comes with 2 tuners built in and MythTV backend is sufficiently intelligent that if two TVs are watching the same channel it will just share the stream. If the TVs are watching different channels, the two tuners become engaged and that works seamlessly too.

If you find the wireless signal isn’t that great at the further ends of the house (try to make sure your router is placed in the middle of the house if possible) the newer 200Mbps or faster Homeplug AV adaptors can work nicely for this purpose. The throughput of these devices does depend a little bit on the age and quality of the wiring in your house and whether the wall sockets are on the same circuit breaker/fuse. Separate circuits causes some slow down.

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