Media center, personal cloud, private filesharing, audio/video communications, secure WiFi access while on the road, and lots of other things!
On my TV I can now watch Internet videos, movies, and photos, listen to music and much much more ... (just keep reading below); also, I can use a hand-held mini-keyboard and mouse-pad to control everything.
It took me some time to think about the system, buy the parts, assemble and configure them.
Now that it works like a charm, when my friends see it in action they want one; nothing as complete is on the market yet (BoxeeBox, AppleTV, GoogleTV), although someone will come out with an all in one, easy to set-up solution.
The system is composed of different hardware parts and lots of software, open source of course.
What it can do:
- play HD movies and internet movies on TV
- photo slide-show
- play music
- run XBMC or Boxee
- browse the Web
- do Skype Audio and Video calls
- general instant messaging
- play games
- back-up all data locally and on remote personal servers
- secure Internet access through VPN, when away from home
- in general everything a normal PC can do
So basically I do not watch traditional television anymore; I just pick and choose what's cool anywhere in the world and watch it when I want, in whatever language I choose.
I also do Skype video chats while on the sofa, using a high definition webcam mounted on the TV, with a microphone that picks up even the faintest sound in the room.
When friends or family are visiting I can show them the latest photos or videos, or I can have one of those crazy German DJs on shoutcast be the personal DJ of the evening ;-)
When they come with their laptop or smart-phone they get to use my private WiFi, in an isolated mode, or they get access to Samba Shares and Dlna server.
When I am on the road, connecting through a public WiFi access point, I connect to the server here at home and all the traffic is encrypted.
I installed a similar system at my parent's place and other places, so that I can back-up all the data remotely. I have 120 Gigabyte of data for which commercial service are pretty expensive. Family and friends get to see the new photos and movies, and they can do it directly on their TV, if it is Dlna enabled. They get to back-up their data too, of course.
The system is based on the following hardware and software:
- Cisco (wrt610 / E3000): routers / tomato: firmware / Samsung 640 Gigabyte: USB HD
- OpenVPN / Rsync / ssh: backup / Optware: Linux Packets
- SAMBA: local file sharing / DLNA: media server
- Acer Revo 3610 / Ubuntu / Chromium / Picasa / XBMC / Boxee / Skype / Pidgin
- iPazzPort: wireless keyboard and touchpad
- Logitech WebCam with integrated microphone
To sum it up, it is really a cool system which changes completely how you use your TV, if TV is the right word anymore.
PS: click here for a bigger picture.