A flexible home entertainment system for the whole family


In my relatively small apartment in Hong Kong, I have two TVs, an assortment of TV channels, and big family that have different tastes when it comes to TV. Dad likes his Cartoons, and older movies, mom likes the Indian soap operas, my sister and I have different tastes in TV shows.  She likes Jersy Shore and America’s Next Top Model, I like Sci-Fi, movies, Futurama, Family Guy, CSI.  This is a dilemma that needs to be handled.

I’m trying to solve this problem, by giving my family more options and leveraging as many devices I have at home to make it easier.  It seemed like a good time since I am getting married soon and I have to purchase new TVs for the living room and my room to make us comfortable.  Yes I live with my parents, I’m Indian and the only son so this is normal for my culture, and it’s normal in Hong Kong for 20 somethings to live with the parents.

Before I started I had two huge CRT box TVs.  A Sharp 24″ TV in the living room and an old Toshiba 20″ TV in my parents room.  The tuner in the 24″ TV wasn’t working so I got static all day from it, also the building was old and the TV antennae was crap so I never got good TV reception.  My family lived of Cable specifically Now TV , an IPTV service in Hong Kong that was perfect for us because it provided a wide array of content in English, Hindi, and Cantonese coming in through the high speed broadband internet connection we had at home.

There are 4 computers at home, a linux server, two desktops and one macbook which we all share.  There’s LAN cable laid out to most of the rooms for the wired network and two routers for the wireless network so we get coverage in the whole apartment.  My sister and I frequently use the computers in our room to watch DVDs, streaming videos and TV.  My Parents prefer TV, gadgets and computers seem to be too complicated for them and they prefer to stick with what they know.

The problem with Now TV in Hong Kong is that only one decoder is given out to people, you can’t have two unless you pay for it, and I rather not rack up a huge monthly bill because getting Indian TV here in HK costs a premium.  Currently I have wiring to split now TV signal so that it can be seen on two TVs on different rooms.  It’s of one the for my home entertainment prerequisites since my mom loves to watch TV in the room at night, when her favorite soap operas come on.  My sister and I prefer to watching downloaded movies or DVDs on our computers in our rooms, or we watch them in the living room on cable if we get the chance.

Recently Digital TV was rolled out in Hong Kong and my building has an antennae capable for watching broadcast digital TV.  The  broadcast channels are decent, and the local news, documentaries and other programming are useful.   Upgrading the TVs now, two years after the digital TV roll out, is a good investment since most TVs have a digital tuner built in now, and prices have dropped significantly recently.

I have tried wiring the TV to the rooms and using TV cards on the PCs to watch TV and cable on my computer, but this was before our building’s antennae was upgraded to digital TV so our reception was terrible.  Also there’s the problem of only on cable decoder, if someone changes the channel in the living room, the cable TV channel in the room gets changed.  The result wasn’t nice…  Sharing one decoder amongst many TVs wasn’t a good idea.

My home seemed outdated for today’s entertainment standard, and it’s the perfect time for me to do something about it.   Old devices, Lots of remotes, lack of options, all of us demanding control over one cable TV box for our favorite shows.  It’s such a hassle.  Plus my fiancee loves to watch TV.  Things were going to get more complicated after she moved in. I need to address this problem … so I looked at my options:

  1. Place shifting
  2. DVD/Blu-Ray
  3. Streaming TV
  4. Gaming
  5. HTPC