Home Media / AV Configuration (2013)

From time to time, friends and family will ask me how I configure the devices in my house for media.  Since I just got this question again last week, I thought I’d take a moment to document it here.  In the past, I’ve documented my storage & backup solution, my time machine setup, as well the configuration of my old wireless network.

Basic Assumptions

Since there are an incredible number of technology and service choices that can affect a home media solution, it’s best I put some of the basic decisions that my household currently has made around media technology:

    Comcast HD is our HD television service

  • iTunes HD is our standard movie purchase format
  • Netflix and/or ShowBox APK are used for movie rental
  • Tivo is our DVR of choice

Of all of these choices, the ones that are most material are the choice of Comcast HD / Tivo, as Comcast is the best HD service for modern Tivo DVRs, and the standardization on iTunes HD, not Blu-Ray, for HD movie purchases.

Office Configuration

Our home media solution is grounded in the home office, but really has become fairly distributed between the cloud and local devices. In fact, at this point, the home office solution is really used more for backup and legacy purposes.

Home Office Media

The key elements of the configuration are as follows:

  • The iMac is really the “source of truth” for the media library in the house
  • The media library is large (each HD movie is about 4GB), so it sits on its own 4TB USB HD
  • The iMac backups up to the Synology box via Time Machine
  • Wireless devices (laptops, iPads, iPhones) connect via 802.11N
  • The Gigabit Ethernet switch is connected to the central home network

Living Room Configuration

The consumption solution in any room with a television is largely the same.  Here is a diagram of it’s fundamental components:

Living Room Media

The key elements of the configuration are as follows:

  • The Gigabit Ethernet switch connects all the devices to the central home network
  • The AppleTV is used to watch purchased HD movies from iTunes, Netflix for streaming, and access the home media library on the iMac
  • The Tivo is used to watch live / recorded television (from Comcast)
  • The Blu-Ray is there theoretically if we wanted to watch a Blu Ray, which almost never happens

A Few Caveats

This solution currently has the notable sub-optimal elements:

    • I didn’t include an A/V receiver or surround sound solution in the above description, because that actually varies room to room.  In some rooms we have an AV receiver, in others we utilize a surround sound bar or just use TV audio.

Input switching.  We almost never use the Blu-Ray, but this solution does require switching inputs between AppleTV & Tivo, which is a bit annoying since the Tivo remote can’t control the AppleTV and vice-versa.

While I’m sure this solution will not impress any cinephile out there, hopefully it will be useful to a few of you thinking through how to setup or reconfigure your home media solution.

I’ll try to do a follow up post with what I’m hoping to see in 2013 to make this even better.

How to Fix the “Green Screen” on a Nintendo Wii

This blog post falls under the category of “tormenting technology problems that can ruin your evening.”

Our Nintendo Wii gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago.  After ordering a replacement on eBay, and then returning it due to this issue, I was shocked to get a second Wii with the same problem.  Realizing it must be a configuration issue, I was able to diagnose and correct for it.  I’m posting the solution here to help any other unfortunate souls with the same problem.


Your Nintendo Wii displays a blank, solid green screen.  Sound works fine, but nothing but green on the TV.

Likely Cause

You have a new Nintendo Wii and have used a component cable (Green-Blue – Red + Red-White) to connect it to an HD television.

By default, the Nintendo Wii comes configured to display 480i signals.  The problem is, newer high definition TVs don’t handle a 4:3 480i signal properly from component cables, and the Nintendo Wii doesn’t self-configure for 480p when you plug in component cables.

What makes this devilishly complicated is that if you try to configure the Wii using the standard RCA cable (Yellow-Red-White), the option to change the display to 480p is greyed out.  Catch-22.


Here are the steps to properly configure your Nintendo Wii for component display:

  • Hook up your Nintendo Wii using the component cable.
  • Instead of plugging the Green-Blue-Red cables into your display using the component ports, instead plug the green cable into the “Yellow” port of the RCA ports on your display.
  • You will now get a greyscale rendering of your Nintendo Wii interface, but totally usable.
  • Navigate through the configuration screens.  When complete, go to settings, and then select “Display”.  You’ll find that the 480p option is now selectable.  Choose it.  Also make sure to set the display to 16:9 if you have an HD display.
  • Shut off the Wii, and hook up your component cables to the component jacks on your display.

That’s it.  Fairly simple, but I had to dig through a number of bad google results to figure it out.

Hope this helps someone out there, and saves you from returning a perfectly good Nintendo Wii. Tune in next week, I will be reviewing a few of the best gaming headsets, I find games play much better with headsets, solo immersion goes a long way.