So I'm looking for a bit of input from anyone who has any expertise with HTPC's and the like, to advise me on how to create something extremely simple for my better half's grandparents (nigh on 80 years old).
The background is that I have an unused PC, which I would like to re-purpose. So please no suggestions of getting media players etc, as I have a neat little setup ready and waiting (unless this is overly complicated - then please say so). I have a Windows 7 Licence, although I would of course switch to Linux if the solution is right. I have 3TB hard drive in the system, which will contain all my bluray rips sorted into folders by year of release. Everything is currently playable by VLC. I will periodically put new files onto the PC for them. They do/will not have the internet.
Firstly, these people have never used Windows, a PC, a keyboard or mouse. I'm not about to start trying to teach them anything, as they will balk at the idea. That means I need to setup a system, which they can press the power button on, have it boot to a screen where they can browse (using a remote) through the folders I have created for them (using arrow keys, select button/enter, back button) and play a video of their choice.
So i'm looking for a software setup idea + a blue-tooth/infrared remote setup.
Any suggestions or advice welcome!
http://www.amazon.com/USB-External-Infrared-Receiver-Cable/dp/B00J5NRWFO I found that on Amazon, I'm not 100% familiar with it, but I do recall VLC having some sort of support for such things.
http://kodi.tv/about/ This might be useful, I don't have personal experience with it, but I reckon you can figure it out.
If you can keep the computer on 24/7, and teach them to turn it on for a blackout? It might be the easier route to take. My grandparents figured out how to turn on the laptop they have pretty quickly, but the rest of it they couldn't.
Here is an idea for you. I know you said they have no internet, but if their TV has a network port, and supports DLNA, you have a great option. If the TV supports DLNA, (assuming there is no network in the house) you could hook the pc up to the TV with a cross over cable. If the TV will allow you to give it a static IP address go ahead and do so. Make sure the PC is on the same subnet obviously. If the TV will not let you assign an IP address you can enable internet connection sharing on the PC and it can draw an IP from there. If that doesn't work for you, you can just hook up an old or extremely cheap home router to do the DHCP, and that would eliminate the need for the crossover cable too. But then you will need a cable for both the TV and the PC.
With a DLNA share the TV can interface with your media files using it's native interface. So they could just use the remote control and never even see windows. It would just be another menu on their TV. They would have no idea the files are coming from a PC.
If the TV does not support DLNA, you should be able to throw the PC into Windows Media Center Mode. That should give you a decent interface, but you will need to find a compatible remote control.
Thanks very much both of you. JCat, that's a great idea and I'll look to see what I can do with DLNA first. Never even though about WMC -something I should try. Many thanks!