"Dumb" Laptops Link to High End Media Center?

I would like to have mobile internet access through a laptop, but no real interest in lugging around applications, drives, etc to increase weight and/or expensive redundancies on multiple machines.

Given that other threads have suggested that PC audio is not such a demanding, RAM intensive application, I am wondering is there any reason I couldnt have one or more light, sleek, slim, laptop devices to call up the internet and/or itunes for example, which in turn reference or wirelessly connects to my monster, high end "media center" which has stacks of giant hard drives, lots of RAM, all my movies, all my music etc?

The way I envision it, that media center's hard drive, with bit for bit uncompressed music, would by itself connect directly to a high end, external DAC hooked up to my main 2 channel system.

But the rest of the rooms could be light, simple, somewhat "dumb" and hopefully cheaper for the satellite applications.

Even better, perhaps when traveling, I could somehow dial up through "gotomypc.com" or something?

Apologies if I am missing some crucial piece of the puzzle here.

I am still trying to make the giant leap to PC based audio for everything other than a new turntable, yet continue to be fuzzy on "best practices" for audiophiles and how to accomodate multiple rooms, traveling etc.

Thanks for any solutions, suggestions, or arguments as to why this is a bad idea.


The answer to your question is, yes. Except, the laptop and the DAC is only a source, just like a CD player or TT. You still need your preamp and amps or a integrated amp for your speakers. And yes, it can be wireless for multiroom function.

Thanks - slight distinction, however

I dont really want to use the laptop as a "source".

I want to use it as a web enabled remote control where the source would be a high end media center computer.

This oversized, macho hard drived media center could then be accessed wirelessly by the laptops and when traveling.

Again, apologies I am missing some big piece of the puzzle but that to me would be best.
You lost me. What's a "oversized, macho hard drived media center"? I'm not sure how many thousands of cds a laptop with the largest hard drive can hold but, if it can't hold enough than something like the Mac Mini, or any pc for that matter, and stacked external drives I guess could give you the extra thousands of cds and movies that you want to store. Apple has a remote system that simply plugs into the wall (airport extreme). I don't know PCs but, they must also.
When you are traveling and want to access this oversized, macho hard drived media center what do you want it to do in your hotel room that you can't do from your laptop?
Need a little more info in order to help you get to where you are trying to go. By the way, there is a whole forum about this subject at audio asylum.

Your proposal is certainly one solution, but I'm not sure any "best practices" protocols have been established. I use exactly the setup you describe, but only because I'm a computer professional and have access to cheap old laptops. I use two of them, one in the family room and one in the bedroom, to provide music via the Internet, but I don't use them for surfing - they'd be too slow. Right now the bedroom system is connected via the laptop's audio out to our Zenith tabletop radio and provides more than enough fidelity for sleep music. It's used primarily with iTunes streaming radio stations. I'm in the process of developing a second system for the family room, which will include a USB DAC and a small integrated with bookshelves. Both systems have wireless access to the Apple Lossless files on the main desktop, connected to the main rig. Also, my wife and I both have iBooks as our personal machines, which we use in other rooms for individual listening and on the road. We use VNC as our remote connection - I'm leery of the security of gotomypc.com.

However, if you're starting from scratch, it might be easier and cheaper to have something like a Squeezebox in every room. The Squeezebox is cheaper than all but the oldest laptops, and comes with a remote and software. It also saves you from all the operating system/antivirus/malware/maintenance headaches you have with multiple laptops. I predict Squeezebox-like devices will become very inexpensive over the next couple years, making this an even more sensible solution.