PVR shared across multi rooms - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-19-2008, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm looking for info on the latest technology that will allow me to take a single PVR and network it between multiple rooms. I currently have Directv with DVR's in two rooms, but I can't access material from one room into another. I know they have various PVR software but it seems to be more geared towards watching tv on different pc's in different rooms. I don't care about that piece of it. I'm looking for the latest advancements whether its provided already in a box, or if one of the PVR software can allow me to build my own. All I am finding in my searches is old information, I'm looking for whats available today.

I know Verizon FIOS can offer this, but I don't have them in my area. So unless another provider (time warner, directv, dish) can give me what I want, I suspect I'll have to build something. I just don't know what the latest technology is. If anyone has any info to share, or knows of any recent articles, please share. Appreciated.
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-21-2008, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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nobody can tell me if this is currently possible?
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-21-2008, 10:21 AM
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Do you need HD in other rooms? Or just HD in one room and SD in others? And do you need just local HD channels, or cable channels too?

If you already have a PC running Windows Vista, then a Windows Media Center extender option would work well to provide HD DVR capability for local networks to one or more rooms. If you want to tune and record the digital cable channels from Time Warner, you'll need a new Vista CableCard PC. The cheapest one is available from Dell for ~$1250 with dual CableCard tuners. You can read more about Windows Media Center here.

To turn your existing Vista PC into a multi-room HDTV DVR for locals, you would require at least one HDHomerun (dual-tuner) @ $169, plus a Linksys DMA2100 Media Center Extender @ $250 for each room. If you already own an Xbox360, then that will also act as Windows Media Center extender, eliminating the need to buy the Linksys.

With the HD extender on each TV, you have a program guide, you can watch and pause live TV, you can schedule recordings, and you can watch recorded programs. All the programs are saved to the hard drive on your PC and streamed to the HD extender. Each room with a HD Extender has access to the same recordings.


Program guide with Windows Media Center Extender

If you don't have a PC running Windows Vista, SageTV is another low-cost alternative to provide local HD to one or more rooms. With SageTV, you would also buy one or more HDHomerun (dual-tuner) @ $169 and install the $69 SageTV server software on a computer. Then you buy one $199 SageTV HD Media Extender for each TV. Note SageTV does not support CableCards.

With the HD extender on each TV, you have a program guide, you can watch and pause live TV, you can schedule recordings, and you can watch recorded programs. All the programs are saved to the hard drive on your PC and streamed to the SageHD extender. Each room with a HD Extender has access to the same recordings.


Program guide with SageTV HD Extender

Versions of SageTV are available for Windows, Windows Home Server, OS X, and Linux.

There are no subscription fees with Vista Media Center and SageTV, beyond the energy cost to run your PC 24/7 (up to $200/yr). With these solutions, you are limited to OTA and unencrypted QAM (i.e. local channels), unless your cable provider is one of the few that does not copy-protect its cable HD channels. If your provider is among the few that does not use copy protection, you should be able to connect a HDTV STB from the cable co to your PC via Firewire and get encrypted channels as well.
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-21-2008, 10:34 AM
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The alternative to a PC is a TiVo with Slingcatchers. Below is a cost breakdown I did a few weeks ago for Verizon FiOS.

Tivo recorded list


Note how multiple recordings of same series are grouped; the episode titles are listed inside each folder. The folders with stars contain programs automatically recorded across multiple channels with boolean search (example); these folder names are fully customizable. Without such grouping, a DVR with 1TB capacity and dozens of recordings would quickly become cumbersome.


Approximate cost for four rooms
  1. [Locals only] Vista Media Center with 4 HDTVs

    1x Existing Vista PC
    1x 1TB drive upgrade @ $250
    1x HDHomerun (extra two tuners for locals) @ $169
    4x Vista Media Center extenders @ $250/ea
    4x Motorola NIM100s @ $40/ea (to provide 100Mbps connection over coax to each extender)
    =
    $1579 + $0/yr DVR fee

    The total cost over three years is $1579. Subtract $250 for each Xbox360 that you have.


  2. [Locals only] SageTV with 4 HDTVs

    1x Existing PC or Mac
    1x 1TB drive upgrade @ $250
    1x HDHomerun (extra two tuners for locals) @ $169
    1x SageTV software for PC @ $79
    4x SageTV HD extenders @ $200/ea
    4x Motorola NIM100s @ $40/ea (to provide 100Mbps connection over coax to each extender)
    =
    $1458 + $0/yr DVR fee

    The total cost over three years is $1379.


  3. [Locals only] TiVo with 1 HDTV, 3 SDTVs

    1x TivoHD@ $250
    1x WD 1TB drive upgrade @ $250
    3x Slingcatcher @ $200
    1x Slingbox @ $100
    1x DVR fee @ $129/yr (or $299 for three years)
    4x Motorola NIM100s @ $40/ea (to provide 100Mbps connection over coax to each TiVo)
    =
    $1360, plus $129/yr DVR fees

    The total cost over three years is $1659, with $129/yr for future years.


  4. [Digital cable + OTA] Vista Media Center with 4 HDTVs

    1x Dell XPS 420 CableCard PC @ $1200
    1x 1TB drive upgrade @ $250
    1x HDHomerun (extra two tuners for locals) @ $169
    4x Vista Media Center extenders @ $250/ea
    2x CableCard fee @ $2.98/mo
    4x Motorola NIM100s @ $40/ea (to provide 100Mbps connection over coax to each extender)
    =
    $2779 + $0/yr DVR fee and $5.98/mo CableCard fee

    The total cost over three years is $2995, with $72/yr for future years. Subtract $250 for each Xbox360 that you have.


  5. [Digital cable + OTA] TiVo with 4 HDTVs

    4x Tivo Series3 @ $550 - $200 mail-in rebate
    1x DVR fee @ $129/yr (first TiVo)
    3x DVR fee @ $99/yr (next three TiVos)
    8x CableCard fee @ $2.98/mo (two CableCards per TiVo)
    4x Motorola NIM100s @ $40/ea (to provide 100Mbps connection over coax to each TiVo)
    =
    $1560 after rebate, plus $426/yr DVR fees and $23.92/mo CableCard fee

    The total cost over three years is $3699, with $713/yr for future years.

    If you expect to use the TiVos for more than three years, obviously it would make sense to buy the lifetime subscription instead. That would increase the cost over the first three years by about $320, but future years would be $287/yr instead of $713/yr.


  6. [Digital cable + OTA] TiVo with 2 HDTVs, 2 SDTVs

    2x Tivo Series3 @ $550 - $200 mail-in rebate
    2x Slingcatcher @ $200
    1x Slingbox @ $100
    1x DVR fee @ $129/yr (first TiVo)
    1x DVR fee @ $99/yr (second TiVo)
    4x CableCard fee @ $2.98/mo (two CableCards per TiVo)
    4x Motorola NIM100s @ $40/ea (to provide 100Mbps connection over coax to each TiVo)
    =
    $1360 after rebate, plus $228/yr DVR fees and $11.96/mo CableCard fee

    The total cost over three years is $2474, with $371/yr for future years.

    If you expect to use the TiVos for more than three years, obviously it would make sense to buy the lifetime subscription instead. That would increase the cost over the first three years by about $120, but future years would be $143/yr instead of $371/yr.


  7. [Digital cable + OTA] TiVo with 1 HDTV, 3 SDTVs

    1x TivoHD@ $250
    1x WD 1TB drive upgrade @ $250
    3x Slingcatcher @ $200
    1x Slingbox @ $100
    1x DVR fee @ $129/yr (or $299 for three years)
    2x CableCard fee @ $2.99/mo (two CableCards per TiVo)
    4x Motorola NIM100s @ $40/ea (to provide 100Mbps connection over coax to each TiVo)
    =
    $1360, plus $129/yr DVR fees and $5.98/mo CableCard fee

    The total cost over three years is $1962 (or $1874 with prepaid Tivo subscription), with $201/yr for future years.

    If you expect to use the TiVos for more than three years, it would make sense to buy the lifetime subscription instead. That would increase the cost over the first three years by $100 over a 3-yr prepaid sub, but future years would be $72/yr instead of $201/yr.

  8. [Digital cable] Verizon MRDVR with 1 HDTVs, 3 SDTVs

    1x MRDVR fee @ $19.99/mo
    3x STB fee @ $5.99/mo
    =
    $0 upfront, plus $455.52/yr DVR and STB fees

    The total cost over three years is $1366.56, with $455.52/yr for future years.

    Capacity with this solution limited to 160Gb total (20 hours HD), and recordings from HD channels cannot be sent to SD STBs.

Vista Media Center and TiVo offer superior functionality, usability, and capacity relative to the Verizon DVR, but at significant upfront expense. The TiVo Series3 offers a few more DVR capabilities out of the box (such as autorecord based on boolean search), but various add-ons are available for Vista Media Center. The advantage of the Vista Media Center over options #5 and #6 is that all recordings and capacity are centralized in a single location.

The Verizon multiroom DVR with just 160Gb storage (20 hours HD) costs $19.99/mo. For now, multi-room is only supported with the $4.99/mo SD STBs, but support is planned for the $9.99/mo HD STBs in 2H 2008. It's not clear if or when capacity expansion will ever be supported by Verizon's current DVRs.

Summary

If you don't need digital cable support, then using your existing PC is clearly the most economical solution.

If you want digital cable support, the Dell CableCard PC is more expensive in the short term, but a lot less expensive over the long-term when you have more than two HDTVs.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-21-2008, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you both for the reply. That was very informative and a nice breakdown.

I currently have Directv with multi room HD. Can anyone verify whether or not the content is encrypted? I'm guessing it is which would render any solution unuseable.


thanks again
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post #6 of 14 Old 01-21-2008, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wags1970 View Post

I currently have Directv with multi room HD. Can anyone verify whether or not the content is encrypted? I'm guessing it is which would render any solution unuseable.

It is not possible to have multi-room HD with centralized DVR storage on DirecTV. You've got to buy a separate HDTV DVR for every room.

DirecTV did recently drop the price of their HDTV DVR from $299 to $199, however.
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-21-2008, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

It is not possible to have multi-room HD with centralized DVR storage on DirecTV. You've got to buy a separate HDTV DVR for every room.

DirecTV has announced a PC add-on tuner. Don't know when it will be available.

Also, the forthcoming HD recorder from Hauppauge will allow recording from any STB with component output, although at reduced quality compared with digital recording.
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-24-2008, 09:06 PM
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Great analysis, bfdtv! Thanks for all the good information.
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post #9 of 14 Old 01-29-2008, 09:47 PM
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In my case I have Comcast cable; OTA is not available. So I think I would need either a cablecard tuner or a QAM tuner if I don't care about the encrypted channels. Do I understand correctly that Windows Vista doesn't work with a simple QAM tuner? So if I want to go that route SageTv would be my best option?
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-29-2008, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradvoy View Post

In my case I have Comcast cable; OTA is not available. So I think I would need either a cablecard tuner or a QAM tuner if I don't care about the encrypted channels. Do I understand correctly that Windows Vista doesn't work with a simple QAM tuner?

No. Vista works fine with a simple QAM tuner, as does SageTV.

Take a look at the dual-tuner HDHomerun.
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post #11 of 14 Old 01-30-2008, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

No. Vista works fine with a simple QAM tuner, as does SageTV.

Take a look at the dual-tuner HDHomerun.

I had read several threads here and on other forums that talked about Vista being unable to work with a QAM tuner. But apparently that was old information and whatever the problem was has since been fixed.

The HD Homerun looks like a nice component. And it looks like it works with either of the software solutions I'm considering (SageTV and Vista). This is probably what I'll use as my tuner.

I'm having a harder time deciding on software. I like the openness of SageTV. But I like Vista's ability to use an Xbox360 as an extender.

Thanks for all the information.
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post #12 of 14 Old 02-05-2008, 12:35 AM
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Thanks so much for the analysis post.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

Take a look at the dual-tuner HDHomerun.

I will do just that, as the Hauppauge 1600 is not pulling in OTA signals much better than the AverTV was on my PC DVR. Will it stream over a 10/100 LAN or must that be upgraded, too?
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post #13 of 14 Old 02-05-2008, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whalepirot View Post

Thanks so much for the analysis post.


I will do just that, as the Hauppauge 1600 is not pulling in OTA signals much better than the AverTV was on my PC DVR. Will it stream over a 10/100 LAN or must that be upgraded, too?

A 100Mbps LAN is fine. There is no benefit to gigabit for high-definition streaming.
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post #14 of 14 Old 02-22-2008, 01:21 AM
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my poor man's solution, when only one room is watching at a time....
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=998319
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