HTPC with OTA HD TV recording and itunes music playback - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 01-16-2013, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
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We've got an old series 2 Tivo with lifetime. The kids are mostly gamers and we watch very little TV. I was looking to upgrade to HD when my husband suggested using a computer instead started me down this path.

We have a 46 inc. Sony Bravia TV, Sony STR-DG810 receiver and PS3 along with Alienware pc, imac and varios laptop/ipads.
We usually watch Netflix and blu rays on the PS3.

I'd like to set something up that records OTA, plays itunes music and if I set it up, plays British BBC shows recorded from online BBC iPlayer on the TV.

Was looking at going with a mac mini but I have a few questions and would love input on my idea. We have plenty of external hard drives around the house for storage.

What version Mac Mini would I need (If I could save some money picking up an older one that would be great).

Any suggestions for a tuner that's just for OTA? Any that do more than one recording or will I need to buy multiple tuners?

Finally, we've probably got some older macs and PC's around the garage what are the min. requirements needed to run this setup if we didn't use the Mac Mini?

Thanks
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post #2 of 5 Old 01-16-2013, 02:53 PM
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What version Mac Mini would I need...

Staying in OS X, anything you have can handle iTunes music, even a single G4. If you want optical out to your AVR that means at least an Intel Mac Mini or Macbook. For recording and playing back OTA HD with the most common OS X recording software EyeTV, you'd need a fairly decent Core 2 Duo, no older than the 2.53 2009 Mini. Any Mini from 2010 to 2012 would do a great job for you in the home theater. An older C2D Mac can record, that doesn't take much effort and do a passable job playing back 1080i recordings, but if you're at all a critical viewer you'll see flaws with anything in the 1.83 to 2.2 C2D range.

An HD Homerun is a dual tuner that can do ATSC which EyeTV supports:

http://www.amazon.com/SiliconDust-HDHomeRun-Definition-Digital-HDHR3-US/dp/B004HO58SO/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1358376323&sr=1-2

so if you're content recording two different channels simultaneously, go with that. You may have to buy the software separately from El Gato, because I don't think El Gato sells the HD Homerun directly anymore. You can load up multiple single tuners, sometimes I have three EyeTV 500s daisychained over firewire to the same Mac, but it can be a bit of a dark art figuring out which tuners work well together. It isn't actually supported by El Gato. If I were starting over, I'd go with the dual HD Homerun.
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...plays British BBC shows recorded from online BBC iPlayer on the TV.

I, too, watch the BBC iPlayer (and ITV and Channel 4) via a Mac in the living room; however, I don't know a way to "record" those streams. EyeTV won't record Safari internet streams.
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post #3 of 5 Old 01-17-2013, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwin View Post

We've got an old series 2 Tivo with lifetime. The kids are mostly gamers and we watch very little TV. I was looking to upgrade to HD when my husband suggested using a computer instead started me down this path. [clipped]

Thanks

Since you watch little TV, why not stay with the TiVo for OTA recording? This is my personal preference of course, but I attempted to switch to Mac-based OTA/Cable TV recording and found the human interaction differences too great to spend the time to learn. If you really want to record OTA (and/or cable and/or Netflix) you can get a used TiVo HD for $80 (I have an HD and an HDXL), or the newer Premier (retails $150). Using TiVo Transfer (from Toast) I am able transfer recordings from the TiVos to my Mac across my Airport network, and using pvTiVox I am able to transfer those shows and my ripped BD/DVD movies (as long as they're transcoded correctly) back to either TiVo.

If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.

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post #4 of 5 Old 01-17-2013, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Tivo sent me a deal last week that included a referb. premiere @$299 and $99 lifetime. I was all set to buy till I read the fine print that said the premiere unit cost was $119, then noticed they were selling new premiere for $149 at Tivo.com. Called CS to ask what's up and they kept me on the phone over 3 hours having me fax them screen shots and agreeing with what I was reading but ... it's a typo, they're out of stock (only they weren't if it was $299)etc. ... till finally they said the $119 was full retail price but with the $99 lifetime they charge $299, sorry for the misunderstanding and the 3 hours on the phone...

The $400 is a very good price and had they offered me even a small discout for the inconvenience I prob. would have gone for it. But I find charging more than full retail deceptive and keeping me on the phone jumping through hoops 3 hours poor customer service and makes me question if this is a company I want to do business with.

My husband runs a computer lab and does all his programing on Mac's so he can't see why we'd bother with Tivo when a computer could do the job as well or better. We've tried to do playback of movies from one of the computers via our airport but it's too choppy. So I was thinking of ether getting a mini or using one of the older computers we have around to set this up.
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-17-2013, 03:59 PM
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hmmm... I do not have the problem you're having with buying a TiVo Premier. Be sure you are talking about the lowest price of the three currently available Premiers. It's the only one that has OTA capability. I cannot understand that, but cable money must be involved. TiVo website currently offers me a new Premier w/Lifetime for $399.99, or $149.99 + $12.99 monthly. That puts the equals point at 19.25 months, so the lifetime deal is pretty good, since regular cost is much more. I see it's because I qualify for a multi-service discount ( my HD is on a grandfathered $6/mo service and my HDXL is lifetime). Since you currently have a TiVo with lifetime service, I assume you should qualify for a multi-service discount also.

I'm not pressuring you. Your husband's technical expertise probably trumps my I'm-used-to-TiVo-interface preference. I just found that the issues that cropped up using the various Mac-centric video capture software and hardware were too irritating for me.

BTW: here's a $99 listing at Amazon (exclusive of service):
TiVo TCD746500 Premiere DVR - Black.

If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.

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