Originally Posted by TheaterChad
Also, if you have one ceton 4 tuner card and your using 4 extenders, and let's just say you would like to record a show or two, can you switch independantly from one tuner to record if your not using one of the extenders, or do you have to have a dedicated tuner that's only reserved to recording for dvr?, which I don't really record much, but I would start recording if I could, I have two terabites to use for storage....
GSR's answered your questions, but I just wanted to clarify to be sure.
(1) The tuners are for use by WMC, either for (a) active viewing or recording on the HTPC of a currently live program, or (b) use by an extender to view a currently live program.
And, with proper setup, you can even network-share (i.e. "borrow") that tuner physically located in the primary HTPC where the Ceton card lives, with another PC on the network. Obviously if a given tuner is assigned for use by a second WMC running in a second PC then it can't simultaneously be used by the primary WMC in the primary HTPC. But the physical tuners can actually be network-shared like this.
(2) The current MS-determined limit for max number of tuners of a given "type" in a single HTPC is 4. There is a MS-provided OEM/commercial non-consumer option for 8 tuners per type.
Encrypted cablecard-enabled QAM cable channels is one type, clear QAM (does not require a cablecard) cable channels is another type, and OTA ATSC (e.g. ATI TV Wonder cards) is another type. Again, a max of 4 tuners dedicated to each type of tuning.
(3) The extenders are independent network-connected outboard devices that connect to WMC on the HTPC via ethernet cables and which facilitate viewing WMC-provided live or recorded content at remote TV/AVR "nodes" (both SD and HDTV, through either analog or digital audio/video connections depending on model).
WMC supports a max of 5 simultaneously active extenders actually turned on and "connected" (even if not doing something but just sitting idle at the main menu).
Theoretically you can have more than 5 physical extenders connected by ethernet cable on the LAN, but only 5 can be "on and connected to WMC" at one time.
(4) Through the extender you can watch either (a) live TV programs, or (b) previously recorded TV programs. The extender can also facilitate other capabilities of WMC (e.g. viewing videos and movies, etc.) but this discussion is limited to its use with TV tuner functionality.
If an extender is used to watch live TV, then an available tuner on the HTPC is required right at that moment. If all tuners are currently being used for either recording programs, or feeding other extenders which are watching live TV, then the newly requested live TV capability is not available at this next extender which wanted a tuner since no free tuner is currently available at that moment.
(5) Once a tuner is allocated by WMC to the extender watching live TV, it is temporarily no longer available to WMC itself for use in timer-recording some other program.
Of course the same tuner can be used for both (a) watching live TV of that program on that extender, and (b) WMC simultaneously recording that same program on the HTPC, triggered manually by pushing the RECORD button on the extender's remote. In this special case the tuner might be considered to be simultaneously supporting both the extender and recording (of the same program), so one tuner can do both jobs at once. But this is a special situation and the recording control was done manually at that extender.
In other words, timer-recording by WMC requires a truly free and available separate tuner (not being used by any other recording or by any extender watching live TV) at that moment, to get started. Even if a connected extender happens to be watching live TV on the very same channel whose program timer-scheduled for timer-recording by WMC, this is not sufficient to allocate that same tuner to the timer-recording function of WMC.
As long as an extender is using a tuner for watching/recording live TV using that tuner, the tuner is temporarily not available for allocation by WMC for a totally independent timer-scheduled recording (although by coincidence it might have been for the very same program currently being viewed at some extender).
(6) In other words, active and connected extenders are considered by WMC to be TV's being used by humans.
If a previously recorded program is being viewed at that extender/TV, then no tuner on the HTPC is needed. All tuners on the HTPC remain available to WMC for timer-recording use.
If live TV is being watched at an extender/TV, then one free tuner on the HTPC is required and if available is allocated by WMC to that extender for the duration of that live TV session. That tuner is thus temporarily removed from the "free-tuner pool" and is temporarily not available to WMC for user in its own timer-recording needs or for allocation to another extender's live TV needs.
If an extender/TV changes from live TV viewing mode to instead watching a previously recorded program, the tuner which was previously allocated to that extender for live TV use is immediately returned to WMC and goes back into the "free-tuner pool" for use by either timer-recording needs or for allocation to another extender's live TV needs.
(7) To summarize:
(a) max of 4 tuners of each given tuner type supported by WMC in standard consumer setups
(b) max of 5 simultaneously active extenders
(c) each active extender uses 1 tuner if "live TV" is being watched at that extender, which causes WMC to remove that tuner from the 4-tuner pool and allocate it to the extender for as long as needed
(d) when viewing a previously recorded program at an extender, no tuner is required
(e) when WMC is timer-recording, a free tuner usable for that type of recording must be available for exclusive allocation for that purpose from the 4-tuner pool.
(8) NOTE: if multiple tuner cards are installed in one HTPC so that the combined Guide information covering the tuners shows that the same program is actually available on multiple channels available through the multiple tuners, WMC is sophisticated enough to resolve scheduling conflicts to re-allocate a second tuner to satisfy the timer-recording needs of the channel/program, if the primary tuner for that channel/program is already in use.
For example, an ATI TV Wonder 1-tuner card for OTA ATSC use can pick up local LA digital network channels like 2.1 (CBSDT), 4.1 (NBCDT), 5.1 (CWDT), 7.1 (ABCDT), 11.1 (FOXDT), etc.. The very same local network channels are carried on TWC/LA as 402, 404, 405, 407, 411, etc.
If on Wednesday night at 8PM you wanted to record "Survivor" and "American Idol" which are both on at the same time, you could schedule them in multiple different ways: (a) Survivor on 402 and American Idol on 411, (b) Survivor on 2.1 and American Idol on 411, or (c) Survivor on 402 and American Idol on 11.1.
Personally, I use the OTA ATSC channel whenever possible for local network viewing/recording because there is no bitrate compression from the OTA local networks, whereas TWC/LA re-compresses its channels including these local networks. The video quality thus suffers from re-compression and lower bitrates on TWC/LA whereas watching them OTA ATSC is at least "pristine" at the original network-provided compression quality and bitrate.
Nevertheless, thanks to the Zapit2-provided Guide data, WMC tuner scheduling will also successfully resolve conflicts when it knows a channel's content is available through multiple tuner sources. So, for example, if you first scheduled Survivor at 8PM on channel 2.1, and then you also tried to schedule American Idol at 8PM on channel 11.1, WMC would recognize that the 1-tuner ATI TV Wonder single tuner was no longer available for the second request. But, seeing that very same American Idol program was also available on 411, it would actually schedule the recording for channel 411 on the Ceton 4-tuner card even though you asked for it on channel 11.1 of the ATI 1-tuner card. You are advised of this when you set the recording.
If you later go back and look at the Guide matrix, you will see a red dot (recording) icon in the Survivor cell on channel 2.1, and an exclamation mark icon in the American Idol cell on channel 11.1. If you push the INFO button on the American Idol cell, you will see a message that "this program will be recorded on channel KTTV-DT 411", reminding you that you'd asked for it on 11.1 but it's being satisfied on 411 due to conflict resolution.
==> If you want to be sure your "favorite" program goes to the OTA ATSC 1-tuner card (to get the best video quality), just set that timer recording first. Then, any subsequent "conflicting" programs that you want to record at the same time will automatically be re-assigned over to the 4-tuner Ceton cable channel equivalent if you try to schedule it on the 1-tuner OTA ATSC channel.
Also note that this holds for both one-off as well as series recordings. The exact same discussion above for AI and Survivor would apply if I was trying to set a "series" recording for both, and wanted Survivor to always be on 2.1 thus always forcing AI to 411, I would set the series recording for Survivor first (on 2.1), and then set the series recording for AI second (with 11.1 rolling over into 411 by WMC, or I could set 411 directly myself).
I know... long and verbose. But I hope this was useful info.