Booksize HTPC w/ Remote and HDHomeRun Prime - AVS Forum
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I want to build a HTPC which I can leave it on 24/7 with the following features:
  1. XBMC
  2. Watch Live TV
  3. EGP
  4. Ability to channel surf, ie channel up/down
  5. From EGP jump to channel
  6. DVR
  7. Control by Remote
  8. Asterisk (VoIP PBX)

I plan on buying:
  • Booksize PC
  • HDHomeRun Prime
  • WCE Remote
  • Already have 2.5" 256GB SSD

I know Windows Media Center can do LiveTV, EGP, DVR, but I really would like a Linux solution so I don't have to cough up more money. Currently I have a desktop PC running XBMC on Windows, so I know XBMC satisfy my VOD demand.

I thought about buying ATV2 as booksize PC, but not so sure if it is powerful enough to run Asterisk on background. I am guessing ok because Asterisk only handle the signalling. The actual call goes on the separate ATA.

Also concern about ATV2 remote control not very user friendly to enter search text, but I rarely do this so probably ok.

So my questions are:
  1. Is there XMBC plugin that can do LiveTV and DVR with HDHomeRun Prime integrated?
  2. Booksize PC, which brand and model would you recommend for 1080 decoding? Zotac, Foxconn, Jetway, ATV2
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:16 PM
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1. No
2. None of the above
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:30 PM
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You should look into MythTV. They just came out with a new version and I've heard good things.

http://www.mythtv.org/
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:49 PM
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If your cable provider uses copy flags other than copy freely then you HAVE to use WMC. Pretty simple to figure out if you are wanting to use a cablecard tuner.

For your VoIP you should really look into an Obi100 or Obi110. I had Asterisk running on a PC before the Obi and don't miss it one bit. The Obi has provided free calls since the day I connected it without having to deal with Asterisk and a (Linksys PAP-2T) VoIP adapter

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Old 04-25-2012, 02:02 PM
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When going the CableCard route you should be aware that most content providers have enabled HDCP/copy-once flag in their broadcasts for channels that are not broadcast over-the-air in your area. Your only option for LiveTV and DVR will be Windows Media Center, you will only be able to view the content on the computer it was recorded on and if you want to see it in another room you will need an Xbox360 (the only extender on the market)

WMC uses WTV with PlayReady, iirc 1 hour of 1080i content will require roughly 4GB of space. You have no control over this and because WTV files are protected with PlayReady your recorded content will not be viewable in XMBC. You won't be able to convert it to another format to save space either.

MythTV, MediaPortal and other backends not certified by CableLabs will only allow you to record the same channels you can get OTA, but you will have more control over video/audio encoding and format. They also have plug-ins for XBMC to use the PVR function. You will need to use the PVR enabled branch of XBMC for this however.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:36 PM
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A pretty easy solution software-wise is to use Windows Media Center for your DVR / Live TV / EPG functions and XBMC for your video library. You can download XBMC Integration that puts a launcher button in WMC. Then you can switch back and forth easily with a WMC remote.
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:16 PM
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I'm migrating away from DirecTV by obtaining cable, CableCard and using WMC with the HDHomeRun Prime and MediaPortal for anything OTA, TV-series and movies. I'll continue to live in a world where there's OTA versus encrypted as I have with DirecTV. Sure, as I learn more about WMC I may install some of the plug-ins the guys on here speak about.
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

If your cable provider uses copy flags other than copy freely then you HAVE to use WMC. Pretty simple to figure out if you are wanting to use a cablecard tuner.

For your VoIP you should really look into an Obi100 or Obi110. I had Asterisk running on a PC before the Obi and don't miss it one bit. The Obi has provided free calls since the day I connected it without having to deal with Asterisk and a (Linksys PAP-2T) VoIP adapter

Thanks for the info. I want to use 1 paid VoIP International calling account using 3 SIP ATA across US. I got a bunch (a lot actually) of Cisco phones from last company which recently closed.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:36 AM
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Watching cable TV will require Windows. You can setup WMC to launch XBMC or vice versa, but it's not a seamless process. Asterisk has a Windows version, but I'd imagine you are looking to run it under some flavor of Linux. So you'll either have Windows in a Linux VM, or Linux in a Windows VM.

It's not a book PC, but a ITX motherboard in a M350 universal ITX case is pretty compact.

I'd also investigate a VoIP provider that can handle the asterisk function on their end unless you really need it. I use Aveno with an Obi and it's worked great the last 2 months or so. No issues at all. Plus they are dirt cheap PAYG and have a pretty powerful configuration tool for handling all your calls.
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Old 04-26-2012, 02:41 PM
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As for Live TV in XBMC - I've been doing some research toward that end.

Specifically with the HDHomeRun...

I found this note on PLA Tech Notes, this article on wiki.xbmc.org, and this note on the silicon dust forums.

All of which leads me to believe you can have live TV in XBMC. I'll be trying it out next week.

~Whip
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleet2600 View Post

Booksize PC, which brand and model would you recommend for 1080 decoding? Zotac, Foxconn, Jetway, ATV2

If you're looking for a small PC, be sure to check out the Unofficial mini-ITX case thread. There are a lot of small cases reviewed in there with a lot of experience building small PCs. I would go custom over a booksize barebones.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...315402&page=18

 

 

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Old 04-27-2012, 12:00 PM
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You can watch live TV in XBMC using the HDHomeRun Prime. You can do this via MythTV. You need to run a MythTV backend, which is the central place that will store all recordings and etc (basically a server). You will then be able to access the backend via XBMC by either using the MythTV addon or using the XBMC PVR branch with MythTV support. I have tested both with comcast pre 0.25 version of MythTV and it works great. I prefer the PVR branch but its still in development (not feature complete) and may not be as stable vs using the Addon. But the next version Frodo is supposed to have native PVR built into XBMC but would still require using a backend such as MythTV. So just start using MythTV today and you'll be ready when the main update is finally done. But this is at least a year off from being released. I have tested this with comcast. My roommates recently moved to using FIOS and I haven't had a chance to setup the replacement cable card. But I hear it should be no problem with FIOS.

Hope this info helps. XBMC FTW!!!

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Old 04-27-2012, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandomNinjaAtk View Post

You can watch live TV in XBMC using the HDHomeRun Prime. You can do this via MythTV...

Using it with anything other then WMC will only get you copy freely channels. It's ultimately up to the cable provider as to whether you can get some, most, or all non premium channels. Usually premiums (HBO, Showtime, etc) are not copy-freely. Some cable companies are friendly to the flag and don't copy protect anything, others are extremely anal retentive and flag everything. And others, like Comcast, it varies from market to market and which direction the wind is blowing from it seems.
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies all. I would not have a way to find out how many channels are copy once. So XBMC has addon to hook to WMC. seems like this toy is going to be very costly and might not even work.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleet2600 View Post

Thanks for the replies all. I would not have a way to find out how many channels are copy once. So XBMC has addon to hook to WMC. seems like this toy is going to be very costly and might not even work.

Who is your cable provider? Is FIOS an option? FIOS does not flag anything but premium channels, from what I've heard. Time Warner, however, flags everything other than the locals.
It all boils down to your content provider here. Also, SDV could rear its head here...again, provider independent.

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Old 04-27-2012, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleet2600 View Post


So my questions are:
  1. Is there XMBC plugin that can do LiveTV and DVR with HDHomeRun Prime integrated?
  2. Booksize PC, which brand and model would you recommend for 1080 decoding? Zotac, Foxconn, Jetway, ATV2

If you want to DVR/Cablecard use Mediabrowser and Windows Media. It just has better support.

As far as brands- you can do much better than those. Look for a MINI ITX Asus board, and SandyBridge Intel CPU would be my advice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

1. No
2. None of the above

not sure why but I laughed hard. Your response brought the lulz.

Best reply I seen in a while.

-

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Old 04-29-2012, 06:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdru View Post

Using it with anything other then WMC will only get you copy freely channels. It's ultimately up to the cable provider as to whether you can get some, most, or all non premium channels. Usually premiums (HBO, Showtime, etc) are not copy-freely. Some cable companies are friendly to the flag and don't copy protect anything, others are extremely anal retentive and flag everything. And others, like Comcast, it varies from market to market and which direction the wind is blowing from it seems.


You are right in this respect. For me I was using Comcast and the only channels I could not watch was HBO, Showtime and etc. Which for me I could careless about when I have most of the content they play on stored media on my server anyways. Everything else could be watched without a problem.

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Old 05-01-2012, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by pizznock View Post


WMC uses WTV with PlayReady, iirc 1 hour of 1080i content will require roughly 4GB of space. You have no control over this and because WTV files are protected with PlayReady your recorded content will not be viewable in XMBC. You won't be able to convert it to another format to save space either.

You can use MCEBuddy to convert WTV files to another format to save space. Assassin's guides detail this process.

You might lose 5.1 channel audio and closed captions in the process, but you can stream it to a PS3 or XBox using PS3 Media Server. Win some, lose some...
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Old 05-01-2012, 02:43 PM
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So as I understand it regarding copy-freely, if I setup a server to record my tv shows, if the channel is flagged, I cannot view the recording from my HTPC in another room? Is there a solution that allows me to record (and Live Stream) from my server and view on different HTPCs? (my current front-end is mediaportal)

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Old 05-02-2012, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Epyon415 View Post

So as I understand it regarding copy-freely, if I setup a server to record my tv shows, if the channel is flagged, I cannot view the recording from my HTPC in another room?

Copy-freely and flagging a channel are mutually exclusive. A channel can't be copy freely and flagged.

With flagged content, a cable card tuner and WMC, the recording becomes "locked" to whatever machine did the original recording. Only it can play it back. You can move the file anywhere you want, but other machines won't be able to play it.

The only exception to this is extenders that are off of the recording machine. They can show the recording as they are in essence just a display off of that machine.

Non-flagged recordings can be recorded on one machine and moved to another to be played back, or played back from some type of shared storage (shared drive, NAS, server, etc).

Quote:


Is there a solution that allows me to record (and Live Stream) from my server and view on different HTPCs? (my current front-end is mediaportal)

For copy once content, not really. Not and keep everything digital and/or high def.
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Old 05-03-2012, 04:44 PM
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I'm using 2 foxconn a3500's with 4gb of 1333 ram, windows 7 home premium 64 bit, WMC, and 2 HD homeruns and mkv movies at 1080p with no problem. I haven't tried HD audio though. These boxes are on my daughter's televisions. Recorded HDTV from Comcast has been available on all PC's in my network so far but I don't have premium channels. The limiting factors for this device seem to be the 1.6ghz processor and the probable inability to bitstream HD audio though I haven't tried. Works great for web surfing, homework, and dvr use.

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Old 05-07-2012, 01:45 AM
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Here's what I've got running at home:

Server: Virtual Machine running Ubuntu Server w/ tvheadend
HTPC living room: OpenElec PVR on a Asus E45M1-M Pro w/ SSD (the whole box is passively cooled) in a Zalman HD503
HTPC bedoom: XBMC Eden on ATV2

OpenElec is basically XBMC on a minimal linux kernel. Recently, they've added support for XBMC's PVR branch, which works great w/ tvheadend. It shows the EPG data my tvheadend grabs every night, allows me to watch live tv (and record, but I haven't tried this) and I can even channel surf (which wasn't possible w/out the PVR branch). Fortunately, my provider sends unencrypted IPTV streams, so not sure how well this will work for you.

I believe OpenElec allows the Asterisk plugin to be installed, not sure (need to check).

Unfortunately, the ATV2 isn't very powerful, which results in poor user experience. I wanted to use it anyway, so it's hooked up to a smaller screen in the bedroom. Note that I'm not running a PVR branch on the ATV2, so no channel surfing there (I connect to tvheadend as a htps video source).

If I could do this again, I'd probably:
- never get the ATV2
- get a smaller HTPC case (chose this one because it looked nice, had buttons on the front and a screen. I wanted to be able to use this is a audio player w/out having to turn on my tv, but navigation w/ the small buttons and screen is not very nice, rather use an Android app or something for that -- or just turn the TV on to create a playlist and then turn it off)
- maybe get a MoBo w/ built-in WiFi

HTH!
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