HTPC Newbie – is it possible to replace FIOS STB/DVR? – Lots of questions - AVS Forum

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keeptech's Avatar keeptech
08:30 AM Liked: 10
post #1 of 10
07-05-2012 | Posts: 13
Joined: Jul 2012
Hi while I’ve built several regular PC’s, I have not yet built an HTPC. But with Verizon wanting to charge me $30/ month for my Whole Home DVR, I figured now might be the time. I really don’t use the whole Home DVR feature too much and watch 98% of recorded content on the primary TV. Also I’ve heard that Verizon won’t allow Cable Card recording of premium channels, but I don’t even subscribe to HBO, Showtime etc. so I don’t care. However I would like to able to record Sports, News, and documentaries mostly. I’m thinking about building a NAS to store these recordings as well as backed up movies from DVD/Blu-Rays. Then I might go with Win 7 Media Center and a Ceton quad tuner with FiOS cable card. I might use the “AMD Llano HTPC Builders Guide” (http://www.anandtech.com/show/5906/amd-llano-htpc-builders-guide ) for the basic hardware setup.

Some questions regarding the HTPC though:

1) Can I use the HTPC like a STB where I can see a channel Guide and watch live TV? If so with what Hardware/Software?

2) With the DVR can I easily set it up to record TV series? One nice feature about the Verizon DVR is that I can tell it to only record 1st run episodes only. If so what software does this?

3) With the Recorded content will I be able to move it around to other machines to view it, or can I only view it via the HTPC? I guess I am asking if these recordings have DRM on them.

4) Will I be able record HD content such that is saved as HD quality?

5) I don’t know how the NAS to HTPC configuration works. What software will be able to play a variety of formats such as .iso, .mkv, .divx, .mov etc?

6) What other tips can you make for making it wife/family easy to use.



Thanks
erickotz's Avatar erickotz
09:25 AM Liked: 30
post #2 of 10
07-05-2012 | Posts: 1,131
Joined: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeptech View Post

Hi while I’ve built several regular PC’s, I have not yet built an HTPC. But with Verizon wanting to charge me $30/ month for my Whole Home DVR, I figured now might be the time. I really don’t use the whole Home DVR feature too much and watch 98% of recorded content on the primary TV. Also I’ve heard that Verizon won’t allow Cable Card recording of premium channels, but I don’t even subscribe to HBO, Showtime etc. so I don’t care. However I would like to able to record Sports, News, and documentaries mostly. I’m thinking about building a NAS to store these recordings as well as backed up movies from DVD/Blu-Rays. Then I might go with Win 7 Media Center and a Ceton quad tuner with FiOS cable card. I might use the “AMD Llano HTPC Builders Guide” (http://www.anandtech.com/show/5906/amd-llano-htpc-builders-guide ) for the basic hardware setup.
Verizon FiOS (and other providers) do allow recording of premium content. However, many of them mark channels in such a way that they can only be played on the PC that recorded them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeptech 
1) Can I use the HTPC like a STB where I can see a channel Guide and watch live TV? If so with what Hardware/Software?
Yes. Windows Media Center + a CableCARD tuner, like the Ceton InfiniTV
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeptech 
2) With the DVR can I easily set it up to record TV series? One nice feature about the Verizon DVR is that I can tell it to only record 1st run episodes only. If so what software does this?
Windows Media Center supports this
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeptech 
3) With the Recorded content will I be able to move it around to other machines to view it, or can I only view it via the HTPC? I guess I am asking if these recordings have DRM on them.
It depends on the cable provider and channel. Copy Freely channels can be freely moved around. Copy once channels are tied to the PC that recorded them (or an extender of that PC)
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeptech 
4) Will I be able record HD content such that is saved as HD quality?
The PC records the exact same bitstream that any other DVR would.
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeptech 
5) I don’t know how the NAS to HTPC configuration works. What software will be able to play a variety of formats such as .iso, .mkv, .divx, .mov etc?
In most cases, this is more of an OS thing than application.
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeptech 
6) What other tips can you make for making it wife/family easy to use.
Thanks
Once you have it set up, resist the urge to tinker.
Zon2020's Avatar Zon2020
09:29 AM Liked: 28
post #3 of 10
07-05-2012 | Posts: 2,716
Joined: Mar 2010
One thing you might want to confirm. (I don't have FIOS so can't answer this myself) From what I've read, there is some uncertainty about what Verizon meant as "premium channels" in their announcement of starting "copy once" protection. That is, whether they meant just pay channels like HBO and Starz, or whether they meant all non-broadcast channels. It's my understanding that with any channel that has a "copy once" flag, the answer to #3 is "no", you can't move it around.
blueiedgod's Avatar blueiedgod
10:10 AM Liked: 71
post #4 of 10
07-05-2012 | Posts: 1,583
Joined: Jan 2011
You have been misinformed. The letter sent out to Verizon FiOS customers (I got one) basically said that they are going to start enforcing pairing of the CableCard to the hardware, which in most cases has been done anyways when you set it up initially. The letter did not say anything about not being able to record premium content. It just said that if your CableCard is not paired to the tuner, then you won't be able to tune some channels.

Previously, you could take the CableCard out of Verizon DVR or the box and plop it into a PC and it would work 99% of the time. They are just catching up with the reuglations, that is all.

We had Time Warner and Verizon and both work fine with Ceton InifniTV4 in an HTPC. We have 5 TV's in the house, and only pay $3.99/month to rent the CableCard, on top of our bundle cost ($65/month for Triple play with 20/5 Internet, Prime HD, and Verizon digital freedom phone).

The HTPC acts as a "whole house DVR" and other TV's connect to it over the wired network using Windows Media Center extenders (the way it was meant to be use from day one). With 8 tuners we never run out of tuners, but we do run out of storage space, which I have upped to 12 Tb, as of right now (too many recordings, too little time to watch, even in 2X)
Zon2020's Avatar Zon2020
10:16 AM Liked: 28
post #5 of 10
07-05-2012 | Posts: 2,716
Joined: Mar 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

You have been misinformed. The letter sent out to Verizon FiOS customers (I got one) basically said that they are going to start enforcing pairing of the CableCard to the hardware, which in most cases has been done anyways when you set it up initially. The letter did not say anything about not being able to record premium content. It just said that if your CableCard is not paired to the tuner, then you won't be able to tune some channels.

Well, this is what Engadget reported last week:

"Verizon FiOS TV finally set to enforce CableCARD restrictions - Verizon launched its fiber to the home service the same year CableCARD was released, but Verizon's implementation has always been a little different. For starters, Verizon got an extra year before it was required to support it, but even since then, Verizon has been pretty lax about enforcing all the restrictions CableCARD has to offer. Despite years of predictions about the sky falling one day, only now have a few FiOS customers received letters notifying them that the party's over. What we mean is that starting July 31st, you won't be able to just slide an activated CableCARD into another box, like you can now.

The real bad news however, is that some premium content will now be flagged Copy Once. Although the FCC has always permitted the use of this flag on most content, Verizon has never used it. Essentially that meant that you could record anything you wanted on your TiVo or Windows Media Center PC and copy those programs any which way you'd like. Not only does this break TiVoToGo and other similar features, but it actually breaks Multi-Room Viewing on the Series3. CableCARD FiOS TV customers can tune to channel 131 to see if their TV will turn dark on D-Day (the screenshot above means you'll need to update your activation to continue viewing) but until then, enjoy the free for all copying while it lasts."

JDLIVE's Avatar JDLIVE
10:24 AM Liked: 27
post #6 of 10
07-05-2012 | Posts: 2,922
Joined: Apr 2003
I just did exactly what you want to do, replaced the FiOS HD DVR with 7MC and an HDHomeRun Prime network based CableCard tuner. There are some differences, but overall I'm happy with the trade. As noted, FiOS is changing their CC flagging, yet to be seen what impact that will have on us as users.

Another thing to keep in mind, you lose access to On Demand programming, remote DVR access and some other nice features. Personally, I didn't use those too much but YMMV.
Sammy2's Avatar Sammy2
04:09 PM Liked: 190
post #7 of 10
07-05-2012 | Posts: 9,846
Joined: Mar 2011
I had Uverse and now Charter with the HDHR Prime.

The PQ is superior but that's because Charter doesn't compress it so much. at&t is trying to squeeze it out that last mile on a pair of old 20ga copper wires that probably aren't even a twisted pair.

We rarely used on demand and never used pay per view so no loss there. Having several hundred movies and an ever growing library of TV series on demand doesn't hurt. biggrin.gif

I occasionally used the remote guide but won't miss it much. Actually I think there's an app for that but I'm not sure if I remember where I saw it now.. confused.gif
hockeyrcks9901's Avatar hockeyrcks9901
06:15 AM Liked: 17
post #8 of 10
07-06-2012 | Posts: 173
Joined: Sep 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Well, this is what Engadget reported last week:
"Verizon FiOS TV finally set to enforce CableCARD restrictions - Verizon launched its fiber to the home service the same year CableCARD was released, but Verizon's implementation has always been a little different. For starters, Verizon got an extra year before it was required to support it, but even since then, Verizon has been pretty lax about enforcing all the restrictions CableCARD has to offer. Despite years of predictions about the sky falling one day, only now have a few FiOS customers received letters notifying them that the party's over. What we mean is that starting July 31st, you won't be able to just slide an activated CableCARD into another box, like you can now.
The real bad news however, is that some premium content will now be flagged Copy Once. Although the FCC has always permitted the use of this flag on most content, Verizon has never used it. Essentially that meant that you could record anything you wanted on your TiVo or Windows Media Center PC and copy those programs any which way you'd like. Not only does this break TiVoToGo and other similar features, but it actually breaks Multi-Room Viewing on the Series3. CableCARD FiOS TV customers can tune to channel 131 to see if their TV will turn dark on D-Day (the screenshot above means you'll need to update your activation to continue viewing) but until then, enjoy the free for all copying while it lasts."

I can only tell you what the letter I received said and it's exactly what the other poster said. That they will be requiring the cable card to be paired with the device. No more moving it from PC to PC without calling Verizon first. I'm not sure that anyone really did that when they could just get another cable card for $4/month. The $4 is well worth it considering the time you would spend moving the card back and forth.

(That doesn't mean Verizon didn't decide to move to copy once. I'm just posting what my letter said.)
Foxbat121's Avatar Foxbat121
06:37 AM Liked: 250
post #9 of 10
07-06-2012 | Posts: 10,053
Joined: Jul 2003
Welcome to the world rest of us live in. Do you really think you can copy-freely anything you want forever?!

On my Cox system, all discovery channels are copy protected. Premium channels (which I don't have any) are of course copy-pretected. Rest of them are not. It will be totally dependent on what content providers ask for.

It's not the end of the world. I use Xbox 360 extenders for all my TVs as a whole home DVR type setup. So, copy-once or not does not affect me.
C17chief's Avatar C17chief
03:48 PM Liked: 20
post #10 of 10
07-06-2012 | Posts: 298
Joined: May 2004
I ditched all my verizon boxes at the beginning of the year and havent looked back. No complaints at all other then wishing I had done it a lot sooner!


Since a lot of replies are going on about the copy flags.....bottom line there is with that fully enforced, it's still no different then what you are used to with a rented dvr box from the company....if you record it on that box, you have to watch it on that box basicly. When it comes to extenders, just think of that like the 'whole home' part of the company supplied DVR's....you are still watching that recorded show on the same htpc, just remotely on the xbox so it still works fine, just like how with the cable boxes, even though you are watching it on a different cable box, it is coming from the DVR box it was recorded on. What you CANT do with the flags enforced is drag those recorded files off the htpc onto say a laptop to watch later on the go...that sort of activity will not work on flagged recordings....but compared to the company supplied cable boxes, you couldnt do anything like that anyways.
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