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post #1 of 34 Old 09-01-2012, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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First, I just want to thank everyone in advance. Its always amazing how much you can learn from everyone in these forums!

So, I'm looking to build an HTPC for many reasons, but the main focus will be for recording HDTV. I've gone through many of the threads here, especially Assassin's guides which have been extremely helpful! But I haven't found any that really go in-depth into the pros and cons of different tv tuner cards and external tuner boxes.

I definitely want to record multiple OTA HDTV, so I need at least a dual tuner. I might also want to record cable channels. I was thinking that I could get an HDHomerun box later if I decide to do so.

Here's the hardware I'm thinking of:
CPU: Ivy-Bridge i3-3225 (once its available!)
MB: H77 (no intent to OC or add discrete graphics)
RAM: Corsair 1600 2x4gb
PSU: Enermax EG565AX (existing hardware)
SSD: OCZ Vertex 30GB (existing hardware)
HDD: Samsung EcoGreen 2TB (existing hardware)
Optical: Maybe a blu-ray drive
Case: nMediaPC 5000B
Remote: Lenovo N5902
TV Tuner: AVerMedia A188 Duet ?

Questions:
- How does my setup look?
- Will my old Enermax do the job, or should I get a smaller, newer PSU?
- What are the top tv tuner cards and is there a good comparison of them? I put the AVerMedia based on some brief research
- If I decide to record premium cable channels, will getting a separate tuner or external tuner conflict with my original tv tuner? (I would want to keep my dual ota tuner)
- How easy is it to setup scheduled recordings? I've only used WMC to watch movies, not record. And haven't tried MediaBowser or XBMC.
- Do all of these frontends allow for watching content that is currently recording?
- Will having multiple tuner cards require lots of complicated setup?
- Regarding CableCard, do all cable companies support it? What about Verizon Fios?
- What are my options if I had to use a separate cable box?

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 34 Old 09-01-2012, 05:10 PM
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I just built an HTPC to use as an OTA DVR. It uses an Intel G620 CPU & it works great for my purpose, however I don’t plan on playing Blu-ray with this PC. I’m also using a 1.5 TB Seagate Green HDD and an LG optical drive.

I’m using an AverMedia dual tuner Duet card & bought the white box version because most people said you don’t need the software that comes with the retail version. If you want to use a Cablecard then you’ll need a different tuner. I don’t recall the numbers but recording 2 channels at once did not tax the CPU usage at all so I’m looking to add another dual tuner card.

The HD OTA programs look good to me. But I’m experiencing some jitter or jutter with SD content which appears to be caused by the 29/59 bug which I recently read about. I can either watch this using a different program or get a video card, but I’m still undecided about which way to go.

I've been using Windows Media Center & find it very easy to use. I don't know about other front ends, but WMC makes it easy to schedule recordings & play back at the same time. Setting up the tuners was a breeze. If you're going to use Windows 7 then you might as well try it since it's included.
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post #3 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 04:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Mike99!
How did you decide on the AVerMedia? I'm just wondering what other options are out there.
Also, do you just record ota content? And can you watch content that is currently recording?

I will definitely check out WMC, but I need to make sure its got the wife-approval factor!
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post #4 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 05:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avken View Post

How did you decide on the AVerMedia? I'm just wondering what other options are out there.

AverMedia Duet here too.
It was the cheapest one at the time.

Keep your eye on this: HDHomeRun DUAL
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815345007
Dual tuners for any PC on your network and it is well regarded by most users.
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post #5 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 05:47 AM - Thread Starter
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hirent,
I have looked at the HDHomerun boxes. It sounds great, but how is it different from having one PC record the shows and all the other ones having WMC to view the recordings? It also would seem to add more traffic on the network, especially if it is recording multiple channels and viewing at the same time.

Thanks for the input
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post #6 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 05:59 AM
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^The key difference with an HDHR setup is that you can have clients not dependent on the main PC to watch live TV, it could be sleeping or off. From a recording/extender standpoint there is little practical difference, however you could have different recording PCs if you wanted.

Network traffic would increase with the HDHR, but if you have a gigabit network, which you will want regardless, congestion will not be an issue either way.

FWIW, The DUAL does not receive old analog channels. If you have cable and any desire to tune to those SD channels, HDHR may not be the best choice.
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post #7 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 06:49 AM
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The SSD is too small. I have an OCZ 60 GB. There's very little installed besides Win7 which takes up ~16GB. When I started I found a 6GB hibernate file and a 8GB page file. I was able to get rid of the former and I reduced the latter to 1GB. I wonder if Win7 will even install on your SSD.
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post #8 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avken View Post

Thanks Mike99!
How did you decide on the AVerMedia? I'm just wondering what other options are out there.
Also, do you just record ota content? And can you watch content that is currently recording?
I will definitely check out WMC, but I need to make sure its got the wife-approval factor!

From the reading forum threads it appeared the AverMedia Duet had a more sensitive tuner than the Hauppauge 2250. The Hauppage supposedly had fewer problems and/or was more reliable. Some comments said the AvemMedia would disappear, or words to that effect, from their system & they'd have to reinstall the driver. And some said that was usually on AMD CPU systems. Anyway that was my take on things. But I leaned toward the comments about the more sensitive AverMedia tuner.

I was using an Intel CPU & hopefully everything would be OK. I also bought the AverMedia from Walmart online with free shipping to store. This was as cheap as anyone else, and I figured if it did not work then returning it should not be a problem. I got the white box version which was recommended, & is cheaper than the retail version which has software that is not needed. So far it works great.

I thought about a HDHomerun box, but then I'd have another box to hide somewhere along with another power source. Then I'd need to buy an ethernet switch because I'd need another ethernet connection. So that would be another box to hide somewhere. From what I can figure out two ethernet connections are really needed. If one goes to the HDHomerun box, then another is needed to go to the HTPC in order watch Hulu or use the Internet for anything. I did not see any pass-through connections on the HDHomerun box.

For my usage it was just easier to put a card into the HTPC. Obviously I can't record on my other PC but that was not a factor for me.

I record strictly OTA & can record 2 channels at once & watch either one of those or a previously recorded program at the same time, all with WMC7. My wife used it the other day for the first time without any problems. I bought a cheap MCE remote & it too works just fine.

I have satellite therefore a CableCard tuner would not work for me. A few months ago I kept track of what I watched & 80% was OTA content. Now when I take a 2 week vacation there should be no problem in recording everything I want. The problem is finding time to watch it all.
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post #9 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 11:55 AM
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Hello all, seems to be a good thread here with a lot of information. I have built over 300 HTPC's and it seems like recently everyone has been asking me to build them more and more directed towards TV.

Avken, seems like you are overdoing it in a couple places that could save you money. An i3 2100 or 2105 would more than do anything you would ask the HTPC to do. 4GB of RAM is more than enough but that really won't save you too much money. From my experience everytime I build with smaller than a 60GB SSD I have probs. Usually I just look for a refurb 100+GB because it usually costs about the same as a new 64GB (but I do recommend the crucial 64GB). I have literally built with 5 diff PCI tuners and they all worked great. I can't tell if it's my area or what. What I do know is certain softwares picked up more channels than others. With that said I use the cheapest tuner I can find at the time for each build. In two of my systems I'm using the Diamond 750 PCI.

I found WMC to give me the best live TV and recording experience (which is why you would need large than a 30GB SSD). I'm almost 100% that it lets you record multiple channels at the same time too.

As far as cable I would need to do more research. I build cable card PCI into a lot of systems but don't use it enough myself to give guaranteed advice. That will be one of the next things I have assassinhtpc.com do a guide on if I can.

Let me know if you have any other specific questions...
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post #10 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 01:54 PM
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You dont have the 29/59 bug. Many people who see unexplained video stutter or other types of flicker to the "29/59" bug without even knowing what the 29/59 bug is. The "real" 29/59 bug is caused by american premium television networks encoding their TV shows and movies in a weird mixed soft/hard telecined mode (causing the 29/59 frame-rate flip-flop. Many common modern display cards; especially Nviidia, can't handle on-the-fly switching without adding a stuttering video effect during soft-telecine scenes. Non-premium TV channels such as NBC and CBS don't do this; so, even very old display cards can handle deinterlacing this content.

Having said that, if you have a HDTV hooked up to it, you should look into the stuttering that can be caused by framerate interpolation trying to synch up to your display card's timings. Reclock is a great utility that can help video from stuttering.

The 29/59 bug sThat's related to premium TV channels only; which you can't get without a cable card tuner and cableTV subscription to that channel.
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Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

I just built an HTPC to use as an OTA DVR. It uses an Intel G620 CPU & it works great for my purpose, however I don’t plan on playing Blu-ray with this PC. I’m also using a 1.5 TB Seagate Green HDD and an LG optical drive.
I’m using an AverMedia dual tuner Duet card & bought the white box version because most people said you don’t need the software that comes with the retail version. If you want to use a Cablecard then you’ll need a different tuner. I don’t recall the numbers but recording 2 channels at once did not tax the CPU usage at all so I’m looking to add another dual tuner card.
The HD OTA programs look good to me. But I’m experiencing some jitter or jutter with SD content which appears to be caused by the 29/59 bug which I recently read about. I can either watch this using a different program or get a video card, but I’m still undecided about which way to go.
I've been using Windows Media Center & find it very easy to use. I don't know about other front ends, but WMC makes it easy to schedule recordings & play back at the same time. Setting up the tuners was a breeze. If you're going to use Windows 7 then you might as well try it since it's included.

Can your HTPC Media Center / DVR Do this??

SageTV: Unrestricted full-quality 12 tuner HD Premium Cable recording, including "On Demand" in HD + OTA ATSC + DVB-S2 + Blu-ray/HD-DVD serving 5 clients.
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post #11 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 05:15 PM
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I’ve recorded & played back some SD OTA programs. If I play it back several times at the same exact spot I see stuttering or jerkiness when using WMC7. I then did the 4-1-1-Info and looked at the frame rate. It was mainly 59.9401. But when the stuttering occurred the frame rate briefly jumped to 29.97. Every time, and was 100% reproducible.

I then used MPC-HC and ctrl+j & watched the same video. This time the video did not stutter. But where the stuttering used to appear (with WMC7) the Red line in ctrl+j had a double spike. Again always reproducible.

From what I was able to find the Green line represents video & the Red line is audio. The Green line was steady which probably was an indication why the video was steady. But I’m presuming the spiked Red line means the audio was being adjusted, probably to keep it in sync with the smoothed out video.

From what I previously read the 29/59 bug seemed to affect some premium channels just as you mentioned. However I don’t know how else to interpret the examples that I’ve explained other than that the SD OTA 480i content I watch on the HTPC has what I guess would be a 59/29 bug. WMC7 does show the frame rate jump when stuttering occurs.

FWIW I’ve also simultaneously recorded a couple of the same programs using the optional OTA tuner in my Dish DVR and they are nice & smooth.
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post #12 of 34 Old 09-02-2012, 05:51 PM
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Not all OTA tuners are equal. Some can tolerate signal micro-dips/fluctuation better than others. Avermedia tuners aren't bad; but, I don't think they work quite as well as some standalone DVRs. No point in trying to analyze the actual stream since glitches caused by by this wont make much sense.

So.. there you have it... the cause to your stuttering; at least the one you're describing. You can have a better chance at preventing this by getting higher gain antenna and/or a different/better OTA tuner for your PC. Sometimes, the placement of your HTPC OTA tuner can make a difference too. Even if you try to account for this, you're still might be unrealistic to get rid of all possible stuttering/glitches/macroblocking caused by OTA reception. Even under the best conditions, there will be times where you get something that interferes with the signal; maybe not even on your end. Some people actually realize this after they "cut the cable".

Once in a while I get a bit nostalgic with talking about OTA ATSC. I fell in love with HD video back in 1999; where the only way to watch HD was via my PC based Hipix OTA ATSC tuner.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

I’ve recorded & played back some SD OTA programs. If I play it back several times at the same exact spot I see stuttering or jerkiness when using WMC7. I then did the 4-1-1-Info and looked at the frame rate. It was mainly 59.9401. But when the stuttering occurred the frame rate briefly jumped to 29.97. Every time, and was 100% reproducible.
I then used MPC-HC and ctrl+j & watched the same video. This time the video did not stutter. But where the stuttering used to appear (with WMC7) the Red line in ctrl+j had a double spike. Again always reproducible.
From what I was able to find the Green line represents video & the Red line is audio. The Green line was steady which probably was an indication why the video was steady. But I’m presuming the spiked Red line means the audio was being adjusted, probably to keep it in sync with the smoothed out video.
From what I previously read the 29/59 bug seemed to affect some premium channels just as you mentioned. However I don’t know how else to interpret the examples that I’ve explained other than that the SD OTA 480i content I watch on the HTPC has what I guess would be a 59/29 bug. WMC7 does show the frame rate jump when stuttering occurs.
FWIW I’ve also simultaneously recorded a couple of the same programs using the optional OTA tuner in my Dish DVR and they are nice & smooth.

Can your HTPC Media Center / DVR Do this??

SageTV: Unrestricted full-quality 12 tuner HD Premium Cable recording, including "On Demand" in HD + OTA ATSC + DVB-S2 + Blu-ray/HD-DVD serving 5 clients.
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post #13 of 34 Old 09-03-2012, 12:18 AM
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The stutter is random but I doubt I can go more than 60 seconds without noticing it. I don't get any pixelation or macroblocking & the tuner signal strength is a full 5 green bars. And I never notice a problem with HD content. I ordered an HD 6450 video card & will see if this corrects the stutter, no matter what its cause.

Just to experiment a bit, I'll record some HD OTA from the station's main channel & see what happens. According to my Dish DVR, using the OTA tuner, the main channel & all it's related subchannels show the same 100% signal strength.
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post #14 of 34 Old 09-03-2012, 07:07 AM
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As for the TV tuner cards, either route is fine. I use an older HDHomerun, HDHR2. If you're wanting to do both OTA and cable, especially beyond limited basic cable, you're going to need to two boxes. Unfortunately, and fortunately, the new HDRH3 went to one coaxial input. The HDRH2 had two, so it was possible to do both in one box. I can't speak about the Hauppage box or cards. I use a mac minis, so I can't add ANY cards internally.

If you want beyond limited basic cable, you'll need to see if your cable provide does cablecards. For the HDHomerune, they support cablecard-M. This will give you the channels beyond 33. You'll just need to active it. I heard it can be easy. I've read others had to try a couple times before it finally worked for the HDHomerun; I'm assuming this will be true of any tuner with cablecard. If you go HDHomerun, remember the HDHR3 is not the one with the cablecard; it's around $99. The cablecard one is the HDHR3--CC, and runs for around $200-$250. There is six tuner version; it requires two cablecards and goes for around $500.

I find the HDHR runs wells if using an ethernet wired connection, especially for records. When you're wireless, radio interference comes into play. I record everything on my office PC which is wired. I then can play on HTPC which is WiFI. I don't seem to have issues that way.

If you're running Windows 7, I suggest trying media center. One, it's no extra cost. I've never used DVR from Tivo or cable/satellite providers. I've been to friends' homes who have, and really, it's very similar. Well, TiVo has that predict what you like recording thing being the only key difference. Recording is easy. You can set up custom times, or you can use the EPG, which lets you record one episode or a series. From there, your recorded TV can be sort by date or title. It's quite rock solid. And there are people who have made some nice mods it such as adding channel icons to the EPG.

As for recordings, depending on what it is and your provide, some are a record once, watch once kind of deal. I assuming this is more for premium content rather than OTA. As a side bonus, I know Plex can play WTV (windows 7 dvr recordings) in its player. It doesn't match any of the episodes because of the file names. It's only useful if you use Plex and watch to watch on your mobile device away from home.
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post #15 of 34 Old 09-03-2012, 07:13 AM
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I do believe you can record mulitple channels at the time. You just have to have enough tuners available to do so. I know I've watched one channel live, and recorded another. But I only have two tuners.

If you have more than four tuners, there is mod you need to get to be able to use them all. I forget the name, but I believe it's free. I'm sure someone will remember than name of it.

I'm not sure if there is tuner limit in other TV/PVR software.

I just wish media center would let you watch more than one channel at one time if you had the tuners like picture-picture or split screen; it would be nice for sports.
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post #16 of 34 Old 09-03-2012, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow, lots of great feedback!
So it sounds like watching a show while its recording is no problem. Great! And WMC seems to handle up to 4 tuners pretty easily. Hopefully, I don't run into this stuttering problem, but it sounds it depends on the source. Sounds like that needs a separate thread to really delve into.

First, to clarify my setup, the 30gb ssd is used for the Intel ssd caching, not as my OS drive (found out the hard way its way too small!). As for the HDHomerun box, I plan to only use one PC to record all my shows and have it probably running 24/7. My other PC wont even have a tuner card, so I don't see as much benefit from the HDHomerun box.

Karl Beem - You can install Win7 on an ssd, but I wouldn't recommend one smaller than 128gb.

Bbaskety - Great points. I did put 8gb only because it seems so cheap. If the board I get has 4 slots, I may go with 2x2gb initially. I am thinking to go with Ivy Bridge i3 since it has the latest HD4000 graphics. Maybe overkill, but more future proof?

Mike99 - I am totally with you about all the extra boxes that you have to hide. It sounds like you have a similar setup to what I'm looking for. Do you feed your satellite shows into the AVerMedia card? Or do you use a separate satellite DVR box?

New question - Is it possible to schedule recordings remotely, say from a smartphone? Or remote desktop?
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post #17 of 34 Old 09-03-2012, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
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Mike99 - I am totally with you about all the extra boxes that you have to hide. It sounds like you have a similar setup to what I'm looking for. Do you feed your satellite shows into the AVerMedia card? Or do you use a separate satellite DVR box?

For satellite I use a Dish DVR. At this point in time if I want to save a satellite program I have to play it back as SD in real time & record it with a stand alone DVD recorder. I don't save a lot of stuff so this is not an issue. I used to record a lot but found I hardly ever watched the same program or movie twice, so I'm very selective on what I want to save. I know people that have their satellite DVRs filled up & have no more capacity. I record, watch, delete.
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post #18 of 34 Old 09-03-2012, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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For satellite I use a Dish DVR. At this point in time if I want to save a satellite program I have to play it back as SD in real time & record it with a stand alone DVD recorder. I don't save a lot of stuff so this is not an issue. I used to record a lot but found I hardly ever watched the same program or movie twice, so I'm very selective on what I want to save. I know people that have their satellite DVRs filled up & have no more capacity. I record, watch, delete.
So, when you watch satellite, do you have to switch video modes on your tv (or a/v receiver)? I was hoping to avoid this. But I guess with satellite there's no clean solution to integrate into WMC.

I do delete as soon as I watch, too. But I like to record old tv series that run marathons every week, and it fills up pretty quick as well!
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post #19 of 34 Old 09-03-2012, 10:23 PM
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My HDTV has only one HDMI input so I bought an HDMI switch which automatically switches to the HTPC when it is turned on. The HTPC sends audio via SPDIF to the AVR & I have to change its input in order to get sound.
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post #20 of 34 Old 09-04-2012, 12:07 AM
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Hiding boxes isn't that hard. I just put all my stuff under a desk.

The white box in the middiel with no label on it is the HDHR2. We made a shelf the place the HDHR2 since it did not have mounting holes.

In that picture, you see my an old running Smoothwall (now replaced with a newer PC), three consumer routers used as wireless accesspoints, a UPC, modem, wireless print server, and portion of a paper shedder (which has also been replaced), and the HDHR2. My biggest challenge, find enough plugs for everything.

It's not hard to hide equipment. Just be little creative. You may need to think outside the box.
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post #21 of 34 Old 09-04-2012, 12:26 AM
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Quote:
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....As for the HDHomerun box, I plan to only use one PC to record all my shows and have it probably running 24/7. My other PC wont even have a tuner card, so I don't see as much benefit from the HDHomerun box....

I'm a bit confused on what you're saying here. I think you may have misunderstood what I was talking about with the HDHomerun. If you use the HDHomerun, it's not attached to any of your PCs. It's a network attached tuner. Think of it like a NAS, but instead of storage, it's TV tuners. Only one tuner can be access at any time.

The part about needing two HDHomeruns was more about your wanting to be able record both OTA and cable. The current HDHR3 only has TV input, so that box will either have OTA or cable, not both. It was possible to have both with the HDHR2, but it doesn't have a cablecard input. Even if you got one of each, none will still be tied to any one machine. Although in that case, you would have five tuners, and need that tuner mod for Media Center

If you are going to keep your machine on 24/7, you could consider the happauge four tuner card that also accepts a cablecard. I've read on here you can share tuners through your network. I think you may have to assign tuners, rather than having it just grab whatever tuner is available. It's very well regarded TV tuner card. They have a USB box one too, but in that case, I'm not seeing much benefit over the HDHomerun, other than maybe the number of tuners.

And really, unless you have some unique situation where you can't run cable into your TV, or your TV is too old, like my old TV, you're not really going to be using the PC to watch live TV. My old TV predate QAM and ClearQAM so it wouldn't pick up anything straight from the pipe, unless I wanted to use other inputs, which was limited to 480i analog. I could only get HD ATSC, ie OTA signals. Thus, the pc will be more to watch the DVR recordings. Thus, maybe the number of shows to record at the same time may be important. I've run into situations where I did need to use PC to watch live TV, but it was because the coaxial cable was disconnected because of remodeling work in that room or something.

I don't know about remote DVR recording or so forth. I'm sure there is something for MC to do it. I only record a couple shows. With that, it's watch and delete. And the shows I do record, are only because I can't get them on something like Hulu, or I want the better video or audio that streaming isn't able deliver.
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post #22 of 34 Old 09-04-2012, 04:42 AM
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Having multiple tuners is not a problem. My current HTPC has eight cablecard (two Ceton InfiniTV4's) and four ATSC (two Hauppauge 2250's) internal tuners as well as three networked cablecard (HDHomeRun Prime) and two ATSC (one dual tuner HDHomeRun) tuners. I've actually had twelve channels recording simultaneously while playing back a 13th show that was previously recorded. All recordings played back with no problems. The tuners basically just dump the digital data stream from the antenna directly to the hard drive. The SATA interface has more than sufficient transfer rate to handle 13 HD streams at once with room to spare.

Recommended ATSC dual tuners: SiliconDust HDHomeRun, Hauppauge 2250, and AverTV Duet. These are by far the most popular models used by members here.

I agree that the SSD is way too small. I've used 60-64GB SSDs and ended up replacing them with 120GB models because they had insufficient space.

WMC is easy to use for recording. It's as easy as a Tivo. Select a show from the guide and configure the settings (i.e., one-time recording, record all episodes, record new or new and reruns, HD only, HD preferred, SD only, specific channels, any channel available, specific time slot, any time slot available, etc.).

Only WMC will let you watch shows recorded in WMC. It records them as wtv files, which the other apps you mentioned won't recognize. There's really no reason to use a different app for playback. You can watch any recording while it's in progress. In fact, if you tune to a channel without setting it up to record, it's automatically buffered, which allows you to pause, rewind, fast forward, etc., as long as you stay tuned to that channel, just like a Tivo.

WMC scans your setup during the TV setup phase and discovers all tuners you have installed in your PC and on your network. By default, WMC has a limit of four tuners of each type (digital cable, ATSC, and QAM). If you want to add more than four of any type there's an app called Tuner Salad Footlong that increases the limit to 12 tuners of each type. It will cost you a whopping $5 for the software. The latest drivers for the Ceton InfiniTV4 allows up to 30 tuners, but only if they're all Ceton tuners.

All cable providers are supposed to provide cablecards. Verizon FIOS does provide them @ $3.99 a month for each card you rent. If you have a cable box then you'd need a Hauppauge HD-PVR for each box. If you want to record more than one channel it will start getting expensive and you'll have a lot of boxes. A cablecard tuner will be cheaper and more flexible with fewer (i.e., zero) boxes to deal with. Currently there are five different cablecard tuner models available: Ceton InfiniTV4 in either PCI-e or USB versions (four tuners each), SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime (comes in 3 and 6-tuner versions; the 6-tuner model is basically two 3-tuner models in one chassis and requires two cablecards), and a dual tuner model made by Hauppauge (I forget the model number, but you should be able to find it on their website).
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post #23 of 34 Old 09-04-2012, 07:27 AM
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I use 2 AverTV Duets, and highly recommend it. Heck, if you can find a white box version online at like Newegg you might find it as low as $30 like I did for both of mine. I tried several OTA tuners, dual and single and this is by far the most sensistive as far as picking up as many OTA channels as the tv. Also is nice and skinny if you want a shorter case.

I also use an InfiniTV and feel like I need another during the fall. I like to record all the primetime shows for everyone in the house to get their shows, but I can only do 8 at once. It gets them all, but some are caught on replays. Would be nice to get them all at first. I went with this over the HD because I already had extenders and didn't need the independent control, though you can network the InfiniTV.

Definitely agree on SSD size. I would go straight to at least 120. Once you get going with media center you will start wanting plugins. They aren't huge, but they can add up.

I use 3 of the 2TB Samsung EcoGreen drives and I've had no problems at all after having issues at the 1TB level and going through a few drives.

I know many will disagree because everyone loves the i3s and think they are the end all, but you could beef things up a little on the graphic side with an AMD Fusion just because they are a cheaper bang for your buck as far as the onboard graphics go. All the tech blogs are reporting the A10 will be@$110. That is an absolute steal and really helps if you are going to push lots of tuners while someone is watching live. I use an A4 right now and it does everything, including 8 recording at once with no problems. Definitely going for that A10 and probably another InfiniTV before football season is out. The AMD's run very cool and have made for the most stable HTPC I have ever had. I used to have heat problems with certain drives and processors, but now those days are over and this setup is far more stable than a cable box was.

I have Verizon FiOS and CableCard works fine. If you have trouble getting all channels, get a low pass filter and play with the coax connections. FiOS is already a sensitive mother at times, and connections are often the answer. With the Duet, you can also do QAM on FiOS and it will get you most of the OTA channels. I saw most because of how rapidly OTA has been expanding. FiOS is definitely not keeping up with all of the obscure channels, but its a great option if your OTA reception isn't what you like.

I use XMBC and Mediabrowser, but that's because I make my own movie channels and cartoon channels with my rips. XBMC used to be the only option with that. Now that Media Browser has a plugin for it that works 10x better, I use it now, but just keep the XMBC loader there in case I see another cool front end. As weird as this might sound, I have been collecting 70s and 80s Saturday Morning and afternoon tapes and filling in the gaps with youtube commercial breaks. So I've created the lineup for each year, commercials and all and created channels for them. So I have like CBS for each year from 1970-1993 with very few gaps. My next plan is to go primetime as well. Sort of like my own beefed up set of TV Lands, but with their original schedule. Wish there was a way to integrate it into the normal Media Center guide. But its a hit when kids are over and want to see something different. Always a hit at parties as well for adults. As much as I like XBMC for movies I just keep coming back to Mediabrowser. Both are easy to use but I guess MediaBrowser integrates more easily into Media Center.

Notice that you mentioned using a Cable Box. If you have to go that route over the cable card, you can always go with a Hauppauge PVR 1212 or a Colossus. The 1212 is external and connects via component and the Colossus is the internal verson and can do component or HDMI. I got the 1212 very early on and it worked great. Just 1 tuner per box, but I found it very stable at the end. Especially once media center natively supported it. Before it required a seperate and excellent program called dvblink, which started out slow, but eventually worked great. I haven't followed that end in about a year since I got the InfiniTV, but it was viable. Between the OTAs and the one 1212 you could usually catch everything you wanted eventually with all of the cable replays. It didn't dismiss you from the Copy rules of the cable provider though. Before the 1212 I actually used Firewire recordings. I loved that setup even more and the picture was beautiful, but it simply does not work with FiOS or at least I was too dumb to make it work.
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post #24 of 34 Old 09-04-2012, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
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For now, I'm just looking to record OTA HD. I'm leaning with either the Hauppauge 2250 or the AVerMedia Duet. I'm going to be moving soon and not sure about the premium tv feed, but figure I can get a second card or external box for that. But is it worth the trouble of getting the cable card to work? It seems like a pain to setup and you can only record 1 at a time.

lovekeiiy - With the HDHomerun, don't you still need to have a computer running to record anything? If so, how is it different from having that same computer with a tuner card and skip the extra box? No extra network traffic for recording, and other PCs can still view the recordings with WMC. Just the extra setup issues? As for the tv, my hope is to leave it on WMC (connected to the tv) all the time. Why watch tv direct? You can't even pause it.
Nice setup btw. I have a similar setup, but wife still no like!

captain_video - Recording 12 simultaneously is amazing! Great info about the WMC limit of 4 tuners of each type. Any reason you didn't include the Ceton in your recommended list?

rantanamo - The AVerMedia Duet does sound good. But it looks like its now discontinued? And the Hauppauge 2250 seems just as good and has FM input to boot! The InfiniTV is also pretty intriguing with the quad tuner and cable card. I gave Media Browser a try and it definitely gives WMC some flavor. I would advise everyone that uses WMC to give it a try. It's a relatively small plugin, but it gives the UI a pro look. I haven't tried XBMC yet, but WMC makes it so easy
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post #25 of 34 Old 09-05-2012, 12:35 AM
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The AVerMedia Duet has been discontinued as of a few months ago. I even called AVerMedia & they had no idea at the time what/if anything would replace them. This was for both the white box & retail version.

Some stores still have the retail version available. I just got another one from Ebay. Some Ebay selllers want $80-$90 for the white box, while you can buy the retail version from CompUSA for that amount. I missed a new white box on Ebay for $50 but got a supposedly one month old one for about the same. I just could not see spending about $100 for a retail Duet or the Hauppage 2250.

The Hauppage does have some other inputs which might be nice to have, & thought about that. Maybe buy one Duet & one 2250 & kind of split the cost.
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post #26 of 34 Old 09-05-2012, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
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The AVerMedia Duet has been discontinued as of a few months ago. I even called AVerMedia & they had no idea at the time what/if anything would replace them. This was for both the white box & retail version.
Some stores still have the retail version available. I just got another one from Ebay. Some Ebay selllers want $80-$90 for the white box, while you can buy the retail version from CompUSA for that amount. I missed a new white box on Ebay for $50 but got a supposedly one month old one for about the same. I just could not see spending about $100 for a retail Duet or the Hauppage 2250.
The Hauppage does have some other inputs which might be nice to have, & thought about that. Maybe buy one Duet & one 2250 & kind of split the cost.

Really unfortunate that the Duet got discontinued with no replacement. I can't find the AVerMedia Duet card for less than $80. At that price, I think I will go with the Hauppauge 2250 unless someone knows of a cheap source for the Duet.
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post #27 of 34 Old 09-05-2012, 08:04 AM
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...lovekeiiy - With the HDHomerun, don't you still need to have a computer running to record anything? If so, how is it different from having that same computer with a tuner card and skip the extra box? No extra network traffic for recording, and other PCs can still view the recordings with WMC. Just the extra setup issues? As for the tv, my hope is to leave it on WMC (connected to the tv) all the time. Why watch tv direct? You can't even pause it.
Nice setup btw. I have a similar setup, but wife still no like!...

There's really not much different between the HDHomerun versus other tuners in regards to how one uses it. It's just a network attached tuner. In other words, instead of having a USB tuner, it's ethernet. You will need a PC on to do DVR recordings. Remember, I'm using a Mac Mini, so I did not have the option a PCI tuner. USB tuners were only one tuner, and I was using up my USB ports. Plus, it review really well and was highly regarded here and several other places. I had a USB tuner, which I still have.

Yes, pausing live TV can be nice. IN the two years I've had the HTPC, I've used it maybe twice. I just use the DVR function. I did use the live TV though, and it's nice. My TVs, forever reason, don't come with EPG, which is my preferred way to channel surf; granted, with only about twenty five channels, it's doesn't take long to surf.

On a side note, from what I've heard, if you do go tuner with cablecard, at this point, you will not be able to access the VOD service or pay per view. That's the cable box only, at this point.

I'm not surprised the wife didn't like my setup. It's way more complicated than it needs to be; I literally have my home network separated into three networks. If there's breach, it's only to a portion. The PC is my hardware firewall and router. The three white boxes on the floor are UPC and a subwoofer. I was sitting on the floor when I took that picture. The only thing you see when in the office, unless bent over, the PC, part of the UPC and the paper shredder. The nice thing, I have a desk to pile a bunch of crap or do other projects. I do have the printer and fax machine on desk in the corner. It was really to show, it's easy to hide crap. My other suggestion would be a closet, but make sure you have ventilation. You'll just need to run some electrical and other wiring.
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post #28 of 34 Old 09-05-2012, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
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There's really not much different between the HDHomerun versus other tuners in regards to how one uses it. It's just a network attached tuner. In other words, instead of having a USB tuner, it's ethernet. You will need a PC on to do DVR recordings. Remember, I'm using a Mac Mini, so I did not have the option a PCI tuner. USB tuners were only one tuner, and I was using up my USB ports. Plus, it review really well and was highly regarded here and several other places. I had a USB tuner, which I still have.
Yes, pausing live TV can be nice. IN the two years I've had the HTPC, I've used it maybe twice. I just use the DVR function. I did use the live TV though, and it's nice. My TVs, forever reason, don't come with EPG, which is my preferred way to channel surf; granted, with only about twenty five channels, it's doesn't take long to surf.
On a side note, from what I've heard, if you do go tuner with cablecard, at this point, you will not be able to access the VOD service or pay per view. That's the cable box only, at this point.
I'm not surprised the wife didn't like my setup. It's way more complicated than it needs to be; I literally have my home network separated into three networks. If there's breach, it's only to a portion. The PC is my hardware firewall and router. The three white boxes on the floor are UPC and a subwoofer. I was sitting on the floor when I took that picture. The only thing you see when in the office, unless bent over, the PC, part of the UPC and the paper shredder. The nice thing, I have a desk to pile a bunch of crap or do other projects. I do have the printer and fax machine on desk in the corner. It was really to show, it's easy to hide crap. My other suggestion would be a closet, but make sure you have ventilation. You'll just need to run some electrical and other wiring.

Yeah, the HDHomerun makes sense for the Mac or if you're not comfortable opening up a PC. So with multiple tv's, do you need a PC hooked up to each in order to access the HDHomerun content? If not, then that would be a huge advantage. I live in an apt, so I only have one tv right now but good to know for the future. Good point about the PPV and VOD. It's hard to get that ideal setup when the cable companies prefer to rent you their boxes. And I wish I had the room for all that equipment, but my apt is relatively small. Would love to have an equipment closet with structured wiring throughout!
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post #29 of 34 Old 09-05-2012, 10:24 AM
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Karl Beem - You can install Win7 on an ssd, but I wouldn't recommend one smaller than 128gb.

Tell that to the 64 Gb SSD we have in our system. Seems to work perfectly fine. We are using an HDD for TV buffer and recordings.

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New question - Is it possible to schedule recordings remotely, say from a smartphone? Or remote desktop?

Remote Potato.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #30 of 34 Old 09-05-2012, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Tell that to the 64 Gb SSD we have in our system. Seems to work perfectly fine. We are using an HDD for TV buffer and recordings.
Remote Potato.

Not saying it can't be done. But the C:\Windows\winsxs just slowly grows and I never found a way to shrink it. Mine hit 10gb and my SSD is only 30gb! Doesn't really matter for my new setup. I'm planning to reuse my dinky 30gb SSD for the Intel ssd caching. Not quite as good as a full SSD OS partition, but should be almost as good on boot up.

Remote Potato sounds great. Will have to try it once I'm all set up.

Thanks!
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