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Old 07-23-2014, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
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TV tuner suggestions

Hello All,

I have finally cut the cable, but would like to get set up so that I can record OTA.

I have been doing a lot of reading on building an HTPC, and have looked at recommendations for components, but I have found it extremely difficult to find information on TV tuners. Is this something that not many HTPC systems use?

I thought I had found a solution with the Silicon Dust Home Run external tuner, but it needs to be connected to my network. As I understand it, this needs to be connected to my router and antenna. That won't work for me, as they are in different parts of the house.

There are a handful of single tuner pci cards, and some very expensive multi-tuner cards. I found this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Hauppauge-1229...ords=pci+tuner
This one gets mixed reviews, and it states that it is only capable of 1080i. It seems strange to me that it is not capable of 1080p. Is that not what I would want to get the most out of digital OTA?

I bought this, and then returned it. Had it connected to a laptop, but the tuner would not pick up the channels that the TV would pick up from the same antenna, and some that it would play, it would then not record.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I would be using WIN8.1, at least to begin with. I would like to put a tuner card in my desktop to experiment with, to see if it will do what I want it to do. If I can find a good solution, I would probably build a dedicated HTPC.

I do streaming through Roku, and do not have a media collection that I will want to stream, so really only need the ability to record live OTA TV.

Any suggestions or advice are appreciated!
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgh24 View Post
Hello All,

I have finally cut the cable, but would like to get set up so that I can record OTA.

I have been doing a lot of reading on building an HTPC, and have looked at recommendations for components, but I have found it extremely difficult to find information on TV tuners. Is this something that not many HTPC systems use?

I thought I had found a solution with the Silicon Dust Home Run external tuner, but it needs to be connected to my network. As I understand it, this needs to be connected to my router and antenna. That won't work for me, as they are in different parts of the house.

There are a handful of single tuner pci cards, and some very expensive multi-tuner cards. I found this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Hauppauge-1229...ords=pci+tuner
This one gets mixed reviews, and it states that it is only capable of 1080i. It seems strange to me that it is not capable of 1080p. Is that not what I would want to get the most out of digital OTA?

I bought this, and then returned it. Had it connected to a laptop, but the tuner would not pick up the channels that the TV would pick up from the same antenna, and some that it would play, it would then not record.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I would be using WIN8.1, at least to begin with. I would like to put a tuner card in my desktop to experiment with, to see if it will do what I want it to do. If I can find a good solution, I would probably build a dedicated HTPC.

I do streaming through Roku, and do not have a media collection that I will want to stream, so really only need the ability to record live OTA TV.

Any suggestions or advice are appreciated!
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgh24 View Post
This one gets mixed reviews, and it states that it is only capable of 1080i. It seems strange to me that it is not capable of 1080p. Is that not what I would want to get the most out of digital OTA?
To my knowledge, nobody is doing 1080p broadcasting in America... not yet. That sucks an awful lot of bandwidth. FOX and ABC do do 720P, but that's not nearly as bandwidth-intensive, and if you ask me, their channels look a little soft. CBS, NBC, and most PBS stations I've seen are 1080i.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help, it is much appreciated.
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Old 07-24-2014, 05:29 AM
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1080i is the best you're going to get with an ATSC tuner. Here are my top recommendations:

Networked tuner - SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual (2 tuners)

PCI-e tuner - Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 (apparently being replaced with a newer model) or the AverTV Duet (A188)

USB tuner - Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950Q or the HP USB tuner (rebadged 950Q)

Honorable mention (i.e.,. personal preference) - any of the older V-Box tuners, both PCI and USB models (no Win 8/8.1 drivers, unfortunately).

There are lots of other tuners on the market, but the above models are all dual tuner designs, except for the USB models, and will give you the most bang for the buck. The HDHR Dual goes on sale quite often and can be found for as low as $60. The AverTV Duet is very popular and can be found for about $50 on sale. I've heard mixed reports about the Duet being discontinued, but you can still find them on ebay if you look around. The Hauppauge 2250 is a great tuner and can also be found on ebay for about $50-60, but usually closer to $75.
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Old 07-24-2014, 07:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post
1080i is the best you're going to get with an ATSC tuner. Here are my top recommendations:

Networked tuner - SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual (2 tuners)

PCI-e tuner - Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 (apparently being replaced with a newer model) or the AverTV Duet (A188)

USB tuner - Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950Q or the HP USB tuner (rebadged 950Q)

Honorable mention (i.e.,. personal preference) - any of the older V-Box tuners, both PCI and USB models (no Win 8/8.1 drivers, unfortunately).

There are lots of other tuners on the market, but the above models are all dual tuner designs, except for the USB models, and will give you the most bang for the buck. The HDHR Dual goes on sale quite often and can be found for as low as $60. The AverTV Duet is very popular and can be found for about $50 on sale. I've heard mixed reports about the Duet being discontinued, but you can still find them on ebay if you look around. The Hauppauge 2250 is a great tuner and can also be found on ebay for about $50-60, but usually closer to $75.
I'm seriously considering cutting Cable TV also, as my cable bill is getting crazy even with no cable boxes..

I've been running a ceton infinitv 4 in an HTPC with xbox 360 extenders for several years and it's been working out great. I feed 3 TVs so only 4 tuners has never been a problem. I think 2 might be a problem sometimes though.

Can I run with 2 SiliconDust HDHomeRun Duals to give me 4 OTA tuners?

My HTPC is running Windows 7 if that matters.
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Old 07-24-2014, 07:28 AM
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I think the reason there isn't as much talk about tuners is because at this point there are so few models out there - its just a mature product.

I've used an ATI 650 card for close to 10 years. I'm really happy with it but couldn't recommend it (only one tuner).

A bonus to going with one of the PCIe or USB models is that they mostly all have hardware MPEG2 encoders on them. That feature was typically used when someone plugged their cable box into the card. The bonus is that you can create DVD ready videos from your old 8mm and VHS tapes.

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Old 07-24-2014, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dexter999 View Post
Can I run with 2 SiliconDust HDHomeRun Duals to give me 4 OTA tuners?
Absolutely. I run both a HDHR Dual and a HDHR Prime on my network. I also have three Hauppauge 2250's in my primary HTPC.
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Old 07-24-2014, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dexter999 View Post

Can I run with 2 SiliconDust HDHomeRun Duals to give me 4 OTA tuners?

My HTPC is running Windows 7 if that matters.

If you have enough signal. I have run 2 HomeRuns for years but recently found I seldom use more than two ATSC tuners at a time. I decided to clean up the cabling by just using one box. These things have bee running for five years or more. The new ones have a splitter internal and the cabling is neater and more convenient.

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Old 07-24-2014, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgh24 View Post
Hello All,

I have finally cut the cable, but would like to get set up so that I can record OTA.

I have been doing a lot of reading on building an HTPC, and have looked at recommendations for components, but I have found it extremely difficult to find information on TV tuners. Is this something that not many HTPC systems use?

I thought I had found a solution with the Silicon Dust Home Run external tuner, but it needs to be connected to my network. As I understand it, this needs to be connected to my router and antenna. That won't work for me, as they are in different parts of the house.

There are a handful of single tuner pci cards, and some very expensive multi-tuner cards. I found this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Hauppauge-1229...ords=pci+tuner
This one gets mixed reviews, and it states that it is only capable of 1080i. It seems strange to me that it is not capable of 1080p. Is that not what I would want to get the most out of digital OTA?

I bought this, and then returned it. Had it connected to a laptop, but the tuner would not pick up the channels that the TV would pick up from the same antenna, and some that it would play, it would then not record.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I would be using WIN8.1, at least to begin with. I would like to put a tuner card in my desktop to experiment with, to see if it will do what I want it to do. If I can find a good solution, I would probably build a dedicated HTPC.

I do streaming through Roku, and do not have a media collection that I will want to stream, so really only need the ability to record live OTA TV.

Any suggestions or advice are appreciated!
Very often there's a "utility" area of a home where the cable/DSL, phone, power and such enter the home. If you can't locate a common place for an HDHomeRun, LAN and OTA antenna then so be it. Very often that's the easiest thing to do since no computer has to be present!

Most all PCIe boards are limited to 2 ATSC tuners which can be quite limiting if you're replacing a multi-tuner CableDVR box. That's the beauty of a LAN-based solution -- no slot limits on your tuner count!

The Hauppauge is a good choice, as is AVerMedia's dual tuner 188 Duet so many of us are using.

If you're using Win 8.1 you (may) need to purchase their Media Center Add-on. Or you could use MediaPortal... it's FREE and works well with OTA tuners. I've been doing PVR with my PC since 2002, been through many hoops, tuners and software over the years and like Win 7 WMC for my Prime, and MediaPortal for everything else including LiveTV, Recorded-TV, Movies, and DVDs. Getting the EPG to work is challenging compared to WMC but StreamedMP is a great plug-in as it brings TV-Series and MyMovies.
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Old 07-24-2014, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgh24 View Post
I thought I had found a solution with the Silicon Dust Home Run external tuner, but it needs to be connected to my network. As I understand it, this needs to be connected to my router and antenna. That won't work for me, as they are in different parts of the house.
Both Coax and Ethernet wiring can be done to bring the 2 together. You will need wired connection between the router and the computer, as well.

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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Old 07-24-2014, 02:01 PM
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Both Coax and Ethernet wiring can be done to bring the 2 together. You will need wired connection between the router and the computer, as well.
Or Powerline for $40+.
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Old 07-24-2014, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks for all the help!

I looked into the Home Run, and with some cutting and patching of sheetrock, could get an antenna cable to my router. However, after doing some research, it appears that in most cases an HTPC is still needed to stream to TV, or at least it makes it much easier. My TV does not support DNLA. Apparently Fling is supposed to work with Home Run and Roku, so that may be an option. If that would work, then could watch recorded TV on any set with a Roku, which would be very nice, and inexpensive, which would be nice also.
Fling aside, an HTPC with a wireless card would "see" the Home Run, and play/record live TV? All recording would have to be set up on the PC that the Home Run is connected to?

If I built an HTPC, I would install WIN7 and use Media Center. To experiment, I would have to use my current desktop with WIN8.1, a PCI tuner, and XBMC.
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Old 07-24-2014, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post
I've used an ATI 650 card for close to 10 years.
Glad to see some remaining love for the ATI 650! I still use my original one from eight years ago to record NTSC.

As far as the networked tuners (HDHR2) go, you can put them wherever you have a confluence of signal (RF), network (RJ-45), and power (AC). Doesn't have to be next to a router or next to the TV or even next to the computer. Once it's on the network, you set it up from a PC and then can access it from any networked PC -- whether it's a desktop, laptop, or HTPC.

SiliconDust even makes a transcoding-on-the-fly model that you can use with all your mobile devices to watch live TV, too.
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Old 07-24-2014, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgh24 View Post
Wow, thanks for all the help!

I looked into the Home Run, and with some cutting and patching of sheetrock, could get an antenna cable to my router. However, after doing some research, it appears that in most cases an HTPC is still needed to stream to TV, or at least it makes it much easier. My TV does not support DNLA. Apparently Fling is supposed to work with Home Run and Roku, so that may be an option. If that would work, then could watch recorded TV on any set with a Roku, which would be very nice, and inexpensive, which would be nice also.
Fling aside, an HTPC with a wireless card would "see" the Home Run, and play/record live TV? All recording would have to be set up on the PC that the Home Run is connected to?

If I built an HTPC, I would install WIN7 and use Media Center. To experiment, I would have to use my current desktop with WIN8.1, a PCI tuner, and XBMC.
Place the tuner as close to the antenna as possible and run a CAT5E or CAT6 ethernet cable from the router to the tuner. Ethernet is much more forgiving of signal loss than coax. If you can't run an ethernet cable, look into MoCA adapters (ethernet over coax) or powerline adapters (ethernet over your power lines). I've used both and had good luck with them. MoCa is typically better for video (faster) than powerline.

An HTPC with a wireless card would see the HDHomerun if it's attached to the router, BUT you may not get a strong enough, fast enough, stable enough wireless signal to get a watchable video stream. Video over wireless can be difficult. Use wires (CAT5E/CAT6, MoCa, or powerline, in that order) if you can.

You can watch record on any HTPC that is connected to the network, but you'll get a conflict if you try to watch/record more channels than you have tuners (like if you only have a dual tuner unit, you're watching ABC on one HTPC, recording CBS on another, and someone else wants to watch NBC on the third device).

If you want to use Windows Media Center (WMC) on Windows 8.1, it will have to be Win8.1 Pro with the extra $10 WMC add-in. Win8.1 Home doesn't have WMC and it can't be added without upgrading to the Pro version.
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Old 07-24-2014, 11:37 PM
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Definitely don't use wireless. Maybe if you have AC and a very, very good signal... but even then wired would be much better.
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Old 07-24-2014, 11:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Sounds more and more like the Home Run is not the best choice for me. I think I will want to build a simple HTPC, and go with an internal tuner.
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Old 07-25-2014, 02:05 AM
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I built an HTPC to be primarily used as a DVR & use two of the AverTV Duet dual tuner cards for a total a 4 OTA tuners. My preference was for having everything in a single case & I use WMC7.
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Old 07-25-2014, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post
I built an HTPC to be primarily used as a DVR & use two of the AverTV Duet dual tuner cards for a total a 4 OTA tuners. My preference was for having everything in a single case & I use WMC7.
If you have the real estate to house it all in, sure. But, having a giant PC (don't remember AverTV Duet being made in half height card, thus requiring a case that can support full size expansion slot) next to the rest of your AV gear is so 1990's.

Off-loading tuning, and storing to network allows you to utilize smaller PC platforms, like Micro-ATX, Min-ITX or NUC. Smaller devices generally fit better with other AV equipment.

Also, removing heat generating components from the HTPC case allows you to minimize or eliminate the noise generated by cooling equipment.

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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Old 07-25-2014, 06:00 PM
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If you have the real estate to house it all in, sure. But, having a giant PC (don't remember AverTV Duet being made in half height card, thus requiring a case that can support full size expansion slot) next to the rest of your AV gear is so 1990's.

Off-loading tuning, and storing to network allows you to utilize smaller PC platforms, like Micro-ATX, Min-ITX or NUC. Smaller devices generally fit better with other AV equipment.

Also, removing heat generating components from the HTPC case allows you to minimize or eliminate the noise generated by cooling equipment.
The Duet cards are half-height cards. However I'm using a mini-tower case so it doesn't matter in my situation. I thought about getting a sexy looking HTPC case but instead did a cheap build & re-used a Dell PC case & stuck it in the corner behind an end table. It's basically invisible.

I was hoping not to use a video card but planned for it just in case. And I needed one to fix the 29/59 bug & luckily I had the room for it.

If I went with a network tuner I would have needed a place to put it & also a place to put its power supply. Then I would have needed an ethernet switch & place to put it & its power supply. That's 4 extra boxes that would have needed to be put somewhere. My antenna already had an outlet in the corner where the HTPC is. And I previously installed Cat 5e into that same corner. So for me putting the HTPC in that corner worked out. I'm not saying a "one box" solution is for everyone, but it works for me.
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:14 AM
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Or you could download a FREE copy of MediaPortal and try that! Why do you want XMBC? As a substitute for WMC until you buy it? All the more reason to try MediaPortal. Even if you struggle setting up the EPG you still can tune & watch LiveTV, even do manual recordings as a proof of concept your tuner works, the antenna signal strength is adequate, and your system sufficient to do this.
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