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post #1 of 14 Old 08-07-2014, 08:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Your Advice on Distributed Media Setup

Hi. I've had great advice some time ago on a purchase and want to tap your expertise again in this scenario.

First, apologies that this is rather long. Am hoping that the description below is sufficient so as not to leave everyone guessing on basic things.

We've moved. We prefer to go wired to each room for security and performance reasons, but as the home is not a brand new build, any rewiring would be expensive or a huge DIY effort (which puts Ethernet wiring very low on the list).

It does have cable outlets in every room we want to distribute media (internet, video, audio) to. Internet service has been turned on, but it feeds only to one room right now (family rm).

However, I've seen in the attic that there are several cable wires (leading to those outlets in various rooms) that are unattached to the incoming cable wire from the street. Will need to know how to hook this up correctly (e.g. so there is no signal loss issue, especially if we can leverage these for the solution).

Only the office has an ethernet port (not sure how prior owner connected it, but it gets no signal now, obviously).

Media Sources:
  • TV (is a "smart" TV, with ability to stream via proprietary apps video - Netflix/Hulu/Amazon - , music - Tunein/Pandora/Spotify, Skype, DLNA), with HDMI and USB ports (video, iPod)
  • BluRay (along with CD/DVD/BluRay sources, is also "smart" streamer of video/music via apps, DLNA), with HDMI and USB ports (video, iPod)
  • ROKU (two units - one each for Family Rm, Master BR, ideally down to one unit for distribution - possible?)
  • Sonos (have a "Connect" in Family Rm, and one speaker in Office, can expand as needed)
  • OTA Antenna (to be placed in Attic - right now using a MOHU with unsatisfactory results)
  • PVR (need to figure out a solution, preferably multiroom capability, co-located with other media equipment in Family Rm)
  • NAS Server (recorded music, in Office)
  • Computers / Tablets / iPods / Smartphones - misc streams, recordings (music, some video)
  • Receiver (also a "smart" streaming device via limited apps, DLNA, local radio via antenna!?) with multiple HDMI ports and USB ports (video, iPod) - right now a 3.1 setup, going to 5.1 - all in Family Rm.
  • Router (connected to cable modem in Family Rm - for now, 5x gigabit ports, and wireless-N dual-band, rated 600Mbps - or three times that if receiving device can do multiband) usb ports.

Locations:
  • Priority rooms are Office (leverage maximum available internet speed, and provide gigabit between devices within room), and Family Rm, Master BR (TV, Music)
  • Other rooms to cover are Game Rm, one Bed Rm, and eventually outdoor patio.

Abilities:
  • Send OTA signal to multiple rooms (ideally, each room can view different channel)
  • Record OTA programming (ideally would like to record while also watching another channel AND ideally would like to record more than one program/channel simultaneously)
  • Send stream from TV or BluRay to multiple rooms (ideally, each room can view different channel)
  • Would ideally like "pause in one room and play in another" capability.
  • Simultaneously record more than one program to PVR
  • Share single PVR for one stream of recorded programming (ideally would like to feed two streams, each going to different locations)
  • Play music from streaming, CD, iPod via usb, and NAS to any room (ideally, playing in simultaneous rooms, and different simultaneous streams) - likely covered by expanding Sonos system, but may be more complicated than that.
  • Choices in each room controllable via local remote (ideally, one remote in each room - Logitech? or smart phone (android)? or iPod Touch?)
  • Any other considerations?

The solution can leverage the redundancy of services across devices (e.g. Netflix is available via TV, BluRay player, and ROKU apps). That said, it is not necessarily desirable from a usability point of view (e.g. DLNA seems either poorly implemented, or the interface to it is).

After some reading it looks like a MoCa based solution is superior (reliability, performance, setup, troubleshooting) to a powerplug solution. Is this a correct understanding?

Even assuming so, the challenge is in the configuration to bring it all together.

Questions:
  • Can this be done DIY, with off the shelf consumer devices, without breaking the bank on some high end proprietary system?
  • Would some strategic service subscriptions replace additional hardware cost (e.g. online PVR) and setup complexity?
  • What compromises give the most tradeoff on cost to keep budget within reason?
  • What devices are needed?
  • Where should they be placed?

Also, lower priority, but have been looking at solutions like OOMA for phone service, and looking at changing security monitoring devices / service (from current proprietary system). How might these play into the solution for the above?


Would appreciate input from the folks here who have been down this block.

Also, perhaps for lack of knowledge and not searching correctly, but if there are links in AVSForums (or elsewhere) that address this, would appreciate any links too.

Last edited by Transplanted99; 08-07-2014 at 08:32 AM. Reason: Formatting
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-08-2014, 06:57 AM
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You are asking about a multi-room PVR system for OTA (plus other stuff). There are only a handful of choices out there. Windows Media Centre if you are in the Microsoft camp. MythTV if not. A few other also-rans.

In either case, high definition OTA broadcasts are 17 to 19 megabits per second (MPEG2 format). To play these back on a remote system, your network has to be able to keep up -or- you have to transcode the recordings down to something more compact. Wireless networks will almost always cause pain--despite the marketing claims, their actual throughput isn't that good. Dedicated Cat 5e or better wired networks will have no problem. Powerline or MOCA networking is supposed to work but I don't have any personal experience.

Transcoding high bit rate MPEG2 to more compact H264 (or similar) is a possibility. However, it either takes a really powerful computer or a lot of time. (And burns a lot of electricity while doing it.) On the plus side, you could stick with a wireless network. As well, transcoding makes it possible to play your recordings on tablets and such. Almost no apps (iOS or Android) include the codec to play back MPEG2 format videos--likely because the OTA bit rates are going to swamp the wireless network anyway!

Personally, I think a wired network is a good investment. You say you have an attic, so it may not be that hard to fish some wires to where you need them. A box (or two) of Cat 5e or Cat 6 is not very expensive. Adds value to a home, these days.

Anyway, a couple more factors to consider.

Craig
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-08-2014, 01:04 PM
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OTA streaming, automatically transcoded to AVC: http://www.silicondust.com/products/models/hdtc-2us/.
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-09-2014, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pvr4Craig View Post
You are asking about a multi-room PVR system for OTA (plus other stuff). There are only a handful of choices out there. Windows Media Centre if you are in the Microsoft camp. MythTV if not. A few other also-rans.

In either case, high definition OTA broadcasts are 17 to 19 megabits per second (MPEG2 format). To play these back on a remote system, your network has to be able to keep up -or- you have to transcode the recordings down to something more compact. Wireless networks will almost always cause pain--despite the marketing claims, their actual throughput isn't that good. Dedicated Cat 5e or better wired networks will have no problem. Powerline or MOCA networking is supposed to work but I don't have any personal experience.

Transcoding high bit rate MPEG2 to more compact H264 (or similar) is a possibility. However, it either takes a really powerful computer or a lot of time. (And burns a lot of electricity while doing it.) On the plus side, you could stick with a wireless network. As well, transcoding makes it possible to play your recordings on tablets and such. Almost no apps (iOS or Android) include the codec to play back MPEG2 format videos--likely because the OTA bit rates are going to swamp the wireless network anyway!

Personally, I think a wired network is a good investment. You say you have an attic, so it may not be that hard to fish some wires to where you need them. A box (or two) of Cat 5e or Cat 6 is not very expensive. Adds value to a home, these days.

Anyway, a couple more factors to consider.

Craig
Craig, some great input, thanks!

I forgot to mention Windows Media Server or equivalent is something I am willing to go for. Didn't know about the issues on format issues.

Agree that wire seems to be the best way to go. As for laying cable, yes there is an attic, but office and master br (two priority areas) are not directly accessible from there. Family rm has a high ceiling and rest of rooms are on 2nd floor.

Since cable companies use the in house coaxial wire to support high speeds they offer, I figured I could piggy back on that. MoCa seems the ticket for that.

Also, for anyone else who might hit this entry, I found these on AVS...
Is ethernet over coax dead for retail?
Has anyone done ethernet over coax?
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-09-2014, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olyteddy View Post
OTA streaming, automatically transcoded to AVC: http://www.silicondust.com/products/models/hdtc-2us/.
Cool device! Thanks!
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-10-2014, 08:03 AM
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Also the TiVo Roamio and mini will get multi room OTA tv.

Second read up on Moca. It allows wired Ethernet over CATV coax. Very handy in an existing build situation.
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-10-2014, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SMHarman View Post
Also the TiVo Roamio and mini will get multi room OTA tv.

Second read up on Moca. It allows wired Ethernet over CATV coax. Very handy in an existing build situation.
Ha! Looked up TiVo Roamio and the first reviewer said "After spending $450+ fighting to make HTPC DVR record 2 OTA programs, gave up and ordered 4 tuner OTA Roamio...". Seems to fit the bill function wise.

Yes, I see they support MOCA too.

But, I see that there is a monthly subscription for each box on top of the purchase.

The basic Roamio unit (the only one supporting HD antenna feed) requires a MOCA adaptor (looks like an Actiontec one). So, that would be $250 and $15 per mth, plus $100 for a MINI for every room and $6 per mth each. Add Netflix and Hulu monthly fees and it gets near cable tv territory. Definitely not a "cheap" alternative to cable.

Love the room to room roaming though, and multi channel OTA recording. Very slick.

What does one lose if they end the subscription?

Thanks.
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post #8 of 14 Old 08-11-2014, 10:49 AM
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TiVo you buy lifetime on all the devices.
Buy it after one month on monthly as an existing customer and they drop the price by $99.
When you ate bored or upgrade put the boxes on eBay and get a chunk of your money back. Changes the economics considerably.
Without subsxription you lose the EPG and it does not work. Basically get lifetime and stop thinking about it.
Not sure about the Moca options but look for Moca 2.0. More speed and more devices.
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-11-2014, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SMHarman View Post
TiVo you buy lifetime on all the devices.
Buy it after one month on monthly as an existing customer and they drop the price by $99.
When you ate bored or upgrade put the boxes on eBay and get a chunk of your money back. Changes the economics considerably.
Without subsxription you lose the EPG and it does not work. Basically get lifetime and stop thinking about it.
Not sure about the Moca options but look for Moca 2.0. More speed and more devices.
I find this solution intriguing and have some follow up questions that are not immediately clear on TiVo's own website...

Is the $99 discount in addition to the $100 discount for Multi-Service Discount seen in the following link?
http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/573

Also, I presume that the $99 does not come off of each Mini, correct? The MSD does not.

If so, the break-even on the Roamio is 23 months. Each Mini has a 25 month b/e with a lifetime plan. Not bad from that perspective.

Are the subscriptions transferrable? And/or, can they be decoupled from the device (say one wants to upgrade to another TiVo device)?

In eBay I see some units offered up with subscription seemingly intact.
http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/573

Good point about resale. I'd venture that using the devices for, say, three years before wanting to upgrade to something else would then be worth somewhere in the 25% to 35% of today's retail. Then, yes, that does alter the total cost of ownership somewhat.

And there is a "buying service" that purports to get a steep discount - don't know how real that is:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/TiVo-DISCOUN...item233dde2f6d
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post #10 of 14 Old 08-11-2014, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olyteddy View Post
OTA streaming, automatically transcoded to AVC: http://www.silicondust.com/products/models/hdtc-2us/.
As I gather the choice for the functionality I am asking about it either TiVo, or HTPC with extenders (Ceton Echo, or SiliconDust).
Need help deciding what to do (TiVo vs. alternatives)
Or with PVR capability:
2014 list of consumer available DVR's

Found this guide that talks to HTPCs.
http://assassinhtpcblog.com/welcome/#introhtpc

And wired internet (without dropping new wires) via MoCa or Home Plug (which has a new gigabit standard with products coming shortly).

Last edited by Transplanted99; 08-11-2014 at 03:03 PM.
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post #11 of 14 Old 08-11-2014, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Transplanted99 View Post
Are the subscriptions transferrable? And/or, can they be decoupled from the device (say one wants to upgrade to another TiVo device)?

In eBay I see some units offered up with subscription seemingly intact.
http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/573

Good point about resale. I'd venture that using the devices for, say, three years before wanting to upgrade to something else would then be worth somewhere in the 25% to 35% of today's retail. Then, yes, that does alter the total cost of ownership somewhat.
Found this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post
There are cheaper alternatives, but nothing beats the reliability of a TiVo DVR and it's advanced name-based guide-scheduling capabilities for recording OTA HD. If you are only using it for OTA, the $99 TiVo + monthly subscription model is only $10/month. You can always pay the $600 upfront cost to buy a TiVo with no further fees (a.k.a. lifetime service). That is worth it if you plan on keeping the box >4yr or reselling it -- a used TiVo without lifetime is worthless other than as a parts machine.
At this link:
looking for an alternative to tivo
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post #12 of 14 Old 08-11-2014, 03:47 PM
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The first line of that last quote sums up the choice(s) pretty clear. If you want something that is hassle-free and simply works - get a TiVo...

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post #13 of 14 Old 08-11-2014, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transplanted99 View Post
I find this solution intriguing and have some follow up questions that are not immediately clear on TiVo's own website...

Is the $99 discount in addition to the $100 discount for Multi-Service Discount seen in the following link?
http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/573

Also, I presume that the $99 does not come off of each Mini, correct? The MSD does not.

If so, the break-even on the Roamio is 23 months. Each Mini has a 25 month b/e with a lifetime plan. Not bad from that perspective.

Are the subscriptions transferrable? And/or, can they be decoupled from the device (say one wants to upgrade to another TiVo device)?

In eBay I see some units offered up with subscription seemingly intact.
http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/573

Good point about resale. I'd venture that using the devices for, say, three years before wanting to upgrade to something else would then be worth somewhere in the 25% to 35% of today's retail. Then, yes, that does alter the total cost of ownership somewhat.

And there is a "buying service" that purports to get a steep discount - don't know how real that is:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/TiVo-DISCOUN...item233dde2f6d
MSD is for buying a second full TiVo.
Buying lifetime with owner discount PLSL or some code like that takes $100 of lifetime. Not bad for the $15 in the first month.

Mini is $85 on Amazon. That's as cheep as it gets. Plus lifetime. Not yet researched the resale price but likely high.

Roamio is the one to save 99 on cord cutters will snap their up in eBay.

I don't see anyone those buying services saving money. TiVo hardware does not seem to have a much of a mark up. They are boxes to sell the service.
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post #14 of 14 Old 08-12-2014, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, SMHarman!
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