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post #1 of 47 Old 01-19-2013, 06:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I hope this is the correct section, if not mods please move.

I am looking at having a home built in the next few months. I am trying to think ahead of time what I want to do TV wise. I am looking into using Windows Media Center and Extenders. One of the reasons I am looking at doing this (besides cost of boxes/DVRs to cable cards) is that we already have a couple of Xbox 360s in the house which I see support this. I also already have a server with 7 TB of storage available running WHS v1 but am willing to change it over to an operating system that will better suite this need. As far as tuners I have figured I only need 4 (2 dual tuner cards).

My question to people here is:

People using this setup, what OS have you found to work best?

Other than the 360, any other devices out there that do the same thing?

Suggestions for alternatives to what I am looking at doing?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 47 Old 01-22-2013, 04:22 PM
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Hi,

I have a similar setup to the one you want to construct.

My server runs Windows-7 with windows media center.
I use a CETON cable card tuner for TV, it's a quad tuner and works well.

I currently use 2 extenders daily, one of the new CETON Echo's and one old LinkSys 2100.
I have used a XBOX-360 and it works well too.
This setup works well for live TV and DVR functionality.

I originally wanted to use Media Center for all my media, but I found that it messed with the audio too much for my liking.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have, or at least try.

Jerry

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post #3 of 47 Old 01-22-2013, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcole1224 View Post

Hi,

I have a similar setup to the one you want to construct.

My server runs Windows-7 with windows media center.
I use a CETON cable card tuner for TV, it's a quad tuner and works well.

I currently use 2 extenders daily, one of the new CETON Echo's and one old LinkSys 2100.
I have used a XBOX-360 and it works well too.
This setup works well for live TV and DVR functionality.

I originally wanted to use Media Center for all my media, but I found that it messed with the audio too much for my liking.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have, or at least try.

Jerry

Thanks! What do you mean about the audio issues? Other media other than what was handled by the tuners? (ripped movies and such)? Is this possibly due to the server hardware specs itself? Not sure what yours are but mine will be a 3 Ghz core i3 with 4 Gigs of RAM.

Does the CETON Echo offer other media "apps" like Netflix and Amazon Prime?
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post #4 of 47 Old 01-22-2013, 08:51 PM
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Audio in movies was not an issue.

The problem was with audio files, windows changes everything to 48k wav output and the way it does it hurts the fidelity of ripped CDs.
It was obvious to me the first time I listened to it, something just didn't sound right.
For causal listening it's not a problem.

The CETON echo is brand new, I was a beta tester.
I don't think those apps are available yet, you might check their web site for info.
I know there was talk of NetFlix, but I don't know the current status/plan.
I can tell you the Echo does work great for TV and DVR functionality.

You'll need to install "add ons" to watch ripped movies, but the process works pretty well.
You may need to purchase ArcSoft Total Media Theater to play ripped DVDs and Blu-Rays.

If you want more information, let me know and I'll put something together for you.


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Thanks! What do you mean about the audio issues? Other media other than what was handled by the tuners? (ripped movies and such)? Is this possibly due to the server hardware specs itself? Not sure what yours are but mine will be a 3 Ghz core i3 with 4 Gigs of RAM.

Does the CETON Echo offer other media "apps" like Netflix and Amazon Prime?

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post #5 of 47 Old 01-22-2013, 08:56 PM
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One more thing, to play HD movies on an extender or other device, a gigi-bit network is pretty much required.
1080P can take a lot of bandwidth.
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Originally Posted by Stu Pidaso View Post

Thanks! What do you mean about the audio issues? Other media other than what was handled by the tuners? (ripped movies and such)? Is this possibly due to the server hardware specs itself? Not sure what yours are but mine will be a 3 Ghz core i3 with 4 Gigs of RAM.

Does the CETON Echo offer other media "apps" like Netflix and Amazon Prime?

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post #6 of 47 Old 01-22-2013, 10:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcole1224 View Post

One more thing, to play HD movies on an extender or other device, a gigi-bit network is pretty much required.
1080P can take a lot of bandwidth.

Kind of figured. My house now has that with cat6 but I think I will go cat5e this time to save cost.

How does the quad tuner work? Is it a single card or does it take more than one?
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post #7 of 47 Old 01-23-2013, 05:46 AM
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Personally, I'd go with a couple of HDHomeRuns (dual tuners) or their Prime if you need CableCARD support. They connect directly to your network and are available to all of the PCs. Best thing is they simply work... I have had two installed in my electronic closet for six months and they haven't had to be rebooted once. Since they aren't installed in a PC they aren't tied to any PC issues, upgrades or whatnot. Plus, being able to view TV from any PC is nice (without connecting to another's PC WMC).

 

Extender wise I would stick with Xbox. None of the extenders will handle HD audio so feature set they are virtually identical. The Xbox gives you a ton of streaming options although you have to subscribe to Xbox Live. Also, if you decide to punt (go satellite, cable, etc) down the road the Xbox should have decent resell value.

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post #8 of 47 Old 01-23-2013, 06:21 AM
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Cat5e will work fine.
I'm assuming that you have cable TV and want to eliminate having a cable box in multiple rooms.

The quad tuner for Ceton, is a cable card turner, it requires a "cable card" from the cable company to operate.
It occupies a single slot in your server and requires only 1 cable card. (There is a USB version too)
They're available from NewEgg, Amazon, etc.

http://cetoncorp.com/products/infinitv/

You'll able to view every channel you currently can from your cable box, including the premium channels you pay for. (I.E. Showtime. HBO)
However, you cannot access ON-Demand services.

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Kind of figured. My house now has that with cat6 but I think I will go cat5e this time to save cost.

How does the quad tuner work? Is it a single card or does it take more than one?

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post #9 of 47 Old 01-23-2013, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcole1224 View Post

Cat5e will work fine.
I'm assuming that you have cable TV and want to eliminate having a cable box in multiple rooms.

The quad tuner for Ceton, is a cable card turner, it requires a "cable card" from the cable company to operate.
It occupies a single slot in your server and requires only 1 cable card. (There is a USB version too)
They're available from NewEgg, Amazon, etc.

http://cetoncorp.com/products/infinitv/

You'll able to view every channel you currently can from your cable box, including the premium channels you pay for. (I.E. Showtime. HBO)
However, you cannot access ON-Demand services.

So the card has more than one tuner in it? I want to make sure more than one person can watch something at a time.
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post #10 of 47 Old 01-23-2013, 07:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles R View Post

Personally, I'd go with a couple of HDHomeRuns (dual tuners) or their Prime if you need CableCARD support. They connect directly to your network and are available to all of the PCs. Best thing is they simply work... I have had two installed in my electronic closet for six months and they haven't had to be rebooted once. Since they aren't installed in a PC they aren't tied to any PC issues, upgrades or whatnot. Plus, being able to view TV from any PC is nice (without connecting to another's PC WMC).

Extender wise I would stick with Xbox. None of the extenders will handle HD audio so feature set they are virtually identical. The Xbox gives you a ton of streaming options although you have to subscribe to Xbox Live. Also, if you decide to punt (go satellite, cable, etc) down the road the Xbox should have decent resell value.

Still confused as to where to recorded programs would be stored if it connects to the network and not a PC with a hard drive. Does it have a hard drive built into it?
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post #11 of 47 Old 01-23-2013, 08:24 AM
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Yes, the card has 4 tuners.
4 different channels can be viewed/recorded at the same time.
If you had 2 extenders, each could be viewing a different channel and you could still be recording 2 different programs as well.

All the recorded programs are stored on your server. (HDHomeRun tuners would too)
The recorded programs can be viewed on any extender.
You could start watching a recorded program in one room and finish watching in other, pretty cool.
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So the card has more than one tuner in it? I want to make sure more than one person can watch something at a time.

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post #12 of 47 Old 01-23-2013, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Well I am confused. I thought the cards only supported 2 tuners. At least that is what I was told by my cable provider.
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post #13 of 47 Old 01-23-2013, 11:06 PM
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The HDHomeRun I believe has 3 tuners and the ceton infinity has 4.. not sure why the cable provider would say that.. maybe they have an interest in renting you 4 cable boxes, LOL. I'm looking into experimenting with this too although not sure the wife would like losing the on demand part (we have FIOS) though which is one of the downsides. Just hate spending the extra 28.00 a month on cable boxes. The breakeven point would be about a year to recoup the cost of another xbox 360 and a one of the tuner products (around 150 to 180). Would be nice if somebody could put a out an extender product for $50 or so,,, xbox 360 seems like overkill (or under kill if you want 1080p content).
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post #14 of 47 Old 01-25-2013, 06:25 PM
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I've recently moved from MythTV to WMC7 -- only because TimeWarner decided to 'copyflag' nearly everything my family watches. I wish I could go back to Myth. I feel like a member of our family has died.

I run WMC on a box in the home office with an HP x280n in the kitchen and a Linksys DMA2100 in the bedroom. Both extenders were purchased used off Ebay for $90 each.

I have an HDHomeRun Prime HDHR3-CC (CableCard) and 2 original HDHR dual tuners (clear QAM).

The HDHomeRun Prime comes in a 3 tuner model and a 6 tuner model. The 3 tuner takes 1 CableCard, the 6 tuner takes 2. The CableCard you need is known as an 'm-card." An m-card can handle 4 tuners.

If your cable provider is using "SDV" (Switched Digital Videl?) you will also need a Tuning Adapter. This is an external device with it's own power wart and connects to the Prime by a (in my case, very short) USB cable.

I prefer the HDHomeRun products because they are Ethernet based. This has 4 advantages over internal or USB tuners:

1) You don't have to open the box. It may not sound like much, but being able to just plug in an Ethernet cable is way better than fiddling about inside the box. Fewer cables attaching to the box makes it easier to man-handle as well.

2) You can access any tuner on any endpoint (computer or extender). We never watch live TV so this doesn't matter much to us.

3) You can see the 'lights' on the boxes which can help with diagnosing problems.

4) You can locate the tuners where it makes the most sense -- keeping a lot of mess out of the way. See what I mean here:


I put all the HDHRs in the attic where the cable TV enters. A Gbit switch also in the attic connects the HDHRs, the extenders in the bedrooms, and the home office where more switches and computers live.

So far, I'm not impressed with WMC. This may be due to my ignorance of W7 and WMC. I'm a Linux weenie.

It seems slow to respond to the remote. This may be because W7 is running on an Atom 525 with 4GB of RAM.

It doesn't automagically strip out the commercials. Myth would just fade in the 'progress bar,' show 'Skipping 3:46' and fade away.

It can't MultiRec. Each tuner can tune 1 channel. Each channel can carry a bunch of program streams. For example, TimeWarner puts XETV-HD (CW), KSWB (Fox), and KGTV-DT (ABC) on the same channel. Myth could record all 3 and only tie up a single tuner.

You can only record to storage directly attached (SATA, USB, etc.) to the recording computer. The registry hacks I tried to record to my network file server seemed to go away randomly.

You can't do anything with the recorded content because of DRM. 'Your' recordings are tied to the computer that recorded them. If it dies, so do 'your' recordings. With Myth, I could load up a USB stick or burn a DVD and watch where and when I wanted. Supposedly Myth can re-encode for an Ipad or Iphone but I never did this.

It won't play my 700+ HandBrake encoded movies. I suspect this is an AC3 codec issue. Myth would play anything.

I could go on, but this isn't a Myth vs WMC bashfest...
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post #15 of 47 Old 01-25-2013, 07:23 PM
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Your movie collection should play, you just need the right add ons for WMC. You might try "The Green Button" forum for info. (google it)
I use Ceton tuners and WMC, but my primary focus is TV and DVR functionality.
My setup works well for me, but this is not yet an appliance, it does require some care and feeding, usually no more than a device reboot however.

Thanks for your sharing your experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sedwards50 View Post

I've recently moved from MythTV to WMC7 -- only because TimeWarner decided to 'copyflag' nearly everything my family watches. I wish I could go back to Myth. I feel like a member of our family has died.

I run WMC on a box in the home office with an HP x280n in the kitchen and a Linksys DMA2100 in the bedroom. Both extenders were purchased used off Ebay for $90 each.

I have an HDHomeRun Prime HDHR3-CC (CableCard) and 2 original HDHR dual tuners (clear QAM).

The HDHomeRun Prime comes in a 3 tuner model and a 6 tuner model. The 3 tuner takes 1 CableCard, the 6 tuner takes 2. The CableCard you need is known as an 'm-card." An m-card can handle 4 tuners.

If your cable provider is using "SDV" (Switched Digital Videl?) you will also need a Tuning Adapter. This is an external device with it's own power wart and connects to the Prime by a (in my case, very short) USB cable.

I prefer the HDHomeRun products because they are Ethernet based. This has 4 advantages over internal or USB tuners:

1) You don't have to open the box. It may not sound like much, but being able to just plug in an Ethernet cable is way better than fiddling about inside the box. Fewer cables attaching to the box makes it easier to man-handle as well.

2) You can access any tuner on any endpoint (computer or extender). We never watch live TV so this doesn't matter much to us.

3) You can see the 'lights' on the boxes which can help with diagnosing problems.

4) You can locate the tuners where it makes the most sense -- keeping a lot of mess out of the way. See what I mean here:


I put all the HDHRs in the attic where the cable TV enters. A Gbit switch also in the attic connects the HDHRs, the extenders in the bedrooms, and the home office where more switches and computers live.

So far, I'm not impressed with WMC. This may be due to my ignorance of W7 and WMC. I'm a Linux weenie.

It seems slow to respond to the remote. This may be because W7 is running on an Atom 525 with 4GB of RAM.

It doesn't automagically strip out the commercials. Myth would just fade in the 'progress bar,' show 'Skipping 3:46' and fade away.

It can't MultiRec. Each tuner can tune 1 channel. Each channel can carry a bunch of program streams. For example, TimeWarner puts XETV-HD (CW), KSWB (Fox), and KGTV-DT (ABC) on the same channel. Myth could record all 3 and only tie up a single tuner.

You can only record to storage directly attached (SATA, USB, etc.) to the recording computer. The registry hacks I tried to record to my network file server seemed to go away randomly.

You can't do anything with the recorded content because of DRM. 'Your' recordings are tied to the computer that recorded them. If it dies, so do 'your' recordings. With Myth, I could load up a USB stick or burn a DVD and watch where and when I wanted. Supposedly Myth can re-encode for an Ipad or Iphone but I never did this.

It won't play my 700+ HandBrake encoded movies. I suspect this is an AC3 codec issue. Myth would play anything.

I could go on, but this isn't a Myth vs WMC bashfest...

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post #16 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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I am still confused about where the recorded content gets stored with the HDHomeRun Prime HDHR3-CC since it connected to ethernet.

Lets say I get (keeping this basic to explain my question) a HDHomeRun Prime HDHR3-CC and a CETON Echo. If I tell it to record something, where is it going to be stored?
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post #17 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Pidaso View Post

I am still confused about where the recorded content gets stored with the HDHomeRun Prime HDHR3-CC since it connected to ethernet.

Lets say I get (keeping this basic to explain my question) a HDHomeRun Prime HDHR3-CC and a CETON Echo. If I tell it to record something, where is it going to be stored?

You would have to use the PC to record to the hard drive. The Ceton ECHO or similar extender device doesn't have any storage.
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post #18 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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You would have to use the PC to record to the hard drive. The Ceton ECHO or similar extender device doesn't have any storage.

So... You can tell it to record to any PC on in the house? Like you have to map a drive for it? It does not connect directly to a PC from what I see.
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post #19 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 11:46 AM
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In the case of a HDHR...

The computer asks the HDHR to stream to it. If you have multiple computers, each computer can ask an idle tuner to stream to it. Think of the HDHR like a web server that only allows 3 (for an HDHR3-CC) concurrent users. Any computer on your network can ask, and if a tuner is available, it will tune to the requested program and stream.

In my house, we never watch live tv, so only 1 computer ever records. Everybody else just 'extends' from that computer.

You can 'directly' connect the HDHR to a computer. Just connect the computer's Ethernet directly to the HDHR's Ethernet. From a practical standpoint, this kind of implies the computer has more than 1 Ethernet, but this 'point-to-point' configuration will keep all the streaming bits between the computer and the HDHR off the rest of your network infrastructure. I think it's a 'edge-case' since it is more flexible in terms of device placement and tuner availability to plug into a shared network.
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post #20 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, we watch live TV so I would use an Echo or an Xbox to access HDHR, hence I was wondering were the recorded content would go if we told it to record something. It sounds like the HDHR is not the solution for me. I want any device in the house to be able to access tuners or recordd content at any time. Whether it be an Echo, Xbox, or a PC. So I need to figure out what I want to use to connect directly to my PC (or inside).
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post #21 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 02:18 PM
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Are you using an antenna, cable, or satellite?

Is the content going to be restricted by DRM?

Keep in mind I'm a WMC NOOB...

I don't think extenders can access tuners directly. They have to connect to WMC.

I think all media has to pass through the computer to handle DRM. Passing media through the computer also allows you to pause, back, forward, etc. It also gives you a more consistent user interface which helps with the WAF.

Don't discount the HDHR path yet -- I'm really happy with mine.
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post #22 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Are you using an antenna, cable, or satellite?

Is the content going to be restricted by DRM?

Keep in mind I'm a WMC NOOB...

I don't think extenders can access tuners directly. They have to connect to WMC.

I think all media has to pass through the computer to handle DRM. Passing media through the computer also allows you to pause, back, forward, etc. It also gives you a more consistent user interface which helps with the WAF.

Don't discount the HDHR path yet -- I'm really happy with mine.

Well, I was under the impression that if you had a PC running WMC that had tuners (cable cards) connected directly to it, hen the extenders could access the tuners through that one PC, be able to pause, and record shows. It would be the PC with the cable cards that would do all the work for you though. Am I incorrect in thinking this? I have seen a couple of Youtube videos that lead me to believe this.
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post #23 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 04:11 PM
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Well, I was under the impression that if you had a PC running WMC that had tuners (cable cards) connected directly to it, hen the extenders could access the tuners through that one PC, be able to pause, and record shows. It would be the PC with the cable cards that would do all the work for you though. Am I incorrect in thinking this? I have seen a couple of Youtube videos that lead me to believe this.

That is correct. Your previous posts implied (to me) that you thought the extenders could directly stream from the tuners, without the bits passing through the PC.

The terminology can get very specific and is easy to be wrong in subtle ways.

For example:

A 'cable card' could be a card like a Hauppauge 150 which can be used to record from an 'old-school' analog cable or an antenna.

A 'CableCARD' licensed by CableLabs.com is a security device. Plugging a CableCARD into a tuner allows the tuner to decrypt the cable company content you subscribe to.

An HDHR Prime can be (but usually is not) 'directly' connected to the PC. Normally, there's an Ethernet switch or two between.

Just to muddy-up the waters even more, you can connect an antenna to an HDHR to record OTA broadcasts for free. With the HDHR dual tuners, you can connect both cable and antenna to a single box. Since the 'Prime' only has a single input connector (but 3 tuners) it's all one or the other.

Did you state where your content will be coming from? Antenna, cable, or satellite?

It has been my experience that 'channel flickers' will not be happy with WMC. It takes significantly longer to switch channels that it does on my wife's 'old-school' cable box. I don't know if this is a WMC, extender, HDHR, or 'just me' issue.
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post #24 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sedwards50 View Post

Did you state where your content will be coming from? Antenna, cable, or satellite?

It has been my experience that 'channel flickers' will not be happy with WMC. It takes significantly longer to switch channels that it does on my wife's 'old-school' cable box. I don't know if this is a WMC, extender, HDHR, or 'just me' issue.

Sorry, I am with cable. As far as watching live TV and changing channels I am aware of the delay you are talking about. My wife has seen it on the video demos I have shown her and we both don't mind only because we ALWAYS use the guide and do not flip through every single channel.
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post #25 of 47 Old 03-07-2013, 06:15 PM
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Here's my configuration for two reasons. 1) Maybe something here is helpful and 2) I need to document my configuration smile.gif

Cable provider = Verizon FIOS
Tuner = HD Homerun Prime 6cc (6 tuners built as 2 3ccs in a single enclosure). It seems Silicondust no longer sells the 6cc for some reason.
MediaCenter server = Windows 7 pc
Extenders = 3 Xbox 360s and 2 HP Media Center extenders (no longer built and hard to find anymore. Found these on ebay a couple of years ago.
Gigabit switch
Two cablecards allow me to view all subscribed channels on all 6 tuners and record simultaneously from multiple extenders.

Recordings are stored on the mediacenter server and are available to any extender. Recordings can be started, scheduled or modified from any extender because they're all managing the single MC server.
If you have multiple MC PCs be careful to only connect to the one you want to use because your recordings will be on whichever you enter the code for.

Works very well except it freezes more than is acceptable for the wife...ANY freezing is more than she will bear, so I can't yet ditch the cable boxes.

Wish there were more dedicated MC extenders out there.
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post #26 of 47 Old 05-11-2013, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Got my media center PC/Server going and works as expected. I know the PCs on my network can access content that has already been recorded but is there any way/software solutions for a PC to access the tuners to watch live TV?
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post #27 of 47 Old 05-11-2013, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Pidaso View Post

Got my media center PC/Server going and works as expected. I know the PCs on my network can access content that has already been recorded but is there any way/software solutions for a PC to access the tuners to watch live TV?
If I understand your question correctly, the answer is yes.

The Silicon Dust HD Homerun series of tuners are network attached boxes that are accessible from any PC on your network, The ATSC/QAM HDHR-3 has two tuners and the HDHR Prime has three cablecard tuners.

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post #28 of 47 Old 05-12-2013, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
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If I understand your question correctly, the answer is yes.

The Silicon Dust HD Homerun series of tuners are network attached boxes that are accessible from any PC on your network, The ATSC/QAM HDHR-3 has two tuners and the HDHR Prime has three cablecard tuners.

What would be the software to put on the PC then? On the server if I go to add an extender it is asking for a code. No problem with an Xbox but I am not finding a way for a PC on the network to access the tuners.
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post #29 of 47 Old 05-12-2013, 06:39 PM
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What would be the software to put on the PC then? On the server if I go to add an extender it is asking for a code. No problem with an Xbox but I am not finding a way for a PC on the network to access the tuners.
If you are talking Win XP, the HDHR come with simple software for viewing HDTV, or you could use VLC media player.

If you are talking Win-7 or 8, then just use WMC on the PC's.

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post #30 of 47 Old 05-12-2013, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
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If you are talking Win XP, the HDHR come with simple software for viewing HDTV, or you could use VLC media player.

If you are talking Win-7 or 8, then just use WMC on the PC's.

Yeah, I am using WMC on the windows 7 PC that has the tuner in it. In order for another extender to connect to it, the PC with the tuner is asking for an 8 digit code. If I go to one of my other PCs in the house I do not find an 8 digit code to enter into the one with the tuner.
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