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post #1 of 15 Old 03-12-2015, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
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CETON 6 Tuner Whole House Distribution

I live in a town serviced by Cox cable. They are in the process of going all digital & are distributing Mini boxes, which will be required to continue to recieve cable. Since I have 7 TV's & a home theater, I'm basically screwed. No more cable directly to the TV. I am looking for the cheapest way out. I have been looking at TiVo 6 tuner DVR's with lifetime service on ebay, & the mini extenders. This way all I have to do is rent 1 cable card from cox for $1.99 a month. I also saw this Ceton infinitv 6 tuner box at Newegg. So from what I have read this 6 tuner box takes 1 cable card & distributes 6 live channels to a Home theater PC, or an xbox which can be used as an extender. So there must be a dedicated PC which would be used as the dvr. My question is can generic android based xbmc streaming boxes be used as extenders. I have 3 of these. I also have a Roku box, but have read that it will not work. Any ideas ??

Thanks
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-12-2015, 08:20 PM
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Nope. You have to use Windows Media Center Extenders, which only work with Windows 7. I would strongly recommend against this approach as Microsoft is killing off Windows Media Center and there is nothing else out there in terms of DIY solutions that will work with any copy restricted CableCARD content. Also, Windows Media Center is a bit of a pain in the ass. I know. I ran it for several years.

Do you need cable? What kind of reception can you get with an antenna? I live in a large metro, so I am able to get all of the broadcast networks off-the-air. I got tired of dealing with CableCARD, cable bills, Windows Media Center, etc and decided to get a quad-tuner off-the-air Tablo DVR that I mainly access via my Roku boxes. The combination of the OTA DVR with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime gives me an enormous wealth of content. I also subscribe to a few more specialized channels for my anime and K-drama obsessed wife and daughter. My total monthly bill is about $40 for streaming services and $50 for 75mbps internet.

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post #3 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 06:46 AM
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@satscram 4000
In your case, I would argue for a TiVo solution. Because WMC is being phased out, I feel that starting from there now would be a bad investment -- there is no HTPC alternative for a cable-card user. The upfront cost to equip 7 HDTV's for TiVo is going to be stiff -- welcome to the world of digital cable -- but the lifetime cost only hurts once and you put it behind you. TiVo's last a long time. My first TiVo has been running and recording 24x7 for over 6 yr and still going strong.

You already have the cable runs to each HDTV. 6-tuner TiVo and Mini's have built-in Moca so your network is already established with no need to run Cat-6. The only alternative consideration is that each Mini will use a tuner from the Roamio for live TV. With 7 HDTVs, carefully consider your recording and viewing patterns among those TV's. If you have multiple TV's running simultaneously during prime recording times, 6 tuners may not be enough to support 1 TiVo and 6 Mini's and you should consider having 2 TiVo's and 5 Mini's instead.

If you subscribe to any of the major Internet streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. TiVo now integrates the content of those services into it's menu system. For example, if you set a season pass for a series that is in its 2nd or later season, TiVo will give you the option of having it search through your subscribed streaming services for all the previous episodes and present them in the recording list for seamless integration. Same goes for searching for a specific show you are not recording from cable -- it will search your services for the content without you ever having to leave the TiVo interface.

The simple fact of life is that the switch to encrypted digital cable screws everybody. It is a huge money grab. What you had suddenly costs more and in many cases it costs a hell of a lot more.

- kelson h

The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten . . . life is too short to drink bad wine

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post #4 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 07:10 AM
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@satscram 4000 You cannot use any extender other than the Xbox 360 or the Ceton Echo for full Cable card support since they are the only WMC extenders. I remember reading something a while ago about a work around that allowed SageTV users to use a CableCard Tuner that was setup in WMC as long as the program was flagged as copy freely. Unfortunately In my area the only channels that Comcast have as copy freely are the locals that I can pick up OTA.

I agree with @Haywood Jablomi that WMC is being killed off by Microsoft. However there is not another option on the market that allows you to buy you cable boxes instead of renting them from the cable company other than Tivo or a CableCard Tuner with WMC. Depending on what equipment you already have it can be quite an investment. Do you already have a HTPC or a Media Server that is running Windows 7?

If you go the Tivo route:
-Tivo Roamio Plus (Supports 6 tuners): $310
-Tivo Minis ( 7 Rooms): $1050 ($150/ea)
-Lifetime Subscription: $500
-Total: $1860

WMC with Extender route (Assuming you already have computer with Windows 7 for the Ceton Card):
-Ceton InfinTV 6 : $250
-Xbox 360 or Ceton Echo Extenders: $1440 (about $180 for both right now)
-Total: $1690

Cable box route:
-Record 6 DVR: $28.49/ Month (Equipment and Service Fee)
-Additional Receivers: $59.5/Month ($8.50 per box per month)
-Total: $87.99/Month $1055.88/year

As you can see neither option will pay for itself in a year, but how long will you be able to use this system. If you end up using it for two years at least you will recoup your money. I personally went the WMC and Xbox 360 extender route a few years ago. There are some tinkering to do now and then but for the most part it has worked just as well if not better than a box from Comcast. I went with the Xbox 360 for the ability to stream additional apps like Netflix, HBO Go and the Comcast OnDemand. You will need an Xbox Live Gold Membership to view these apps though. I don't see that Cablecard will be going away very soon but you never know. I hope this will help you with your decision even though it is tough to know what the future will hold.

Theater: Epson 8350 projector, 106" Carada Screen, Denon AVR-X2000 Receiver, SageTV HD300, Dune HD Smart D1, XBOX 360, Wii, Sonos Connect. Polk Audio TSI 300 front left and right, TSI 100 back surrounds, CS10 Center channel, PSW110 subwoofer.
Media Server: Windows 7 home edition, Flexraid 17TB, Ceton Infinitv 4 WMC, (2) Hauppauge 2250 OTA tuner cards using SageTV.
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 07:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post
@satscram 4000
In your case, I would argue for a TiVo solution. Because WMC is being phased out, I feel that starting from there now would be a bad investment -- there is no HTPC alternative for a cable-card user. The upfront cost to equip 7 HDTV's for TiVo is going to be stiff -- welcome to the world of digital cable -- but the lifetime cost only hurts once and you put it behind you. TiVo's last a long time. My first TiVo has been running and recording 24x7 for over 6 yr and still going strong.

You already have the cable runs to each HDTV. 6-tuner TiVo and Mini's have built-in Moca so your network is already established with no need to run Cat-6. The only alternative consideration is that each Mini will use a tuner from the Roamio for live TV. With 7 HDTVs, carefully consider your recording and viewing patterns among those TV's. If you have multiple TV's running simultaneously during prime recording times, 6 tuners may not be enough to support 1 TiVo and 6 Mini's and you should consider having 2 TiVo's and 5 Mini's instead.

If you subscribe to any of the major Internet streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. TiVo now integrates the content of those services into it's menu system. For example, if you set a season pass for a series that is in its 2nd or later season, TiVo will give you the option of having it search through your subscribed streaming services for all the previous episodes and present them in the recording list for seamless integration. Same goes for searching for a specific show you are not recording from cable -- it will search your services for the content without you ever having to leave the TiVo interface.

The simple fact of life is that the switch to encrypted digital cable screws everybody. It is a huge money grab. What you had suddenly costs more and in many cases it costs a hell of a lot more.
This had a lot to do with my decision to ultimately dump cable. By the time I pick up HBO Now, I will be spending $55 on streaming services. I am not really doing this to save money so much as I am doing this to be able to consume the content I want on my own terms. I do not want to watch hours of advertisements. I do not want to be tied to a linear TV schedule. Before I cut the cord, I was a heavy DVR user for a decade who almost never watched live TV. Cutting the cord turned out to be very, very easy for me. I am honestly finding that I do not use my DVR nearly as much as I thought I would. There is just such an incredible wealth of content on the streaming services that I often forget all about the hours and hours of network shows piling up on my DVR. I do not miss cable at all.

Scott
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post #6 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjackso1985 View Post
If you go the Tivo route:
-Tivo Roamio Plus (Supports 6 tuners): $310
-Tivo Minis ( 7 Rooms): $1050 ($150/ea)
-Lifetime Subscription: $500
-Total: $1860

WMC with Extender route (Assuming you already have computer with Windows 7 for the Ceton Card):
-Ceton InfinTV 6 : $250
-Xbox 360 or Ceton Echo Extenders: $1440 (about $180 for both right now)
-Total: $1690
Your TiVo math is a bit over-priced.

Lifetime with PLSR discount code = $400
That brings the TiVo cost = $1760

You can shave more off that by buying the last-gen Mini with an IR remote rather than an RF remote for $115 vs. $150.

That brings the complete TiVo solution down to = $1515.
Which is a bit lower than your WMC solution which assumes you already have an adequately powered HTPC in place already. If not, the WMC solution goes up appreciably.

- kelson h

The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten . . . life is too short to drink bad wine

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post #7 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 08:26 AM
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@Kelson Thanks for the help with the Tivo pricing and yes the price of a HTPC or Media Server definitely needs to be accounted for if he does not have something in place already.

Theater: Epson 8350 projector, 106" Carada Screen, Denon AVR-X2000 Receiver, SageTV HD300, Dune HD Smart D1, XBOX 360, Wii, Sonos Connect. Polk Audio TSI 300 front left and right, TSI 100 back surrounds, CS10 Center channel, PSW110 subwoofer.
Media Server: Windows 7 home edition, Flexraid 17TB, Ceton Infinitv 4 WMC, (2) Hauppauge 2250 OTA tuner cards using SageTV.
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post #8 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haywood Jablomi View Post
This had a lot to do with my decision to ultimately dump cable. By the time I pick up HBO Now, I will be spending $55 on streaming services. I am not really doing this to save money so much as I am doing this to be able to consume the content I want on my own terms.
I have been OTA since 1988 -- a cable-never -- so I'm not faced with the cord-cutting decisions so many others agonize over. There is more content on network TV we like than we have time to watch so we pick a select few shows that we actually follow during the season (time-shifted, of course, even "live" sports). For everything else, my TiVo's are networked so whole seasons of shows are collected and stored on my server to be watched when we have time -- often multiple seasons. The TiVo's have made us totally independent viewers. We never have to suffer through a 2-3 month winter hiatus of a serialized show with a continuing plot arc. Watching 1 episode per night of an entire season over 3 weeks in the summer is what we consider to be binge-watching. We almost never watch a new series during the season but rather collect it. That way if it bombs and gets canceled after 10 episodes or is clearly not coming back next season I can just delete it from the server without having wasted any time getting invested in a loser.

We also enjoy a lot of cable shows. Everything on cable is available on disk for purchase or rental from either Netflix or the public library. With independent viewing habits like ours we don't care that we are not watching a show until months or a year after it has aired. Point of fact, we look for cable shows that have actually completed their run so we can watch the entire series from season 1 to the end. I have seasons 1-4 of Game of Thrones and haven't watched a single episode, yet. Now that True Blood is done, we're going to get into that; Justified is in its last season, can't wait.

We don't stream. It's either recorded OTA or from disk. It is largely a quality issue with streaming -- my Internet is 2.8Mbps so streaming anything to a 65" plasma looks like crap to me.

- kelson h

The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten . . . life is too short to drink bad wine

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post #9 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post
I have been OTA since 1988 -- a cable-never -- so I'm not faced with the cord-cutting decisions so many others agonize over. There is more content on network TV we like than we have time to watch so we pick a select few shows that we actually follow during the season (time-shifted, of course, even "live" sports). For everything else, my TiVo's are networked so whole seasons of shows are collected and stored on my server to be watched when we have time -- often multiple seasons. The TiVo's have made us totally independent viewers. We never have to suffer through a 2-3 month winter hiatus of a serialized show with a continuing plot arc. Watching 1 episode per night of an entire season over 3 weeks in the summer is what we consider to be binge-watching. We almost never watch a new series during the season but rather collect it. That way if it bombs and gets canceled after 10 episodes or is clearly not coming back next season I can just delete it from the server without having wasted any time getting invested in a loser.

We also enjoy a lot of cable shows. Everything on cable is available on disk for purchase or rental from either Netflix or the public library. With independent viewing habits like ours we don't care that we are not watching a show until months or a year after it has aired. Point of fact, we look for cable shows that have actually completed their run so we can watch the entire series from season 1 to the end. I have seasons 1-4 of Game of Thrones and haven't watched a single episode, yet. Now that True Blood is done, we're going to get into that; Justified is in its last season, can't wait.

We don't stream. It's either recorded OTA or from disk. It is largely a quality issue with streaming -- my Internet is 2.8Mbps so streaming anything to a 65" plasma looks like crap to me.
Streaming is fantastic, but only if you have fast internet. I have fully symmetrical 75 mbps FiOS, so I can run multiple concurrent full HD streams with no issues. Most past seasons of TV shows are available on either Amazon or Netflix, so I use those for the bulk of my back catalog viewing. This allows me to focus my purchases on movies and on TV shows that I especially like and want to re-watch in the future. I use my DVR to watch current shows and sometimes use Hulu as a backup if a recording gets garbled. There are some shows that I cannot get via streaming subscription and I usually just by them either on disc or UltraViolet. I make very heavy use of UltraViolet and Disney Movies Anywhere licensing, mostly through Vudu. I do this because I can almost always buy new release movies for half the cost of Blu-Ray, sometimes less. I also used the disc-to-digital program to upgrade hundreds of DVDs, as that was enormously cheaper than replacing all of my movies with Blu-Ray. I currently have more than 725 HDX movies and quite a few seasons of TV available through my Vudu account. I use my media server to serve up music, movies and TV shows ripped from my extensive disc collection. Absolutely everything from my Tablo DVR and Plex Media Server to my subscription services and a variety of free streaming services (i.e. Pandora, YouTube, Vivo, PBS, PBS Kids, CNN, BBC News, etc.) is available via Roku devices throughout the house. The bulk of this content is also available via Tablet even outside of the home.

Scott
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 11:57 AM
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You could find a lot of opinions in the HTPC subforum.

I run Windows Media Center with a few extenders (both Xbox 360 and Links DMA 2100). My set up has grown a little bit at a time over the last 13 years.

While I've never really thought of an HTPC as a way to save money (though for some I'm sure it is) I don't think WMC is in any imminent danger of being eliminated.

The only thing Microsoft could possibly do is stop providing guide data, and there are ways to get 3rd party guide data into WMC

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
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post #11 of 15 Old 03-13-2015, 01:33 PM
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I spent a lot of years running Windows Media Center and also running things like Plex, Twonky, PlayOn and Logitech Media Server on Windows. My ultimate conclusion is that Windows is just not a great platform for media server duties. Even if you tell it not to install updates, pending updates can hose your machine until you install and reboot. I've had a lot of stability issues over the years across the board and it is not like I don't know the operating system well. I'm an IT professional who has been running and working with Microsoft operating systems since 1986. I like Windows, just not for this.

I have not had 10% of the problems I used to have since moving Plex and Logitech Media Server to a NAS and switching from Windows Media Center to Tablo. Appliances are just so much less hassle.

Scott
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post #12 of 15 Old 03-14-2015, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the info. I just got off the phone with Cox this morning, because as I was doing more research, I found that I needed a digital tuning adapter to go with the cable card. It connects in parallel with either the Ceton or Tivo. The tech said it provides bidirectional communication. I was worried what Cox was going to charge me to rent it per month, but to my surprise he said there is no fee for it & that it is included with the cable card for $1.99 per month. When I built my house, I network wired every room. I have "ports" that contain 2 cat5e cables, 2 RG-6 Quad shield cables & a cat 3 for phone. Some rooms have multiple ports. Everything home runs back to my panel in the basement where I have 2 Netgear rackmount gigabit switches, CATV splitters, etc. So I should have no problems with distribution. When I started my quest for a cheaper alternative, I was thinking Tivo. Everyone I talked to says that the Tivo is better than the Cable company's DVR box. I was looking on eBay for a used Roamio plus with lifetime service. & then the Tivo minis. I came across the 4 tuner Tivo, premier XL's with lifetime service pretty cheap, but with those the tuners are specifically assigned. With the Roamio Plus, the tuners go to what ever is needed at the time. The other thing that is swinging me more over to the Tivo is that it is a purpose built consumer product, there would be no tinkering with PC's, etc. So right now I am paying $68.00 a month for cable & internet. With me owning all of the equipment, another $1.99 a month wouldn't be bad.

So to break down my scenario;

WMC

Ceton infinitv6, $249.00 (so far cheapest price found on newegg)

Home Theater, $ -0- (already have it, AOpen DE7000)

Rec Room TV, $ -0- (already have it, Xbox 360)

Son's Bedroom TV, $ -0- ( already have it, PC tower with HDMI)

Daughter's Bedroom TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Living room TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Breakfast area TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Basement Bedroom TV, $ not used, has Roku box

----------------------------------------------------------------
Tivo,

Tivo Roamio Plus with lifetime service, $500 - $700 (used from ebay)

Tivo Mini's, 6 needed $100 - $125.00 (new & used from eBay)
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post #13 of 15 Old 03-14-2015, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by satscram 4000 View Post
So to break down my scenario;

WMC

Ceton infinitv6, $249.00 (so far cheapest price found on newegg)

Home Theater, $ -0- (already have it, AOpen DE7000)

Rec Room TV, $ -0- (already have it, Xbox 360)

Son's Bedroom TV, $ -0- ( already have it, PC tower with HDMI)

Daughter's Bedroom TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Living room TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Breakfast area TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Basement Bedroom TV, $ not used, has Roku box
What are you going to use as the dedicated DVR PC to plug the Ceton infinitv 6 into and run WMC on Win-7?
That AOpen doesn't look like it will accommodate an add-in card -- no access slot out the back.

PS - I've never seen a home wiring layout at the panels that neat and tidy. Looks like you did it right.

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The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten . . . life is too short to drink bad wine

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post #14 of 15 Old 03-14-2015, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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I was planning on using the standalone Ceton, not the PC card version. I see a lot of complaints about the connector breaking off & heat issues with the PC card version. The standalone box seems to run cooler based on what others who have it have reported. And like you said the form factor of the AOpen will not take the PC card. The only thing that bothers me about Tivo is that the lifetime service is tied to the specific unit. From what I have read the Tivo's last a long time, and the main part to fail is the hard drive. I see a lot of power supply boards on eBay for the older units, so any parts prone to failure seem to be readily available for cheap money.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by satscram 4000 View Post
Thanks for all the info. I just got off the phone with Cox this morning, because as I was doing more research, I found that I needed a digital tuning adapter to go with the cable card. It connects in parallel with either the Ceton or Tivo. The tech said it provides bidirectional communication. I was worried what Cox was going to charge me to rent it per month, but to my surprise he said there is no fee for it & that it is included with the cable card for $1.99 per month. When I built my house, I network wired every room. I have "ports" that contain 2 cat5e cables, 2 RG-6 Quad shield cables & a cat 3 for phone. Some rooms have multiple ports. Everything home runs back to my panel in the basement where I have 2 Netgear rackmount gigabit switches, CATV splitters, etc. So I should have no problems with distribution. When I started my quest for a cheaper alternative, I was thinking Tivo. Everyone I talked to says that the Tivo is better than the Cable company's DVR box. I was looking on eBay for a used Roamio plus with lifetime service. & then the Tivo minis. I came across the 4 tuner Tivo, premier XL's with lifetime service pretty cheap, but with those the tuners are specifically assigned. With the Roamio Plus, the tuners go to what ever is needed at the time. The other thing that is swinging me more over to the Tivo is that it is a purpose built consumer product, there would be no tinkering with PC's, etc. So right now I am paying $68.00 a month for cable & internet. With me owning all of the equipment, another $1.99 a month wouldn't be bad.

So to break down my scenario;

WMC

Ceton infinitv6, $249.00 (so far cheapest price found on newegg)

Home Theater, $ -0- (already have it, AOpen DE7000)

Rec Room TV, $ -0- (already have it, Xbox 360)

Son's Bedroom TV, $ -0- ( already have it, PC tower with HDMI)

Daughter's Bedroom TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Living room TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Breakfast area TV, $125.00 (ceton extender)

Basement Bedroom TV, $ not used, has Roku box

----------------------------------------------------------------
Tivo,

Tivo Roamio Plus with lifetime service, $500 - $700 (used from ebay)

Tivo Mini's, 6 needed $100 - $125.00 (new & used from eBay)
From the research I've done I would recommend XBOX 360s over the Ceton Echo for your additional rooms. I should mention I am using SiliconDust's HDHomerun Prime. I personally have two 360s that I use as extenders and they work well. In fact, sometimes I'll bring one outside if we want to watch TV by our fire pit. From what I've read the Cetons appear to be underpowered and glitchy but I cannot confirm as I have never owned one. If you're looking to save some money you can get used 360s for $100 or less (Cowboom, Ebay, Craigslist, etc). The 360s also have apps for Netflix and things of that nature. Gaming would not have to be restricted to the rec room either.

Depending on how your channels are tagged (Copy Once, Copy Freely) if you're adventurous you can delve into the world of Kodi. I have two Amazon Fire TV boxes that have Kodi installed on them. I use them along with the ServerWMC PVR add-on to access channels and recordings in our guest room and gym. The Fire TV boxes do not fare as well as the 360s with wireless but with ethernet they are solid.

As previously stated, there can be some hiccups. Updates can temporarily break the WMC server or the connection with the extenders. I am by no means an IT guy but have been able to maintain a WMC setup for years with only occasional troubleshooting. The great thing about the internet is the answer to your questions are pretty much always out there.

Good luck either way you go!
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