Originally Posted by Charles R
For several years I used a HTPC for DVD playback and it was great to stream movies but I dropped it. There was always an update to this or that and for some reason playback would freeze a second or two almost every movie regardless of how many times I would reinstall everything from scratch. I used the fancy filters to improve
the image but in the end one movie might look better and the next a whole lot worse.
Don’t confuse my comments explaining what is available as me trying to tell you what you should use. Obviously, everyone has different needs and it’s no skin off my back what anyone else uses (actually it’s better for me if you guys continue to spend a Benjamin+ every month to the cable companies, because I reap the rewards of having access to all those programs being made after the fact.)
I understand the trepidation in using a PC for playback on your livingroom TV, I’ve done it for many years. I’ve not really had the constant issues (my last HTPC was a single core a64 3200+ based PC circa 2005) however I didn’t constantly dink with it, I just loaded Sage on it, got it to run stable and used it for a couple of years. Still, I agree it can be a hassle. That is why I moved the PC into the roll of just being the backend server and have put the extenders at each TV. The PC does all the recording, online streaming, etc. and the extenders do the front end playback and user interface (using the same Sigma chips as a lot of these hardware streamers and disc players do.)
You get smooth, hardware player playback, plus simple all access control from the remote control, but the added power of advanced configuration, online content and the ability to rip/catalog your discs too.
As for convenience, I do have to go down to the basement to put a disc in the computer to rip it (or if I want to just play a movie off the disc) but otherwise all the regular user functions like recording scheduling, show deleting, etc. etc. can all be done from any of the extenders. And because all the extenders are tied into the same backend server, it is easy to start a show in the livingroom, get half way through, stop it, go upstairs, get ready for bed, then hit “play” upstairs in the bedroom and finish watching the show from where you left off. I have a 3 year old and a 6 month old. I’ve got no time for, how would you say, “TV repair as a hobby” either. Fortunately, once you have it configured properly, it works fine and a person can get on with watching TV.
As for cost, you can get an HD200 extender and a license for SageTV bundled together for $225 I think. Extra extenders can be had for $180. A 2 tuner HDhomerun runs about $150 at places like Newegg and Amazon, but often goes on sale, and you can get internal tuners for less. The server software can be run on any computer you have in the house already (although you’ll want decent HDD space as HD broadcasts can take up to about 7GB per hour.) So if you’ve already got a computer at home, you could setup 2 TVs with 2 channels concurrent recording DVR capability for under $600. If you want to be able to rip your discs or to be able to play a disc (located in the server disc drive) through the extenders, you’ll need AnyDVDHD, which would be an additional $100 or so for a lifetime license. If that’s too much up front, then yeah it probably is a better option to rent a couple of DVRs from the cable co.
As for installation, When I recently switched to running the server on my Win7 64bit PC, it was basically a matter of installing SageTV, plugging my USB HD tuners in one at a time, letting windows auto install the tuner drivers, then start sage and run through their automated setup deal to pick my location and broadcast listings, then configure which drives it should use to store recordings and which drives to monitor for new disc rips.
Anyway, as I’ve said all along, different horses for different courses. I will agree that running DVR through a computer (even just as a server) will not be as simple as waiting for the cable guy to come into your house and plug their DVR in, it does require a bit of research on the users part to understand what all is going on. But the first couple of people in the thread were complaining because nobody was giving information about alternatives to cable, so I gave some based on my history. You don’t need to keep giving reasons why you shouldn’t switch from cable. If you value what they offer, nothing further needed to say. I just think it is good for people to know what is available out there. The thought that you have to have a big, beige, noisy, high maintenance PC tower sitting next to your TV to get a feature rich DVR system in your house without monthly payments is just not true.