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Tuner pooling?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I've played a little with some media streaming of stored content, but I'm totally new to tuner recording. Specifically, I have no idea what kind of tuner pooling I might need, dynamic, static, or something else entirely.

I have 4 TV's (2 HDTV's and 2 old tube sets) in the house. The 2 old tubes probably won't be upgraded for years. There typically aren't more than 2 being used at a time, but it's entirely possible, say during the holidays with extra family at the house, I could need to have live TV on all 4 without killing the scheduled recordings. I need *at least* two tuners dedicated to recording, but of course the more the merrier.

My thinking so far is a PC with a pair of Ceton's inside... that could give me the ability to stream 4 live channels and still keep 4 tuners free for scheduled recordings. One immediate downside that jumps out is cost... although, I really don't mind an extra $200 if it means I don't have to explain to the wife why my episode of Red Green cancelled her Law & Order ;-)

Aside from the one PC with the Ceton's, what could I use for a "set top box" on each TV? Media Center Extenders? Xbox? Cheap netbook with WMC? These days a basic Xbox can be had for around $150, not too bad considering it's obvious gaming credentials as well. I know I have a netbook or two laying around unused already too if it helps...

I understand Ceton cards needs serious cooling... I've built a few gaming rigs before, so heavy cooling requirements are a piece of cake.

Ceton vs HD Homerun? Either way I think I'm going to need two cards to get the amount of tuners I'm looking for. I'm leaning toward the Cetons for the extra tuners it offers. But then, I hear something about the Homerun doing dynamic pooling... what is that? Am I better off with dynamic pooling vs more static tuners?

Quick ballpark math... 2 Cetons, $320 on Amazon. 3 Xbox's, 300-450 depending if I go used or new. If I can get a basic rig to throw those cards in for <$400, That brings the total around $1100-1200. A big number... But hey, that will pay for itself quick with the money saved in 4 cable boxes plus DVR service monthly. Sure is a heck of a lot more functionality too. Of course, cheaper set top boxes could bring that number down too, I really don't need gaming consoles on every TV if there's a better solution.
post #2 of 14
WMC has built in tuner pooling. So, the best solution is to use Media Center Extenders, not separate PCs to take advantage of it. In WMC, if two or more users (including PC itself, any active recording, and any extenders connected to it) tune to the same channel, only one tuner is used. So, try one Ceton card and see if that is good enough for you. I use a Silicondust Prime tuner (3-tuner CableCard) and additional Silicondust Dual (2-tuner ClearQAM) to serve 3 TVs, all using extenders. Most of my recordings are broadcasting network shows and use the dual tuner most of the time. So the 3 cablecard tuners are more than enough for me.
post #3 of 14
The rule of thumb is you will need one processor core and one gig of RAM in the host HTPC for each extender running.
Edited by Sammy2 - 3/24/13 at 7:12am
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
So, whether it's one or two Ceton's in a PC, WMC is smart enough to manage all tuners most efficiently regardless?

What is the difference between dynamic and static pooling? Does it affect what I'm trying to do with 4 TVs?
post #5 of 14
What they were saying is that if you use extenders, they connect to one wmc machine... Other PCs can't be extenders. What the dynamic pooling of the prime allows is to share the tuners amongst the PCs where each pc has the potential to access any tuner that is available... The prime allows for this. If you get 2 primes (3 tuners each) you would have 6 tuners available to any amount of PCs (with the primes you would need tunersalad to access more than 4 from any one pc) The ceton has to have each tuner statically assigned to a particular pc so if you installed 2 infiniTV4s (4 tuners each) you could assign 6 tuners to the main HTPC (ceton does not need tunersalad to have more than 4 of one type of tuner as the increase is built in), and then have 2 tuners left that could be assigned either 2 to another computer or 1 tuner each to two other computers.

Personally, unless you need the network tuning functions right away, I would get one ceton now and then add one of the new primes that is coming out later this year that has 4 tuners as well as the ability to transcode mpeg2 to h.264 on the fly... The new one coming out (as well as current primes with beta software) also allow connecting by dlna so it may be possible for a small device or even your existing bluray player to tune which may give more options for your old tvs.

You did not specify what types of inputs your old tube tvs had (as this may limit what can connect to them) and you also did not specify who your provider was (Verizon Fios and Comcast seem to have most things copy freely, Others seem to protect nearly everything with copy once) as this may affect if pooling is even needed (for live it still would be) as if the recordings are unprotected they can be viewed on any machine... if they are protected they can only be viewed on the machine that recorded it (or an extender connected to that machine).
Edited by signcarver - 3/24/13 at 2:07am
post #6 of 14
The dynamic pooling of Prime still is not as smart as one WMC with multiple extenders. If you have 4 PCs, each will occupy 4 tuners regardless if they all watch 4 different channels or not. Besides, Prime can't give priorities to recordings because it has no way of knowing it. Let's say you have a Prime with 3 tuners. You have 3 PCs all watching live TV. When two recordings come up in one PC, if can only kick the live TV watch on that PC to free up one tuner and the other recording will be failed because there will be no more tuner to allocate. If you use one PC with extenders, WMC will kick live TV users off and use the tuners for recordings.

If you are worried about not enough tuner, using Extenders + single PC is the best. Not only it shares all the recordings easily (you can watch a show in one location and continue it in another), but also only need to record one time. A Xbox is cheaper than any PC and don't need to worry about the dreaded 29/59 bug on most PCs.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have Verizon Fios, with the HBO package. The old tube sets each have Component, composite, S-video and analog tuners.

I like the idea of one central PC and a bunch of simple extenders on each set. Each extender could access the library of recorded content, and still be able to watch (pause and record?) live TV as well, right?


Ah, I think I'm understanding static vs dynamic now.... static pooled assigns each tuner to one device, and that tuner can't be used again by any other. If I had a static tuner assigned to an extender for live TV, that tuner couldn't then be used later to schedule recordings on the central server... whereas dynamically pooled means any tuner can be reassigned on the fly to whatever system needs it? Is that about right?
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

The dynamic pooling of Prime still is not as smart as one WMC with multiple extenders. If you have 4 PCs, each will occupy 4 tuners regardless if they all watch 4 different channels or not. Besides, Prime can't give priorities to recordings because it has no way of knowing it. Let's say you have a Prime with 3 tuners. You have 3 PCs all watching live TV. When two recordings come up in one PC, if can only kick the live TV watch on that PC to free up one tuner and the other recording will be failed because there will be no more tuner to allocate. If you use one PC with extenders, WMC will kick live TV users off and use the tuners for recordings.

If you are worried about not enough tuner, using Extenders + single PC is the best. Not only it shares all the recordings easily (you can watch a show in one location and continue it in another), but also only need to record one time. A Xbox is cheaper than any PC and don't need to worry about the dreaded 29/59 bug on most PCs.


That sounds like exactly what I'm looking for. I guess trial and error will tell me if a single 4 channel Ceton will be enough, though I'm thinking a second card is probably a good idea.

What do you recommend for a good extender? Two TV's will use HDMI, but two are still the old SD tube sets (component, composite, s-video, or coax cable inputs)
post #9 of 14
The XBOX 360 is the only extender right now that works with either Windows 7 or 8. Ceton makes an extender but it is only for Windows 7 (for the foreseeable future). The XBOX 360 should be able to connect via the component, composite, or s-video. Not quite sure what the Ceton supports beyond HDMI.
post #10 of 14
As posted above, Xbox is pretty much the only Extender on the market. Ceton Echo has some potentials but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Not to mention it costs more than Xbox 360 but does less.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotrodhearse View Post

I have Verizon Fios, with the HBO package. The old tube sets each have Component, composite, S-video and analog tuners.

I like the idea of one central PC and a bunch of simple extenders on each set. Each extender could access the library of recorded content, and still be able to watch (pause and record?) live TV as well, right?

Correct. Extenders can schedule recordings, watch/pause/rewind live TV and recordings. Basically almost everything you can do on the PC.
Quote:
Ah, I think I'm understanding static vs dynamic now.... static pooled assigns each tuner to one device, and that tuner can't be used again by any other. If I had a static tuner assigned to an extender for live TV, that tuner couldn't then be used later to schedule recordings on the central server... whereas dynamically pooled means any tuner can be reassigned on the fly to whatever system needs it? Is that about right?

Pooling you are talking about only applies to PCs. Extenders get tuners from the host PC. So, if you statically allocate only one tuner to a WMC PC, the extender won't be able get any tuner if it is already being used.

If you are going to use extender deployment, don't worry about dynamic or static poolings as you will only need to use one PC. However, since PCs can't be used as extenders, Silicondust Prime does have the advantage that you can use any other PCs, like a laptop, on the network to watch TVs occasionally. That PC will simply grab whatever tuner that is not currently in use from the network. With a Ceton tuner card, you will not only have to keep the hosting PC on but also statically allocate the tuner to be used by other PCs.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

As posted above, Xbox is pretty much the only Extender on the market. Ceton Echo has some potentials but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Not to mention it costs more than Xbox 360 but does less.

Although I like my echo thus far, I would not recommend it either until they get a few more things fixed. I think that for the money you'd be better off going with an Xbox as an extender at the present time.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Just to clarify... Xbox 360 as an extender, it does full featured play/pause/rewind live TV, correct?

Freaking amazing biggrin.gif


As far as the different Xbox models go... If i'm primarily getting the Xbox for streaming live and recorded WMC content over the network, not really for storing any recordings, is the bigger hard drive Xbox worth the money, or is the basic 4gb model plenty adequete?


Are there typically any lag issues over wifi? Wiring cat 5 to the second floor would be a huge pain in the fourth point of contact...
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotrodhearse View Post

Just to clarify... Xbox 360 as an extender, it does full featured play/pause/rewind live TV, correct?

Freaking amazing biggrin.gif


As far as the different Xbox models go... If i'm primarily getting the Xbox for streaming live and recorded WMC content over the network, not really for storing any recordings, is the bigger hard drive Xbox worth the money, or is the basic 4gb model plenty adequete?


Are there typically any lag issues over wifi? Wiring cat 5 to the second floor would be a huge pain in the fourth point of contact...

Yes, it does all of that. You do not need the hard drive for the Xbox. The recordings are all stored on the PC, not the Xbox.

If you want everything to work 100% of the time, don't use wi-fi. If you can't run the cat 5 cable, look into powerline or moca adapters.
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