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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello


I've been building my own PCs for years, and have built and used several HTPCs. I always used them as secondary devices though, and never put any real effort into making them user-friendly or intuitive. I'm now in the process of cutting the cord, so I want to create a better, more intuitive experience that my non-techie family can use.


My first thought was to just buy a dedicated DVR media-box, but my existing HTPC is brand new so it seems a waste not to use it. I've researched this and have a good sense of what's out there, but I'm outside my comfort zone and could really use some advice.


Here's what I've done so far:

1) I have an antennae installed and it is receiving free over the air channels

2) I have an up to date HTPC running Windows 7, it has access to Netflix and holds a large library of shows and movies


Here's where I need advice:


Hardware:


1) I will need to install a TV Tuner card. Can I have a TV Tuner card installed alongside the current gaming card?


2) Assuming the answer is yes, do I have to output the TV card separately, or can I use the HDMI out from my gaming card?


3) Is the Hauppauge HVR-2250 card a good choice? I like that it comes with an IR receiver, but if I get this am I locked into WMC? .




Software:


This is where I get lost. It seems like the big players are Windows Media Centre and XBMC. WMC seems easier to set up and use, but it isn't as well supported these days. XBMC seems to have the more active community, but it also seems trickier to set up and maintain. I like to tinker, but I really don't want something that will need constant attention.


Primary usage:


1) receive and display live TV from an OTA antennae


2) Have a channel guide


3) Have standard DVR capabilities


4) Access the internet


5) Access Netflix


6) Access my locally stored media library


7) Play games (ideally through a Steam Big Picture plug-in )


8) usable with a remote ( for TV functions )



A pretty standard wishlist I think. The trick is incorporating all these capabilities into a single interface that's intuitive and stable. That's something I've never done before. I would appreciate any and all advice on this.


Regards,

Greg
 

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When you have a TV card, you're essentially playing a video file, so there's nothing special about the output. Works fine with your current video card, and can be installed right beside it (just make sure you have good air flow to keep both cool). IR receivers work with all apps that support keyboard inputs, so you aren't locked into WMC. I control many apps with my remote (Daum, etc.).


I recommend you start with WMC, and if that doesn't cut it, move on to something else. It will do everything you've indicated, probably even Steam, if you use Relaunch. For internet (and probably Steam), of course you'll want to launch your browser outside of WMC. FWIW, my son tried Steam Big Picture and hated it.


For the best browser experience, use a smartphone keyboard/mouse app or an actual wireless keyboard/mouse (Logitech K400 or similar). IR remote will work fine for your other media control.


Your card is fine, but I personally prefer the HDHomeRun as it has a lot more capabilities, like tuner sharing over network or DLNA, and doesn't take up a slot in your PC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response!


It's good to know there are no potential conflicts with a TV tuner card, and I won't be locked in to a specific media software suite. I've played with WMC and it seems fairly intuitive. XBMC looks like it could be fun once I'm more comfortable with all this.


I researched the HDHomeRun a bit based on your recommendation. If I understand correctly, it is more of a media-streamer, similar to Tablo and Simple.TV. I guess the HDHomeRun accesses my HTPC through the LAN? I'm somewhat nervous of being too dependent on my network, as it can get flaky at times.I like the potential of these devices, but my instinct is still to have an HDMI connection to my primary TV. I'll have to research this further...


As for Steam Big Picture, it's not for every game or everyone. It's still pretty primitive, but it has potential. There are Steam controllers coming that may open it up a bit. Anyway, it's not a priority for me, more of a nice-to-have.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lapard  /t/1524372/advice-needed-use-friendly-htpc/0_100#post_24533568


I researched the HDHomeRun a bit based on your recommendation. If I understand correctly, it is more of a media-streamer, similar to Tablo and Simple.TV.
Not at all. It works just like your Hauppauge, but with the added ability to access a TV tuner from any DLNA device. It has no cloud DVR or guide capability or the ability to stream anything but Live TV. Tablo and Simple TV are full, subscription-based stand-alone DVRs. May as well chuck the PC or get a Tivo if you want to go that route. I'm not recommending anything like that at all. I think both are way overpriced for what little they do.
Quote:
I guess the HDHomeRun accesses my HTPC through the LAN? I'm somewhat nervous of being too dependent on my network, as it can get flaky at times.I like the potential of these devices, but my instinct is still to have an HDMI connection to my primary TV. I'll have to research this further...
If your LAN is flaky, you definitely want to avoid a LAN based tuner then. If you only care about one TV, stick with your Hauppauge.
Quote:
As for Steam Big Picture, it's not for every game or everyone. It's still pretty primitive, but it has potential. There are Steam controllers coming that may open it up a bit. Anyway, it's not a priority for me, more of a nice-to-have.
I think my son just uses on old Xbox controller with Steam. I think the PC interface was $12 or so on Amazon. Probably works on Big Picture too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Working on it. I'll be changing ISPs this month, and getting a new modem and wireless router. Hopefully that will address the main issues. Even so, temporary outages will still happen from time to time. That's why I want at least one TV connection that is independent of my LAN. I have that currently with my antennae setup, and it should still be stable even running through an HTPC. I might lose some capability, but I should still at least be able to watch TV. That's important.


I like messing about with different technologies, but there's so many options for media these days that it can be overwhelming. I want to establish a stable platform first, then have some fun trying other things out later. There are a lot of products that are very interesting, but I haven't yet seen one single product that combines all the features I'm looking for. It's surprising, since what I'm looking for is pretty straight-forward. Heck, I had a homebuilt DVR going in the late-nineties, so it's not a technology issue. I have a couple media players that do a lot of things really well, but have no capacity for live TV. It just seems such a natural combination that someone should have developed a product for it by now. Anyway, enough ranting. Since I can't find something to buy, I'll have a go at building something.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lapard  /t/1524372/advice-needed-use-friendly-htpc#post_24533568


I researched the HDHomeRun a bit based on your recommendation. If I understand correctly, it is more of a media-streamer, similar to Tablo and Simple.TV. I guess the HDHomeRun accesses my HTPC through the LAN? I'm somewhat nervous of being too dependent on my network, as it can get flaky at times.I like the potential of these devices, but my instinct is still to have an HDMI connection to my primary TV. I'll have to research this further...

I had had problems with my HDHomerun on my lan and found that my router was causing the problem. I found that by hooking up my htpc and HDHomerun to a switch, then running them to the rest of the network from the switch that it fixed all my issues.
 
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