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Discussion Starter #1
I think I have been doing so much research, I am starting to get myself confused, hopefully you guys can help me out.

First, I was trying to get rid of cable totally. Most of what my wife watches in available OTA. So I bought a Roku 3 to try out and had a free 1 month to Hulu Plus. The wife never tried it out.... I also discovered that some "must have" channels are ONLY available with cable (Hallmark, etc). So for happy wife, no cable was a no go.

So, if I am stuck with cable, at least I would like to get rid of having to rent $50 or so a month in equipment. This is what I am trying to achieve:

Cable box like experience with DVR capability for all TV's (like I have now). The wife pretty much DVR's everything. Starts in the living room, finishes in the bedroom. She also will have a show recording while watching another, or start a DVR'ed show that is still recording and eventually catch up to live TV since she skips commercials. Also need to be able to watch live TV at times.

So this is where I need the help. I think I know what to do, but not quite there yet. I currently have 2 Roku 3 boxes which will serve as the media extender to the TV's. I also picked up a HDHR Prime so I can get a cablecard and tune in cable.

Where I am stumbling is getting the cable signal (live and recorded) to the Rokus and figuring out a DVR. I *think* I can get an Intel NUC with i3 processor, add the RAM (8 GB) and a SSD hard drive, and use Windows Media Center (seems the most plug and play option) for tuning, recording, etc. I figure I will also need an external HDD for storing the DVR files (a larger size SSD seems cost prohibitive still). But then I keep reading about transcoding. I will be switching to Verizon Fios (currently on Comcast), which uses mpeg 2 and 4, and i understand that the Roku only does mpeg 4. Also, I think I read that WMC has its own file type for recorded shows.

So how do I put all this mess together and get it to my TV's? Do I also need Plex to be able to transcode for the Rokus, and can it do it on the fly while recording or watching live TV? Just not sure how to bring it all together.

Any help is appreciated. I think I have been researching and I seem to be going in circles.

Thanks,
Neil
 

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You will not be able to use the Rokus as extenders for WMC to view content that is flagged copy-once or copy-never. WMC is the only program that works with a cablecard tuner to view copy-once and copy-never content. Most comcast channels that are not available OTA are flagged copy-once or copy-never in my area. The only WMC extenders are the Xbox 360 and the Ceton Echo. You will also need a computer running WMC for the extenders to connect to.

In my current setup I have a Windows 7 Media Sever with a Ceton Infintv 4 and (2) Xbox 360 running as extenders. Both the Xbox 360s are hard wired with cat6. I recently upgraded my OS hard drive from a WD green 1TB to a Crucial MX100 256GB SSD and have noticed a dramatic difference in the speed at which WMC loads on the Xbox 360s and how quickly the UI responds.

I believe you would be able to satisfy your Wife's requirements with a system similar to mine. The difference I saw between the Xbox 360 and the Ceton Echo as extenders were that the Xbox 360 had access to streaming apps like HBO Go, Netflix, and Comcast On-Demand. You will need an Xbox Gold membership to uses these apps though. The Ceton Echo is smaller and uses less power. I think they are running about the same price now.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, that kinda sucks then. I have 2 Roku paper weights now if I can't use them as extenders. I was going based off of my research, part of which was here:

http://mediaputer.com/guides/2014/06/stream-live-tv-media-browser-serverwmc/

Using a few software/hardware items, live TV could be viewed through WMC on a Roku. The Ceton Echos are almost twice as much as a Roku (as are XBox 360's).

We don't do any streaming content (I tried to get it to fly with the wife, but without out some channels/programs, streaming is worthless for me).

And I am guessing that you can't tell which programs are copy once or copy freely until you actually go and watch the program and find that you can't view it?

So confused....

Thank You,
Neil
 

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You can watch live TV through a cablecard tuner through a Roku using EMBY (Media Browser). However, the experience leaves a lot to be desired. It is true that a Roku isn't a WMC Extender, but it can be an EMBY client.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You can watch live TV through a cablecard tuner through a Roku using EMBY (Media Browser). However, the experience leaves a lot to be desired. It is true that a Roku isn't a WMC Extender, but it can be an EMBY client.
What is it that leaves a lot to be desired? Access speed, picture quality, etc?

Thanks,
Neil
 

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What is it that leaves a lot to be desired? Access speed, picture quality, etc?

Thanks,
Neil
Speed, guide, setting recordings of shows and series. For WMC it is hard to beat a cheap Xbox 360 Slim. You don't need a HDD and can buy one used pretty cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So, the XBox 360's are a better bet. But I already have 2 Rokus :( I also liked the rokus for other reasons (small, low power consumption, some free channels that I watch or listen to.
 

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I use a Roku 3 also. If your cable content isn't copy-once (mine isn't), you can use Emby or Plex for playing back recordings. Also, Emby and Plex have methods to play back live TV on the Roku 3, but they aren't ideal as stated above since there is no guide. Currently, I have found the Plex Live TV option to be better than Emby's Live TV, but that may change. I like Emby better for everything else.

So, what I've done is I took the XBOX out of the bedroom and replaced it with the Roku 3. We only watch one live TV channel in the morning, for news, and even then that might only be 2-4 times a month. In all other rooms, I use XBOXs as extenders so that we and guests have a real TV guide and such.

Keep in mind for ANY of this to work, you'll need a PC running WMC (Windows 7 works best IMO) and Plex server and/or Emby server. And if you are using Emby for the live TV, you will also need ServerWMC on the box. Your NUC solution should work, as long as you don't get too many people streaming off it at once.
 

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There are Media Browser3 and Plex apps for Roku. However, Plex does not have PVR capabilities built-in and, AFAIK, can only be used to play back complete files. So, you would only be able to use it to watch a show that has already finished recording. No live TV and no starting a show that is still in the process of recording. I think Media Browser 3 has the ability to act as a front end for several different types of PVR backends (similar to XBMC/Kodi) and serverWMC may be among those it supports, but it's been a while since I checked it out. Jriver also has the ability to integrate Live TV but I don't think there is a way to stream the shows to a Roku from it. Same with Mediaportal. NextPVR, SageTV, etc. all require PC-like clients.

How many TV's do you really need to have access to Live/Recording-in-progress content? If you can live with just two TV's having this sort of access and the rest used solely for recordings that are already complete then it would make things cheaper and easier. Your main TV doesn't need an extender as it can be attached directly to the PC that is running the PVR software, making it both your server and a client. So, you would only need one extender capable of viewing Live TV. If you go with WMC as your PVR then a single Xbox360 could be used. For the rest of your TV's, you could use the Rokus that you already have, running either MB3 or Plex. You would just need to set up an MB3 or Plex server to do it which, if it has a decent amount of muscle, could be the same PC you are using as your WMC server.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I use a Roku 3 also. If your cable content isn't copy-once (mine isn't), you can use Emby or Plex for playing back recordings. Also, Emby and Plex have methods to play back live TV on the Roku 3, but they aren't ideal as stated above since there is no guide. Currently, I have found the Plex Live TV option to be better than Emby's Live TV, but that may change. I like Emby better for everything else.
So how can you know if something is labelled copy-once? I have Comcast, but will be switching to Fios as soon as I can get all of this figured out.

Thanks,
Neil
 

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Discussion Starter #12
How many TV's do you really need to have access to Live/Recording-in-progress content? If you can live with just two TV's having this sort of access and the rest used solely for recordings that are already complete then it would make things cheaper and easier. Your main TV doesn't need an extender as it can be attached directly to the PC that is running the PVR software, making it both your server and a client. So, you would only need one extender capable of viewing Live TV. If you go with WMC as your PVR then a single Xbox360 could be used. For the rest of your TV's, you could use the Rokus that you already have, running either MB3 or Plex. You would just need to set up an MB3 or Plex server to do it which, if it has a decent amount of muscle, could be the same PC you are using as your WMC server.
Two TV's would need the Live/Recording in progress capability, the Living Room (main TV) and bedroom. I have a 3rd TV in the office/guest room which rarely gets used. A fourth TV is in my home theater. I don't have any TV hooked up to it now, strictly watch DVD's and play PS3 games on there with my son.

So based on the above, I think I will return the 2nd Roku. I'll see if I can pick up a cheap XBox 360 (maybe Gamestop or Craigslist) to use in the bedroom as an extender. I'll hook up the NUC directly to the main Living Room TV. I can move the Roku that I have to the office (probably won't get used much, but may configure it for live TV in case of guests using MB3).

Thank you so so much for all of the help.

Last question, opinions on using an external HDD for storing the DVR files? I'll get a 120 gb SSD for the NUC, which I understand will help boot up speed, etc.

Thank You,
Neil
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Oh, and can the external HDD be located elsewhere on my home network, or should it be connected directly to the NUC? Don't think I can afford a "true" NAS, if that makes a difference.
 

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Oh, and can the external HDD be located elsewhere on my home network, or should it be connected directly to the NUC? Don't think I can afford a "true" NAS, if that makes a difference.
The files can be stored wherever you want, so long as your server has access to them. Using internal storage or a USB-connected external hard drive would be the most reliable option. A NAS/second PC hard wired to your router, which is also hard wired to your server, would be the next best. A NAS/second PC which is connected via. WiFi is the least reliable option. It usually works, but you're creating more WiFi traffic that way.
 

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The only channels on FiOS that are copy-once are the ones like HBO, Showtime, etc.


There is a program that comes with the HDHR called HDHomeRun Config (GUI). You can click the device, then click Channel Lineup, and if the channel is copy-once, it will have a little DRM next to it.


The hard drive can be in another room, but it has to be served-up somehow. Another computer, router with sharing capabilities, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
The files can be stored wherever you want, so long as your server has access to them. Using internal storage or a USB-connected external hard drive would be the most reliable option. A NAS/second PC hard wired to your router, which is also hard wired to your server, would be the next best. A NAS/second PC which is connected via. WiFi is the least reliable option. It usually works, but you're creating more WiFi traffic that way.
I'll just connect the external HDD directly to the NUC. IIRC, the NUC has USB 3.0 connections. My wifi is pretty bad since I live in a 4 story townhouse. Doesn't reliably reach all floors, so I have a few powerline ethernet adapters. Works great for when I am playing on the laptop in bed, so I'll be using them for ethernet connectivity as well near the TV's.

Thanks,
Neil
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The only channels on FiOS that are copy-once are the ones like HBO, Showtime, etc.


There is a program that comes with the HDHR called HDHomeRun Config (GUI). You can click the device, then click Channel Lineup, and if the channel is copy-once, it will have a little DRM next to it.


The hard drive can be in another room, but it has to be served-up somehow. Another computer, router with sharing capabilities, etc.
Probably won't be getting the premium channels, so hopefully if those are the only ones that are copy once, I should be good to go.

Now to find an XBox 360 Slim.... seems like all the retail options are bundled with games or 250 GB versions, which is gets pricey for just being a set top box.

Thanks,
Neil
 

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Look at Gamestop, I got mine late last year for $99 on a sale. Even picked up a white one, because it went better with our bedroom furniture.


If you go to Craigslist (which I won't do), you can even get one with a broken DVD player if you don't care. I've never put anything in any of mine (I have 3) so it wouldn't have mattered. We game on PS3, the XBOXes are just for TV. I have them configured to boot straight to WMC.
 

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Probably won't be getting the premium channels, so hopefully if those are the only ones that are copy once, I should be good to go.

Now to find an XBox 360 Slim.... seems like all the retail options are bundled with games or 250 GB versions, which is gets pricey for just being a set top box.

Thanks,
Neil
Don't buy a new Xbox. Any one will do, even one with a broken DVD drive and no hard drive and no controllers. Try CL, ebay or GameStop. Those will be a $100 or less. I've even gotten a few for $20. I personally use Echoes since they are small, quiet and efficient like Rokus. But you either love them or hate them. Most on this board hate them.

Once you get WMC up and running, the main info screen for each recording will also say "Copy Protected" at the bottom if they are copy once. Moot point if you go the Xbox or Echo route since those can play all recordings regardless.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I may look in to the Ceton Echo. The XBox seems to use a lot of power even on idle. May not be an issue if I use it only in the bedroom IF (and that is a big if) the wife remembers to turn it off. I find the cable box on half the time now with the TV off.....
 
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