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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am a heavy user of HTPC.
My media consumption is spent around 80% in WMCE, 10% in browser (youtube or some other alternative) and 10% of actual cable's box recorded PVR content.

I use HTPC/WMCE for watching movies, TV shows, listening of local radio, watching TV (and recording it through wmce PVR).
I also use 2 extenders to get tv in bedrooms (thats the only way TV is broadcasted in bedrooms)

Btw. this is the only Windows box in my household. I have been running Vista and then Windows 7 last 7-8 years (whenever Vista came out).
Hardware I am running is Q6600 with 4GB of RAM and hauppage 150MCE card. I also have hackintosh (my main production machine), iMac and Linux Mint laptop.

If my cable provider didn't cut most of it's analog channels or I wasn't ever exposed to HD TV, I would keep this setup forever.
Or if MS decided to support HD TV decoding / input I would keep WMC as my TV front end.
Since this is not true, I need to figure out what to do next.

Right now I have composite TV coming into HTPC and IR extender which changes channels on my motorola tv box.
I also have HD PVR which bypasses PC completely.

I also have all available OTA channels (6 HD local TV stations) coming down from my attic in my basement. My TV tuner doesn't support digital TV so I might have to add a new ones.
I have Asus My Cinema-P7131 which was given to me and manual says it supports digital TV (not sure if HD will be supported by Windows ?). I have never tried it.
I also believe MS does not provide EPG for OTA channels in Canada.
(Anyone to confirm this as well ?)

So anyone still current in HTPC game to help me choose way forward ?
As I said I would keep on going forward with same setup if there was way of adding HD TV input to HTPC (either through RGB video in or local OTA decoding + EPG). I am actually debating on cancelling cable sub since it's not worth money I spend. I would sign up for NBA league pass or some alternative content provider + Netflix and I would be set.

So, what would you suggest ?
I am interested in live HD TV (w guide) + video/photo/music library front end similar to WMC or plex.

WMCE does show it's age with bad Netflix client, no ability to incorporate YouTube, no movie tagging in it's video library etc...
I like how Plex works, but it doesn't have much of TV capabilities.
I have never tried XBMC, I heard it can download file's subtitles automatically which is great since I watch a lot foreign movies.

I forgot to add - I use Harmony remote to control everything and I also use dinovo mini keyboard for rare occurrences I look for subtitle or need to go to YouTube.

My HTPC is located in my furnace room and with it's 9500GT dual DVI outputting 2x DVI to HDMI video to 2 different TVs (both Samsungs, and both times connected to HDMI 1 (DVI/HDMI))
Audio is coaxial split to 2 different amplifiers.

What would you suggest me ?
 

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If my cable provider didn't cut most of it's analog channels or I wasn't ever exposed to HD TV, I would keep this setup forever.
Or if MS decided to support HD TV decoding / input I would keep WMC as my TV front end.
Since this is not true, I need to figure out what to do next.
I'm not sure what you're talking about, there's lots of HD tuners for WMC. Silicondust, Ceton, Hauppauge. I'd venture that most people here are recording in HD.

I really think you need to spend some time reading the forums, I think all your questions are already answered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not sure what you're talking about, there's lots of HD tuners for WMC. Silicondust, Ceton, Hauppauge. I'd venture that most people here are recording in HD.

I really think you need to spend some time reading the forums, I think all your questions are already answered.
I thought WMC does not support RGB HD input ?
Is that true ?
Thats how I remember it being when I set up my HTPC.
In case I can get HD signal from my cable's box into HTPC through it's analog hd outputs, then I am really mistaken.

Please someone confirm.
I will go and buy hw today.

Ceton is not supported by TV providers in Canada. No one is giving out cards, they are pushing their own boxes.

As for HD OTA - as I said, as far as I know, there is no guide data, which means there is no (useful) PVR.
 

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In Canada you're basically screwed, yeah. We don't have Cablecard here so the only thing you can get with HD tuners is OTA/ASTC channels which in most places you can only get like 3-6 channels and as you say guide data is iffy.


I'd forget about WMC for TV. I stopped using it back with MCE2005 (XP) because exactly what you said, there's no point trying to use it for HD over here. You're pretty much stuck with cable/sat companies' boxes (in most cases Rogers or Bell) for HDTV. That and internet/streaming services if you want to "cut the cable".


I dunno about where you are but Rogers in the GTA has now completely removed unencrypted and analog channels from their cable. If you turn on a TV without a box all you get is a channel with "the aquarium" lol with a message telling you that you need a box.
 

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I thought WMC does not support RGB HD input ?
Is that true ?
Thats how I remember it being when I set up my HTPC.
In case I can get HD signal from my cable's box into HTPC through it's analog hd outputs, then I am really mistaken.

Please someone confirm.
I will go and buy hw today.

Ceton is not supported by TV providers in Canada. No one is giving out cards, they are pushing their own boxes.

As for HD OTA - as I said, as far as I know, there is no guide data, which means there is no (useful) PVR.
Ah, Canada. You might want to hold out for SageTV to be Open Sourced. It support the Hauppauge HD PVR and Colossus, which support YPbPr (I don't think anything outputs RGB these days) or HDMI (unencrypted) HD capture. And I think provides guide data for Canada. Even if not it supports plugins/xmltv for guide data.

NextPVR would probably work too.
 

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^IMO it's not worth the money for the few OTA channels you can get, but that's up to OP to decide. A friend of mine tried like 5 different antennas for OTA channels (not for PC/recording use just for reception) and I think he eventually got one that gives him 6 channels I think it was.


Personally I wouldn't bother spending ~$150 or so to record just a few channels when you can just put that money towards buying/renting the provider's box and record anything. I know it sucks but because the monopoly up here is strong, there's not much else you can do.


As for recording from HDMI out of a box, I'm not sure if that would work or not but I'm willing to bet the Canadian companies have all blocked/protected that as well, the SOBs :mad: I'm sure you can find the info on digitalhome.ca forums if you're thinking of doing that though.
 

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Just a small comment, but I did have Canadian TV (ShawDirect) a couple of years ago. You can definitely record in HD using a HD PVRor a Colossus as Stanger mentioned. The HD PVR worked best in Sage, whereas the Colossuswas working better in WMC.
All of this SW is a bit dated these days, but it workedgreat ~5 years ago, including getting guide data (and even mixing with local USOTA stations…)
 

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^IMO it's not worth the money for the few OTA channels you can get, but that's up to OP to decide. A friend of mine tried like 5 different antennas for OTA channels (not for PC/recording use just for reception) and I think he eventually got one that gives him 6 channels I think it was.


Personally I wouldn't bother spending ~$150 or so to record just a few channels when you can just put that money towards buying/renting the provider's box and record anything. I know it sucks but because the monopoly up here is strong, there's not much else you can do.
There's no provider to rent a box from for OTA. And if you don't watch what's on non-OTA channels, why would you pay for cable?
 

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As I said I would keep on going forward with same setup if there was way of adding HD TV input to HTPC (either through RGB video in or local OTA decoding + EPG). I am actually debating on cancelling cable sub since it's not worth money I spend. I would sign up for NBA league pass or some alternative content provider + Netflix and I would be set.
Keep this option open even if you stick with cable for now. If HBO GO is commercially successful in breaking out from under the cable companies' thumb, I suspect many other content producers will follow. From an HTPC perspective, that's going to create a balkanized mess, with basketball in one app, football in another, HBO in this, Netflix in that, Showtime here, plain-old-TV there.

I think the 3-5 year future of HTPC will be ChromeOS. All of the providers are going to create their own Android app, and that's going to be the common denominator that's easiest to tweak. Chrome will be the path of least resistance for wrangling all of those different sources into a single, consistent UI.
 

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There's no provider to rent a box from for OTA. And if you don't watch what's on non-OTA channels, why would you pay for cable?
Well yeah but in that case you probably don't watch much TV though given you're probably only getting like three or four channels. In that case why do you need to record anything? You're probably not that interested in TV to begin with.


Personally...I don't even watch much TV but 90% of what I do watch is on cable channels, not available as OTA anyway. I have a PVR and 1TB HDD connected to it, so I can record quite a bit. I do miss the good ol' SD days when I needed no box and could use a PC/MCE to record shows. However it's just not very feasible anymore and hasn't been for years; and has never been for HDTV where I live.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone for all ideas.

My biggest problem is that I really like system I had. It was all compact centralized, one interface and easy to control.

I don't want to think about future where I am going to need one box per provider.

I am in Calgary and we get 6 HD OTA. My $6 rabbit ear antenna gets them all in attic.
I don't consume any live TV (beside basketball and tenis) so OTA can work great for me. I do have Shaw sub and I usually use STB video out into hauppage MCE 150. Works great (-) HD.
Now I tried running analog directly to the card and I see there is 21 channel 2-22 and then some in 120+ range.

Another curved ball I discovered is that Netflix app shows up in WMCE only if you setup your region for USA. Thats the problem since I lose all guide.

Too bad MS stopped developing the best app they ever created.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
And SiliconDust looks like something I would really make a use of. It would pay itself back in 2 to 3 months with cable cancellation.

I don't think I can find it in CA but first chance I get to walk in US Walmart Im buying it.
 

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And SiliconDust looks like something I would really make a use of. It would pay itself back in 2 to 3 months with cable cancellation.

I don't think I can find it in CA but first chance I get to walk in US Walmart Im buying it.
I don't think they are sold at Walmart. But, TigerDirect has them, as well as NCIX, I believe.
 

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If you purchase one of the HDHomeRun boxes, then to complement that you could also purchase an inexpensive Raspberry Pi2 and install a PVR backend on it and have a stand alone DVR solution with 14 days of guide data.
 

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None. Netflix in WMC is terrible. I use other devices to play Netflix. In my bedroom, I use a Roku 3. In my living room and game room, I use my PS3. If you have a stand-alone BD player, it probably has a much better Netflix player than WMC has.
 

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If you have a stand-alone BD player, it probably has a much better Netflix player than WMC has.
My brother in law has a bottom-of-the-line Samsung BD player. It streams ac3 (I think) and up to 1080, making it's quality better than Netflix-WMC (silverlight) for sure. All that being said, my gawd does it suck at moving around through the menus :eek: I'd take a snappier performance, but then again I don't use netflix at all (personally)
 

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Kodi is supposed to be good now but I have never used it. Apparently it is designed for Windows but also works on Linux ok, unless I got that completely wrong. I investigated it for hardware decoded playback with Core2 cpu under Linux and did not like what I saw so I stayed with MythTV but that was probably a revision or two ago.

Hauppauge makes/made a component input PVR and MythTV works really well on Linux with it, but you might need to get a new IR emitter to control your cable box. The advantage is you can record anything you want as long as you have component, but you are pretty much stuck with whatever hardware encoding or frame capture the PVR does unless you want to transcode everything and that will cost you quality.

HD Homerun also works very well with Myth as do many other tuners/capture devices but the setup is subject to all the idiosyncracies of open source and it can be challenging to figure it all out the first time.

The scripting for automatic search and recording from the guide also works very well and it has automated commercial skip that seems pretty good most of the time. I am not sure about your program guide though, I was using it for OTA only and in USA.

There are also background scripts to automatically transcode a program during or after capture, with or without deleting the original at your discretion. If you set it up properly you can also manually mark all the commercials and it will skip right over them while it transcodes, but the last time I used it the commercial skip only worked with the native Nuppel file format and did not work with Handbrake. Not sure if it works with Mplayer.

My Myth system crashed a disk and I updated the OS, and that is another issue. The database is in MySQL and the file names of the recordings are all encoded as numbers. When updating the OS the version of the MySQL changes and you have to back up your database in the old OS so you can import it into the new OS. It seems to work OK the couple of times I used it but this time the hurdle of doing all the setup on Linux is just so high I just went to Netflix for now.

Another thing with MythTV is you can configure multiple backends controlling multiple tuners so if you have several things to do simultaneously you can allocate tuners and disks through one interface and direct which device a given search will record to. You also get better operating bandwidth and more simultaneous recording capacity because you install the backends on separate PCs.

Additional advantage of the PVR composite input is you can also record any other HD including your Netflix etc. but of course the de/redigitization into 1080i will cost you quality, especially if the hardware encoding you use is MPEG2 or something inefficient like that and space/bandwidth is an issue preventing direct frame capture.

If you need to you can also use the IR to switch inputs on your receiver and get access to more than one component out device.

With your cable box can you output the digital RF to your TV and get decoded signal? If so you should just be able to install a digital input tuner in your existing HTPC and pick up where you left off but you still need to control the cable box with IR emitter to tune in the station you want.

For OTA at least here in US you can tune in one frequency and record all the subchannels simultaneously with MythTV. That can also be an advantage. Works automatically and will even make intelligent decisions which frequency to tune in if a program is on more than one channel but the second/third etc. program is on only one channel. Plus you can easily configure overrides on all the searches if you see a conflict in the allocation of tuners and you can specify season, titles, episodes, resolution (if there are multiple resolutions being broadcast) etc, Myth is really flexible.

There used to be a program guide subscription available real affordably including OTA and maybe cable but last I heard it was shut down and the screen-scraping algorithm it used was a little unreliable.

Sorry, not expert in this, just middling meddler.
 
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