Since all the MCE fans have chimed in, here's another perspective
Originally Posted by 27HoursLater /forum/post/18236643
Question 1: I would like to be able to at least have a similar experience to my current setup with the local channels. Specifically, I'd like to be able to view a channel guide (just ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and maybe CW), set the HTPC(s) to record/view future programs (series too), and pause live TV. Are these things possible?
Oh, most definitely, there are a number of ways to build a PVR with a PC, WMC, SageTV, BeyondTV, MythTV, etc.... I record OTA with an HDHR with SageTV, I also record Dish (in HD
) with an HD PVR and an R5000 modded VIP211.
Question 2: Assuming 1 is possible, is there a way to get a "Total Home PVR" type of experience?
Yup, although this is where you may/will start running into potential roadblocks, let me rephrase that, things can get more complicated.
WMC can only do this via extenders, which right now is the Xbox 360.
SageTV can do this both via extenders and software clients running on PCs.
BeyondTV can do this via software clients on PCs.
MythTV, I know has software clients, but I don't think it's got extenders.
I run SageTV on a headless server in the basement, and have an extender at each TV from which I access all my TV and other media.
I could do one of two things: either buy two more HTPCs (I only have two TVs) and put them where my Uverse boxes are now, or buy one HTPC and then use my desktop as my second one since it is not far from my second TV.
If you want to use PCs, that all but rules out WMC IMO. Since as mentioned above there's no integration of WMC systems. The closest you can get is to view the other machine's recordings, but you can't share tuners between them, nor can you schedule recordings between them.
In contrast, the other solutions allow you to run client software on other PCs and get the full interface/experience of the server.
My only issue here is that I'd want to be able to still browse the web (really not a gamer) and use some Office while one or both TVs are operating.
IMO then you really want extenders. They take all the load off the PC and can be used 100% independently of the main PC.
Question 3: This one depends on the answers to the first two. How many channels will I be able to record/view at the same time with a basic tuner card? Are there ways to increase my limits here?
A basic tuner can record 1 thing at a time, but you can add more tuners to record more channels. SageTV supports an unlimited number of tuners for example (I've got 4).
Originally Posted by 27HoursLater /forum/post/18236868
Isn't the Xbox 360 limited to 1080i over component video cables? My TV in the main room is 1080p, and I'd like to do blu-ray on that TV, if possible. I'd at least like to be able to do 1080p blu-ray ripped video, which I don't believe is possible over component video. If it can't do HDMI like I suspect, are there options to do which with an HTPC and not an xbox 360?
You can with an HTPC but it gets rather messy IMO. I play my BD rips via my SageTV extenders, 1080p24 over component or HDMI.
Let's say the 360 is the best option and I go with it. Just to make sure I have this right, I would be able to use that living room TV & Xbox 360 to set up recordings that could be watched later on both TVs, watch/pause live TV, and watch movies that are stored on the main computer, correct?
Yup. Or the same with SageTV extenders.
As for the tuner, will I need one tuner for each channel I want to simultaneously record/watch? What if - by some ridiculous coincidence - I wanted to record all 4 major broadcasters at the same time... do I need one card with 4 tuners? Two cards with two tuners? I'd probably prefer to just install the max now so that I don't have to worry about upgrading later, but I would like to know.
You're right, but I think most people overestimate the number of simultaneous tuners they need.
Finally, with this setup, I'm assuming that I only need to run the coax from the antenna to the main computer, and then wireless to the 360, correct?
Avoid wireless if at all possible, it's just not reliable enough for video IMO. As a last resort, you might be able to get 802.11n to work, if you're lucky. You're best off with wired ethernet.
Originally Posted by mike_311 /forum/post/18238029
actually you will find you watch less tv in general.
Maybe, I had a somewhat different experience. I think I found more stuff to watch with a good PVR since it doesn't matter when stuff airs. I may have the TV "on" less, but when I watch, it's better quality stuff since it's stuff I actually wanted to see.
But i digress. The xbox works great, setup is a sinch, and i can access the guide on the main htpc or watch tv through it. i can schedule recoding from either. Not sure if i can pause and pick up in another room, i haven't tried it.
Unfortunately you run into it's limitations very fast if you want to go beyond watching TV.
unfortunately you can't access the guide from another pc, why microsoft still has yet to allow this is beyond me, my guess its coming in win8.
Wasn't that coming in Vista? And then 7? Frankly I would be probably less surprised to see WMC dropped all together from the next Windows than I would be to see Softsled finally see the light of day. They just seem collectively unable to grasp simple concepts, like WHS being absolutely ideal for a recording backend.
any option you choose is going to be flawed in some way, you just need to figure out what you have to have and what you can live without.
That is true, unfortunate as it may be. Personally though I find SageTV and extenders to be the least limiting/flawed, and there's a lot of interesting things going on in that community. Like a MyMovies port, Playon (Hulu/Netflix integration).... Plus full DVD and limited BD support on extenders.