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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi


I'm trying to put together my first HTPC, so after some research and a lot of help by reading this forum, I think using HDHomeRun as a TV tuner is the way to go for me.


Now the issue is that I will be using one single computer running Win7 with Media Center, that pc will be controlled by a least 3 TVs in different rooms.


Each family member watching those TVs could be demanding different over the air content at the same time from that single computer. (Recording shows, watching prerecorded shows or just watching over the air live content.).


My idea is to buy 3 HDHomeRun double TV tuner devices, so I can end up with 6 TV tuner running at the same time to accommodate to the three TVs.


Can this be done? Can I have 3 HDHomeRun double tuner devices connected to my network and working for a single computer at the same time?


Is this the best way to do it? or maybe should I stay away from HDHomeRun and buy regular PC TV tuner cards or video cards with built in TV tuners?


Sorry for extending the question and thanks in advanced



Alex
 

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I would start to question the stability of that setup. Technically, the ATSC specs says 19.4Mbps for broadcast HD. Although few shows use this much (and I don’t know how certain programs work with the HDhomerun, but if the HDhomerun doesn’t strip null packets before sending the info on to the computer, then each stream would be sending the full 19.4Mbps all the time, even if the underlying TV show is only 7Mbps with 12.4Mbps full of null packets) it could occur that you run out of network.


Anyway, if my calculator is working right, 6 19.4Mbps streams adds up to about 116Mbps which is over what a 100Mbps connection can handle even if it could work at theoretical max bandwidth (which it won’t.) If you have gigabit from the switch/router to the PC, then it should work.


Wired networks are full duplex so streams coming out of the PC shouldn’t affect the amount that can come in, but keep in mind if there is ever going to be times when you want to transfer data to the HTPC from another computer on the network, it will have to wait for those tuners to send their data too.


I know everybody loves the HDhomeruns around here, and they do offer some unique features, but keep in mind that there are other alternatives. Personally, I have 4 USB tuners all plugged into a USB hub. (They were cheaper than 2 HDhomeruns too.)


More importantly, how do you plan to run 3 TVs off the one computer?


-Suntan
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks a lot got the detailed and informative reply Suntan.


WOW, You just gave me a lot of issues to think about, I didn't even know they existed lol.


Let me start by saying that my ignorance in bandwidth and it's limitation is so limited, that I though that one should only care about bandwidth when using the internet and not when transferring data from computer to computer within your network.


So you mentioned a solution to my bandwidth issue and is a "gigabit from the switch/router to the PC". What is a gigabit? Some router like device I buy and connect between my ethernet card in the PC and the router?


Suntan about HDHomeRun, I don't need to use it, if you think buying USB TV tuner works the same and is cheaper I go for it. What it attracted me from the HDHomeRun is that I like the idea of having the TV Tuner separated from the PC, so if I have to upgrade PC on the future I don't need to worry about reinstalling the Tuners and drivers in the new PC.


So what should I do?
Buy that gigabit thing, and go for USB TV tuners that will be connected on the network as well but not straight in to the PC?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the z_zk_z,


I was thinking buying 3 used XBOX 360. I'm not going to play games so they will be only Media Center Extender.


I'm on the research stage at this point, so any other suggestions will be appreciated?


TV 1 is on the living room, TV 2 is on the kitchen and TV3 is on the basement.
 

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To clarify, you cannot feed multiple, different, video streams from a single PC. This means you cannot feed seperate channels to multiple TVs at the same time, though you could send the same video signal to all TVs at the same time (but they'd all be watching the same thing).


To do what you're seeking - basically a HTPC server with front ends at each TV, you'd have to do something like a Win7 Media Center PC at 1 TV and then run 2 Xbox 360s as Media Center extenders at the other two TVs. This will allow you to access all recorded shows off the PC on any TV and also use any tuner connected to the PC (If you had 4 tuners connected to the PC, you could watch 3 channels and record a 4th).


I'll let Suntan explain other software alternatives
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks for the reply jrwalte,


I guess we were typing at the same time, I will be using 3 xbox 360 to achieve this. Now I read some where that Media center only accept 4 Tuners, I was planning to have like 6, but I guess that is out of the question.


I can't control the HTPC from any of the TVs because the HTPC will be like 50 meters away from the closest TV.
 

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As mentioned above, look at SageTV if you want to have a single computer store all your TV recordings and have access to it from other TVs (via other computers or extenders) around the house.


The 360s work, but they have limitations that make them less desirable from a dedicated TV DVR standpoint (unless you also plan to play games on them.) Namely, they have less flexibility in what you can do with the recorded files, the ability to integrate/serve DVD rips to your other TVs, and they sound like hairdryers sitting next to your TV.


Here is a thread I wrote before about some of the ways you can setup a Sage system in your home:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...6#post18121826


And their website:

www.sagetv.com


As for the question of getting HDHomeruns vs. other tuners, it's up to you. Personally, I wouldn't want to use up 3 of my network connections with tuners when a $15 powered USB hub can be plugged directly into the back of the PC. But it depends on your setup. Do you just want the tuners to not be in your computer, or do you want them to be in another part of the house entirely? (by your network router/switch)


I currently use VBox 3560 USB tuners, which I know to work well with SageTV and BeyondTV. I don't know how well they work with Windows media center or other DVR solutions. Further, they are a relatively old model and are getting harder to find. There are a lot of USB tuners on the market now, but I have no knowledge of other ones. Sage has a listing of the ones that are known to work well with their system. I'm sure BeyondTV and windows have similar listings on their sites.


-Suntan
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks again for the reply Suntan



After reading your detailed thread about the segaTV, I understood that you need to have sever computer somewhere on the house, plus a client computer beside each TV, that is not quite what I want.


If is possible I just want to have a single HTPC, and some extender to access each TVs. I just find that buying a media extender or client for MCenter will run me like under 100 bucks for used ones, now with a 100 bucks I can't buy a decent client PC for the segaTV.


About the tuners, I will have my HTPC, receiver, blue ray player, xbox 360s, Router and tuners, away from all the 3 TVs in an small closet like 50 feet from the closest TV. I already ordered the IR extender for each TV and will be running HDMI, Optical and ethernet cable for the IR extender to each TV (Inside the Walls). So I'm planning no to have nothing around the TV other than the speakers hanging on the wall. I want to have a single remote control for each TV and not PC, keyboard or mouse hanging around.


Suntan sorry but my knowledge of all this is quite limited, I didn't quite understood about the lack of flexibility or limitations with the recorded files using MC vs SegaTV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan /forum/post/18154602


they have less flexibility in what you can do with the recorded files, the ability to integrate/serve DVD rips to your other TVs, and they sound like hairdryers sitting next to your TV.
 

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SageTV sells extenders to work with their server close to or around $200 I believe. But you also have to pay for licensing fees for the server which reach over $100, whereas Media Center is included in your OS.


If only using these extenders for TV viewing and DVR functionality, then there is no limitation. You'll run into issues when you want to watch dvds stored on your server or other formats of videos (mkv). The 360 isn't so 'plug and play' when it comes to playing other formats besides mpeg2 (which is what TV is recorded in), though not impossible to get working.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the reply jrwalte,


Oh I see, I'm planning to load into the HTPC a library of blue ray movies and I will play those one with MC, I don't even know in what format I should loaded into the PC as. I know a friend "Saldo" that plays his HD movies using MC in his TV.



Plus jrwalte, with SegaTV you say I have to pay for licensing fees? I'm planing to record OTA HD shows, what I will be paying for? to use their software? This whole thing for me is not to pay any more the monthly fees to my local cable company. I wasn't planning to be paying monthly fees to any one else.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrwalte /forum/post/18155002


SageTV sells extenders to work with their server close to or around $200 I believe. But you also have to pay for licensing fees for the server which reach over $100, whereas Media Center is included in your OS.

Sage extenders cost $180.


You can buy a bundle with one extender *and* a license of Sage for $225.


The sage software by itself costs $80.


The main advantage of Sage extenders over windows with 360s as extenders is that in addition to DVR capability you can run DVD rips with full menu support, BR rips with main feature playback. Further, if you have a copy of AnyDVD or DVD43, you can put the disc in the computer drive and play the DVDs/Blu ray discs directly on the extender even though it is in the other room. In addition, if you want to, you can use placeshifter to access your Sage server from the internet. So you can access and watch your shows even if you are away from home. Lastly, overall Sage has better support for more types of file formats whereas Windows actively tries to keep you from using most types of file formats, so you are forced to transcode the video which increases server workload while reducing picture quality.


To my knowledge, Sage does not have a limit of 4 tuners


However, if cost is your main objective, you can find 360s for $100, don’t mind the noise and don’t need the added flexibility, Windows might be the better choice for you.


-Suntan
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the reply Suntan,


Sorry for my ignorance about all this again, but just to make sure I understood, you can buy a

Quote:
bundle with one extender *and* a license of Sage for $225.

What is the bundle? the software to run in your HTPC and one extender (Hardware box of some type to put beside the TV)?


So I could play all kind of file extensions, and when you mean a license this means a license to buy a software not a monthly fee for using their system?


About the noise I don't really care because the HTPC is going to be far away from any TV. But with the Sega I need to have a main HTPC any way right?
 

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That HD Theater is the extender I was talking about. It has limited functionality all by itself (plug a USB hard drive into the port on the side and it will play video files, etc.)


However, when you attach it to a network that also has a computer running the Sage server software (and has some tuners hooked to it) the HD Theater talks to the Sage server and you get full DVR capability, etc. So technically you can use it without needing a PC, but you will not get full functionality out of it without having a PC running the server software somewhere on the network.


The idea would be that when you want full DVR capability, you turn on the computer running Sage. If you just want to watch a video that is on a USB drive, you can plug it in directly to the extender and do not have to turn on the PC.


The Bundle deal is for an extender (HD Theater) and a full copy of SageTV (which includes the ability to run the HTPC attached to a TV as a complete, stand alone DVR system *and* the server functionality that allows you to run multiple extenders around the house.) There is no monthly fee for Sage, TV show lineup updates (EPG data) are free.


This is the link to the bundle:

http://store.sagetv.com/mm5/merchant...tegory_Code=HD


If you have an old/existing computer, you can run the server software on it in the background (the server/TV recording functions requires very little resources.) You wouldn’t have to setup a dedicated computer to act as the server. You can just add the tuners (and probably add one or more large, dedicated HDDs to store your rips/tv recordings) and you’re good to go. As long as the server PC is running (even tucked away in the basement with no monitor hooked to it) the extenders will operate like full featured DVR machines.


-Suntan
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the clarification Suntan.


I actually just finished talking to my friend and he correct me that when I went to his place and he played the Blue Rays files from his PC's hard drive, was using windows media player but by passing XBOX 360 and connecting his PC straight into his TV, because he have issues playing blue ray from his PC via XBOX 360.


So the XBOX 360 use as an MC extender can't handle big 1080P files?


Can the Sega's extender play big 1080P files without issues?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by QBA /forum/post/18158753


Guys a friend of mine "Saldamiento" Just sent me this link about another media extender. Since I don't play games this could be another option to consider.

http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/


Is this extender able to play via (Ethernet Cable) 1080P (Blue Ray) content continuously and without choking?

For the price and assuming you're in the US, I'd seriously consider going the HTPC as client route. Nowadays, it's possible to build/buy an HTPC for roughly the same price as the Popcorn Hour. Sure, the HTPC would consume more electricity and is potentially noisier but it won't be as limited as the Popcorn Hour.


As for extender usage, I think it's probably going to be a pain to run TV through a Popcorn Hour. Recordings and other static media should be easily doable but live TV? Hmm, you might have to jump through hoops to get that working. I bought a couple of Popcorn Hour A110's a couple years back for use as GB-PVR extenders. Never did get to setting that up as the unit crashed quite a bit (every 2~3 videos, I think) and having to reset it every time got old.


Imho, SageTV+clients, whether they be full computers or HD extenders, would probably be your best bet.


By the way, it's not that the Xbox 360 doesn't have the muscle to play Blu-ray material because it does. It just so happens that the extender software doesn't really support Blu-ray.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks a lot for the reply ilovejedd,


I guess base on the fact that you owned those already, I would say no to the Popcorn Hour option.


I just finished ordering a 75 feet hdmi for my TV 3 (basement), so I now have HDMI going to all my TVs from the upstairs closet where the HTPC will be at, As a backup option just in case I find my self having issues when playing 1080p content, not matter what extender I end up choosing.


My real issue with Sega TV, apart from the money, is that it seem to be a lot harder to set up and maintain that the xbox 360 option, I think I may be willing to sacrifice a little bit of flexibility for convenience, but I haven't make up my mind yet.


Thanks to you guys now I have a way better understanding of my options and limitation, I think I need to look a little bit more into this Sega TV before I go the WMC xbox 360 route.
 

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The Sage (not Sega) extenders support 1080p (even 1080 24p but you have to go in and manually set that.)


The PCH products will physically play the various files, but you won’t be able to control DVR functionality very well (schedule a recording, delete a recording, look at the program schedule for the next evening, etc.) And you will have many hassles getting live playback to work. Basically, with the PCHs you will be able to get your video files to play on your TV, with the Sage Extenders, you will be able to DVR and watch your broadcast TV.


If you plan to use DVR capabilities, PCHs would not be better than the Sage extenders imo. Further, (having both client PCs and extenders myself) if your main uses are DVR, DVD rips and Blu ray rips, then I would say that extenders offer a better experience. If you are also interested in other computer related activities (browsing internet, etc.) a PC running Client software can make more sense.


Regardless, I very much suggest that you go over to the SageTV forums and read around in there before committing to spending a couple hundred dollars as there are limitations to the machines, mainly that they do not fully support TrueHD and DTS HD-MA audio (they will play back the DD and DTS core audio instead.)

forums.sagetv.com


Quite frankly, it sounds like you still need to educate yourself a good deal on the topic in general before making any judgments, as the options are many and everyone’s requirements are unique. Do more reading around the interweb, and don’t make purchases based *just* on any individual’s comments (even mine.)


-Suntan
 
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