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post #1 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-16, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
 
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The Ultimate HTPC??

Hello all HTPC enthusiasts.

About eight months ago I decided to build a HTPC, and I chose mythtv. I struggled quiet a bit at first and required some assistance with the huge learning curve of having known nothing about Linux. Today I have a backend running 1 hauppauge 250, 1 hauppauge 1600, and 1 hauppauge 2250. I am using the tuners for HD OTA and one s-video satellite receiver to share with all the other frontends. I currently am running one zotact zbox as a frontend, which works surprisingly very well. Thus far I am very satisfied with my project, but...

At the start of my project I had certain criteria I was looking for so that I could one day cancel the satellite and/or cable all together. My requirements, or wants were:
Blu Ray
HD OTA
HD satellite capture
Hulu
Netflix
NFLST, should be available for online this year, similar to NHL Game Center and MLB
NHL Game Center

Mythtv does not have blu ray support, HD OTA is working great, have not purchased a HD PVR for component, waiting for the new hauppauge cared, no Netflix support on linux, Internet streaming in mythtv is not stable and crashes the backend quiet often, NHL Game Center I did not try this year.

I am reaching out to the community to see if there is one true MYTHICAL or Ultimate HTPC that exists, and if so what are you using?

Should I be trying Windows Media Center? I know windows will have gamecenter, hulu, and netflix, but how does the rest match up compared to MythTV?

One system is preferred, and content sharing on other PC's is a must.

Please share your ideas.

Thanks
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post #2 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-16, 10:09 PM
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I've done the HTPC thing for a very long time. I'm currently doing everything in your "wish list" (minus the Satellite capture and NFLST) and I'm using SageTV on Windows. Sure, it's written in Java (boo!), but it seems to be more than competitive with MythTV, and Windows + AnyDVD HD should provide you with all the Blu-ray support you need. You can also have a Blu-ray disc in the "server" machine and play it from a client machine if you have a wired network.

For most video content now, I'm using streaming video services. Most of the streaming video services have one thing in common: they are accessible from the web. When you are using a particular platform, you want to play to its strengths. For this reason I decided to have a HTPC that primarily focuses on "doing the web well" since the web seems to be the default platform for all these services. The key ingredient that is too often ignored is input devices. Standard remote controls won't do here. You need to have excellent mouse cursor control. I've purchased many input devices (Logitech diNovo Mini, many MCE remotes, etc) and the one that works the best so far (and by a long shot) is The Loop. I used for a while with the Kylo HTPC browser, but once Google Chrome added a default zoom setting I switched to Chrome, which is a much faster browser than Kylo.

So I have a "server" HTPC (which also serves as a "client" and is connected to a TV), and two other "client" HTPCs. When I'm not using SageTV to watch recorded content - which is most of the time now - I'm running a tweaked-out Chrome browser using The Loop and a small nmedia HTPC keyboard on the coffee table for when I have to type a lot.

Windows 7 allows you to quickly connect and disconnect from VPN networks from the network icon in your system tray which is important for when you want to look like your in the US or the UK. This is nice when you want to bounce between hulu.com and netflix.ca on a per-machine basis.
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post #3 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-16, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the feedback Danceswithlysol, looks interesting. I had looked at windows and sage tv during my research, but at the time tried to cut the costs of the operating system and additional cost for sage tv.

website does not mention as to how many licenses I need or get with the placeshifter. I understand the main app would be installed on the main PC, or server and then you connect to the main via the placeshifter. I currently have three PC's and one laptop, so would need all to connect.

I forgot to mention that I am also looking at support for iphone and ipad, either by watching via the placeshifter, or encoding vids to work on the iphone, which i see is supported. Being java based I doubt the first would work.

Are all tuners supported? I currently have two hvr 1600's, two hvr 2250's, one pvr 250, and two 950Q, all hauppauge.

Thanks
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post #4 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-16, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
 
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I see the hauppauge colussus's would be supported since using windows, which would be better than svideo on my satellite receiver.
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post #5 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-17, 01:00 AM
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Let me tally it up the SageTV costs for you.

PC #1 (with tuners): SageTV Media Center for Windows Version 7 @ $79.95
PC #2, #3, Laptop: SageTV Clientfor Windows Version 7 @ $29.95 x 3

SageTV total: $169.80.

If you want the best Blu-ray support available, I'd recommend AnyDVD HD with 2 years of updates @ $79 EUR ($110.04 CAD). Alternatively, you can use other less expensive software to rip your Blu-ray discs prior to watching them on your HTPC.

The difference between the "client" and "placeshifter" is that placeshifter sends the video at a reduced bitrate and is optimized for low bandwidth and high latency connections. Specifically, for when you're away from home, on your laptop in a hotel, and want to watch some TV that you have recorded on your SageTV setup at home. That sort of scenario.

Because I'm always connected via a LAN I went for the SageTV client x3 and I don't have any placeshifter licenses.

You are correct that the SageTV placeshifter requires a JRE to run, so no iOS devices will run it.

All your tuners are supported. I'm not aware of any PVR software that has as comprehensive support for tuners as SageTV. Well, with the exception of CableCard tuners, they don't support CableCard (yet?). That's not really a relevant issue for Canadians though because our cable companies are... whoops, I almost said something mean!

So, all this software certainly isn't free, but at the end of the day running this software on Windows gives me a reliable system that is better in ways that are important to me than any MythTV setup for any amount of money.
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post #6 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-17, 03:14 PM
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I looked at SageTV once. What kind of Antena and what kind of Tuners you have? Do you have very good OTA reception? Any opinion on USB tuners?
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post #7 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-17, 03:31 PM
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I live in Spruce Grove (just outside of Edmonton). I'm using a RCA ANT751 antenna mounted on my roof and a SiliconDust HDHomeRun v3 (dual tuner). The reception of CBC and CityTV DTV channels is excellent. I expect when CTV and Global "go live" in a couple months those will have a great signal too, since the CBC signal is great and is being broadcast from a similar distance.
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post #8 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-17, 06:58 PM
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Thanks. Did you connect Antena's co-axial cable to the one that provided by shaw? (Or may be you build new house with wiring). I am by no means a handy man, how much would be the labour cost for installing the antena and joining the cable to shaw cables (don't want to run additional cables). Also, do you get only 3 channels?

Thank you for answering my questions.

PS: last year around this time, I played with mythTV and then almost bought the Homerun and SageTV (apple) did some research. I gave up after realising that I can't connect the shaw co-axial cable.
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post #9 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-17, 08:18 PM
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The coax comes into the house via the attic and then I connect it to one of the coax cables that is run in an interior wall, and ground it to the electrical ground.

Then, at the other end of the coax cable (in the basement), I connect the HDHR to the coax cable that was run when the house was built (2008) and then plug the HDHR into the central 24-port switch.

So, in the basement Shaw's cable comes in to a 3-way splitter. Obviously the coax cable that I'm using for the antenna was disconnected from Shaw's splitter before plugging it into the HDHR.

I guess it would be easier if I did a diagram, but I imagine you get the idea. Of the 3 coax runs in the house, I usurped one of them from Shaw since all I'm using Shaw for is getting their signal to a cable modem.

Right now I get 2 DTV channels and a bunch of analog channels that I don't use. Soon I should get 4 DTV channels, but they are the major ones (CTV, CBC, Global, CityTV).
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post #10 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-17, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input.

A little off topic now, as I am looking for the ultimate pvr.

Another issue with Linux is no iTunes.

I have a home made gh antenna and receive all the digitals from calgary.

Why not just run your coax cable to a capture card?
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post #11 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-17, 10:50 PM
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Mainly positioning reasons. I wanted the HTPC in a different room.
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post #12 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-18, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
 
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Giving sage a try with the trial version, installed at setup in under 15 minutes.

Using a old xp pc, issues with audio and trying to play a m4v, everything else works.
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post #13 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-18, 01:29 AM
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I imagine you can get the m4v working properly by adjusting the codec that are being used by SageTV for h.264 (or whatever is in the m4v file).

But for that sort of troubleshooting, the SageTV forums is where you want to be.
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post #14 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-18, 11:01 AM
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I am also a SageTV user. I have a server in my basement that is not used for watching content but it serves up content to six SageTV extender clients throughout my house. The SageTV extenders are very good - they cost $150 and they are silent, small and trouble-free. I also have a couple of Placeshifter clients so I can also access Sage from the TVs in my house,

I have two HD-PVR tuners hooked up to Rogers HD cable boxes, one SD Rogers box hooked up to a tuner via S-video and three OTA tuners. Note that I live in Toronto and can get lots of OTA from Toronto and Buffalo.

The only thing not ideal with this setup is with the online content. You can access Netflix, Hulu and other online content from Sage extenders using PlayOn but that costs a bit of money, doesn't work for HD and is a little but klugey. But it can be integrated into your SageTV system - for example you can have a wall of movie posters - some of the can be BluRay/DVD rips, some can be recorded from TV and some can be Netflix. Same thing with TV series from Hulu/Netflix.

Using SageTV clients you could get full HD from Netflix, as you can set up menu items in Sage to take you to other apps such as Netflix.

The other thing is that SageTV has clients on several platforms including Linux and Windows.

Windows MC is good for the online content but it has other drawbacks such as no PC clients, lack of support for mulitple HD-PVRs(I think).
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post #15 of 58 (permalink) Old 2011-06-18, 01:26 PM
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CglShaft,

If you're not interested in Netflix/Hulu/NFLST/etc, and are primarily concerned with OTA broadcast TV (in Canada), then I'd say that SageTV + extender devices are a pretty elegant solution. The problem is that when you add BDU STBs with a Hauppauge HD-PVR it becomes a lot less elegant, and when you finally add the streaming video services it starts to feel like a horrible hack.

Keep SageTV for what it's good at (recording broadcast TV), and use a web browser for what it's good at (streaming video) and use a multi-tasking operating system to switch between these two applications.

If you live in Canada and use VPNs to access content that is GeoIP blocked, then you also want a platform that lets you quickly turn on/off VPN connections (on a "per client" basis). I haven't found anything aside from a PC that provides this functionality.

I don't think you're going to be able to meet your content requirements list without using a browser. That means building a HTPC that is optimized for web browsing. When you're done, what you've built will be fairly future proof. Most (if not all) streaming video services support the web as a platform, and I see no reason why that will change for the foreseeable future. Depending on crazy hacks (like PlayOn) that, in my experience don't work very well even when it's "working" - it's sketchy at best.
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