: Help with a lot of things
2012-05-05, 11:03 AM
I realize there might be some cross-pollination of subjects about to take place here, but when you're trying to figure these things out from a newbie stand-point, it's tough to know where to go.
We are moving at the end of June and have decided to do things a whole new way. First of all, Rogers cable will be cut ( I will miss the HD PVR, but what the heck ) I think I have my OTA issues worked out and seem to have found someone local who will do the install and make sure everything is working correctly. I will hook-up with Teksavvy for unlimited internet - my Viera P50VT25 accesses Netflix, so this is good - now here is where I get a little lost.
As few OTA stations as there will be, I'd still like to be able to record and watch when I want
I'd like to be able to access other HD content from the web as well ( streaming hockey games from TSN for example )
Someone has suggested a HTPC for web access and recording, but even with a little reading on this, it looks quite complex, and there seems to be a question as to how long it will survive ( no software versions beyond 7 so I understand ?) I don't have the skill to build my own HTCP, and off the shelf ones look quite expensive ( 1000.00 and up ). I think I was reading a forum where folks were suggesting an X-Box could act like a pvr (??)
I am planning on buying a Denon AVR-2112CI, and imagine there might be some web access options through the AVR ( Youtube/Flicker/Pandora/Etc ), but I haven't been able to find what those are. If anybody knows please advise.
Hoping some of these questions can be answered..
2012-05-05, 11:33 AM
Do you have your new address?
Go to TVFOOL.com and enter it in the "Signal Locater" to see what your reception results will be.
HTPCs are no big deal just add a (dual)tuner card. e.g. Hauppauge 2250 MCE Kit(with remote). Multiple tuners give you the capability to watch and or record more channels at the same time.
As far as specs are concerned a Pentium 4 2.4ghz running Windows 2000 is the minimum for a media center application like NextPVR(free), a decent graphics card with S-Video out or HDMI if you have a new TV.
NextPVR uses other PCs as clients(extenders) to distibute your media thoughout you network. It does use other extenders(Networked Media Tank) but is not easy to configure with an Xbox.
NextPVR also supports Netflix and HULU.
If you plan on keeping a library of recorded TV and other media then a second hard drive of about 2TB would be good.
I can't justify PURCHASING a new OS to be able to run a media center that may or may not be in constant development and may require more recent hardware when Media Portal and NPVR are FREE.
2012-05-05, 11:56 AM
You can use pretty much any PC to record OTA. Digital OTA doesn't require transcoding as it's already digital, so it's relatively light on resources to record. Even a low-powered computer should be able to handle it.
Playback is a little more resource intensive. You'll need a computer capable of playing back HD content.
You can install a tuner card in your PC, or use an external option. There are numerous USB ATSC tuners out there (discussed extensively here (http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=49381)), but I'm personally a big fan of the HDHomeRun. It connects to your antenna via coaxial cable and then plugs into your home network via ethernet. Your PC can then connect to the HDHomeRun's two tuners over your network, saving you the trouble of running a cable from your antenna to your PC.
If you have a capable computer already but don't want to use it as a dedicated HTPC, one option might be to use Windows Media Center. If your computer runs a version of Windows that includes WMC, you can use an Xbox 360 as a front-end for video playback. Your computer does the recording and storage of the OTA feed, but the Xbox plays it back. This off-loads the playback resource requirements from the PC to the Xbox, and may be cheaper than buying a new PC. You probably need a capable wired ethernet network though.
2012-05-05, 12:14 PM
no software versions beyond 7 so I understand ?
If you're referring to Windows Media Center, the latest info is that it will be availabale in Windows 8 Pro:
Media Center will be a “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro (http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=152964)
2012-05-05, 09:49 PM
Basically, I'll agree with TorontoColin.
Any Windows 7 PC will do the job of a home theater PC, just get one in a nice small form factor that you like with a big hard drive. 1TB should be good, I personally have 1.5TB and rarely have any issues with space. Your usual computer places always have clearance machines going on sale and so long as they're designed for Windows 7 you'll have all the horsepower you need. I did a quick search and found an HP Slimline for $379, something along those lines would be fine. (Only exception is if you want to do BluRay, if you do let us know and we can help with a higher-end machine).
I use the HDHomerun tuner, you can put that anywhere there is a wired network connection and have your antenna installer run a coax to it. That will give you dual-tuner recording on Media Center.
Since you're using OTA only, find a US Zipcode near your new address to use for setup and Media Center will "just work". Likely no need for any hacks.
The last step is to get a remote and an IR receiver so you can change channels from the couch. These are typically sold together, just search for Media Center Remote at the usual computer or electronics shops online.
If you want to be able to access websites from the couch, you'll want a wireless keyboard as well.
Really, that's about all you'll need. We make it sound complex because we're all nerds here and like to tinker, but you don't really need to make it complex. If you do want to make it more complex (apps that plug in to media center for internet TV, XBox extenders for other rooms in the house, digital movie collection, etc) then of course we can help with that too. But don't let us scare you off.
Trust me, once you start using Media Center you won't miss your Rogers PVR any more.
2012-05-05, 10:08 PM
Ok, so the super newbie questions continue:
Is there a specific OS "Windows Media Centre", or will any version of Windows 7 do ? This laptop I use has Windows 7 "Home Premium"
2012-05-05, 10:13 PM
From the Microsoft website, "Windows Media Center is available in the Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions of Windows 7."
I needed to double-check the answer, so went right to the source. Basically, it's in every edition *except* Starter and Home Basic.
2012-05-05, 10:57 PM
"Digital OTA doesn't require transcoding as it's already digital, so it's relatively light on resources to record. Even a low-powered computer should be able to handle it."
OTA ATSC is mpeg transport stream Windows Media Center records and transcode the file into it's own proprietary format (*.wmv)and NPVR records and saves it as a mpeg ts without transcoding using about 15% less system resources(I can't say for sure but I think Media Portal may compare as well). As my signature states I use a P4 3.4ghz as my main server and earlier I was watching last nights recording of "Harry's Law" while recording "The Rocket" on CBC and at 9pm recordings of "Murdoch Mysteries" and "Flashpoint" completed and were processed with Comskip(commercial detection and deletion). This is a 7 year old PC and yes it's running Win7 but I could do the same with XP or even Windows 2000.
As for the guide, it doesn't matter where you are as NPVR is used worldwide.
regarding websites: I use my Hauppauge remote mapped with EventGhost(free) and a profile for Explorer that enables mouse movement and clicks and scrolling.
That's a nice laptop but I wouldn't use it as an HTPC for a long time given that destop or tower is better suited for heavy usage and cooling.
If you do use it make a little "stage" to create space between its underside and what ever it's sitting on.
I like a big box with lotsa space for tuner cards,drives and cooling as long as its quiet.
2012-05-06, 12:46 AM
While you can use any PC as an HTPC you might want to think about how it will look in your Home Theatre setup. You also want to make sure that it is not too noisy as the background noise of some PCs can drive you nuts.
2012-05-06, 10:05 AM
Can anybody recommend an Ottawa store where the folks might have some expertise putting HTPC's together ? I have done a fair number of searches of local stores, but would I most often get is cases. The only source I could find for "out the box" units was Tiger Direct, and those systems seemed quite pricey, and certainly didn't come with any of the hardware that has been recommended in this thread. I certainly don't have the experience to put one of these together myself...
2012-05-06, 10:19 AM
So the HD Homerun box is used in place of the Hauppauge 2250 tuner then ?
Also,in response to another question - I already have a BR player, but would like the capability to back-up digital copies to a HD - is this possible ? I used to do this with regular DVD's using DVDFab HD Decrypter, but not sure if this will work with BR Discs (??)
2012-05-06, 11:03 AM
The HD Homerun is a fine tuner.
But each unit has a CAT5, Coax and power cord.
The 2250 has only the coax input(and remote sensor).
The Wintv-HVR-2250 MC- KIT comes with an "Auxiliary A/V panel" to input and Record external audio/video with dual built-in high quality hardware MPEG-2 encoders which may be the solution for your blueray
2012-05-06, 11:26 AM
I certainly don't have the experience to put one of these together myself...
You might be surprised at how simple it is. Check out the DIY videos on the newegg dot ca site on how to build a computer. It's a 3 part video and gives you the basic knowledge you need.
If you have questions as you go, keep DHC up and running in the backround - the amount of knowledge here and the willingness to help is fantastic.
2012-05-06, 11:27 AM
Lack of support for Windows 7 is not a concern. Mainstream support goes until 13/01/2015 and extended support will be available until 14/01/2020.
Building an HTPC is not an issue. Online or local PC shops will assemble one to your specifications. The fee to do so is usually minimal. There are some existing threads that discuss recommended parts and software.
This is what I would build:
1. ASUS F1A75-M PRO or GIGABYTE GA-A75M-D2H motherboard (1)
2. AMD A4-3400 or A6-3500 CPU (1)
3. 8GB AMD Performance or Kingston HyperX DDR-1600 RAM
4. Silverstone Milo ML03B Case
5. SeaSonic SS-350ET Power Supply
6. Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green Hard Drive
7. LG CH12LS28 12X Blu-Ray Reader & Lightscribe DVD Writer Combo Drive
8. SiliconDust HDHomerun Dual
9. Windows 7 Home premium
10. Scythe Shuriken REV.B 3 Heatpipe CPU Heatsink
(1) If not required immediately, it might be better to wait for FM2 processors and motherboards to be released this Summer.
Total cost should be about $800.
2012-05-06, 01:02 PM
You don't have to actually do any building to get a nice HTPC. I use an Acer Revo 3610 mounted to the back of my TV. The only "building" I had to do was
Plug in a USB IR receiver for the remote. (pick up an MCE remote/receiver combo on ebay)
Plug in an external USB hard drive
Attach my HD Homerun Tuner to my router and plug in the coax from my antenna.
My Revo can simultaneously record 2 HD programs while playing back another no problem. Any small computer will do the job.
The only concern is fan noise and power consumption.
I haven't used one of these but the Acer RL100 looks pretty cool and it would be a simple setup paired with the HD Homerun network tuner.
I believe some already have a built in tuner and the hard drive is not a bad size so it might be an almost plug n' play solution for under $500
2012-05-06, 07:20 PM
Would that setup run quietly ?
2012-05-07, 02:30 AM
Any PC will do the job, don't pay a premium for an "HTPC".
OTA ATSC is mpeg transport stream Windows Media Center records and transcode the file into it's own proprietary format (*.wmv)
That may be true, but it still uses almost no system resources. I've recorded from my HDHomeRun using WMC on a first-generation Intel Atom netbook just fine.
2012-05-07, 08:14 AM
I aggree there's no need for a premium HTPC, but "any PC" may be underpowered if there is a need to record multiple shows at the same time and process them with comskip while watching another show live and have more recordings starting up. Last nite I recorded everything on Global from 7 thru 11pm (7 shows), America's fun vids, and Amazing Race while watching 60 min and Avatar. I don't have a digital TV so this used all 3 of my tuners.
2012-05-07, 03:25 PM
I use an Acer Revo 3610 mounted to the back of my TV.
That looks like a very good choice for an Atom based HTPC. Something similar can be built for about $400-$500 in hardware (Win7 extra.) If the Acer Revo 3610 can be purchased for under $500, it's a good deal.
Would that setup run quietly ?
The Shuriken CPU cooler runs very quietly compared to the stock cooler supplied by AMD. The power supply will also run quietly with the low power required by this system. The case does not have any fans included. I would be tempted to install a low noise 80mm fan near the CPU. First, I would monitor system temperature under load to see if any extra ventilation was required.