I think my next step will be to purchase the Hauppauge HD PVR and the SageTV HD200...I would assume this also means purchasing the SageTV software.
You can download a fully functional trial version from Sage's website that works for about 3 weeks.
From other posts I've read in this forum, it doesn't sound like Placeshifter can handle the HD content yet. Is that just a license that one purchases online (i.e. no hardware)? Do they just mail you a license code or allow you to download the software? In other words, when I head down to the states, it won't matter that I don't pick up Placeshifter at that time.
Yes for PlaceShifter, and even for the full software, they just email you the license code. Some people say they have Placeshfiter working for 720p content but not for 1080i content. You can set up your cable box to force it to output 720p and then it may work better, at least for now. But I am not sure if that is over a LAN or over the internet. Over the net you would have more issues as you have to transcode the bitrate down to your upload speed which is generally less than 1 Mb/s. If you are just looking to use Sage at another PC there is also Sage Client which allows you to play back all of the content from a separate PC.
Apart from the HD issue with Placeshifter, what exactly does it do? It seems as if serves as a wireless hub from which recorded content can be viewed in a wifi environment. What does it do with respect to viewing via the internet? Does one in essence view one's own streamed content? Finally (re: Placeshifter), does one need it, if the computers in our network are already connected through the ethernet cables?
Placeshifter allows you to do almost everything you can do from in front of your Sage PC over your LAN or over the net. If you are familiar with Slingbox - this is kind of what it does allowing you to play videos, live TV or music over a network. It works best on your LAN but also works over the net. Placeshifter also allows you to do things like scheduling recordings so if you forgot to schedule a show and you are at work you can log in from work and do the scheduling. Or you can even log in from work and watch TV - just don't let your IT dept know! Placeshifter has a fairly light footprint and it can run from a memory stick which means that you could even use it from a internet cafe PC.
It will work via wireless but getting HD to stream over wireless is very finicky. Although 802.11g is rated at 54Mbps the actual throughput you get is WAY less. If you have wireless N equipment it might work or you could look at other options like powerline ethernet adapters or ethernet over coax, which is what I am using for my bedroom.
With respect to your set-up, you have three cable boxes. Why is that? Are you able to split your signal and pick up three recordings at the same time? Does that splitting cause any degradation in the quality of the signal?
Yes I am just using a splitter 1:4 from Home Depot and I have no issues with quality. Since the signal is digital you don't have to worry about noise - with digital you get the signal or you don't. I can record three shows at once - two HD shows since I have two HD-PVRs and one SD show. I also have an OTA tuner so I can also record OTA HD at the same time as well.
You also describe in your set-up (the picture of your main HT set-up) that you have a cable box PVR and the extender. Is this so you (or your wife) can watch live TV. I suppose I am also answering part of my previous question in that you would require a separate cable box to attach to the Hauppauge HD PVR (in your server room).
Yes the PVR box is so that my wife can watch live TV - I rarely do. It is also a backup if I really want to make sure I record something I can also record it on this box. But I bought the box years ago and I may as well use it. I do have separate HD boxes connected to my PC in my "server room" - these boxes are SA3250HD which you can now get for about $99 on sale, at least you could at boxing day.
I would also assume that your extenders and computer have to be connected through your home network. It doesn't sound as if the wireless capability is there yet. When we built our place, we installed network cabling throughout, except for where our HD TV is. I'll have to take care of that.
See my comment on wireless above. This isn't just a Sage issue, it is a broader issue that HD video and wireless don't mix well. I would strongly suggest that you run ethernet cabling to your HD.
One last question (for now...and thank you for taking the time to describe all of this...very much appreciated). Does the extender have access to all of your drives? That is, I would gather it's attached through the LAN connection to your server. Therefore, the SageTV software has the ability to read multiple drives?
The extender can have access to all of your drives. My server that you see in the photos (not the one by the TV) is running Windows Home Server and is the repository for all of my data files - videos, TV, music, photos, other types of files, etc. so I only have to map it to this PC. But you can tell Sage what drives have videos, what drives have music, etc. As long as the drive is shared over your network these drives do not have to be on the same PC that Sage is running on and you can map to mulitple drives. You can use UNC mapping (i.e. \\server\videos) or drive letter mapping for networked drives. This setup is generally the same for all of your Sage PCs/extenders, etc. I have only been using the extenders as Sage extenders. They can also be used in media extender mode where you don't have to have a Sage PC running - you just map the extender to shared drives on your LAN.