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Hi,

I am at my wit's end trying to figure out what devices I can use as either a SageTV or Windows Media Centre extender.

I tune in Over The Air (OTA) television via a dual-tuner car d on my computer and I have tons of downloaded videos, music, photos on my computer that I would like to watch on my television downstairs.

I have an either ethernet cable running from my computer to the TV about 50ft away.

So far, all I can figure out is that the SageTV extender will allow me to both get my downloaded media AND use the Media Centre or SageTV television tuner on my pc.

Can someone please help me understand what my options are for fetching the live OTA television off my computer (with guide - so an extender is necessary). It'd be easy if I just wanted to get files off my computer.

Thanks,

Vince
 

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Basically, there are two options that I would consider viable:
- SageTV with SageTV Extenders
- Windows 7 Media Center with the new XBox 360 (quieter black one)

Sage TV will work more "out of the box" for you and the extender is silent. Media Center has, in my opinion, a better and more family-friendly interface but will require a small hack to get working with OTA. The XBox 360 is not silent, although the new ones are supposedly quieter.

You can get Media Center Extenders from DLink and Linksys, but they've been discontinued so I wouldn't recommend them unless you find a deal.

Pete
 

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For using your tuners with SageTV, you have no choice but buy a SageTV supported extender. They will offer you the same interface as the main SageTV machine.

For a cheaper extender just for recorded video, I have two Asus O!Play in the house. They play everything I throw at them. The HDP-R1 is wired and HDP-R3 is wireless. They play stuff over USB drive, Ethernet shares or UPnP devices. I have a DLink DNS-323 with all my videos where the Asus and a PS3 feed from.
 

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Basically, there are two options that I would consider viable:
- SageTV with SageTV Extenders
- Windows 7 Media Center with the new XBox 360 (quieter black one)

Sage TV will work more "out of the box" for you and the extender is silent. Media Center has, in my opinion, a better and more family-friendly interface but will require a small hack to get working with OTA. The XBox 360 is not silent, although the new ones are supposedly quieter.

You can get Media Center Extenders from DLink and Linksys, but they've been discontinued so I wouldn't recommend them unless you find a deal.

Pete
the only time older 360s are noticeably loud is when a disc is spinning in the drive,
using it as a media center or playing games saved to the harddrive its pretty much silent,

with that said I have both 360 and PS3, and using PS3 Media Server, PS3 is a far superior, WMC on 360 is painful, the only complaint I have about PS3 for streaming has more to do with my computer, the CPU gets cooking hot when streaming losses quality,
but lower the quality slightly, which isn't noticeable, its fine,
PS3 Media Server also plays way more formats then Windows Media Center with out having to add codecs etc

I have no idea about eithers OTA capabilities,
but I can honestly say I rarely watch live TV anymore, everything is PVR or downloaded and streamed
 

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media center on the 360 works just fine if the server is beefy enough (since it's really just a remote desktop session)
 

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media center on the 360 works just fine if the server is beefy enough (since it's really just a remote desktop session)
my 360 is hardwired, my computer is wireless N, full 300Mbps connection,
I find it sluggish and slow to respond, the N is significantly better than when I was on G, but I still get frustrated
where PS3 is fine for the most part, occasionally have problems fast forwarding and rewinding, if I check my laptop the air coming out the vent is usually cooking when that happens
 

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I can't tell really tell the difference between my 360 in MCE mode, and my HTPC in MCE mode

they're both fairly snappy once running

only lag time for the xbox is establishing the RDP session
 

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Steve: A bit off-topic, but it sounds like you have some network issues there. When MCE runs into network problems, one of the things it tries to do is to transcode the content down to a lower bitrate. This kicks in the CPU, and I suspect that a laptop is not beefy enough to adequately transcode.

Also a common issue can be flow control, but not sure if that applies to wireless. See this article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929707/

The issues you describe are not normal.

Pete
 

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Steve: A bit off-topic, but it sounds like you have some network issues there. When MCE runs into network problems, one of the things it tries to do is to transcode the content down to a lower bitrate. This kicks in the CPU, and I suspect that a laptop is not beefy enough to adequately transcode.

Also a common issue can be flow control, but not sure if that applies to wireless. See this article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929707/

The issues you describe are not normal.

Pete
My laptop was top of the line like a year and a half ago,
I stream 1080p and 5.1 DTS sound with PS3 media server no problem,
only have to drop the bitrate slightly on longer movies, the processor just gets to hot after 2 hours, I can run what PS3MS calls "lossless,Crazy bitrate", but I run into to issues if I pause and rewind, I'll usually drop it down a step or 2, still higher than the program recommended for HD over WiFi, but on "N", I'm faster than most people wired connections, my consoles are wired PS3 at 1000Mbps, 360 at 100Mbps,

maybe I've got something else going on, I've really only tried to use it a few times, pissed me off, and PS3 works so well, I just use the PS3 as my media server, maybe I'll give WMC another shot here

sorry for getting of the original posters topic
 

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I run SageTV and have five extenders throughout my house at all TVs. The extenders work great, and are a lot less hassle than having PCs since they are so low maintenance and totally quiet. The UI is 100% the same between the extender and the PC. The Sage extenders are very good at playing back pretty much every file under the sun with the only drawback being that the don't play some of the latest and greatest forms of digital audio. They can also playback Youtube videos.

Sage is currently in a public beta release of their new version - version 7 and it looks much nicer. IMHO this was the one shortcoming of SageTV vs. WinMC and this is now gone. But there have pretty much always been alternative UIs for Sage, such as SageMC, that have given you opions.

By the way, the Sage extenders have been out of stock for a couple of months. It is very possible that the reason for this is that a new version of the extender is about to be released.

My system has a mix of two HD cable tuners (HD-PVRs), one OTA tuner and one analog (Svideo connected to an SD digital cable box) so Sage is also quite good if you want to mix tuners from different types of sources (cable, OTA, etc).

The guide in Sage is comprehensive although at times it can be challenging to get data for obscure OTA channels such as ion, Qubo, etc.

FYI, here is a screenshot of the default guide screen in SageTV7. There are new UIs coming shortly that will make things look even better, ie. having Fanart as the background behind the guide.


This is the default guide in SageTV6 with channel logos added:
 

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Wayne: A bit off topic, but can you post a new thread (or PM me) once they get the new screens you were thinking of?

I installed the v7 beta today, keep looking for a reason to switch, but I still think the UI will be a barrier for my family. Everything is just so... cluttered. And text is not well integrated into the UI, making fonts stick out too much on items like the clock and buttons. Put another way, it's a UI that is made by/for a coder. v7 is made for a younger coder. I need something made for my family.

I did a quick scan of the customizations and themes, but nothing jumped out at me as "the answer". I just need someone who knows Media Center and who knows Sage to point me at the package that is most likely to get me to switch and I'll try it out.

Thanks,
Pete
 

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Within Sage7 I continue to use the SageMC which is a clone of the WinXP MCE UI while I await the new improved UIs as I don't want to make the whole family switch and then switch again in a few months. The two UIs that are known to be in the works are Phoenix and Ortus. An early screenshot of one of the TV screens in Phoenix was just posted over the weekend (see below).

I am still running Win7 MC (upgraded/reinstall from XP MCE last December) on an HTPC connected to my main HT setup as a backup but it is only connected to one tuner, a PVR-150 connected to an analog cable box. So I use it occasionally but I wouldn't call myself a power user of WinMC anymore as I don't really use any addins and I just watch the odd recorded TV or Video Library file. Sage just works much better for me given the client-server model with extenders and PCs (and Softsled) and all of the addins (Web Interface, Metadata fetching, Sage Recording Extender, Sage Job Queue, SageAlert, etc) are very nice as well. It is also nice to record in well supported file types such as MPG or TS that can be played on other PCs in standard video software like WMP or VLC without DRM, although I haven't had too much of an issue with DRM other than the CGMS-A issues that MS took forever to deal with.

Peter - have you tried using the HD-PVR tuners with WinMC yet? That was one of the main things that caused me to move to Sage, in addition to extenders. I stayed on XP MCE for a long time since I was able to buy five of the old V1 extenders on eBay very cheaply but they could only handle MPEG/DVR-MS/WMV files without transcoding and this were useless once I upgraded to Vista or Win7 and the new Extenders also had some issues.

Here is what the RecordedTV screen in Phoenix looks like:
 

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have you tried using the HD-PVR tuners with WinMC yet?
wasn't aimed at me, but I'll jump in since I'm running them on my win7 machines


with the dvblink software they work great

they work the way that they should have worked natively a year ago


much like you, I stuck with XP MCE for a long time, and toyed with Sage and Media Portal

win7 + HD-PVR was by far the best choice for me

I found it more stable than media portal, and wasn't fugly like Sage

and I actually prefer the xbox 360 as an extender since it does everything the sage box does, plus it plays video games
 

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@Tikker - What are the pros and cons of using dvblink as opposed to the native drivers that were recently released for the HD-PVR?
 

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@Tikker - What are the pros and cons of using dvblink as opposed to the native drivers that were recently released for the HD-PVR?
I hear DVBLink supports more than one HD-PVR and it also supports faster channel changes via Firewire for some boxes.
 

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I hear DVBLink supports more than one HD-PVR and it also supports faster channel changes via Firewire for some boxes.
Very good reaons as I have two HD-PVRs connected to my Sage system and I use the good old Tim M Moore firestb drivers for channel changing.

It would be nice if someone wrote 64 bit versions of those drivers as this is one of the main things holding me back from going 64 bit on my HTPC.
 

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the DVBlink software worked for about a year before the native drivers ever saw the light of day

I've not bothered trying the native, as DVBlink works just the way I need it to work

as far as I can tell, the 30 bucks is the only con for the DVBlink software vs the free windows driver

there's even an experimental network pack for it (so that you can use a PC as an extender~)


the 1geek1tool guys are good about support, active on their forums, and are responsive to issues



I just found 7mc so much nicer than Sage, in all respects that I can't imagine ever going back to sage


especially once you take 15 minutes (no joke) to set up media browser, and then another 5-10 minutes to install meta browser on your fileserver (for locally stored metadata)
 

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I just found 7mc so much nicer than Sage, in all respects that I can't imagine ever going back to sage
That makes sense but I have been so frustrated with MS through the years through issues like: not supporting ATSC in Canada, slow upgrade cycle, not supporting the HD-PVR for quite a while, not resolving the CGMS-A issue for Canadians, other DRM issues, inability to use WHS as your MC server, non-standard file types, no softsled and MS' lack of enthusiasm regarding extenders.

But the real biggest issues for me were (1) no HD cable for Canadians (until the DVBLink software came out) and (2) no decent extenders. I need about five extenders in my house and Xboxes were not practical, at least they weren't a couple of years ago due to price, noise and size. The newest iterations are much nicer but they trail Sage extenders by a wide margin, unless you are a gamer.

But the new Sage looks much prettier and Sage continues to be very much focussed on resolving any issues that its customers have and they look to push the envelope for PVR software as much as possible. It looks to me like MS is pulling back from Media Center and it wouldn't surprise me if they kill it going forward. I thought that rolling Media Center into the OS, as they did with Vista and Win7, would help MC but it seems that it was the opposite.
 

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ATSC is too regional in canada. I'm never going to see it in my part of the world, so it never entered my equation

the CGMS-A thing drove me nuts (Even tho it never affected me, my provider wasn't a douche like the cable co's). I still can't believe that they never would even really awknowledge the real issue



currently the Xbox will do everything that the Sage extender will do, but differently
the heavy lifting is at the server side, rather than the extender

pro's and con's to doing it that way, but I never understood how people ended up with 5255432 different video/audio codecs that they NEEDED supported

pick one and stick with it, unless you're just pirating random crap from random places


the 360 in MCE mode is an almost perfect extender (Assuming your content matches what it'll play, but if you have any planning abilities, you will)

I don't see the doom and gloom for MC tho. 5 years ago, no one knew MCE existed

now most people I know are at least aware of it, and are using it a bit.


especially after seeing my system in action, lol
 

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nuts, lost a long post and don't have lazarus installed here.

oh well. For the first time in years I'm having fun building and playing with computers again. I used to build systems just for speed increases to keep up with os and proggies but now it's fun specing out systems geared to htpc.

As for xbox 360? IMO, one of the smartest things MS did was make xboxes extenders. But...I feel they've done a really crappy job informing the public about the extender side. There's one tiny sentence about extending on the back of the box.
 
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