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Discussion Starter #21
Yeah, I'm not eager to dive into HTPCs. Not a fan of Chromecast (although the main family tv has it built-in but with launch points for the main services, so I press the button on the remote to launch Netflix or Prime and don't have to pull out my phone.

Our upstairs set (where the adults do most of their watching) has a Roku stick, which I love. But Roku still doesn't have Crave support (when my Bell contract runs out I plan to surrender between Netflix and Crave; and I also have Prime). So I think I'm going to get a Mecool M8S Pro-L for my upcoming birthday and I'll have a few months to play with it and try to figure out the OTA solution.
 

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HDHomeRun works for OTA with an app. There are a couple of other products that have been mentioned that are similar. It doesn't record OTA on Android though. There are some NAS devices that support recording OTA which is an easier solution than a PC. NAS devices tend to be more expensive for less functionality than building your own PC for use as an OTA PVR server.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
From previous searches I believe HDHomeRun is used with the nVidia Shield, which is running AndroidTV.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. It's little more than a drive with a little h/w and s/w to make it accessible to other devices on your home LAN. You would still need some device to do the rest.

AndroidTV already provides most of this. Plug a supported ATSC tuner into a free USB port, add sufficient storage, use Live Channels to do the rest.

That's the theory. Finding an affordable tuner that is supported (ideally double or quad), figuring out where the EPG data is coming from and whether Canadian OTA is even supported.
 

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Most Android devices work with HDHomeRun using the HDHomeRun app. Not aware of any Android devices and apps that also record.

Like I said, some NAS devices support TV and PVR software. For example Plex Server is supported on 4 different operating systems and 9 NAS devices. It supports live OTA TV and PVR recording. The player has a long list of supported OS and hardware devices.

HDHomeRun has dual and quad tuners. The prices are a higher than USB or PC card tuners but competitive if purchased from the right supplier. Canadian TV schedules are supported though not directly. That's done by the live TV or PVR software.
 

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mini-PC for OTA recording, playback and streaming

I am planning to get a mini-PC, SFF PC or maybe a laptop to use for OTA recording, playback and online streaming.
Any advice on what will work?

It would be connected directly to a TV (720p) by HDMI cable and to HDHomerun tuner by network ethernet cable.
I don't plan to feed any other TVs from it, and don't need 4k, so I think I can get away with something low power (and cheap-ish)

The best deal I have seen is a Dell laptop for $300 CDN (Inspiron 14-3000, Intel Celeron Silver N5000, 4GB RAM, 128 GB solid state drive)
It seems like a waste to pay for a screen, keyboard and battery that I won't use, but that seems less expensive than comparable mini PC (NUC, Zotac, AWOW, etc)
The next best option might be a refurbished small form factor PC.

I will look at the Black Friday sales and other deals in the next month or so.
Let me know if there is something else I should consider.

Thanks,
M
 

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I've built a number of HTPCs and media servers over the past 15 years. My experience is that a cheaper AMD CPU with Radeon graphics works better than Intel and provides better value. Avoid low end Intel Celeron CPUs in particular. Neither the CPU nor the GPU are powerful enough for anything but a very low end media server. Also avoid low end Intel NUC boxes.

Unfortunately, all the hardware I used was discontinued when Ryzen was introduced but I can provide the general specs:
1. Quad core or multi-threaded dual core with TDP of 45w-65w.
2. R5/R7 graphics.
3. AM3 or AM4 socket.
4. 2.4GHz (quad core) to 3.6GHz (dual core.)
5. 4GB RAM

I've built a similar Intel system using an Intel Core i3-6100 (there are better, cheaper CPUs now available) but it cost almost twice as much as a comparable AMD system. AMD prices have increased significantly since then so YMMV. In general, prices have increased since I built my most recent systems and components suitable for HTPC have become more difficult to find. There was a short time when I could build a HTPC for about $300-$400.

Case:
This seems to be the hardest item to find. Cheap media players and NUCs seem to have killed the small HTPC case market. I'd recommend getting a case that can hold at least one internal 2.5" or 3.5" drive. The last case I used was a Silverstone ML05. It's Mini-ITX, fairly compact and I was impressed with the design and build. It has lots of ventilation so a case fan is not needed. I'd also recommend a Silverstone or Seasonic SFX power supply. 300W is lots for this type of application. A "silent" low profile CPU heat sink is a good option if the one supplied with the CPU is too big or noisy.

Motherboard:
Use mATX for a budget build but full featured mini-ITX is a good option. Be sure to get enough features on the motherboard so that no cards will be needed.
 

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the new channel master dvr+ does all that in one box.its about 260 us dollars though and you have to add external drive with it
 

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An OTA PVR is a good option if you don't need HTPC capabilities. An HTPC will do a lot more than just record/play OTA TV and access streaming services. It's also more expensive and required much more maintenance.

The next best option might be a refurbished small form factor PC.
An option if a fairly good model can be found for a good price. Used computer shops tend to overcharge but private sales might be reasonable.
 
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