Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I am trying to figure out which sort of TV set-up would work best for my family, but there is so much on the internet and the technology has gone beyond me, so I don't always know what reviews are talking about. Also, a lot of options aren't available in Canada.

So, I was hoping that someone here might point me to the best system for what we want to do. I've been looking at PS3, WDTV and Boxee, but none seem to be able to do everything. I've also heard of XBMC, SageTV, AppleTV, GoogleTV, etc... Here is what we would like to be able to do:

- stream TV shows from websites like NickJr.Com, CTV.ca, CBC.ca, etc... (does this mean the media player needs a browser? I hear PS3 can do this?)
- Store movies and TV shows that we manage to obtain other ways, like from other people on DVD's, or downloaded from itunes or amazon or whatever is popular right now
- ability to download and play movies from torrents... PS3 can't do this?
- If it could do that thing called 'scraping' (finding titles and pictures to go with everything we save) that would be ideal
- have an easy interface, hopefully allowing young children to find their shows fairly easily (thumbnails for the non-readers to navigate with is great).
- store and play mp3s, let us make playlists, sort by genre, musician, etc
- I like that the PS3 can play DVD's, because we don't have a DVD player right now

There might be more features I wanted, but I can't remember it all right now. I've heard great things about PS3, but then I also heard you couldn't download torrents (except to your computer and then copy them to the harddrive of the PS3 via DVD?) and that some streaming stuff might not be able to play?

I'd love some advice.

Thanks,
Shira
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,338 Posts
What part of the country do you live in? Is OTA an option?

I use SageTV and its strength is in its ability to act as a PVR - it is very good in recording shows from TV from a variety of sources and allowing you to play back the shows on various types of hardware.

I haven't used XBMC but I believe its strength is in its ability to playback video and audio files

You mention streaming from Nickjr - is that available in Canada or do you use a VPN?

Have you considered Netflix Canada. They have quite a good kids selection with tons of Nickjr type shows including Dora, Diego, Blue's Clues, Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine, Kipper, etc.

Your ideal solution might be OTA, if you can get it, which would give you HD quality for all OTA networks such as CTV, CBC, Global, CITY, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, etc. Supplement that with Neflix Canada and your downloaded files and you are good to go and your monthly fee is $8.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,338 Posts
Except a PC does not have a good 10 foot UI that you can use with a remote control for Netflix Canada, unlike the game consoles. Windows MC has a Netflix addin but it doesn't work for Netflix Canada.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I live in Toronto. What is OTA? Would SageTV PVR (this means recording right?) shows from CTV or CBC? Stuff that is online in a browser, meant to be watched on a computer, essentially? I hadn't even thought of the PVR feature.

I haven't used XBMC but I believe its strength is in its ability to playback video and audio files
So, would SageTV not be great at playing video and audio files? Do you mean torrents by that? Or streaming stuff from the Canadian networks?

NickJR.com seems to play just fine for us in Canada... I was surprised the first time though. Sprout.com also plays for us here. Mr. Roger's neighborhood (PBS?) plays just fine too. I guess the kids channels are less picky about address? MickeyMouse's Clubhouse has a Canadian version of their site for Canadians.

Once we have things set up, and see how the kids like it, I think we would consider Netflix... but we are trying to stay away from subscription services for now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,338 Posts
I know Kylo is a HTPC friendly browser but does it work well with a reomte control rather than a mouse? That is the advantage of something like the Win Media Center Xbox interface.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
I know Kylo is a HTPC friendly browser but does it work well with a reomte control rather than a mouse?
The problem with using HTPC remotes is that nobody has created a decent interface for using browsers with a remote control. This is why I think trying to do the standard remote thing with the web is a bankrupt strategy, and products like "The Loop" are the way to go.

I've purchased a lot of HTPC products like the Logitech DiNovo Mini. When it comes to scrolling and clicking on web page content, I haven't tried anything that is as effortless as using The Loop.

The closest thing to that combination is using the version of Opera that you can use on a Nintendo Wii. If you like that sort of interface, you'll love The Loop + Kylo since it's much more capable that the Wii is when browsing the internet.

That is the advantage of something like the Win Media Center Xbox interface.
The disadvantage of the Media Center interface is that it isn't as content-rich as the web. Believe me, it's easier to find a device that will enable to you better control the mouse cursor from your couch than it is to get web content to "fit" inside of Media Center. Trust me, I've tried it both ways, and I've been doing the HTPC thing since 2003.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,338 Posts
The disadvantage of the Media Center interface is that it isn't as content-rich as the web. Believe me, it's easier to find a device that will enable to you better control the mouse cursor from your couch than it is to get web content to "fit" inside of Media Center. Trust me, I've tried it both ways, and I've been doing the HTPC thing since 2003.
I know what you're saying, but for just TV watching I would prefer an interface within Media Center that is very remote control friendly. I think that a combination of Netflix plus OTA is a viable solution for many people but using something like the Loop is never going to reach the kind of adoption that you get with a remote.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,338 Posts
I live in Toronto. What is OTA? Would SageTV PVR (this means recording right?) shows from CTV or CBC? Stuff that is online in a browser, meant to be watched on a computer, essentially? I hadn't even thought of the PVR feature.
OTA is over the air - it is watching TV the "old school" way form an antenna. There are a couple of attractive features of this: it is higher quality HD than you get from cable or satellite, it is free and it is relatively easy to record on a PC based PVR. So rather than streaming from CTV.com you would use your PC to PVR shows. You would just need a ATSC tuner card for your PC, I would recommend an HDHomeRun which is a little more expensive but allows you to watch or record two shows at once. I have on of these and an antenna in my attic and I get all of the Buffalo stations via OTA plus the CBC. See the OTA forums on DHC for more info.

So, would SageTV not be great at playing video and audio files? Do you mean torrents by that? Or streaming stuff from the Canadian networks?
Sage does a great job if playing back video files, such as torrents, ripped DVDs or ripped BluRays, but its real strength is in its PVR functionality and in the hardware extenders that it offers. You can buy a small extender device that you plug into your LAN that gives you the full functionality of SageTV on a PC for $150. It is great if you want to be able to deliver your content, including LiveTV and PVRed shows, to multiple TVs in your house.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
Wayne said:
I think that a combination of Netflix plus OTA is a viable solution for many people but using something like the Loop is never going to reach the kind of adoption that you get with a remote.
Who cares? HTPCs aren't ever going to have mass adoption. Mac computers aren't ever going to have mass adoption. That doesn't mean that their respective users don't get benefits from their purchases.

If the problem with Netflix Canada is that it's a website, and websites typically aren't very usable from a HTPC then I suggest using a mechanism that makes websites usable from a HTPC.

Who cares if it's not a mass-market product as long as it solves your problem. If someone has figured out how to make websites usable with a traditional remote control, then great! Until then, the Loop and Kylo are there for people who want this capability today.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,338 Posts
True but I was somewhat refuting what was said in post 3 that you need a PC to do everything. In many instances there may be a better solution than a PC and for many people these days that is a gaming console.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Ok, so can I connect the computer OTA tuner to a television screen? How best to get netflix? What I don't want is to have stuff playing on my computer screen and then connected to a TV and playing there. I want to use my computer while others watch TV. But then, how would I PVR it, without the computer? Can I do this with something like PS3 to act as the computer and recieve the OTA?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
Ok, so can I connect the computer OTA tuner to a television screen?
No, if your computer has a tuner, that is so your PC can gain access to TV signals (ATSC, QAM, NTSC, etc). From there you can typically record the TV to your hard drive, or just watch live TV.

To send TV signals to your TV (HDTV, hopefully), then you'll want a HDMI cable. If you don't have a HDMI port on your computer you can use a DVI --> HDMI converter to get that signal to your TV.

The scenario you're describing where someone is watching TV at the same time that you're using your computer cannot be done just with one device. If you happen to have a XBOX 360 then it can act as a "extender" from your PC so your TV+XBOX can access the live TV signals from your PC.

If this is what you're interested in doing, click this link and then click on the "Using Extenders" video. I just want to verify that this is indeed what you want to do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I'm not sure if thats what will work for us. We don't have the Xbox360, but were looking at PS3, because we could watch TV using its internet browser and our internet network (as far as I understood it). Do you think the TV tuner could work with a PS3 instead of Xbox360?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
Do you think the TV tuner could work with a PS3 instead of Xbox360?
Not that I am aware of. The XBOX 360 achieves it's broadcast TV capabilities by integrating with Windows Media Center, and the PS3 has no equivalent to that. If you're in the market for a console and you want broadcast TV capabilities, then the XBOX is a better choice if you also have a Windows Vista or Windows 7 PC in the house.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Well, we use a Mac, actually.

So, with the OTA thing, you can get TV broadcasts to your computer and record the shows with a computer program to then watch when you want?

Can a PS3 connect to a network and access those shows off the harddrive? Or, can I write those recorded shows to dvd to put onto a PS3?

Is netflixs just a better overall option for us?

I think the whole picture will change when we get a new computer eventually, a desktop mac would have a big screen and better capabilities. I'm so lost in figuring out what we should do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
314 Posts
Windows 7 comes with Media Center that allows you to record TV (you need at least one TV tuner card). I have an iPad/iPod and with an app, so I can play recorded TV shows or any DVD from Win 7. I am not aware of any MAC that records TV from cable or Over The Air.

In my home, one main PC does just about everything, it has 8 TV tuners, stores all my documents, music, and ripped DVD and Bluray. Win 7 Media Center has add-ins you can download/buy for weather, theatre show times, video podcasts, etc.

I rip all my DVD and Bluray to this one PC. With the XBOX 360, I can use Media Center on a TV (accessing content from the PC), and use the PC with a monitor for business in my home office. In fact, I have five XBOX 360's/extenders which can each watch their own content independant of the PC display.

I use the XBOX 360 remote for my 46" LCD TV, 10 foot HD projector, and a number of smaller TV's. My daughter can use the remote and has since she was 5. My library has about 60,000 music tracks, 20,000 photo's, 500 recorded TV shows, and 1,000 DVD/Blurays.

The above is a complicated environment, and not for everyone, but one main PC does it all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
There are no Mac <--> Console integration solutions that I'm aware of for OTA TV.

What I mean by that is that if you have a XBOX acting as an extender to your desktop running Windows Media Center you can, from your XBOX, watch live OTA TV, schedule recordings, etc. Basically, everything you can do from Windows Media Center on your desktop you can also do from the XBOX 360.

Unfortunately the only OS X native software that I'm aware of that does the OTA thing on a Mac is EyeTV, and it's pretty weak when compared to Media Center. Another down side when compared to WMC is that EyeTV's guide data is not free. When you buy the software you get the first year, and then it's $20/year after that. Sure, not a lot of money, but none of the other systems I've seen/tried ever asked for money for their guide data.

Sage TV apparently has a Mac version, but it's written in Java... That said, if you do run Sage TV on your Mac you could buy their Sage HD Theater 300. I haven't used the latest version of Sage TV, but I did evaluate it before moving to Windows Media Center after my previous HTPC software of choice (Beyond TV) was discontinued. Sage TV is very configurable and you can do almost anything PVR related with it. The downside of that software is that (in addition to the Java thing) it is great if you're a detail oriented individual, but if you like a consumer focused product it's not so good.

On the plus side, Sage does have a free time-limited demo, so you can try it out and see if you like it.
 

·
OTA Forum Moderator
Joined
·
24,867 Posts
Shira, the OTA option is a great one for you where you are because the programming is free and the picture quality is higher than from any cable or small dish satellite supplier. Read the following thread to get answers to your OTA questions instead of asking them here in this present thread:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=125161

If you decide to use WMC you'll find that it's ability to properly use Canadian OTA DTV is broken and requires some major adjustments since Microsoft has never fixed it. Thankfully we have a member here named pnear who has instructions on how to make it work. As a Mac user the OTA option is EyeTV, as has been said. If you are a computer geek you can build a MythTV Linux box that does everything you require, but again only if you are really, really into computers. :) There are also a variety of commercial PVRs/DVRs that contain OTA DTV tuners too.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top