HTPC: Cord Cutting & DVR

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by JoeMaio, Feb 26, 2017.

  1. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    Been browsing through the forum and have gotten some good information, so first and foremost, thank you all for some great info!

    I am looking to build a HTPC from the ground up to essentially replace my Optimum subscription. I currently have no hardware to support this, so I am mostly in my research phase. I do currently have an Asus Transformer tablet I run Kodi off of with HDMI to the TV, but I want to expand into a whole-house system. What I'm looking to accomplish is as follows:

    1. HTPC located centrally in the house in a media closet
    2. HD Channels including the basics
    3. Automated DVR with options to record/watch multiple channels at same time (up to 4-5)
    4. Ability to work on 3 televisions currently, with expansion for 2 additional in the future

    I would like to get a subscription service like Sling, unless there is a better option for me. There are some channels that my fiance would like, such as MTV, VH1, Food Network, HGTV, etc that antennas just wont get, and we'd like to watch some of these programs live.

    I have the house wired with Cat 6, each TV having either 2 or 4 cables. I'm not sure if it is possible, but I'd like to use these cables to aid in the setup and viewing process. The media room is currently in the process of having 24 lines punched into a patch panel, and then a switch.

    I'd like to keep the cost down on the build, but If certain things need to be purchased to in order to achieve everything on my wish list, then I opt for buying what I need. I have come across a few generic builds online for the basic hardware, so if there are any other hardware pieces that I should get, please feel free to make some suggestions. All in all, I'd like it to stay within $1,000-$1,500.

    Living Room television: Approx 40 feet from media closet
    Mancave TV: Approx 8 feet from media closet
    Master TV: Approx 40-50 feet from media closet

    Any suggestions on what route I should take?
     
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  3. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    1) Have you confirmed your likely reception via tvfool & antennaweb?
    2) Do you already have the appropriate antenna set- up and running?
    3) Are you planning to centralize a library of content that you already own (BD/ DVD/ Music library)?

    I would centralize content intake, and have each viewing location be able to stand on it's own.
    I personally went with the hardware in my sig, the NVidia Shield is a wonderful box for each viewing location, and is less expensive than a similarly capable HTPC (about $200)..
    The Xiaomi Mi Box (find it in Walmart) is an acceptable box for secondary locations (smaller or 720p TV/ no need for surround, but only about $70)
     
  4. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    . I have searched and I am about 20-30 miles away from most stations, and up to 60 for others (seem to be duplicate?) Zip code is 08859.

    2. I did try one of those flat indoor antennas that go on the windows, and didn't get much luck. I got more stations by connecting the COAX to the wall plate screw.

    3. I had not thought about uploading my library, but that may be a great option as I have 100s of Blu Rays.

    With a subscription service like Sling and the likes, would I need the antenna?

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
     
  5. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    contrary to what the antenna sales people want you to believe, mileage is not the key.
    the tvfool/ antennaweb reports give color codes and such to estimate what kind of antenna would be needed to likely receive a given channel.
    2) What is on the other end of the coax wall plate? Obviously a live cabletv feed will give you more than a window antenna....
    3) making your library available can add a lot of front end expense, but also a lot of user friendly access to your personally owned content.
    Sling would be more of a addition to antenna service vice a stand alone due to the lack of local content- a lot depends on what you are after.

    just throwing your zip code in antennaweb (your address would give a more precise idea as to your specific situation) suggests that something like this for your antenna would get you good results..
    https://www.amazon.com/Channel-Master-CM-3000HD-outdoor-Antenna/dp/B000BSKO84

    This https://www.amazon.com/Diskless-Clo...F8&qid=1488227851&sr=8-1&keywords=pr4100&th=1
    would give you storage and a "server" to rip your BD collection to. In conjunction with Plex that lets you watch your movie/ music/ photo collection without hunting down discs.

    The HDHomeRun Connect network tuners would allow your antenna feed to be distributed among compatible playback devices (like the shield/ mi box) without running coax cable everywhere.
     
  6. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    Recommended to research:
    PR4100, running DVBLink TVSource and Plex, For Live TV, DVR, and personally owned content.
    HDHomeRun Connect (Qty 2), for bringing the antenna feed into the system
    NVidia Shield for each primary viewing location
    Mi Box for secondary viewing location
     
  7. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    So to further detail my post, I started looking at antennas for the local channels in addition to a Sling subscription. I came across this:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01ET7BIQY/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A26IMHULYH7PHY
    which I believe should work well mounted outside. Some of the basic channels I'm looking for are VHF and some UHF so a combo antenna sounds like a plus.

    Building the components for the HTPC seems rather straightforward, and was thinking of building something between the lines of "value" and "performance" found here: http://mymediaexperience.com/htpc-builds/

    I would add on a few TB of storage, as well as at least 2 HD Home Runs (still unclear as to which model makes the most sense) because I need to be able to record multiple shows at once.

    The master bedroom is only used to fall asleep, so accessing all my htpc media is not crucical. The other TVs would need full access and act as primaries.

    As far as accessing the HTPC at each television, is a set top box the only way to go about it? Is there no way of utilizing hdmi over ethernet and some kind of IR receiver with remote? If I need to run a little extra wire for something I have some access to work with. If a set top box is the only way, do they make or can I make a box with no unnecessary add ons?
     
    #6 JoeMaio, Feb 27, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  8. Nashemon

    Nashemon Senior member

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    I can't speak for every device, but Plex shows up as an input option on both of my Samsung TVs and my Blu-ray player which are all just connected to the same WiFi network. I can just press Input on my remote and select "Plex Server."
     
  9. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    HDHomeRun Models:
    Prime: CABLE TV ONLY, CATV provider needs to give you a cablecard...
    Extend: OTA only, with built- in HW transcoder intended for use with phones/ tablets
    Connect: OTA only. (This is the one I have 2 of)

    as far as accessing an actual HTPC, the path I was recommending negated the need for an HTPC entirely. Remotely accessing what the HTPC is watching is somewhat doable via HDMI splitters, but controlling it is problematic (not to mention the fact that that would mean you could only watch the same thing on each "point of consumption".

    Accessing what is available on a Plex server is sometimes directly available on the TV (as per what Nashemon way referencing above) depending on the actual manufacturer support, and performance varies from just fine to "you must be kidding me" based on the hardware optimizations said manufacturer does. This is why I recommend the Shield/ Mi Box devices- they are a known value with hardware ranging from outstanding in the case of the Shield to OK in the case of the Mi box, with either being both less expensive than an HTPC at each TV as well as optimized for the "10 foot experience" of use via a remote control.

    re: Your choice of antenna- Looks like a real good option for signals that are originating from a single direction, but is probably a bit overkill for your situation. Since the majority of your available channels looks to be originating from the NY based towers, a directional antenna is a good choice- look at his one (cheaper) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C1YL16Y/ref=psdc_172665_t1_B0018BZJNS
     
  10. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    Ok so by using the standalone boxes at each TV, they communicate via Ethernet network or Wifi with the HomeRun to stream the live channels? My TVs themselves are not Smart TVs nor do they have a wired ethernet port.

    So let's say separate Nvidia boxes for each tv, at only 16gb per box, I need to add storage. The 6 tb cloud storage you suggested will work in conjunction with the box?

    Ultimately, I will be able to watch live cable through my antenna & Homerun, stream Sling from the Shield, run Plex and automated DVR functions, and be able to access all of my media store on external storage that's connected to my network?

    Side note: What do you think of this box for a secondary location? https://www.amazon.com/Lary-Android...ons&keywords=nvidia+shield+media+player&psc=1

    This should also be able to access everything almost as the Shield does?

    I appreciate your help and what may seem like dumb/duplicate questions. I'm trying to put my order for everything I need in the next few days so any other recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
     
  11. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    Supported devices communicate w/ Ethernet network or Wifi to HDHR, yes.

    Nvidia box does not need much storage at all by itself, the WD PR4100 NAS would be your storage for Plex and DVR.

    I will be able to watch---live OVER THE AIR TV through my antenna & Homerun connect/extend---, ---or Live CABLE TV via HDHR Prime--- and stream Sling from the Shield, run Plex and automated DVR functions, and be able to access all of my media on the NAS..

    Side note: What do you think of this box for a secondary location? https://www.amazon.com/Lary-Android...ons&keywords=nvidia+shield+media+player&psc=1

    The box you linked to will be able to access SOME things, but is NOT the same as the Shield/ Mi box- more like an android tablet that is connected to your TV....

    some viewing for you:
    HDHR Compatible DVR systems https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCZHp4d1HnIscfhVyj2mRnkO04HaE4q9Z


    NVidia Shield https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LMaCNcORdE&t=63s

    Mi Box https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVSD3plzvP4
     
  12. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    So I have no need for the transcoder in the Extend, the Connect will be sufficient? I will probably need 3 of these to support being able to watch 2 different TVs and still be able to record up to 4 shows simultaneously? (The Fiance has a lot of shows at the same time on certain days.)

    EDIT: looks like the Extend also offers HD playback on the wireless devices via wifi. Not that I expect to do this a whole lot, but would be nice. One of these tuners should suffice alongside the other 2 connects then.

    As far as the Shield not needing much storage, I was going to get a 3.0 USB 128gb flash drive. There's no need for that with the NAS then?

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
     
    #11 JoeMaio, Mar 1, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  13. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    as far as # of tuners, sounds like a safe bet.
    the "HD Playback via wifi" is due to the transcoding- the connect will playback HD via wifi as well, but is not as bandwidth friendly (and thus more prone to hiccups via wifi)
    *** Note that none of the HDHR devices have any built-in wireless- it is based on your existing network***

    As far as storage, if you are talking about playback of your DVR'd and Plex content you are fine with just the NAS for storage. The shield can connect to a NAS over the network. There are use cases where you may want local storage, but for the use case we are discussing you just need the centralized storage provided by the NAS.
     
  14. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    Awesome. So I can do the 3 connects and save a little money.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
     
  15. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    Note that there are a good number of different DVR packages that do OTA, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Here is some info on some DVRs that are in "BETA".

    Plex DVR: Still in Beta, needs "Plex Pass" <I got the lifetime plex pass for $150> Cannot watch until recording finishes, and does not do live, but guide data is included. Can only set up recordings in web browser for the moment. Integrates recordings directly into Plex library!
    SiliconDust DVR: $60 to get in on the beta, expected to be $35/ year for guide data. No "grid- guide", non-traditional layout evokes a love or hate response.
    Google Live Channels DVR: Free, but requires local storage. non- centralized so recording on one device is not visible on another. currently not working with older TV's unless running through an AVR (AV Reciever)
     
  16. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    That brings up a good point. I was originally planning to run NextPVR based on a few of the videos I had seen through building a HTPC. Is it still possible to run on the NAS?

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
     
  17. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    nextPVR is a windows DVR, so not directly on the NAS. You -could- run nextPVR on a PC, and map your locations to the NAS for storage...

    If dvblink is not an option you want to explore, I would recommend the beta DVR in Plex, and using the "Google Live Channels" app on the Shield/ Mi Box for live...

    Series recording work pretty well once you initially set them up for the Plex DVR...
     
  18. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    Yeah I liked the user interface for NextPvr but I don't have a PC (I do everything with my tablet) which is why I initially was trying to set up a Windows based HTPC. Your route seems way more simplified eliminating the HTPC.

    I may have to see if I can just find an old PC someone doesn't want anymore in the future.

    EDIT: I have an old Xbox 360 in storage I never play anymore. Can I utilize this to run NextPVR and maybe even play some video games every now and then?

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
     
    #17 JoeMaio, Mar 1, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  19. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    I may also be able to get a free older computer already running windows 7 from my job. But I also came across "PsuedoTV Live" which claims to work with any legal service. Any input on if that may work on the Shield as well, and skip the PC altogether?
     
  20. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    I have no experience with that Kodi Plugin, but it --appears-- to be just a playlist of your content arranged to look/ act like a TV feed (with some sorting as to where they originated).
     
  21. JoeMaio

    JoeMaio Member

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    Not to beat a dead horse, but I have since purchased all the hardware mentioned here and am finally getting around to installing.

    Are the HD home runs really necessary now that Sling offers those basic channels as well as a cloud DVR? Also, now that Plex allows love TV streaming through their app.

    Thoughts?
     
  22. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    HDHR's are still useful as a means to pull in OTA broadcast channels. If you happen to be covered on the locals LIVE (as opposed to the partial coverage via ON DEMAND that I see in my area) through sling you are in a distinct minority. Also, the TV experience on Sling is very different than what most people are used to, which could be a deal breaker.

    As far as the current ability of Plex to do live, (which is very limited at the moment), it requires a compatible tuner to work- and the HDHR tuners are supported (they were the first ones to be included).

    If you want to add more options to the mix, the "Google Live Channels" app running on the Shield (with the most current updates) has made some marginal improvements as well.
     
  23. Malogeek

    Malogeek Golden Member

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    On a side question, why the Shield over a Windows box? What are the benefits there? I can get a new NUC capable of 4K HDR playback with a windows 10 license for $225 now.
     
  24. Kartajan

    Kartajan Golden Member

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    UI/UX. A windows box is potentially more versatile , depending on your specific use case, but a shield is built and focused on the "10 foot interface". This means it is best suited for use from the couch, not to mention the whole control schema is already provided out of the box. (a NUC typically does not come with a remote, and is not pre-configured for use from across the room)
     
  25. Malogeek

    Malogeek Golden Member

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    UI is not an issue for me. I have several HTPCs using Kodi, Steam BigPicture, HDHomeRun DVR etc. I also have remote and controller ready for a new unit.

    I'm setting up a new room for my kids and figuring out whether I want to go another windows box or a Shield for them. The Shield runs HDHomeRun w/DRM and Kodi so that's good and it will be able to run games natively already which is a big plus, in addition to streaming from their gaming PC which has an Nvidia GPU.
     
  26. smithkt

    smithkt Member

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    One correction. The HDHomeRun app on the Shield does not yet support DRM in either live tv or recording. Only Windows 10 and Xbox One support live tv with DRM. The record engine still does not on any platform.
     
    Malogeek likes this.