Live TV / PVR and proper hardware - Printable Version
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Live TV / PVR and proper hardware - funkdrmr - 2010-12-03 07:54
I just stumbled across xbmc 2 weeks ago when thinking about setting up a Win7 Media Center PC. I'm very impressed so far, and I'm running it on top of Win7 just to play around with without any problems whatsoever.
Some background on me - IT Sys Admin, Linux / Windows / storage / networking background...I'm comfortable across the board when it comes to configuring either flavor of OS to get things to work.
What I would like to do - Run a small XBMC computer in my living room, connected to a storage array on the network (unraid?), where all of my music and movies are stored.
Seems easy so far, & I think I've got most of that figured out...but here's where I just can't seem to put things together.
I would REALLY REALLY like to ditch the "set-top box" and have my LiveTV / PVR inside XBMC.
I've seen that the PVR branch is still working on some things, and it looks like there are ways to make it happen via MythTV as a backend, etc....
BUT....what do I use for a card, and which provider should I use? (i currently don't have cable tv as I just moved to Austin).
My choices for providers seem to be Time Warner and Direct TV.
I spoke to Time Warner regarding a CableCard, but they didn't seem to know WHAT the hell I was talking about. They also told me that they didn't know of a way for me to be able to get all of the HD (encrypted) content without their box due to the new Tru2way setup.
SO...I noticed on my rental that I have 2 dishes on the back roof. I'm wondering if maybe directTV would be a little easier to work with?
Either way, I'm completely at a loss for what the best way to get the LiveTV / PVR setup going is, and on the hardware side I'm very unsure what kind of tuner I should get and what service I should go with.
I'm sorry it's long winded, but I'd really appreciate any input that anyone has!
- misterpink - 2010-12-03 20:42
Time Warner in Austin (and a bunch of other areas) runs SDV in order to squeeze more channels in. SDV is not compatible with cablecards - so any channels that are only broadcast over SDV won't be tunable with a cablecard. Timewarner makes a "tuning adapter" to solve this - but afaik the only cablecard device that supports the tuning adapters are HD Tivos.
That said, you should still be able to get a standard cablecard from TimeWarner, even in Austin, and receive a subset of their offerings at least. There are plenty of loopholes that allow the cable co to limit whats available via cablecard - so exactly which channels you will lose out on I can't say - possibly an Austin specific forum somewhere would be better for that.
I'm not sure where DirecTV is these days, I haven't had my dish or .. "modified" directivo connected since the downfall of the football cards (relevant only to anyone else who gets that ). But as far as I know, they are currently a closed system insofar as their own settopboxes are required to do the tuning/decrypting/outputing. (But I may be wrong!)
- funkdrmr - 2010-12-03 21:05
It sounds like I may have been correct in my assumptions after so much researching......getting basic cable, local HD channels & such seems to be a piece of case, whereas completely replacing the set top box might be out of reach at this time.
I'm hopeful we'll get to the point sometime in the near future where we don't have to even have the cable company's boxes. Until then, it sounds like I'll have to switch sources on my receiver to go from entertainment to TV. :-(
- poofyhairguy - 2010-12-03 21:09
Short Story: XBMC is 1-2 years behind Windows Media Center 7 when it comes to Live TV support.
1. You are right that XBMC has a PVR branch in development, but it is getting left out of the next release for a reason- it is barely at an alpha level.
2. You are right that MythTV is the best Linux recording software for Americans, and that XBMC has the beginning of a backend for it. But honestly the only real working and usable backend for PVR functions right now is TVHeadend, not MythTV.
3. TVHeadend development is mostly (completely?) being done by Europeans so there is no real guidelines as to what works and what doesn't for us ATSC Americans. I personally and gonna invest some money soon on different tuners to get a better idea, but as far as advising a newbie the only advice is "its not ready."
4. Even if MythTV was a decent backend, there is a reason its development has hit a wall- it does not support Cablecards. I mean, with the upcoming HDHomerun if the evil media overlord decides not to flag something apparently it will work, but even that at best is a year away from being a stable solution. Cablecard exists to add DRM to recording TV. DRM likes closed software only. Therefore the only way to REALLY get Cablecard support is WMC7 (and OSX's EyeTV).
5. So basically all the PVR branch is currently useful for Americans is to:
1. Record and play OTA Tv you get off an antenna
2. Record and play unencrypted QAM you get from the cable company. In
most cases this ends up being exactly what you get off the airwaves.
6. Most Americans that use XBMC don't even try to record TV. Instead we let sickbeard autodownload everything we want off the usenet. Only place this really doesn't work is sports.
7. There is a way to use MythTV without a Cablecard- the HD PVR. Basically it is a box you hook up via component to your cable/Direct TV box and it re-encodes the TV to a broadcast-flagless state. Problem is that you need on cable box per HD PVR- no such thing a dual tuner. It really is a crappy solution.
8. I have Direct TV and its PVR is actually pretty nice. I am familiar will all the major PVR softwares on all platforms and I am honest when I say I don't think any are as nice as Direct TV's real offering.
So basically: If you REALLY want a Cablecard HTPC, go back to Windows 7. If you just want the shows, use the Usenet. If you want sports, subscribe to Direct TV and pay the extra for their PVR.
One final thing: Unraid rocks, but I have never heard of anyone successfully running a MythTV or TVheadend backend on their Unraid server. Since it is based on such a primitive version of Slackware installing things on Unraid is the definition of pain. Unraid is better left as a dumb NAS- I do all my software stuff on my actual HTPC....
Hope I helped, even though it is not the news you wanted.
- funkdrmr - 2010-12-03 21:25
Wow...thanks, Poofy! Your post really cleared everything up for me.
I'm definitely going to look into the Usenet option. I had seen a few things about it, but hadn't really gone down that road yet.
For Unraid...I completely agree. Sorry if I was confusing in my earlier posts. From what I've read, my ultimate "end-game" setup looks like it would be something like:
1. A back-end machine taking care of the PVR / TV duties.
2. All data stored on the Unraid NAS
3. HTPCs in living room / other rooms, sharing the same XBMC database running content off of the NAS as well as accessing TV programs from the back end server.
I'm not sure if having that back-end server is what I'll need or not, but if I could have 1 powerful machine handling those duties with smaller nodes at the televisions, I think that would be the best setup overall.
- poofyhairguy - 2010-12-03 21:25
funkdrmr Wrote:Until then, it sounds like I'll have to switch sources on my receiver to go from entertainment to TV. :-(
Harmony Harmony Harmony Harmony Harmony
funkdrmr Wrote:I'm not sure if having that back-end server is what I'll need or not, but if I could have 1 powerful machine handling those duties with smaller nodes at the televisions, I think that would be the best setup overall.
Many of us have this setup without the live TV. There ARE many guides to get sickbeard on Unraid (which allows for magic usenet autodownloading). The Live TV thing is the only part not "there" yet.
- funkdrmr - 2010-12-03 21:51
Oooooh...the Harmony touch-screen remote looks sexy!
The computer nerd in me has been itching lately, though.....wondering if I can steal my wife's iPad & have it do the same type of thing. I already see the XBMC remote app. Might have to try that out soon.
- darkscout - 2010-12-03 22:05
Unless you really want sports or LiveTV, spend $10/month on Astraweb (Or depending on how much TV you watch, get the 180GB/$25 package).
It'll be like a magical DVR.
- poofyhairguy - 2010-12-03 22:11
funkdrmr Wrote:Oooooh...the Harmony touch-screen remote looks sexy!
The magic about the Harmony is you program macro buttons so your wife can easily use your AV setup.
For example I have a "watch XBMC" button. When she hits it the TV turns on if its off, it is switched to the right input, the AV receiver is turned on if it is not, and it is switched to the right input. You never have to teach your wife "this thing is this input" ever again.
As a bonus you can program the buttons for each activity. So for example on my XBMc activity all the menu buttons control XBMC, but the volume and mute buttons control the AV receiver. Makes a VERY complicated setup idiot proof, and is the reason I think the Harmony is the best thing invented since the internet...
- rbrohman - 2010-12-03 23:07
poofy - which harmony remote do you have/recommend?