Decisions, Decisions...

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TRiddle Offline
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Post: #1
As the title states, I have some decisions to make. A little background information...

I've been a SageTV customer for about 6 years. Obviously it is not news that Sage is a product with little to no future. However, my system keeps plugging along. Currently, I utulize two HDHomeruns for OTA and a Colossus to capture signal from my Dish ViP box. My Sage server is headless (for the most part) and I utilize an HD300 at my main viewing location. I also have an unRaid server that stores all of my music, movies/videos, pictures, etc. Around the time of building my unRaid server, I also got a buddy interested in unRaid, and at that time I made the decision to get him setup using an openelec distro of xbmc. He was hesitant at first, but now over a year later he's glad I pushed him in that direction.

This brings me to my main point of this post. I'm fully aware of the backend/frontend nature of xbmc and I'm also fairly comfortable in my abilities to make a backend and xbmc play nicely together. What I'm ultimately after is some advice or just general recomendations on what route to take. I've studied up quite a bit on the Mediaportal backend/xbmc frontend approach. In all actuality, I plan on purchasing either an Acer or Zotac nettop in the very near future and getting my own xbmc appliance in the mix (I use xbmc on my laptop currently, but want to finally make the push to get it permanently fixed into my system). Frankly, I think the options for music and other media in Sage is pretty lackluster. It works, but compared to my buddy's system with xbmc it is no contest. What Sage does really well though (in my honest opinion) is being a PVR. So with that said, some info that would be helpful to me would be experiences pertaining to:

1.How does Mediaportal play with the Colossus? I've done some research on the Mediaportal site, and while it seems to me that it works, it looks like it takes some convincing. Any users here have experience with it and how it translates to the xbmc frontend?

2. I've seen plenty of material on the HDHomerun, so I'm not too terribly worried about it playing nicely, but again, any feedback on user experience would be appreciated.

3. How is Live TV? Rarely do the wife and myself watch Live TV these days, but on occasion (usually a sporting event or some needed background fodder) we fire up Live TV. How is this experience?

4. I'm still a bit unclear on scheduling recordings. Is this still a backend exclusive thing, or do the plugins for the various backends have some functionality for managing this through xbmc. Not trying to make this one sound like a request, just curious what others with more experience have to say.

I'm sure there are more things I can think of, but those are the main points. What I'm banking on is that someone will have gear similar to what I currently have and will be able to toss some pointers my way before I go all in to xbmc integration. Also, I should note that I'm aware of the SageTV plugin/script that is floating around these forums. While I think it is a very awesome tool, it's not quite what I'm after (I'm looking to cut all ties with my SageTV server). Also, my server is Windows based, and while I'm not entirely opposed to ditching Windows, it is my preferred OS for my backend. Thanks for any info and advice you might have to serve up for me.
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nick_l Offline
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Post: #2
While I have absolutely nothing of value to add, I figured since no one else has replied so far I'd chime in.

I was a diehard Sage user as well, until the big G incident. I've been using Media Portal for the past year, and while I've found it generally flexible, personally i find the PVR component to be lacking, to say the least (especially compared to Sage). I've recently begun using XBMC and love it. I've been doing my homework and I think I'm personally going to give For the Record a try this weekend as my back end PVR. It seems to be the closest to Sage in scheduling and conflict resolution.

Good luck with your choices.
Nick
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nmcaullay Offline
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Post: #3
1. No comment on MediaPortal, other than that, from what i can see, TVHeadend is getting the most attention from an XBMC perspective. It looks to be having the most active XBMC addon development, and from my expereince, the TVHeadend integration into the OpenElec PVR daily builds is stable, and completely ready for family production use. I'm a long time MythTV user, but have recently moved to TVHeadend, for ease of installation on my QNAP NAS. I'm very happy with the TVHeadend backend (on a NAS), in combination with an OpenElec PVR Ion daily build (on an Asrock ION330 nettop PC).

2. I've got 2xDVB-T HDHomeruns, which worked seamlessly in MythTV, and are now working great under TVHeadend on the NAS. While the reliable operation of HDHomeruns on the QNAP has only been possible recently, i'm so far, very impressed with the stability and performance. They havent missed a beat.

3. LiveTV with using MythTV was fine. Channel changing was very slow, but you had timeshifting (when using mythtvfrontend). TVHeadend backend (as described above) is slippery quick on channel changing, almost instant. I think TVHeadend remains tuned with the HDHomeruns, which makes this possible. Pausing (and timeshifting) in LiveTV is not working at present in XBMC using any addon (from what I can tell). I anticipate that the clever people behind the PVR addons will implement it relatively soon. It is one of the most frequently asked for features with respect to LiveTV. Again, I expect that the TVHeadend addon will probably lead the way on this development, purely due to the amount of attention it is currently recieving from XBMC users/developers.

4. The PVR backend (which ever flavour you choose) still is responsible for the scheduling and recording of programs. The XBMC PVR addons do provide a mechanism to instruct the PVR backend to schedule a recording. I think I'm correct in saying that the "scheduling" feature in XBMC PVR addons has not yet reached maturity. I still use the TVHeadend web interface to schedule recordings, as it is really simple. Perhaps ive not looked into the scheduling via XBMC PVR addons enough though.

On your OS question. I have been running Linux for years (using MythTV), and while it has required some "tinkering", it has been a great way to learn a new OS. I've fiddled with knoppmyth, LinHES, Mythbuntu, MythDora, and a few others for the backend. Now I've got a QNAP NAS, I am a little more restricted to the linux OS that comes on it, but there are some really clever people who package up software for it (using QPKG), which makes it a simple task. The fonrtend is a similar story, all linux. Recently I have found OpenElec, and so far it is the most impressive of all the frontends I've used over the years. It just works. And it is quick. OpenElec is some sort of linux variant, but if you are after a home theatre device, that you dont need to use for any other purpose (desktop, internet browsing etc), it is perfect. Updates are simple. Worth a look if you are thinking of switching to the dark side Smile

Hope that helps a little.

Cheers Nathan
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TRiddle Offline
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Post: #4
Well I guess since I got some responses, I can reply with my latest tinkering. The one thing that I'll give Sage credit for is the software basically forcing me to become a tinkerer. I began work in earnest the other day to get a proof of concept working for myself on my test rig (it's just my laptop). I was literally watching live tv in xbmc via mediaportal in under an hour. Yeah, it was that simple. I stand up and applaud those that have done some really excellent work to get xbmc and mediaportal playing nice with each other as it was a very simple process. Unless I just haven't dug deep enough yet, I think for the moment I'm stuck with going the mediaportal route as my backend as I do have a colossus that does a lot of work in my current Sage setup and I haven't seen any of the other options that currently support it (again, maybe I missed something in my readings). Not that this is a bad option in the least, but I really love how ForTheRecord and TVHeadend function, it's just that they don't support a major player in my current setup, the colossus. As far as linux goes, again, I know just enough to make me dangerous. Building an unRaid server forced me to learn some basic linux. I also built an xbmc rig for a buddy of mine and installed OpenElec on it, so I'm very familiar with it. Like you said, it just works, which is why I'm such a fan of it.
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wileecoyote Offline
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Post: #5
Hey TRiddle,
I thought I would chime in here and give you my experience. I initially wrote the Colossus code for MediaPortal and it integrates flawlessly. I currently use MediaPortal 1.2.2 with ForTheRecord latest beta and XBMC on the front end. ForTheRecord can be set up to control your MediaPortal tuners and play them via XBMC.

So... MediaPortal is set up with ForTheRecord. Then in XBMC I only have the ForTheRecord plugin enabled (neither of the MediaPortal addon's are enable), therefor everything goes through ForTheRecord.

My Setup:
MediaPortal - 2 Colossus Tuners tied to Dish Netword setup, channels setup and mapped via the ForTheRecord TV Server Plugin.
MediaPortal Client - Not configured or used.
ForTheRecord - 2 ATSC tuners setup in Argus, Schedules Direct guide data setup and mapped.
XBMC - ForTheRecord PVR Addon enabled.

As others have stated ForTheRecord is excellent at setting up recordings, management and conflict resolution. The other nice thing with ForTheRecord is it can be set up with IIS or Apache so you can manage your recording via a nice web interface.

Also, if you have an iPad or iPhone, I would recommend getting the Constellation App, you wife/kids will LOVE you for it! Smile

Good Luck!
Wile E.

XBMC PVR Addon Unofficial Builds for Frodo Nightly Builds.
http://www.dotnetdevelopers.net/xbmc
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-22 02:58 by wileecoyote.)
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tytherman Offline
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Post: #6
Hi Wile,

I am very new to the PVR side of XBMC but am a die hard XBMC user with an old Xbox, 3 Win 7 Machines an ATV2 and an Openelec as well. I set up Mediaportal TV server at the weekend and it seems fine, using WEB EPG for tv details. I have read many posts about people using 4TR as well as MediaPortal, but I am confused as to what is actually doing what? Why do you need 4TR as well as MP, how did you set up each to get them working so well. I have an HD PVR connected to a SKY HD box and a DVBT card for terrestrial, apart from some aspect ratio issues and getting the Hauppage Blaster to work (which I havent managed yet) it works pretty well, so I am interested to know what the 4TR would add?

thanks
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wileecoyote Offline
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Post: #7
Hey Tytherman,
FTR was originally developed to be an add-on to MediaPortal. It provided better TV scheduling, recording and conflict resolution to the built-in functionality of MediaPortal. It has since expanded, and they have developed their own TV Server (called Argus), but still works 100% as an add-on to MediaPortal.

Putting Argus aside, you can set up MediaPortal TV Server and install and configure FTR. Once configured FTR will control your MediaPortal Tuners for live TV and recordings. You can then use the FTR PVR plugin in XBMC instead of the MediaPortal plugins.

In addition to better scheduling and conflict resolution, the reason I like FTR is it adds a nice web interface for scheduling as well as nice guide integration (I use Schedules Direct.) And the FTR PVR plugin for XBMC has worked almost 100% flawlessly. (Not to say the MediaPortal one(s) don't, the FTR one works for me so I have stuck with it.)

The only downside to FTR was the initial configuration. It took me two days to figure out a lot of the functionality and how it ties to MediaPortal. I actually gave up on it a time or two, but everyone on the MediaPortal forums raved about it so I was determined to get it working. Smile

Good luck!
Wile E.

XBMC PVR Addon Unofficial Builds for Frodo Nightly Builds.
http://www.dotnetdevelopers.net/xbmc
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-24 15:36 by wileecoyote.)
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TRiddle Offline
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Post: #8
Wile,

Thank you for the response! Your setup is almost identical to what I eventually want to migrate towards. My recording server has a colossus controlling a dish box, and I also have two hdhomeruns capturing ATSC locals. For some reason, I thought that you couldn't have FTR controlling MP in XBMC, but it sounds like that is exactly what you are doing. Now that I think I understand how MP-FTR-XBMC play with each other (and the fact that you have a working proof of concept), it sounds like it is time for me to press on and get this thing fully integrated. I hope you don't mind if I bug you from time to time for pointers =)
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wileecoyote Offline
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Post: #9
(2012-04-24 18:08)TRiddle Wrote:  Wile,

Thank you for the response! Your setup is almost identical to what I eventually want to migrate towards. My recording server has a colossus controlling a dish box, and I also have two hdhomeruns capturing ATSC locals. For some reason, I thought that you couldn't have FTR controlling MP in XBMC, but it sounds like that is exactly what you are doing. Now that I think I understand how MP-FTR-XBMC play with each other (and the fact that you have a working proof of concept), it sounds like it is time for me to press on and get this thing fully integrated. I hope you don't mind if I bug you from time to time for pointers =)

No worries, bug all you want Smile

I only wish FTR supported Colossus, that is the only reason I am running MediaPortal. MediaPortal is, for the most part, unused in my system except for the Colossus tuners. I run the live TV, guide data and ATSC tuners through FTR. My two Hauppauge 1600 (ATSC) tuners are currently configured under Argus, which is probably how you want to configure your HDHR tuners.

Again, try not to get too frustrated with FTR, once you figure out how all the parts/pieces go together it will be well worth it!

Wile E.

XBMC PVR Addon Unofficial Builds for Frodo Nightly Builds.
http://www.dotnetdevelopers.net/xbmc
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TRiddle Offline
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Post: #10
I've been playing with it lately, doesn't seem all that rough (thus far...). You actually answered a question before I could even ask it: I was really curious as to why you were running both Argus and MediaPortal TV server instead of just MediaPortal, considering you need the colossus support. Now I know =) And yes, my fingers are still crossed about FTR maybe giving some deeper consideration in to supporting the HD-PVR/Colossus analog front, but until that day comes, I'll be mirroring your setup exactly.
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ixian Offline
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Post: #11
As Wile knows, I've had the exact same transition as he has - I also use MediaPortal's TV server, FTR, and XBMC for the front end.

MediaPortal TV Server - I use this because it's the only stand-alone TV server that supports the Hauppauge Collossus (thanks to Wile), and because it's analog capture device support in general is very good. MythTV does support the HD-PVR, but in my experience it is something of a chore to set up and keep going, particularly when it comes to external channel changing. MePo's TV server supports plugins, one of which is IR Server Suite, which is the best/easiest remote addon there is.

For The Record - I use this because it adds a laying of scheduling, conflict resolution, and searching that Media Portal (and many other PVR's) lack. It also has one of the best web interfaces out there.

XBMC - I prefer this in general as a front end. I will say that the PVR portion isn't quite up to the Media Portal/For the Record client combo, particularly when it comes to timeshifting, but it's getting there.

I also run Plex Media server on my Synology box, for the sole purpose of providing remote streams to my iOS devices, something it is very good at.
(2012-04-26 17:33)TRiddle Wrote:  I've been playing with it lately, doesn't seem all that rough (thus far...). You actually answered a question before I could even ask it: I was really curious as to why you were running both Argus and MediaPortal TV server instead of just MediaPortal, considering you need the colossus support. Now I know =) And yes, my fingers are still crossed about FTR maybe giving some deeper consideration in to supporting the HD-PVR/Colossus analog front, but until that day comes, I'll be mirroring your setup exactly.

They've been somewhat ambivalent on the analog card front; I've asked many times Smile Remember, it's not just about supporting analog devices, they also need to provide a way to send channel-change commands to external devices. Easiest way for them to do that would be to do what Media Portal does and integrate with IRSS, but FTR doesn't have a plugin architecture that I am aware of.
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-26 22:03 by ixian.)
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TRiddle Offline
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Post: #12
Excellent, another person that I can bug =)
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Leetxjd Offline
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Post: #13
You all have the exact setup I am looking to install. I have a colossus and have been trying to get a decent pvr setup working.

I find MediaPortal to be quite complicated to set up. I can't even figure out how to even get my directv lineup imported and associated with my colossus HDMI input in the TVserver. When I run 4therecord I get share violations.

Does anyone know of any walkthroughs for the kind of installs wileecoyote and others have in place?

I have even been searching YouTube!

Thanks for this thread.

-LeeTXJD
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