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Thread: HTPC thread - Adventures in home PVR

  1. HTPC thread - Adventures in home PVR

    In an effort to reduce the cable bills I'm switching from DirecTV to cable. One issue is Time Warner wants $22 a month for an HD DVR box! But unlike DirecTV I can get a cablecard. On Black Friday I got one of the HD Homerun Prime network attached tuners. It takes the cable card ($2 per month) so it will get all the cable channels, and has 3 available tuners. I can run all my live TV and DVR through Windows Media Center on my PC.

    Network Hardware:
    HD Homerun Prime with 3 tuners
    Gigabit/N router
    Gigabit switch for the media center
    Gigabit powerline adapter (to run the bedroom TV, since the N signal is weak in back)

    HTPC Hardware:
    My existing i5 main rig - which will now move back to the main TV
    3TB external drive for DVR storage (black friday deal)
    Logitech 880
    Xbox 360 coming out of the back of the closet to run the bedroom TV as a Media Center Extender
    XBox 360 media remote (this any good? just ordered from amazon)

    Am I missing anything? Cable install isn't until next weekend, so I haven't started any of this yet. Most of the items will get here during the week. Originally I wanted to build a low power PC specifically to act as the cablebox/DVR and leave it locked down, but I kept missing out on the SSD deals and ran out of money buying other stuff. I am really hoping this system is wife proof. I heard many good things about Windows Media Center, but have never used any of this network TV stuff before. I did order a regular HD cable box for backup if this blows up.

  2. It's alive! Finally got the cable card last night. Windows media center is really awesome for live TV and DVRing. Setup wasn't too bad either. The Harmony is all configured and it works pretty much like a regular cable box. There are a few issues I'm still working on. Sometimes Media Center gets tripped up when the TV and receiver come on and I have to restart it. Sometimes it flickers on scene changes but that problem doesn't stick around long enough for me to figure out what causes it yet. I don't have the remote working with power on/off yet so for now the pc is on all the time. Eventually the PC should be able to shut down or at least sleep and wake when it has to record.

    I use my xbox as a media center extender in my bedroom and it also has full access to live cable TV and everything I've DVR'd. At first I didn't have a good enough internet signal to stream to the TV with the powerline adapter, so I ran an ethernet cable to a different outlet closer to the bedroom and now it's full strength. I wish the XBox were quieter. Are the slims any better than my XBoxFat?

    There are a few customizations you can do to windows media center. I installed My Channel Logos and it replaces all the channel text in the tv guide with logo icons. I installed another extension that adds a Hulu option to the main menu. It'll launch Hulu Desktop from media center and exit back to WMC when you close it. Hopefully I can find something similar for Steam and its big picture mode.

  3. The slim 360s are much quieter.

  4. So Amazon Prime Instant Video is just about the most unusable streaming service ever made. The interface is fucking horrible, there's no way to easily browse or search just the free content. There's no attempt to make it HTPC friendly by amazon at all, all you can do is use the web browser to look at the normal Amazon pages. They have a stand alone app called Amazon Unbox player, but it will only play purchased videos. And even then, the stand alone app also has a shit interface! I've never seen Amazon do something this poorly, and considering this service has been out over a year there's really no excuse for it.

    Verdict: useless for HTPC.

  5. Verdict: awesome on 360

  6. It's good on PS3 too.

  7. The search is still shit on ps3.


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