an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

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an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:24 pm

The cost seems reasonable enough compared to the rentals from Comcast that it sounds like a good idea, especially right now.

I'm thinking of getting this Ceton InfiniTV 6 PCIe - 5205-DCT06IN-PCIE tuner, currently on sale for the same price as the 4 tuner model ($199.99), and then building an HTPC around it, though I wonder if I could do something else, like get the external model (also on sale for $199.99), or buy one of these Magnavox boxes they're selling in places like WalMart, except there's little information about its capacities other than disk size (500 GB).

I'd like it to be as versatile as possible, which would require it to be operable by someone with no technical interest or skills in PC's or anything of the kind. Which seems like it would mean a remote control should run the entire thing, which perhaps one of those Logitech universal remotes could handle, but it seems like there are more than a few who have had trouble getting remotes to work with HTPC's.

I've looked through some HTPC threads here, and one of the questions I have is: How much trouble is replacing the cable box? It would save monthly fees, but I'm unclear on what, exactly, can't be done without the cable box except for On-Demand things and have read complaints about channel changing speeds on these tuners. I've got a few premium channels, which I think means Comcast has to be able to address the M-Card multi-stream cable card they rent for the tuner(s) to allow decoding such channels, and I thought I read somewhere about some people having difficulty with that, but I may be confused about it. It does seem like I'd have to get the information that pops up on the TV which the cable box provides when one presses the "Info" button on Comcast's remote from somewhere else, but I don't know anything about that, and it would seem like I'd have to pay for that. But again I'm ignorant about this stuff.


I really don't want any problems that can't be solved, and one of the things that worries me is that my cable box now and then tells me there's no signal when the kitchen TV, which is on SD channels only, is still receiving fine. It hasn't happened in several months, but it makes me wonder if because my signal is apparently weaker than it should be the DVR will be even worse. Also, ideally I'd like to be able to move the data from the machine to a NAS if I ever decide to build one, and if there's a way to send it to other TV's that would be quite nice, too, though I haven't seen anything inexpensive that allows it with one possible exception which I have not researched yet (a Slingbox that I assume I'd have to have available network connections to something to connect to each of the various TV's, and that brings back the question of remote controlling).

I'd like to keep the costs from going crazy, of course, but since it will save $15 a month for the DVR if memory serves, that justifies spending more for reliability, which probably means running cooler (Platinum PSU, low-power CPU) and good, easy-to-clean fans and vents. I don't care about gaming on it, but I'm still not clear on the software situation. I've read a little bit on here about Windows, and Windows 7 Ultimate (which I have and is the current plan for use here if need be) and Windows 8, which I'd probably rather not, but I'm generally ignorant about it all.

The plan is to get a moderately small SSD for quick start and reboots when needed, a decently fast low-power processor, and enough memory to do any conversions and/or transfers to more than one TV at the same time, if needed. I assume 16 GB should be sufficient.

Any advice and thoughts would be very much appreciated.
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 4:52 am

I'm running the older Ceton InfiniTV4 in my living room PC. Dealing with Comcast is easy enough. You go by your local branch to pick up the M-card. You bring it back home, plug it in, and call the support number to have them activate it. In less than half an hour, you've got TV.

A media center remote works well enough for watching and recording TV, but you're definitely going to want to have a keyboard and pointing device available occasionally for doing other things with the PC. One of those compact wireless keyboards with a touchpad attached could be sufficient.

If you're having signal problems now, you'll want to make certain that all of the wiring that you control inside your home is of the highest quality. Make certain that any splitters are rated for high-frequency digital signals and that your cables are RG6.

If you're really wanting a consumer-oriented DVR that's easy to use, you cannot beat TiVo Roamio™ Plus.
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:21 am

I've been running a Ceton InfiniTV4 for about a year and a half now and love it. You can see the full build in my sig.

I echo JAE's recommendation of a mouse/KB combo, like the Logitech K400. Also, yeah, go for the high grade, low signal loss splitter and make sure all the connections are tight.

Definitely no need for an SSD. I run mine without an SSD and my reboot times are still incredibly short. Your HTPC will be running basically all the time, so I wouldn't worry too much about reboot speeds.

Definitely don't need 16gb of ram either. 8gb is plenty. I've never run into a memory issue, even while recording TV *and* playing a game.

Channel switching is decently fast. Probably not much slower than a regular cable box.

For working with more than one TV at a time, I think you should be most concerned about internet speeds and HDD transfer rates. I'd go for a 3TB Western Digital or HGST (Hitatchi?) Desktar. They have really good transfer speeds and tend to be quieter than Seagates. My HTPC as I have it now is pretty quiet, but the loudest part are the HDDs. Keep them quiet and the system should be pretty much unnoticeable except when the room is completely quiet.

Windows Media Center is only included in Windows 7 and below, not 8. You'd have to spend another $20 or so to get it in 8. Just go with Windows 7 Home Premium unless you have some real need for the extra features in Pro or Ultimate.

As for the "info" button - all that information is contained in Windows Media Center. No loss there.

As for processor, an i3 is plenty. You could probably do it with a Pentium. Again, the main limiters will be your HDD write speeds and your internet's transfer rates for using other TVs at the same time.
For sharing with other TVs, you can try Ceton Echos which you can find on sale for about $100 each. You can also use Xbox 360s. If its an older TV, go with an Echo since I think they have easy coaxial cable support.
I think I’ve covered everything I’m knowledgeable on. Hope the info helps!
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
southrncomfortjm
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:21 am

AMD or Intel?

Kaveri:
$146 AMD A10-7700K quad-core 3.5 GHz socket FM2+ processor with HSF + Battlefield 4 game
$119 MSI A88XM Gaming micro-ATX socket FM2+ motherboard
$71 2x4 GiB PC3-17000 G.Skill F3-2133C10D-8GSR (DDR3-2133, CAS 10, 1.6 V) memory

Haswell:
$130 Intel Core i3-4330 dual-core 3.5 GHz LGA1150 processor with HSF
$122½ -15MIR Asus H87M-Pro micro-ATX LGA1150 motherboard
or $77½ MSI B85M-G43 micro-ATX LGA1150 motherboard
$82 2x4 GiB PC3-12800 Crucial BLS2K4G3D1609ES2LX0 (DDR3-1600, CAS 9, 1.35 V, low profile) memory
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
JustAnEngineer
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:34 am

Just went through something similar, and I'm pleased with the results. Two HTPCs now, sharing recordings. A single WD AV-GB drive, even 2.5", is plenty for 3 concurrent record streams and another playback stream. Officially, I think it supports more than that. I've got the 3-tuner HD HomeRun, and yes, it works with premium channels, but not On Demand.

First, I think the "only $20 for WMC in Windows 8" information is now outdated. Last I checked, that offer was no longer available and you needed the $100 "Pro Pack" (or simply Windows 8 Pro) to get Media Center. Second, I've heard extenders like Ceton Echo only work with 7. That might have changed in the past few months, though. Either way, I'm sticking with 7 for the time being.

Yes, an i3 with integrated graphics will be fine. I bought a low-profile 7750, but it was just too hot for such a small system, and I'm just as happy with the picture without it, and it runs cooler and quieter now.

Important, though: note that the intel drivers still have an automatic brightness setting enabled by default, you must turn that off or many of your channels will flicker prominently.

My build:
Silverstone ML05 (though I'd get the ML06 today; it wasn't available then)
ASUS H87i-Plus LGA-1150 mini-ITX
Kingston HyperX 2x4GB (8GB) DDR3-1600
Silverstone ST45SF-G 450W SFF modular PSU
Intel Core i3-4330
WD 1TB AV-GP 2.5" (the case's 3.5" drive support is better to ignore)

I also stuck an small SSD in there as a boot drive, but I have another one without the SSD, and I agree that it stays running so much that I probably don't need it.
Last edited by cobalt on Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
cobalt
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:39 am

cobalt wrote:Important, though: note that the intel drivers still have an automatic brightness setting enabled by default, you must turn that off or many of your channels will flicker prominently.


Forgot about this. Its really annoying when it happens. I never got around to fixing it with integrated graphics since I popped in a 7850.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
southrncomfortjm
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:41 am

southrncomfortjm wrote: I'd go for a 3 TB Western Digital or HGST (Hitatchi) Desktar. They have really good transfer speeds and tend to be quieter than Seagates. My HTPC as I have it now is pretty quiet, but the loudest part are the HDDs. Keep them quiet and the system should be pretty much unnoticeable except when the room is completely quiet.
$190 4.0 TB HGST Deskstar H3IKNAS40003272SN(0S03664) 7200-rpm hard-drive
$190 4.0 TB WD AV-GP WD40EURX 5400-rpm hard-drive
$150 3.0 TB HGST Deskstar NAS H3IKNAS30003272SN(0S03660) 7200-rpm hard-drive
$130 3.0 TB WD AV-GP WD30EURX 5400-rpm hard-drive
Of these, I like the 4.0 TB Hitachi.


How do you feel about the $100 Silverstone Grandia GD05 case?
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:34 am

In regards to your comment about replacing monthly fees, I suggest getting a used 360 or Ceton box and using the extender feature of your HTPC. Note that the Ceton is hard-wire only, but even then, depending on your signal, you'll have to run either cable or do power over eathernet due to bandwidth constraints. Most Windows MC remotes work with the 360, too. I have two TV's that stream HD to them via 2 360's just fine and watched a show on the comptuer. But I have had to switch to power over eathernet to get sufficient bandwidth. You can record everything on one computer and stream it all to other computers, including "protected" since the extender is "attached" to the PC. Protected shows/channels are DRM'ed and cannot be copied to another device.

For system, I started with a X3 455 and 4GB of ram. That worked for me just fine with the setup above. +1 for using Win7 Home Premium. There are all sorts of issues with Win8, or at least there used to be. Check out MCE Buddy. You'll like what it can do for archival purposes. I use the Ceton media center app on my iPads (Android version is available) to schedule stuff. That, I think, was $5. The program you install on your computer, though, is free. It's much easier to schedule programs through that and manage the programs.

There is a 5-tuner limit in media center. But there are addons to get past that. Ceton, I think, is the one that makes it specifically because of the 6-tuner card.

VoD is the only problem I cannot think of that you will not be able to solve.

Also, by rule, they MUST give you ONE(1) FREE M-Card at no charge. I cannot find the thing I showed Comcast, but that was the rule when I did this a year ago. The multi-stream M-Card is the default card they must give out (FCC rule); you must ask for something else specifically. I will tell you that it took me 30 minutes on the phone to get a representitive to activate it for me. They said they had been there x years and not ever done it.

NAS stuff won't work with "protected" channels, but that's uncommon. I think only your "premium" channels have that flag turned on.
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:00 am

Losergamer04 wrote:Check out MCE Buddy. You'll like what it can do for archival purposes.


I tried MCE Buddy -- I liked it conceptually, but just couldn't control it well enough to be happy with its implementation. It's worth pointing out that the recordings that WMC makes are actually supported just fine by programs like Handbrake, so you can just transcode anything you want directly. Stripping out commercials isn't simple, but I just use the start/end seconds to trim the beginning and end of movies during transcoding with Handbrake, and you'd never know they were recorded off the TV.

NAS stuff won't work with "protected" channels, but that's uncommon. I think only your "premium" channels have that flag turned on.


There are a few levels of flag, from no restrictions to you can't record this at all, live only. What my provider (not Comcast) does is that most channels, even secondary premiums (like HBO Family) have little restriction. (Though rarely the wrong flag gets set sometimes, which is irritating.) Only the main premiums (HBO, SHO) say you can record it but can't play it back on any other device, so those recordings I can't watch on another true WMC box. (Though extenders are supposed to work with those as well.) I can't tell you what Comcast does, and I suspect there's some regional variation anyway.
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:04 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
southrncomfortjm wrote: I'd go for a 3 TB Western Digital or HGST (Hitatchi) Desktar. They have really good transfer speeds and tend to be quieter than Seagates. My HTPC as I have it now is pretty quiet, but the loudest part are the HDDs. Keep them quiet and the system should be pretty much unnoticeable except when the room is completely quiet.
$190 4.0 TB HGST Deskstar H3IKNAS40003272SN(0S03664) 7200-rpm hard-drive
$190 4.0 TB WD AV-GP WD40EURX 5400-rpm hard-drive
$150 3.0 TB HGST Deskstar NAS H3IKNAS30003272SN(0S03660) 7200-rpm hard-drive
$130 3.0 TB WD AV-GP WD30EURX 5400-rpm hard-drive
Of these, I like the 4.0 TB Hitachi.


How do you feel about the $100 Silverstone Grandia GD05 case?


+1 for the 4TB Hitachi. Check out some reviews and just get the quietest one. I think you will also find the Hitachis and WD’s are rated for 24/7 use for several years unlike many Seagate models. 4TB is huge though. Maybe want to also consider the 3TB model, plus a 1TB drive. Leave the 3TB one for DVR work only. Use the 1TB for the OS, any games/other apps, and storage for pictures and videos. Its basically the setup I have and it works great - just wish I had the 3TB drive.

The GD05 is a solid case. Highly recommend a modular power supply for it (Platinum isn’t going to be that important since you don’t need a large wattage PSU, bronze should be fine), as I'm sure any HTPC builder would (I used a non-modular one and managed to get it all in, but it’s not as neat as I would like). I've only got one of the case fans hooked up and things stay nice and cool even when I'm gaming for a while using the 7850 I installed.

Only hitch for the OP may be the cleaning of the fans. They aren't that easy to clean since you actually have to open the computer to pull them out and clean the filter. Not a huge deal, but its not as pop and clean easy as something from a bigger Corsair case. Then again, I’m not sure any HTPC is going to have easy to clean fans given their compact nature.

A few other things on the K400 – my wife is not tech savvy and she uses it just fine. There are media controls built right into the top of the KB, so you can fast forward, rewind, pause and raise and lower volume pretty easily. Those controls work fine with Media Center, and even with other apps like VLC media player. You really will want the KB/Mouse combo since you will find yourself doing a lot more than just watching TV with an HTPC.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
southrncomfortjm
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:11 am

southrncomfortjm wrote:The GD05 is a solid case. Highly recommend a modular power supply for it (Platinum isn’t going to be that important since you don’t need a large wattage PSU, bronze should be fine), as I'm sure any HTPC builder would (I used a non-modular one and managed to get it all in, but it’s not as neat as I would like). I've only got one of the case fans hooked up and things stay nice and cool even when I'm gaming for a while using the 7850 I installed.
.

Agreed. Also try for a lower watt power supply, only what you need (which isn't much). Those efficiency ratings are usually higher in the load.
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:13 am

I always love these threads.

As to the Ceton Echo, it is hit or miss on getting one that works as advertised. And it is finicky about which videos it will play.

I'm currently running an older AMD Phenom II chip in my HTPC (I tend to repurpose computer parts downwards in the household) and run it on 16GB of RAM, with Windows 7 Home Premium.
Some will say, hey 16GB of RAM is overkill but, when running 4 - 5 extenders at once - the extra RAM is worth the small investment.

I utilize one 2TB HD for recording and two 4TB HD's for storage. I have a script that will copy the shows I want to keep from the 2TB to the 4TB based on the shows name and places them in a separate directory for each. This is run in the early morning when all shows have been recorded for the day. I have no issues recording 8+ shows at one time to the single drive.

The HTPC is not hooked up to any TV. I have Remote Desktop setup in order to do anything on the system that is required.

All TV's in the home are using XBOX 360's as extenders. These work great, and the latest 4GB models are all that is needed for this purpose, as we do not game on these devices. One caveat here is applications like Netflix, Amazon Video, etc require a Gold Account for each extender. We get by this for the most part with TV smart apps to provide that functionality. If you don't want to pay for XBOX Gold Accounts - there are other devices such as the Roku, Amazon Fire, etc that will provide those; keep in mind they do not work at HTPC extenders.

In the HTPC itself are two Ceton InfiniTV cards, one 4 tuner and one 6 tuner. Please ensure you have really good cooling, as these devices can get rather warm.

With your cable subscription the only thing you cannot do from the Ceton tuners is "order" pay-per-view, sports subscriptions, and the like - or watch "on demand" programming from the provider.
Keep in mind that you can utilize the providers website or phone number to order ANY item you desire. Our household currently subscribes to NHL Center Ice with no issues from the tuners.

The best part about using extenders is that you don't run into the DRM issue.

For example: If you record a movie from HBO on your HTPC in the living room. You CANNOT view that recording on any other PC but the one you recorded it with. But you can view these types of video recordings on any extender.
(The Cetons do provide software to enable other systems to utilize the tuners in a networked fashion, but this leaves the copy protected videos only viewable by the system that recorded it. I don't utilize this function)

A lot of providers are sending channels out over SDV (switched digital video) that will require tuning adapters for each Ceton tuner you install (provided for free). I have Cox Cable and pay a grand total of $4 for two cable cards and two tuning adapters. Any other cost is going to simply be programming or HD fees. You don't need their DVR service, etc with the Ceton tuners.

Basically, keep your system cool. Use extenders. Order online.

Lastly, you can also Terminate any other cable end points in your home to garner a higher signal rate. The Ceton tuners can be picky with signal rates, so ensure those signals are identified within the tuner software and not just with the Cable guy's devices.

I know that was a bit all over the place. But I hope it helps you in your decisions.
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:45 am

southrncomfortjm wrote: I highly recommend a modular power supply.
How about one of these?
$54 -10MIR Corsair CX430M (32A, Bronze, Modular)
$55 -20MIR Corsair CX500M (38A, Bronze, Modular)
$81 SeaSonic SSR-450RM (37A, Gold, Modular)
$87 SeaSonic SSR-550RM (45A, Gold, Modular)

If you want an SSD for your OS and programs, how about:
$140 0.24 TB Intel 530 Series SSDSC2BW240A401
$155 0.25 TB Samsung 840 Evo MZ-7TE250BW
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
JustAnEngineer
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:04 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote:A few other things on the K400 – my wife is not tech savvy and she uses it just fine. There are media controls built right into the top of the KB, so you can fast forward, rewind, pause and raise and lower volume pretty easily. Those controls work fine with Media Center, and even with other apps like VLC media player. You really will want the KB/Mouse combo since you will find yourself doing a lot more than just watching TV with an HTPC.


Oh, yeah, forgot to mention my thoughts on the remote.

First, I totally agree having a keyboard is a good idea. On one of mine, I got away with a candybar-sized one, because the office PC is close enough we don't use the HTPC for much other than a media center. The other one's in a bedroom and so that keyboard gets used a lot more. The k400 looks great.

But I'd highly recommend a remote, because it's used that way far more than anything else. The good news is that there's a standard windows media center remote protocol, and there's a bunch of remote+IR receivers sold all over e.g. Amazon and Newegg. I've tried two now, just to get the IR receivers, and they both work fine. I then throw away the remote that came in the box (well, not literally, but why don't they sell the receivers separately!?) and use a good universal remote.

(In two cases, the Universal WR7, and in the third, a Logitech Harmony. The thing is, those remotes in the box don't control much if any TV stuff, and they have silly choices overall. So while I started e.g. on my WR7s by programming in the WMC button layout, I then overrode both power buttons to be TV power instead of computer power (why do they think I want to turn off my HTPC all the time), and added some shortcuts like sleep timer, changed the Exit button to perform the Last function instead, and stuff like that.)
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:08 pm

stratagem wrote:Lastly, you can also Terminate any other cable end points in your home to garner a higher signal rate. The Ceton tuners can be picky with signal rates, so ensure those signals are identified within the tuner software and not just with the Cable guy's devices.


Ooh, I didn't know that -- can you make a recommendation on terminators? Are there ones I can just stick on the wall jack? My signal could use a slight improvement, and thanks to my HTPC kick now have lots of rooms without need for coax endpoints.
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:28 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
southrncomfortjm wrote: I highly recommend a modular power supply.
How about one of these?
$54 -10MIR Corsair CX430M (32A, Bronze, Modular)
$55 -20MIR Corsair CX500M (38A, Bronze, Modular)
$81 SeaSonic SSR-450RM (37A, Gold, Modular)
$87 SeaSonic SSR-550RM (45A, Gold, Modular)

If you want an SSD for your OS and programs, how about:
$140 0.24 TB Intel 530 Series SSDSC2BW240A401
$155 0.25 TB Samsung 840 Evo MZ-7TE250BW


Lol, thanks for providing the links I was too lazy to search for. :)
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:36 pm

Ragnar Dan wrote:stuff


A couple questions you asked that I haven't seen answered yet:

Channel changing speed is fine. If you have switched digital video channels (SDV), some of those might take a little longer, but I've never noticed anything significant. Keep in mind the guide is more useful in WMC than on many cable boxes, so you're going to keep your finger on the up/down channel buttons a lot less than you used to -- when you just jump to the channel you want, a little extra delay (if it exists) isn't particularly noticeable anyway.

Speaking of the guide, you asked if you needed a subscription. No, WMC has a built-in guide data provider. Probably zap2it, but you don't need to sign up for it yourself or pay for it separately, it's just part of WMC.

I've found MWC is only meh at housing movie collections -- it works, but it's a little persnickety about structure (e.g. one directory per movie). Plugins like MyMovies help a lot, and can fill out synopsis and cast/crew, though, so you can definitely make it work without a ton of effort. I wish WMC out of the box was better than it is, but you can get it working pretty well without killing yourself. One other tip: fastforward and rewind are bizarrely slow on things like mp4 videos, so to ff/rw at more than a glacial pace, simply type in the timestamp you want to jump to, then the Play button (e.g. "2 0 <play>" takes you to 20 minutes into a video or recording.)
cobalt
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:10 pm

On the subject of movies, YAMM (yet another media manager?) is part of the Ceton software I mentioned earlier and does movies for me, including pictures, meta data, and folder creation. I should have mentioned that. It's one of many options.
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:20 pm

If you install a Blu-ray drive in your HTPC, you can launch PowerDVD (including the version that comes included with many Blu-ray drives) from within Windows Media Center, but WMC doesn't do Blu-ray by itself.
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JustAnEngineer
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Re: an HTPC / DVR on Comcast

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 4:37 pm

cobalt wrote:
stratagem wrote:Lastly, you can also Terminate any other cable end points in your home to garner a higher signal rate. The Ceton tuners can be picky with signal rates, so ensure those signals are identified within the tuner software and not just with the Cable guy's devices.


Ooh, I didn't know that -- can you make a recommendation on terminators? Are there ones I can just stick on the wall jack? My signal could use a slight improvement, and thanks to my HTPC kick now have lots of rooms without need for coax endpoints.



Just hit up your local Radio Shack for them - they shouldn't cost more than a couple of bucks for a pack of them. And they just screw onto the end of your cable terminations in each room. Ideally you can do what I did, have a two way splitter installed in place of whatever current setup you have. This way you have one cable running to your HTPC and the other running directly to your Modem. Then the Cable Guy can do a better job at providing the proper signal strength.


On the subject of media managers - I too find that WMC's abilities are limited. My solution is MediaBrowser.
It integrates well into WMC. I find it's a better replacement for Videos, Recorded TV (after I've moved them), Movies, TV Shows, etc.

As well, I use Media Center Master for all my metadata needs.
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