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HTPC build as TV Tuner & DVR??

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hey all,

Are there any HTPC's out there that can serve as a suitable alternative to a TV tuner and DVR box?
Like, my hope is completely remove the need for a standalone TV tuner and DVR box, and instead using a Mini Computer / Barebone System / HTPC to take the Cable in, record TV, and stream Netflix etc.

Do people do this? I know Shuttle PCs have been around for a while now..

I would like a PC that is small. ~1.8ghz, 4gb memory. Has good power management (can go into idle and save power..good BIOS power state options...etc).
Needs to have TV tuner card probably, right..? HDMI output (video card?). No disk player necessary. No monitor necessary. Would like to have ~500gb storage, but I can probably end up getting an external drive. WIFI would be a plus.

What about more "custom" solutions...like Raspberry Pi setups? Probably not worth bothering with huh. Let me know!

Thanks !!
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post #2 of 17
the raspberry pi is not capable of recording HDTV without issues due to its slow cpu.

The way i personally record tv shows is i use 2 sony playtv's and windows media center with an ICETV subscription. Allows me to record 4 shows simultaniously.
I cannot assist you on the hardware aspect of the build though. :/
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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Good input anyway! Rep +

Note taken: I will steer clear of the Raspberry Pi's. Sadly, I don't have access to a PS3 to use PlayTV...that would have been a good alternative.
And I will keep an eye out for IceTV functionality. smile.gif
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post #4 of 17
Sure a "one box rules all" is one of the main strengths of a HTPC : what kind of stuff do you intend to record i.e Cable/Paid TV, FTA off antenna, etc?
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post #5 of 17
^^ Can't do much until we know what your sources are for TV programming.
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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yes, I will be mainly recording FTA and unscrambled digital cable channels. If I wanted to later start recording PPV and paid Digital Cable will I need fancier equipment?
Right now it sounds like I will be opting for either a Hauppauge or Ceton external USB tuner. And a SSD will be a must for my recording streams. I will have it somehow do the recording to the SSD, and then auto-archive to a 2TB.

Do you guys think Intel Atom D525/NVIDIA ION 2 will offer the best performance:power savings ratio? Don't think I will need the power of a Sandy bridge..so is this the best option for an HTPC setup? I know ION 1 has issues with 1080p playback..has this been resolved?

Also, would you guys recommend using an internal PCIe over an external USB tuner? Why?
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post #7 of 17
Erm negative on SSD for storage/DVR and for the same functions/less $$ i'd take a PCIe/PCI tuner over USB for most scenarios. Not to mention much more inputs/outs on PCI/PCIe cards wink.gif For a balance of small and expansion slots for tuner/s i'd give ITX a miss and start looking at mATX form factor/mobos to be honest wink.gif For paid tv you may need a Cablecard tuner
Edited by trog - 11/27/12 at 5:59am
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post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Good input on PCIe vs USB, thank you. Rep + I will be using a SSD and a 2TB mechanical drive.
I think I could still make this work mini ITX...I mean I am gaming and getting 30K 3dmark06 marks on my sig rig itx setup, I shouldn't have that much trouble getting together a rig sufficient enough to just record some TV..right?

Any need for a cablecard AND a video card?
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post #9 of 17
I've done a couple of these. First off, the Ceton pci-e tuner is a better choice if you are going Ceton. The usb one has issues with disconnects once in a while and you will get partial/missed recordings. The flipside is it's not inside your case, taking up an expansion slot (shouldn't be an issue for a dedicated HTPC) and it's not creating heat in there. Do not underestimate the amount of heat that thing generates! Mine idles at ~60C so you must have SOME airflow. It doesn't need to be a windtunnel because trust me, it won't cool it down that much and it's not worth the noise. But I just wouldn't trust the USB version of Ceton. I also have the HDHomerun prime network tuner. That is just awesomeness right there. Doesn't get hot, and even if it did who cares? It's not in your case. It's always synced to the cable card (Ceton takes about 45 seconds to do this from wake) and it can be used by other pc's on your network. I have yet to have a problem with mine. Downfall is you only get 3 tuners instead of 4, and if you are using those tuners with other pc's and you have several shows set to record on your HTPC, you will miss out (tuners will obviously be busy). Now as far as PPV, you cannot request that directly through WMC. You have to go oldschool and call up the cable provider. Once you do that you will have access to that PPV channel just like if you requested it off your cable box. Do not use a SSD as storage like the above poster said. In WMC you can set a seperate drive to record to, and this will also be your live TV buffer location. I highly recommend a green drive for storage and recommend not even watching tv on your machines until you have a seperate drive to record to. The SSD will get beat up otherwise with the live tv buffer, and for recording purposes the large green drive is perfect for it. HD shows are usually around 3-5 GB an hour. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Edit to my wall of text. It takes very little in the way of video card power to do HD. My onboard works great, but a dedicated card will make your system "snappier" I've found. It's not a game breaker though. Also, a central HTPC is great to do all your recordings to and you can watch those recordings from any windows machine on your network or from an Xbox 360 used as an extender. I saw you mention wifi though. Do not try to stream your tv over your network via wifi! It works "ok" on standard definition but I have been very disappointed with anything HD. The dropped packets will make your experience less than acceptable.
Edited by Cavey00 - 11/27/12 at 10:02am
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post #10 of 17
He said unencrypted cable, why are you all talking about cablecards?
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