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Windows 7: Asking For Windows 7 Media Center Recommendations

04 Jan 2012   #1

Windows 7 64 bit
 
 
Asking For Windows 7 Media Center Recommendations

I am going to drop cable and would like to use a digital antenna and windows media center to watch and record shows OTA. I want to be able to record up to two shows and and watch a show at the same time which I believe may require 3 tuner cards? Is that even possible? I also was wondering if there is a way to use a Harmony or similar type of remote to control the windows media center. This will be my first time to seriously experiment with it so suggestions are much appreciated. If anyone knows of a really good indoor digital antenna, suggestions there would help greatly as well! Thanks!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Jan 2012   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 Bit, Windows Developer Preview, Linux Mint 9 Gnome 32 Bit
 
 

3 tuners? Well, some people have experienced conflicts with multiple tuners and some did not. As far as I am using Windows Media Center for watching live TV, I have never experimented on recording 2 or more channels at the same time. The remote control I have for Windows Media Center came with my TV tuner which has a sensor connected to it.

And its better if you have a better power supply in your system unit if you had multiple tuners attached to your PCI slots and a bigger hard drive to store recorded TV. Check this link:

Media Center does not support dual tuners
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jan 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I suggest two Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 PCIe cards. That would give you four HD tuners for OTA. I have two HTPC boxes with these cards and they work very well. If you want to record two shows and watch a previously recorded show at the same time, you need only one WinTV-HVR-2250. MC is very good at handling tuner conflicts. I've never seen a false one. I only use genuine MC remotes. I'll assume others could work too. Indoor antennas only work well when you are fairly close to the transmitters. I'm 50 miles away, which means outdoor only.

Bye.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by joshcole104 View Post
I am going to drop cable and would like to use a digital antenna and windows media center to watch and record shows OTA. I want to be able to record up to two shows and and watch a show at the same time which I believe may require 3 tuner cards? Is that even possible? I also was wondering if there is a way to use a Harmony or similar type of remote to control the windows media center. This will be my first time to seriously experiment with it so suggestions are much appreciated. If anyone knows of a really good indoor digital antenna, suggestions there would help greatly as well! Thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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06 Jan 2012   #4

 

I'm using dual ethernet FTA/OTA tuners, Silicon Dusts HD Homerun units. I can only say they're excellent. Knock spots off the performance of all internal tuners previously tried. Thoroughly recommended.

With two tuners you can actually record up to 3/4 programs simultaneously (in the UK) if they're on the same MUX (or Multiplexes) or two channels if neither show you want to records is on a shared MUX.

You can play back a libarary recording, or watch a channel at the same time as recording, providing that those same MUX criteria apply, or that one tuner is idle.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2012   #5

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by joshcole104 View Post
I want to be able to record up to two shows and and watch a show at the same time which I believe may require 3 tuner cards? Is that even possible?
Watching a "live" show requires a tuner, as does recording a "live" show.

Playing back a previously recorded show does NOT involve a tuner.

So you could record two shows and also be watching a previously recorded show, and only need a dual-tuner device capability. But if you actually wanted to record two shows and also be watching a third "live" show then you'd of course need a third tuner.

I myself still use an older-vintage ATI TV Wonder 650 PCI internal TV 1-tuner card (that's PCI, not PCIe), designed for OTA/ATSC use. My roof antenna coax is connected to it. I also have a 4-tuner Ceton card, designed for cablecard-enabled use and fed from the coax from my TWC/LA cable provider. So I actually have FIVE tuners in my WMC-controlled machine, one tuner for OTA/ATSC local networks, and four tuners for TWC/LA-provided cable channels (basic and premium, copy-protected and copy-unprotected, but no pay-per-view or OnDemand).

I prefer to view and record local OTA major broadcast networks using my 1-tuner ATI card, because the OTA/ATSC reception is pure and unadulterated original, and obviously is not re-compressed. Unfortunately TWC/LA has decided to increase their HD bandwidth over limited infrastructure by re-compressing (downward, of course) most/all content, and in particular even tampering with local OTA networks. So as long as I don't have a scheduling conflict requiring two or more OTA network programs to be recorded or watched "live", I will ALWAYS use my ATI card for OTA/ATSC use when possible. It's just better audio and video than I can get with TWC/LA... for network channels available via OTA/ATSC or cable.

WMC gets twice-daily TV Guide listing updates from Microsoft (through its Zap2it database provider), and merges BOTH of my channel listing and program Guide information sets (one for OTA/ATSC in my zipcode, and one for cable programming in my zipcode from TWC/LA) into one consolidated easy-to-use matrix view showing (a) all channels through both 1-tuner and 4-tuner cards, and (b) all programs available from both OTA/ATSC and TWC/LA content providers.


NOTE: my nephew is just getting started with his own Ceton-based HTPC build using Comcast, although the full job has not been done yet.

He has also decided to first learn more about WMC (which is replacing AT&T's U-Verse) in order to satisfy his "customer" (i.e. wife and kids). Before getting into WMC and the Ceton card completely he opted for an external Silicon Dust HD Homerun unit (as was mentioned on this thread) for OTA/ATSC use (although Comcast of course provides these same channels). They watch mostly OTA programs, so this was a way to get them used to the new WMC interface (using xBox extenders and remotes) as well as learning for himself about WMC. The Ceton card project will come later, once WAF is confirmed.

He doesn't have a roof antenna but I sent him my own RCA ANT525 indoor antenna (powered, with gain) that I used to use before I got my roof antenna wired and usable. It was terrific, even though I'm 30 miles from the Mt. Wilson mountaintop antennas. Every channel came in at 98-100%. Anyway he can place the HD Homerun at a remote part of the house (with network access) where that indoor antenna can be placed for optimal reception. Then the output of the HD Homerun is fed via Ethernet to the WMC machine in another part of the house, and this all works perfectly for him.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2012   #6

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dsperber View Post
So you could record two shows and also be watching a previously recorded show, and only need a dual-tuner device capability. But if you actually wanted to record two shows and also be watching a third "live" show then you'd of course need a third tuner.
If all three shows were on different MUX's, yes.

However in practice you often find two or more channels you want to record from are on the same MUX, and in these instances a single tuner can handle several recordings simulateously...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2012   #7

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Qdos View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dsperber View Post
So you could record two shows and also be watching a previously recorded show, and only need a dual-tuner device capability. But if you actually wanted to record two shows and also be watching a third "live" show then you'd of course need a third tuner.
If all three shows were on different MUX's, yes.

However in practice you often find two or more channels you want to record from are on the same MUX, and in these instances a single tuner can handle several recordings simultaneously...
I didn't know this, and that this was even possible or how it sometimes worked. To be honest, my knowledge of the HD Homerun is essentially zero, though I'm sure I will learn quickly and adequately from my nephew as we continue to interact during his current project.

On the other hand I'm quite experienced on ATI TV tuner cards (going back at least a decade) and now the Ceton cable 4-tuner card (now more than a year). They don't have a MUX, but rather have individual tuners. And of course it just always takes a single tuner to watch/record a single "live" program, because a single tuner fed from roof/cable antenna coax is tuned to a single channel or frequency.

Thanks for the insight. I will explore further.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2012   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Crunchy Doodle View Post
I suggest two Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 PCIe cards. That would give you four HD tuners for OTA. I have two HTPC boxes with these cards and they work very well. If you want to record two shows and watch a previously recorded show at the same time, you need only one WinTV-HVR-2250. MC is very good at handling tuner conflicts. I've never seen a false one. I only use genuine MC remotes. I'll assume others could work too. Indoor antennas only work well when you are fairly close to the transmitters. I'm 50 miles away, which means outdoor only.

Bye.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by joshcole104 View Post
I am going to drop cable and would like to use a digital antenna and windows media center to watch and record shows OTA. I want to be able to record up to two shows and and watch a show at the same time which I believe may require 3 tuner cards? Is that even possible? I also was wondering if there is a way to use a Harmony or similar type of remote to control the windows media center. This will be my first time to seriously experiment with it so suggestions are much appreciated. If anyone knows of a really good indoor digital antenna, suggestions there would help greatly as well! Thanks!
I also have two HVR-2250's in my machine. I've tested the two tuner setup using MCE and have encountered no problems with MCE recognizing all four tuners and recording with them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2012   #9

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dsperber View Post
I'm quite experienced on ATI TV tuner cards (going back at least a decade) and now the Ceton cable 4-tuner card (now more than a year). They don't have a MUX, but rather have individual tuners.
MUX, or Multiplexing, is something done at the transmitter, it's not a piece of hardware at the end users site, nor a term applicable to tuning hardware as such...

For example take a look at the numerous channels which have been multiplexed together since the advent of digital TV broadcasts, and hence share the same MUX, on this example at random from all the UK transmitters...

Mendip digital TV transmitter | ukfree.tv - independent free digital TV advice
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2012   #10

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Qdos View Post
MUX, or Multiplexing, is something done at the transmitter, it's not a piece of hardware at the end users site, nor a term applicable to tuning hardware as such...
Well now I'm sure you and I are not talking about the same thing. Delivering data optimally and efficiently and cleverly using a "statistical mulitplexer" has nothing to do with single-channel tuners in end-devices needing to pick off a single channel at some delivered frequency or digital designation, for use in view/record of that single channel.

I'm familiar with "digital multiplexing", stemming back from the 70's even before "stat mux's" were used to multiplex multiple independent telephone lines (i.e. channels) using "intelligent multiplexing". Before that the multiplexing was purely physical, and they could just divide the primary line's high-speed bandwidth (aka "baud rate") into fractions and allocate a sub-channel to each of the multiple source lines being relayed at whatever fractional baud rate that source user had purchased. So you could take a 19200 baud line and divide it into one 9600 baud line plus one 4800 baud line plus two 2400 baud lines, etc. These were long distance "leased lines", not dial-up. So there was a "leased-line modem" at each end which could sub-divide the transmission line into however you wanted to.

Then the "stat mux" was invented, to conceptually provide a higher total baud rate than the total sum of all the input fractional lines, by making use of the main line's bandwidth on an "as-needed" basis. This has been the approach used ever since, including for anything else digital (including digital TV).

So I'm with you on this use of the word MUX. I guess my ignorance of the HD Homerun made me incorrectly assume your use of that was a term related to how the tuners in the HD Homerun work.

But what does that digital data delivery optimization method have to do with the end-device TV tuner wanting a SPECIFIC channel/frequency? Just because multiple channels are all delivered cleverly from the sky doesn't mean that a tuner designed to pick up a single channel can actually be used to pick up more than one channel at a time?

In other words, as I certainly believed was true, WMC is in charge of using individual single-channel tuners (either internal or external, via PCI, PCIe, USB or Ethernet) to select a specific single channel, which is then either watched "live" or recorded. But THAT tuner is used for THAT channel at that moment, period. It cannot simultaneously be being used for a second purpose, to tune/record to a second channel.

So... am I all wrong? Are we talking about the same thing, or different things?

I have never heard of a TV tuner card or device that used a single tuner to tune to multiple channels simultaneously, and delivering those multiple channels simultaneously to multiple view/record "client" applications all working simultaneously. I am not convinced this is real.

That's why there are 1-tuner, 2-tuner, 3-tuner and 4-tuner devices (cards for computers, DVRs, outboard tuner devices like HD Homerun, etc.). And each tuner gets used for one purpose, at one time. A 2-tuner device can only support two channels for view/record, and cannot simultaneously support a third "client" app for view/record just because many channels happened to be multiplexed on the delivery satellites between head-ends.

Please correct me if I'm not understanding all of this, or if you're talking about something else.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Asking For Windows 7 Media Center Recommendations





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