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  #1  
Old 04-25-2010, 08:30 AM
andy-yyz andy-yyz is offline
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Newbie: What will I need in SageTV products?

Hello, like many of you I'm trying to ditch the dish.

I'm wondering what I will need in SageTV products to accomplish the following:

I have:
4 TV's (one is a HD tv)
OTA Television signal with about 20 channels.
4mb DSL feed.
Home is networked with both Ethernet and Wireless

I would like to setup my home system so that each TV has access to PVR functionality, and also be able to view Internet type TV as well as share in a media collection of DVDs.

I'm assuming I will need a home media server.

What would I need in the Sage TV environment (Windows based), to build this type of a home system.

Thank you in advance.
-andy
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2010, 08:53 AM
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wrems wrems is offline
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You'll want to look at the HD200 for each TV: http://www.sagetv.com/hd_theater.html THis is a playback device only and gives you the STB feel with a remote. You can set up full blown computer clients but that gets into a whole different aspect of issues. THe easiest way is using one of those extenders at each TV and having 1 server usually headless stuck away in a closet/basement. You can get away with almost any current operating system, a lot of us still use XP, another option to look into is WHS. For your OTA stuff I would definitely consider getting an HDHR (HDHomerun) http://www.silicondust.com/products . Each of these HDHR will be able to tune 2 channels and can be placed anywhere on your network. They are excellent devices overall. It saves PCIe slots too.

Hopefully, this info will get you started and help you formulate some more questions. People here are great at helping don't hesitate to ask.
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  #3  
Old 04-25-2010, 09:09 AM
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ThePaladinTech ThePaladinTech is offline
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Well I would suggest you dedicate a machine to the job of being your sage server, and if I could avoid it I wouldn't use it for client purposes. It doesn't take much to be a server, but that's if your not doing commercial skipping and other things - which is where some of the fun is. so if you can I'd go with a decent machine. If you follow the advice to not use the machine for watching content the video card and codec issues are not applicable. Will you be building your pc from scratch?

Getting your OTA- I've got the silicon Dust HD HomeRun as well as the Haupauge 2250. The HD HR is nice as it is a little networked box http://www.silicondust.com/ So i would probably go with one or two of those (a HD HR can tune two channels at once)

To watch your sage tv you will need at least 3 Clients (if you use the server as a client) You've got several roads you can go down:

Option 1: client PCs - It is usually cheaper and easier to use extenders, so unless you have unique needs skip this option

Option 2: HD200s The best option http://sagetv.com/hd_theater.html

Option 3: since you only have one HD TV you could get one HD200 and 2 or 3 MediaMVPs - I don't think the MVP is still made but you can get them on ebay- http://cgi.ebay.com/MediaMVP-Hauppau...item1e5b191d1b
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  #4  
Old 04-25-2010, 09:39 AM
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wrems wrems is offline
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THe MVP's are ok and can get you by just fine. Although they are no comparison to the HD200. I have both and the UI is sluggish on the MVP compared to the hd200. Remember that if you choose the MVP's you'll need a lot more horsepower in your server. All the transcoding is done at your server with the MVP's. With the HD200's your server just streams the programming to your HD200's and the HD200's do all the heavy lifting.

THe Hd200's will give you less headaches too. I've found my MVP to be a bit finicky.
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  #5  
Old 04-25-2010, 01:27 PM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy-yyz View Post
I would like to setup my home system so that each TV has access to PVR functionality, and also be able to view Internet type TV as well as share in a media collection of DVDs.
In terms of PVR functionality, a SageTV system will work quite well for you. The places where Sage systems get a little tricky is when you're trying to get HDTV into your system from cable TV or satellite. But, OTA [HD]TV is very easy to record with an HD HomeRun.

Basically, I'm in complete agreement with wrems that you'll want a dedicated Windows XP (or maybe WHS) box running SageTV server, and HD200 extenders at each TV. The speed of the computer isn't terribly important, but you'll want lots of hard drive space. Even though you only have one HDTV, I still recommend all HD200s. Yes, it will cost a little more, but it'll be worth it. Some of your channels might just be in HD, and the MediaMVPs can't directly play that back.

You said you have both ethernet and wireless networking. Can you clarify that? Do you have ethernet jacks near all your TVs? That's definitely preferable to wireless. You can get wifi-n bridging to work fairly reliably, but wired is better.

If by "Internet type TV" you mean Hulu, Netflix Watch Now, and streaming video sites by networks, then you'll have a problem. You can get that mostly working using PlayOn and some community-developed plugins, but its not an ideal solution. If you do that, I think you'll want to use XP over WHS, and you'll need a relatively powerful CPU in the server.
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  #6  
Old 04-25-2010, 06:37 PM
andy-yyz andy-yyz is offline
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Thank you all for the fast replies!

For the network, I can make use of a wired network for all TVs.
As for "Internet TV" I was referring to Hulu, Netflix, ABC...

I would like to setup a home server running XP, Vista or Windows 7. Would an Intel Atom processor be powerful enough? I like the idea of having a low power server that does not require a fan.

-andy
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  #7  
Old 04-25-2010, 07:01 PM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy-yyz View Post
As for "Internet TV" I was referring to Hulu, Netflix, ABC...
How important is that to you? I don't think you're likely to be satisfied with the (unofficial) support for those things in SageTV. I think you'd have better luck using full-fledged PCs at each TV, and using those services within a browser, but then its harder to get smooth, reliable playback of video in Sage. Plus, PCs would be bigger, louder, and more power-hungry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andy-yyz View Post
I would like to setup a home server running XP, Vista or Windows 7. Would an Intel Atom processor be powerful enough? I like the idea of having a low power server that does not require a fan.
I don't recommend it. I think an Atom might be a little slow even for a simple setup. The amount of CPU power you need depends on what you want to do. If you want to try to get PlayOn working in Sage to get access to Hulu, etc., within the Sage interface, then you'll want a fairly powerful processor, like a moderately fast Core2 Duo or better.

If you want to set up automatic commercial skipping you'll want a similar processor. If you want to be able to do both commercial skipping and
PlayOn at the same time then you should probably seriously consider a quad core. Actually, if you just think you'll often be recording more than two things at once you might want a quad core (but you'd be fine without one). Or, if you think you'll use PlayOn/Hulu on 2 or more TVs at the same time you probably want a quad core.
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  #8  
Old 04-30-2010, 01:49 PM
pjpjpjpj pjpjpjpj is offline
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I agree with everything above and won't really add to that (the antenna/HDHR/extenders thing is what I do)... but I will also offer that you can have PlayOn (the program that you have to purchase in order to get hulu, netflix, etc. on SageTV) on a separate computer on your network. So if you have one new, fast computer (say, a laptop) that you want to use for other things mainly, you could install PlayOn on that, and then still have an older, slower SageTV server PC. That way, the PlayOn "work" is done on the computer where the PlayOn software resides, and the output just becomes a stream in your network that the SageTV serves up to your extender. I do this - you can see my SageTV server specs in my sig - by using a new laptop that we use as our family computer. In fact, I usually have the laptop turned off, and have to turn it on, in order to access any of the PlayOn media. A small hassle, but it saved me having to buy a new, beefier SageTV server just for PlayOn.

Of course, comskip, as mentioned above, is another issue, and definitely would require you to have a better server PC.

By the way, in case you hadn't seen, youtube, and several other online podcasts, are part of the default SageTV package and you don't need PlayOn for those. I don't think there is a list anywhere online of what differentiates "podcasts that default SageTV can handle" vs. those that require PlayOn, but the general idea is that, if you can download the podcast as a file and save it, then it can be used within default SageTV, whereas if it is "streaming only", it requires PlayOn.
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  #9  
Old 04-30-2010, 07:47 PM
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davephan davephan is offline
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I also use both HDHomerun and HVR-2250 for over the air channels. You should start with only HD-200 units. Don't bother with the MVP, since the video quality is worse than the HD-200 and the audio quality is much worse. As mentioned, if you have any file format other than mpeg2, the computer has to transcode the video files on the fly into mpeg2. If the computer cannot handle the intensive CPU load, you will have stuttering. The MVP is less reliable too. Sometimes it needs to be powered down to reset it.

Your programs/operating system drive should be separate from your video storage drives. The video storage drives need to be formatted with 64k blocks, which is not the default size. You might want redundancy for at least some of your video files, in case a hard drive fails. You should think about disk imaging too, so you can recover your system quickly if it fails. WHS is a bit risky. If you have a system failure with WHS, you have to rebuild your system from scratch. Images won't work on WHS.

You might need programs like AnyDVD and/or DVDFab to rip the DVD collect to your hard drive. It's nice to have your whole DVD collection on the hard drive. After you get used to it, you won't want to use a DVD player again. Chapter advance is very quick compared to using a DVD player.

Wireless Eithernet can be marginal. Wired Eithernet is a much better choice.

You might start small and build up later. Starting with the SageTV software, one HD-200, and a dual tuner. Or, you could get the dual tuner later and just rip DVDs. You can add Comskip, which is a low extra cost for the "donor" version. Comskip automatically 'marks' commercial blocks. Upon playback, the commercial blocks are skipped automatically without manually fast forwarding.

Dave
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  #10  
Old 05-02-2010, 09:45 AM
tchapin tchapin is offline
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Hi andy-yyz,

You may find the guide I wrote recently to be helpful. You can read more about what services playon supports here. Here's the link to the SageTV plugin which takes advantage of it. From the top of my head, you can watch Hulu, Netflix, Amazon VOD, and some others.

Like the others on this thread, I would recommend the HD Theater. Since it can read many video formats directly, it reduces the need for a powerful server. The MVP had to have everything that was not MPEG2 transcoded. I would not bother with setting up a client machine. If you read around this forum, you'll read the many kind of problems that people have with them. Extenders really make things a lot easier.

You said that one of your TVs is HD, but do you watch HD content on it? The 64k block formatting issue is only a factor if you're going to be recording with more than one tuner or HD content. I've not had any problems in the past 4 years, but I'm currently only recording SD with one tuner. My CPU is a AMD Athlon 64 3500+, which is dual core and nothing too special. But it has low energy usage and so far adequate for my needs.

Recording and playing back HD content should not increase your CPU needs, but if you want to do commercial skipping on those recordings, that takes some horsepower on HD recordings and you would need a more powerful computer. Check out the Ars Technica System Guide (the last one was from Oct 2009), which has a good discussion of the pros and cons of price / performance. They make a lot of specific gaming recommendations, but most of the advice is still applicable to us HTPCers.
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  #11  
Old 05-02-2010, 03:18 PM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tchapin View Post
From the top of my head, you can watch Hulu, Netflix, Amazon VOD, and some others.

Like the others on this thread, I would recommend the HD Theater. Since it can read many video formats directly, it reduces the need for a powerful server.
Just to be clear to the OP, the support for Hulu, Netflix, etc., that tchapin is referring to uses the PlayOn software that I previously alluded to (and which I said wasn't an ideal solution).

Also, I want to make sure the OP realizes that getting an HD Theater does not get rid of the need for a powerful server if he's going to use PlayOn. PlayOn is one of the most CPU-intensive tasks you can do with a Sage server. Of course, as pjpjpjpj noted, you don't necessarily need to run that on your Sage server (nor do you need to run comskip/ShowAnalyzer on your server either).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tchapin View Post
You said that one of your TVs is HD, but do you watch HD content on it? The 64k block formatting issue is only a factor if you're going to be recording with more than one tuner or HD content.
I wouldn't quite go that far. I recommend 64k blocks for recording drives in all circumstances. It helped me several years ago even when I only had one tuner.
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