Questions about setting up hardware

Reception, channel detection, network issues, CableCARD setup, etc.
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cordcutternewbie
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Questions about setting up hardware

Post by cordcutternewbie » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:30 am

I'm retired & living on a fixed income. I just renewed my FIOS contract. It expires in May 2021.

This will be my first foray into streaming. I've spent hours on YouTube & Google learning about cutting the cord & streaming. It's so confusing!

I live in an apartment. I have a 55" smart tv in the living room & a 23" dumb tv in the utility room AKA the computer room. There's a coax cable coming up from the floor in the living room (MOCA?) It plugs into the FIOS set-top box (STB) & an HDMI cable connects the STB to the tv. I have a STB in the computer room connected to a coax cable & an HDMI cable connects the STB to the 23" tv. So, I'd need 2 devices.

The plan is to ease into streaming in phases. It has to be in phases. I'm paying FIOS $170/month. If I go straight to streaming, I'm flushing $170 down the toilet. So, the plan is to get the hardware & a cable-card & try out the different streaming services. When it gets close to May 2021, then I pay FIOS for just local channels (an external antenna is not my first choice) & stream the rest.

I need equipment that accepts a cable-card. There are only 2 that I know of - HDHomeRun & ****. Servers & networking are not my strong suit! I've corresponded by forum with ****. I found out from **** & from Google that **** has a very limited number of apps to download & install. So, I'm leaning more towards HDHomeRun than ****. Does HDHomeRun have access to lots of apps?

Would I need to rent 2 cable-cards from FIOS - one for living room & 1 for computer room?

NedS
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by NedS » Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:44 pm

The HDHomeRun PRIME, which is the model you'll need for CableCARD, is only a receiver. It won't run apps or even connect directly to the TV. What it does is connect to the cable TV signal and make that available to any device on your local home computer network. To watch TV you would use something that supports our HDHomeRun app, which can be a computer, laptop, tablet, smart phone, certain brands of smart TV, or a streaming "box" like a Fire TV, Android TV, or Xbox One. The PRIME has three internal tuners, which means that three different channels can be sent to the network at once, so you'll only need a single cable card to provide a signal to both TVs.

Since you're looking at streaming as well, getting a streaming box is probably something you'll need to do anyways. The budget friendly options are a Fire TV stick or MiBox from Walmart (which is a type of "Android TV"). The MiBox normally runs around $60 USD, sometimes going on sale for a little less. The Fire TV sticks can go down as low as $30 when on sale.

Both of these devices use wifi by default, so you'll want a good wifi router, but Verizon probably already provides you with a decent router as a modem/router combo, normally... (though if you want to save a little more money, you can probably buy your own modem/router and eventually save money from not paying the rental fee to Verizon). You won't need to pay rental on the Verizon STB's anymore, though.

Both the HDHomeRun PRIME and the streaming box/stick hardware are paid up front and have no subscription fees. There is an optional HDHomeRun DVR service for $35 a year, but it is not required for watching live TV. So once you are all set up, the only reoccurring costs will be the basic service from Verizon and whatever streaming services you decide to go with.

You did say that one of your TVs is a smart TV, can you tell us what brand it is and how new it is? It might be possible to avoid a streaming box for it.

rrussis82
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by rrussis82 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:24 pm

I agree with Ned, but a few things he left out, He mentioned the Fire Stick, He is correct as it being one of the cheapest ways to stream HDHomerun and streaming APPS, but if you do go down that road a few things you should know. 1, I would go with the FireTV dongle and not the stick, More reliable. 2 If DRM is a concern (not sure if it is on Fios or not) skip FireTV all together and go with the Mibox, or Jetstream AndroidTV box, even though you said your goal was to go just locals in May 2021, but you will want to watch all your other channels before then (Once again only if DRM is a concern on FIOS)

HDHomerun products are great and don't just work with the HDHomerun APP, but also in Live Channels on AndroidTV, Plex and Emby (with their paid subscription), hopefully soon FireTV Guide, and more.

Ken.F
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by Ken.F » Mon Jul 01, 2019 4:46 am

cordcutternewbie wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:30 am
The plan is to ease into streaming in phases. It has to be in phases. I'm paying FIOS $170/month. If I go straight to streaming, I'm flushing $170 down the toilet. So, the plan is to get the hardware & a cable-card & try out the different streaming services. When it gets close to May 2021, then I pay FIOS for just local channels (an external antenna is not my first choice) & stream the rest.
I'm pretty sure FiOS will let you switch to any channel package you want while under contract.

cordcutternewbie
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by cordcutternewbie » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:33 am

The HDHomeRun PRIME, which is the model you'll need for CableCARD, is only a receiver. It won't run apps or even connect directly to the TV. What it does is connect to the cable TV signal and make that available to any device on your local home computer network. To watch TV you would use something that supports our HDHomeRun app, which can be a computer, laptop, tablet, smart phone, certain brands of smart TV, or a streaming "box" like a Fire TV, Android TV, or Xbox One. The PRIME has three internal tuners, which means that three different channels can be sent to the network at once, so you'll only need a single cable card to provide a signal to both TVs.

I thought that it had apps. So, I'd need to buy additional hardware. Now I'm even more confused!

You did say that one of your TVs is a smart TV, can you tell us what brand it is and how new it is? It might be possible to avoid a streaming box for it.

It's a Samsung UN55F6400. It's a 55" 1080P HDTV. I bought it in March 2014. It has a few apps included. I asked the Samsung forum if I can download apps to it. There answer was "no". They said that it was too old! It's only 5 years old!

I renewed my contract last May 2019. I can make changes to it. The other day I downgraded from the Extreme package to the Preferred package. I can upgrade or downgrade the internet speed. I currently have 100/100.

jasonl
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by jasonl » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:28 pm

The goal of HDHomeRun devices is to take the TV signal from your cable line (PRIME models) or antenna (other models) and make it available over your network. You then access those signals using an app on another device, whether that's a computer, phone, tablet, or streaming box. You also run your other apps on that same box.

The F means it's a 2013 model, so you bought it at the end of the model year and it's really 6 years old, and that's several years past obsolete in the smart TV world. Manufacturers often stop doing updates after a year or two at most, and often drop support completely after 3-4. They're pumping out new models every year, and there's no financial incentive for them to continue supporting TVs they aren't selling anymore. You're almost always better off with a standalone box. They're usually on longer release cycles (one model lasts for 2-3 years instead of a new one every year) so you get updates for longer, and since they're running standard platforms like Android they get better app support for longer.

cordcutternewbie
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by cordcutternewbie » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:24 pm

Stand-alone box? You mean like an HDHomeRun or an Nvidia Shield?

Well, I'm confused. You say that the Prime is a receiver & one can't download apps to it. I guess that basically the Prime is similar to a ****. How would I be able to download & watch apps on the Prime? I doubt if it's possible to interpose a Roku or Apple TV between the Prime & the TV. It's probably not possible to interpose a **** between the Prime & the TV. So what app hardware is compatible with the Prime? The Nvidia Shield is a streaming device. Can one interpose a Shield between the Prime & the TV? I reckon that only the Shield is compatible with the Prime.

rrussis82
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by rrussis82 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:40 pm

Yes a Shield will work "between" your Prime and the TV, as well as other Android TV Boxes*. A Windows 10 computer will work "between". An Xbox One will work in between. A FireTV*** device will work "between"**. A Linux computer running Kodi will work**. A Roku APP is still being developed and right now only works with OTA.

The Prime itself is not a streaming box and does not have the ability to load APPS on it, It doesn't even have to be close to your TV as long as it can plug into the Coaxial cable that feeds your CableTV and then into the Router that provides you with internet.

* other AndroidTV devices include a MiBox, a Jetstream, Sony Bravia TVs, and a very few others

** AndroidTV, Android, iOS, Windows 10, And XBoxOnes are the only devices that can view DRM Copy Once Flagged Channels. FireTV, Linux, Apple TV, and others do not support DRM.

*** FireTV includes the stick (low memory may not have pause and rew live TV), the pendant, 4K stick, Cube, and FireTV Edition televisions.

signcarver
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by signcarver » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:13 pm

cordcutternewbie wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:24 pm
Stand-alone box? You mean like an HDHomeRun or an Nvidia Shield?

Well, I'm confused. You say that the Prime is a receiver & one can't download apps to it. I guess that basically the Prime is similar to a ****. How would I be able to download & watch apps on the Prime? I doubt if it's possible to interpose a Roku or Apple TV between the Prime & the TV. It's probably not possible to interpose a **** between the Prime & the TV. So what app hardware is compatible with the Prime? The Nvidia Shield is a streaming device. Can one interpose a Shield between the Prime & the TV? I reckon that only the Shield is compatible with the Prime.
What was being stated there was to use a box to run apps, not rely on a "SmartTV" that will often only get apps for 1 or 2 years (newer apps will only be for newer TVs, often one can't even update apps that come with the smart tv (I know one sudoku game that had an update to not have games with multiple solutions (or at least accept any correct solution), that the tv manufacturer only allowed the update on tv's that were newer) so there is no sense to buy a "SmartTV" for apps get a box to attach to the TV (the post before this mentioned such "boxes") to run apps.

The prime is the tuner which only has the network for the output (no video output, so does not "connect directly to TV, though a TV may be able to see it on the network and use it)... the "box" is what runs an app to get "streams" from the prime and display it to the TV. Since there is an Android App, TV's that are AndroidTV (typically sony) can run that android app without an additional box... other "smarttv's" may be able to use DLNA to access the stream from the tuner but the interface is usually terrible compared to another app.
rrussis82 wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:40 pm
The Prime itself is not a streaming box...
One could say that the prime is "only" a streaming box as its purpose is to put streams on the network. Where what most refer to as a streaming box doesn't actually do the streaming, it accesses the streams (note the definition I looked up does state it can properly be used on either side but incidentally uses the word streaming for the act of when referring to the device that access it)

cordcutternewbie
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by cordcutternewbie » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:15 am

The utility room has the FIOS ONT (Optical Network Terminator) & the router. If a wired connection to the router is necessary, I'd need to run the cable across the living room floor, up & across the hallway door jamb, thru the kitchen & into the utility room! I suppose that one of the maintenance guys has a staple gun & can staple the cable to the wall. So, needless to say, I prefer a wireless connection from the living room to the router!

Just out of curiosity... If a cable card is not in the Prime & the Prime is connected to my TV, what will be on the screen - snow?

So, let me see if I have this straight.
The Prime is just a receiver. I also need a streaming box between the Prime & my TV. That's for the 55" TV in the living room.

I also have a 23" TV in the utility room. It's not a smart TV but it does have an HDMI connector. So, I'd need some kind of box with an HDMI out to connect to the 23" TV. Do I repeat the hardware in the utility room as well - a Prime & a streaming box?

signcarver
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by signcarver » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:48 am

The prime is not connected to the TV... it is connected to the coax and the network (router, but I would prefer a switch)... in other words, nothing wrong with it being at the ONT (provided it is indoors and not in a location such as a garage that gets too hot in summer).

You generally need a device that connects to to your network and the TV to run the client (app) that accesses the prime... I prefer wired but for many wifi works. With fios, moca is usually another way to get internet "to" the tv location and is usually a little better than wifi.

cordcutternewbie
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by cordcutternewbie » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:22 am

I watched a YouTube video about the Prime. The narrator stated that the Prime must be connected to the router by cable. For me that would mean running a cable from the living room into the utility room. Is it not possible to connect the Prime to the router wirelessly?

Would I need a second Prime to connect the TV in the utility room?

signcarver
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by signcarver » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:32 am

Again, the prime does not connect to the tv... it connects to your network... it also needs a coax connection (both are at ont). You will need a device (like an androidTV box, xbox one, htpc, firetv (though fire won't do drm))at the tv that connects to your network (can be wifi) and your tv.

rrussis82
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by rrussis82 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:47 am

cordcutternewbie wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:22 am
I watched a YouTube video about the Prime. The narrator stated that the Prime must be connected to the router by cable. For me that would mean running a cable from the living room into the utility room. Is it not possible to connect the Prime to the router wirelessly?

Would I need a second Prime to connect the TV in the utility room?
The Prime does not have an HDMI. put it in your utility room (if it is conditioned) with your router so you do not need a long cable, the one it comes with would be sufficient.
The device that connects to the TV is the client (AndroidTV box, Etc) The client will connect via wifi or ethernet, not coaxial (unless you are using MOCA as previous poster mentioned)

Here is a video that would help with how it works
https://youtu.be/OyjTW9EFtfY

cordcutternewbie
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Re: Questions about setting up hardware

Post by cordcutternewbie » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:36 am

Thank you for answering my questions. I don't completely understand how the Prime works. Networking is not my strong suit. Thank you for your patience. It's not the solution that I'm looking for.

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