Beginner Q: Which model is right for me?

Reception, channel detection, network issues, CableCARD setup, etc.
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tangofan
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2020 6:26 pm

Beginner Q: Which model is right for me?

Post by tangofan »

Hi all,

I'm looking for a Live TV receiver that connects via network (rather than USB) and works well with Plex and/or Roku. Since I've never tried this, I'd like to get some pre-purchasing advice, so I'm not stuck with something that doesn't fit my needs and I that some folks on these boards can help me out.

Here's my situation:
  • Due to the reception situation in our house the Live TV receiver/decoder would be in a different room than our TVS and computers and that room doesn't have wired ethernet. Connection to the network would be either with a wireless AP or a PowerLine adapter.
  • A model with two tuners should be fine. Also we don't need any DVR capability.
  • We have Plex (with Plex pass) and two Roku "Premier" boxes. Since our TVs don't support Android, we wouldn't want to use the HomeRun app, rather ideally use this directly (e.g. via Plex).
It seems that the two models that most closely match my needs are the Connect (Duo) and the Extend. In order to have a more stable connection with less bandwidth usage, all other things being equal, I'd pick the Extend, however it seems that all other things are not being equal. The Connect (Duo) appears to be a newer model (with better reception) and the Extend isn't even listed anymore in the official product lineup.

So here are my questions:
  • When using the Connect with Plex for Live TV, will Plex transcode the outbound stream into H.264 (or something similar), so I can at least get a lower bandwidth downstream (to my TVs)?
  • In that scenario is there a free TV Guide integrated into Plex or do I have to purchase some subscription for this or is there no guide at all?
  • Would there still be a reason in my situation to get the Extend model over the Connect Duo? How much of a problem is the higher bandwidth of the Connect for a wireless/powerline connection in practice?
  • Are there any other issues that I should be aware of, when putting this setup into practice?
Thanks in advance for any advice on the matter.

pshanew
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:48 am
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Re: Beginner Q: Which model is right for me?

Post by pshanew »

  • When using the Connect with Plex for Live TV, will Plex transcode the outbound stream into H.264 (or something similar), so I can at least get a lower bandwidth downstream (to my TVs)?
It depends on the client whether or not transcoding is performed automatically (you can always force it). For Roku clients, there's a setting in the Plex app to enable MPEG2 support. If it's disabled, Plex will transcode the stream to H.264; if it's enabled, Plex will pass the MPEG2 stream unmodified. I have a Roku Premiere and I generally leave it MPEG2 support disabled.
  • In that scenario is there a free TV Guide integrated into Plex or do I have to purchase some subscription for this or is there no guide at all?
Plex provides EPG data as part of your Plex Pass subscription, provided you live in a supported country.
  • Would there still be a reason in my situation to get the Extend model over the Connect Duo? How much of a problem is the higher bandwidth of the Connect for a wireless/powerline connection in practice?
I use the Connect 4K which, aside from ATSC 3.0 support, is functionally equivalent to the Connect Quatro. I have no tuner-related issues. I'm watching a show which is being transcoded to 480P at the moment; the average bitrate is 2 Mb/s with spikes to ~6 Mb/s. You'll just need to ensure that your server's hardware is up to the task of transcoding.
  • Are there any other issues that I should be aware of, when putting this setup into practice?
Have you used PowerLine adapters in the past? That is, do you know how well they work with your home's electrical wiring? My experience with them was that they were very inconsistent. They are affected by not only the quality of the wiring of the circuit to which they're connected, but also the other devices on the same circuit and whether or not they're powered on. I know of other folks who have had better experiences and yet others who had worse. If you have coax wiring in your house I'd recommend looking into MoCA adapters instead. They perform the same function as PowerLine, but extend the network over coax instead. My experience is that they are much more reliable and higher performance.

tangofan
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2020 6:26 pm

Re: Beginner Q: Which model is right for me?

Post by tangofan »

pshanew, thanks so much for your fast and thorough response,
pshanew wrote: Wed Dec 16, 2020 9:17 pm [...]
  • In that scenario is there a free TV Guide integrated into Plex or do I have to purchase some subscription for this or is there no guide at all?
Plex provides EPG data as part of your Plex Pass subscription, provided you live in a supported country.
I live in the United States (San Francisco Bay Area), so I hope it's supported here.
  • Would there still be a reason in my situation to get the Extend model over the Connect Duo? How much of a problem is the higher bandwidth of the Connect for a wireless/powerline connection in practice?
I use the Connect 4K which, aside from ATSC 3.0 support, is functionally equivalent to the Connect Quatro. I have no tuner-related issues. I'm watching a show which is being transcoded to 480P at the moment; the average bitrate is 2 Mb/s with spikes to ~6 Mb/s.
Interesting, I wasn't even aware of the Connect 4K model. While ATSC 3.0 isn't available in our area, yet and we don't have a 4k TV yet as well, I'm wondering, if the 4K model also works with older standards. In that case I might consider it, so I don't have to buy a new unit a year or two down the road, once 4k TV becomes a thing here. The Connect 4K model appears to use a 100MBit/s Ethernet port, so not even a Gigibit port. Is this actually enough bandwidth for four concurrent MPEG2 stream, two in 4k and two in 1080p, if I interpret the specs correctly?
You'll just need to ensure that your server's hardware is up to the task of transcoding.
Luckily my server runs a Ryzen 2700X and a GTX 1060, so between the two, there should be ample transcoding capacity for this with plenty horsepower to spare at least for 1080p. Do you have any experience on how much horsepower (e.g. passmarks) would be needed to transcode a 4k stream from the Connect4k?


  • Are there any other issues that I should be aware of, when putting this setup into practice?
Have you used PowerLine adapters in the past? That is, do you know how well they work with your home's electrical wiring? My experience with them was that they were very inconsistent. They are affected by not only the quality of the wiring of the circuit to which they're connected, but also the other devices on the same circuit and whether or not they're powered on. I know of other folks who have had better experiences and yet others who had worse.
An important point for anyone who is reading this. Yes, I am actually running a TP-Link PA9020P Powerlink kit already and I'm pretty happy with the results so far (>250 mbps). I'm using it between other rooms though, than I would for this setup I'm considering, but at least - once I buy the TV tuner, I can test it between the actual rooms that I would need it in before going out and buying another Powerline Kit. Yes, results highly depends on the wiring and if the signal needs to cross circuit breakers, but once that isn't a problem, I've found them to be pretty reliable overall. But this house is less than 20 years old, so that may make a huge difference.

pshanew
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:48 am
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Re: Beginner Q: Which model is right for me?

Post by pshanew »

tangofan wrote: Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:59 pm I live in the United States (San Francisco Bay Area), so I hope it's supported here.
Yep, you're good.
tangofan wrote: Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:59 pm I'm wondering, if the 4K model also works with older standards.
It does. The Connect 4K has four tuners. The first two (0 and 1) support ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0, while the remaining two (2 and 3) support ATSC 1.0. When tuning an ATSC 1.0 channels, tuners 2 and 3 are used first to allow for ATSC 3.0 channels to be subsequently tuned.
tangofan wrote: Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:59 pm Is this actually enough bandwidth for four concurrent MPEG2 stream, two in 4k and two in 1080p, if I interpret the specs correctly?
The 4K streams, at least, will not be MPEG2; they will be HEVC. The 1080P streams can be either MPEG2 or HEVC, depending on whether they are from an ATSC 1.0 or 3.0 broadcast. Having said that, I believe the expectation is that the 100 Mb/s second Ethernet port will be sufficient to handle most stream combinations which can be thrown at it. I haven't been able to test that myself, however.
tangofan wrote: Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:59 pm Do you have any experience on how much horsepower (e.g. passmarks) would be needed to transcode a 4k stream from the Connect4k?
Unfortunately, no. No operators in my area are broadcasting ATSC 3.0 as yet. However, Plex's docs suggest that a CPU scoring at least 12000 passmarks is required to transcode a 40 Mb/s, 8-bit HEVC 4K stream (17000 for 50 Mb/s, 10-bit HDR HEVC 4K). However, with your hardware you could leverage hardware accelerated transcoding. My expectation is that you'd be fine, with your hardware.

trakz
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Joined: Sat May 16, 2020 12:49 pm
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Re: Beginner Q: Which model is right for me?

Post by trakz »

I'm in the bay area too, and have a spare Connect Duo I'd be happy to let you use if you wanted to try it out before purchasing.

tangofan
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2020 6:26 pm

Re: Beginner Q: Which model is right for me?

Post by tangofan »

trakz wrote: Thu Dec 17, 2020 11:04 am I'm in the bay area too, and have a spare Connect Duo I'd be happy to let you use if you wanted to try it out before purchasing.
Thanks so much for the offer, that is extremely generous of you. Right now though with the Stay at Home Order issued today, I think I'll just go ahead and order a unit from amazon.

Thanks again and please stay safe.

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