How do I use my HD Homerun HTPC system with a Smart TV with Roku or Fire pre-installed?

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Michael3442
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Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:44 am

How do I use my HD Homerun HTPC system with a Smart TV with Roku or Fire pre-installed?

Post by Michael3442 »

I've been using an earlier HD HomeRun HTPC system (Windows 7 & Windows Media Center) for several years and couldn't be happier with it's performance. Now I'm thinking about buying a new tv and am a little behind the times with "Smart" tvs. Currently my tv simply functions as a monitor or screen and I can flip between WMC and an internet browser without any issues. But now there's smart tvs with Roku or Fire or Android, etc. already installed and they call them, for example, Roku TV or Fire TV. I understand they come with, let's say, Roku installed and I get the impression it acts as a gateway to their collection of services. I'm also starting to get the impression that they do not let one simply pull up a browser and go surfing the internet. So how does one with a very satisfactory HTPC system make the move into another tv without getting stuck in some Roku or Fire quicksand that limits my getting around the internet the way I wish? Can I just bypass all those services by choosing which HDMI port I want to be using (e.g., the one coming from my computer), or do they have insidious ways to take over my use of that port and force me to use all their smart offerings? Thanks for your thoughts.

rrussis82
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Re: How do I use my HD Homerun HTPC system with a Smart TV with Roku or Fire pre-installed?

Post by rrussis82 »

I have a FireTV edition smart TV, yes they do have HDMI ports that a HTPC can connect to, but the TV will power on in the FireTV menu where you can select the input. But there is an easier way. you can search for the HDHomerun App in fire TV and have the icon right there and watch your live tv through the APP without connecting your computer to the HDMI port, just set the wifi or hardwired ethernet right into the TV (that is if you do not run cable with DRM restrictions). Its basically is the same thing with TVs that have Android TV built in and Roku. But keep in mind... most TV manufacturers are horrible with keeping the latest operating system up to date, haven't ran across that on my FireTV yet, but Sony sometimes can run behind on updating Android TV, and also Samsung is horrible with it (which does not have a HDHomerun APP)

If you are DRM restricted, stick with an Android TV because you can view DRM, or just use the HDMI port like you already do with your HTPC. The only advantage to Windows Media Center right now is recording DRM.

Michael3442
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:44 am

Re: How do I use my HD Homerun HTPC system with a Smart TV with Roku or Fire pre-installed?

Post by Michael3442 »

So as I'm beginning to understand how this works, I will plug my HTPC into a HDMI port as it currently is now in my dumb tv (which, on startup, goes directly to the HDMI port that my HTPC computer uses). Then when I turn on the smart tv it will load up their smart home page and attempt to entice me to watch through their apps, e.g., Roku, Fire, etc. But all I have to do to get my HTPC desktop, which is the computer's desktop, is change the Source of the input signal to the HDMI port that is my HTPC's port. So it sounds like there's that one extra step I'll have to go through in order to skip all the smart stuff. So a smart tv is connected to my router either by the wi-fi signal the router broadcasts or by an ethernet cable from the router to the tv. What if I don't connect the tv to the router at all? Will it still turn on but go to the HDMI port I'm using for my HTPC? If that were the case I'd only have to keep it disconnected from the router/internet and I could use it as a dumb tv. Does this sound correct?

rrussis82
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Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:46 pm
Location: Western MA
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Re: How do I use my HD Homerun HTPC system with a Smart TV with Roku or Fire pre-installed?

Post by rrussis82 »

Michael3442 wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:39 pm So as I'm beginning to understand how this works, I will plug my HTPC into a HDMI port as it currently is now in my dumb tv (which, on startup, goes directly to the HDMI port that my HTPC computer uses). Then when I turn on the smart tv it will load up their smart home page and attempt to entice me to watch through their apps, e.g., Roku, Fire, etc. But all I have to do to get my HTPC desktop, which is the computer's desktop, is change the Source of the input signal to the HDMI port that is my HTPC's port. So it sounds like there's that one extra step I'll have to go through in order to skip all the smart stuff. So a smart tv is connected to my router either by the wi-fi signal the router broadcasts or by an ethernet cable from the router to the tv. What if I don't connect the tv to the router at all? Will it still turn on but go to the HDMI port I'm using for my HTPC? If that were the case I'd only have to keep it disconnected from the router/internet and I could use it as a dumb tv. Does this sound correct?
My FireTV Edition has a setting in the settings to turn on to last input, so it is possible on those TVs, not sure about others, if you aren't using the smart features of the TV, no need to plug it into ethernet, or use the internal wifi. In your progianl post, you also mentioned web browser use. FireTV has one you can use, AndroidTV has Chrome. so you still have that capability with the smart TV or Smart Devices.

If DRM is not an issue, why not use the HDHomerun APP on FireTV, when I turn on my TV I press down 2 times and brings me to "recent apps" which most of the time is HDHomerun APP, or one more down will bring you to "my APPS" which you can sort HDHomerun as the first always. Turn the HTPC into the DVR, and doesn't even need to be near the TV, just as long as it has a connection (preferable ethernet instead of wifi). turn the HTPC also into a plex server (free Version) and point your previously recorded content from WMC to it and on FireTV have Plex as your second APP and can watch all your previous recordings (as long as none were DRM) through Plex. You can also watch all your new recordings from HDHomeruns DVR through Plex too as well as the HDHomerun APP. If you have other subscriptions like Amazon Prime, Disney+, Netflix, hulu ect, those APPS are available on FireTV. So much easier than fiddling with a mouse and keyboard.

I have the new Chromecast with Google TV and I am liking it better than FireTV right now, and if you do have DRM stations, you can watch those stations live on Google TV HDHomerun APP (no DRM DVR "yet"). TV brand "smart TVs" don't matter to me much as I do not use the smarts (with the exception of my FireTV Edition). Between FireTV dongles, Chromecast with Google TV, Nvidia Shield, & MiBox. I do not depend on Samsung or other brands to keep the UI updated.

Besides FireTV Edition, and Roku TVs, there are other brands that come with Android TV (GoogleTV) installed and work well with HDHR app, I also believe HDHR has an APP on LG TVs now.

Try some of these suggestions to see if you like it, if not you can put the HDMI back on the HTPC and continue using WMC. One benefit to my suggestion, is you can use other smart devices or smart tvs in other places in your house to watch the Live TV/HDHR DVR through HDHR APP, and your original recordings through Plex on those TVs also. and Yes you can use Plex for all of it (liveTV with grid guide) if you subscribe or buy lifetime pass instead of HDHR APP/DVR if SliceGuide is really that bad for you to use like others. Why limit your library to one TV? (yes I know extenders work, but those are getting ancient)

Michael3442
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:44 am

Re: How do I use my HD Homerun HTPC system with a Smart TV with Roku or Fire pre-installed?

Post by Michael3442 »

Thanks, rrussis82, for your informative post. There's a lot to think about and I should probably just buy a smart tv I see as a likely purchase candidate and then mess around with it. I can always reset it to the original specs. and use it as a dumb tv/monitor (I think...). BTW, I continue to be very impressed with WMC and occasionally find a minor new feature as the result of fumbling a setting while grabbing the remote. Why they pulled the plug on this software is a mystery. I'd be happy to pay a flat fee for it and maybe a subscription fee for the guide. But they surely have bigger ideas in mind for maximizing their corporate coffers.

M

jachin99
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:18 pm

Re: How do I use my HD Homerun HTPC system with a Smart TV with Roku or Fire pre-installed?

Post by jachin99 »

I think samsung smart tvs have a web browser app that lets you surf the internet. I know for a time they also made bluetooth keyboards for them

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