Replacing WMC

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hipsterdoofus
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:13 pm

Coulda sworn I'd posted about this but can't seem to find it.

I'm running Win7 with WMC. I know that the guide data is about to stop, so I know I have to find an alternative. I briefly tried Plex pass - I did not care for their interface. So I'm looking for alternatives:

Current equipment is an oldish-pc and some older HD Homeruns. I may be able to make due with 2 tuners, but I've had as many as 4 ...but don't record as much as before.

I know I could by a ready-made device for recording tv, but I also like the ability of having a second computer to serve as computer for my desktop. I am an IT guy, so I'm not completely uncomfortable with doing something on my own, but since I (and the family) are used to the easy WMC interface, I'd really like something with decent interface. I'm willing to upgrade equipment to make this happen, I just would like a decent long-term solution. Any suggestions?

stuartm
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:10 pm
Location: Longmont, CO

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby stuartm » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:45 pm

Perfectly good (better than the free from Microsoft) guide data available via EPG123 and Schedules Direct would keep your WMC working well into the future. Yes there is a $25/yr. fee for the guide data. However, pretty much all other options also require fees of some kind (guide data or program license). I plan on sticking with WMC for quite a bit longer. If/when my cable Co. stops allowing me to use the Cable card or moves to an unsupported (by WMC) codec than I will evaluate alternative options but so far I don't see any that I feel are better or even equal to WMC for my needs. YMMV of course, e.g. if streaming to mobile devices is important to you.

ImNotSerious
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:27 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby ImNotSerious » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:01 pm

I'm willing to upgrade equipment to make this happen, I just would like a decent long-term solution. Any suggestions?
after testing plex and hd apps, i switched it up and ran Apple Clients using Channels (https://getchannels.com) on Apple TVs since everyone in the house used iPhones. and run their DVR on an old windows box still. it was the only solution that was wife approved. they won't do anything other than a web interface for windows, sticking with andriod/firetv and apple, but it was worth it with my family.

NYPlayer
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Device ID: 104112F4,104162C4,10438DAD,10438DF5,10701381,13147C7B,131A192A
Location: Portland OR, 97217

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby NYPlayer » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:17 pm

I'm willing to upgrade equipment to make this happen, I just would like a decent long-term solution. Any suggestions?
after testing plex and hd apps, i switched it up and ran Apple Clients using Channels (https://getchannels.com) on Apple TVs since everyone in the house used iPhones. and run their DVR on an old windows box still. it was the only solution that was wife approved. they won't do anything other than a web interface for windows, sticking with andriod/firetv and apple, but it was worth it with my family.
They also support Android and FireTV.

Lunar
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:18 pm

So, when WMC guide data became unreliable a few years back, I switched to NextPVR as a backend with Kodi and the NPVR addon as a frontend. That worked really well for a few years, enabling me to use my PC as a server as opposed to the living room device. I just used an NVIDIA Shield TV and Fire TV's as front end devices with Kodi sideloaded.

Although, a couple of years ago I became frustrated with Windows as a whole, and now run Linux on everything. Like you I tried Plex, and while the UI wasn't my issue I experienced a significant number of failed recordings. I feel that Plex is trying to do too much, and in the process has lost the plot. They do a lot of things, but none of them are done really well anymore. I mean, it still has issues with indexing Anime, and it was originally intended to just be a media indexer.

So, my current setup is using the HDHomerun Record DVR engine on an Ubuntu Server with the HDHomerun app on devices. The app's UI is absolutely hideous, but it is functional, and I don't recall ever having a failed recording in the year that I used it before my shortlived Plex experiment. Plus, because of how open Silicondust is to third party applications, there is a very good unofficial PVR addon for Kodi. I've only experimented with it, but I've yet to see any major issues.

So, I guess that was a fairly long winded way of recommending the HDHomerun DVR service. It may not be the prettiest, but it does one thing really really well, and that's record TV reliably. I can live with a less than awesome UI if it can record my TV shows without any fuss. However, I can also wholeheartedly recommend NextPVR + Kodi. Just keep in mind, that regardless of which option you choose, you will have to pay a yearly fee. NextPVR relies on Schedules Direct in the states, not sure about internationally.

Hope this helps, and good luck. I understand the desire to tinker and maintain complete control of your setup. I've considered the Tablo devices in the past, but for me being able to run my own server, and having complete control over the recorded files is more important to me than a turnkey solution.

hipsterdoofus
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:59 pm

Perfectly good (better than the free from Microsoft) guide data available via EPG123 and Schedules Direct would keep your WMC working well into the future. Yes there is a $25/yr. fee for the guide data. However, pretty much all other options also require fees of some kind (guide data or program license). I plan on sticking with WMC for quite a bit longer. If/when my cable Co. stops allowing me to use the Cable card or moves to an unsupported (by WMC) codec than I will evaluate alternative options but so far I don't see any that I feel are better or even equal to WMC for my needs. YMMV of course, e.g. if streaming to mobile devices is important to you.
True...then again, if you are running win 7, like me, support goes out in a year. I mean, not like I'm using it for browsing the internet or anything. I could still keep using it. I think I had heard about EPG123. I may have to look into it.

hipsterdoofus
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:01 pm

I'm willing to upgrade equipment to make this happen, I just would like a decent long-term solution. Any suggestions?
after testing plex and hd apps, i switched it up and ran Apple Clients using Channels (https://getchannels.com) on Apple TVs since everyone in the house used iPhones. and run their DVR on an old windows box still. it was the only solution that was wife approved. they won't do anything other than a web interface for windows, sticking with andriod/firetv and apple, but it was worth it with my family.
So if I get this straight, the dvr comes from getchannels? $80 / yr i guess?

hipsterdoofus
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:04 pm

So, when WMC guide data became unreliable a few years back, I switched to NextPVR as a backend with Kodi and the NPVR addon as a frontend. That worked really well for a few years, enabling me to use my PC as a server as opposed to the living room device. I just used an NVIDIA Shield TV and Fire TV's as front end devices with Kodi sideloaded.

Although, a couple of years ago I became frustrated with Windows as a whole, and now run Linux on everything. Like you I tried Plex, and while the UI wasn't my issue I experienced a significant number of failed recordings. I feel that Plex is trying to do too much, and in the process has lost the plot. They do a lot of things, but none of them are done really well anymore. I mean, it still has issues with indexing Anime, and it was originally intended to just be a media indexer.

So, my current setup is using the HDHomerun Record DVR engine on an Ubuntu Server with the HDHomerun app on devices. The app's UI is absolutely hideous, but it is functional, and I don't recall ever having a failed recording in the year that I used it before my shortlived Plex experiment. Plus, because of how open Silicondust is to third party applications, there is a very good unofficial PVR addon for Kodi. I've only experimented with it, but I've yet to see any major issues.

So, I guess that was a fairly long winded way of recommending the HDHomerun DVR service. It may not be the prettiest, but it does one thing really really well, and that's record TV reliably. I can live with a less than awesome UI if it can record my TV shows without any fuss. However, I can also wholeheartedly recommend NextPVR + Kodi. Just keep in mind, that regardless of which option you choose, you will have to pay a yearly fee. NextPVR relies on Schedules Direct in the states, not sure about internationally.

Hope this helps, and good luck. I understand the desire to tinker and maintain complete control of your setup. I've considered the Tablo devices in the past, but for me being able to run my own server, and having complete control over the recorded files is more important to me than a turnkey solution.
So one thing I've wondered about is just switching to a NAS - I believe some do transcoding. Or I guess there are free ones that I could install on current hardware. I'm just not sure if that is something that would work with the HDHomerun DVR service or not.

Lunar
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:21 am

So one thing I've wondered about is just switching to a NAS - I believe some do transcoding. Or I guess there are free ones that I could install on current hardware. I'm just not sure if that is something that would work with the HDHomerun DVR service or not.
Yeah, some NAS devices do support transcoding, but unless you go with Plex or Emby transcoding support isn't really necessary. If you use the HDHomerun DVR service, transcoding isn't supported as the streams coming fromt he DVR are straight MPEG-2. This does limit device compatibility somewhat (No ROKU support for example), but most streaming device support it. There's even an HDHomerun app for the Xbox One. If you decide to go the Kodi addon route, then Kodi will handle decode of the MPEG-2 stream from the DVR locally. One nice thing about the NAS option though is that the HDHomerun DVR application natively supports some NAS devices. Personally I like to run it on a PC, but NAS devices are one of the officially supported methods. That's kinda what I like most about the HDHomerun stuff, it's all about choice and flexibility. SiliconDust seems happy to let us do whatever we want with their stuff, within reason that is.

hipsterdoofus
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:30 am

So one thing I've wondered about is just switching to a NAS - I believe some do transcoding. Or I guess there are free ones that I could install on current hardware. I'm just not sure if that is something that would work with the HDHomerun DVR service or not.
Yeah, some NAS devices do support transcoding, but unless you go with Plex or Emby transcoding support isn't really necessary. If you use the HDHomerun DVR service, transcoding isn't supported as the streams coming fromt he DVR are straight MPEG-2. This does limit device compatibility somewhat (No ROKU support for example), but most streaming device support it. There's even an HDHomerun app for the Xbox One. If you decide to go the Kodi addon route, then Kodi will handle decode of the MPEG-2 stream from the DVR locally. One nice thing about the NAS option though is that the HDHomerun DVR application natively supports some NAS devices. Personally I like to run it on a PC, but NAS devices are one of the officially supported methods. That's kinda what I like most about the HDHomerun stuff, it's all about choice and flexibility. SiliconDust seems happy to let us do whatever we want with their stuff, within reason that is.
Oh I agree - I've been an hdhomerun user for years - in fact, that's one of the things I need to do is upgrade my tuners, because they are ancient. The main thing is, I'd like to keep the flexibility having a place to backup my desktop (pictures, videos, music) and I'd also like a place to record tv AND to be able to access the recorded tv from two different rooms. Of course, it would be nice if I could pick up watching something as it is recorded also.

Right now, I have my HTPC running WMC in the living room, and in the bedroom, I have an old xbox 360. We don't watch TONS of recorded tv in the bedroom (mostly netflix, etc, on the roku) but i would like that flexibility.

I'm afraid, even if I paid for a guide service and stayed on WMC, my xbox 360 isn't long for this world and I need to find a different solution for that remote location.

Lunar
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:50 am

So one thing I've wondered about is just switching to a NAS - I believe some do transcoding. Or I guess there are free ones that I could install on current hardware. I'm just not sure if that is something that would work with the HDHomerun DVR service or not.
Yeah, some NAS devices do support transcoding, but unless you go with Plex or Emby transcoding support isn't really necessary. If you use the HDHomerun DVR service, transcoding isn't supported as the streams coming fromt he DVR are straight MPEG-2. This does limit device compatibility somewhat (No ROKU support for example), but most streaming device support it. There's even an HDHomerun app for the Xbox One. If you decide to go the Kodi addon route, then Kodi will handle decode of the MPEG-2 stream from the DVR locally. One nice thing about the NAS option though is that the HDHomerun DVR application natively supports some NAS devices. Personally I like to run it on a PC, but NAS devices are one of the officially supported methods. That's kinda what I like most about the HDHomerun stuff, it's all about choice and flexibility. SiliconDust seems happy to let us do whatever we want with their stuff, within reason that is.
Oh I agree - I've been an hdhomerun user for years - in fact, that's one of the things I need to do is upgrade my tuners, because they are ancient. The main thing is, I'd like to keep the flexibility having a place to backup my desktop (pictures, videos, music) and I'd also like a place to record tv AND to be able to access the recorded tv from two different rooms. Of course, it would be nice if I could pick up watching something as it is recorded also.

Right now, I have my HTPC running WMC in the living room, and in the bedroom, I have an old xbox 360. We don't watch TONS of recorded tv in the bedroom (mostly netflix, etc, on the roku) but i would like that flexibility.

I'm afraid, even if I paid for a guide service and stayed on WMC, my xbox 360 isn't long for this world and I need to find a different solution for that remote location.
So, based on what you said there, I think going with a NAS + HDHomerun Record service + STB devices (i.e. Fire TV Stick, NVIDIA Shield TV, etc, just don't use Roku) at each TV might be the way to go for you. This will give you the same interface at each TV for a relatively low price (Fire TV Sticks are cheap), and streamline things a bit. Plus, if you decide you don't like the HDHomerun software, you can always go to Plex, Emby, or something else. Also, having Android based STB's enables the use of Kodi through sideloading which opens things up even more. Personally, I'd still recommend running the record engine on dedicated hardware, but if you want one box that'll give you some flexibility a NAS would be the way to go. Personally I like Synology NAS devices, and I believe they are supported by the record engine. Some folks have even made .spk's for it, which enables you to run it at boot. With the current official installation method you are required to manually start it any time the NAS reboots. At least as far as I'm aware.

One other option is to invest in the NAS, and use it for backups, media storage, etc, and repurpose your old HTPC as a headless TV server sitting in your office. That's how mine is setup, and it works great for us. My TV server is an MSI Cubi mini pc that sits on a shelf running Ubuntu Server headless, and it's sole purpose in life is to record TV. For me, I consider the DVR server as a critical network function in our house, because if Grey's Anatomy doesn't get recorded I hear about it. So, having a dedicated low power machine that just does the one task works really well. I also have a cron job setup that every night at 2AM it runs an rsync command to backup/sync my recordings to a backup folder on my NAS. That way all of our recordings are backed up on separate devices.

Whatever you do on the backend, I highly recommend going with Fire TV Sticks. They are cheap, and offer a lot of flexibility, due to being based on Android, when it comes to frontend options because of Kodi. The HDHomerun App is available natively through the App Store, and Kodi is easy to sideload, which opens up DVR backend options significantly. They also take up zero shelf space unlike an HTPC or Xbox. We used to use an HTPC with WMC back when we first started cord cutting, and it was great, but after a while we decided to shift to dedicated streaming baxes, and I moved everything to backend servers. Reduced cuttler in the living room and bedrooms, because the Fire TV Sticks aren't even visible behind the TV.

Sorahl
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:26 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Sorahl » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:54 am

I would recommend upgrading to win8.1 and paying the (very much worth the charge) money for epg123 and schedulesdirect.
you just aren't going to find a better front end interface than WMC.. hold on to it as long as you can!

john

ImNotSerious
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:27 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby ImNotSerious » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:12 am

I'm willing to upgrade equipment to make this happen, I just would like a decent long-term solution. Any suggestions?
after testing plex and hd apps, i switched it up and ran Apple Clients using Channels (https://getchannels.com) on Apple TVs since everyone in the house used iPhones. and run their DVR on an old windows box still. it was the only solution that was wife approved. they won't do anything other than a web interface for windows, sticking with andriod/firetv and apple, but it was worth it with my family.
So if I get this straight, the dvr comes from getchannels? $80 / yr i guess?
Yes. if you signup you get the first 30-days free to try. Great for comparing to see if its worth the cost difference.

hipsterdoofus
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:56 pm

I would recommend upgrading to win8.1 and paying the (very much worth the charge) money for epg123 and schedulesdirect.
you just aren't going to find a better front end interface than WMC.. hold on to it as long as you can!

john
I guess 8.1 did still have WMC, didn't it? I guess that's an option, but again, using my xbox 360 as an extender is very touch and go, and I do still need the ability to access recordings from another room.

hipsterdoofus
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:00 pm

So, based on what you said there, I think going with a NAS + HDHomerun Record service + STB devices (i.e. Fire TV Stick, NVIDIA Shield TV, etc, just don't use Roku) at each TV might be the way to go for you. This will give you the same interface at each TV for a relatively low price (Fire TV Sticks are cheap), and streamline things a bit. Plus, if you decide you don't like the HDHomerun software, you can always go to Plex, Emby, or something else. Also, having Android based STB's enables the use of Kodi through sideloading which opens things up even more. Personally, I'd still recommend running the record engine on dedicated hardware, but if you want one box that'll give you some flexibility a NAS would be the way to go. Personally I like Synology NAS devices, and I believe they are supported by the record engine. Some folks have even made .spk's for it, which enables you to run it at boot. With the current official installation method you are required to manually start it any time the NAS reboots. At least as far as I'm aware.

One other option is to invest in the NAS, and use it for backups, media storage, etc, and repurpose your old HTPC as a headless TV server sitting in your office. That's how mine is setup, and it works great for us. My TV server is an MSI Cubi mini pc that sits on a shelf running Ubuntu Server headless, and it's sole purpose in life is to record TV. For me, I consider the DVR server as a critical network function in our house, because if Grey's Anatomy doesn't get recorded I hear about it. So, having a dedicated low power machine that just does the one task works really well. I also have a cron job setup that every night at 2AM it runs an rsync command to backup/sync my recordings to a backup folder on my NAS. That way all of our recordings are backed up on separate devices.

Whatever you do on the backend, I highly recommend going with Fire TV Sticks. They are cheap, and offer a lot of flexibility, due to being based on Android, when it comes to frontend options because of Kodi. The HDHomerun App is available natively through the App Store, and Kodi is easy to sideload, which opens up DVR backend options significantly. They also take up zero shelf space unlike an HTPC or Xbox. We used to use an HTPC with WMC back when we first started cord cutting, and it was great, but after a while we decided to shift to dedicated streaming baxes, and I moved everything to backend servers. Reduced cuttler in the living room and bedrooms, because the Fire TV Sticks aren't even visible behind the TV.
Thank you very much for the detailed post. So a couple of things here:
1) Why not Roku? Just honestly curious (especially when you throw out the fire stick that is roughly the same price).

2) I like your thinking about repurposing the old machine - it's been plenty powerful for recording and such before now. You mentioned Ubuntu, but what is doing the recording? Or is this in conjunction with the DVR service? Is there space provisioned to be accessed like a NAS? I'm not sure I understand that part.


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