So, the reason I don't recommend Roku is because Silicondust doesn't have an official app for it, most Roku's lack native MPEG-2 decode capability which is what live TV is transmit as, and you have less freedom when it comes to software packages. Sure, they have a lot of apps in their store, but on android based devices or PCs, you can pretty much do whatever you want.Thank you very much for the detailed post. So a couple of things here: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.
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.
As far as Ubuntu is concerned, it's just the Linux based operating system I'm running the HDHomerun Record engine on. I could've been more clear about that. You can use Windows if you want, my personal preference is Linux. For storage, I have a 1 TB mechanical hard drive installed for recordings, and then I have a routine that runs every night to sync my recordings to a folder on my Synology NAS. That way if the TV server ever dies, I have a backup of my recordings. I lost recordings once because of a hard drive failure, and vowed to never let that happen again.
So, for re-purposing your old HTPC, you could keep Windows on it, install the HDHomerun Record software onto it, and then shove it in a corner and let it just do its thing while you watch TV and recordings on the Fire Sticks. Although, I would recommend installing TightVNC server so that you can remotely manage it easily without having a monitor connected. Having the server headless is great, but you do need a way to manage it remotely. That's one of the reasons I love Linux. I can just remote in using the command line and manage my servers that way without needing to be physically at the server in question. If I get a chance tonight, I'll post some pictures of my setup so you have some visuals as well.