Replacing WMC

Help and support with third-party TV software.
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Lunar
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:26 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.
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.

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.

nerodark
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:31 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby nerodark » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:33 pm

Me too, I was trying to find a replacement for WMC until i fall on :

SichboPVR
https://sichbopvr.com/

Currently supports anything I want : HDHomerun tuners, live tv, recording, etc in a very simple manner.

Hope people will like it

jachin99
Posts: 66
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:18 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby jachin99 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:42 pm

I'm still using WMC, and while others like Emby, or Kodi have caught up quite a bit WMC still takes the cake for metadata and simplicity. the overlays are well thought out, useful, and easily accessible. MCE remotes have shortcuts for most libraries (Newer players decided to ditch shortcut keys for whatever reason), and EPG 123 gives you really rich metadata. With kodi, the skins and dependencies can have a big impact on what metadata is presented, and where making it a lot to keep up with and manage so I would count that as another advantage. Xbox 360s haven't been manufactured since 2016 but most thrift shops won't even take them anymore. I was in gamestop not too long ago, and they were sixty bucks if your willing to spend a little money.

Lunar
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:10 pm

I'm still using WMC, and while others like Emby, or Kodi have caught up quite a bit WMC still takes the cake for metadata and simplicity. the overlays are well thought out, useful, and easily accessible. MCE remotes have shortcuts for most libraries (Newer players decided to ditch shortcut keys for whatever reason), and EPG 123 gives you really rich metadata. With kodi, the skins and dependencies can have a big impact on what metadata is presented, and where making it a lot to keep up with and manage so I would count that as another advantage. Xbox 360s haven't been manufactured since 2016 but most thrift shops won't even take them anymore. I was in gamestop not too long ago, and they were sixty bucks if your willing to spend a little money.
I totally agree. WMC had an awesome interface. Absolutely loved it. What got us to move on was a desire to get the PC out of the living room trying to declutter.

jachin99
Posts: 66
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:18 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby jachin99 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:49 pm

I have a NUC in my livingroom for WMC but I have to admit that I paid about double what could have gotten an android or apple box for. But there are some windows programs that I find useful so I'll probably always stick with a windows box.

jasonl
Silicondust
Posts: 13368
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:23 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby jasonl » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:01 pm

I run NextPVR as a backup recording platform with our DVR as the primary. Low-flying planes foul up my reception far too often, so a second device recording off a different antenna pointed in a different direction is vital to piecing together one perfect recording. Pretty happy with how the recording works, although the initial setup process took a fair amount of work. Still beats WMC though.

Lunar
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:53 am

I run NextPVR as a backup recording platform with our DVR as the primary. Low-flying planes foul up my reception far too often, so a second device recording off a different antenna pointed in a different direction is vital to piecing together one perfect recording. Pretty happy with how the recording works, although the initial setup process took a fair amount of work. Still beats WMC though.
Wow, that's an unfortunate amount of hoops you have to jump through. I didn't realize aircraft could cause issues like that. I am curious though, you mentioned having antennas pointed in different directions. I take it you're in one of those areas where you have the ability to pull in two stations for the same channel (i.e. 2 ABC's)?

jasonl
Silicondust
Posts: 13368
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:23 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby jasonl » Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:37 pm

I have one pointed directly at the tower and one pointed 90 degrees off towards a building that gives me a good reflection. Neither one is perfect, but in these positions they get interference from different things at different times, so it's possible to piece them together.

hipsterdoofus
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:10 pm

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.

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.
Yeah i wouldn't mind seeing that. I am familiar with Linux, especially redhat variants. I didn't realize that there was a linux version of the HDHomerun recording software?

So on your setup then, when you watch something, you are watching it from the NAS after recording? Or are you able to watch live recordings and items as they record as well off of the headless server?

Lunar
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:39 am

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.

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.
Yeah i wouldn't mind seeing that. I am familiar with Linux, especially redhat variants. I didn't realize that there was a linux version of the HDHomerun recording software?

So on your setup then, when you watch something, you are watching it from the NAS after recording? Or are you able to watch live recordings and items as they record as well off of the headless server?
When watching TV, be it a recording or live, the TV server is in the loop. For live tv it is the timeshifting buffer enabling pause/rewind/fast forward. And yeah, there's a version of the HDHomerun Record engine for almost everything. Off the top of my head it supports Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, and Synology, Western Digital, and QNAP NAS devices.

hipsterdoofus
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:38 am

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby hipsterdoofus » Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:30 pm

When watching TV, be it a recording or live, the TV server is in the loop. For live tv it is the timeshifting buffer enabling pause/rewind/fast forward. And yeah, there's a version of the HDHomerun Record engine for almost everything. Off the top of my head it supports Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, and Synology, Western Digital, and QNAP NAS devices.
Okay so let me see if I get this straight - you would potentially connect to 2 locations - your tv server for currently recording stuff and your NAS for stuff that recorded previously and has been copied over?

signcarver
Expert
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Re: Replacing WMC

Postby signcarver » Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:13 pm

Though it could be two(or more), for most they would only want one engine location. What was being said was that regardless if live or recorded, for SD's client software if it detects a record engine, the client connects to the record engine for the content, not the tuner directly unless the channel is DRM or from a legacy tuner (if you have a record engine I don't suggest mixing legacy tuners with modern tuners to keep things much simpler as legacy is not supported by the record engine.). What was mentioned was the poster also backs up to a NAS so he does not lose recordings to drive failure... I take a different approach as it is very rare that the things I record would never be on again so I don't care if I loose it (if it is that important, I buy a copy )

Lunar
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:13 pm

When watching TV, be it a recording or live, the TV server is in the loop. For live tv it is the timeshifting buffer enabling pause/rewind/fast forward. And yeah, there's a version of the HDHomerun Record engine for almost everything. Off the top of my head it supports Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, and Synology, Western Digital, and QNAP NAS devices.
Okay so let me see if I get this straight - you would potentially connect to 2 locations - your tv server for currently recording stuff and your NAS for stuff that recorded previously and has been copied over?
No, the recordings are still viewed from the storage on the TV server. I just have scheduled task to back them up to my NAS just in case the hard drive in my TV server dies. I've had that happen before, which resulted in all of our recordings being lost. So I back them up which gives me the ability to replace the hard drive in the TV server in the event of a failure, and then copy the recordings back to the new TV server drive.

Ken.F
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Location: West Rockhill, PA

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Ken.F » Sat Feb 16, 2019 9:24 pm

No, the recordings are still viewed from the storage on the TV server. I just have scheduled task to back them up to my NAS just in case the hard drive in my TV server dies. I've had that happen before, which resulted in all of our recordings being lost. So I back them up which gives me the ability to replace the hard drive in the TV server in the event of a failure, and then copy the recordings back to the new TV server drive.
I do the opposite. I run the record engine on my NAS and I store anything I want to keep long term on the server. I know parity isn't as safe as a proper backup but it's good enough for me. The NAS uses a lot less power so I'd rather use it for the TV backend. I like being able to turn the server off or let it go to sleep when not being used.

Lunar
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: Replacing WMC

Postby Lunar » Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:46 pm

No, the recordings are still viewed from the storage on the TV server. I just have scheduled task to back them up to my NAS just in case the hard drive in my TV server dies. I've had that happen before, which resulted in all of our recordings being lost. So I back them up which gives me the ability to replace the hard drive in the TV server in the event of a failure, and then copy the recordings back to the new TV server drive.
I do the opposite. I run the record engine on my NAS and I store anything I want to keep long term on the server. I know parity isn't as safe as a proper backup but it's good enough for me. The NAS uses a lot less power so I'd rather use it for the TV backend. I like being able to turn the server off or let it go to sleep when not being used.
Well, in my case server is a bit of a misnomer. It describes the operational profile of my dedicated TV server, but it's not a normal power hungry server. It's an MSI Cubi mini-pc that uses 15W at most. I do understand where you're coming from though in regards to power consumption. That's one of the main reasons I went with the Cubi.


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