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Mac Dude

PVR & streaming box

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I've started looking at PVRs to record free to air telly, then I started down the track of streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, etc).

 

Fetch TV looked promising, but it's only SD which is a no-no. It had most of what I wanted - ability to record FTA, catchup TV integration and a subscription service for *some* TV and movies.

 

Telstra are trying to push Telstra TV which is out in a week (basically their tweaked Roku 2). The Roku 3 looked good but isn't a PVR and I don't think it has Aussie content.

 

Chromecast also looks good but isn't a PVR and I haven't looked at Apple TV yet.

 

Still trying to grasp exactly what features we want, but I do know the following :

 

  • Must be able to record FTA (1TB storage would be nice)
  • Must be HD capable
  • Access to a variety of of subscription/ppv content

My gut feel is that I'm looking at two different devices unfortunately.

 

I love to hear from anyone who has gone through a similar process or has looked at any PVR devices or streaming boxes in more detail.

 

thanks

 

EDIT : FYI, we currently have a Plex client and PS4 hooked up to the TV.

Edited by Mac Dude

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I don't think anything out there can do it all, the cheapest and best is probably to just build a HTPC.

 

I tried a Chromecast dongle, tried the Aldi one, took both back. Got an Android quad-core dongle and have barely touched it lately. Poor performance on most 1080 and likewise with H.265 at 720 and up means it's probably next to worthless.

 

There's sub-$100 Android boxes out now that supposedly do 4K video and supposedly handle H.265 but I'll believe it when I see it. And no doubt they'll still probably have shortcomings with streaming services.

Not to mention that everything I've mentioned so far can't do PVR duties with DTV.

 

It'd be nice to have an all-in-one solution but I just don't think anyone's got it anywhere near right yet. Not to mention price - in reality it should be possible under $400 but it wouldn't surprise me at all if someone got it right then asked over $1,000 for the privelage.

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I don't think anything out there can do it all, the cheapest and best is probably to just build a HTPC.

 

I tried a Chromecast dongle, tried the Aldi one, took both back. Got an Android quad-core dongle and have barely touched it lately. Poor performance on most 1080 and likewise with H.265 at 720 and up means it's probably next to worthless.

 

There's sub-$100 Android boxes out now that supposedly do 4K video and supposedly handle H.265 but I'll believe it when I see it. And no doubt they'll still probably have shortcomings with streaming services.

Not to mention that everything I've mentioned so far can't do PVR duties with DTV.

 

It'd be nice to have an all-in-one solution but I just don't think anyone's got it anywhere near right yet. Not to mention price - in reality it should be possible under $400 but it wouldn't surprise me at all if someone got it right then asked over $1,000 for the privelage.

 

 

This is what I'm finding :( I'd love it to be one box, but that doesn't seem possible. Fetch TV comes under your $400 limit but it's only SD.

 

Having said that, it *seems* to be only SD for the FTA stuff. Much of the content available via subscription or say the NetFlix app is available in HD. This would indicate that the 3 tuners in the box are the limiting factor. I might have to give them a call...

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The processing grunt is almost exponential when you jump from one level to another.

 

Bog standard 576 SD is usually MPEG-2 as in virtually same as for a DVD. Decode/display requires about the power of an old P2-300.

Hi-def TV in Aus @ 1080p is still MPEG-2 but there's generally 2-3 times the bitrate, so increase the processing power needed by about 50%

 

The likes of Divx and XVid which were the predominant "scene" codecs from probably 2005-2010, at medium resolutions about the same demand as MPEG-2 at high resolutions. Most cheap DVD players on the market able to play it for ~ 10 years now.

 

In modern times, H.264 offers better compression/quality but decoding power required is probably a 50% leap over that of the old Divx/XVid. Many PVRs will happily play it, Bluray players as well since it's incorporated into the standard.

 

H.265 the new kid on the block. Offers equivalent quality of H.264 at about half the storage, and support for the insane resolutions that are becoming more common. Problem though is that likely 90% or more of black-box devices out there won't be able to play it. Firmware updates will be pointless because it comes down to just not having enough grunt to decode the stuff.

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Topfield are one of the few PVR companies left that do HD FTA recording that I'm aware of:

 

http://www.topfield.com.au/products/pvr/

 

Though given the cost, I think it might be difficult to recuperate the investment before it's made obsolete.

 

I ditched the HTPC for an Xbox One and Synology NAS late last year, and haven't missed any of the features, but the PVR use was limited to F1 races, and content that's generally available via ABC iView and SBS On Demand. Given that the new Apple TV (due next week apparently) supports apps, it might be worth consideration, particularly if Plex, iView, and SBS On Demand get ported over. Plex will give you a decent interface for DVD rips, and you'll get a bigger selection of content from iTunes + Netflix compared to Google Play + Netflix.

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I dumped PVRs some time ago in favour of an HTPC because I kept running in to the painful unsupported codec issue. The problem with an HTPC of course is it can be more complicated to use unlike the "point and play" PVRs.

 

I am running an AMD FM1 dual core APU with 4Gb ram, 64Gb SSD boot, 2Tb storage, Leadtek TV tuner and a BD player.

For PVR functions I just use Windows Media Centre. For file playback I use MPC HC. For BD I am currently using VLC with AnyDVD HD.

VLC is far from ideal but so far I am having trouble finding any decent BD playback software. I used Cyberlink PowerDVD bundled version for a while until it got stuck in a failed update loop and Cyberlinks solution was to buy their newest full Pro version which is overpriced IMO.

 

 

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I'm a little confused regarding the codec problem. If I buy a device that records, then it obviously has the codec to play it back, no?

 

To go down the HTPC path I'd need to buy multiple tuners and build a PC to install them into.

 

For home created/ripped content I'm using plex on a raspberry Pi 2 and for Netflix I'm using the PS4.

 

I try to record FTA rather than use the catchup services like iView because those services seem to be SD only even when the original show was HD.

 

I will wait for the new Apple TV and Telstra TV over the next few weeks to see what they offer on the streaming side...

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I've tried a number of combinations but ultimately gave up on the "one device to rule them all" approach.

 

Even with our shitty ADSL connection, I am finding that catch up TV services along with Netflix with a mix of Plex seems to do what we want. We abandoned the ability to record FTA but then again, we don't really watch the shows being aired on the main stations anyway.

 

I have two Samsung smart TVs and the Plex app installed to both. Both have Netflix too along with an app for SBS and ABC which keeps our household content.

 

Being an Apple centric family, we have an Apple TV too which also doubles as a Netflix interface (I find Samsung's smart hub to not be entirely fantastic) as well as being able to throw stuff from the iDevices to the main TV too.

 

That probably doesn't answer your question but I guess, it might be worth considering what it is you need the PVR for that you can't access via catch up TV. I seem to recall some time ago (unless you moved) that you are on cable which should mean bandwidth issues aren't a problem.

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The codec issue relates mainly to streaming and Uncle supplied videos. FTA is still in the dark ages and will probably never go leading-edge.

Of course there's also those annoying types like .MOV .FLV .RM etc. I don't much care for them and any device I look at don't really take support for them into consideration.

 

Agreed on the catchup comment - just when you think you've forgotten what VHS was, they give you video of a quality that reminds you of it.

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stop the presses...

 

Just received a response from the Fetch TV folks and the tuners ARE HD and the box can record HD as well as SD. They just don't point that out on their web site :/ It has 3 tuners, one to watch FTA and the other 2 to record. As for the question of why buy a PVR at all since we have catchup TV apps, well it's because those apps are only SD as far as I can tell. ABCs iView is actually less than SD and looks very ordinary on a large screen telly.

 

So it looks like that's the way to go for me...

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Got link to their product? Is it any good for uPnP/DLNA type local playback?

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I'm a little confused regarding the codec problem. If I buy a device that records, then it obviously has the codec to play it back, no?

 

 

 

 

The codec issue is only when playing videos sourced from other places of course. For stuff recorded by the PVR itself then yes of course it will play it back fine.

 

 

To go down the HTPC path I'd need to buy multiple tuners and build a PC to install them into.

So now you also want your PVR to have multiple inbuilt tuners? How many exactly?

 

In my desktop PC I use a Hauppauge HVR-2210

http://www.hauppauge.com.sg/site/products/data_hvr2210.html

and in the HTPC I have a Leadtek DTV2000 DS

http://www.leadtek.com/eng/product/6/530/intro.aspx

both are dual digital tuners. All the PC based TV tuners have had issues at times, even the current ones. Mostly to do with not schedule recording a show for some reason

Previously I had several TViX PVRs (now gone broke) as well and they also suffered issues with not recording or not even turning on sometimes. Also the previously mentioned codec issues.

 

For more than 2 tuners in a PVR have a look at the Beyonwiz T3 and T4.

https://beyonwiz.com.au/product-category/t4/

  • DIGITAL FULL HD 1080P QUAD TUNER LINUX PVR
  • DUAL CORE 2 x 1300 MHz MIPS PROCESSOR
  • OPEN-SOURCE LINUX OPERATING SYSTEM
  • WEB BROWSER
  • 4 DIGITAL TV TUNERS (HIGH GRADE EXTERNAL LOOP CABLES INCLUDED)
  • 3 X USB 2.0 SLOTS (1 X FRONT, 2 X REAR)
  • PVR READY VIA USB, NAS, SATA INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL
  • HDMI INPUT (SWITCHING, PIP AND RECORDING)*
  • TRANSCODING
  • GIGABIT LAN (10/100/1000Mbps)
  • HDMI, YUV COMPONENT / COMPOSITE OUTPUTS
  • DOWNLOADABLE PLUG-INS & UPGRADEDS
  • ADAPTABLE USER INTERFACE
  • UNIVERSAL REMOTE CONTROL (TV/STB)

 

 

 

 

/Edit

Big thread about it on Whingepool

https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=2416205

Edited by aliali
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Ooooh.

 

The Beyonwiz T4 looks like an awesome box but to have reliable FTA scheduled recording you needed to use an Ice TV subscription and the Ice TV folks went into voluntary administration earlier this month :/

 

Fetch TV doesn't require a subscription.

 

So it appears the Beyonwiz hardware is more advanced but there is a big question mark over its ability to do accurate scheduled recordings in the future...But it does have the ability to stream to other devices on your home network and store recordings on your NAS.

 

double hmmmmmmmm.

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I think with series recordings and even normal scheduled ones you're at the mercy of the EPG.

I've even been screwed over once or twice by stations that don't change their timestamp over when DST changes.

 

The way I see it you're just better off doing such stuff manually. And for anything on a commercial station, set timing to start -5, finish +35.

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I think with series recordings and even normal scheduled ones you're at the mercy of the EPG.

I've even been screwed over once or twice by stations that don't change their timestamp over when DST changes.

 

The way I see it you're just better off doing such stuff manually. And for anything on a commercial station, set timing to start -5, finish +35.

 

This is the reason Beyonwiz users bought IceTV rather than just relying on the broadcast EPG - it's inaccurate. Fetch TV has it's own EPG which like IceTV is more accurate than the broadcast EPG.

 

The only question I have is how can having your own version of the EPG be sustainable when you don't charge people for it? My guess is that most Fetch TV users buy some of the movies or the entertainment subscription and they use the profit from that to maintain their EPG.

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