HD via HTPC or dedicated receiver?

SwissBuster

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I'm a newbie to both the forum and HD, so please be gentle! Searching around to educate myself on HD satellite reception led me to this site, but my searches left me with a lot of unanswered questions...

First the background: I've just ordered an HD TV in anticipation of Euro2008. I'd also like to upgrade my satelite receiver to HD, recognising that I probably won't be able to watch much in HD right away. I have the Technisat Multytenne Twin satellite with their CIVA receiver. This allows me to get 28°E, 23°E, 16°E and 13°E, and keep my multi-cultural household happy (we watch UK FTA programs, German and Swiss channels, the later via a Swiss smartcard). The Multytenne also has twin outputs allowing me to watch on two receivers (an option which I might use now I have two TVs).

I'm contemplating buying a HTPC to clear the clutter from around the TV, but also to let me listen to my mp3s, internet radio, watch dixV movies, and so on. With an HD-PC card I could in theory elliminate the sat receiver too. But does this type of setup run reliably, or is it better to have a dedicated sat receiver?

Some random points:
* I'm computer literate - setup and tinkering doesn't worry me. However if the HTPC is not reliable/simple to use once set up this could create issues when my girlfriend misses her favourite German soaps.
* I'll need to be able to use at least one smartcard for Swiss TV. I may want to add two. This will doubtlessly open up a separate debate later around CI, CAMs and cards...
* I'd like to be able to record TV shows. Recording one show whilst watching something else would be nice. For 'German soap' reasons this interface needs to be simple.
* Watching TV is what we do the most - music and movies are secondary.
* Budget is not really a concern as long as I get appropriately cool toys for the $.

My starter query is really if someone can list the pros and cons of an HTPC versus a dedicated HD receiver (perhaps supported by or linked to a PC). Does anyone have a successful HTPC up-and-running doing everything on my wishlist?
 

SwissBuster

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Anyone have an opinion or any experience with this??
 

Topper

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SwissBuster said:
Anyone have an opinion or any experience with this??


From the total absence of responses I can only assume that this being a self help hobbyist forum for satellite TV, nobody has had either the money or the desire to go down this route and thus be able to respond to your questions. Lets be sensible about this getting HD quality transmissions on a PC is going to need a top notch dual core processor, motherboard, memory etc as even simple SD transmission can often be slowed down by lack of processing power
 

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Topper said:
From the total absence of responses I can only assume that this being a self help hobbyist forum for satellite TV, nobody has had either the money or the desire to go down this route and thus be able to respond to your questions. Lets be sensible about this getting HD quality transmissions on a PC is going to need a top notch dual core processor, motherboard, memory etc as even simple SD transmission can often be slowed down by lack of processing power

In the summer I built an HTPC with Gigabyte MA-78GM-SH2 motherboard with onboard HD graphics chip and HDMI output. The processor is a 2.2GHz Phenom, a 500Gb disk and a Nova HD S2 satellite card. I needed a computer upgrade at the time and it totalled about £330, similar to a single tuner PVR receiver plus drive, at the time.

I also use the HTPC for video editing, I can use different PVR and editing software and can record satellite radio. I also now have an HD PVR receiver which is quicker on the one-button-record but doesn't record sat radio and limited to the maker's software foibles (see my Fortecstar Passion Plus posts).
 

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Yes a lot can happen in six months in computer development like the quad core processor for example
 

icarusi

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icarusi said:
I also now have an HD PVR receiver which is quicker on the one-button-record but doesn't record sat radio and limited to the maker's software foibles (see my Fortecstar Passion Plus posts).

Correction my satellite PVR (FS Passion+) will record radio, also via the timer (caveats), but currently doesn't like booting into the radio 'spectrum' (currently needs switching from 'tv' or from 'radio' to 'tv' and back).

ON the HTPC 'DVBDream' will also record radio, but the timer add-in doesn't include sat-radio stations. Cyberlink Powercinema won't record sat-radio.

On the HTPC I can record an HD channel on Powercinema and simultaneously watch an HD recording, something I can't do on my Passion+.
 

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Hello I also live near Geneva: Can you tell me where you bought the Multytenne (I assume its the 45 cm one) in Geneva?
 

cast87

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icarusi said:
In the summer I built an HTPC with Gigabyte MA-78GM-SH2 motherboard with onboard HD graphics chip and HDMI output. The processor is a 2.2GHz Phenom, a 500Gb disk and a Nova HD S2 satellite card. I needed a computer upgrade at the time and it totalled about £330, similar to a single tuner PVR receiver plus drive, at the time.

I also use the HTPC for video editing, I can use different PVR and editing software and can record satellite radio. I also now have an HD PVR receiver which is quicker on the one-button-record but doesn't record sat radio and limited to the maker's software foibles (see my Fortecstar Passion Plus posts).

Hi, I'm new, too and I'm really interested in HTPC and similar boxes... How easy is to use your HTPC? Would my girlfriend be able to use it as she used to use the old DVD recorder?
 

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I've been running an HTPC for over 3 years since I got rid of TiVo. It has P4 2.8 and 1 GB memory, 2 x Nova-T and 1 x Twinhan. It records and plays, stores music and pix and can burn DVDs. It also supports Hauppauge mediaMVP for remote viewing. EPG can be either from broadcast info or import of XML file. I have a rebuild in progress using core 2 CPU and incorporating Skystar HD but life keeps interfering. The software I use is GBPVR which is free and has great user group support.
 

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cast87 said:
Hi, I'm new, too and I'm really interested in HTPC and similar boxes... How easy is to use your HTPC? Would my girlfriend be able to use it as she used to use the old DVD recorder?
It's not as easy as the software makers would have you believe, but not as tricky as it used to be. Satellite PVRs are always going to be 'easier' but have limitations re the supplied software, which can't usually be changed, just upgraded if the maker is good enough.
 

cast87

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What do you think about using an eeePC as HTPC? Can I add an external USB HD DVB-T tuner? That way I would have a PVR, too.
 

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cast87 said:
What do you think about using an eeePC as HTPC? Can I add an external USB HD DVB-T tuner? That way I would have a PVR, too.
The hardware in those things wouldnt be up to much. HD would be out of the question (probably).
 

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I'd tend to agree there. A few years ago my first attempts were centred around one of the mini ITX boards which had an on board 1GHz processor and it was definitely underpowered for playing back.
 

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ropaco said:
Hello I also live near Geneva: Can you tell me where you bought the Multytenne (I assume its the 45 cm one) in Geneva?

I bought this online via http://www.satdiscount.ch/start/ (site is in German). It is the 45cm dish as you thought. It works fine but note that the small dish size makes it sensitive to poor weather (in a heavy storm, we loose the signal). They do make a version with a large dish. In normal weather it picks up the signals from all 4 satelites flawlessly.

Sorry it took so long to answer...
 

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SwissBuster said:
Anyone have an opinion or any experience with this??

Actually, I do now!

I took the plunge last year and had a PC built to do this task. It was a decent, modern PC (i.e. mid range cost - search my profile at www.team-mediaportal.com for the gory detail) where the build focus was on a discrete and silent PC. The first attempt was without a dedicated graphics card but we had to add a (nothing special) graphics card to cope with the demands of HD and blu-ray.

The software is freeware from MediaPortal (see link above) running on Vista. It was a steep learning curve to get this working, and took a few months of playing around to get the thing running reliably. It still demands the odd tweak now-and-then to keep things running smoothly. It HAS got to the point that my girlfriend uses it by preference (the first month or so, she used the old set-top box that was still connected). Note that this became a pretty significant 'hobby' for several months, though.

Would I do it again? Probably. I like having only the one box to do everything. The downside is that we still get the odd bit of idiosyncratic behaviour...
 

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compufunk said:
The hardware in those things wouldnt be up to much. HD would be out of the question (probably).

Thanks, guys, so
HTPC = I must spend some money to have it playing HD content... the eeePC won't do the job
CE devices = limited software, no upgrades...
A solution like blobbox or popcorn hour?
 
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