Taking HTPC to the next level

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    I’ve been fortunate to have a nice home theater set up but it is time to bring it up to date with current features.  Basically I would like to expand it to a whole home solution which includes streaming to other PCs, iPads, iPods, etc.

    In my current set up I have a Win 7 PC set up using 7MC.  I get cable content through a HD-PVR connected to the cable company STB as well as OTA to a tuner card in the PC (old but does OTA HD).  Media Center is dressed up using DVRMSToolbox and ShowAnalyzer.  I also have VideoRedo and a few other tools which allow me to archive off Recorded TV in MKV format.  Wanting to be able to extend to non-Windows devices I installed Serviio to stream my library to the living room via DLNA compliant blu-ray player.  All this works great but I’m limited.  The solution while functional is limited and too piece mill.  Add to that, I’m fed up with large cable bills of which more than $30 a month is equipment rental and DVR fees.

    What I would like to do is put together a whole house solution that will let me stream live tv (w/guide and channel control) and my media library to all the TVs, computers, and devices (iPod, iPad, etc) in a clean interface that doesn’t wig out if the cable company sets copy protection (DRM) on their stream.

    I’ve looked at a lot of different options and solutions but they all have holes, gotchas, or just don’t look like they work well.  Starting out at the STB I see a number of very nice multi-tuner M-Card based solutions out there by Ceton, HDHomeRun, Hauppauge, etc but they all only work with Media Center and honor copy protection.  I’m not a thief or trying to do anything illegal.  I just want to be able watch my media within our home (fair use).

    The closest thing I’ve seen to putting together a solution is to buy own STBs, a few more Hauppauge HD-PVRs, and then XBox 360s for each of the TVs.  That would allow me to have live tv with channel change (media center extender) and use Serviio to stream the library via DLNA.  My problem with this solution is that it is expensive, doesn’t have a nice clean interface (wife has to be able to use it and like it), and still leaves me researching a solution for streaming content to our portable devices.

    So, knowing that there many very good minds out there, does anyone here have any recommendations for a good solution that won’t put me in the poor house?

    Thanks much. 



    Aaron Ledger

      As you’ve pointed out, if content is marked Copy Once by the cable provider, there is unfortunately only the analog hole to exploit to get around that. You can have a system with WMC and Xbox extenders which can all work together for multi-room viewing, shared guide, etc., but that won’t get you content on your other devices. M-card solutions do work with other platforms besides WMC, but that is only true for Copy Freely content.

      Slightly cheaper than the HD-PVR is the Colossus. If your content is all free of copy protection, you could investigate using something like Remote Potato to play it on the iPad and other devices.


        Thanks Aaron.  I think my only real option is to stick with the hd-pvr/colossus scenario and explore 360s as extenders.  Have been having the same discussion over at The Green Button (http://thegreenbutton.tv/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=586&p=5118#p5118) for anyone who cares to see.  Some good recommendations were made there too.


          wow, great job. thanks for your sharing.

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