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#1 TLCNORM

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 09:26 AM

I am interested in Sage TV. I currently have a cable DVR which obviously works great and records any channel but has a monthly fee. I have used windows MCE before also. My question is basic. When I used Windows MCE I could only record low channels...up to maybe 69. How do you physically hook up Sage to record premium channels like HD and HBO?

#2 Dan (electron)

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 09:55 AM

HD can be recorded with a tuner supporting OTA/QAM HD. NewEgg has the HD HomeRun on sale right now for $129, so that would take care of the HD channels. As for HBO and other premium channels, you will probably need to use a regular tuner, to record the signal from a (dedicated) set top box, since this is all encrypted. I do this myself, and it does work well, it just means you have to rent another set top box.

#3 TLCNORM

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 01:41 PM

Not sure of the actual hookup. Lets say I have a set top box with coax feed IN and HDMI out to TV. Can you insert a HTPC in that equation with Sage TV?....or does that HTPC setup have to be independent? I don't think you can use HDMI AND coax out on the same box. Doesn't HDMI override everything else? I am just not clear on how you get Movie channels like HBO to record, unless like you said you put a dedicated box in there somewhere and then what? Coax in to box coax out to HTPC to record??? Thanks.....

#4 IVB

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 02:11 PM

you would buy an Hauppauge HD-DVR component capture device, then use STB component out->HD-DVR. SageTV communicates with the HD-DVR over USB, and saves the data stream to hard disk. That STB shouldn't be connected to your TV and used directly (ie, non-SageTV) or else you'll screw up your recordings. SageTV will handle all channel changes of the STB to record through an IR blaster that's built into the HD-DVR specifically for this purpose.

You connect either an HTPC to your TV, or the SageHDExtender to your TV. To watch TV "live", you pull up the Sage UI and do it from there. If the STB is currently being used to record a favorite/other program, it'll warn you.

Edited by IVB, 28 November 2008 - 02:13 PM.


#5 MavRic

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 12:51 PM

This "OTA/QAM HD" thing is still a mystery to me.

I don't have a terristial antenna and have Comcast Digital Extended Service..

I have the Hauppage PVR-500 with dual tuners in my SageTV PC, one tuner/capture tunes channels 1-100, the other capture gets S-Video from the STB.

If i were to buy the HD package from Comcast would a HD Homerun or Hauppage PVR-1800 or so capture this directly or are these only intened to hook up to antennas that get the free HD over the air? I'm living in a hilly area and seriously doubt if i can pick up any OTA HD signals and don't really want to go through all the efforts.

#6 sic0048

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 01:35 PM

This "OTA/QAM HD" thing is still a mystery to me.

I don't have a terristial antenna and have Comcast Digital Extended Service..

I have the Hauppage PVR-500 with dual tuners in my SageTV PC, one tuner/capture tunes channels 1-100, the other capture gets S-Video from the STB.

If i were to buy the HD package from Comcast would a HD Homerun or Hauppage PVR-1800 or so capture this directly or are these only intened to hook up to antennas that get the free HD over the air? I'm living in a hilly area and seriously doubt if i can pick up any OTA HD signals and don't really want to go through all the efforts.


There are two types of digital broadcast signals that you could deal with. OTA signals are called ATSC (the old analog OTA signals are NTSC). Then you have the digital cable with is called QAM (although there are several flavors of QAM as well). I'm not sure about the PVR-1800, but the HDHR has dual tuners which can be set to either QAM or ATSC in any combination (both QAM, both ATSC, or one of each).

Now if you have cable, all the channels are broadcast in QAM, but some will be encrypted and some will not be encrypted. Actually most will be encrypted, but some channels (usually your local network HD stations and some others only if you are lucky) are not encrypted. Those unencrypted channels can be viewed with a HDHR or any other QAM tuner.

But most channels are encrypted and therefore you'll need a STB to unencrypt those channels. Now you can continue to capture those channels via the S-video (lower than HD resolution) or you'll need the HD-PVR to record the output from the component signals.

#7 TLCNORM

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 01:55 PM

Thanks for those great explanations. I am the type of person who likes to do things and not necessarily use them that much. Don't laugh...right now we only have 1 main HDTV that the family uses. We have another SD TV in the basement that is rarely used. Eventually we will get 1 more HDTV for an additional room and hopefully some day go with a dedicated theater. I am not sure of the reason to go for the expense of Sage TV. The biggest reason for me would be the ability to start watching a program in 1 room and then finish it in another which the cable company's boxes can't do right now. I heard they are planning on that in the future - probably for an additional fee. The other reason would be to avoid the $10/month DVR charge - of course with the upfront cost of hardware and software it would take time to recoup my costs.

#8 IVB

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 02:47 PM

I think the primary reason one should go with SageTV isn't money, rather functionality. You can:
1) easily expand storage,
2) rip DVDs so you can easily watch them
3) import your home movies, so you can easily watch them
4) Create a shared pool of tuners to share,
5) Eliminate visible equipment. You can centralize tuners out of visible locations and just have extenders everywhere. And hell, you can even centralize those, and just have IR recievers in the room.
6) Watch TV on your laptop from a hotel room/vacation/etc through SageTV-PlaceShifter
7) Remotely add shows to be watched using PlaceShifter
8) Watch youtube/other online channels through SageTV's native integration
9) Be able to setup TV shows to be recorded from any TV, and have the server handle all the details. (I believe that with multiple Cable DVRs, you have a seperate recording schedule on each box. How much would it suck to have to remember which DVR had the recording schedule for which shows)
10) Customize UI if there's menu items that aren't useful to you, and just serve to confuse wife/kids.

#9 Steve

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 02:58 PM

I current use Sage and like it also but I just wanted to throw out another possible alternative. UVerse from AT&T will do distributed DVR on up to 4 TV's. Uverse is IPTV and works well from what I have seen. Not as configurable as Sage but great for the 'average' TV viewers needs. Problem is that is not available everywhere yet. You can check here if interested.

#10 CollinR

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 03:29 PM

You don't go to SageTV for cost savings thats not what it's about.

A unified interface for all your media, TV, Videos, DVDs, Music, Photos, online content from YouTube and Google Videos. All of this carried via a single Cat5 cable.

All your cable boxes become centralized which I guess could provide a savings if like my father you had 10 of them all over the place but only need 4 at the SageTV server.

HD PVR is the only way to capture normal HD, the HVR line from Hauppauge (and the HDHomerun) basically only gets you ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and PBS.

#11 TLCNORM

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 05:24 PM

IVB,
I've been following your setup for a while now. I think you do some great stuff! I have also followed Jwilson's setup and have purchased Jriver MC. I plan to dabble in NETREMOTE when I get a chance. That does give me the ability to store DVD's and it has created a whole house music system for me. Like I said I am not the biggest TV junkie, just kinda into all this techie stuff. I have young kids so I usually get about 2 hours of TV at the most per night.

Steve,
Verizon FIOS is in my area and they do give you the ability to retrieve shows from different locations.

CollinR,
Sorry to sound cheap - I just hate giving my cable company more $$.

I worked for a Control4 dealer for a while and I really like their products.

Thanks for all your inputs.

#12 IVB

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 05:53 PM

how old are your kids? SageTV is a great choice for kids there.

For my 6.5 yr old & 4 yr old, the ability to hav all DVDs ripped and viewable through the Sage UI is priceless. The 6.5 year old is the queen of SageTV , and can navigate by herself through either the recordings, live TV guide, or media center/videos (ripped DVDs). Plus they now don't get trashed.

#13 Work2Play

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 09:53 PM

OK, you guys have me almost sold! Here's my problem... I love Tivo - I've had it since 2000 when it was brand new - I like the interface and the remotes, etc. It doesn't ever screw up or miss a show. I have DirecTV tivos now (plus I have the basic cable through Comcast because of the internet), and I have 2 identical ones - if the HD's on one start to go out, I switch to the other and fix the first - both are about 500 hours. Not to mention, I have 7 remotes between the 2 Tivo's - wife and I each get one, in the LR and the BR, and we have spares.

Previously though, I only had one TV. Now I have 2 regularly used TV's, plus a desire to have 2 more (Office and Workout Room). Currently both TV's are hooked to the same Tivo with an IR repeater on the bedroom one (causes problems if we're watching in both rooms - wife will often just switch to live comcast basic cable). And, I have almost 2TB in ripped DVD ISO's - plus I have a media PC in the livingroom hooked to the TV for watching streaming netflix or youtube - which has the monitor split and also runs a monitor on the end table in the livingroom with the ElkRM and the baby-cam. And, I'm getting the itch to go HD (I wouldn't do it with DirecTV until they get the tivo version in about a year, but don't want to wait that long). Of course, this is all topped by the fact that I'm kinda cheap when it comes to TV and don't want to spend a fortune on it.

I do like the idea of managing shows in one place - gaining another tuner, gaining HD, and gaining the ability to have a server-like setup where I can see the same thing in each room - pause in one and pick up in another, or watch different things in each room - all from the same pool of shows. Also, with HD space so cheap nowadays, it wouldn't be a big deal to throw a few terabytes into a machine and have all the space a person could want. I am afraid of losing my familiar interface though.

So, how do you guys have your systems set up? Every time I look on Sage's web-site, they're sold out of everything - are they that popular, or do they just not make much product? Or are you guys just using their software and not their hardware? And for your sage server - can that just be something like a PC with an HD capture device, a standard capture device, a camera capture device, a crap-load of storage space, and a video out to your TV? Or does it need to be broken out more? Can it do anything with multiple display cards? And - how are the remotes - is it just the hauppauge remotes typically, or do they have a good, standard one? And do they work well?

Not to hijack the thread, but this is something I keep hearing about and looking back at - I want a lot of the features - it'd consolidate a lot of what I have now (with the WHS, the media PC, the two dual-tuner tivo's) and give me multi-room, separate viewing over Cat5 - which I have a plethora of in this house... and it'd make my movies more available... but I'd need to get a crash course on how people are setting things up and getting the best results. Also, having my music more available might be nice - I have 120GB's of MP3's as well, and I love music (when the wife isn't home - she's not that into it)... so someday I'd like to incorporate things with a basic whole-house audio system as well - but a simplified one.

I can always pick up a machine and load it with space and capture cards if that's what makes sense. It'd all have to be in my family room entertainment center - since we don't have basements around here, and that's the hub of all my wiring... and I assume I'd drop back to basic non-DVR devices for my TV so the Sage hardware can handle the recording... but can you run multiple capture cards on a single PC simultaneously, or does it have to be broken up? And can I run one high-powered server as the capture and playback device in the LR, and just use an HD extender in the master BR, and a standard-def in the workout room? Possible skip an extender in the office and go with just the IP-accessible stuff from the PC in there - or run the software in there (I have an XP desktop I use with quad-monitors, and often just play my media on one of the four while I work.

I think it's a curse that I type fast... my posts are always long-winded...

#14 IVB

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 11:01 PM

I gotta run out in 10 mins so i'll answer just the one question about the hardware: They have had difficulty keeping stock due to the high demand, but i've also heard rumors of an upgraded extender due out within the next few weeks which may keep them from ordering too many of the older variety. I won't propogate what i've heard as it's unconfirmed, but if true, it'll be worth the wait.

I personally have 2 HDExtenders, they rock, but it did take a bit of patience to get.

#15 elcano

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 09:48 PM

I can tell that having a single source for your media and using distributed media players in each TV is awesome. While my kids are still learning to use the remote, my wife learned to search the kid's movies without even asking me. And this, is a lot to say.

For the server I currently use a hacked NSLU2 with external hard disk that together consume between 5 and 15 watts depending on use. Even that they are in a separate room they are silent enough as for having in the same room. For this reason, I find it difficult to accept having a server wasting between 300 and 500 watts 24 hours/day. I see the value added on the Sage server, but I find it like not-for-me unless a greener/more silent media server technology is developed. Technology is moving in that direction so, may be in a few years you could configure a modest server using 150 watts or less.

On the front end I can say that I'm spoiled with the smooth XBMC Project Mayhem III interface. I have not seen the Sage TV/extender interface, but comparing the XBMC's interface with the plethora of blue screen media players around is just unfair to them. Having a front end similar to XBMC with the added capability of ripping DVDs directly and record on-demand TV shows from my satellite STB would be the icing of the cake, but I can live without it. And, since this market is so immature, I'm afraid of buying a proprietary media player just to have the manufacturer abandon the support of my device as soon as their focus turn to their new model. My next step could be changing the XBOX for a VIA PC running XBMC on linux. This would be a semi-future proof evolution path to any new architecture like Sage TV, MythTV or LinuxMCE.

So, I know that Sage is a grander, much more featured solution than my current setup (I don't even have PVR functionality). I just perceive that Sage's value proposition (what I get, compared to what I pay - not only initially, but in recurrent energy cost, noise and complexity) is not good enough for me. I hope this to change in the not too distant future.




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