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20 posts

Geek


Topic # 114058 6-Feb-2013 16:58 Send private message

Hey

I want to add full Freeview PVR functionality to my current home theatre setup, and am wondering whether I should just build a full HTPC from scratch, or buy a high quality Freeview PVR machine, eg a Panasonic model.

Price is not a huge problem, and I'm happy to pay extra for good functionality.

My current setup is this:

1. Yamaha RX-V667 AVR hooked up to 5.1 surround sound speakers/woofer. The quality of the speakers is medium in audiophile terms but essentially cost me several thousand dollars. The Yamaha receives input from all sources.

2. The Yamaha feeds HDMI out to my big JVC TV which displays 1080i, I'm not looking at upgrading this in the near future. It's not 3D (not interested) and serves our needs.

3. A 3 year old Dell laptop with a dedicated ATI card, which runs XBMC and is essentialy running as an HTPC. It has an IR receiver and so I can control it with my logitech remote, and we use it to watch high quality internet streams/downloaded videos in 720p, 1080p with surround sound. It's working well, but lacks TV functionality. It's connected to the AVR by HDMI. It tends to run hot and its fan can be slightly annoying.

4. Panasonic Blu-ray player connected via HDMI to the AVR.

5. Until recently a Zinwell 620HD freeview box which I have managed to brick by incessant fiddling with firmware.

6. A logitech remote which can drive 5 devices at once.

So, what I want is to be able to have full terrestrial digital TV functionality, with timeshift, recording, able to record two channels at once, recording full series etc etc.

What is absolutely important to me is this:

1. Good responsive user interface. My in-laws had a TiVo which was not too bad in terms of UI (a bit cluttered), and also a DishTV which I thought had a poor UI (but haven't fiddled with it much).

2. Ability to be in standby until woken by recording schedule. The TiVo my in-laws had seemed to be designed to be always on (I think to always be recording 15 minutes of TV for timeshift), with the standby option hidden in the menu somewhere. It also had a horrendously long boot up time.

3. Ability to switch audio streams intelligently on the fly. My Zinwell would get confused between AC3 surround (TV1, 2 and 3) and AAC stereo; and lose audio output if set to Dolby when the source channel was AAC.

4. Ability to record surround sound stream. The Zinwell would only record stereo streams (modded with olevia firmware).

5. Cool and quiet running.

What would be nice (but not essential) is the ability to remove ads.

So the question is, should I look at buying a $500 to $600 unit such as a panasonic model, or bite the bullet and build a HTPC which does everything I want (with it's associated headaches and expected issues from any windows build). I estimate the HTPC to cost up to $1200.

What do people advise? Anyone got experience with any of the panasonic models?

Thanks for your help!

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2018 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 756678 6-Feb-2013 19:44 Send private message

The xbmc is the live version or based on linux or windows?

I'd be tempted now that frodo is out to add a pvr function to the box controlled by xbmc (given that you're used to that interface). If you were windows based (and using windows xbmc) then I'd recommend nextpvr as the recording engine.

If linux, then I believe the best choise is tvheadend. Box of these can be told by xbmc to record display recordings. I think nextpvr can also do live tv.





Previously known as psycik

NextPVR Based HTPC:

2 x HVR3000 - DVB-S - Freeview, HVR3000 - DVB-T Freeview|HD, Nova-T 500 - Dual Freeview|HD, Digital Coax --> Yamaha RX-v540, 8600GT --> Samsung LA46A650D via HDMI
Clients:
Popcorn Hour A-100, 1xATV2, 1xATV3, Roku3
Windows 7 Ultimate Host (Plex Server)
3x2TB, 1x3TB, 1x4TB + 1x1.5TB using DriveBender, VMWare Workstation 10 with 1xW7, 2xW2k3 1xUbuntu 11.10 Desktop, 1xWHS2011, Plex, Crashplan

UnblockUS - Unblock your freedom

1513 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 54


  Reply # 756703 6-Feb-2013 20:35 Send private message

I'd go for the Panasonic recorder.
I just upgraded my old BW880 recorder to a BWT720 as it does 3D as well and was too good to miss at a recent sale.
Very satisfied with both models.
Was able to sell the 880 on Trademe OK and now have a spare 3d Player.
Should be some good prices at Easter.



20 posts

Geek


  Reply # 756707 6-Feb-2013 20:45 Send private message

I have Windows 7 with xbmc, not shy of trying a linux option with a new HTPC but would only really do that if there is clear advantage in functionality. The box will be HTPC dedicated - no games/other apps.

I've looked at the Frodo and nextpvr pages just earlier today actually, and it looks like the platform should do what I want it to do and hopefully continue to mature.

B!GGLZ: how do you rate the Panasonic models you've used in terms of the requirements I set out? (ie noise, UI, standby recording etc)..

Cheers

2018 posts

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+1 received by user: 111

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  Reply # 756709 6-Feb-2013 20:47 Send private message

SumBodi: I have Windows 7 with xbmc, not shy of trying a linux option with a new HTPC but would only really do that if there is clear advantage in functionality. The box will be HTPC dedicated - no games/other apps.

I've looked at the Frodo and nextpvr pages just earlier today actually, and it looks like the platform should do what I want it to do and hopefully continue to mature.

B!GGLZ: how do you rate the Panasonic models you've used in terms of the requirements I set out? (ie noise, UI, standby recording etc)..

Cheers


If you;re already windows put nextpvr down, pretty lightweight recording engine, reall stable, locally developed and price is right as well (free).




Previously known as psycik

NextPVR Based HTPC:

2 x HVR3000 - DVB-S - Freeview, HVR3000 - DVB-T Freeview|HD, Nova-T 500 - Dual Freeview|HD, Digital Coax --> Yamaha RX-v540, 8600GT --> Samsung LA46A650D via HDMI
Clients:
Popcorn Hour A-100, 1xATV2, 1xATV3, Roku3
Windows 7 Ultimate Host (Plex Server)
3x2TB, 1x3TB, 1x4TB + 1x1.5TB using DriveBender, VMWare Workstation 10 with 1xW7, 2xW2k3 1xUbuntu 11.10 Desktop, 1xWHS2011, Plex, Crashplan

UnblockUS - Unblock your freedom



20 posts

Geek


  Reply # 756710 6-Feb-2013 20:53 Send private message

If you;re already windows put nextpvr down, pretty lightweight recording engine, reall stable, locally developed and price is right as well (free).


Would still need to buy either a USB TV tuner to plug into laptop, or build a new HTPC.. not hugely keen on external USB devices but that might be the cheapest solution

2018 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 111

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  Reply # 756711 6-Feb-2013 20:56 Send private message

SumBodi:
If you;re already windows put nextpvr down, pretty lightweight recording engine, reall stable, locally developed and price is right as well (free).


Would still need to buy either a USB TV tuner to plug into laptop, or build a new HTPC.. not hugely keen on external USB devices but that might be the cheapest solution


A good start, then if you like the functionality, you could look at either a dual internal dvb-t card (assuming dvb-t zoned) or a hdhomerun (network baed dual dvb-t tuner)





Previously known as psycik

NextPVR Based HTPC:

2 x HVR3000 - DVB-S - Freeview, HVR3000 - DVB-T Freeview|HD, Nova-T 500 - Dual Freeview|HD, Digital Coax --> Yamaha RX-v540, 8600GT --> Samsung LA46A650D via HDMI
Clients:
Popcorn Hour A-100, 1xATV2, 1xATV3, Roku3
Windows 7 Ultimate Host (Plex Server)
3x2TB, 1x3TB, 1x4TB + 1x1.5TB using DriveBender, VMWare Workstation 10 with 1xW7, 2xW2k3 1xUbuntu 11.10 Desktop, 1xWHS2011, Plex, Crashplan

UnblockUS - Unblock your freedom

1513 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 54


  Reply # 756739 6-Feb-2013 21:47 Send private message

SumBodi:
B!GGLZ: how do you rate the Panasonic models you've used in terms of the requirements I set out? (ie noise, UI, standby recording etc)..

Cheers

Excellent on all counts.
Extremely quiet. Never missed a recording. Only problem I've encountered so far is using EPG to record 2 consecutive programs  on same channel while trying to record something else on 2nd tuner. Doesn't like the overlaps so I either have to adjust the extra time before and after program times and probably lose a few seconds in between or usually I just set the timer manually to cover both programs. A 3rd tuner would be handy but then I have a twin tuner card in the PC anyway.

480 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 4


  Reply # 758721 9-Feb-2013 16:26 Send private message

You won't find any commercial PVR that will give you the functionality or flexibility of a dedicated HTPC that you build from scratch, but a HTPC will require some maintenance effort and it will give you a similar amount of hassle and headaches as any Windows-based PC.

I use a HTPC that I built a few years ago, and there's lots about it that I like:

- It has two dual DVB-T tuner cards - with four tuners available I could, theoretically, record everything being broadcast by all of the Freeview channels. In practice I do sometimes end up recording four programmes simultaneously.

- It has more disk storage available than any commercially available PVR, and it's nice to be able to record things that you just might watch sometime.

- I can log into the PC remotely. so if I happen to be away from home for an extended period I can (and do) schedule the recording of programmes that weren't even in the programme guide before the trip started.

- If I want to keep a recording long-term (though it's rare that I do) I can edit out the commercials then export the recording to an external disk or burn it onto a DVD.

The inevitable issues of using a PC-based solution have to be weighed against those advantages. For me, it's worthwhile, but we all have different needs.





20 posts

Geek


  Reply # 758739 9-Feb-2013 17:51 Send private message

What software do you use Deev8?

480 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 4


  Reply # 759062 10-Feb-2013 17:08 Send private message

SumBodi: What software do you use Deev8?


I use NextPVR as the PVR application for all recording and media player duties. I also use EPG Collector to extract programme data from the Freeview broadcast 8 day programme guide and feed NextPVR's programme guide.

174 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 7


  Reply # 759083 10-Feb-2013 17:46 Send private message

I just finished setting up Media Browser on my W8 machine. It's a fantastic plugin for WMC and so far it has surpassed even XBMC.

I think a dedicated PC is the best option, but requires more work and configuration.

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