[mythtv-users] A General Directions Question

NoName Anonymous iwmdil at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 2 20:18:38 UTC 2008

I apologize in advance if this question is too complicated.  I'm just looking to get a general feel for things (going forward).  

First, my "wish list".  Ideally I'd like a central "server" that stored, or time shifted, shows and also served up live TV without putting a set top box on each TV.  That implies reasonably priced smaller units at the TV sets (2-3 of them).  I guess this would be similar to a set top box only it would be talking to the central server, not to the TV signal provider.  I'd like to be able to "archive" shows to DVD.  Remote programming and access would be nice, but not a requirement.  

It appears the days of having cable and "x" number of TV's is coming to an end.  With the advent and (according to posts here) eventual migration to all digital signals from the cable company a set top box would be required for any TV.  Over the Air is not an option where I live.  That sort of eliminates the viability of having a spare, rarely used, TV in the, say, game room since there would be a fee for a set top box for each TV, or at least that's the way I understand it.  

Also, as I understand it, there is a fair amount of pressure to encrypt everything to allow Comcast (in my case) to control every signal and to defeat time shifting and "fair use".  This seems like enourmous leaps backwards and away from functionality and capabilities we've long grown accustomed to, but I know I'm preaching to the choir.  

Thus, a "central server" with the "tuners" installed there.  It could then "feed" the TV's.  A paradigm shift but it has some advantages.  

Interestingly, the effect of Comcast going all digital would be to put them on a par, or disadvantage, with DirecTV (or Dish).  I pay for both cable and for DirecTV and the price is about the same but the quality and number of channels is far better with DirecTV.  A Comcast shift to all digital would actually make me select DirecTV since I'd need set top boxes (of some sort) regardless of the use of cable or satellite.

I have an older TiVo which get's it's signal from a dual tuner DirecTV (DirecTiVo).  This unit has been great.  It's been, modified to allow extractionc simple "fair use" archiving.  This modification is not discouraged by the TiVo folks but DirecTV has gone a somewhat different route of late.  Please note, this is NOT an attempt to steal service.  This is a fully licensed box with paid for service.  I'm simply discussing backing up or archiving shows to DVD.

I also have a MythTV box.  The tuner is a PVR 150 pulling an analog signal from Comcast (I don't have digital, nor any set top boxes).  It ties into my big screen TV via an NVidia card.  The picture quality is noticeably worse than DirecTV and marginally worse than the TV hooked directly to cable.  Not a big deal.  I could probably improve it with an amplifier, or some such, but it doesn't seem worth it at this point.  Comcast cable also feeds several other TV's in the house, although only one is used consistently.  

So...  the question.  Assuming Comcast goes fully digital, requiring a set-top box...  Any strong reasons to go either cable (Comcast) or satellite (DirecTV)?  Ideally I'd want 3-4 tuners.  That probably sounds like overkill but, with kids, I'm constantly using both tuners on my Tivo and then watching a show on another channel using Comcast.  Three might be sufficient, but hey, I'm an engineer and like to over engineer things.  :-)  

The next big issue is interfacing the Comcast set top boxes or DirectTV tuner(s) with a "central" server.  Is one (Cable vs Satellite) easier than the other?  Note that I don't have any premium channels.  We're only discussing "vanilla" stations here.  

Again, sorry this is so long and complex.  I hope it all makes sense.  I am NOT looking for a turf war or big religious arguments, simply some conventional wisdom and others experiences.  Is there a forum or newsgroup that would be more suitable to this sort of discussion?  I believe there might even be units you can buy at Best Buy or Circuit City that do something like this.  I've researched them but haven't found anything interesting.  Frankly, I'm just trying to find a way, in the digital TV age, to keep the functionality I've always had.  One added bonus would be the ability to play "TiVo" shows on any TV and not just on the big screen downstairs, but that's not enormous.  Anybody's crystal ball all tuned up and can suggest a course for the future?  

Thanks in advance.  

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