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Old 08-10-2014, 12:13 PM   #61
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I thought I'd throw in an insight for those concerned with space constraints. I record OTA broadcasts using Windows Media Center listening to my 2 tuner HDHomeRun4. A 2 hour show often takes up around 12 GB though, which tends to add up quickly.

I installed a program on my MC PC called MCEBuddy. This program 'watches' the Recorded TV folder, and when a new show finishes recording it 'processes' it. First it strips out any commercials, then compresses the show from the WTV format into MP4 format. A typical 12GB show ends up as 1.5GB, and (to me) retains its HD properties, including great picture and surround sound. I have a very powerful desktop doing this; apparently, for a donation, a version is available that requires less horsepower.

Oh, I use XBMC to organize and playback my library of recordings, on my living room's nettop PC. It can also use that same tuner to play live TV over my network via uPNP.
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:41 PM   #62
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ERD50, Thanks again.

I just order the Mediasonic device and a HDMI switcher since my old TV only has two HDMI ports, both in use. I also ordered a splitter and two cables from Monoprice.
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:50 PM   #63
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ERD50, Thanks again.

I just order the Mediasonic device and a HDMI switcher since my old TV only has two HDMI ports, both in use. I also ordered a splitter and two cables from Monoprice.
Great! Please report back when you've had some time with it. Hopefully, my positive experience is the norm (assuming good signal quality at the antenna cable).

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Old 08-10-2014, 01:41 PM   #64
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I'll admit to not having read many of the posts in this thread lately, but for those that wish to get more than the 24 hour in advance listings, there's a non-profit called schedulesdirect.org where you can get listings for $25/yr. Unfortunately the free trial is only 7 days.
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:11 PM   #65
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Great! Please report back when you've had some time with it. Hopefully, my positive experience is the norm (assuming good signal quality at the antenna cable).
I will. It will take a while since being a dedicated LBYM person, I ordered everything with free or the cheapest shipping available.
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Old 08-10-2014, 05:29 PM   #66
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I'll admit to not having read many of the posts in this thread lately, but for those that wish to get more than the 24 hour in advance listings, there's a non-profit called schedulesdirect.org where you can get listings for $25/yr. Unfortunately the free trial is only 7 days.
I don't think this little Media-sonics box can access any files with listings like that. It's either select from the station's program guide (EPG), or a bit more manual to select station, start/end time, and daily/weekly/once (VCR style).

Yep, they don't even allow you to select M-F or days of the week. For my M-F shows, I ended up entering 5 separate schedules, one for each day of the week, and set each of them to 'weekly'. I could do 'daily' and just ignore the recordings for Sat/Sun, but if I wanted to record something on Sat/Sun, it had a higher chance of conflicting. A bit of a pain, but a set-it-and-forget it thing for me, I'm not changing schedules often.

So like I said, pretty crude if you are used to computerized options or a TiVo or something, but it does get the job done at a low price.

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Old 08-10-2014, 07:15 PM   #67
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Thank you very much for your review. I opted for AverTV ($50 - you connect it to your Windows 7 PC) but it is not picking up all the stations my antenna is picking up, and there is more screen freezing. Anyway, when I get more Amazon points, I think I will try Mediasonic. It looks promising.
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Old 08-15-2014, 01:32 PM   #68
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I have hooked up my Media-Sonics box.

So far it is working very well. Both the Box and the TV seem to be getting a strong TV signal. ( I do live in an area that is close to broadcast towers.) I have managed to use the Media-sonic to record with delayed playback. Again it worked very well.

My only problem is that I can't find the extra HD I was going to hook up to the Mediasonic box. Looks like I will have to spring for a new HD.

The interface is a bit kludgy, IMHO. And the manual could certainly flesh out more details on how to operate the device. But, over all a geek or semi-geek should not have many problems. When using the Mediasonic menu system, I do recommend taking some notes about how you got to where to do what.

Thanks ERD50 for your review and helpful advice.
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Old 08-16-2014, 12:01 AM   #69
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FWIW, my thumb drive works well with the unit, except for its small capacity. From what I've read the unit dies not compress the digital signal, just records it. Thankfully storage is fairly cheap these days.
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Old 08-16-2014, 09:56 AM   #70
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FWIW, my thumb drive works well with the unit, except for its small capacity. From what I've read the unit dies not compress the digital signal, just records it. Thankfully storage is fairly cheap these days.
I'll be curious to see if you experience the short (1/2 second?), occasional audio/video break-ups that I get (maybe 1-4 per hour?). As I mentioned earlier, they aren't bad enough for me to spend any time tracking down yet (if I can), but I wonder if they are typical.

I also used an 8GB thumb drive for a few days to test it out before I cleared out and formatted an old hard drive that I had. Seemed the same to me, but of course with those storage limits I didn't use it much.

On the forums, some said you needed a higher-speed thumb drive. I don't know - like VOIP, I don't think speed itself is necessarily the limiting issue, but the ability to store a steady stream of data w/o a significant pause. Flash memory writes in 'blocks', and I think you might hit some delay while a block is being written. And the specs I see are average speeds, they don't really tell you what sort of starts/stops to expect.

And hard drives may need to 'seek' - move the head to a different part of the drive. I think having adequate buffer (fast RAM) in the storage device would be the best remedy, but I couldn't find buffer specs on my old drive - I seem to recall that an 8MB buffer was typical for hard drives a few years back. I haven't done the math to see if that should be sufficient, --- actually, I did do the math, the highest rez station I see are 1920x1080p, and those require ~ 5.7GB per hour. That's ~ 1.6MB per second, so even 2MB buffer seems like plenty (I don't think the write delays are anywhere near a full second). I don't know if the Media-sonic box has any buffer in it.

Heck, it could even be something like a power spike from our fridge/freezer cycling?

Quote:
The interface is a bit kludgy, IMHO.
Oh, that's not just opinion, I think we can call that a fact!

I won't make any excuses for the company, they really should clean up the UI, but as I said before, it is 'workable'. I think I also made a few notes to myself to get started. It becomes second nature after a while, but it still is a minor annoyance. But for the price/performance, I'll accept it, but I don't have to like it (the UI that is).


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From what I've read the unit dies not compress the digital signal, just records it. Thankfully storage is fairly cheap these days.
Right, the amount of storage depends upon the resolution the broadcaster is sending - the box does not change it at all. So a 1920x1080p will take about 6GB/hour and an SD broadcast will be much less (I don't have notes on that offhand). But I prefer it this way. As you say, storage is cheap and I have no concerns about the quality - it is a digital copy of the broadcast, full quality. And it seems that watching/editing on a computer is easier - no concerns over the type of compression they used. Every video player I've tried reads this format w/o problem.

-ERD50
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Old 08-16-2014, 12:30 PM   #71
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I have not experienced any quick breakups so far, but then my playback viewing has been 45 minutes, max.

My alternative for this device would have cost over 6 times more, about an extra $210 plus tax, so make it an extra $230. And that more costly device had only a limited amount of external storage so I would still be buying a HD for badly needed additional storage.

If course the $250 unit has a much nicer interface and a much easier to use program listing to choose from.

I did try out recording a show and playing it back as it was broadcast. It worked very well. I can stop, reverse, fast forward, and restart a show with no problems. DVD's and Netflix have spoiled me in that respect.

I am a little concerned by device quality. A few people have reported failures after a few months, while others have used the device for a long time with no problems. That seems to be consistent with most electronics. They fail in the first 6 months, or they works well for years. YMMV.
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Old 08-16-2014, 01:18 PM   #72
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If you can find a used TiVo I'd recommend it.

When we got a new TiVo in the family room, we retired the old TiVo HD to the bedroom.

It's only purpose in life is to record the 10 o'clock news so we can head up there a bit after 10 and watch he local news - mainly the weather ;-) - as we fall asleep.

In order to avoid paying WOW Cable a wapping $5 a month for another cable card, I hooked up a "rabbit ears" antenna to pick up OTA broadcasts.

We are at the edge of reception (it doesn't work downstairs, but upstairs we get a reliable signal for the channel we watch) and if I angle the antenna just right... The only trouble is sometimes the cleaners dust around it and end up moving it. Then the TiVo dependably records the news with breakups and digital noise until I reposition the antenna.
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Old 08-16-2014, 01:21 PM   #73
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ERD50,

Might the occasional audio/video breakup be due to your signal? Before I get my new antenna, for CBS for the first hour or a program the recording would hum along fine, then for no apparent reason, I'd get audio and video breakup. More than the few seconds like you.

Now after my new antenna, pretty much no breakup at all.
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Old 08-16-2014, 01:43 PM   #74
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ERD50,

Might the occasional audio/video breakup be due to your signal? Before I get my new antenna, for CBS for the first hour or a program the recording would hum along fine, then for no apparent reason, I'd get audio and video breakup. More than the few seconds like you.

Now after my new antenna, pretty much no breakup at all.
It very well could be - though we get a pretty strong signal here (rooftop style antenna in the attic), the only breakup I ever see on our TVs is when there are storms between here and Chicago (one time I longed for the days of analog - you can at least hear and see something through the interference, but a pixelated 50% broken up audio/video is useless).

But I do think this box kicks off some interference in the recording mode - I noticed that when I ran the TV tuner through it. So maybe it is just on the hairy side enough to cause the very intermittent breakup that I'm seeing, essentially interfering with itself while recording?

I'll experiment when I get a chance, I might be able to clean up the signal a bit, or maybe add an amp at that point. I've got a distribution amp at the point the antenna coax gets to the basement, and I run feeds to each TV from there. And IIRC, I've got an amp at the antenna (it is fed by a DC connection in the basement). It's worth taking another look at all this, I may be able to clean things up and cut out a few paths.

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Old 08-18-2014, 10:51 AM   #75
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ERD50, Thanks again.

I just order the Mediasonic device and a HDMI switcher since my old TV only has two HDMI ports, both in use. I also ordered a splitter and two cables from Monoprice.
All this OTA DVR talk has me contemplating getting one of these or something like it for football. I wouldn't use the DVR to record much but more to just watch and pause to sync to the radio broadcast.

I should have kept my older DVR. That was buggy but the picture quality was great! Now, my current DVR is very stable, but the picture just isn't as sharp. The picture is adequate, but I sure got spoiled watching games in HD .
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Old 08-18-2014, 11:33 AM   #76
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All this OTA DVR talk has me contemplating getting one of these or something like it for football. I wouldn't use the DVR to record much but more to just watch and pause to sync to the radio broadcast.

I should have kept my older DVR. That was buggy but the picture quality was great! Now, my current DVR is very stable, but the picture just isn't as sharp. The picture is adequate, but I sure got spoiled watching games in HD .
Really, this cheap little Media-sonics PVR would be great for that. For live TV pausing, all you need is the box (~ $38) and a cheap thumb drive. Capacity isn't much of an issue, you only are looking to store a few minutes for a bathroom break or commercial skip or something - or to sync to radio, only a few seconds. High rez broadcasts need ~ 6 GB per hour.

And since this box does no compression, the picture quality is as good as the OTA broadcast quality, which is typically excellent.

-ERD50
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Old 08-18-2014, 11:45 AM   #77
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Really, this cheap little Media-sonics PVR would be great for that. For live TV pausing, all you need is the box (~ $38) and a cheap thumb drive. Capacity isn't much of an issue, you only are looking to store a few minutes for a bathroom break or commercial skip or something - or to sync to radio, only a few seconds. High rez broadcasts need ~ 6 GB per hour.

And since this box does no compression, the picture quality is as good as the OTA broadcast quality, which is typically excellent.

-ERD50
That's my thinking too. As I have a device to buffer the radio if the radio broadcast is faster than the TV. Unlike baseball, for football often the TV broadcast is faster than the radio, thus, I need something to pause the tv. Otherwise, I'd just use my TV tuner.
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Old 08-20-2014, 10:04 PM   #78
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I went ahead and got the Media-sonics PVR and just finished giving a quick test while watching baseball. This device should work fine for syncing the HD picture to my radio.

This PVR won't replace my current DVR, so I got both of them connected to my antenna and am using a HDMI switch to choose which device gets displayed on my TV.

For a cheap solution, you really can't go wrong for the price.

I really didn't find the menus that confusing but the teenie tiny buttons on the remote are clumsy. This won't be a problem for my sports watching though as I'll just press, pause or play a few times and like the game sync.
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A Tale of Three Remote Controls
Old 08-21-2014, 03:37 PM   #79
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A Tale of Three Remote Controls

I was tinkering around with the HomeWorX PVR when the thought "That clumsy remote sure looks familiar." Well, that sure does as I realized it's the same remote (the buttons programmed differently of course) as my TV's remote.

That remote might be okay for TV's but the tiny buttons are clumsy as a DVR. I had a learning remote from a previous DVR, so after some trial and error, I got the keys of the clumsy HomeWorX remote keys mapped to my learning remote.

Here's a picture comparing the PVR's remote to my TV's remote and then to the learning one:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg rm1.jpg (523.1 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg rm2.jpg (574.3 KB, 5 views)
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Old 08-21-2014, 07:25 PM   #80
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I picked up a Mediasonic PVR along with a flat antenna and a USB HD:
Amazon.com: Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out (Black): Electronics
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Amazon.com: Toshiba Canvio 1.0 TB USB 3.0 Basics Portable Hard Drive - HDTB210XK3BA(Black): Electronics

I'm sitting here watching it now, but I'll be taking it to DS's when we visit in October. Neither DS believes in having a TV, so we supply our own. The PVR will give us a bit more flexibility. Good price if I hadn't gone a little crazy with the HDD.

It found about 50 channels, many just subchannels (-2, -3...). Just one of the major stations breaks up a little. We're probably 15-20 miles away from the transmitters. I didn't reposition the antenna for a better result.
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