Advice Required: Building a new Freeview PC-PVR (1 Viewer)

Charlie TV

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  • February 22, 2014
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    Why the need for chunky noisy and expensive to run servers? I just use an i7 laptop and winTV dual usb cards, most laptops have multiple usb ports, lots of RAM and so a RAM disk for the TV buffering and the whole thing uses 35 watts, just slide it in a drawer somewhere and zero noise :)

    Cheers
     

    joecrow

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  • August 9, 2012
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    Why the need for chunky noisy and expensive to run servers? I just use an i7 laptop and winTV dual usb cards,
    Well I guess it depends on what you mean by expensive, I was not able to find an I7 laptop under 1,000 Euro far more than I would need to spend on a custom built 4 core CPU HTPC with a good GPU, SSD, OS, Ram and all!
     

    Charlie TV

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  • February 22, 2014
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    I mean expensive as in total cost of ownership/running costs. For me the system is on 24/7 as it does house audio, backups data to the cloud overnight and also mediaportal. I used my everyday i7 laptop that was 6 yrs old but the screen latches had broken but it still functioned fine.

    Run costs are 16p per day (based on 20p unit price and 35watt) versus a custom build (I've assumed 200watts) would cost 96p per day. If you work that out per month its £5 a month versus £28. Or based on 1yr its £61 versus £350

    So depends on your circumstances but just something to bear in mind, you can obviously mitigate some of this with WOL or more expensive PSUs

    This site will help you work out the cost; Electricity Cost Calculator
     

    joecrow

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    Run costs are 16p per day (based on 20p unit price and 35watt) versus a custom build (I've assumed 200watts) would cost 96p per day. If you work that out per month its £5 a month versus £28. Or based on 1yr its £61 versus £350
    To me that is a classic case of comparing apples with oranges, for sure much depends on the circumstances. I doubt my HTPC is on for more that 4 hours a day, average, so most of the time it sleeps and if I really wanted to get the cost of ruuning it I should of course add in the power used by the TV/AVR lights etc. If I had a suitable old laptop hanging arround then maybe but for me the initial cost and consequently the depreciation cost would be the more important factor than the running costs.
     

    Charlie TV

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  • February 22, 2014
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    It's comparing apples with apples but what you mean is that you have a different user case. Depreciation costs are not relevant unless you plan on selling the hardware, which I presume you won't, most people run hardware until it breaks and it's then recycled.

    Just giving you an alternative to think about, all the best with whatever hardware set-up you choose, cheers
     

    groovybaby

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    Why the need for chunky noisy and expensive to run servers? I just use an i7 laptop and winTV dual usb cards, most laptops have multiple usb ports, lots of RAM and so a RAM disk for the TV buffering and the whole thing uses 35 watts, just slide it in a drawer somewhere and zero noise :)
    Cheers

    NB: Thanks everyone for your recent thoughts...

    MY original post was pondering these similar thoughts, and requesting advice designing the best HTPC.
    Obviously: It depends on each users needs & usage.

    My current thinking on a Laptop:
    Based on my experience with my now old Laptop.
    a: The batteries expire, (even when mains powered)
    b: are expensive to replace (for the right quality)
    c: They run hotter,
    d: & have less space for add-ons, etc.

    I'm sure that new laptops are much improved, but buying the right one, just to find out, could be an expensive mistake.

    So I'm in a quandary:


    A: Should I build a box as low spec as possible?
    If so, what should that spec be?
    Low Spec: Generally would mean that it's using components that are just good-enough in size, power & capacity.
    Thereby occupying the smallest space & using the lowest wattage & creating minimal heat/noise.

    B: Should I build a box of a higher spec?
    If so, what should that spec be?
    High Spec: Would mean it's more powerful and able to be added to, so generally increasing all of the parameters of the Low Spec.

    I suppose the fear is that if I build low spec, and then suddenly discover that I need to add something, or would like to add something, which that spec couldn't physically or technically handle.

    C: Should I build a box using an used PC?
    If so, what should that spec be?

    When buying a used PC, it's not always easy to know or find out, what exact features that PC has, especially concerning the capabilities of its motherboard, or even what motherboard it has.
    Or the availability of drivers/OS etc, etc.

    But the right used PC, at the right price, would help with the learning-curve.

    Many thanks.
     

    wjw

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    July 13, 2008
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    I've just come across this thread and found it interesting, I built my own PC about 7 years ago and recently replaced with a new one bought from QuietPC - mainly because I was experiencing hardware-type crashes (mostly memory as far as I could tell) and because fans were getting noisy. If noise is a factor then I can confirm that the right configuration from someone like QuietPC is totally silent (and my wife has acute hearing and tells me so!). If you want to build your own then do check their component pages for silent versions of almost everything - including the graphic card that will let you use a low cost/low power i3 processor easily. The right card will also get you 4K@60hz for future proofing.

    The only other comment is to slightly correct the one about MP not having series record. If you install the TVWishlist plugin this issue is resolved. It does that and more.
     

    CyberSimian

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    The only other comment is to slightly correct the one about MP not having series record. If you install the TVWishlist plugin this issue is resolved. It does that and more.
    I have never used "TvWishList", so I am curious as to the capabilities that it offers.

    In the UK, the broadcast EPG contains series ids and episode ids. These are contained in the datastream and cannot be viewed by end users using MP. They are provided by the broadcasters to make it easier for DVRs to record complete series. My Humax DVR can use these ids, so it would be possible (for instance) to specify that I wanted all episodes of series 3 of "The Big Bang Theory", and it would indeed record all of those episodes, but no episodes from any of the other 10 series of "The Big Bang Theory".

    TV Server 3.0 does not use these series and episode ids, and so cannot support true series recording. Are you saying that "TvWishList" does look at these series and episode ids, and as a result I could set it to record only series 3 of "The Big Bang Theory"?

    If "TvWishList" attempts to analyse the textual programme description to extract the series and episode numbers that some series have, that is not universally applicable (since many series do not contain this information in the programme description).

    If all that "TvWishList" does is allow you to specify that you want to record a series that is not currently being broadcast, that is a useful capability, but it is not true series recording. What TV Server supports is various flavours of repeated recording.

    -- from CyberSimian in the UK
     

    CyberSimian

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    Should I build a box as low spec as possible
    I cannot offer any specific recommendations. But what I would say is that one's needs and preferences change as the years pass. If you build now an HTPC with the lowest-possible spec, you may end up with a PC that cannot easily be used for anything else in the future, when your needs and preferences have changed.

    -- from CyberSimian in the UK
     

    wjw

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    @CyberSimian
    Please note that I am a user of TVWishlist - not the author! However, I am a happy user and am constantly surprised at the number of people with recording "issues" that have not researched and found this plugin.

    So, no, it does not use the broadcast datastream to get the info but it uses the EPG data instead. So yes, you are reliant on the EPG data - but I have never had a problem with this. These days I use Schedules Direct and this has comprehensive Series and Episode numbers (and titles, obviously) that can be scanned after the XMLTV plugin has inserted the data into the MP database. I have regularly set up the example you quote - indeed I am currently doing exactly what you cited as an example (except that currently it's Series 11) on that and quite lot of other series. It's actually more flexible with this approach since if the program/series you want changes channel it will catch that (this has recently happened to me and I don't think the datastream analysis approach does that). To paraphrase wildly - if it looks like a dog, barks and behaves like a dog then it might as well be a dog - even if it isn't!

    As I posted elsewhere I have also used it to enter a "Wish" years in advance in the hope that something will broadcast here in the UK - and it did!

    I can only suggest you take a look.

    @groovybaby

    I would also endorse CyberSimian's other post about not building now at the lowest cost to meet today's options and requirements. Do think about the future. If nothing else do consider whether you are going to get (it you haven't already) a 4K TV and source.
     

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