Best LiveTV, DVR, large iTunes library solution?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by shane.reid, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. shane.reid macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2008
    I cut the cord 3 years ago. I have a large iTunes library - some DRM-laden (maybe 75% of all TV Shows and 15% of movies), use Netflix, a 75gb iPhoto library, and currently airplay mirror from NBC, ABC, and Xfinity apps to fill in some gaps.

    What I currently use: 2 TVs both having AppleTVs (not jailbroken) and a mac mini serving up the iTunes and iPhoto library

    What is lacking with my current solution: LiveTV, DVR functionality, access to more online shows (Hulu maybe, fox, various other sites), ability to rip bluray and playback @1080p

    What's the best setup out there that does all of the above (maybe it doesn't have to play iTunes DRM shows, I could just clean that off, but nice if it does)?

    Also, it needs to be RELIABLE. I travel a lot and need it to work for wife and kid!

    Based on my my own research it seems like the best solution would be:

    Main tv has a mac mini attached running plex and serving up the libraries. Other tv has an appletv jailbroken running plex.

    The Mac Mini also has an Eyetv attached DVR'ing shows with scripts behind the scenes batch encoding and placing into correct folders as m4v files.

    Then all 3 iPads, plex unit, appletv can all see live tv and the large library of movies and shows?
  2. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
    I have a mini running eyetv hd and can airplay live tv to my ATV2's or onto my ipad from work....its pretty slick.
  3. srharris22 macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2010
    joining in on cutting the cord

    Shane, evil:
    I hate to jump in on your post but I am looking to cut the cord ASAP. We currently have 3 TVs, 1 apple TV2, iMac, iPad1 and iphone 4 (not the 's'). I also have a PS3 on same TV as the current apple TV2.
    My current plan is to put an HDTV antenna on our main floor TV for local channels. Buy another apple TV2 for our bedroom TV. This is great for our current iTunes content or if we want to pay for Netflix. However I think that we could do even better if I were to sell our current iPad 1(32gb) and get an iPad 2 to allow for airplay mirroring - this will allow for sports via ESPN3 as well as Hulu+ and any other internet based TV shows.
    My questions:
    1) How good is the ipad 2 mirroring for apps like ESPN3, Hulu+
    2) How good is the ipad 2 mirroring for online video
    3) Any other recommendations? I do not plan to connect my iMac to a TV if that even matters.
    Thanks in advance, if there are other posts about this please direct me, I have not found any.
  4. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
    im not sure about ESPN, but TBS wont mirror. I get sound, but no video.

    as far as other online mirroring, if its HTML5, you can airplay it to the ATV2 with the older ipad and iphone 4. I have not really seen a real benefit from the screen mirroring.
  5. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    If you don't need lossless audio for your blu-ray rips, then it sounds like that solution would work fine. Just dump all the RAM you can into the Mini.
  6. clarkie604 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2010
    Looks like a great setup. I think you may have some reliability issues though. Plex is pretty solid, but it does crash, especially when using the AppleTV client, and especially when compared to iTunes. And recovering from a crash can be a little difficult for non-techies. It may require restart of the AppleTV, the Plex server or both.

    Plus, you may have issues playing 1080p content on your 2nd TV. The Plex server will transcode on the fly to the AppleTV, but in my experience quality is not good - i.e., not 720p quality - not even close. Plus transcoding will put a heavy load on your mac. It will have a lot of trouble recording live tv and transcoding at the same time - if you think that might happen.

    You may also want to consider a Roku box for your second TV rather than an AppleTV. Roku outputs 1080p and has a Plex app, so no jailbreak is required. I don't have one so I can't speak to stability. It also has Hulu and a ton of other apps. The big disadvantage is that you lose AirPlay and easy playback of iTunes content.
  7. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    Wow! Thanks for the heads up on the Plex channel on Roku. I wasn't aware that was out there. This has finally gotten me to check out Plex and I'm impressed.

    The video quality on the Plex Roku channel looks good on my 720p ATV2 encoded files. However, there are some glitches - occasional sound dropouts and syncing problems and sometimes the video quits after fast-forwarding. It's a beta product, so hopefully the rough edges will get worked out.
  8. srharris22 macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2010
  9. peterjcat macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2010
    Any app can defeat AirPlay Mirroring if it wants to.
  10. amt-austin macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2010
    If you want ultimate freedom and most capability, then nothing beats MythTV. The problem is, it takes a lot of dedication to get it all together and working well. I have been using MythTV for about 6 months now, and I have all my blu-ray content accessible in 1080p and lossless audio. I have 6 tuners, 4 off-air HDTV (HDHomeRun) and 2 DirecTV tuners (2 HR22's each with a Hauppage HD-PVR which captures, compresses and streams to USB). All of those tuners are used by a single server (Ubuntu) which handles all TV recording. I currently have 2 Linux set-top boxes for providing the content to 2 TVs. In total that is 3 Linux systems, but you can also run the MythTV front-end (the set top box) on MacOS. Actually I also have the front-end software on two iMac's and a MBA as well, so just about anything with a display in my house can watch live TV, recorded shows, or from the library of backed-up blu-ray and dvd's.

    Now, make no mistake, it is a major PITA to get going -this coming from a experienced Linux user. But once it is set up, I can't imagine using anything else. I still have a ATV, but we very rarely use it. It is always the last resort option when watching anything on the TV.
  11. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
  12. cdavis11 macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2009
    I run EyeTV with a Silicon Dust HDHR3. That receives clear QAM signals over cable, but could just as easily run off an OTA Antenna. I use that to record, watch live on my iPad and iPhone(s) and computers.

    We also have a bit of DRM iTunes content and some ripped movies in iTunes. EyeTV records, encodes and exports programs into iTunes for us automatically. That is all viewable on our aTV2. It's a pretty nice, and fairly bulletproof setup.

    I've had some issues with the SiliconDust HDHR3 of late with stuttering playback and dropouts. I've been keeping up with the beta firmware upgrades, as well as the latest EyeTV upgrades. It's been getting better all the time, and a lot of it has to do with the channel you are recording/viewing.

    To augment this, we have a roku box for Hulu Plus and Amazon instant. We rarely use Amazon, and do use Hulu often.

    We've been cable TV free for a year now, and we're loving it.



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