User:Wierdbeard65

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Version Status Date Updated Updated By
710 Unknown N/A N/A
810 Investigating 5th May 2012 Wierdbeard65
1004 Investigating 5th May 2012 Wierdbeard65
1204 Unknown N/A N/A
Usage Information

A Reborn Newbie

Ok, I'm looking to install "something" for my family. I'm not sure what! A couple of years ago (when 810 was still Beta) I was playing around with LinuxMCE. Then stuff happened and I went "off-net" for a while. I'm now back and a lot seems to have changed, so I feel like I'm back to being a Newbie again. If anyone knows how to reset by status in the forums, it might be wise.

Anyway, I'm now starting the whole initial investigation thing again. I'm posting questions in forums (both here and elsewhere) and trying to keep my notes (here) up to date :-)

If you have come here as a result of my posting in a forum, thank you for visiting. Please post replies back in the forum, though, so others can benefit. Also, if you see an outstanding question / issue below, please feel free to respond, but please do so via a forum as, again, that will give anyone else looking at the same issue a fair stab. ;-)

Current Position

2 years ago, I moved with my family from the UK to the USA. We are now settled in Indiana (the city of Carmel in Hamilton County) but are about to move about 1 mile. Currently, we have no "home grown" stuff to speak of. We have AT&T U-Verse with 1 DVR and 3 additional STBs. Part of the move is to consider whther to stick with AT&T or move to a different provider, so that discussion will be had below. I am doing all this with virtually NO MONEY to devote to the project. Most (if not all) of the kit I am using has been scavenged from things being thrown out at work, or from fairs etc. I have made occasional purchases on e-bay! So, when offering solutions, please consider cost ;-) We are due to move on May 25th 2012, so the decision about provider is fairly urgent!

When considering options, the following two factors are (almost) equally important:

  • Cost. Like I already said, I can't afford to be spending a lot of $$$ on this.
  • WAF/FAF. It has to just work. No ifs, no buts. Currently, we have an issue due to the need to change HDMI inputs between the PS3 and the U-Verse STB!!!
  • Time. We are a busy family. I'm keen to spend time on this as it's interesting and fun, but I have a full time job. The lawn needs cutting. The family need to go out...... You get the idea! ;-)

Decisions, Decisions

Obviously, there are a lot of choices to be made, and many will impact on others. I've tried to categorize them below and then provide links to where I have asked the questions. At the bottom of this page, I'm going to put a summary of the hardware (and software) I have installed. I will do my best to keep both the questions lists (and final answers!) and the system summary as up to date as I can ;-)

So without further ado, here we go!:

TV Provider

Points to consider:

  • Cost of basic service
  • Availability of channels
  • Possibility of integrating with a home-grown system
  • Additional "bundled" services (particularly internet).
  • Reliability
  • Ease of (basic) use.
  • Services "away from home" (For example, Android / iPhone / iPad access.)


  1. AT&T U-Verse
    1. Advantages
      1. Existing system
      2. Content already on DVR
      3. Network infrastucture can be provided through the AT&T house (tv/cable) network
      4. No minumum contract term (this is why I went with them in the first place!)
    2. Disadvantages
      1. Guide is not very helpful in that it doesn't track season / episode very well, making it difficult to watch anything "in order"
      2. Series record is either "all showings" or "only first runs". No option to "record it unless you already have it".
      3. Network infrastructure does not offer the option to insert a device (read:firewall) between the computer devices and the internet.
      4. DVR has limited space and cannot be upgraded.
      5. HD is a paid extra on all channels.
      6. Only option with a home-grown system is to hook up their STBs to tuner cards.
      7. Parental controls are only at a channel or their perceived ratings level
  2. Brighthouse Networks (Local Cable Provider)
    1. Advantages
      1. Provides HD content for some channels "FOC"
      2. Possible use of cable-cards directly in home-grown system. If not this, then maybe HDHomeRun?
      3. More internet bandwidth
      4. Parental contols are at the program level, so no more Spongebob f*****g Squarepants!!!
    2. Disadvantages
      1. Difficult to get through to someone who understands what I'm asking in support!
      2. Two year contract, so I need to be sure
      3. MAY suffer from same guide-based issues as U-Verse, but since I don't have it...

Questions to be answered

Question Forum Topic (link) Last Updated (here)

DVR System

I guess the first question is whether or not to bother at all! But I'm going to assume that this is a given. I have included the TV-Provider DVR as an option though, for comparative purposes.

  1. Linux MCE 810
    1. Advantages
    2. Disadvantages
  2. Linux MCE 1004
    1. Advantages
    2. Disadvantages
  3. Straight MythTV
    1. Advantages
    2. Disadvantages
  4. XBMC
    1. Advantages
    2. Disadvantages
  5. WindozeMCE
    1. Advantages
    2. Disadvantages
  6. TV-Providor DVR
    1. Advantages
      1. Works "off the shelf"
      2. If it doesn't work, there's a support contract!
      3. If it doesn't work, I can legitimately not be to blame.
    2. Disadvantages
      1. Not nearly configurable enough
      2. Inability to integrate with other systems.
      3. Inability to upgrade DVR disk space.
      4. Lack of integration between ripped DVDs and recorded TV.
      5. Waaay less cool ;-)
      6. If it doesn't work, I'm still going to cop the flack!

Questions to be answered

Question Forum Topic (link) Last Updated (here)

Available Equipment

Currently, I have the following hardware: