Ramblings from another nerd on the grid
I found out an interesting statistic last night. One of the news stations reported that the Dallas metroplex has the highest per capita usage of DVR's in the USA. They didn't break it out by standard or high def recorders but I thought that was kewl until I remembered we're also supposed to be one of the fattest cities in the US. Hmmmm... I don't think that is a coincidence. Of course, the scorching summers might be a factor, but we should have no excuse for the mild winters. Slackers.
Now to get back on topic, you'll recall I purchased this new little device called HDHomeRun. I am happy to say it lives up to it's name. Well, it lives up to it's name when used with the proper hardware. That's the sad part of the story. It didn't run well with my legacy hardware but that has nothing to do with the HDHomeRun unit.
Decoding, rendering and displaying HD content is intense. It requires muscle. My single CPU Pentium 4 desktop machine just doesn't have enough horsepower. I've upgraded that machine to it's limit. It has the fastest AGP card it can handle. It has 3GB of memory. It has fast SATA drives. But the bottleneck is the CPU and that's where the upgrades stop. Time to say goodbye to it for HDTV purposes. It just can't hang.
How do I know?
Well, I did some testing with Windows Vista and a couple of my dual core based laptops. Say what? You are recording and watching HDTV on a laptop? Yes I am. This is where HDHomeRun really shines. You see, Windows Vista does not need an analog tuner to setup and use the Media Center capabilities. Since the HDHomeRun product streams the content across the network to the Windows Vista machine, you don't have to take up card slots in a desktop, or any other type of slot in a laptop. It's a really elegant design. I love it. Networking rocks.
This also means you can use HDHomeRun with multiple machines. Since the unit is a network device, you can configure multiple machines to see those tuners and use them. Now obviously they can't do this simultaneously, but it certainly offers some kewl flexibility when it comes to testing from multiple machines.
Since I prefer having a desktop machine do the work, I have to decide what to buy. I really hate that. I've known I need to upgrade for many months now, but I also know new stuff is on the way that will use quad processors, or be "Santa Rosa" based and support goobs of memory. I think I'll wait until the new machines start shipping. We'll see how patient I am. Unless of course Dell drops the price of the XPS 410 to $550 or something...
Anyway, HDHomeRun looks like it's going to be a keeper. Keep in mind setup is for nerds. The HDHomeRun Forums have all the information you need, but be prepared for some trial and error.
Keith: what HD sources have you tested? HD Cable (QAM)? ATSC?
I assume it can't capture from a component in since that stream wouldn't already be compressed.
I have only tested HD Cable (QAM256). So far, it's been working very nicely.
I still don't really have the appropriate recording machine but the past couple of weeks of testing has gone very well. I'm using a dual core laptop and external hard drive. I really need a good desktop dual core machine and plan to purchase one sometime this year.