Roku, Spectrum, Asus Routers and Whole House DVRs ...

Klueless

Very Senior Member
I'm old. I like television and I loved the "Whole House DVR" that came with Direct TV. I could record from anywhere and I could watch from anywhere. If the phone rang I could hit "pause", even on live TV.

Life was good but prices crept up until I had my "eureka" momment, "Holy Crap, I'm paying $200/mo. for TV, Telephone and Internet!"

Spectrum was promoting a package deal for less than $100 so I called Direct TV to cancel a few times. They didn't seem to care so I called Spectrum. The day after installation Direct TV calls with a great pricing deal if I'll come back. I'm tempted but Spectrum had just installed everything in good faith and I'm not going to renege on our deal.
  • Telephone is telephone. Worked well before and works equally well now. When prices start to rise next year might swap it out for VoIP, maybe "Basic Talk" for $10/mo.
  • Internet. Wow! Went from 6 Mbps to 60! Speed tests show 70 and last week I started getting 120! First time I ever got more than what I paid for. Kept their modem ("free"). Passed on their router ("$5/mo.") and bought an Asus RT-AC1900P ($99.99) instead.
  • TV. All five TVs are working fine. Only one DVR. Grandson won the coin toss. For an extra $20 a month I can add more DVRs. It would have been tempting but they would all operate independently, e.g., I couldn't start watching a show in the living room and finish it in the bedroom, so I passed and use "on demand" a lot more.
Five TVs, five boxes. Six dollars a box times five; $30 / mo. Daughter has a smart TV so I hooked it up to our new WiFi, loaded the Spectrum app and it works fine. Roku streaming sticks were on sale for $39 so I bought two, one for the Living Room and one for the Den, hooked them up to WiFi and everything is working great. Returned the three boxes to Spectrum and reduced monthly bill by nearly $20 (and more when the prices go up next year).

Picked up a 128 GB USB 3 Flash Drive (for a dollar) and plugged it into my Asus Router so I now have File and Media Share. I can now view family pics and videos from my laptop (Windows). I can view them from our Chromebooks (had to find a file extension widget) and I can view them from my Rokus (Roku comes with a media player).

So my next step is to capture TV streams, save them on my Asus router and play them back later. Tivo sounds great but it's crazy expensive. Tablo sounded interesting but I don't want to do the antennae thing. I want to capture them right from Spectrum/cable. I thought I could get them off of my Spectrum DVR (motorola DCX 3400) but it looks like Ethernet, USB, etc. ports have been disabled.

Internet searches pull up confusing and conflicting suggestions of compute sticks, raspberries, tuners and cable cards, which, even if successful, are starting to look like $500 and more. I just started reading about something called HDHomerun but my head is starting to spin ...

Surely someone has a simple stupid cheap whole house DVR?
 
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CrystalLattice

Senior Member
I'm old. I like television and I loved the "Whole House DVR" that came with Direct TV. I could record from anywhere and I could watch from anywhere. If the phone rang I could hit "pause", even on live TV.

Life was good but prices crept up until I had my "eureka" momment, "Holy Crap, I'm paying $200/mo. for TV, Telephone and Internet!"

Spectrum was promoting a package deal for less than $100 so I called Direct TV to cancel a few times. They didn't seem to care so I called Spectrum. The day after installation Direct TV calls with a great pricing deal if I'll come back. I'm tempted but Spectrum had just installed everything in good faith and I'm not going to renege on our deal.
  • Telephone is telephone. Worked well before and works equally well now. When prices start to rise next year might swap it out for VoIP, maybe "Basic Talk" for $10/mo.
  • Internet. Wow! Went from 6 Mbps to 60! Speed tests show 70 and last week I started getting 120! First time I ever got more than what I paid for. Kept their modem ("free"). Passed on their router ("$5/mo.") and bought an Asus RT-AC1900P ($99.99) instead.
  • TV. All five TVs are working fine. Only one DVR. Grandson won the coin toss. For an extra $20 a month I can add more DVRs. It would have been tempting but they would all operate independently, e.g., I couldn't start watching a show in the living room and finish it in the bedroom, so I passed and use "on demand" a lot more.
Five TVs, five boxes. Six dollars a box times five; $30 / mo. Daughter has a smart TV so I hooked it up to our new WiFi, loaded the Spectrum app and it works fine. Roku streaming sticks were on sale for $39 so I bought two, one for the Living Room and one for the Den, hooked them up to WiFi and everything is working great. Returned the three boxes to Spectrum and reduced monthly bill by nearly $20 (and more when the prices go up next year).

Picked up a 128 GB USB 3 Flash Drive (for a dollar) and plugged it into my Asus Router so I now have File and Media Share. I can now view family pics and videos from my laptop (Windows). I can view them from our Chromebooks (had to find a file extension widget) and I can view them from my Rokus (Roku comes with a media player).

So my next step is to capture TV streams, save them on my Asus router and play them back later. Tivo sounds great but it's crazy expensive. Tablo sounded interesting but I don't want to do the antennae thing. I want to capture them right from Spectrum/cable. I thought I could get them off of my Spectrum DVR (motorola DCX 3400) but it looks like Ethernet, USB, etc. ports have been disabled.

Internet searches pull up confusing and conflicting suggestions of compute sticks, raspberries, tuners and cable cards, which, even if successful, are starting to look like $500 and more. I just started reading about something called HDHomerun but my head is starting to spin ...

Surely someone has a simple stupid cheap whole house DVR?
Your best bet is to ditch the dvr habit if possible! Great living with: just internet line at $40/mo from spectrum, all tv's on rokus, no phone land line(voip if you need it), no spectrum tv, just cell phone. Then add entertainment video provider of choice: netflix, amazon, directv, etc. Bottom line is 40 $ telecom cost + cell phone cost, whatever entertainment cost you want. It's a simpler life.

If you feel like it, go gigabit fiber or cable; or, unlimited cell("free" except for unlimited plan cost, sprint is $40) phone 3g/4g/lte(just the usb cable) connected to usb port of ddwrt router, to drive house minimally(only about 10mbps down if close to cell tower). Good fortune to you. My plan leaves you free time for router software development, politics, whatever.
 
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Klueless

Very Senior Member
Your best bet is to ditch the dvr habit if possible! Great living with: just internet line at $40/mo from spectrum, all tv's on rokus, no phone land line(voip if you need it), no spectrum tv, just cell phone. Then add entertainment video provider of choice: netflix, amazon, directv, etc. Bottom line is 40 $ telecom cost + cell phone cost, whatever entertainment cost you want. It's a simpler life.
Thank you. Getting closer to that but have other family members to wean as well : -)
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
Let us know if it works for you.
Ok, so far my head hurts ...

I loaded the free version of "Playon". It was like an advertisement for their "paid for" site. All the fun stuff I clicked said, "pay to enable". But there was just enough on the free version to give me some confidence that it was legitimate so I decided to spend the "big bucks". They have an annual price and a lifetime price. I was going to go for one year but they had a special and the lifetime price was reduced to the one year price so I anted up my $29.

Even though everything was suddenly enabled I was locked out of "settings". I reloaded the software, rebooted and "settings" then worked. I then reset my recordings drive to be my Asus Router File Share and started setting some recordings up.

I then pointed my Roku media player to my Asus Router and there were my recordings. I played a couple and, sure enough, they work! I've some more playing and learning (like setting it up to automatically record a whole season of a couple of our favorite shows) to do but it all looks very promising ... so far.

I'm hoping this tool will allow me to build a "Whole House SVR (Streaming Video Recorder)". Sometimes there are live shows we want to watch later. Sometimes we don't want to wait for them to show up on "On Demand" a week later and some shows just plain don't make it to "On Demand". Or sometimes we'll see a movie we want to watch but by the time we have time it's no longer available.

If this works out my plan is to buy a computer stick, plug it into the HDMI port of one of my TVs and load it up with "Play On". That way I'll have an always available computer to set up for recording and the File Serve on my Asus Router will always be available for playback.

Possible show stopper (for me) ... I haven't be able to get "closed caption" to work : -(
 
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thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Sounds promising. PlayOn is a legit company I've been following since my Replacing DirecTV series. They have evolved the product over time to this current model and continue to enhance it.

I am not a current user, however. I can't lure Ms. SmallNetBuilder off DirecTV. I keep watching OTT services like SlingTV, etc. But they still tend to cripple the service in some way, i.e. no DVR, no FF, rewind, etc.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
I can't lure Ms. SmallNetBuilder off DirecTV. I keep watching OTT services like SlingTV, etc. But they still tend to cripple the service in some way, i.e. no DVR, no FF, rewind, etc.
FWIW - DirecTV's recent offerings - the Whole Home DVR thing is pretty good - I've had it now for a couple of years, and it generally works - Better than what Cox Cable has in the area, and perhaps better than ATT's U-Verse (which ATT is doing the long starve on - trying to move UVerse customers over to DirecTV).

Still using Cox for Broadband - and they have a cap on my plan, so totally cutting the cord/cable isn't realistic, esp. since I'm in a bad area for OTA HDTV, even with a roof mounted antenna (I'm in a bad multipath zone).
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
I am not a current user, however. I can't lure Ms. SmallNetBuilder off DirecTV. I keep watching OTT services like SlingTV, etc. But they still tend to cripple the service in some way, i.e. no DVR, no FF, rewind, etc.
I'm with Ms. SNB. Their whole house DVR, etc. makes for an awesome service. If I had the throw-away monies I would have kept it. But, thanks to you, this "Play On" thingie might make withdrawal easier.
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
So far this "Play On TV" thingie has been (mostly) FUN!

I'm recording shows from various Internet content providers including live shows. Under "subscription" I can record entire TV series with automatic triggering and recording of new episodes as they air. Just like a real DVR.

"Quality" is a different issue. Video looked like bootlegged images from the old betamax days. Audio was out of sync with lip movements. It was like watching old godzilla movies.

But I'm learning. If I record at lower quality I get better quality! Huh? Recording at High quality sends my ancient laptop to 100% CPU suggesting that it needs to drop data to keep up. Medium quality runs at about 60% CPU thus better imaging. (This might rule out my idea of "productionizing" it on an HDMI Compute Stick.) I've a little more tweaking/playing to do but I think I'm getting there.

Subtitles / Closed Captions have been a challenge. So far I've only been able to get them to work through Netflix.

So far I'm happy. I'm hoping a little more tweaking will move me to very happy.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Thanks for the update.

Last time I played with PlayOn, which was back in 2011, an Atom-based mini-PC had trouble keeping up. Today's NUCs are much more powerful. But the more power and RAM you can give PlayOn, the better,.
 

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