DVR vs Mac Mini - Any new options?


#1

Hello there!

I’ve just finished tinkering with my antenna. I have a HD Homerun Connect Quatro and the channels app downloaded on IOS, Apple TV and a Google connected smart TV.

I’m currently looking at DVR storage options so that I can subscribe to the Channels DVR. I don’t have any old computers lying about so am purchasing from scratch. The NAS options seem to be either the QNAP 251+ or the Synology 218+. The Synology is the cheaper option at the moment by the look of things so I am leaning that way. I’ve looked at the Mac Mini and whilst I like the idea I would be looking at the base model which is only dual core 1.4 Ghz and still $429. I don’t think it has been updated since late in 2014 so does not look like good value. I would need a drive on top of that cost too.

Are there any newer NAS options that I have not considered? Will either of the above work for skipping commercials etc? Anything else I am missing? Overall this represents a large amount of up front outlay. I am hoping that in the long run I will be smiling every time I see an Xfinity ad on TV.

I’d be grateful for any sage like advice.


#2

The Mac mini is a terrible value. If you really want to build a computer the Intel NUC is tiny and makes a great DVR.

Otherwise a NAS is about as easy as it can get. The CPU in the Synology is much newer so I would go with that. (http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-J3355-vs-Intel-Celeron-J1900)


#3

I polled the fellow “IT geeks” on another forum about NAS’. The overwhelming vote was for Synology. The DS218+ is the way I’m going.


#4

Thank you! Trigger pulled. Purchased the Synology 218+ together with a 4TB WD red drive. I will let you know how I get on.


#5

I had 2007 Mac Mini lying around and for about$150 upgraded the cpu to a 2.x Ghz core 2 duo and an SSD drive and 4 Gb of RAM, loaded FreeBSD on it and it is running the ChannelsDVR software like a champ. The getchannels folks had to build me a 32 bit FreeBSD version to get it going, but it works fine. My DVR options at the moment are pretty small (nightly news of 30 mins and the Today Show for 2 hours each day and keep only 3 shows back). So if you HAVE a Mac Mini lying around, it is certainly doable.


#6

I got mine (same thing: DS218+ & 4TB WD Red) Monday. Did something wrong trying to move the old stuff from the test bed installation to the Synology. Since none of it was important I just gave up and started fresh. It’s working flawlessly.

Turned out the tiny little APC UPS I had will be insufficient, though. Only 1 hour, 20 minutes runtime. (And I had to use a ground plug adaptor to plug it in, which I do not like.) So I’ve an APC BE600M1 Back-UPS on the way from Amazon. That should give me well over the two-hour minimum I want, but it was the smallest current production Back-UPS I could find that would allow me to integrate with the DS218+'s UPS monitoring software. (It’s not on Synology’s list, but I believe it will work.)

Only two pieces left: 2nd drive for the NAS and upgrade my LAN’s “backbone switch” from the unmanaged NetGear ProSafe 8-port GigE switch to managed version. There’s no performance reason for that, but I now have so much going on on our LAN that I want a better view into LAN traffic.


#7

Sounds perfect! I can’t believe how easy everything was to set up on the Synology. It really is close to being a ‘plug in and play’ solution.

So far so good then - I’m not sure if I need to alter any of the power settings so that the drive is always available but so far have not run into any problems. I’ve recorded a few shows and they play back seamlessly and I can easily skip through commercials.

The only slight issue is that I am missing some of my usual subscription channels and not finding a huge amount to watch. I’m hoping I can find a good online resource and start recording some new TV series as they begin so that I can fill the void left by the lack of cable TV. If anyone has any suggestions that would be fantastic! I’m sure when I build up a bank of quality recordings I will be more than happy with this setup.


#8

Well, it turns out drive hibernate not only may not save much energy, but may also add wear-and-tear to the drive.

Install “Log Center” and look at the “General” log. If your DS218+ behaves like mine you’ll see the drive coming out of hibernation regularly–even when there’s apparently nothing going on. There’s been lots of discussion about it on Synology’s forums, for several years, already, but no solution from Synology.

Changing the inactive time-out to 15 minutes didn’t help. Made it worse, if anything. I’ve set it up to 30 minutes and it hasn’t hibernated yet. Better for it to never hibernate than hibernating for mere minutes at a time.

That’s kind of disappointing :frowning: I’d been relying on hibernation to keep the energy costs down.


#9

I’ve got the same set-up and I’m not having any issues with hibernation. I did remove all the stuff that Synology installed by default, so maybe one of their packages is doing something in the background…

it does seem like the general advice on the Synology forums is to go through each one until you find any packages / services causing an issue. Not really ideal but hopefully hibernation is eventually possible!


#10

I only have the following installed:

  • Universal Search
  • OAuth Service
  • Log Center (installed by me)
  • Channels DVR (installed by me)
  • File Station
  • USB Copy

It turned out what was causing the problem was Samba’s NETBIOS daemon: nmbd. I had SMB disabled, but it was running, anyway. Finally dug around the system and figured out how to shut it off for good. Ever since I did that it hibernates pretty decently.

What version of DSM do you have? I have 6.2-23739 Update 2.


#11

I’m on the same version of DSM as you. I’ve also got the same packages with the exception of USB Copy. It looks like SMB is still enabled on mine, although I don’t have any Windows devices for the NAS to communicate with, so maybe nothing is causing that service to scan the network?


#12

Well, I don’t know what’s doing it, and Synology didn’t include the hibernate debug utility in the latest version of DSM, so I just went ahead and turned hibernation off. It’s better for the drive to keep running full-time than often get turned off for only minutes at a time, which was what was happening.

I’m a bit disappointed in Synology for this atm :frowning: