The best hardware setup for TV playback?

Howdy, folks. I think I'm going to finally cut the cord and drop cable.

The thing I know that I'll miss the most is the instant responsiveness of my hardware DVR. For example, I have a Roku Ultra and I always lament how wonky it is to click back 10 or 20 seconds for the joke I just missed when I'm watching Netflix on the Roku vs watching something on my physical DVR.

I've looked at a lot of options, and I think I'm going to go with HDHomerun and Channels Plus. So I'd like to ask the brain trust: What's the best setup for maximum responsiveness on recording playback? e.g.,

  • What's the best NAS or other device?
  • Does the quality of the hard drive matter?
  • Which streamer (Fire TV, Apple TV, etc) has the best responsiveness, best UI and best physical remote for zipping around in a recording?
  • What else am I forgetting?

Let's assume that all I care to do is watch my stuff on one actual TV, and I don't care about viewing on my phone or iPad, in or outside the home. Here are my few complications:

  • My "one TV" is actually an HDMI splitter, going to my new Samsung in the living room and my old Samsung in the kitchen. The new one is a cheapo but supports 4k, the old one only supports up to 1080p. (We have the kitchen TV because our apartment is very open floor-plan, and we like to watch together, regardless of who's cooking or whatnot.)
  • I'm thinking of getting the 4k version of HDHomerun for future-proofing. Good idea or bad? Picture quality isn't a big deal to me, but I'll take better over worse.

I'm too old to want to spend a bunch of time screwing around with this stuff like I used to, and am willing to spend what it takes to get a solid solution. That said, I'd probably be interested in hearing both a top-end and mid-range option.

Thanks!

The DS220+ is very popular. A Raspberry Pi 4 would also work well for your setup.

Not really imho, any USB3 drive is more than enough. The limiting factor is usually the network, so a gigabit link between the DVR and streaming box will produce the best results.

Apple TV 4K

Which metro are you in? Are there expected atsc3 signals coming in the area? Honestly it might not be worth it right now and you can always add a second unit and increase your available tuners in the future.

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Thanks!

I'm in Manhattan, so ATSC3 is coming soon. But starting with the two-tuner non-4k version makes sense for now.

Think I'll go with WD Red Plus as the hard drive.

I second the vote for the Apple TV 4K, but you may find the remote not to your liking. I use a cheap All in One Streamer remote works better for our family. The Apple TV is very fast.

On the HD Homerun, with only two tuners you may have some problems if you record a lot of shows. If 2 recordings are going, you won't be able to watch anything on live TV. I started with a 4 tuner and found that once in a while I was using them all for recordings, so I actually now have 2 x 4 tuner HDHRs. I'd suggest getting a refurb 4 tuner directly from Silicon Dust. They sell them on their Ebay store for a bit cheaper, and you are still getting it from them.

I have a couple of NAS boxes and decided to use an old 2012 Mac Mini as my Channels DVR server and been very happy. Its a lot cheaper than a NAS, and I find it easier to work with personally.

Thanks!

It's funny, I was looking at the Apple TV remote specifically, because we like to have multiple remotes (1 in the kitchen, 2 in the living room) and was seeing you can't pair multiple Siri Remotes with one Apple TV box. Are you referring to the One For All remote? (That's what comes up when I google it).

Two streams is probably enough -- we never watch live, and there are just two of us with similar viewing preferences. Seems unlikely there are 3 OTA shows we want at the same time. But I'll bear that in mind.

Ditto on the AppleTV 4K remote, but ChannelMaster makes one, CM-7000XRC, that works well and is easy to use. It's not in ChannelMaster's online store, but I found it on Amazon for $25

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One for All makes several remotes. I'm talking about the one called the One for All Streamer. Its only sold at Best Buy and Walmart, and there is a difference between them (Vudu vs. Prime) buttons. The 4 channel buttons don't work with Channels, but I was able to program the others to use CEC functions that I programmed to Channels functions so have a Guide and Last Channel button. I have two and paid $17 and $20 for them. There are a few other similar remotes in the sub $30 price range that all I think are similar in functionality. I have this one, my Sony TV remote, and the Siri remote all laying on the table and swap between them depending on what I'm doing. The Siri remote is good for fast panning and is the only one you can close apps with. But otherwise, the Streamer is the go to for the family. I kind of like the big Sony remote because I've got a ton of Channels functions programmed into its buttons, but you have to dodge the hard coded Android TV buttons so the rest of my family doesn't like it as much. They stay out of trouble with the One for All.

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I'm in Manhattan, so ATSC3 is coming soon.

Sorry - are you basing this on anything concrete? I've been following this fairly closely, and don't see anything even close in NY or Hartford/New Haven DMAs.

The Nvidia Shield devices are also very good and fast. The original remotes were terrible but the new remotes are now quite good. Shields work great either as a client/front end to a PC/NAS Server or as both a Server and Client on the same box (which can also be accessed from other devices).

I have tested extensively on the Shield 2017 and Pro 2019 but not the 2019 base model (the one that looks like a cylinder). The Dev's do a very good job although Android does seem to lag behind Apple.

I watch a lot of delayed sports and the forward/back skipping is nearly instantaneous. It blows away any of the other DVR's I've tried including NextPVR (PC), DirecTV Genie or prior version DVR's and Tivo's.

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Perhaps soon was overstating. This website says by end of this year:
https://www.watchnextgentv.com/

Thanks.

Is a single Shield as both server and client really a good/fast solution?

I'll spend the $500 on the DS220+ and Apple TV 4k if they're necessary for top performance, but I'd rather save the money and just drop $200 on the Shield if it's nearly as responsive.

I've seen some other folks caution against having the Shield act as both server and client (but that might've been when I was still looking at Plex).

I'm using an early 2009 MacMini that works quite well. I do plan to buy a new M1 MacMini this year.

I use a 4K Firestick on one tv and a TiVo Stream 4K on another.

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I use the Shield as both. It has worked very well for me.

If you're just going to use a single drive without any RAID, I wouldn't go with that drive. It's meant for NASes or RAIDs where there's data redundancy. The error handling on Red drives is truncated compared to other WD drives because it's assumed any data lost from read errors can be obtained from the NAS redundancy. If you just have a single drive that can't happen and you rely on the drive's own internal error handling to get the data.

The other WD drives will work just as well and might be cheaper.

I can second that, though I'm using the Shield Pro.

I use my old 2016 Gigabyte Brix ultra mini PC as my server and connect it to a ReadyNAS for the storage. I throttle the PC to 2.1Ghz so the fans aren't as loud and the performance is great.

I have two Fire TVs and a Sony Android TV. The server, NAS, and TV are attached via gigabit LAN, while the Fire TVs are wireless. Performance is fast when skipping around in a show and tuning is quick as well.

Commercial skip takes around 8 minutes for a 30 minute show and 17 for an hour.

We came from a Tivo Roamio Plus and 2 Tivo minis. The responsiveness is comparable to what we saw with the Tivo minis. Which reminds me, I still need to sell those..

I have a core i7 quad laptop running Channels DVR w/ 32 gigs of ram.

Attached to it are:

  1. 4x sata hdd RAID 0+1 as my main channels storage
  2. 1x 8 TB usb 3.0 hdd for movie backups from main storage

I use 1x hdhomerun extend ( 2 tuners ), 1x hdhomerun quatro ( 4 tuners ), 1x hdhomerun 4k ( 4 tuners ) and tve for my channels selections.

Streamers are mainly Android TV tv's: Sony & Hisense and Fire sticks.

Most everything is gigabit ethernet or connected via wifi 6.

So far, no problems with viewing/recording upwards of 8 channels.