Tag: HDHomeRun Prime CableCARD

Heads up: The HDHomeRun Prime DLNA-capable broadcast-LAN adaptor is running for US$100

Article

Get an HDHomeRun Prime CableCard tuner for $99.99 | CNet

From the horse’s mouth

Woot

Offer Page

Previous Coverage

HDHomeRun Prime is the first CableCARD tuner to deliver live TV to DLNA Devices

My Comments

Those of you who follow HomeNetworking01.info from the USA may have seen me make mention about the HDHomeRun Prime broadcast-LAN adaptor which streams cable-TV content from its tuners over a small network.

The reason I have drawn attention to this unit on HomeNetworking01.info and am highlighting this deal is that it works as a DLNA-capable network media server. Here, it could stream the cable-TV (or antenna-supplied) content to your XBox 360, PS3, smart TV or other DLNA / UPnP-AV compliant video device so you can use this device to watch the cable-TV shows on.

It has support for the cableCARD authorisation module which you rent from your cable-TV provider i.e. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, etc for less than the cost of the set-top box that they provide, but you have access to HBO, Showtime and the other premium channels as your subscription allows through the DLNA-capable devices as well as your smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.

The variant of this device being offered at the US$100 price is the 3-tuner variant which would serve content to up to three devices and could either work as a “get-you-going” device or augment an existing broadcast-LAN device.

Broadcast-LAN devices–how relevant are they to the home network

I have observed a steady increase in the number of “broadcast-LAN” tuner devices appearing in various markets around the world.

What are these devices?

How the broadcast-LAN devices fit in to a home network

How the broadcast-LAN devices fit in to a home network

These are devices that integrate a broadcast tuner which is connected to an antenna (aerial), cable-TV system or satellite dish and hardware for streaming the broadcast signals down a computer network to computers or similar devices. The computers or similar devices effectively select the stations to be received through the use of front-end software that runs on these devices.

I refer to these devices as “broadcast-LAN” or “broadcast-network” devices because they bridge traditional radio or television broadcast services delivered over a traditional broadcast medium with a computer local-area network to be enjoyed on the devices connected to that network.

Cheaper and, usually, first-generation implementations use one tuner circuit so are able to stream one broadcast signal down the network. But the better systems implement two or more tuner circuits and/or “split” broadcast signals that are part of a multiple-broadcast single-frequency multiplex like what is implemented with DVB-based digital TV to concurrently stream multiple broadcasts to multiple devices.

Why do these devices appear on the market?

Initially these devices appeared on the market to allow people to watch TV broadcasts on regular-platform computers without the need to have a tuner module in the computer and / or to have the tuner connected to an aerial, cable-TV or similar infrastructure. This exploits the concept offered by HomePlug AV and Wi-Fi technologies that the connection to the home network is more pervasive than the connection to the aerial or similar infrastructure.

The classic situation that is often come across is for a TV-aerial or cable-TV socket to be installed in the main lounge area and, perhaps, the master bedroom or another lounge area but you may want to watch TV in another area using a laptop. This situation can be complicated with rented premises, buildings that use difficult construction materials and techniques or, simply, “splittered” TV-aerial infrastructure that is only optimised for TV sets that are relocated on a whim.

This situation is taken further with the ubiquity of the tablet computers that are based on mobile platforms. There is a strong desire to use these computers and, in some cases, large-screen smartphones or laptop / notebook computers as a personal TV device in lieu of the traditional small-screen portable TV set. Similarly, a regular computer or NAS with the appropriate software could work as a network DVR to capture TV shows for later viewing by tuning in to signals presented by these devices.

This latter situation is exploited further with mobile broadcast-LAN devices that link to mobile digital-TV services like Dyle TV in the USA. Here, the situation allows the user to tune in to a TV show on one of these services using their tablet or smartphone, but they work more as a Wi-Fi access point rather than a Wi-Fi client.

If the idea is to replace the TV-antenna or cable-TV connection to a, typically secondary, TV set with the home network, you may have to use an IPTV set-top box, a smart TV or similar video peripheral to pick up the content from the broadcast-LAN box.

This situation is being made easier by HDHomeRun who have released their HDHomeRun Prime box for the US market. Here, this unit presents itself as a DLNA Media Server device and lists the channels it can provide as its content pool. Here, you can use a PS3 or XBox 360 games console, a DLNA-capable smart TV or a DLNA-capable Blu-Ray home theatre system to tune in the broadcasts.

Issues that can occur with broadcast-LAN setups

The user experience with a broadcast-LAN setup may not be the same for what has been expected with traditional broadcast receiption. This is more so with DLNA-based setups that are focused around file-based on-demand media or client software that doesn’t offer a proper broadcast-reception experience.

For example, it may take a long time to switch between channels which may make channel-surfing a bit more painful. This also can make it hard to switch between two channels which is something we may do to check on content like news or sports events that are hosted on one or both of the channels.

The future for the broadcast-LAN devices

The broadcast-LAN setups will be seen as being relevant as we continue to receive TV and radio via traditional broadcast paths and we primarily make heavy use of smartphones, tablets and ultraportable computers for our work and lifestyle computing needs.

As well, there will be a likelihood of these devices working as network-wide personal video recorder devices where that capture favourite TV shows and make them available to play on demand at any device attached to the home network. They could be in the form of a high-capacity hard disk built in to or connected to the broadcast-LAN device and/or a separate network-attached-storage device holding the recordings.

Similarly, the broadcast-LAN devices are being pitched in America by the consumer-electronics industry as a highly-competitive “consumers-first” alternative to the traditional cable-TV set-top box. Here, a DLNA-capable broadcast-LAN cable TV gateway can be used to distribute the pay-TV content to all the TVs in a pay-TV customer’s house without the customer paying extra to the cable-TV company to install set-top boxes on each TV. The use of RVU remote-user-interface technology which is being considered as part of the DLNA standards would allow customers to gain access to the advanced services that a pay-TV firm would offer like pay-per-view content and movies-on-demand.

Conclusion

I see the “broadcast-LAN” devices as becoming a key device class for the home network especially where portable computing devices like tablets are being used to enjoy content that is delivered by traditional radio and TV broadcasters.

Feature Article – Having the online life in that private space

Introduction

Most of us have one or more private spaces in the home that aren’t really where we sleep in but want to retreat to when we want to spend time alone or with a few chosen people. This may, for men, be the classic “men’s shed” or “office-den” but is becoming the so-called “man-cave”. For women, it may be a private lounge area or study with some people purposing these spaces for personal religious activity amongst other activities.

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook at Intercontinental Melbourne On Rialto

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook – an example of a touch-enabled Ultrabook that can be moved around very easily

Some of these spaces may also be used as a reception space for one’s own group of friends such as a man’s “mates” or a woman’s own “lady friends”, as well as serving as the own space. This is more so if they want to meet with these people away from the rest of the crowd in the house.

In most of these areas, it may be appropriate to be able to engage in online life using the home network. It encompasses access to the resources available via the home network whether it be music and video content held on the NAS or the ability to print out documents on a network-capable printer. The activities may range from personal entertainment in these areas through researching information from the Internet to creating documents and Web content.

What can you use here?

Sony VAIO Tap 20 adaptive all-in-one computer

Sony VAIO Tap 20 – an example of an “Adaptive All-In-One” computer

You may want to use a portable computer device whether it be a laptop / notebook or tablet computer so you can take it between your private space and other spaces. For a fixed setup, you may go for an all-in-one or low-profile desktop computer. Some systems like the Sony VAIO Tap 20 may be able to bridge the gap between a large-screen desktop and a laptop computer and some of the regular all-in-one computers may be light enough to be transported from room to room.

The portable computer or easy-to-transport “all-in-one” computer would be more important if you are dealing with a space that is accessible directly from outside and doesn’t do well for security. This is because you can easily take the computer in to your home so it doesn’t tempt thieves when you have finished in that space.

Sony SA-NS510 Portable Wireless speaker

Sony SA-NS510 Portable Wireless Speaker

If you are thinking of online-capable audio or video equipment that can fit well in this space, there is a lot of the equipment that can suit your particular needs. For example, a small Internet radio could be the answer for a shed or garage like as I have seen with the Kogan Internet radio that I reviewed in this site’s early days. Here, a person who was living with me had this radio in the garage playing some content from BBC Radio 4’s Internet feed while he was doing a few repairs at the workbench. A small Blu-Ray-equipped home-theatre system of the same ilk as a Sony BDV-E2100 or Yamaha MCR-755 or a small hi-fi of the ilk of the Sony CMT-MX750Ni or Denon CEOL Series could play its part as an entertainment system for a den.

You can even use the home-theatre systems with an LCD computer monitor as the display device if the monitor has an HDMI input socket or DVI socket that is compliant with HDCP. This can mean that you don’t need to use a TV set with these devices especially if you use a DLNA-compliant broadcast-LAN tuner or just enjoy media held on optical disc or the home network.

Denon CEOL Piccolo music systemOn the other hand, you could use a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi wireless speaker system along with your smartphone, tablet or notebook to play audio content from more than the speaker built in to the computer device. Similarly, you could connect a Bluetooth audio adaptor or AirPlay/DLNA-compliant network media receiver to a pair of computer speakers or a small boombox that has a line input to achieve the same goal.

What needs to be done

Network connectivity

Here, I would make sure that you have reliable access to the home network from this space. If the space is located in another building, I would suggest that you pay attention to my article on multiple-building home networks.

Western Digital LiveWire HomePlug AV Ethernet switch connected

The WD LiveWire HomePlug AV switch that fills in the network gap

In some cases, I would make sure there is an Ethernet connection in that area if your place is being wired for Ethernet and you can afford it. On the other hand, you could use a HomePlug AV powerline connection to that space. This is important for detached buildings or rooms with direct outdoor access where they may not be secure because you can take the HomePlug adaptor in to your home. It is also important if you don’t get good Wi-Fi wireless-network reception from your router in that area and this situation can be remedied using an access point connected to the wired backbone.

Access to live TV content

As for access to TV content, if your space doesn’t have a connection for a TV aerial (antenna) or cable / satellite TV, you could use the home network to gain access to TV content. This is facilitated with a broadcast-LAN tuner like HDHomeRun or Devolo dLAN Sat which is connected to the TV aerial, cable or satellite TV depending on the device and transmits your chosen broadcast signal down the home network. Then you use software on the computer or tablet to “tune in” to the broadcasts. For that matter, the HDHomeRun Prime offers access to antenna or US cable TV you subscribe to via DLNA-capable video devices and software.

On the other hand, if you have pay TV, you could benefit from the provider’s “TV Everywhere” solution which works with regular or mobile computer devices to show live or on-demand pay-TV on these devices using your home network.

Access to your network-hosted content library

For audio, photo and video content, you can use DLNA-capable software media players like Windows Media Player 12, or TwonkyMedia to play the content on your portable computer or mobile device. If you use any of the Apple platforms, you could set your NAS up as an iTunes server for the audio content and have the iTunes music player software on your device pull up this content.

As I have mentioned before, devices with network-media-playback functionality would have to work to DLNA and/or AirPlay standards if you want to use these as your media player for your small space.

Printing from your private space

You may not need to worry about having a printer installed in that “man cave” or similar space if you are using a network-accessible printer. This means that you don’t have to worry about factoring in space for the printer. The only exception to the rule is if you see this space as a home office and you may want to have a heavy-duty machine for turning out work related to your business or similar effort.

Conclusion

Here, you can set up a reliable personal computing and entertainment environment that you can use in your small personal space, with the equipment being more suited to that space.

HDHomeRun Prime is the first CableCARD tuner to deliver live TV to DLNA Devices

Articles

HDHomeRun Prime is the first CableCARD tuner to deliver live TV to DLNA Devices

From the horse’s mouth

Silicon Dust

Press Release

Product Page

My Comments

Most of the “broadcast-LAN” server devices which stream broadcast content, whether from a regular antenna (aerial), cable TV or a satellite dish, to a computer network typically require the use of manufacturer-supplied software or drivers on regular computers or mobile devices on that network to gain access to the broadcast content on those devices.

But Silicon Dust, makers of the HDHomeRun “broadcast-LAN” devices have updated their HDHomeRun Prime CableCard-capable cable-TV device to work as a DLNA-compliant device. This means that if you use a DLNA-compliant media client device or run DLNA-compliant media-client software on your computer or smartphone, you can have access to the TV channels through this device.

This function is provided through a software upgrade to the HDHomeRun Prime broadcast-LAN devices, both the new units that are being sold as well as the existing models that are in service. The device will present itself to the DLNA Home Media Network as a Media Server with Premium Video support courtesy of DTCP-IP content security.

I see this more as a valid example of using DLNA as part of a “broadcast-LAN” solution thus providing for software-independent setups for these applications. This would also further the FCC’s desire for customer-friendly cable TV which is independent of particular cable-company-controlled hardware.

What could be seen of this kind of setup being available for the home network? One application may be the use of DLNA-compliant media client software in regular and mobile computing devices to turn these devices in to secondary TVs. This could extend to devices like smart TVs and video peripherals using their network connection effectively as an aerial connection.

As well, home and business users could benefit from being able to push live broadcast content to DLNA-enabled displays using the control point software. Example applications could range from using a tablet or smartphone to push TV programs to a smart TV in the home to bars and cafes pushing out sportscasts or key news broadcasts to the big screens using a POS computer.

One point of evolution I would like to see for these devices is DLNA-driven PVR applications for recording the broadcasts. This may be facilitated with the recording functionality and the broadcast tuner in the same box such as a “TV content server” application. On the other hand, a computer, network-attached storage or similar device picking up content from a device like this HDHomeRun and recording it to its own storage. Then this same device could serve out the content that it records to the DLNA Home Media Network.

It also encompasses the concept of applying “trick-play” to live broadcasts, including the ability to start watching from the beginning of a show even as the show is being recording, like one can do with most PVR setups. As well, there would be the ability for multi-room features like “start on one TV, continue on the other” that can be part of the expected feature set.

At least this device with the new firmware has shown itself as an example of implementing DLNA to a broadcast-network (broadcast-LAN) application.