Tech Microsoft Review of HDHomeRun Networked Digital TV Tuner

Review of HDHomeRun Networked Digital TV Tuner

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TV Tuner cards are not exactly new – you can buy cards for you desktop computer and you can even buy USB devices as well. What is new though is an Ethernet based tuner, and one that comes with not just one, but two built in tuners and supports streaming up to 1080i. This little marvel is called the HDHomeRun from SiliconDust.

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What you do is connect the HDHomeRun to your home network via the supplied Ethernet cable and then connect an aerial source into one or both of the tuners (if you want use more than one tuner, and why wouldn’t you, you may need to buy an aerial splitter). Once it is all configured you can use any computer on your home network to view, and even record live TV.

HDHomeRun Networked Digital TV Tuner Specifications

One Box, Two Digital Tuners, Anywhere on Your Network

Watch TV from any computer on your network.
Record full 1080i broadcast resolution.
Pause, rewind, fast-forward live TV.
Schedule and record all your favourite TV shows.
Expand with multiple HDHomeRun devices.

TV sources

For use in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand:

DVB-T over-the-air digital TV.
Unencrypted digital cable.

For United States and Canada click here

Works with popular DVR software:

Pause, rewind, fast-forward live TV.
Record all your favorite TV shows by name.
Integrated TV guide (provided by the DVR software).

Seamless operation with multiple computers:

Run Vista or Windows 7 Media Center on multiple computers sharing the pool of HDHomeRun tuners.
Tuners are automatically allocated between computers as needed.
Multiple HDHomeRun units can be used together to expand the number of tuners.
Tuner pooling works with Windows Media Center, GBPVR, MediaPortal, and TotalMedia.

Compatible With:

Windows Media Center:

MCE 2005 (32/64-bit)
Vista WMC (32/64-bit)
WMC TV Pack (32/64-bit)
Windows 7 (32/64-bit)

MediaPortal – DVR for Windows
GB-PVR – DVR for Windows
VLC – Multi-platform media viewer

DVB-T (QAM64/16/QPSK)
DVB-C (QAM256/128/64 Annex A/C)
8/7/6 MHz channel bandwidth (multi-country operation).
IR Receiver (signal PC with a standard remote control)
100baseTX high speed network
1 year warranty

Requirements:

2.8 GHz Pentium 4 (or similar) for HD playback
512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
1-2 GB per 1/2 hour of DTV recording

What’s inside the box?

The box comes very neatly packaged and includes the HDHomeRun unit itself, a power supply, a software CD, an Ethernet cable and two aerial cables.

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The HDHomeRun itself is tiny – in fact it is smaller than a video tape (for those of you who are not old enough to remember video tapes, they were big things that were around before DVDs).

There are only four connections on the back of the unit – a power connector, an Ethernet port and the two tuner connectors.

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There is no on or off switch, if the device has power then there a green light showing at the front.

Plugging the device in took less than a minute – so nice and easy there.

Installing the HDHomeRun Software

There is an installation CD that comes in the box but I would suggest you skip it and just go download the latest version of the software from the HDHomeRun website. This will not only give you the latest version of the software, but also the latest version of the firmware for the unit.

Installation was very simple and only took a few minutes.

Setup Screen 1 Setup Screen 2 Setup Screen 3 Setup Screen 4

The first time the software launched it found the device and because I was using an updated version of the software, it automatically upgraded the firmware on the device. This was a nice touch and means that you won’t forget to do it or have additional steps and downloads.

Upgrading firmware Upgrading firmware - rebooting

Once the unit had rebooted I was asked to choose my Country and enter my Zip/Postal Code, which I did.

Configuration 1

The next step is to select the source for each tuner and which application you want to use. In my case I only connected one aerial point and chose Digital Antenna and Windows Media Center for my playback.

Configuration 2

The next thing I had to do was run a scan to find all the available channels.

Configuration 3

This doesn’t actually take that long and you can watch the progress.

Scanning

When this is complete you can see the list of available channels – from here you can also disable any channels you don’t want.

Scan completed

If you want to check the channel, you can click the view button which opens Windows Media Player and allows you watch it. You can even just use this to watch TV if you don’t have Media Center installed.

Viewing a channel

There is another program installed with the HDHomeRun software which enables you to configure the device, check the signal strength and update the firmware if required.

HDHomeRun Config screen Upgrade

Using Windows Media Center

So I decided that I wanted to use Windows Media Center to watch and record live TV using the HDHomeRun.

Set up was again very simple, I just followed the wizard in Media Center to add and configure a TV tuner.

Tuner detected Configuring WMC WMC Scanning for channels WMC Scan Completed WMC Tuner Setup Complete

Conclusion

I have to say that I really like the HDHomeRun, its very small, easy to set up and the quality is fantastic. Because the device needs to be connected to your network you can pretty much connect it anywhere, as long as there is an aerial point.

And now with Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 adding the ability to automatically move your recorded content onto your Home Server for you, having an easy to use tuner, or tuners is a winning combination.

The HDHomeRun costs around £160 in the UK and can be ordered from various sources online.

And a big thank you to Nectar for supplying a review unit of the HDHomeRun.

Andrew Edneyhttps://moviesgamesandtech.com
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Andrew, great review. One question though, I want to add this to a media server and was wondering if I have to have an attached pc/laptop turned "on" to program/record tv shows(will use built in tuner on tv for live viewing of shows). I was only hoping to have the pc/laptop for maintance purposes only. All shows will be recorded to the NAS for streaming to the attched extenders.

    Your assistance will be appreciated

    Craig

    • Hi Craig

      It is purely a tuner but if you are having it connected to Windows Media Center for example, WMC can use that tuner to record, otherwise if you are not using WMC, which by the sound of it you are not, then yes, you will need a pc connected in order to act as the selection and recording mechanism.

      Andrew

  2. HI Andrew,

    I just got one of these and it just rocks. I was even going to make a review of it for you sight before I ran across this post 🙂 Four HD TV tuners in this Windows 7 machine now. I

  3. Great write up, (this seems like the type of product I've been looking for.) Now as a general curiosity question; have you/has anyone tried streaming or watching the recorded shows through the 360's media center or through the PS3's network media viewer?

    If either of these would work this would be a perfect product for what I would want to use it for.

    Thanks in advance,

    Paul

    • Paul

      I dont know for sure, but I think you would need something like a Media Center in the middle of the setup.

      Sorry, I dont have a HomeRun anymore to test it.

      Why not post the question in our Forums to see if anyone else might know the answer?

      Andrew

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