HTPC OR MEDIA SERVER? What do i really need
I want to know what to build because i want to stream my files and live TV to 2TVs and maybe 4 in the future. I was planning on building an HTPC and getting a HDHomeRun to stream and record shows using WMC but then I don't know how to streams those files to the other tv. Would a server be better to stream all my videos,Live and recorded shows? If so do i need a streaming box device to connect the 2nd TV to the server. WiIl i still need the HDHomeRun or is getting a tuner card for the server better
I have a similar setup. I absolutely love it but the Mrs is a different story. If you have all your HTPC's record to a shared drive then all HTPCs will have access to everyone's recordings in a single location. The best solution is WMC extenders but they have their limitations as well. Take a look at the Ceton echo.
You just add those to your TV and stream from a main HTPC with enough tuners. If you already have the HDHRP then add a Centon intinitv 4/6 dedicated to the main HTPC and you'll never run out of tuners. You'll need to make sure the server HTPC has plenty of cores and ram. My main HTPC has an PHII x6, but did not go the extender route.
I decided instead to go with HTPCs at every TV because of browser limitations with extenders and settop solutions primarily due to Silverlight with premium cable streaming and a difficult time handling large libraries.
Be warned Windows commitment to media center dev seems to have ceased. The WMC DVR functionality is inferior to DVRs from a decent cable company or DTV.
To answer your questions;
1. HDHomerun Prime is an awesome device you'll be happy, and able to watch live TV on any computer.
2. Other computers will just need to have access to a shared folder to access recordings.
3. You can watch recordings in windows media player, you don't have to do it through media center.
4. You can run MCEBuddy in the background to remove commencials and convert your recordings to a portable format (MP4,M4V) so you can watch on something like an iPad offline.
5. Building a more capable main HTPC will let that act as a server as well
6. For basic HTPCs you'll be pleasantly surprised how little horsepower you need for flawless 1080p content. Just built one this week for $300 with a quad core and ssd.
Oh.... There is a catch to the shared folder I should mention. You can only watch premium content (HBO,STARZ) on the PC that recorded it and if you have a cable company that turns on the copyright protection flag for all channels same situation. Find out what your company's policy is. If the copyright protection is on for all channels then the extenders (Echo) are the only solution to share recordings. I have Fios, they do not block non premium sharing.
Ok thanks for the dvr thing i may use xbmc with their DVR add on. I just plan on watching OTA TV and stream music and some movies i will rip into my pc server. As for the building a more capable HTPC thing i also want it to be low on power usage since i plan on having it on all day. The Ceton looks good but do you know of any that can play alot of files like MKV?
If you're going OTA then XBMC will likely be superior to WMC and obviously look better. I read Prime when you only mentioned the HDHomerun. You may be able to get away with one of the Android or Linux settops with a network tuner and already having a server for movies. I don't know though how well they work as DVRs.