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Old 05-09-2013, 08:11 PM   #1
martyscholes
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What should I be watching out for?

Hello,

I am about to take the plunge for a Mini. What should I be watching out for?

Our home has effectively one TV in the family room. Each of three boys has a TV in their room for video games. Every kid's bedroom, the home office and family room is wired with a 24 port 10/100 switch with gibabit fiber backhaul to the server rack, so network bandwidth "should" be ok. The only coax we have in the house goes straight into the family room.

One son just loves live sports, sometimes causing contention for the Tivo in the family room. We have looked at having our house drilled and coax pulled into his room, plus cable box, but I am not too keen on that idea. We saw the Mini and figured this might be the perfect solution, not just for him, but for all of the kids.

We all enjoy Netflix and Comcast on-demand. We enjoy watching shows on the server, served up via Streambaby and PyTivo. We enjoy watching family videos the same way and also perusing pictures from the server. We also enjoy some audio stored on the server. If we get a Mini for my son's room, what issues are likely to arise? I can already see that the other two boys might also want a Mini.

How much bandwidth do they consume? Is the thin-client Tivo experience similar to sitting "on the console" of the XL4? It seems that direct use of Streambaby will be gone, as well as Netflix. Maybe Xfinity will work; I am not too sure. I can't decide from the posts if multiple Minis will or won't work on a single XL4, or if each mini will grab a dedicated tuner.

If we do install a mini in my son's room, what about the experience might be disappointing?

Many thanks,
Marty
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:41 PM   #2
BigJimOutlaw
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In a nutshell, some people have reported that having 3 Minis works fine -- but there is a limit of only 2 that can watch Live TV at the same time, as the XL4 only lets you allocate up to 2 tuners for Live TV viewing.

Secondly, the tuners you give to the Minis are gone as far as recording goes. If you allocate 2 tuners to the Minis, the 4-tuner DVR effectively becomes a 2-tuner box until a future software update arrives (in the fall?) that makes the Mini give the tuner back to the DVR when the Mini's Live TV is not in use.

If they don't watch live TV and only stream recordings and VOD, then it may not be a problem. A son could, for example, stream *the XL4's in-progress recording* of a game in his room, rather than waste a tuner by watching it on live TV in his room.

So these are the biggest considerations when it comes to mapping out a plan. The Mini isn't quite fully baked just yet.

If Comcast VOD is available on the XL4 in your area, it should be available on the Mini. Netflix, for now, is not.

Pytivo and streambaby (despite its name) are not streaming programs, so that content can't be copied directly to the Mini. However, programs can be copied to the XL4 as always, and then the Mini can stream it from the XL4. Haven't tried music so I can't comment.

The bandwidth depends on the bitrate of the video. HD channel content is typically between 12-18 mbps. But since these are local transfers, your ethernet setup can handle it without blinking.

The Mini interface is basically identical to the XL4's, only faster.
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Old 05-10-2013, 09:39 AM   #3
martyscholes
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BigJimOutlaw,

Many thanks! Ok, now I think I understand the whole tuner thing. We rarely (never?) watch a live show that is not being recorded. If we always record the live shows, then the whole "lose a tuner" thing becomes a non-issue, correct?

Thanks again,
Marty
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Old 05-10-2013, 12:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by martyscholes View Post
BigJimOutlaw,

Many thanks! Ok, now I think I understand the whole tuner thing. We rarely (never?) watch a live show that is not being recorded. If we always record the live shows, then the whole "lose a tuner" thing becomes a non-issue, correct?

Thanks again,
Marty
Correct. You can choose not to give any tuners to the Minis, and use it strictly as a "stream recordings" box. And that lets the XL4 keep all 4 turners open for recording.
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Old 05-10-2013, 12:48 PM   #5
martyscholes
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Many thanks.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:05 PM   #6
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One more thing to keep in mind... the TiVo itself can only stream 3 things at a time. So if you only have 3 Minis then you're fine, but if you have 4 or a TiVo Stream or a second TiVo, then only 3 of those can actually watch something streaming from the XL4 at any given time. Probably wont effect you, but worth a mention just in case.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:11 PM   #7
martyscholes
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One more thing to keep in mind... the TiVo itself can only stream 3 things at a time. So if you only have 3 Minis then you're fine, but if you have 4 or a TiVo Stream or a second TiVo, then only 3 of those can actually watch something streaming from the XL4 at any given time. Probably wont effect you, but worth a mention just in case.
Dan,
That's good to know -- thanks. I also wonder how well the XL4 can handle the strain of feeding another device. Ours seems to be at the edge of its abilities sometimes as it is.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:52 PM   #8
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They've preallocated the resources for up to 3 streams, so you'll notice no difference. But I think the hardware limitations of the platform are why it's limited to 3 streams. Perhaps the next gen unit, which should have a faster CPU, will be able to do more.
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:19 PM   #9
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They've preallocated the resources for up to 3 streams, so you'll notice no difference. But I think the hardware limitations of the platform are why it's limited to 3 streams. Perhaps the next gen unit, which should have a faster CPU, will be able to do more.
As a test I used a TP-4 recording 4 different HD channels, Stream out to two other TiVos and xfer in program from another TiVo, it all worked without problems, that would 7 streams onto and out of the hard drive in the TP-4.
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:45 PM   #10
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Yeah the hard drive is more then capable of keeping up. It's the other hardware (i.e. anemic CPU and limited RAM) that prevent it from supporting more streams.
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Old 05-10-2013, 07:23 PM   #11
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As a test I used a TP-4 recording 4 different HD channels, Stream out to two other TiVos and xfer in program from another TiVo, it all worked without problems, that would 7 streams onto and out of the hard drive in the TP-4.
I had mine up to eight or nine streams(I can't remember which) when I was first testing out my launch Elite.

ANd when I tried to add a ninth or tenth stream(I can't remember which) the box would reboot. So I see why they would put limits on it.
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