Should you purchase whole house DVR services from cable/satellite provider or should you build them yourself? A lot of people think they know what they’re getting when they order expensive monthly services but are surprised after everything is installed when it doesn’t do what they thought it was going to do. In fact, some people find that some of their favorite service attributes go away when they go from independent DVRs is to whole house DVRs.
On the other hand, sorting out all the different moving parts with recorders, computers and media streaming devices can also be expensive and confusing. What is a video consumer to do?
Well it depends on whether you have over the air TV reception and if you have a functional high-speed home network set up. It also depends on your own personal skills and tolerances for technology in your home. It also depends on how much simultaneous viewing and recording you need. It is incredibly confusing.
A lot of people these days seem to be having success with the Tablo recorder, an OTA antenna, and Roku boxes connected to all the distributed TVs. This is a simple cord cutting solution that seems to work well.
Do you have favorite set up? We invite you to share perspectives and ideas.
Whole house dvr (digital video recorder), central dvr, network dvr, and multiroom dvr are all variations on a central theme — letting you digitally record tv programs in one place and then play them back in any other room. Sometimes the configurations will let you stream live tv as well. This site helps people understand the technology and developments related to whole house dvr.
Whole House DVR from Your Cable, Sat or Telephone Company
Once easy way to set up multi-room DVR is to get it from your cable or telephone company. Depending on where you live, you can check out the listings below to see if it’s available. Whole house video used to involve a series of complicated dedicated distribution wires (typically coax), zones, and amplifiers. But today, it’s fairly simple to set up a wireless network that will effectively stream tv or movies whenever and wherever you want to watch them.
Is Whole House DVR the Same As Whole House Video?
Sometimes they are the same thing. If you have a home network set-up and are able to convert recorded tv or movies to common video formats, you can distribute these files to any video device in any room of your house, using your home network.
Dish Hopper vs DirecTV Genie Whole House DVR
Both the big satellite companies now have upped their game and have pretty good offerings for distributing recorded video throughout your home. The Dish Hopper (best in show 2013 Consumer Electronics Show) bundled with Sling technology, now lets you transfer your video media to remote digital devices like your iPad. DirectTV Genie service (Dec 2012 Engadget Genie whole-home DVR review)give you one box that serves your entire home and records up to 5 shows at once.
New Whole-Home Multi-Gigabit 802.11ac Wifi Standard in 2012
The networking industry is getting ready to roll out a new "faster" multi-gigabit standard for home wifi neworks that is backward compatible with existing network equipment. The technology evolution is clearly aimed at the need for moving video media on home networks. The new "fifth generation" wifi standard will be able to push data at speeds three to four times as fast as existing networks — roughly3.6 Gbps for 802.11ac vs 450Mbps for the old 802.11n standard. While most cable and satellite whole home dvr installations make use of coaxial cable, this will make it easier to push data to whole house dvr equipment, installed in multiple rooms thoughout the house, for independent providers of dvr technology.
Use Your Smartphone as a Universal Remote?
The days of complicated universal remotes are over. Depending on your particular whole house setup, you can now use your smartphone to start, stop and control videos to each of your room. There are now apps for the iPhone, Android, and the Blackberry that will communincate with your video equipment and network to stream your favorite tv shows and movies anywhere.
Multiroom DVR over Coax or Ethernet
When using coaxial cable to connect in-home DVRs, often MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) technology is used to provide the home networking ability for DVRs to talk and transport media. Most of the cable operators (Time Warner, Cox, etc.) and Verizon are using MoCA. AT&T is focusing on HomePNA technology that enables multi-room dvr services over both coax and phone lines.
Tivo Multi-Room Viewing is Limited Whole House DVR
TiVo recently demonstrated its mini TiVo set top box extenderr at CES 2013 in January. The Tivo Mini is designed to help TiVo compete with cable and satellite whole home DVR offerings by offering affordable spokes to a main Tivo hub. The TiVo Mini box should be available sometime in the spring of 2013.
Tivo’s whole home solutions are somewhat limited. They don’t yeat have a video distribution architecture other than letting expensive Tivos talk with one another. If you have Tivo brand DVRs, many of the models (Series2, Series2 DT, Series3HD, TiVo HD, or TiVo HD XL DVR) come equipped with the Multi-Room Viewing ability to connect them to you wireless or wired home network. This will allow you to start watching a TV program in the family room and finish it in the bedroom, but there is a little bit of work involved. You need to enable transfers on each of your Tivos, and this will allow you to pull the program from your original/source Tivo (family room) to the new destination/play Tivo. However, you’ll have to wait for the file to transfer (HD programs over wifi networks can take a while) and then decide if you want to start watching where you left off.
Dish Network Hopper Whole House DVR
Dish network has recently introduced (nationwide availability announced Feb 11, 2013) one of the most innovative whole home DVR platforms with its kangaroo-themed hopper set top box. The hopper creates the whole home network hub while additional rooms can be added with what are called "Joey" boxes.
If you live in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio or Indiana you can get great whole-house-dvr service from Wow!. The Wow! service lets you record once and then watch your recorded shows anywhere in your home. It also lets you record up to 6 shows at once, pause/rewind live tv and go online to scheudue your recordings.
RCN Deploys Tivo for Whole Home DVR Services
RCN Telecom Services in Washington DC has recently announced (November, 2011) that they are using Tivo’s Premiere Q DVR to provide whole house dvr services to its customer base. The Premiere Q has four tuners and lets users record up to four while watching a fifth. It also also stream shows to other rooms in the house using a home network.
AT&T Uverse Total Home DVR Services
If you’re located in a geography where AT&T provides phone service, you can subscribe to their Total Home DVR service. This will allow you to record your TV programs from a single DVR and play them back to any other Uverse-connected TV in the house. The video below gives you an idea of how AT&T’s whole home dvr system works.
Verizon FiOS Home Media DVR
Verizon FiOS (fiber-optic Services) connected customers also have options for whole house dvr. They provide Home Media DVR services which provide multi-room DVR services allowing you to start watching in one room, and finish in another room. Here is a brief Verizon video showing how the DVR works.
Whole House DVR with Windows Media Center
The Windows Media Center platform offers a good way to achieve whole house DVR. With a wired or wireless home network as the foundation, one PC can be used to record standard or HD programming (this can be in an office or located remotely away from your entertainment center), and then the TVs in each room can be connected via an XBox 360. Here is a video giving you a flavor of how Windows Media Center works.
You don’t want to have to put a PC next to every TV in your house. So, once you have your first media center pc set up, you can extend to other pcs using an X-Box 360 or the D-Link DSM-750, like in the following video.
Time Warner Whole House DVR
Time Warner is working with Cisco, rolling out its whole house dvr service to many regions. You can get more information on their website about the service that comes bundled with its highend SignatureHome service and separately. The two videos below explain how it works the new the Navigator feature.
This article on Stop the Cap! provides a very detailed written and video summary of the Time Warner Whole House DVR service.
Comcast calls their whole-home dvr offering AnyRoom DVR as part of their new rebranded Xfinity service. The service uses Motorola DCX client boxes connected to a main 500GB DCX3501-M hub.
Bright House Whole House DVR
Bright House Networks provides cable network services to Florida, California, Indiana and Michigan. The Bright House Networks whole house DVR provides record once, play in multiple rooms services.
Cox Whole Home DVR
Cox has what it calls "Plus Package" that includes whole-house DVR services now up and running in five geographies – these include San Diego, Orange Coast, Kansas and several New England markets. The service adds between $5 – $10 to your monthly bill. It is quite baffling to know how to get more information on it as their website is quite confusing.
Dish Network Wifi TV Everywhere
Part of Dish Network’s “TV Everywhere” rollout includes the ability to wirelessly send high definition TV signals over a wireless wifi network to other parts of the house from their set-top boxes. Here is a video (commercial unfortunately) showing the Dish Network Multiroom DVR.
RVU Alliance Coming Soon
The RVU Alliance (DirecTV, Cisco, Samsung, Broadcom) are working on a solution they hope to roll out in early 2010. The idea is to install an RVU server from your content provider (satellite or cable) and connect it to your home network. Then you would buy RVU-equipped TVs (Samsung has these). Each RVU-equipped TV would be able to access programming from the RVU server.
R.I.P. to the Set-Top Box? – New York Times – September 2, 2009, Eric Taub writes about the RVU Alliance’s plans to make set-top-boxes a thing-of-the-past by developing thin client technology allowing all RVU-equipped televisions, pcs, and media devices in the house to see a single menu of recorded tv programs.
Whole house DVR, or whole home DVR, is simply the ability to record the video once and play anywhere. The cable and satellite companies offer various platforms for setting up all whole home media household. There are also many creative ways to achieve this using a wireless home network and doing things yourself.
This website is designed to help people set up whole home media applications that best fit their needs.