Last year, when we switched from Comcast to AT&T U-Verse, we already had a 4 tuner TiVO OTA and antenna in the bedroom, so we were fine there. For our office TV, I installed a TiVo mini I already had, and we were golden for TV and DVR.
Last week, the TiVo mini bit the dust, mid-program watching. Won’t boot, just a sad yellow ‘sorry boss’ led. I think it was $130 and it lasted four years, so I got my money’s worth.
Today, I setup an Ubuntu server running Plex Media Server software. I already had a free Plex account, so I was already able to run the Plex Media Server to stream my own media library. I can also run the free Plex Player client on my Mac. Their new DVR function, however, requires a Plex Pass, which costs money. You can buy one year for $40 or a lifetime pass for $120. Once purchased, the Plex Player client reveals additional functions, like setting up the DVR.
Plex gives away it’s two programs. The Plex Media Server is where you store your DVR recordings, so think of it as a DVR. You can have multiple DVRs, each controlling a different tuner, if you like. The second program is the Plex Media Player. They have clients for just about every device and OS, hard to find one they don’t cover, and you can just use the web interface. If you open up the port to the Internet, you can watch your video away from home too.
Oh, but where to get the TV signal and channel guide from? Last year, I bought an HDHomeRun two-tuner box from Amazon, for about $100, and an HDTV flat panel antenna for my office window for about $45. I decided I wasn’t a fan of the HDHomeRun Mac software and DVR, so I wasn’t using the HDHomeRun until now. The Plex automatically locates the HDHomeRun box, and let’s you setup the tv channel guide too. It presents the guide in a unique format that I’m not used to.
So, I’m giving it a shot. Have some recording setup, and it’s working fine. Video playback is smooth, not a whole lot of disk being used. Win!