December 28, 2012
This Christmas I received the AVerMedia HomeFree Plus as a gift from my wife. It has taken me some time to get it working due to a lack of information on the AVerMedia website and even in the products documentation. Let me first cover what I thought that this device would do. My assumptions were that I would run the coax cable from my current set top box to the AVerMedia HomeFree Plus, then plug that into my router and install their software on any of the computers or devices that I wanted and watch live television in full 1080p.
Now for reality to enter my world. What really ended up happening is that the AVerMedia device will not be able to get any channels when the coax is run through the current set top box. So I unpluged the set top box and ran the cable directly into the AVerMedia device where I was able to get some channels. Now the issue came in that Verizon Fios, my TV and Internet provider, scrambles that channels with the exception of about 10 basic cable channels and five of those 10 seemed to be ones used by Verizon to advertise the movies for On-Demand.
After some research I found that what would need to happen is that I would have to contact Verizon and have them send a cable card (AKA M-Card) that I would have to put in the AVerMedia device. Now this will not work because this device does not support that so that route is out and after reading the forums it seems that this is a huge hassle with Verizon anyway. It seems that their phone sales/support people are not really familar with these cards and in the computer system they are listed as cable cards or some such name. Even if you get them to order the card for you their system will do one of two things; it will auto-cancel your order or it will schedule a tech appointment where one of their techs will bring the card out to your house and install it for you. Now maybe this is just me, but I find that I know a lot more about cable and computers than the techs they want to send to my house. Every time I have had to have someone come out I end up telling them what the problem is when they show up and then they spend an hour or more to come to the same conclusion and then they want to install new software on my computer. That is where the tech visit ends as no one installs software on my computer, but me.
After a couple of days of trying to re-wire my entire entertainment system I found that the only way I could get my new AVerMedia device to work was to use component cables (Red, White and Yellow ends) from the set top box to the AVerMedia device, but then to change the channel I would have to change the channel on the main TV. So now at least I could watch any channel. That led me to realizing that we had an extra set top box from Verizon that was supposed to be in my son's room, but low grades ended that. So now I have the set top box and no cable to run to it. A trip to the electronics store and purchasing a $23.00 cable splitter, digging through some spare cables in a box and some re-wireing of all coax and my AVerMedia device was working, but no 1080p. /sigh
Not only is the video not in 1080p, but if who ever is watching TV just randomly hits a button to change the channel without pointing it towards the main set top box then they change my channel as my wife proved last night. To help this from happening I turned the second set top box to a 45 degree angle and I hope that this will fix that issue.
Over all I would have to give this device 3 of 5, but most of the deductions is the lack of information on their website about this product.
December 10, 2012
So this weekend I went ahead and bought the Apple TV device so that I could stream movies and music from my PC to my 47-inch flat screen television. I currently have a large 2TB HDD that holds my music and movies along with just about any other odd files that I do not want on my main C drive.
First impression is, wow is that thing small. It always amazes me with how small the newer hardware is getting. My second impression was that Apple could have made the font on the manual a bit larger. I wear glasses to see things far away and I keep the font on my computer pretty small for more real estate, but reading the troubleshooting was a pain. Next I have to say that setting things up to work with a Mac book pro was really simple since all I really had to do was make sure I had "Home Sharing" turned on. Home Sharing allows for all of your local computers to see each other and share the files (movies, music, books, etc) that you allow others to see.
The main issue I found was that my PC with iTunes 11 installed was not being seen by the Apple TV. I google'd the issue and everything people were saying was that it was a firewall issue. Internally there is no firewall on my network. My firewall only protects things going in and out of my network. So after many attempts and checking to make sure I was up to date on all of my software I fell back to my last resort on any software issues. Reboot. Tada! Now the Apple TV was able to see my PC iTunes and we were able to stream movies.
I have to say that I was pretty impressed at the quality of the video and sound with no lag across my wireless network. The picture quality was just as good as if I put the DVD into my PS3 and played it from there. The music was another matter though. The quality was great once it started, but I tried to play a song and five minutes later I walked away frustrated that the system was just sitting there with the spinning wait circle. Then after about five minutes or so the song started to play. Of course by then I had moved on to just playing the music on my PC with my 5.1 speakers. I thought maybe this was wireless so I plugged a Cat-5 cable into the Apple TV and restarted it. I then made sure it was using the hard wired connection and not wireless and tried the music again, same problem.
So besides the music delay in starting I have to say that I really like the Apple TV and its capabilities. I still might have to build a computer that is dedicated to holding all of the movies and music so that I do not have to worry about my main machine having to run iTunes all the time just in case someone in my family wants to watch a movie while I am not around. Of course since my main system is a beast of a system it has no issue doing this, but just the same I think I would rather things like movies and music be on more of a server type machine.