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Mugsy323
Level 7

Scouting streaming players. Feedback needed.

I'm investigating various streaming media systems for my father, hoping to "cut the cord" with a single unit that can play both OTA local TV (via antenna) and "premium" content on "DirecTV-Now"... with DVR & "pause" capability, and a single TV "guide" to access both. After hours of searching, I feel like I'm asking for the moon. Smiley Sad

The closest I've come seems to be the "Roku 3". One key benefit of the R3 is the USB port to playback local media. That's a nice plus.

I'm wondering if the R3's USB port could also be used as DVR storage via a flash/thumb drive? That would be great. But so far, I'm only finding "pay services" & "hardware boxes" that supposedly add DVR support (like Tablo). Smiley Tongue

I took "DirecTV-Now" for a test drive only to discover you can't schedule a recording or even pause Premium channels like HBO with their service (I'm reading they are Beta testing new software that will be able to do this, but it's still slow & buggy.) On a PC, you must exit the web browser used to watch their programs and switch to your OTA TV app to watch local live TV. And of course, neither program's "Guide" shows programs for the other (anyone know of a programmable "TV Guide" website that can launch either player with a single click? I'd pay extra for that.)

Am I just asking for too much? Dad is currently paying $154/month :shock: for dish service (outrageous), yet he's willing to pay for that convenience (easy to use.)

TIA
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4 Replies
Basil
Level 10

Re: Scouting streaming players. Feedback needed.

"Mugsy323" wrote:
The closest I've come seems to be the "Roku 3". One key benefit of the R3 is the USB port to playback local media. That's a nice plus.

Roku 3 was discontinued a couple of years back. If you're looking for USB, go with the Ultra.

"Mugsy323" wrote:
I'm wondering if the R3's USB port could also be used as DVR storage via a flash/thumb drive? That would be great. But so far, I'm only finding "pay services" & "hardware boxes" that supposedly add DVR support (like Tablo). Smiley Tongue

You won't store streaming content locally. All "DVR" features on the major streaming devices -- Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Google TV, etc -- are actually cloud storage via the service. If you have your own MP4 files, you can use a USB drive to play them on Roku.

"Mugsy323" wrote:
I took "DirecTV-Now" for a test drive only to discover you can't schedule a recording or even pause Premium channels like HBO with their service (I'm reading they are Beta testing new software that will be able to do this, but it's still slow & buggy.)

That's how the services work. I've not used HBO Now (HBO's standalone service that's $15/month) so I can't say if that's an option rather than using HBO though DirecTV Now.

For other channels, you can often use your DirecTV Now credentials to watch via a standalone app. For some people, it's easier to find a channel on the Roku Main Menu than use the DirecTV Now interface to "change channels." You might want to try out that experience and see if it works for you.

"Mugsy323" wrote:
On a PC, you must exit the web browser used to watch their programs and switch to your OTA TV app to watch local live TV. And of course, neither program's "Guide" shows programs for the other (anyone know of a programmable "TV Guide" website that can launch either player with a single click? I'd pay extra for that.)

What? I'm unclear on why you're bringing a Web browser into the conversation. I must be missing something.

"Mugsy323" wrote:
Am I just asking for too much? Dad is currently paying $154/month :shock: for dish service (outrageous), yet he's willing to pay for that convenience (easy to use.)...

Some people are set in their ways. My mother is. She's paying $175 (thereabouts) to Comcast for cable, phone, and Internet. I'm paying $65 to Comcast for Internet and local channels, and using streaming services for the rest of the stuff. Of course, I really don't care about live TV (except during college football season) so my requirements might not be others' requirements.
Basil
https://www.basilsblog.com/
Roku Ultra (4660)
Apple TV (5th gen), TiVo

Previous:
Roku boxes from every generation.
Apple TV (2nd, 3rd, 4th gen)
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atc98092
Level 13

Re: Scouting streaming players. Feedback needed.

No, the USB port cannot be used for storage of any streamed media. Yes, pretty much the moon  Smiley Very Happy
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For OTA watching, many people use the HDHomeRun connected to their network and use an app to view it on a box. However, Roku isn't one of the boxes. In North America broadcast TV uses MPEG2 video, which no Roku player currently supports. I believe the least expensive media player that works with such a box is the Nvidia Shield. 
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If you leave out OTA watching, a Roku will fill many of your checkboxes. If your local media is in MPEG2 video, then they will need to be transcoded to use on a Roku. A DLNA server on your network is the best choice for streaming the media to a Roku, Shield, Smart TV, or many other options. 
Dan
Nvidia Shield, Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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Mugsy323
Level 7

Re: Scouting streaming players. Feedback needed.

"Basil" wrote:
"Mugsy323" wrote:
On a PC, you must exit the web browser used to watch their programs and switch to your OTA TV app to watch local live TV. And of course, neither program's "Guide" shows programs for the other (anyone know of a programmable "TV Guide" website that can launch either player with a single click? I'd pay extra for that.)

What? I'm unclear on why you're bringing a Web browser into the conversation. I must be missing something.

On a PC, you must visit the DTVNow website to view their streaming channels (Chrome or Edge.) I considered building some kind of HTPC to do everything.
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If I were building this for myself, I'd have no problem switching apps to watch programs (I basically do this now), but this needs to be as uncomplicated as possible for Dad.
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I discovered the "TitanTV.com" TV Listings website has "PVR" (Programmable Video Recorder) buttons built-in that will automatically launch a compatible OTA tuner or even schedule an OTA recording. And you can add "cable" channels to your personalized TV listings (but the PVR buttons won't do you any good with Streaming channels), which is the closest thing to an AIO solution I've found. But you need a mouse to navigate the guide/grid, and if your OTA tuner is open, you must manually close it before switching to online streaming so it isn't running in the background.
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I have some programming skill, so if I really tried, I "might" be able to write a program that launched the correct URL when you clicked "Play" on one of the Streaming listings (no way to DVR a streaming listing from a URL though), and if this were for myself, I might try. But for Dad... that kind of Rube Goldberg solution is a guaranteed "NO". Smiley Happy
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atc98092
Level 13

Re: Scouting streaming players. Feedback needed.

"Mugsy323" wrote:
... But you need a mouse to navigate the guide/grid, ...

There are actually remotes that are designed to be used with a PC that is running what is called the "10 foot interface". Most were originally created for Windows Media Center, but I also have one that came with the TV tuner card I installed in my HTPC. They are designed to be used for interfaces like Titan TV, although I have no experience using one with that. I have tried using it with Kodi long ago, so I know it works with that. But I still use the Roku rather than WMC since it's far simpler for my family to use. 
Dan
Nvidia Shield, Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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