There’s nothing quite like free TV with the help of an antenna. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could get that live TV stream on your computer, or tablet, or Xbox? With a simple piece of hardware, you can.
Tuner cards and external boxes aren’t exactly a new technology, but the technology and the ease of use has advanced light years. What used to be an enormous hassle is now a plug and play affair you can set up and enjoy in a matter of minutes.
So, armed with your antenna (or a cable subscription) and the HomeRun TV tuner from Silicon Dust, you can stream live local TV broadcasts on every device in your home. The beauty of the HomeRun system, as opposed to purchasing a tuner card for your PC, is that it is a totally standalone unit that runs 24/7 with no need to boot up your PC in order for other devices on the network to access the TV stream.
The HomeRun comes in three flavors: the HDHomeRun Connect (~$80), the HDHomeRun Extend (~$150), and the HDHomeRun Prime (~$130). The first two, the Connect and the Extend, are virtually identical over-the-air tuners, except the Extend offers better Wi-Fi technology (AC over just N for faster connectivity) and, more critically, advanced h.264 video compression (instead of just raw mpeg2 streaming). The Prime is a tuner designed for compatible digital cable services (so it offers the same whole-house streaming to any device, but with your cable provider as the source instead of local broadcast TV stations). For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be setting up the HDHomeRun Extend. If you want to compare features in more depth, check out the comparison chart and detailed specifications here.
Locating and Updating Your HDHomeRun
The setup process for the HomeRun is so easy, you’ll spend more time simply unpacking and placing the device in your home than you will configuring it. Don’t gloss over this step as where your device is located has a significant impact on the quality of your experience with it.
Let’s take a peek at the back of the HomeRun to familiarize ourselves with the very simple layout. On the rear of the device, you’ll find one coax jack (where you attach the coax cable coming from the antenna), one Ethernet jack (where you connect the device to your home network) with a network indicator light, and power jack for the power adapter, all seen below from left to right.
First and foremost, your device needs access to an antenna. If you have and old an unused aerial antenna attached your chimney or the like, now is the time to blow the proverbial dust of of it. Unbeknownst to most people, those big old antennas sittings on their roofs are fantastic for pulling down digital signals—the tuner hardware changed with the digital TV rollover but the basic antenna design didn’t. Because the HomeRun streams the TV signal over your home network, it isn’t important that your HomeRun be located where you’re watching the stream, but where it can get the best signal from the antenna.
If that means placing it in an upstairs home office so it has a higher…
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