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Tuner Testing




My HD HomeRun Dual tuners arrived today. I'm a mear 4 miles from the cluster of broadcast towers in Houston, so I picked up an indoor antenna and currently have it set up on my dining room table while I figure out how everything's going to work together:



The tuners are a lot smaller than I expected them to be, they're the 2 small black boxes on the left. The box on the right is a network switch (can of soda is for size reference):



My Mac mini hasn't arrived yet, so I initially used the free iOS app InstaTV Lite to test them out with my iPad. It can access the tuners without requiring a computer to act as an intermediary. Upon launch, it detected one of the tuners:



I proceeded with the scan and it identified 83 channels!



A single over the air channel can be subdivided, the main channel is referred to as .1 and is typically sent in HD while .2 and later are SD. Cable and Satellite services tend to only carry the .1 channel, so I'm not familiar with what's on the .2+ channels yet. I did find this list from last year that details 77 of them - quite the variety.


I tried out a few channels with the app, and they came through nice and clear. There's an online database that the app can reference to display the channel names and logos, but not all channels are listed in the database. I wonder if end-users can supply that info :ponder:



The picture isn't that big though as the Lite version of the software is limited to 256x144:



So I went ahead and purchased the InstaTV Pro version for $9.99 so I could select a higher resolution:



The picture looks quite good:



The app also runs on the iPhone. When the interface is shown the screen is locked to portrait mode:



hitting the double-arrow symbol switches the video Full Screen, which hides the interface and allows you to rotate the phone to landscape mode:



The app has a listing of the tuners that also displays their status - in this case both are in use, one streaming to the iPad and the other to the iPhone:



The app does support a TV Guide, but it requires you to have a Windows 7/8 PC running Media Center - and that ain't happening.



Addendum: Turns out there's an app for that - TV Guide Mobile

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Just so info about channels & subchannels. First, each channel has a physical channel number (frequency) and a virtual channel number (the number you select). This is because as part of the analog to digital change stations were assigned different frequencies (physical channel), but stations wanted to keep using the same channel number. (i.e. KPRC 2 while it's actually on channel 51) This is why you have to scan for channels when you first receive your TV or HomeRun - so the tuner can visit each physical channel and pull the virtual channel out of the datastream. This can be a major challenge if you have a rotor.


Subchannels are basically independent audio & video streams embedded in the MPEG-2 transport stream encoded in the 19.39Mbps ATSC channel. Each program appears as a subchannel of the virtual channel and may be HD, SD or audio only. Although .1 is typically an HD channel this is not required.

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I remember reading about the subchannels and physical/virtual channel numbers when I first got into HD 11+ years ago, but since I never had a tuner until now I'd forgotten about them as the providers I've had (Time Warner/Comcast at first, then later DirecTV) have only carried the .1 channels.


I didn't realize audio-only was possible, though I knew HD wasn't a requirement as when the conversion started Fox was doing "Enhanced Definition", widescreen at 480p, which looked quite poorly on my 65" set vs the other channels that were sending 720 and 1080.


Looks like Fox was trying to force adoption of the broadcast flag, which has thankfully been finally shot down else this project wouldn't be possible.


Do you have any knowledge of the encrypted channels? As seen in the 4th image the scan picked up 8 of them, but I haven't had time to look into what that's all about.

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I hadn't heard of AirBox before, though that makes sense as they seem to be targeting hispanic viewers as they only offer The Latino Pack with optional Starz.

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