- Created on 27 April 2010
Most of us dream of having TV screens in every room of the house, however the reality of hardwiring terrestrial, cable or satellite feeds to every room of the house is somewhat time consuming and invasive to the rest of the occupants of the house (lets face it the rest of the family is not really going to like the interruptions!). But what if you could just have a central media server with TV cards installed that could be accessed by other computers or clients on the home network? DVBLInk think they have the answer with the release of the latest version of their TVSource and Server Network Pack. The combination of these two softwares allows one PC with TV tuner cards installed to stream TV channels to any compatible device on your home network (including XBOX 360, PS3 ) limited only by the number of tv cards installed in the host computer.
Now I know this isn't going to wow your average user, but for anyone in to their htpc/media centre PCs with a family, this could just prove a godsend! We reviewed the software using a Terratec Cinergy S2 PCI HD card as our testing device (so we were only able to test streaming through one source). Installation and configuration of the DVBLink software required for this setup is fairly straight forward, but long, but a fully comprehensive pdf manual comes with the download package (for all versions) that illustrates and descibes each step of the installation and configuration process.
Setup requires installation of the DVBLink server software, followed by a reboot. After this installation of the DVBLink TVSource software is required, which then allows configuration of individual TV sources (the Terratec Cinergy S2 PCI HD card in our case). Importantly the software is only limited by the number of cards and therefore sources that you have available. The transponder for your service has to be selected, followed by a service scan that finds all of the channels for that service provider. Once the channels have been found for your sources, the DVBLink server has to be configured to provide the channels that you have just scanned. If multiple TV sources are used, the server can be configured to merge similar sources so as to make channel sharing more efficient for connected clients. EPG mapping must then be done to ensure you have guides for your available channels.
Once this is done, using the DVBLink source in Microsoft Media Center is a doddle requiring only a few clicks through the interface and time to synchronise the channels provided by the DVBLink virtual satellite tuner, after which channels can be viewed (and recorded) through Microsoft Media Center.
At this stage, the majority of the work is done, and if all you want to be able to do is to view channels from your tuners on one computer, then you are indeed finished. However should you want to be able to watch TV on various clients over the network, then you will need to install the DVBLink Server Network Pack, which allows other networked clients to have access to the DVBLink server on the host machine. This doesn't require much installing, simply requiring installation of the DVBLink Server Network Pack on the host machine with DVBLink Server installed, and then installation on any client computer with Media Center installed. This is what allows the clients to "share" the TV cards in the host. DVBLink Server manages the TV tuners on a "first come first serve" basis to avoid conflicts across the network.
We tried out both the standard TVsource pack as well as the Server Network Pack and although the installation was somewhat time consuming, the end result was more than satisfactory and we were able to view channels on a variety of networked clients. As a discrete way of sharing TV, without the hassle of hardwiring and the added bulk of freeview/freesat boxes and extra TV boxes throughout a house (Wifi signal dependent) DVBLink comes highly recommended and only costs (~£40 for both packages) at the time of writing.