JRiver Media Center Kickstarter for Copy Once Support

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gsr

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JRiver Media Center Kickstarter for Copy Once Support

Post by gsr » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:15 pm

The people behind JRiver Media Center are looking to add support for Copy Once CableCard content and have started a Kickstarter project to fund the project. Their TV DVR functionality has come a long way recently and now has recording rules that make it a reasonable option to replace Windows Media Center. That is, unless your cable company put the Copy Once flag on just about all recordings or you want to record premium content from channels such as HBO.

If you're interested in supporting the project, the Kickstarter project can be found here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tv ... media-cent

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Post by UCBearcat » Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:56 pm

I like the sound of this, however I'm a bit pessimistic that they'll hit their goal. I don't know if they're going to see the same success in pledges that SiliconDust saw with their KS campaign. I see several reasons for this.
The first obvious reason is that their only market for this is the US market. The SD project had a broader reach as their DVR appealed to all markets, with a potential to also bring Playready/copy once support. Cable operators in this country go out of their way to brainwash their customers into thinking that there is no alternative to the monthly cable box DVR fees. Every person that I tell about my WMC setup thinks that I'm doing something illegal - stealing from the cable company. On the contrary, it's the cable operators who are stealing from them! :)
Next - I think your average US cable consumers are a lethargic bunch - i.e. They don't want to "hassle" with setting up a media center and dealing w/ all the tweaks that go with it. They just want to plug in a box and go. If it breaks - call the cable company and get a new one. To each their own, I guess.
The last reason - A lot of people backed the Silicondust DVR project... and last time I visited their forums, it was overrun by a lot of angry "investors" at the lack of progress builds and communication. Apparently, the last word from SD was weeks ago, at which point they said they were 8 weeks behind schedule. Anyone who dropped money into that venture may not be so open with their wallet for another KS campaign.

I hope I'm wrong, because I know that I'll be looking at a true WMC replacement eventually.

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Post by sbaeder » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:02 am

it's really apples and oranges...Not sure why US vs. other parts of the world matters much - I thought only US cable did all the copy-once stuff - but would like to hear more if I'm mistaken. AFAIK, their "media center" already has schedules, and recording, etc. - all it needs is to add in the PlayReady stuff - a lot less work than trying to totally re-invent how recordings are scheduled, etc. I applaud SD for going outside the current "box", but it is certainly a lot more risky, and the whole record on a NAS, and playback other places is also something new for them...

Time will tell, and certainly the cost (as a one time product add-on) seems reasonable.

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Post by gsr » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:08 am

UCBearcat wrote:I like the sound of this, however I'm a bit pessimistic that they'll hit their goal. I don't know if they're going to see the same success in pledges that SiliconDust saw with their KS campaign. I see several reasons for this.
The first obvious reason is that their only market for this is the US market. The SD project had a broader reach as their DVR appealed to all markets, with a potential to also bring Playready/copy once support. Cable operators in this country go out of their way to brainwash their customers into thinking that there is no alternative to the monthly cable box DVR fees. Every person that I tell about my WMC setup thinks that I'm doing something illegal - stealing from the cable company. On the contrary, it's the cable operators who are stealing from them! :)
Next - I think your average US cable consumers are a lethargic bunch - i.e. They don't want to "hassle" with setting up a media center and dealing w/ all the tweaks that go with it. They just want to plug in a box and go. If it breaks - call the cable company and get a new one. To each their own, I guess.
The last reason - A lot of people backed the Silicondust DVR project... and last time I visited their forums, it was overrun by a lot of angry "investors" at the lack of progress builds and communication. Apparently, the last word from SD was weeks ago, at which point they said they were 8 weeks behind schedule. Anyone who dropped money into that venture may not be so open with their wallet for another KS campaign.

I hope I'm wrong, because I know that I'll be looking at a true WMC replacement eventually.
I'm also concerned they may not reach their goal. Another problem is that their pledge options don't include any big money options and the bulk of their pledges are bound to come from people who already own a JRiver Media Center license, which means the bulk of the pledges are probably going to end up being $20 and it's going to take a LOT of people pledging $20 to reach their $100,000 target.

They're also hoping to attract a bunch of existing WMC users who are looking for a replacement. Like you say, a number of those people already backed the SD Kickstarter.

Regarding your first point, that's definitely true because SD didn't have a DVR solution to begin with so their project covers the entire DVR solution and support for Copy Once. JRiver already has a fairly solid DVR solution where support for Copy Once content is the most glaring omission.

Even though I don't really need Copy Once support at this time (I have Verizon FIOS and don't subscribe to any channels, such as HBO, that have Copy Once programming), but I'm still supporting JRiver's project as I'd like to see it happen.

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Post by gsr » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:10 am

sbaeder wrote:it's really apples and oranges...Not sure why US vs. other parts of the world matters much - I thought only US cable did all the copy-once stuff - but would like to hear more if I'm mistaken. AFAIK, their "media center" already has schedules, and recording, etc. - all it needs is to add in the PlayReady stuff - a lot less work than trying to totally re-invent how recordings are scheduled, etc. I applaud SD for going outside the current "box", but it is certainly a lot more risky, and the whole record on a NAS, and playback other places is also something new for them...
I think @UCBearcat's point is that due to the smaller scope of JRiver's project, they have a much smaller pool of potential donators.

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Post by tzr916 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:18 am

I AM IN :clap:

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Post by UCBearcat » Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:36 am

gsr wrote:
sbaeder wrote:it's really apples and oranges...Not sure why US vs. other parts of the world matters much - I thought only US cable did all the copy-once stuff - but would like to hear more if I'm mistaken. AFAIK, their "media center" already has schedules, and recording, etc. - all it needs is to add in the PlayReady stuff - a lot less work than trying to totally re-invent how recordings are scheduled, etc. I applaud SD for going outside the current "box", but it is certainly a lot more risky, and the whole record on a NAS, and playback other places is also something new for them...
I think @UCBearcat's point is that due to the smaller scope of JRiver's project, they have a much smaller pool of potential donators.
This. Silicondust could count anyone using OTA or content that isn't copy protected. (basically the world minus the US cable market) It also helps that they dangled a few carrots for donors - namely Plex and Kodi.
If time permits, I might give JRiver a try as a side project over the extended Thanksgiving weekend. From the few screenshots and brief videos I've seen online, the interface looks pretty slick. Any of you guys/gals ever play around with JRiver before?

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Post by hvinc » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:16 am

I've been using JRiver for couple years. It just plays things. FLAC, MKV no codec packs required. I've got a few MKVs that won't play in WMC with Sharks codecs. But JRiver doesn't miss a beat playing them.

When I installed it, I gave it an OTA tuner to try out the DVR functions. But there are issues having on the same computer as WMC. It doesn't record in the background like WMC, the JRiver has to be open. And when the program is open, it steals the WMC IR signals. So after a couple days I gave up trying to use the DVR portion. JRiver wants you to disable WMC so it can launch with The Green Button. I didn't do that, I use Event Ghost to launch it.

It's also got a few Apps for remote listening and viewing, but I don't use them very much. And like the DVR, the program has to be open on your computer for the streaming to work.

If you really want to test everything in JRiver, it needs to be on a different machine from WMC. Or give up WMC during the test

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Post by UCBearcat » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:50 am

Hmm... so it sounds like it has some good and some not so good. The good being that it handles file formats with little to no issue. But, the 'application has to be open to do stuff' portion sounds not so good. I'm assuming that this means that it doesn't run as a service, so if the program crashes or closes for any reason while you're away - no scheduled recordings, etc. That would definitely kill the WAF.
I have a spare HDHRPrime, old laptop, and a spare 4-port switch I can use to test this out. This will allow me to play around a bit without interfering with my existing WMC setup and network.

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Post by bob_p » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:45 pm

For those of us who have been using WMC as a "whole home" DVR (for years) with CableCard tuners, based on a quick review of JRiver's website, my primary concerns are:
  • replacement for Xbox 360 WMC extender - providing not only media playback but full access to the WMC features, including managing recordings, with a "10 foot" remote control interface. Will I be able to use my existing Xbox 360s or have to buy replacements (inexpensive extenders or a low cost Windows PC)?
  • ease-of-use for installation, configuration, management and everyday use. While some of us may have patience to install, configure, maintain and use a more complex environment, I suspect there are more WMC users that will be more interested in a WMC replacement if it is pretty easy to run "out of the box"
I also agree with the above concerns about JRiver's ability to hit their Kickstarter funding goal. SD's numbers were inflated because they had quite a few people (like me) also purchase new hardware - which made the $$$ look bigger, but didn't actually provide SD as much funding.

With SD's schedule stretching out, ongoing concerns they are going to miss the target on major features (such as a program guide grid) and their reluctance to provide any information on what they are currently planning to deliver - there could be significant interest in JRiver's project - especially if they could provide assurances to current WMC users that when they are finished, they will really have a "whole home" DVR replacement for WMC.

I have a spreadsheet I created months ago listing the major functionality we are using in WMC - and plan to evaluate each of the potential replacements (SD DVR, TiVo, Comcast X1 and now JMC). If JRiver is willing to communicate more to their supports about plans and can provide an easy-to-understand comparison between JMC (with DRM) and WMC, they should be able to get quite a few new users from the WMC community.

I've already placed one bet with SiliconDust - and if I can verify JRiver intends to deliver a complete WMC replacement, I'll place a second bet on them.

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Post by gsr » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:14 pm

I've been using JRiver for a very long time - since version 12 in 2008, if my memory serves me reasonably well. Up until recently, it's TV functionality has been sorely lacking compared to WMC, so I've continued to use WMC as my DVR solution and JRiver for pretty all other video purposes and for all audio purposes. It also does a pretty nice job with libraries of images, but I haven't gotten around to setting up nice organized views for my vacation photos yet.

Some of the non-TV related highlights:

1) For DVD's, you can rip them to folder structures (VIDEO_TS folders) and play them just as if you were playing the DVD in a regular DVD player with full menus and functionality.
2) For Blu-rays, you can rip them to folder structures (BDMV folders) and play them, but without full menu support. You need to use something like AnyDVD-HD to remove protection. The nice thing about not having full menu support is that you don't have to suffer through forced intros before watching the movie and won't run into stupid things like the BD-Java implementation on a particular Blu-ray not allowing you to resume from where you left off. The downside is that navigation to extra features is somewhat cumbersome as you don't have the disc menus available. JRiver has implemented functionality that lets you set up virtual pointers to each title on the disc (they call these particles) which you can label according to what they are, but getting them all sorted out is a bit tedious without the menus as you have to figure out which is which. But once these are setup, they work quite well. In my case, I usually really only care about the movie and that's almost always automatic (JRiver picks the longest title on the disc as the default, which is the main movie 99.9% of the time).
3) JRiver supports just about any video format out there, so you can add pretty much anything in your collection and it will play well.
4) For music, JRiver is IMHO without peer. The capability and configurability is absolutely amazing and they've gone to great lengths to ensure that you can get the best sound quality possible.
5) Initial setup of JRiver can definitely be a daunting task. They've made it so configurable, that there is definitely a bit of a learning curve to get everything dialed in as you want, but I suspect that most people would be pretty happy with most of the default settings.
6) There are various ways to connect to the main JRiver PC as a client, including read only access to the library, more formal client access, the use of the JRemote iOS / Android app, and so on. JRiver can function as a DLNA server and when combined with JRemote can do things like push content to a DLNA renderer, such as the Oppo BDP-10x series players for playback. JRemote provides a GREAT user interface for browsing and playing your media, which can be played directly on the device JRemote is running on, used to simply remote control the JRiver "server", or push content to other renderers (such as an Oppo player). You can also set up multiple playback zones, link them so that the same content is playing on all linked zones, and so on.

For TV, the initial setup pretty much requires a mouse and keyboard and some configuration of series recordings will require leaving the 10 foot user interface. They have made somewhat significant strides in the last few major versions to move more of the TV functionality into their 10 foot user interface (they call this "Theater View"), but there's definitely still more work to be done there.

Up until recently, the recording rule functionality was sorely lacking compared to Windows Media Center. One of the specific examples I kept hammering them with was that it was virtually impossible to setup a series recording for NHL hockey games for a specific team. The recording rules would let you record all NHL games, but there had been no way to narrow the scope and it was difficult to avoid getting replays of previous games. They recently (within the last few weeks) made significant enhancements to the recording rule functionality that has solved this issue and should make it possible to setup recordings that will work for just about anything. I'm still experimenting with the new rules, but I think the functionality has now caught up with, and possibly surpassed, what can be done in WMC. But again, some of this has to be done with a mouse and keyboard.

The default guide data source is Rovi, the same as what WMC currently uses. If desired, it's possible to setup the guide to use pretty much any data source you want. Depending on exactly what you want to use, it can range from trivial to somewhat complex. Using the default option of Rovi is pretty much a matter of providing your zip code.

Regarding the need to have the main application running for TV recordings to happen, that's no longer true. You simply need to configure JRiver to enable their media server and recordings will continue to run in the background if you close the main app. However, I do agree that it's probably best to not have WMC and JRiver running on the same PC.

For extenders, your best bet would be to go with low cost PC's. I'm not sure what the absolute minimum is for everything to run well, but it's possible that some of those thumb drive PC's that plug into a HDMI port might be sufficient at this point. I would ask around on the JRiver forums for advice on what would work. It's too early to say if their DRM solution will work across any of the possible client options, so if that's a priority, you would probably want to hold off for now or ask on their forums and see if you can get any sort of commitment from the JRiver folks.

JRiver isn't perfect and there are definitely some things I'd like to see change, but they do listen to their customers and pretty much always deliver on their promises. I'm not aware of another option that would serve my needs better at this point.

By the way, I've had JRiver setup to access my WMC recordings for a while now and got the folks at JRiver to add support for reading the tags from .wmv files about 6 months ago, so they show up with all of the metadata in the JRiver user interface. JRiver's playback quality is definitely better than WMC and you can delete recordings either in WMC or JRiver and they both update automatically to reflect that the recording has been deleted.

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Post by blushrts » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:24 pm

UCBearcat wrote: The last reason - A lot of people backed the Silicondust DVR project... and last time I visited their forums, it was overrun by a lot of angry "investors" at the lack of progress builds and communication. Apparently, the last word from SD was weeks ago, at which point they said they were 8 weeks behind schedule. Anyone who dropped money into that venture may not be so open with their wallet for another KS campaign.
I got burned and won't again. Tivo got a new customer due to silicon dust's horrible (and that is being generous) communication. I wouldn't have a job if I communicated to customers this poorly.

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Post by JimH » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:43 pm

hvinc wrote:It doesn't record in the background like WMC, the JRiver has to be open.
...
And like the DVR, the program has to be open on your computer for the streaming to work.
In MC's Startup options, tell it to run Media Server on Windows start. That should solve both problems.

Thanks, gsr, for starting this thread.

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Post by LuckyDay » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:26 pm

I've heard the name JRiver but I've never heard of their Media Center product.

I'm interested.

For someone like me, who has no copy protection on any of my cable card sources, will this work as is? Or is this kickstarter to add all Cablecard funcationality?

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Post by gsr » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:35 pm

LuckyDay wrote:I've heard the name JRiver but I've never heard of their Media Center product.
Media Center is their only product, so a lot of people just call it JRiver.
LuckyDay wrote:For someone like me, who has no copy protection on any of my cable card sources, will this work as is? Or is this kickstarter to add all Cablecard funcationality?
If the channels you care about watching and recording don't have content flagged as Copy Once, JRiver Media Center will work as-is. The Kickstarter project adds support for Copy Once content, which is typically used for premium channels like HBO. Some cable companies mark nearly all programming with the Copy Once flag.

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Post by Shark007 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:47 pm

hvinc wrote:I've got a few MKVs that won't play in WMC with Sharks codecs. But JRiver doesn't miss a beat playing them.
I challenge you to prove this statement.
Retain your sanity, use Shark007 Codecs

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Post by bob_p » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:04 pm

To be considered as a viable WMC replacement, JRiver will likely need DRM support (for US CableCard users), full functionality from a remote control-accessible 10 foot user interface, and a fully functional extender - and all of this must be as easy to install as WMC and the Xbox 360 extenders.

From gsr's review, it appears JMC falls short in multiple areas - which would limit how many current WMC users would be willing to invest in their Kickstarter campaign.

Hopefully someone from JRiver is monitoring these forums - and will see there is a need to provide an easy path for WMC users to shift over to JMC - and if there are areas today where they fall short of what WMC users would expect, they should clearly state in their Kickstarter campaign their commitment to add those pieces along with the addition of DRM support.

While there is frustration with SD about the delays in their testing and release schedule, the bigger complaint is their lack of communications - other than a list of a few platforms they plan to support, SD hasn't provided enough information to their Kickstarter supporters to determine what it is SD actually plans to deliver - and if it meet our expectations of a "whole home DVR" replacement for WMC. And the longer this uncertainty goes, it's likely the anxiety over the project will continue to increase.

If JRiver demonstrates they are willing to clearly communicate what they have and what they plan to deliver, there is certainly an opening right now for them to get support for their project. But until they can clearly state they plan to provide an easy-to-use JMC, with functionality comparable (hopefully better) than WMC (including WMC extenders), they may have difficulty generating enough interest to meet their funding goal.

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Post by JimH » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:41 pm

bob_p wrote:To be considered as a viable WMC replacement, JRiver will likely need DRM support (for US CableCard users), full functionality from a remote control-accessible 10 foot user interface, and a fully functional extender - and all of this must be as easy to install as WMC and the Xbox 360 extenders.
I'm speaking for JRiver here. Thanks for your interest.

MC (JRiver) has a well developed 10 foot interface called Theater View. Our wiki has a topic on it here:
http://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/Theater_View

MC supports the Media Center remote that works with WMC. The wiki has a topic called Remotes and links to JRiver remotes for iOS and Android. MC itself can also act as a remote.
Hopefully someone from JRiver is monitoring these forums - and will see there is a need to provide an easy path for WMC users to shift over to JMC - and if there are areas today where they fall short of what WMC users would expect, they should clearly state in their Kickstarter campaign their commitment to add those pieces along with the addition of DRM support.
MC is, in most every way, a direct competitor of WMC. The biggest difference is the ability to record and play Copy Once content from U.S. cable companies. That's what the Kickstarter campaign addresses.

Whether we will be able to directly support Extenders is an open question. It's a goal, but I would rather under-promise and over-deliver.

MC currently supports playback to Xbox, PS4, and UPnP/DLNA devices. It can play to another copy of MC. The Extenders use DRM that is still unknown. We have to add Copy Once (PlayReady) support first. It's possible that Extenders will then just work, but it's more likely that we'll need to do additional work.

We know that it's important. This campaign is about Copy Once support.
While there is frustration with SD about the delays in their testing and release schedule, the bigger complaint is their lack of communications - other than a list of a few platforms they plan to support, SD hasn't provided enough information to their Kickstarter supporters to determine what it is SD actually plans to deliver - and if it meet our expectations of a "whole home DVR" replacement for WMC. And the longer this uncertainty goes, it's likely the anxiety over the project will continue to increase.
I fully expect SiliconDust to succeed. They are extremely capable.

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Post by STC » Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:29 pm

JimH, hi and thanks for coming on board.

What source and how does MC work with North American guide data?
By the Community, for the Community. 100% Commercial Free.

Want decent guide data back? Check out EPG123

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Post by JimH » Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:39 pm

Thanks.

The wiki has a topic on our EPG:
http://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/EPG

You could also read about it on our forum. This is the board for Television:
http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?board=11.0

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