DVR options for someone in assisted living

I am helping someone who has just moved into assisted living facility. He is used to using Xfinity DVR on his home cable service. At the assisted living facility TV channels are provided via a coax connection in his suite. Apparently they distribute TV to each room from a central cable decoder. I don’t believe there is any antenna fed local stations, local stations are via cable.

What options if any are there to provide DVR capabilities? Tivo for Cable requires a cable card. Tablo may not record any stations if they are not antenna fed.

He still has Xfinity at his home away from the assisted living facility.

What are his options?

Many years ago with comcast I used a HDHomerun and mythtv to record cable TV. That was before comcast encrypted everything. So if their internal cable is not encrypted then the HDhomerun hardware and DVR software from Silicon Dust may be an option. It their internal cable TV is encrypted then you will need a cable card. Can they plug a TV into their cable and get channels without a decoder box of some sort?

Without knowing the picky details about what the facility is doing in their distribution equipment, it’s pretty hard to suggest anything. Your best bet is probably going to be to talk with the people at the facility to see if they provide any DVR services, or if they have any recommendations.

Depending on location of the facility and of the room within the facility, you may be able to use an indoor antenna to feed a Tablo… although that would only give broadcast stations. And, of course, to watch on a TV – as opposed to a phone or a tablet – would require a streaming box unless you go direct to HDMI with the soon-to-be-released Tablo Dual HDMI.

A somewhat wacky approach: set up an antenna and Tablo somewhere else, with a broadband internet connection capable of decent upload speeds. Then use Remote Access to watch shows from the Tablo. I don’t know if any of the streaming-box Tablo apps can use Remote Access, so you might need to use a phone or tablet and “cast” the playback to the streaming box on the TV. Yeah, Rube Goldberg would probably approve.

It use to be that the TV’s signal type was either cable or antenna but not both at the same time.

Unless the facility has a secret antenna used for OTA you would have to depend on being lucky enough to have a room situated for perfect antenna reception. And that is rare in assisted living. They tend have have room alignment design to prevent escape(walkers or roamers) and not OTA reception.

Or if OTA reception sucks and they have internet with speed and no data caps you might find a OTT package with locals and cloud recording. Otherwise it’s probably any number of products with remote connect - if the remote connect is to a local device.

Yes there is no decoder between the TV and the coax outlet, you simply scan for channels and use the TV’s standard remote to change channel.

Will HDhomerun record anything it is able to detect? Their recording devices seem to be ethernet only

If a standard ATSC TV can scan and receive a signal without a cable box then it is probably not encrypted cable. The HDhomerun channel lineup has a setting for Antenna or Cable so presumably it will work with unencrypted cable. But weather or not the HDHomerun will work for you or not you should take that up with Silicon Dust technical folk. And as was suggested earlier talk to the people that run the building Cable service.

I have never used the Silkicon dust DVR service software to myself. I did consider it a long time ago but settled on TabloTV. I have a HDhomerun left over from the old Mythtv days and use it occasionally to stream live TV to a PC or an Android device (they have an app) so the TabloTV tuners are always free to record.

The technical contact at the home isn’t that knowledgeable. It was clear from our questions this is one of the first times someone has asked about recording programs. I spoke with comcast directly that provides service and they had nothing to offer. It’s clear we are own our own coming up with a solution.

I hate experimenting with someone else’s money and want to select something that has a fighting chance of working.

I’ll contact silicon dust to see what they can offer. Thanks for your advice.

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Silicondust HDHomerun and TiVo have the ability to tune US OTA broadcasts, US cable (unencrypted, IRC & HRC), and US Cable Card (only if the cable company will support it - many do not now). TiVo also supports this. The Tablo tuners are only OTA.

My suggestion would be to go with the TiVo unit, as it is the “closest” to the Cable experience, and works well without any technical knowledge - even the remote style is close to the cable company - unfortunately it is the highest cost.

The first thing I would look into is to see if the facility utilizes cable card (which would require a “set top box” for every TV) or has standard unencrypted cable (you plug in the cable to the TV, and it picks up channels 2-158 (it may be limited to fewer channels - that is the range I have on my HDHomerun Tuner and I believe it was the same on the TiVo).

NOTE - and important - if the facility has a custom install, the guide data on both TiVo and HDHomerun devices may not match what is available…