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I am considering setting up a home network PC based server that possibly could be used as the recording device and then fed to my Smart TV thru an Ethernet connection.
If your smart TV or some other connected media device, such as a Blu Ray player, has a USB port, you may be able to watch the downloaded items via USB flash drive or external HDD/SSD as well. This is what I do. I've got all of my PlayOn Cloud files written to a 1TB external SSD. Though I dind't know it until I tried, my smart TV has a built in file playing app which plays the .mp4 format of the PlayOn Cloud files, as does my Blu Ray player.
I also write the files to DVDs and/or Blu Rays for more permanent storage.
Sadly, yes, even with good speed, congestion on the beam (loads of people all using the service) especially during prime time, will choke streaming.
Is there anything I can do to improve this?
Unfortunately, with your overall speed being adequate, it's not likely that there's much that can be done, as the primary cause is almost assuredly the combination of the high latency and system congestion, the former of which is inherent to geostationary satellite internet, and the latter of which is due to high system usage.
Though there is no guarantee that this will help, one thing more you can try is either rebooting or power cycling your HughesNet modem.
--- To reboot the modem, go to this modem page and click Reboot near the top. If you're connected via WiFi you'll likely temporarily lose your connection while the modem is rebooting. After the reboot, it would be best to wait a few minutes to try your activity again. This gives the modem time to be fully back up and ready.
--- To power cycle the modem, which is like a reboot, but a bit more extensive, unplug the HughesNet modem from the power outlet, wait for at least 30 seconds, then plug it back in. After waiting for at least five minutes, try your activity again. When power cycling the modem, it may also be best to first turn off your connected devices, then turn them back on after the five minute wait period.
What the above can do is set your connection a different "channel", at least temporarily, and this new "channel" can sometimes be cleaner, so to speak. If it is, you may experience less buffering. As alluded to, though, the effect may only be temporary, as the channel you're assigned to at the time can fill back up with more people and/or dynamically change. For reference, the "channel" I'm referring to is the last four digits of your "IPGW Gateway Association State" string, seen here.
Again, there's no guarantee with this, but it may be worth a try.
Just to be clear: Congestion causes latency in addition to the inherent kind (~5-600mS due to the round trip distance the signal takes on satellite) as the system plays 'catch-up' to service the demand. There is also some long-delay weirdness in the order of 1-minute gaps taking place on the internet backbone that it outside of HughesNet's control, which doesn't help the matter.
The streaming protocol requires a lot of handshaking with the streaming server. Under severe latency conditions, it often gets delayed past what the server expects and times out. The default result is to force a 'buffering' display until it finally re-syncs.
Bottom line: When you see buffering, 9 times out of 10 it's latency and nothing to do with speed.
Unfortunately where I’m located, satellite is my only option for now so I will have to learn to tolerate it.
Yup, it's the best we can do with what's available.
Thank you for understanding.
Some of us use PlayOn Cloud, an app available for Android and iOS. It lets you download stuff from several providers (Hulu, Prime, Netflix, and more). Each download costs 25 cents. The app works like a virtual DVR -- it records from the cloud (using no data), and then you download the recordings (this uses data) as MP4 files. You can keep the files forever. There is zero buffering because you're watching a recording.
Some of us here have also set up Plex Media Servers for movies, TV shows and music.
I don't use PlayOn, but I have built a pretty good library from ripped CDs, SA-CDs (I'm a sucker for 5.1/Quad), DVDs and Blu-Rays that I down-convert to flac, dts wav, 480p, and 720p (respectively) to save disk space. The TV has a pretty good connection using the 5GHz Wifi and the server's wired by ethernet cable, so am able to just use the house LAN.
If PlayOn just gives you a standard mkv or mp4 file, I'm sure Plex would have no problem serving it.
"I’ve seen that discussed here and started to look into so options for using the PC based software version."
Be aware that, unless things have changed, the PC client uses data both to record and to download. At least it used to be this way, which is why I switched to the cloud version, which only uses data to download. I also had other problems with the PC app; it kept disconnecting and it was a royal pain. I have had no problems with the cloud app.