Live TV and PVR/DVR Setup Guide

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Live TV and PVR Setup Guide:
  1. Introduction
  2. Setting up the recording software
  3. Configuring live TV settings in Kodi
  4. The basics of Live TV and recording
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Kodi features powerful Live TV and video recording (DVR/PVR) abilities using a very flexible distributed application structure. That is, by levering other existing third-party PVR backend applications or DVR devices that specialize in receiving television signals and and also support the same type of client–server model which Kodi uses, (following a frontend-backend design principle for separation of concerns), these PVR features in Kodi allows you to watch Live TV, listen to radio, view a EPG TV-Guide, schedule recordings and enables many other TV related features, all using Kodi as your primary interface once the initial pairing connection and configuration have been done.

As of 2013 with the introduction of version 12 (Frodo), and due to the somewhat complicated nature of initially setting up PVR for Kodi for the first time, this guide was created to help users from start to finish.

1 How does Live TV and PVR work in Kodi?

First of all, an important terminology clarification in regards to this article is needed, as when we refer to "Live TV" here we are only talking about traditional broadcast television systems using standard digital television or analog television. This means that the Live TV reception to your house comes foremost from terrestrial television signals using a cable, satellite, or over-the-air television using television physicial TV-tuner adapter or device hardware, (so with "Live TV" we do not mean streaming media content from the internet via online services or web sites such as Netflix and similar, no matter if that content is actually streamed live or not).

Logically, the Live TV and PVR functions in Kodi uses a distributed application structure that is designed after the client–server model concept which consists of two parts, these two parts are also refereed to as frontend and backend:

  1. The PVR backend (as the server side part), which communicates with a TV tuner adapter(s) to receive the Live TV signals and create a video or audio stream, and
  2. The PVR client (as an addon for Kodi) - an Kodi addon which controls the presentation of that content via the Kodi GUI that acts as unified frontend and common interface for all connected PVR backends.

This concept follows a separation of concerns design principle, with the "PVR backend" as such being a separate application/process that directly interfaces with your physicial TV-tuner adapter(s) or controller(s) that recieves the broadcast television signal into your house in your house and performs the actual task of tuning, streaming, and recording over-the-air and cable television signals and radio programming. PVR backends can either run on the same host/device running Kodi, or run on a stand-alone host/device on your local home network completely by itself (as a server) with Kodi only running when needed, as long as they have a network connection between them. Kodi as a frontend can support multiple PVR backends at the same time, and also some PVR backends may be able to serve several clients simultaneously. It may be that PVR backends support only Kodi clients as a frontend for it, but most PVR backends can both Kodi as well as other frontend applications/devices. In those cases where a single PVR backend it setup for the sole purpose of serving multiple frontend clients then that PVR backend is commonly refereed to as "PVR server".

When paired with one or more matched PVR backends, a configured PVR client addon enables Kodi to handle the GUI interface, or frontend, allowing the user to watch Live TV (with pause/time-shift, if supported by the PVR backend used), display a graphical EPG (Electronic Program Guide) of all available television programming, schedule recordings or listen to radio, giving the same sort of functionality as TiVo-style video recorder devices.

Next step: Setting up the backend software

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