Thanks for the detailed and informative response. Definitely some food for thought there.
The reason I was concerned about bandwidth was that prior to setting up MCE for myself, I've been using the LTSP (k12 Linux) to serve my FC13 installation to thin-clients (old, pxe-boot diskless laptops) at my various network points. By doing this I've been able to play music at least at various nodes in the house as well as any other normal computer tasks I need to do. It's pretty cool for a start but I've noticed the video is really slow. I assume the reasons are that
a) The clients have 10/100 (maybe even just 10 Mbs) LAN cards
b) I don't have a network switch yet and I'm making do with an old 10/100 hub
c) I suspect the clients are very thin
... in that I'm not 100% sure how LTSP does it's processing but I presume it is almost a case of the server running the application and only the graphics stuff being rendered by the client... sort of like remote X.... if so, my understanding of the Linux MCE Media Director is that it is a rather "thicker" client in that the media applications will run on the client as well as the graphic server, video and audio decoding etc with just the raw (usually compressed) data being passed from the server down the network.
Whatever the case, your response has made me confident that when I put the Gig switch in and ensure all internal devices have Gig cards... things should be good.
In terms of the two manners in which TV signal can be captured, that is most interesting. Certainly, as you say, the method of capturing the raw satellite signal and then decoding it in software is very appealing and elegant. And, as you point out, there is more potential there.... however, in my case I think I'll have to start with the alternative- capture the video output itself from the satellite decoder. The reasons are-
1) The provider is a pay provider with a "smart" card which would involve the card reader part that you refer to. Not impossible, as you say, but some extra effort and research required.
2) I'm based in South Africa and I don't think there are many here who have gone this route before me so support and assistance from the community regarding the particulars of our local Sat-tv provider are going to be rather scarce... not to mention the fact that I'm sure their programming schedule is not available electronically.
3) The local provider is not that fantastic ito options
so I don't often find there is a situation where I can find more than one channel at a time I want to watch!
4) My current decoder does already have some fairly neat PVR and dual-view functionality built in which means that I'm already serving an alternative stream to my tenant (in a flatlet on the property) and I'm able to schedule and record already via the PVR. If I implented soln 2 that would basically replace this fuctionality but.... I'd have to give my tenant access to my MCE installation. I think that can happen further down the line. Perhaps when my current (old) PVR packs up and I'm forced to upgrade... I could potentially just use MCE instead of a new decoder?? Exciting future ahead.
Many thanks againf or the comments and assistance.