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Best PC DVR Software, For Any Platform?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the open-minded-open-ended dept.

Media 536

jshamacher writes "I've used MythTV for several years (first on Slackware, now via Mythbuntu) and it's good. But not great — I have a list of annoyances as long as my arm. For example, even 0.22 still has problems playing many DVDs and I frequently have to fall back on Xine. Since upgrading to new hardware, I've had issues with sound dropping out; these problems only occur for Myth, not for anything else. So now I'm trying out alternatives. Freevo seemed promising when I tried it a few months ago but it had its own issues. I'm also increasingly getting pressure from my family to get things like NetFlix streaming working on this machine. This seems to imply migrating to a Windows-based solution. I threw XP on it and tried MediaPortal but could never get that to control my Motorola cable box via the IR blaster. So my questions to you: What DVR software do you use? Are you happy with it? What don't you like? Are there any packages out there that 'just work' as media hubs and for time-shifting cable TV?"

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536 comments

Snapstream? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30303780)

When I was looking at making a media center box a while back I was looking at Snapstream which is Windows based software that seemed to support a lot of the Happague DVR cards and remotes. Since then I decided I didn't need the actual DVR function as much as just a box to stream SD videos from my PC to my TV so I took my old XBox and softmodded it to XBMC.

Linux MCE (5, Informative)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303784)

Only just started fiddling with it, but it looks incredible. Always find it odd it doesn't get more mention when these topics arise.

Re:Linux MCE (3, Interesting)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303972)

Linux MCE is an integrated bundle of software.
The PVR part is MythTV, so may be be what the OP is looking for

I personally love Myth, and wouldn't change it for anything
but saying that, I use it as a media front-end only (no broadcast TV)

Re:Linux MCE (4, Interesting)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304112)

This doesn't solve the Netflix issue. Netflix is in bed with Microsoft and delivers using Silverlight 2.

It doesn't make any kind of sense that a business would deploy any solution using Silverlight, but whatever. I've whined about this before and obviously Netflix doesn't care.

Re:Linux MCE (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304306)

Why? Silverlight is much faster than Flash, and it crashes far less. I have used Netflix streaming with Silverlight, and I must say that I strongly prefer it to Flash.

Flash is somewhat multiplatform. For Silverlight 2.0 on other platforms, there is always Moonlight [mono-project.com]. I have never used it, but I have no need to use it either.

Re:Linux MCE (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304486)

As Microsoft refuses to release the DRM package Moonlight will never work. Also the Mac version is now falling behind.

Microsoft will never create a multi-platform solution, all their software exists first and foremost to push windows.

Re:Linux MCE (1)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304318)

In general I agree with you but Netflix does support non-windows machines as evidenced by their Roku support and I seriously doubt they're running Silverlight.

Re:Linux MCE (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304544)

Roku has closed source player software, and drm is handled by dedicated hardware.

If any other DVD by mail people supported linux for streaming I would switch now. I have told netflix, but they do not care.

Re:Linux MCE (4, Insightful)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304580)

Netflix also works on the PS3 system by Sony. My brother rents Netflix and they let him see movies on his PS3 via an App he downloaded for it.

Novell Moonlight does work as a Silverlight plug-in for non-Windows operating systems like Linux, etc. Some people want to boycott Novell because they licensed Microsoft technology but when you need C# and Visual BASIC.Net for Linux, *BSD Unix, and Mac OSX they got you covered with Mono, and Moonlight for Silverlight support. I compare Silverlight to Shockwave Flash, just another virtual machine system and they both kind of do the same things.

Re:Linux MCE (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304704)

Moonlight does not support DRM, MS refuses to let them and both it and the mac version are falling behind.

Silverlight is a fucking trap!

Consoles (1)

tciny (783938) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304530)

Why isn't anyone mentioning the consoles? Both the 360 and PS3 offer Netflix streaming... The PS3 is a rather capable media player overall... DVD/BluRay, MPEG via DLNA, Netflix, PSN video store, recognises external USB storage so you can play your movies off it etc.

Re:Linux MCE (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304692)

you also can use PlayON to stream down Netflix to PS3 and Xbox360... extremely useful if your 360 got banned.

VCR (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30303792)

Just make sure you get the clock set first

First post! Torrents my friend (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30303798)

Whilst maybe not your preferred solution, what better way to "time shift" and "space shift" TV than via Torrents?

SageTV on XP (4, Informative)

FormulaTroll (983794) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303800)

I use Sage TV (http://www.sage.tv/ [www.sage.tv]) on XP (If you're going to end up going that route anyways). It's been pretty reliable and I like the interface. I've also considered moving to Windows 7. I hear the media center functionality built in is pretty robust.

Re:SageTV on XP (3, Informative)

jvbunte (177128) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304694)

I used to swear by SageTV up and down. I was a very early adopter of this software and was promised "Free Upgrades" when I originally purchased it. Apparently "Free Upgrades" only applied until version 5.0+ was released, then it started costing money for every major revision.

It's still good software, however I have a problem with advertising "Free Upgrades" and then skipping out on that claim. I stopped using them on that alone. (Don't lecture me on how they need to get paid for their work, I get that. Don't advertise "free upgrades" if you aren't going to follow up with that claim.)

I have since moved to XBMC http://xbmc.org/ [xbmc.org] running on an ASRock ION 330 plugged straight into my home theater receiver and it plays 1080p pretty well, 720p flawlessly. The only drawback of XBMC is that it doesn't record (it was never meant to). Its playback capabilities are unmatched in my opinion (mplayer backend, if mplayer can play it, so can xbmc). It's crazy easy to install and use. I use the genuine Microsoft MCE usb remote control which is supported out of the box with no special LIRC knowledge.

I use MythTV with a Hauppage HD-PVR back end for video recording, and although I believe there is a MythTV FrontEnd addon for XBMC, I simply share my recordings directory via CIFS and let XBMC mount the share directly for playback. I like the seperate MythTV backend because I have two XBMC/ASRock installations and both can then read from the same source for playback in either room.

XBMC: Free (Please Donate, its really that awesome)
MythTV: Free (Please Donate, its really that awesome)
ASRock ION 330: About $350 on newegg
Hauppage HD-PVR: About $200 on newegg

EyeTV (3, Informative)

drrck (959788) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303832)

If you have a Mac, Elgato's EyeTV product keeps getting better and better with each release. There are open source add-ons for commercial skipping, exports to iTunes/iPod, ect and the interface is pretty user friendly. It won't do Netflix by itself, but if you're hooking up a media PC then you've already got access to Netflix.

Re:EyeTV (1)

bluedream (676879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304094)

I agree that EyeTV is the best DVR product for people running Mac OS X. It supports controlling a cable box with IR commands, publishing files to other servers, handles a couple HD tuners with no problem (2.0 Ghz or great processor dual core processor recommended) and sweet interface with remote recording support via TitanTV (in the US).

Re:EyeTV (4, Informative)

sl3xd (111641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304122)

I'll also throw in with EyeTV. But, the thing to remember with EyeTV is that everything centers around TV:
* TV Broadcasts
* Output(s) from TV tuners (Sattelite/Cable) - and you would want an IR blaster for channel changing

EyeTV does not play DVD's, or any other media other than that which is recorded by EyeTV.

But what EyeTV does, it does well:
* TV Guide Integration is pretty good, with a number of providers, depending on your locale
* Scheduling (and auto-scheduling of series)
* Editing of TV episodes - it's good enough for cropping out commercials if you want to keep the show.
* Good hardware support
* Easy to use
* Auto (or manual) Exports to a variety of formats. (Whatever QuickTime supports - which is pretty much anything if you have the right plugin)
* Easy (and automated, if desired) exporting to iTunes (for iPod or Apple TV's)
* Can stream to an iPod Touch or iPhone
* iPhone/iPod Touch interface application.
* Integrates with ElGato's "Turbo.264" hardware, which is a USB H.264 encoding accelerator. Not the best compression quality, but it's generally faster than a dual-core Intel box.
* If you have EyeTV on other macs in your network, it can use Bonjour to stream the TV shows to the other machines.

So while it has a number of features that are quite Apple-centric (ie. good iPod/Apple TV integration), iPod Touch/iPhone application, etc... it still lets you export to pretty much whatever format you want easily. Or, if you don't want to do it that way, you can look inside the "eyetv" recording, and you'll find the raw MPEG stream, and you can use whatever software you want to export it.

MacMini and Re:EyeTV (1, Informative)

rovitotv (65942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304604)

I have a Mac Mini setup with FrontRow, iTunes, and EyeTV hooked to a 37" flat panel. It all works really well with the $19.99 Apple Remote Control and Sofa Control software. This setup passes the Wife test and even my 4 year old can use it. Playing DVD's is super easy with FrontRow. The computer looks attractive because of it's small size and sleek design. The Mac Mini setup will save you time with setup and family support issues.

Windows Media Center (4, Informative)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303834)

Windows Media Center, specifically Vista media center, has worked out well for me. I got a cheap ($250), refurbed gateway that came with a dual tuner card and Vista home premium. The listings are occasionally flakey, and the scheduled recordings won't automatically adjust if shows are pre-empted by football games running long. I control everything through the xbox360 using a $10 remote I bought on ebay. Very user friendly and cheaper than heck.

Re:Windows Media Center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304360)

The problem with any corporate driven media centre is that media companies often to make up rules such as broadcasting some 'do not copy this stream' bit/flag which corporate developed media centre software will acknowledge and obey the 'rules'.

For example, a friend of mine is a Windows fan boy and setup Win MCE and set it to record some shows only to find that only the commercials were recording, not the actual TV show itself. Turns out the TV broadcast was sending that same 'do not copy' flag when the show was on, but had no problem with the adverts being copied and replayed.

So if you want freedom to copy and view shows later, or automatically skip through ads, or anything that might reduce a broadcaster's bottom line then you have to use a media centre that is not controlled by a corporation. /rant

Re:Windows Media Center (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304466)

We did the same thing (refurbished Gateway w/ Vista Home Premium), a number of years ago (not long after Vista was released). We couldn't use the machine for a desktop because Vista was so non-functional (our first, last and only encounter with it), but we had a tuner card unused from a long-dead machine and put it in the Vista box and have been using it as our "TV" ever since. Amazingly, it actually functions as a TV. Netflix streaming works from within Windows Media Center without problem, every DVD we have tried has played without problem, and when we replaced the tuner with a 2xtuner card, we can watch one channel, record another, etc, the usual things you expect from a DVR. So "it just works" applies to us. The box came with Gateway's version of the WMC remote control and it works adequately (we also had a second one lying around from a dead machine, so we have two in the room that work for the "TV"). That said, WMC is far from perfect. The "Guide" doesn't support over-air TV sub-channels (i.e. 2.2) so getting TV listing for the subchannels requires looking at zap2it or the newspaper (not a big deal for us). The user interface for DVDs is annoying in one major way: fast-forward and fast-rewind. It does it, but when you push "play" again after fast-forwarding, it starts replay from a disconcertingly-distant point. The place in the movie displayed when you pushed "play" on the remote is not where it starts playing. And I'm not talking about a second or two... more like 10 or more. Very annoying. The Netflix interface is somewhat better, fast-forward goes at a dizzing rate, and when you push pause, you get a nice string of thumbnails, one every ten seconds, that you can scroll through to pick a new resume point. Buffering works like it should, and amazingly, we haven't encountered even one instance of playback stopping due to buffer under-run (we have 10Mbps downlink fiber connection, so it *shouldn't* have to, but still surprised microsoft managed to do it especially under Vista). With both DVDs and Netflix (and recorded-TV) playback, the fast-forward and fast-rewind speeds are limited and generally not exactly what you want (as opposed to a better DVD playback that offers tiered/stepped FF/REW speeds... push it one more time, it goes faster... unfortunately WMC does not seem to have this function). The DVR functionality is fine as far as we are concerned. It does integrate with the guide and you can have it record all instances of a program series (unless it is on a broadcast sub-channel). The interface for recorded TV is incredibly awful, though. If you want to delete recorded programs, **you have to do them one at a time**. Really. And it's not one-click or one-remote-button delete, it is "click to display the item, navigate to the "delete" menu option, click/remote-button, then confirm you want to do it, then go back to main recorded-TV menu, and find the next *ONE* item you want to delete. If you have very many, you might as well just find the media folder on your hard drive and do it via windows explorer.

But since you mentioned family and "it just works", and as much as I hate to say microsoft is useful for anything, WMC under vista satisfies the "it just works" requirement (lamely in some respects, but works nonetheless). Most of the time, it goes weeks without ever having to mess with the keyboard, we can just use it as the "TV" (DVD/netflix) via the remote controls as if it were a "TV".

I'm curious myself. (2, Interesting)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303844)

I like the freedom of MythTV, I've been running it for about 4 years now, but it can often be tricky to get working if there is a problem. Particularly if there is a MySQL problem when I don't have a great deal of expertize in database administration. I'd like to take advantage of the new cable-card hardware coming out for high definition too.

Right now it pretty much seems either windows media center or giving in and getting a TiVO, but I'm curious about some of the other things out there like Sage TV. Sadly, not everything is available online right now without having to go to bit-torrent, especially high-def content.

Re:I'm curious myself. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304576)

You can get hidef over component, their is a happauge product that uses them and is supported in myth.

Windows Media Center (5, Informative)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303860)

I set up Windows Media Center on Vista and I like the way it works. It's pretty simple to use and set up. I bought a 2 tuner card for it so I can record 2 shows simultaneously. Even more useful is the integration with Amazon UnBox and Video On Demand. It just works. Makes trips to the video store extraneous. I haven't tried Netflix as I want simple on demand outside of my cable box. This machine is set up in the living room, and is hooked up to a 37 inch panel. I bought the overpriced remote for Media Center and that works well too (although the kids keep losing it) Overall, I'm happy with the quality, and plan on upgrading to Windows 7 at some point, but really don't have a need as it simply works well now.

Now, cue the MS Haters and mod me down. I know, I know... I'm stupid and don't know what I'm talking about.

Re:Windows Media Center (2, Insightful)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303944)

Seconded. It's simple, the remote isn't too bad, it has a clean UI and a bunch of addons out there (greenbutton.com or something).

Best of luck!

Re:Windows Media Center (4, Informative)

stikves (127823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304036)

Definitely agree on Windows Media Center.

With my multiple HDTV tuners, excellent remote, Netflix, and Hulu plugins, and also Internet TV, it's basically irreplaceable. I'm not even mentioning you can stream to multiple Xbox'es on your house over the network... Oops, I mentioned that :)

Re:Windows Media Center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304658)

Hulu plugins?

Re:Windows Media Center (2, Informative)

seamonkey420 (1570909) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304090)

agreed on MCE.

i've used many of the other DVR/PVR applications (MythTV, SageTV, Nero, etc) but none have worked as smoothly as Media Center, Windows 7 MCE really brings its A game. :)

i have a remote and IR blaster and mainly use mine to record just network tv; i can also easily access any of the recorded tv shows over my homegroup on any of my other Windows 7 laptops/netbooks and even my PS3.

MP4 movies look and work well inside of MCE too (atleast on Win7, vista had a few issues w/MP4/h264 codecs since it didn't support it natively). I run MCE on my HP laptop and use a MCE remote i got with my tuner card. Netflix plugin is really well done too.

sageTV (1)

kaplong! (688851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303862)

I like SageTV ( http://www.sagetv.com/ [sagetv.com] ), especially the one-click commercial skipping; it has (had?) its occasional hiccups, but this might also be a function of how much one fiddles with the hardware/software setup :-) It seems pretty mature (it's at v6.x by now), has an active user/contributor base, and handles multiple receivers and set top/converter boxes with IR control nicely. It has a free trial.

dividing my HTPC (1)

funnyguy (28876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303872)

I'm currently in the process of dividing my HTPC frontend into 3 parts. Instead of settling on Mythfrontend alone, I'm going to run Boxee, XBMC (supports myth:// URLs), and mythfrontend. Since mythbackend is reliable, I want to keep it to record my OTA shows and cable shows. But adding Boxee and XBMC to the HTPC frontend will give me support for Netflix and Hulu, better DVD support, etc. I've been and HTPC user for 5+ years, and no one solution is perfect or ever has been. I'm hoping the multi-program frontend solution will work best.

Windows Media Center (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303876)

Out of all the ones I've tried, Media Center ended up being the best fit for me. Others might have some more features, but Media Center had all the ones I cared about and most of the time implemented them better. The only problem I've run into is that their TV listings updater causes an ungodly amount of disk I/O and CPU usage for several minutes whenever it runs.

Windows MCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30303884)

I was in the same boat as you, I even contributed to an open source solution. The one that just works out of the box is MCE. Its not extendable, but it is completely solid (at least on Vista and I assume Windows 7). Setup only takes a couple of minutes, and then everything just works. It misses the nerd factor of installing all sorts of half completed plugins and configuring for hours, but it was much better for my sanity.

haven't found one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30303900)

i've looked, tried alot of different dvr software with a high end pc attached to my tv... i have never been that impressed.

in my opinion i think the directv hddvrs are the best things out there. software that's made for a specific device just always seems to be better

TiVo for the win? (5, Informative)

powerlord (28156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303918)

The Original Questioner asks " So my questions to you: What DVR software do you use? Are you happy with it? What don't you like? Are there any packages out there that 'just work' as media hubs and for time-shifting cable TV?"

I realize that the TITLE says "PC based DVR software" and the questioner certainly mentions only that, but they don't mention commercial solutions at all, so I'll throw in my answer:

TiVo

I have a Series3 that I bought with a lifetime contract ~2 years ago. I do not pay a monthly fee, and as of now, I am "saving" that cost (the lifetime contract covers ~ 2 - 2.5 years of monthly service fees).

- It has two built in tuners.
- It integrates with most IR remotes.
- It can be controlled via IP (there are free remotes for iPhone/IPod and other devices to control it, etc.)
- TiVo maintains a web site where you can log in and tell your DVR to record something.
- Any Internet enabled TiVo (Series3, TiVoHD, TiVoHD-XL) can also hook into AmazonVideo, Netflix and Blockbuster accounts.

- It also passes "the wife" test.

Outside of initial setup (when we were on cable TV and I had to get TWC to come out and put CableCards in the thing), the ONLY maintenance I've had to do is reset its listings when we decided to drop cable completely and switch to using an Over-The-Air antenna, and changing the batteries in the remote.

Re:TiVo for the win? (3, Insightful)

jimbogun (869443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304110)

I'm in the Tivo boat on this one. It's just easier. I spent so much time setting up MythTv (I've done it on PCs, laptops, and even an xbox) and maintaining it was always a pain. I finally got fed up enough and bought a Tivo. Since then, I haven't had any complaints, except as he said, resetting listings when you switch providers. I've really enjoyed the Tivo suggestions feature as well. I was tempted to get the lifetime contract, but instead I'm willing to pay ~$100/year for someone to maintain my DVR for me.

Re:TiVo for the win? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304524)

Until Tivo supports my cable provider of choice (DirecTV) in HD, it's not really an option. I am not alone in this.

All those dishies on the rooftops means that Tivo is effectively locked out of that household.

Re:TiVo for the win? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304262)

Not to mention why is someone using a PC to watch DVDs, especially if there's problems? Upconverting DVD players can be had for $50 now. They're approaching "free in your breakfast cereal" levels.

Re:TiVo for the win? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304572)

Yeah, but are they any good?

My (admittedly cheap) stereo reciever has one of those upscaling DVD players in it.

IT'S CRAP!

I get MUCH better results from my software based video player.

Re:TiVo for the win? (4, Informative)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304386)

I'm on the TiVo boat as well. If you want to serve up media from a PC, throw pyTiVo [sourceforge.net] on it, and point it at whatever directory contains your video files. The format of the video files doesn't even matter -- on the back-end it uses ffmpeg to do the video conversion.

I have a refurbished Compaq with a 2.4Ghz Core2Duo I bought last year, and it can convert at about 200fps, easily saturating the TiVo's network capabilities. Once setup, the system just appears in the Now Playing List. It has easily passed the wife test in my home over and over again (especially as she has access to the movies directory over the network from the desktop of her Mac -- if she gets something she'd like to put up, she knows to just drag and drop it into the folder, and then start playing it from the NPL on the TiVo).

Yaz.

Re:TiVo for the win? (1)

Etherized (1038092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304552)

I agree completely. If what you want is a solution that simply works, this is clearly the best choice.

There are a few use cases for the media PC that TiVo can't fill or can't fill very well (transcoding files for use on portable devices, local network streaming, playing media from certain web sites, etc), but you have to ask yourself 1) how much those matter to you and 2) whether another appliance (like the WDTV deals) might do some of it instead.

I love MythTV, warts and all, but its UI is clunky and its care and feeding can be a hassle. I really can't recommend it to anybody who wants something that just works and just works well. Perhaps the Windows offerings are superior, but I'm personally not interested in running Windows, and I enjoy tinkering, so MythTV works for me.

Tivo Warning (4, Informative)

clinko (232501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304700)

A HUGE warning about the Tivo:

Tivo lists show transferring is a big feature but...

EVERYTHING worth watching on cable is DRM'd. EVERYTHING.

It bugs me that they advertise this as a feature.

Blame Time Warner, Cox, Comcast, whoever you want, but the TIVO does not transfer anything but your fox, nbc, and cbs channels.

Analogy:
- Ford makes a car that can't drive over speed bumps
- Ford advertises the car jumping speed bumps
- After buying the car, Ford tells you to drive on limited roads or YOU can call your local town hall to fix every speed bump in town. Ford has no responsibility, and will not assist in any way.

Only 2 months left on my contract, and I'm done with this scam.

Neuros (1)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303934)

I've been using the Neuros OSD for a couple of years, and while it's kinda slow, it's hard to beat in terms of features/dollar. It's also very small, runs linux, and draws less than 10 watts. They also have a newer one called the LINK.

Link: Neuros website [neurostechnology.com]

Media Center (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30303946)

Windows 7 Media Center, if you have $120 and like not wasting your time.

Re:Media Center (0, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304030)

Does it support the HD-PVR yet?

Does it support QAM on the HDHR?

Otherwise, that would be just wasting some people's time.

SageTV is a much better suggestion for the Windows centric crowd.

Re:Media Center (1)

kyouteki (835576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304208)

I don't know about the HD-PVR, but as for QAM using the HDHR, I can say that Windows 7 handles it perfectly.

Re:Media Center (1)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304438)

Yes and Yes.

Re:Media Center (0, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304626)

...and it only took as long as it took for the 0.22 version of MythTV to "go production".

Sage supported it on the day it was released.

This is another good example of why you should minimize the amount of Microsoft stuff you run in Windows...

It's flexible and that's a problem? (2, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303962)

The nice thing about a completely open and flexible system is that you can route around it's quirks with other tools. The fact that you can just drop in xine or mplayer is one of the key strengths of MythTV and would likely be necessary in any replacement. I've never gotten this fixation and insistence on using only MythTV for anything myth related. It doesn't have to be that way and that's kind of the point.

Play with MCE and Front Row and see for yourself. The grass may not necessarily be greener.

Re:It's flexible and that's a problem? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304256)

He's looking for something that works, not something he needs to tinker with for half an hour in the middle of his movie date.

I'm sure this is an honest mistake on your part, though. I mean, who would even consider user behavior as bizarre and alien as going on a date?

Re:It's flexible and that's a problem? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304698)

DVD? On date? Just what kind of loser are you?

OTOH, when it comes to WAF it's hard to beat having her favorite shows ripped available at the touch of a button iTunes style.

Even a 3 year old can handle MythTV in this capacity.

Are you as capable as a 3 year old?

Re:It's flexible and that's a problem? (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304388)

The terible thing about existing completely open and flexible system is that you have to route around their quirks with other tools.

There. Fixed that for you.

[FC]I am Jacks complete lack of tolerance.[/FC]

For viewing? LG BD390 (3, Informative)

llamalad (12917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303968)

I'm still using MythTV for recording TV, but I'm currently selling off my MythFrontends.

For viewing I've switched to an LG BD390. Much less hassle, plays everything I've thrown at (including HD streams recorded by the MythBackend) via UPnP and also does NetFlix and YouTube streaming.

Re:For viewing? LG BD390 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304324)

The Asus O!Play is also wonderful for this. Runs linux (has an open telnet prompt with no root password...), plays 1080P with all the fancy Dolby codecs and whatnot, streams from Samba and NFS (although I've only played with the Samba). Cheap too, $109 CAD a month ago and probably cheaper now.

Re:For viewing? LG BD390 (1)

IpSo_ (21711) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304468)

How well does it actually support MythTV though?

I imagine its just a "dumb" video stream player that can't skip commercials or modify any of the programming that a regular Myth frontend can do?

GBPVR (2, Informative)

networkzombie (921324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303996)

GBPVR works like an appliance should; easily, the first time, and always. You can write your own plug-ins and skins, or download them.

Re:GBPVR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304238)

Seconded. Works great. Easy, reliable. Not the flashiest front end but a solid piece of software.

DVD Recorder with hard drive (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30303998)

I gave up on this and have been using a DVD recorder with a built in hard drive for the last few years. The only hassle is having to program things twice due to lack of built in EPG, but my PVR is now old and I believe there are models that work now with digital EPGs where I live (Australia).

HD cable box with pvr (2, Informative)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304002)

I used to use mythtv but now have upgraded to HD cable box with dual tuner pvr. It is the best option for ease of use. Skipping commercials isn't automatic but otherwise I think it is the best price/simplicity option.

For Linux, MythTV backend and XBMC frontend. (4, Informative)

Yosho (135835) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304012)

The MythTV backend for recording TV is great, but the frontend is very rough around the edges, even after years of development. As a general media center, XBMC is fantastic; its support for playing DVDs, video files, and music is the best I've found on Linux. There's also a plugin for XBMC [google.com] that gives it functionality as a MythTV frontend, and while it doesn't have quite the same range of capabilities as the official MythTV frontend, it nonetheless works well.

Unfortunately, there's no way you're going to be streaming Netflix movies in Linux, due to Netflix's DRM. The only way to do it is with a Windows box or using an embedded solution. I use an Xbox 360 for that.

Re:For Linux, MythTV backend and XBMC frontend. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304286)

Some TVs have it built in now, too. The LG 42LH50 specifically. Mine is en route!

Re:For Linux, MythTV backend and XBMC frontend. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304448)

I agree NetFlix on my XBox 360 is a great experience!

Re:For Linux, MythTV backend and XBMC frontend. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304554)

Unfortunately, there's no way you're going to be streaming Netflix movies in Linux, due to Netflix's DRM. The only way to do it is with a Windows box or using an embedded solution. I use an Xbox 360 for that.

Then why is there an official NetFlix Plugin for Mythbuntu?

most STB's are linux the best would be TiVo (1)

johnjones (14274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304038)

most Set Top Box manufacturers actually use linux so I would choose one that can be controlled via firewire unless your going to get a TiVO see http://tivohme.sourceforge.net/

again MythTV depends on the hardware that you use so I would say get some better supported hardware or buy something that they have done the integration for you

regards

John Jones

Xbox media center (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304068)

Check this one out: http://xbmc.org/download/

GBPVR on XP (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304082)

Awesome free PVR software. Supports lots of hardware tuner cards & remotes. Streams over LAN & Internet. Web interface for streaming & managing recordings. XMLTV listings. Excellent support forum. High WAF. Plugins (Game Emulators, Weather, Movie Listings, etc). Comskip, Comclean, Transcode, ISO playback, features go on and on.

Highly recommended by an HTPC enthusiast.

Windows 7 and Media Browser (4, Informative)

Laoping (398603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304140)

In years past I've used XBMC on the Xbox and Linux, then more recently Boxee and MediaPortal. I started wanting something that just worked, and was a bit easier to setup. I really like many of the Linux media programs, but they do take a bit of maintenance. So when the RC of Windows 7 came out I figured I'd give it a go. Once I found Media Browser (www.mediabrowser.tv), I was sold.

So reasons I think Windows 7 is the way to go.

1. Media Browser - Fantastic plug-in for media center. Almost as good as XMBC in it's prettiness and useability. Very impressive to show off to your friends and high Wife Acceptance Factor.
2. Easy - It took me about a week of fiddling after work to get it setup the way I wanted.. and I had no issues getting DTS HD or pass-through audio to work. Very easy to get hardware accelerated video to work with ATI. If you use windows 7, check out the antipack, gets your hardware accelerated video working fast, along with all your audio. (http://babgvant.com/blogs/andyvt/archive/2009/08/02/antipack-get-your-videos-working-without-destroying-your-pc.aspx)
3. Cheap Video card - I bought a Radeon 4350 off of Newegg, with passive cooling. Does 1080p video with 1 - 5% cpu usage.
4. NetFlix , Media Center has a NetFlix plugin, no HD video, yet.
5. Easy TV - Has a nice TV Guide, easy to make it work right. I do not have a cable card tuner for it yet, but Ati has on you can get off of ebay, and new models are coming out next year. Cable card tuner would eliminate your ir blaster issue. In the mean time there are a few MS Media Center remotes that come with ir blasters. Also TV shows go right into Media Browser.

As this is slashdot I bet I will get spammed for saying so, but IMHO it is the best all around system out there right now.

MYTV + Xbox - XMBC (1)

bmsleight (710084) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304178)

Simple Mytv backend and cheap Xboxes running XBMC. Works really well - look at it now. Multiple front-end all around the house for £25.

XBMC (2, Informative)

jackjumper (307961) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304192)

Lifehacker likes XBMC (http://lifehacker.com/5105649/hive-five-winner-for-best-media-center-application-xbmc). I use an Apple TV running XBMC and Boxee, which works pretty well, but is kind of slow. I'm planning on picking up one of these (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883103234&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-Desktop+PC-_-Acer+America-_-83103234) to replace the apple tv. Not sure what I'm going to run on it yet. I hear the Windows 7 media center is pretty nice, actually

Another satisfied SageTV user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304196)

I've been using SageTV for more than a year. Very feature rich, supports the server on Windows, Mac, or Linux, and has a large user customization base. I'm using their HD Theater media extenders with the server software running on an old Pentium 4 out in the garage fitted with an Over The Air HD recording card. With MediaMall's PlayOn running on my main PC, I have Netflix streaming, Comedy Central, and lots of other online steaming content. I've kissed cable TV goodbye (but the recording cards still support it if you need it).

XBMC or WDTV or Boxee (1)

halfdan the black (638018) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304214)

What about XBox media center, I heard a lot of good things about it, but not much discussion here, what do others think of XBMC.

Also heard a lot of good things about Boxee, any thoughts.

I myself am planning on getting a WDTV some time soon, nice small, compact, does not need a computer. And runs Linux, and is totally hackable.

Re:XBMC or WDTV or Boxee (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304506)

XBMC is amazing, but it doesn't offer any built-in DVR functionality. What I've found worked alright was having a MythTV backend server running on something with ample storage, then using the MythTV plugin for XBMC for the front-end(s). It worked well for watching recorded TV, but severely lacked in the watching live TV arena. This was around 3 or so years ago when I had this configuration last setup and working, so things may have changed there but from what I've read it hasn't really.

The reason I'm not running this configuration now is because of HD TV. Maybe in the future when the cable companies offer CableCard technology that doesn't suck, I may get back around to getting the MythTV + XBMC setup back up and running, but until then I'm just gonna use the DVR from the cable company.

Re:XBMC or WDTV or Boxee (1)

ichthus (72442) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304684)

I've been using XBMC 9.11 beta 1 for a little over a week, and I absolutely love it. I built a cheap HTPC with no hard drive -- I boot from an SD card in about 30 seconds, but usually just suspend and resume.

It doesn't have DVR capability, but I have decided to rely on torrents. Torrents are better for a number of reasons, the main one being the fact that networks don't always start and end their shows at the scheduled time. In this day and age, that's ridiculous. (Some may question the legality of torrenting TV shows, but I would argue that they're analogous to having a friend record a show to VHS and then pass it onto me.)

Anyway, XMBC is awesome. I'm looking forward to the 9.11 release, but the current beta has been very stable.

GBPVR with Event Ghost (1)

Cidolfas (1358603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304230)

For a year or two, I used GBPVR on windows which was very good for me. It doesn't do everything - no built-in netflix support - but nothing that couldn't be mitigated by using other programs alongside it. It is a very stable TV-recording backend. It should work with your IR blaster, too.

Even Ghost does very good at letting you control remote control input (basically, you can capture remote input and assign macros to it, including keyboard input) on windows, except for MCE remotes in 7 due to how 7 hijacks MCE remote input.

As for me, I migrated the other way when Mythbuntu 9.10 came out with MythTv 0.22

There's just too much I like about the idea of having a single box on 24/7, web accessible, do all my media, web, and computational server needs. I got HDMI audio working, and that was that. It's been running pretty well for me so far, though I haven't run into DVD problems yet. Throw in linux's hulu desktop and I have everything I need.

Netfix for linux would be awesome though.

Mythbuntu plus (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304260)

I run mythbuntu with a boxee launch item in the main menu. Mythbuntu works flawlessly for capturing media and playing it back, boxee does everything else flawlessly. FTW!

Sound dropping out and elusive PVRs (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304322)

Since upgrading to new hardware, I've had issues with sound dropping out; these problems only occur for Myth, not for anything else.

Hallelujah! From the lack of responses to my post about this issue on the Mythbuntu forums, I thought I might be the only one experiencing this problem. No one has stepped forward to either acknowledge this problem or offer a fix, which is very frustrating: I've been using MythTV for several years, and was only recently forced to reinstall everything after my HD died. I've resisted the siren call of TiVO up to this point, and Windows is out of the question.

I've seem some PVRs at Fry's that claim to record to a HD. Are these not a viable option? They seem to come and go: Fry's had a Phillips PVR just a couple of months ago, but now I see it's no longer even listed in their online catalog. Is there some reason why HD-based PVRs appear to be so elusive?

Re:Sound dropping out and elusive PVRs (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304642)

I've got an LG DVR that works fantastically for my purposes. It records TV, let me watch just about anything, including .AVI files encoded with DivX. (Home movies, of course.) It'll even play directly off a thumb drive or other USB storage mechanism. Favorite movies can be copied to the hard drive, and children as young as 5 can be taught how to turn on "Cars" or "Enchanted" and watch them. (The first is a home-made documentary on the manufacturing of internal-combustion vehicles, the second was a PBS special about wizards in the dark ages.) A 250G HDD can hold somewhere in the neighbourhood of 250 similarly-encoded movies, although that would leave no space for taping.

The remote even has a TV section that was able to control my TV within about 30 seconds of reading the manual. Not all functions, but enough so that I can turn on the TV, switch to the DVR, and start the movie with just one remote.

It was $300 and replaced the Daytek I'd had for years. The Daytek died after about 3 years of service, but since I bought it from Costco they gave me my money back. (I got the LG from Costco with the cash they gave me from the Daytek.)

The only issue I have had was with recording some shows -- there's a broadcast flag on some shows that won't let you record. In that case, I've heard that some people would download the torrent and watch it via the thumb drive. Those people apparently don't have to watch any of the commercials. The sound quality isn't as good as I would like it to be, but it's tolerable. Also, unlike the Daytek, you can't watch off the HDD while recording. (This was an undocumented feature in the Daytek.)

Combo package (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304334)

I use a combo, Windows MCE 2005 (XP basically) for recording Austar (satallite pay tv), WebschedulerDVB for free to aid digital channels and record both to MSDVR format, use crunchie to convert to mpeg4 .AVI files on the Windows Home Server I have, and XBMC on the main tv computer and every other pc for playback anywhere in the house

Boxee - Not a DVR, but still awesome (1)

SwordsmanLuke (1083699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304336)

I use Boxee [boxee.tv] for playback. It's been very reliable for me on multiple flavors of Ubuntu. I realize it doesn't have true DVR capability, but your complaints seemed to be more to do with the playback portion of your experience and, using Boxee, I've had no problems playing back pretty much anything (though, for some reason, I can't get youtube to work). It also automatically indexes your media file collections (assuming you're following some standard media naming conventions, i.e. Lie.to.me.S01E01.avi) so you can easily view your entire collection and quickly pick out the show (or film, or music) you want to watch.

Recording HD? (2, Interesting)

rlp (11898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304338)

While we're on the topic - is there a good solution for recording HD from cable? I'm currently using analog cable with a Hauppauge card to record programs in standard definition. Potential solutions:

1) DVR from cable company. Problems: I've gotten anecdotal information that these DVR's have poorly designed UI's and tend to be somewhat flaky (worse than Windows). Also, they are a closed system, I can't move the recording to a mobile device for portable viewing.
2) PC + HD ATSC / Clear-QAM tuner card - this gives me the ability to record over the air broadcasts and cable channels that support Clear-QAM (which is a fairly small subset of cable channels).
3) PC + HD Tuner Card + Cable Card - does anyone make one of these? Anyone have any experience with this?

There are 3 prime-time PVR's on Windows (5, Informative)

TomXP411 (860000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304342)

Sage TV, Beyond TV, and Media Center are all mature products that work well on Windows.

Media Center is very "Microsoft-y", and it's not as configurable as the others. The upside is that it's seamlessly integrated with Windows, and it passes the WAF test rather well.

Sage TV is a tinkerer's dream, but I never managed to get it successfully up and running with QAM channels mapped.

Beyond TV was my favorite for a long time, as it's both configurable and stable. The only problem is that Snapstream has slowed active development of the consumer product. Their prime focus is on developing for the Enterprise market. (Think one server, recording a dozen news channels at once, extracting closed-caption information to create a searchable database.) BTV has one great bonus feature: It can automatically re-compress video down to H.264 and drop the show in to iTunes as a Podcast. This is pretty slick, since it lets you save several TV shows to your iPod or iPhone and take them with with you.

BTV and Sage can both record HD through the Hauppauge HD-PVR, and all 3 can record ClearQAM content (usually your local TV stations.)

Windows 7 Media Center will also record encrypted QAM cable with a CableCard, but the CableCard capture devices aren't quite ready for public consumption yet; I believe the ATI box's firmware is still in closed beta, and the Ceton device will hit the market early next year. (The Ceton card will record 4 SD or HD shows at the same time.)

BTV and Sage can control your cable box with a USB-UIRT or MCE Remote (with an IR blaster). Media Center will only control your box with an MCE remote/blaster. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W5GK5C/ref=ox_ya_oh_product">Amazon has one for about $40 that works well.</a>

BTV and Sage both can also stream live video to other PC's on the network. Media Center can only play back pre-recorded video; if you want to watch live TV an another PC, that PC needs a tuner card.

Read a fucking book. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304418)

Slacker.

I was planning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304430)

...on using Myth TV myself. had the spare PC, found a nice dual tuner tv card. Then i found out that no drivers had been written at the time. Then when i did find drivers, it was only for the digital half of the card which was useless to me. I just wanted to be able to record tv with little or no hassle, without having to buy a Tivo, etc. Looks like it'll be some windows for me.

Playstation 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304464)

Maybe not the answer you're looking for as I guess you want to keep using the hardware, but if you don't mind dropping the extra cash, the PS3 a brilliant media player.
Obviously does the disk based media that you'd expect, supports DLNA, you can stream NetFlix and there's the PSN store if you want to buy/rent stuff.
Couldn't be happier with it, personally.

Roku (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304474)

Why not keep you current MythTV and just add a Roku box? For $100, it is cheaper than any new computer hardware and it does Netflix and many other services.

The mess in the Media/Audio/Video Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304478)

Truth is that ferocious trade wars, copyrights, protectionist tendencies of media giants, bloody competition, violent fight against file sharing, deafness for user's wishes, putting lawyers ahead of marketing ahead of creatives, lack of basic intelligence, absence of convergence, fear to change a business model that clearly is not working anymore for a time have left a devastated, broken and fragmented situation in the market.

Many in ./ know how many things can be relatively simply done at home with today's technology, as much as many know how the lack of convergence of technologies, compatibility and all the stupid crippling or complication of many functionalities because of DRM for example make life just frustrating hard, leaving much to improvised home-made combination of half-working devices sold by computer shops and never the definite solution (a la 'VHS recorder' for example).

Now we got to get crazy amongst wireless and wired, dvd, blu ray, DRM, DLNA, billions different looking media players, zillions media formats totally incompatible with anything in one day time and never all together supported on all devices, thesuperclosed HDMI standard for which some jackass, deserving jail, really, asks costly royalties and the list could go on forever.

    Salvation looks not in sight... Whatever DVR solution you will find today, it will inevitably be crippled, broken, limited and not working with new formats of tomorrow..... Good luck my friends :-)

EyeTV for Mac OS X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304548)

Absolutely. Best. Ever.

Windows 7 Media Center, Hands Down (1)

il1019 (1068892) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304570)

I've searched like you. For a long time I used GB-PVR, and while it's great, it isn't as pretty and flashy. Very functional with the right plugins, and if you like tinkering, it's awesome. I recently moved to Windows 7 Media Center. I am a sorta open source kind of guy, but wow. I am totally blown away by 7 Media Center. I've been setting up boxes for everyone I know and they are loving them. Give it a try, I bet you'll be surprised, especially as a DVR. It just rocks. And when (if) CableCards get popular, you will be able to use it.

Popcorn Hour? (1)

Zzootnik (179922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304616)

I'm currently a Tivo Series 3 user (Works awesome and basically zero maintenance, other than the monthly fee and a very occasional spontaneous reboot--???!!!)
--That said, I've been keeping an eye on the Popcorn hour boxes...http://www.popcornhour.com
--Looks like it plays all the media you can throw at it, and toss in a blue-ray drive and you can even watch those-
It supports a Huge laundry list of features, but it looks like the one thing it doesn't actually do is the DVR of actual tv streams... Anyone know of any updates in that area?

PlayOn or Boxee (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304640)

I used to run Boxee [boxee.tv] on my Mac and PC at home, until I discovered PlayON [playon.tv].

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxee [wikipedia.org]

Boxee is a cross-platform freeware media center software with a 10-foot user interface and social networking features designed for the living-room TV. Boxee is a fork of the free and open source XBMC media center software which Boxee uses as an application framework for its GUI and media player core platform, together with some custom and proprietary additions. Marketed as the first ever "Social Media Center", Boxee enables its users to view, rate and recommend content to their friends through many interactive social networking features. The current version is Alpha but works very well. You can register for free on their website. Also the beta version of Boxee will be released for all platforms on December 7th 2009.

PlayOn Media Server [playon.tv]

PlayOn gets your favorite Internet Videos off your computer screen and onto your TV. Download and try out PlayOn for free for 14 days. All you need is a home networked PC and a DLNA-compatible device — like a PLAYSTATION 3, Xbox 360, or Moxi HD DVR. We've also announced PlayOn for Wii public beta.

My Notes:

At home we have two Xbox360's and we stream content to them from PlayOn. From a budget perspective view PlayOn is the way to go if you have consoles at home. PlayOn only costs $39.99 and to configure it its a onetime setup which is pretty straight forward. You can also download free plugins from PlayOn Plugins [playonplugins.com]. At my home we currently we use Netflix, Hulu, Cartoon Network and a bunch others). Once you got your settings configured, you go into your console and in the Video section you will see a "Channel" that looks like "yourPCName:Playon" when you select it you will see all the options you configured to watch. It works as advertised and works very well. I have another 360 that got banned in my bedroom with a 36" LCD and it works great.

Boxee, I used it for a while, but I never had a PC/Mac dedicated just for that... It is pretty good and there is lots of support... One thing is that Boxee is free.

I hope this helps!

Kildjean

Myth is great ... as backend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30304644)

I have a Tivo Series 3 with an additional external HD, which is great. Netflix, Amazon, all integrate well. Like others who have posted, I have a Myth box which I rarely use as a frontend to capture video to either:

- watch on PC at my desk or on PC outputting to big TV or on laptop
- burn to DVD to watch elsewhere
- take advantage of its automatic transcoding to watch on my iPod or Blackberry

It doesn't have the polished front end the TiVo does, but it does the file manipulation I want without having to go through TiVo's Desktop software (slow, not very automated)

What if I don't need recording capability? (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30304686)

I've been looking for a media jukebox that I can dump all my audio/video content onto. I *never* watch cable TV and have no interest in recording it or watching it with the system. What would be a good solution for this? I'd prefer to stick with something that runs on Ubuntu 'cuz that's what my extra box is currently running.

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