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Turning the PC into a Digital Video Recorder

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the some-assembly-required dept.

Television 202

gearfix2 writes "The NYTimes ran this story in today's paper about how to turn the PC into a personal video recorder (a la TiVo)... It's got pretty thorough coverage of PC-based hardware with the conclusion "the TiVo outshines the PC-based systems by being easier to use and by offering more built-in intelligence." Conspicuously absent are El Gato's EyeTV for the mac and SnapStream's Personal Video Station... Anyways, the real question is whether PC PVR will *ever* get there. No one does it quite right yet..."

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whoa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4000875)



maybe not

wasn't ready

yup, now where are the lawsuits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4000889)

how long before this sends the MPAA and associated fiends into a tizzy? OK, who's got the egg timer?

Me? (1, Troll)

Tall Rob Mc (579885) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000892)

I've been testing six of these systems on my Compaq Presario 7000, running Windows Me: the I/OMagic PC PVR ($50), the AVerTV Studio ($90), the Hauppauge WinTV PVR 250 ($149), the Pinnacle Bungee DVD ($199), the ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500 DV ($249) and the Nvidia Personal Cinema ($299).
I can only be impressed to a certain point if he's using Me for anything.

Re:Me? (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000905)

I can only be impressed to a certain point if he's using Me for anything.

On the contrary! I'm impressed if he can use ME for anything. God knows I couldn't manage to.

You! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4000907)

I'm not surprised that he's using You for anything!

Re:Me? (0)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000954)


The parent to this got moded up INSIGHT-freaking-FUL????
Daaaaaaaaaamn. That some good crack the mods are smoking. Why won't the putzes share?

Re:Me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4000957)

What about Power VCR v3? That is what I use to record shows on the computer.

Re:Me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001281)

Heck, I'm very impressed he's able to get anything that complex to run under ME!

ATI? (1)

cardshark2001 (444650) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000904)

I've heard good things about the all-in-wonder, and even that there are free data feeds for all the value-added stuff that Tivo brings. You have to set it up yourself, but you don't have to pay for a service either.

Re:ATI? (3, Informative)

_J_ (30559) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001076)

I gots me one of them there ATI 8500 All-In-Wonder DV cards and I have to say I love it.

Two complaints tho';
1. The TV window has to be the active window for the remote control to work
2. I've had instances with the scheduled recording feature where I've set up the event, closed the scheduler interface (The scheduler still runs in the background), and when the time comes to record the program an error pops up saying that another device is using the tuner.

Somewhat frustrating, but over all the device is a lot of fun.

IMHO, as per

Re:ATI? (2)

Scutter (18425) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001493)

I've got a complaint of my own. I don't wanna give up by Geforce, so when I bought my ATI, I had to buy a PCI card. Well, the ATI card doesn't do *any* TV or video capture unless it's the primary card. That plays hell with all your desktop settings and getting games to work and so forth. It would be nice if you could pop it in as a second card and it would just work.

Re:ATI? (1)

reticent94 (450653) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001293)

The current AIW is pretty good for this, though not as good as the TIVO (imho, I own both). The next version of the AIW will add one big thing which the current is missing, which is a hardware mpeg2 encoder. This should make a huge difference in performance.

No more comercials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4000911)

There has been a lot of dispute over software the is able to erase your comercials. But if you are using a PC, instead of say TiVo, nobody will really be able to stop you. The disputes are just a waste of time.

Re:No more comercials (1)

program21 (469995) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001260)

No, there will just be a huge crackdown on PCs, and then advertisers will throw their weight behind Palladium so that noone can watch anything that doesn't have commercials.

what would you say are the key features? (4, Insightful)

edrugtrader (442064) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000912)

accurate up to date free TV listings.
able to auto-configure to any cable or satellite setup
dual tuner
program suggestions
season pass
easy interface
video quality

exactlly what is missing in the current PC PVRs?

Re:what would you say are the key features? (3, Insightful)

bmooney28 (537716) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001000)

What is missing is plug and play ease of use for the average consumer. In a nutshell, PC PVR's have much more bang for the buck features over Tivo, but lack the smoothe interface...

Personally, I'd take a PC PVR over Tivo anyday, (heck, i am an early adopter), but I wouldn't recommend it to my grandparents...

Re:what would you say are the key features? (3, Informative)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001031)

I would add:

tunner support for cable, broadcast and satellite signals in one box

I've got DirecTV at home, plus local cable for the local stations. DirecTV signals start at channel 100, the cable tops out in the mid-60s. No overlap at all. But, if I want TIVO to be able to record them both, I've got to get a non-DirecTV model, and use a separate tuner for the satellite (which means, of course, that I can't watch one satellite program and record another). And the situation doesn't change if I drop the cable and put an antenna on the roof. The DirecTV TIVO receiver (or the regular DirecTV receiver, for that matter) is not capable of tuning to non-satelitte channels.

I can't imagine that the reason for this is technological. Can anyone explain this to me?

Re:what would you say are the key features? (4, Informative)

malfunct (120790) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001128)

The reason for this is based on how the two tivo's get thier signal.

The direcTivo just extracts the mpeg stream directly from the sattelite signal, it has no mpeg encoder in the box. Thus its cheap enough to put in 2 recorders because they just dump the stream to disk.

The standalone tivo on the otherhand has a chip for doing mpeg encoding in realtime. It can only process 1 stream at a time. I guess its a price/value call for the tivo company not to include 2 of these in the box.

The one thing I like most about the tivo vs a PC based solution is that the tivo is a sexy little box that does its 1 job very very well. I don't want to have 2 pc's to do that same job. The only big advantage to me for the PC based solution is the fact that it would be far easier to archive the video that I capture.

Re:what would you say are the key features? (2)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001144)

The reason you need a standalone TiVo for cable is that the DirecTiVo doesn't have a normal channel tuner or MPEG encoder. It just writes the MPEG stream from DirecTV to disk.

You could build a box that had all of that built in, but it would cost more and TiVo probably doesn't think there's enough of a market for it.

Re:what would you say are the key features? (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001515)

exactlly what is missing in the current PC PVRs?

Where do you buy it?

Ok, you can buy a PC or the bits and put it together, but I've fried a motherboard, a friend who homebuilt has a machine that sits for 10 minutes before deigning to boot, etc., and there's the also assumption there that your time is of no value, that you know the bits you need for the above, etc. Oh, and if you record during the times you would typically use your computer, you probably need a second computer, so all this costs you more than a TiVo.

Also, where do you find any mention of video quality from any of these cards? I'd love to see a review that actually speaks about it.

any decent linux video recorder? (2)

unformed (225214) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000913)

I used to use VirtualDub when I was on Windows, and it was rally nice. Did everything from recording, to cutting out commercials, to encoding into a variety of formats.

Wondering if there's any similar program on the *nix side?

I do know of Video::DVDRip and drip for ripping DVDs, but spefically looking for cable. (to use w/ my WinTV card)

Re:any decent linux video recorder? (2, Informative)

zemkai (568023) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000966)

Check out the mjpeg tools -- mjpeg.sf.net... although originally created for cards like the Buz & the Matrox Marvels / Gx00, it has a software-encoding flag that works well with the WinTV card (assuming you have a decent processor).

I use the toolset to cap several shows a week with my G400-TV, edit them, clean them up, and encode them to SVCD. The results are great.


Re:any decent linux video recorder? (-1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001030)

mplayer comes with a nice encoder called 'mencoder', i used it to convert some mpegs to divx to save space, but it does support tv capture cards (along with any other hardware/codec mplayer supports)

Re:any decent linux video recorder? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001054)


"OpenSource Video streaming solution for every OS !"

ok, so it doesn't do the redording but it can sure serve video all over your LAN. The price is nice, too.

Re:any decent linux video recorder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001313)


kicks ASS

Sample Video Capture Code (2, Informative)

virtigex (323685) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000930)

For those who want to make a start, here's [microsoft.com] some sample code to start off with.

Re:Sample Video Capture Code (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001514)

Mod up the parent. Microsoft's DirectShow makes it dead simple to write the core functionality for any PVR (well, assuming of course that you have some form of video input, like a TV tuner, and that hardware has proper drivers, which all modern hardware should have). Use DirectShow to do the "hard" part (pause live tv, capture to a file, etc) so you can dedicate more time to the fit&finish work, like integrating a channel listing.

You can also do even fancier stuff, like render DirectShow to a texture and use that in a 3D scene with Direct3D. Microsoft has a sample app that renders three video feeds to a cube. Pretty sweet.

ATI... (3, Interesting)

Lysol (11150) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000946)

I moved across the us recently and decided to ditch all my tubes (tv & monitors). i got a ati tv wonder usd and it's totally kick ass. works off either cable or antenna. plug it into a networked computer, give it a zip code, and voila!, u have tv in that local area.
my friend has tivo, and it's cool. but when i get my projector goin (ati also has a remote for this), i'll have a mobile projection system. even a 640x480 projector on a wall will look better than most tubes. i basically gave my tv away. just like the old radios yr granparents mighta dug and have since bitten the technology dust, so will tube tv's.
expect more tv wonder type devices. now, if only it worked on my tibook.. :(

Re:ATI... (1)

KUHurdler (584689) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000977)

I love people like you. I am running dual 19" monitors on my PC from people that have gotten rid of them for no good reason.

Re:ATI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001139)

U need to spen' more time larnin' to read an' write than watchin' TV.

Re:ATI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001316)

just cuz u r educatd, don't mean we are dummeis =)

So let me see if understand... (5, Insightful)

sterno (16320) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000953)

If you are average or even above average consumer and are given the following choice:

1) Go out and buy a $450 ReplayTV that provides 40 hours of record time, network sharing, and was builting from the ground up to be an integrated part of your home theater system.

2) Go out and buy a PC for 300-400 then buy the video capture card, a video card with a TV out, an IR receiver, and software. Then hook it up to your home theater system and always have this odd looking box sitting next to the rest of your equipment.

Gee, I wonder why the PC PVR thing hasn't caught on. We are only now getting to the point where the left over machines we have from new purchases have the performance necessary to handle being a PVR. I've tried to do this a bit myself, and the basic problem I ran into was that my processor just wasn't fast enough to handle the demand. If you have an old PC that's fast enough, it might be worth hacking but otherwise, it's WAY easier and similar priced to just buy a Tivo or ReplayTV.

Re:So let me see if understand... (3, Interesting)

Billy Bo Bob (87919) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001032)

Well, that is true to an extent. But the PC offers much more. I have a PVR machine set up and big-deal; record TV programs on a very overpriced Tivo. BUT I also have complete access to my audio streaming server with a web interface with my entire CD collection available (and soon adding mixes...) at the touch of a button. And 192 kb/s MP3 is pretty decent. Not to mention web access which can be fun, even with company (look up movies, trivia, etc). And all hooked up via HDTV connection. Eventually it will be hooked up to home automation.

Sure a PC PVR is overpriced (and a bit of a pain) but the potential is much better; it just needs to be realized with more turn-key software.

Now if the damn thing wasn't so noisy and stopped heating the room....

Re:So let me see if understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001246)

What software are you using to do this? There are only a few out there that I have seen, and am instead just building my own.. Is that what everyone else is doing, or are there more projects out there that what I am seeing??

Re:So let me see if understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001218)

Let me tell you about the PC PVR. I recently helped a friend of mine put one together. It has a GeForce 2 card with a PVR peripheral w/remote that attaches to it, and comes with a free channel guide (TV Guide) service via the internet. It has a Creative Labs Extigy card for sound, MP3 playing. It has a wireless NIC for internet access and e-mail. It has a DVD-ROM. So basically, it is a DVD player, Stereo/MP3, WebTV/PC/E-mail, PVR, game machine. Oh by the way, he paid right around $450 for it. That's a hell of a lot more functionality than ReplayTV has, for the same price.

Re:So let me see if understand... (1)

br0ck (237309) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001334)

always have this odd looking box sitting next to the rest of your equipment

A few days ago there was a Slashdot article [slashdot.org] where Overclockers Melbourne's installed a PC in a VCR case. View here [ocmelbourne.com]

Re:So let me see if understand... (2)

dubiousmike (558126) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001355)

Go Replay TV!!

Nice to see SOMEONE mentiones Replay and not just Tivo. Don't worry Tivo users, I think yours is cool too.

But you don't have My Replay TV [myreplaytv.com]

Re:So let me see if understand... (2)

mjh (57755) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001423)

2) Go out and buy a PC for 300-400 then buy the video capture card, a video card with a TV out, an IR receiver, and software. Then hook it up to your home theater system and always have this odd looking box sitting next to the rest of your equipment.

No. I'm not going to go out and buy a PC + TVcard. I have the PC, and TV cards are incredibly cheap. What I want is the software to effectively turn my existing PC into a DVR. Personally, spending $50 on a tv cap card is a lot more attractive than spending $400 on a Tivo + $200 for lifetime subscription, or $600 on a ReplayTV.

a linux based PVR you might want to check out (5, Informative)

mazeone (5457) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000955)

There is a fairly neat open source PVR at mythtv.org [mythtv.org] . It is still rather early in development, but has neat features like an on-screen display, a program guide, pausing and rewinding of live TV, etc. Pretty neat stuff.

Why was this published at Slashdot? (3, Insightful)

bmooney28 (537716) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000958)

This is a very informal review, compared to those at Tom's Hardware Guide, etc... Additionally it is written aimed at your average consumer, who is interested in ease of use, whereas the average Slashdot user would be more interested in advanced features and tweaking DVR's for peak performance...

I personally own a AIW Radeon 7500 and am *extremely* happy with the advanced features it offers over a Tivo, most notably the ability to save video directly to VCD format, for cheap, easy, longlasting storage...

Re:Why was this published at Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001064)

Mod this parent up Insightful. I love ATI AIW products! And yes I'm gonna marry them! Soon as it has a 9700 core!

Inside Outside Shakeitallaboutside (1)

The_Guv'na (180187) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000963)

"the TiVo outshines the PC-based systems by being easier to use and by offering more built-in intelligence"

To compensate for a lack of external intelligence in the average couch potato, no doubt.


Re:Inside Outside Shakeitallaboutside (0)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000988)

To compensate for a lack of external intelligence in the average couch potato, no doubt.

Well you can actauly run a clock or something by plugging wires into a potato to make a primitive battery.

ATI All in Wonder does a decent enough job (3, Informative)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000980)

I used the new ATI A-I-W 8500 for a while and the tools were easy to use. I wouldnt compare it being on par with other solutions out there, but if you wanted a PVR and a Good Video Card thats one way to go.

The Live-Pause feature was quite good and the image jitters once (when it starts recording) and does a good job, but the file sizes were obviously too large (Half an hour of high quality video translates to 3 GB of space).

Where as Nvidia's Personal Cinema, though boasting a superior Chip had the worst software tools. I was surprised to see the Live-Pause feature to be totally useless, where you try to play back the video that got recorded was so jittery and of bad quality that it was practically useless. I wish they would do a better job with their suite of tools next time.

As for me, I would try and see if ATI does some good work with the 9700 A-I-W, coz as for me, thats the card I would buy (till DoomIII fades out and QuakeV gets in).

NYT Registration (4, Informative)

McCart42 (207315) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000982)

User: dummy
Pass: dummy
Works for me as a member login.

Re:NYT Registration (-1, Flamebait)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001009)

The fact that you even attempted to log in as "dummy" makes me think you need serious psychatric help.

One a related note, I'm starting a new blog - Slashdot for Dummies.

Re:NYT Registration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001109)

"Slashdot for Dummies" - Is that one of those recursive names the open source people are so fond of?

Re:NYT Registration (2, Interesting)

McCart42 (207315) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001155)

Hey, I tried "test:test", and "test1234:test1234", "fake:fake"...given more synonyms for "false", I could've tried others, but "dummy" worked, thank you very much.

what would be nice... (2)

Ron Harwood (136613) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000983)

...is if someone could put together a cohesive package for linux/windows/whatever. Something that works out of the box with a selection of TV cards (hey the BT chipset is common like dirt... you could even make a commercial package that included a card).

You could make money from a subscription service (to get the TV listings online).

The most challenging part would be the interface - people want it to work like a piece of home electronics - much like the tivo manages, they just don't want to pay tivo prices (or if you're like me you don't live in a tivo supported area).

Snapstream (3, Informative)

oo7tushar (311912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4000992)

I've been using Snapstreams' PVR since the Winter Olympics and I've found it to be an amazing tool. It's pretty simple to use through the web interface but the web interface is slightly slow...
Although the version I have currently encodes to WMV (then I use the MS media decoder to convert it to fixed version of wmv and then use virtual dub to convert it to divx) the newest version (Quartz) can encode right to divx =)
If you have an older version then you can upgrade to Quartz for free.
Also in Quartz, there is a service you can buy that uses .Net technology and allows you to surf a tv guide and record straight from that.
But...since I prefer recording shows at custom lengths I find the text interface pretty easy to use (I even recorded all the World Cup games using the PVR).
So...PC PVRs aren't all that bad...at least Snapstream has a good PVR...I suggest it to those who like good software, it's well worth the cost.

PVR and satellite TV ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4000994)

Does anyone knows/tested any solutions that exists to use a PC with satellite TV?
A big problem with the existing set top boxes is that they are not reliable at all.
I have a dishplayer (dishnetwork) at home, but if I could use my old PC to get rid of this box, I would do it!
Basically there has to be the tuner (compatible with current switch boxes), and the CAM module to plug the access card.
The CAM part is what is holding me back: the access card and CAM are "married" in a normaly subscribed system, hence, you can't use any access card in any box.
Anyone has any ideas on how to do that?

at daemon and ffmpeg (1)

linux386 (37832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001008)

I just use the at daemon to schedule ffmpeg to record to 700kbps divx in real time. The only problem is that on a machine slower than a 1.7 ghz athlon, the sound is off sync. Occassionally, the sound clips once every few minutes if I don't keep calling sync(). I just have a "watch sync" running in an xterm to handle that. Anyone know if Reiserfs or ext3 is better for this? I suspect the tail packing on Reiser may be slowing the fs down enough to cause the audio sync problems. My cpu is only at about 30-40%, so it can't be process scheduling causing it.

huh? (5, Insightful)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001013)

"No one does it quite right yet..."

Err, one company does. Stop comparing it to Tivo and just get a Tivo. It's made for its purpose and won't require countless hours of hacking and tweaking and kludging to work. I'm all for building your own and Open Source and blah blah blah, but now and then a product is actually produced for a decent price that does a great job doing what it was made to do.

(But for those who prefer a lot of hacking and tweaking and kludging, you can get a BASH prompt on it and go nuts fiddling with code to your heart's content.)

Cost (5, Insightful)

imta11 (129979) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001021)

When figuring cost, keep in mind that the PVRs are a device and subscription service wheras the PC solution is a one time investment.

Re:Cost (2)

caferace (442) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001196)

When figuring cost, keep in mind that the PVRs are a device and subscription service wheras the PC solution is a one time investment.

Only is your time is worth nothing to you. Keep that in mind as well.

Re:Cost (3, Insightful)

Krow10 (228527) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001516)

Blockquoth the poster:
When figuring cost, keep in mind that the PVRs are a device and subscription service wheras the PC solution is a one time investment.

Only [if] your time is worth nothing to you. Keep that in mind as well.
For some of us, tinkering is recreation. That, and the fact that we are not beholden to those who would limit PVR functionality for some reason.


Re:Cost (2)

Evro (18923) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001306)

When figuring cost, keep in mind that the PVRs are a device and subscription service wheras the PC solution is a one time investment.

You only have to subscribe if you want the program listing information. Without this, you're left with basically the same functionality as a VCR. With a PC the program info subscription is not even an option, which makes the PC about 100 times less useful for most people.

Re:Cost (2, Insightful)

eison (56778) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001314)

TiVo offers lifetime subscriptions if you prefer to think of it as a one time investment.

How do you plan on getting the subscription data (show schedules) onto your home-built PVR forever without paying anyone anything? Whatever screen-scraper scripts you write will be broken by the content provider if they become popular.

TiVo still rocks, but... (4, Informative)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001022)

... in case TiVo, Inc. goes under, I do take some comfort in the fact that PCs are getting there. The big advance in the last year or so has been advent of inexpensive PCI cards with built-in MPEG2 encoder chips. The key there is the quality is much better than software based mpeg encoding routines. The chips handle 3/2 pulldown and deinterlacing much better, if such things tickle your fancy.

Hauppauge has a new card [hauppauge.com] that I've been looking into, and the Navis-Pro [pentamedia.com] is also supposed to be good.

Similar cards were in the thousands of dollars a couple years ago. Now they're around $200... and falling. We're not long before its very easy, very good quality, and very inexpensive. We're not quite there yet though, and for now TiVo and the like and certainly the way to go.


Re:TiVo still rocks, but... (1)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001123)

key there is the quality is much better than software based mpeg encoding routines

Before anyone jumps down my throat (I know they're waiting), I should have said "realtime software based mpeg encoding routines.". Obiously, given enough compute time, a software routine can do a much better job than an mpeg co-processor chip, but the key here is realtime compression and all but the most wickedly fast CPUs can't keep up with a dedicated mpeg encoder chip.


Re:TiVo still rocks, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001304)

Hauppauge has an upcomming 350 that is $100 more, but also has hardware decode as well as S-Video out so you can watch on a TV. Excellent.

Compare models here [hauppauge.com] [hauppauge.com].


Previous Story (0)

zet0n (266284) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001023)

here is the link to the PVR posted in a previous slashdot story:


and here's the story itself:

http://slashdot.org/articles/02/04/09/1428207.sh tm l?tid=162

Radio frequency remote? (1)

McCart42 (207315) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001027)

Anyone that owns an ATI All-in-Wonder; does the radio frequency remote interfere with other RF devices (such as a wireless RF mouse)?

Re:Radio frequency remote? (2, Informative)

_J_ (30559) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001110)

I do. ATI All-in-Wonder 8500 DV with RF Remote on the same computer as my Logitech RF Cordless Web Mouse. No Problems Whatsoever.

I'm sure they use some low level packeting, and I tend to be channel surfing when I'm using my Remote control so I'm not normally using my mouse. I've never noticed any issues.


Snapstream's latest version (Quartz) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001028)

Quartz has a load of neat features, like being able to encode things directly to DivX format, the ability to mess with your PVS anywhere over the net (as long as you know your IP, or have a snapstream.net account), and live streaming preview of what's currently recording. It's not a PVS in the sense of a TiVo, where they upgrade a VCR with a hard drive. Snapstream seems to be designed to be used with a mouse from a computer, not from a set top box.

Not yet... (3, Insightful)

swordboy (472941) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001037)

No one does it quite right yet...

Not yet but soon. Microsoft is working on their version [microsoft.com] of TiVo. You wonder why the Nforce2 has dual ethernet ports? Well, basically, Microsoft is going to take over the loose ends that are hanging in various markets.

Hollywood doesn't want you copying their crap, the cableco's don't want you using more than a single PC on their crap (without paying extra for it) and Microsoft doesn't want you doing anything without paying for their crap.

In the end, you get a set-top box with a built in web-server, network router, PVR features / AV features, gaming, etc, etc, etc. It is a wonderful idea and will likely take everything by storm. The cableco's will stick one of these MS boxes on your TV for free. In return, you'll be able to rent games and movies from them. If you want to add another PC - no problem - the system will automatically run a wizard which will register the system with the cableco, and most importantly - your bill.

Here's a great Linux PVR solution (4, Informative)

oGMo (379) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001060)

Check out MythTV [mythtv.com] , from the author of Freeamp. It uses Linux, Qt, and a TV tuner card to provide an entire solution for dropping a box next to your TV. Here are a few features:

  • CD ripping and music playback (mp3, ogg, etc.)
  • Grabbing TV program information off the web
  • IR remote control support

Other things such as support for various emulators are on the todo list. The frontend [mythtv.org] is rather pretty [mythtv.org] as well [mythtv.org] .

Re:Here's a great Linux PVR solution (2)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001377)

Holy cow! Okay, that's almost freakishly impressive. Only thing I'm not sure of is what it takes to set it up. I'm one of those with an All-in-Wonder, which in Linux is not all that easy to set up. Gatos, KM, kernel source, blah blah blah.

Time to go find out how to install it. Kudos to the author!

Open Source Tivo Web Project (2, Informative)

subbie (579126) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001082)

Ah, but what if one could operate Tivo *from* a PC? Or even better, from any internet-connected PC anywhere in the world? Check out the The Tivo Web Project [lightn.org] . There, you can also find info on hacking your Tivo to get a ppp or ethernet connection.

Personally, I can't imagine living without Tivo, but I hear that they (much like Major League Baseball) are conspiring to take over the world by collecting all sorts of sinister marketing information about my viewing habits. . . Should I be afraid?

boobip boobip,

My favorite part! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001117)

My favorite part of an Oreo milkshake is the sludge at the bottom when you're almost finished.

CMU research...informatix or something? (3, Informative)

McCart42 (207315) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001120)

I remember being shown "current" research into this a couple years ago (winter 1999-2000) on a campus tour at Carnegie Mellon--anyone remember this? It was called "Informedia", and it promised to monitor closed captioning on all channels for keywords, and record the A/V stream as well as save the closed captioning.

Oh here we go, I found a link [cmu.edu] to it. Very interesting stuff. As it turns out, the use is to store this video in libraries...it would be recorded from WQED and similar educational stations and accessible for playback later. Very entertaining project, IMO.

Here's an early overview of the project.
"RATIONALE of the Informedia Digital Video Library Goal:
The Informedia(tm) Digital Video Library Project at Carnegie Mellon University is creating a digital library of text, images, videos and audio data available for full content retrieval. The initial testbed will be installed in several K-12 schools and students will use the Informedia System to explore multi-media data for educational purposes. The Informedia system for video libraries goes far beyond the current paradigm of video-on-demand, by retrieving a short video paragraph in response to the user's query.

(Why is this project needed, why now)
Vast digital libraries of information will soon become available on the nation's Information Superhighway as a result of emerging multimedia computing technologies. These libraries will have a profound impact on the conduct of business, professional, and personal activities. However, it is not enough to simply store and play back information as in commercial video-on-demand services. New technology is needed to organize and search these vast data collections, retrieve the most relevant selections, and effectively reuse them.

The Informedia Library project proposes to develop these new technologies and to embed them in a video library system primarily for use in education and training. The nation's schools and industry together spend between $400 and $600 billion per year on education and training, an activity that is 93% labor-intensive, with little change in teacher productivity ratios since the 1800s. The new digital video library technology will allow independent, self-motivated access to information for learning, exploration, and research. This will bring about a revolutionary improvement in the way education and training are delivered and received."

I disagree... (4, Interesting)

eric2hill (33085) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001146)

"No one does it quite right yet..."

I disagree. I've got a Dish Network [dishnetwork.com] PVR 501 that works wonderfully.
  • All the guide information comes down through the sat signal.
  • The hard drive stores the raw MPEG bitstream, not a recompressed version.
  • The quality is therefore identical to the live sat broadcast.
  • I have a 10-second skip back.
  • I have a 30-second skip forward.
  • Live pause is perfectly integrated.
  • The guide search works great now.
  • Built-in on-screen caller ID.
The only things I miss are the ability to change out hard drives for a bigger model, and the ability to dump a show to CD or DVD. These features I can live without. This little box works great.

Now if I can just get caller IQ I'll be all set.

The importance of listings, and hooks into p2p (4, Insightful)

astrashe (7452) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001189)

It seems to me that the key missing element is some sort of database of listings. It seems that it ought to be doable -- we have freedb's of CD track names, for example.

A computer with a PVR card is a more complicated replacement for a VCR, and unless you want to edit or share the video, it doesn't give you many advantages. If you just want to watch the show you're going to miss because you're going out, a VCR is a better solution.

TiVo is a lot more than a VCR -- you program it, and you never miss your favorite shows again. You have a pool of programs waiting for you, a queue of shows you like that's available whenever you have the time to watch them.

Imagine coupling all of the funcationality of TiVo with a p2p system -- so you could even get shows that you forgot to record, or earlier episodes of a show you've just discovered.

Kazaa lets you do things that go a long way towards proving the potential of this technology. You can tell kazaa to get some specific episode of south park, and it will, although it might take awhile. But the selection of shows available on kazaa is pretty poor.

If a p2p system shared all the shows that people recorded for themselves, then everything would be available. We'd all end up in jail for copyright violations, but there'd be a lot of good video on the network.

Better yet, the system would be international. We could watch British shows here in the States, or Japanese shows, or whatever.

This stuff has a lot of potential to be insanely great.

Login required (2)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001197)

For the needy, I just made cipherpunk44:cipherpunk44

cipherpunk:cipherpunk used to be the magic account available almost anywhere, but it seems that some careless fellow changed the password for that account on the NYT web site.

Why doesn't Tivo make a PC PVR solution (1)

santakrooz (517854) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001206)

they have everything they need...

Because just like Apple... (3, Insightful)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001499)

...the magic is in the software-hardware combo, and the money is in the hardware.

Plus supporting only their hardware means many fewer support headaches.

Now, maybe something like TiVo-on-a-PCI-card and TiVo software that only works with that card would fly from a technical standpoint, but then the ability to trade shows would be accessible to the average user. Jack Valenti would pop a vein in his forehead. Right now, it's possible to extract the video from a TiVo only if you're willing to futz under the hood, so the majority of TiVo users can't do it, so it's not THAT big of a concern-- like MP3 trading on Usenet and FTP was, before Napster came along.

And then we're back to support issues. You put a PC TiVo kit on the shelves at CompUSA, you have to hire people to help Joe Idiot User who can barely work Windows but now expects to get his PC and cable box talking nicely to each other.


EyeTV Software Bugs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001248)

A friend of mine bought the EyeTV soon after it was announced. The software that ships with it is really buggy. Most annoying, you can't leave the USB connection plugged in for more than 24 hours. He's had a bunch of other problems with it too (I don't rememeber the specifics off hand) but the thing seems to be usable. Just barely. I wouldn't recommend anyone buy it until they do a lot of work on the software.

but what I'm curious about (2)

Ravagin (100668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001258)

Is the ATI TV Wonder USB. Anyone have any experience with or feelings about this one? I don't watch enough TV regularly to justtify actually owning a TV, but it's not a medium to which I want to lose access. [ati.com]

*muttermutterdon'twanttomissstartrekmuttermutter *

So given that the ATI USB TV tuner is the same price as Hauppage's [hauppauge.com] but seems to be better feature-wise, does anyone have any grounds on which I shouldn't get it?


Huh? (1)

eison (56778) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001274)

Of course it's there. The TiVo and Replay both do PC based PVR very very well. They just happen to bundle their software with some hardware and charge for it. The real question is, why ignore this solution, since it seems to work so well?

PVRs vs PCs (4, Interesting)

Storm (2856) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001319)

I have been working on this very thing the past feww months, and have found that while there is an associated learning curve, there are advantages to using a PC to record over a TiVO.

Since my job requires some travel, I have found that it is a definite boon to collect movies. Using my workstation as a PVR, I am able to capture to the hard drive, do some postprocessing and write a DivX to a 700MB CD-R which I can then take with me and watch on business trips. And its all perfectly legal, since I am archiving for later viewing. On the other hand, getting the same from a TiVo requires modifications of questionable legality. In addition, I can make backup copies of my DVDs on 700MB media so I don't have to risk leaving my DVDs in a hotel room somewhere.

As for the cost issue, if you have a system with the right specs (a modern PC should pretty much do it), then the only additional cost should be a tv capture card, which can be had for $20 or $30 US. The only thing that one could point out is the time cost and the learning curve involved in making the hardware and software do what you want it to. But it is that way with anything. If its worth doing, you're probably going to have to teach yourself.

What about radio (2)

byoung (2340) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001343)

I listen to talk radio, and I want to be able to record broadcasts for later listening.

Are there any solutions out there for doing this? I'd need AM support.

I'd love to be able to use my radio just like a TiVo.

It will come there in time both PVR, DVD-R, etc (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4001351)

There are some good project working with user friendly interface to video/audio recording.
freevo: freevo.sf.net
VDR: http://www.cadsoft.de/people/kls/vdr/
just to mention two that are under way.

Varios projects are also dealing with DVD-/+R(W) recording. See links below for how you can burn DVD-Video under Linux
and http://dvd.chevelless230.com

I'm quite sure that sooner or later we will have really nice easy to use Linux "living room computers" that will do dvd,cd, hd recording - play dvd,timeshit TV etc.. It's just a matter or time.


It's already easy enough under linux (5, Informative)

sanermind (512885) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001402)

I ditched my vcr months ago. Just get a tv capture card [hauppauge.com] with the bttv848 chip [bytesex.org] for video in [I recommend the winTV-FM, as it also has a stereo decoder and sound capture dsp on the card, leaving your existing sound card free, about $50 street]

Then, all you need is a good audio sync maintaining capture program like NewVideoRecorder [sourceforge.net] and a good MP4 codec [xvid.org] , and you're set! Oh, you probably need a least an athlon 1800 or equivilant, to do realtime 640x480 encoding capture with good deinterlacing. Much weaker systems can easily handle 320x240, which isn't much worse than vhs. Add in a few 80gig drives, a fast CDR, and you've got entertainment bliss.
Did I mention that the hauppage card comes with a remote, and it too is supported. [slashdot.org] So, sit back on the couch, with the computer hooked up to both record and play to your big screen tv, easily controlled by a remote.

It's being done right now, today, on peoples linux boxes. I've been doing it for over 4 months!

The only bad thing is that, currently, I still find the best application for editing commercials out of shows I want to archive, to be virtualdub [a win32 app]. It runs under wine, sure, but it still kind of hurts to have to do it. At least it's GPLd, though.

Showshifter anyone? (2, Interesting)

milo28 (170495) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001412)

None of this software holds a candle to Showshifter [showshifter.com] . Easily the best PVR software for windows. You can do any of the options talked about in the article and you're not locked into any single codec like MPEG-2 or any proprietary remote control. One of the problems mentioned was the quick use of hard drive space which can easily happen when using MPEG-2. With showshifter you control the codec used. DivX or WMV8 sure do a better job at keeping the file sizes down than MPG. I've used this software for over a year and am very happy. If you plan on trying to use your PC/TV as a PVR you should take the time to evaluate Showshifter, just like the reporter should have. I think he might have had a better experience.


Sony Multimedia Boxes (1)

nichomoff (578699) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001415)

I've actually picked up a refurb Sony PCV-MXS10 relatively cheaply and it does a pretty darn good job of integrating the PVR cababilties into the PC. It's got a cut little LCD display on the front of the case that I can't wait to hack...

And here comes MS to add it's flavor. (1)

Streyeder (569869) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001461)

Most may hate the idea of MS delving into TV, but with their recording feature at least one major corporation will be anti-no-recording-of-TV when it comes up for debate.

Streaming video over Wi-Fi (1)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001486)

I keep a server wired to my network running Andromeda [turnstyle.com] . It mostly serves MP3's, but it works with video files too.

If you capture MPG's to Andromeda's folder, they'll automatically show up in the web interface, and you should be able to stream them over your network. (I already play collected videos to my Wi-Fi enabled laptop)

From my experience MPG is more stream-friendly than AVI (which wants to fully download).

Seems like it could be pretty cool...

Picture Quality Sucks (and Blows) (1, Troll)

D. Book (534411) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001509)

I tried my best to get into using my PC as a PVR, excited about the idea of chopping out the bits I don't want (ads, etc.) and having all the recorded programs sorted in directories by name instead of sprawled across VHS tapes.

After around six months of experimentation with my All-in-Wonder Radeon and a copy of ShowShifter (which was better than ATI's TV software), there was one thing I could not escape -- the picture quality just looked bad. Whether I maximized the TV display on the PC or output the video (either via composite or s-video) to my 34cm or 68cm TV, the quality was simply YUCK. Very soft, poor colour reproduction, and pathetic bleeding of bright parts of the image (which I clearly see demonstrated in screenshots of other TV card reviews). And this was before I compressed anything. Whenever I tried out DVD on my PC, outputting to a TV, the result was also poor -- an soft image clearly inferior to my standalone DVD player.

All in all, my VHS tapes were easily superior to anything my PC and ALL-in-Wonder could spit out.

What about digital cable / satellite? (1)

PatMouser (1692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4001510)

These PC based PVRs are interesting, but they don't seem to have the ability to handle the higher channels that digital cable and/or satellite offer.

So, how does one, living here in Dallas, do an unattended record of something on the SciFi channel (161) and then something on NBC (5)?
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