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Software PVRs Becoming Tivo Killers

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the sad-state-of-affairs dept.

Television 439

mikemuch writes "ExtremeTech's Jason Cross examines PVR software that runs on Windows -- applications from SnapStream, Cyberlink, and SageTV. With TiVo's mounting price hikes, service contracts, and 'features' like self-deleting shows, the DIY option is getting more appealing all the time." From the article: "All the major TV features you're used to with TiVo or Windows Media Center Edition are there--quick 30 second skip, padding show recordings (start early and stop late), a nice integrated guide with easy-to-read program info. The interface design isn't quite as good as either of those two other options, but it's one of the best we've seen in a Windows-based PVR application outside of MCE. If we had to pick an annoyance, it's that you can't seem to bring up the program guide or navigate the menu without stopping the live TV or recording that you're watching. TiVo plays the current TV program in the background, and MCE plays it in a small window in the lower left. We didn't miss it until it was gone."

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MCE for me, unfortunately (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766844)

I currently run MCE05 after years of Tivo and love it. It never fails, the interface is usable by the lady, and it was a breeze to install.

I tried EVERY other Win & Lin PVR and none were as stable or easy to install/use. The new Rollup2 for MCE adds copy/view restrictions but they're relying on the video driver and encoder to pass the flag. I found a driver that doesn't pass the flag, and I'm happy.

I'd love to switch to Meedio or MythTV but recent trials a few weeks ago vetoed the idea. Stability and ease of use weren't there yet. MCE is a performance hog but it works. No kludges, never crashes and really integrates well in my house with the Xbox Extender.

Re:MCE for me, unfortunately (1)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766920)

Out of curiousity, why would you want to switch? What does MythTV offer that you don't have with MCE? Also, what was the ease of use problem you ran into with MythTV? Did you try a CD based such as Knoppmyth, or try following a guide, such as Jarod's guide? []

My reason... (4, Interesting)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767011)

I can't speak for the parent, but one reason I'm attracted to MythTV is because of external modules, stuff like MythGame, MythWeather, MythPhone, etc.

As for TiVo, they still (for now) have one big advantage for me: I'm a DirecTV subscriber, and TiVo is the only device that will record the digital signal instead of the analog conversion. When DirecTV starts offering their own DVRs, I'll probably start using it instead. I love my TiVo and MythTV, but the most important thing to me is seeing what I watch in its glorious original quality.

Re:My reason... (4, Informative)

Utopia (149375) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767041)

Games, Weather, Phone etc. are also avaiable on MCE.

Re:MCE for me, unfortunately (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767091)

I've built 5 MCE systems for others using 5 different hardware setups. They all work. The Wife Acceptance Factor necessitates it.

Every MythTV I've built has involved future phone calls. I've followed guides and tried various installs. When my home MythTV burped, it was hours of hitting forums to resolve.

I've been building PCs (Win & Lin) for 19 years. I love Linux, but MythTV is ill supported.

Funny thing... I had to call MS once for an MCE issue, and tech support figured it out in 10 minutes.

When a F/OSS PVR passes the WAF, I'll keep it.

Easy to use Windows PVR software: GB-PVR (-1, Troll)

thebosz (748870) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767019)

I've had a PVR system up and running for about a year now. Originally, I was planning on using MythTV. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the system up and running, even following every HowTO and guide out there, even with KnoppMyth.

So I tried a free, Windows based solution: GB-PVR [] . It's really easy to set up and use, new features are being added all the time and my wife loves it.


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13767060)

Parent links to an affiliate link portal.

Re:Easy to use Windows PVR software: GB-PVR (5, Informative)

thebosz (748870) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767081)

Jeez, don't click that link. Stupid me, it's: GB-PVR [] . They've got a nice forum and a dedicated developer. Unfortunately, it's not open source. But neither are any of the commercial offerings.

Re:Easy to use Windows PVR software: GB-PVR (1)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767158)

I think you meant to link to this site for GB-PVR [] . At least, that's what I hope you meant.. what you actually linked to was just another link portal.

That said, thanks for the pointer... I'll have to check it out.

Re:MCE for me, unfortunately (1)

reclusivemonkey (703154) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767082)

MythTV may be difficult to setup, but I've had no issues with stability whatsoever (maybe thats because I'm using Slackware, not the "recommended" distros for MythTV), and the interface is simplicity itself. Both my girlfriend and her five year old daughter can use it fine.

Re:MCE for me, unfortunately -- TRY GB-PVR (3, Informative)

jvbunte (177128) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767118)

Another poster already mentioned Media Portal (an excellent opensource choice for Windows) but there is also GB-PVR over at [] which is also free to use however not open source. Its in active development with active forums and lots of plugins available. It supports xmltv as well as zap2it for EPG. I recommend a hardware based encoder (I use Hauppage 350/150) for either.

Both of these fine products are easier to setup than MythTV or Freevo (I tried those too).

Just another alternative to MCE.

Re:MCE for me, unfortunately (1)

Ben Newman (53813) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767148)

Well, YMMV, but MythTV works great in our house. I've been running it for a little over 2 years now, and while it has had a couple of instances of downtime I wouldn't trade it for any commercial product I've seen. Not only does it work great in it's TiVo like capacity with 200+ hours of recording time, but it intigrates flawlessly with my mp3 collection, allowing us to play all of our music through the same device, and the ROM emulation allows me to play old Atari games in front of my tv like it was '85 all over again. If I see an article on slashdot about a show I want to record, I've got a handy web interface to set up the recording from work. The wife loves it, and has told me repeatedly that she couldn't live without it anymore. I'm already planning a super system upgrade to throw in multiple tuner cards in a centralized server so we can watch our shows from any tv or computer in the house. That being said, I'm recommending that my Mom get a Tivo. I love my MythTV, but it does take some patience/skills that she doesn't have, and as her defacto tech support, I don't want to deal with it either.

Well... (0)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766846)

If we had to pick an annoyance, it's that you can't seem to bring up the program guide or navigate the menu without stopping the live TV or recording that you're watching.
It gives you something to do during commercials.

Re:Well... (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767028)

Also, this is bullshit with regards to SageTV. I'm doing it right now as I scan through other stuff to watch.

Windows based? Who cares? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766847)

When we have MythTV on the penguin, and even MythTV based LiveCDs, who honestly cares about running a windows PVR?

And with all the DRM and such on windows these days, who would WANT to run a windows based PVR? Ignoring of course that adding xp pro to some hardware pumps the cost of that PVR by $150 ... tivo killer eh? ...eesh...


Re:Windows based? Who cares? (3, Insightful)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766902)

"When we have MythTV on the penguin, and even MythTV based LiveCDs, who honestly cares about running a windows PVR?"

People who have ATi graphics cards and/or people who would rather buy such a graphics/DVR capable card from the local Best Buy or CompUSA instead of ordering a specialized Linux supporting card from a more obscure source.

Re:Windows based? Who cares? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766937)

I'm running a Radeon 9600, and a hauppage somethingorother (hardly "specialized" hardware) without any hiccups. Running it all 64bit on AMD64 too, still everything has "just worked" so far. *shrugs*


Re:Windows based? Who cares? (1)

John Girouard (716057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766989)

... instead of ordering a specialized Linux supporting card from a more obscure source.

Like Amazon? []

Re:Windows based? Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766995)

umm... those haupaugge (sp?) cards show up at CompUSA and Fry's all the time... sometimes in more numbers and versions than the ATi ones. cheaper, too, I believe.


Re:Windows based? Who cares? (1)

Rayston (454282) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766918)

I am planning on upgrading to a Athlon XP 64 machine in the next 18-24 months and I have decided to turn my old machine into a PVR when that happens, I am pretty sure I am going to use MythTV but I find the intermittent nature of the documentation to be distressing, for example will a SnapStream Firefly Remote work with MythTV? I think it does, but I cant seem to find a straight answer. Rather distressing. But ill almost certainly bite the bullet and go for it anyways, as much as I fear the headaches, I also enjoy a challenge. ;-)



Re:Windows based? Who cares? (3, Informative)

carlcub (843533) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767056)

The reason the MythTV documentation seems intermittent is that MythTV doesn't really care what kind of remote control you use. It uses LIRC [] for remote control. The remote controls supported by LIRC change with each release, and those releases aren't synchronized with MythTV releases. The LIRC homepage has a comprehensive list of IR and RF receivers that are known to work.

Re:Windows based? Who cares? (3, Interesting)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766929)

My thoughts exactly.

Why mess around with a Windows-based PVR, when there's Linux and OS X?

I've seen enough Windows-based solutions to be 100% positive that I made the right decision going with a Mac and the EyeTV 500. If I cared about streaming video all over the house, I probably would have looked at getting my fingernails dirty with MythTV on Linux, but I don't so the Mac does a fine job of what I want.

So why even look at whatever "me too" offering the Windows world is currently coming up with? Go for one of the obvious choices and spend your time agonizing over which projector to buy.

Prepare... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766848)

Prepare to read 500 "Windows is teh suck! Use MythTV on Linux! It is da bomb!" comments...

Re:Prepare... (1)

Avyakata (825132) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766895)

+1, Oddly Appropriate
+1, Impeccable Timing

(see above post...)

Re:Prepare... (1)

captnbmoore (911895) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766900)

Not me. PVR-150 linux cp /dev/video name of show.mpg enter and bingo it's done granted it's not a leave alone and automatically start and stop but cron and shell scripts do a good job of that. and if I want to watch a tv show mplayer /dev/video and it works. no extra bull shit.

Re:Prepare... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766969)

Windows is teh suck! Use MythTV on Linux! It is da bomb!

Re:Prepare... (2, Funny)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767142)

I think the karma whores are collaborating now!

Well, I don't expect this to be modded, seeing as it's an analysis of the commentary on what people might post about the article about MythTV. Too much meta-shit. Guess I'm a karma whore too, today.

Not for Joe Public (5, Insightful)

0x4B494C4C (921771) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766853)

The average home user still can't be bothered to set one up though and will thus still want the nice shiny, straight out of the box option

Re:Not for Joe Public (3, Interesting)

slipnslidemaster (516759) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766925)

To date, I've used the Comcast PVR and TiVo. I have to say, that getting a TiVo was one of my best purchases this year. I come home and have an entire menu of show's that I want to watch. It's truely cool!!

I was using the Comcast PVR and was impressed that it allowed me the ability to record TWO shows at the same time AND watch TV! I am not sure if this is due to the picture in a picture (2 tuners) and haven't had time to look this up yet but if I would LOVE to be able to record two shows using my TiVo.

Either way, using OnDemand, the PVR, and knowing that Comcast is offering VOIP and soon the possibility of ordering DVD's from my PPV selections, Comcast is very quickly leaving my "evil" company list and moving to my "cool" company to watch list.

Regardless, I come to work and am did you TiVo "this" and "that" all the time now.

Oh and Battlestar Galactica rocks (especially when you have 8 hours TiVo'd when you get home)!!!

Re:Not for Joe Public (1)

aklix (801048) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766979)

My DirecTV based Tivo will record two shows at the same time. Although I cannot watch a live show while it's doing that, I can watch a recorded show.

Re:Not for Joe Public (1)

slipnslidemaster (516759) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767054)

My TV is 15+ years old and doesn't have picture in a picture. I wonder if I run it through the VCR if that would provide another tuner?

I think I'm going to spend some time on tonight...

Beyond PVR (2, Informative)

neologee (532218) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766944)

Joe ya, but what about the guy that wants to network a multimedia system over his ousehold! Frankly i think it's easier by starting it out with a central PVR computer.

You can then have several drones take care of sound all over. Could be real cool. But i'm not sure what the average joe can do to have that?

Re:Not for Joe Public (2, Insightful)

ipxodi (156633) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766982)

Forget Joe Public or the "average home user", I like the out-of-the-box option, too. I F*** with computers all day, the last thing I want to do is come home and mess with them some more just to watch TV. I have two Tivo's -- and 40 and an 80hour, and I couldn't be more pleased.

When and if TIVO starts implementing the auto-delete feature on shows, I may re-evaluate. (if it affects what I watch) but for now Tivo is still great.

People have to accept that rights management is something we're going have to deal with. It sucks, and I don't like it, but I've got many more important things to worry about before DRM becomes a priority to me.

And before anyone starts in on the "oh they've already deleted stuff off of people's TIVO's" bit -- Tivo has admitted it, said it was a mistake and said it's part of a future change that isn't ready for roll-out and it only "escaped" to regular users by accident.

Price Point (5, Insightful)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766862)

Lets see a Tivo with 2 tuners which does it's job damn well 24x7 for $99 or a $1000+ dollar desktop which won't be up 24x7....

Re:Price Point (3, Insightful)

chaidawg (170956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766908)

Most people have a computer powerful enough to handle it in their house, just need a tv tuner and software. True, it wouldn't be the best to use it as a pvr and primary desktop, but it could be a file or webserver.
Also, why wont it be up 24/7? My desktop (and I figure most user's on slashdot) has been up for the past 9 months with 2 days of downtime.

Re:Price Point (3, Informative)

mikemuch (870535) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766974)

Hey, we're in an energy crisis here! How bout turning the thing off when you're not using it?

Re:Price Point (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766915)

Who says it won't be up 24/7? Also your price comparison is unfair, you did not include monthly fees for TIVO, and also $1,000 seems a bit high spec, i'm sure it could be built for cheaper.

Re:Price Point (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766933)

Lets see a Tivo with 2 tuners which does it's job damn well 24x7 for $99 or a $1000+ dollar desktop which won't be up 24x7....

Lets see, a Tivo that costs $99 but can't be used without a $13/month service (or lifetime subscription which only applies to a single Tivo and won't carry over if you buy a new one), or $700 PC that does way more than just record TV shows.

Re:Price Point (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766954)

And, one that works with encrypted streams (like on satellite TV).
TIVO killer? I don't think so.

Re:Price Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13767042)

How the hell is parent a Troll? Because you don't agree with it?

OOS: Freevo and MythTV (2, Insightful)

phsdv (596873) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766864)

Don't forget the open source Freevo and MythTV software. I have just installed them on my (Linux only ) PC. Works great!

Re:OOS: Freevo and MythTV (2, Insightful)

pymike (918985) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766930)

I've wanted to put one together myself for sometime, use it as a pvr and a free software games "console". Could throw one together in a nice small case that looks like something made to go near a tv for about 250 bucks.

Re:OOS: Freevo and MythTV (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767007)

Would you care to itemize that $250? I have not been able to price anything that is quiet and unobtrusive for such a low price.

Software PVR killed my Tivo. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766866)

Then it killed my iPod too, because it knew too much.

Need a clue here- (4, Insightful)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766879)

I don't have a TV (not since 1989) so TiVO like devices haven't interested me, but I've been keeping a casual track on the goings-on with TiVO, MythTV, and others.

But what confuses me is this: All the "new" features they keep adding, seem like a step backward to me, are these features forced upon you regardless of device you have, or are "1st Gen" model TiVOs and whatnot, valuable property for ignoring all the new stuff?

Re:Need a clue here- (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766986)

I'm not sure, but this link [] will possibly help you out.

BTW...did I mention I don't own a TV? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13767004)

Because I don't. Don't own a TV, that is. And I'm posting here because I'm interested in the technology. I'm not interested in television, though. Because I don't own a TV.

Re:Need a clue here- (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13767008)

I don't have a TV (not since 1989)

Thats interesting as I haven't owned or used a computer since 1992.

Re:Need a clue here- (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767061)

1989? I stopped watching commercial TV in the 80s too; No matter the tech, no matter the ease of use, if there is JUST NOTHING ON WORTH WATCHING it won't do a lick of good.
    Personally, I have a Mac and an EyeHome.
  My interest runs to documentaries. BBC, Australian Television, Finland... These folks seem to run far superior and more informational programs then any I could find on the Paint By Numbers networks in the US. Thanks to the Net and to folks who like me are sick of the crap offered, Other shows are available. You really KNOW you want to watch something when you spend several hours to several days awaiting a bit torrent completion...all the while......reading a book..

Great timing on the topic (2, Informative)

fak3r (917687) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766881)

I'm shopping for DirecTV now, and was amazed that their 'free' PVRs come with a monthly fee! While the software PVRs get better and easier to install, I'm going to go that route to be free of fees and restrictions. So, the million dollar question, which is the best bet right now: []
or []

or is there another option I'm missing?

Re:Great timing on the topic (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766896)

I had been researching both for about a month before I laid down 600 bucks for a new computer. I chose MythTV

Re:Great timing on the topic (4, Insightful)

Local Loop (55555) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766923)

The TIVO monthly fee is nothing in comparison to the time and aggravation it would take to set up and maintain a software PVR.

But then again I'm a Mac person, and I value things that just work.

Re:Great timing on the topic (1)

Chuckaluphagus (111487) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767051)

I run BeyondTV 3.7, and I have to say you're way off base here. The major setup is for Windows and the drivers for your video card, sound card and tuner card, and while those aren't as simple as just plugging in a set top box, they're really not all that difficult either.

The BeyondTV install is quite simple: you go through a quick and decently-designed series of questions and prompts, and then it works. No crashes, no weird messages, no screwing up a planned recording when you're out of the house. In fact, I leave my PVR in standby mode almost all the time; the computer will wake up, record a show, then put itself back into standby when a recording has finished, and it does it flawlessly every time.

For BeyondTV at least there is no administration beyond deciding what to delete if your hard drive starts to fill up. Even counting in the installation time for a clean copy of Windows and device drivers, you can easily have a home PVR up and running in a couple hours and never have to pay a subscription cost.

Re:Great timing on the topic (0, Flamebait)

spikedpunch (911944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767052)

funny, everything Mac i have ever bought has broken... so much for just working.

Re:Great timing on the topic (2, Informative)

linedpaper242 (813087) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767020)

I am running mythtv. If you follow a guide it is quite simple to get a basic installation going. I suggest using the FedoraMyth guide, it is the easiest I've seen. ( [] ). Once you've got it running you can tweak the configurations to your hearts content. It's decently stable and there is so much you can do with it.

Software PVRs don't do digital (1)

shotfeel (235240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767035)

If you're getting DirecTV, use one of their PVRs. The reason is simple -if I'm reading correctly, the PC based PVRs only record analog video to digital. IOW your 100% digital DirecTV show has to be converted to analog, then back to digital to save it on a PC using one of these devices. Same for digital cable. The loss in quality may or may not matter to you.

What abour your cable provider? (1)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767059)

Comcast has an dual-tuner HD-DVR which is pretty snazzy although for the life of me I don't know if it's licensed by TiVO or what runs it. It looks the same as its cable box and so far has worked great. It can record about 15GB of HD content or 40 hours of regular content.

It, too, carries an additional fee, but it's actually the same price to get a second box for your home. At that point, it's about the same price as just replacing your original one.

I'm not affiliated with Comcast in any way besides being a customer. I do wish their services were a LITTLE less expensive.

Windows only? (1, Redundant)

RoadWarriorX (522317) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766883)

I, for one, have been interested in MythTV [] for a while. It's looks like a great F/OSS solution. Any others?

Re:Windows only? (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767078)

I've messed around with FreeVO before and I liked it... Not as robust as MythTV, but a breeze to setup and use...

Re:Windows only? (1)

managementboy (223451) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767137)

I have been running MythTV for about a year now. Very stable! and runs on low power Hardware. It can be Networek (as many display PCs as you want). My wife has used it ever since, and has no gripes about it. but as usual, its a mather of taste. If you want to try it, use knoppmyth, a live-distribution build for mythtv.

DirecTV (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766905)

While I don't like the games Tivo is playing of late, one of the biggest appeals of my DirecTivo is that it captures the satellite video stream directly, without any degradation due to re-encoding. When I watch a recording it is EXACTLY the same as when it was "live".

What about MediaPortal? (5, Informative)

Cymage (612344) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766909)

I see they wanted Windows only, why didn't they include [] MediaPortal? It is open source, has the features they want, and runs on XP. Now, if someone (anyone) could include QAM support, I would be all set.

Re:What about MediaPortal? (1)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766950)

That looks nice, it'd be even nicer if I could set it up on my wife's laptop as a frontend to MythTV.

BeyondTV for portability (4, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766910)

The one thing I like about Beyond TV- other than the fact that it runs just fine on obsolete hardware and an obsolete operating system- is that it produces WMV files. I believe MythTV on Linux does so as well- but TIVO fails in this regard. What do WMV files do for me? Give me two hours on the train every day to watch TV, during my commute, on my Windows Mobile IPAQ. That's five half-hour shows (once you skip the commercials) or three hour length shows- and I use the showsqueeze function to put them into a very watchable, 60MB/hr format that fits nicely onto flash cards.

Re:BeyondTV for portability (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766985)

Flash memory only has a certain number of write cycles it can do before it stops working. If you're rewriting 90% of your flash memory every day, you might actually see some memory problems eventually.

80 GB and then some... (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766917)

I've got a HD almost full of the invasion of Iraq (I happened to be sick that week) and recorded it all as it was reported.

With the ability, for years, to record straight to my HD I couldn't think of a decent reason to get a TiVo. Heck, I even get TV schedules and can pick and choose what to record, when and it came with my ATI video card. No funny business, telling me what I can and can't record, how long it lasts, what I can do with it, etc. It's all a bunch of MPEG files and plays as good as when I recorded it.

This all subject to change when everything goes HD.

Cable provider DVR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13766928)

I've stuck with the DVR from my cable provider. So far there hasn't been a TiVo like auto-delete. The nice thing is its only $5 a month additional and when it dies, I take it back and get a new one. I've had to do it twice so far. DVR can kill a hard drive. Why waste my money buying new drives when they can do it for me.

Re:Cable provider DVR (1)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766961)

I got one too, was only a few bucks more a month and works pretty well.
I'm still probably gonna build a MythTV box as I can't pull the recorded shows off the rental unit.

Why PVR's will never catch on... (1)

captnjameskirk (599714) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766932)

People are just too stupid to use them. I mean, if you couldn't figure out how to set the clock on your VCR, how in the hell are you going to figure out how to use a COMPUTER (*gasp*) to record your soaps???

I have my OWN TiVO Killer... (5, Funny)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766935)

It's called BitTorrent and a DVD Burner. Capture TV only. I pay for my cable. I just don't program my VCR properly.

Get ready for "Tivo SUCKS use MythTV to be cool" (1)

caffeinex36 (608768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766945)

and I'll insert my "can your granmother setup and use mythTV without calling anyone and figure out how to tape "Days of Our Lives" on it?

just add up the phone and gas charges there to see the infamous "price points"

Noooooo, thats so last year. (2, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766996)

This year its "they both suck because neither supports QAM/CableCard HD".

And, in fact, they both suck because neither supports QAM/CableCard HD.

Until there are input cards that accept a cablecard, software PVRs will always be a fringe hobbiest activity. Joe six pack doesn't want to deal with the hassle, so Tivo or a service-provided DVR makes more sense. And anyone who has bought one of the 16.5 million HD sets in the US doesn't find them terribly useful either. I have three Tivos sitting in my storage unit, and I'm sure I'll never use any of them again because I don't own an SD TV anymore. It may piss me off to be stuck using the near-worthless Motorola box that Comcast provides, but at least I can watch and record HD, and most stuff I watch is, in fact, in HD.

And I'd bet it'll be a long while, if ever, before we see a cablecard-compatible input device.

Tivo Advertising a Household Name (2, Interesting)

SumDog (466607) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766965)

What I really find interesting about Tivo is their advertising model. I don't think I've even seen an actual TiVo ad, but rather product placement in every TV show imaginable. I head it mentioned in Law and Order, The Daily Show and there was an entire segment dedicated to it in Family Guy complete with TiVo sound effects.

Although some of these references may have just been for the hell of it, like on talk shows, when the name comes up in sitcoms and dramas, it's pretty safe to assume the plug was paid for.

Living in the southern US, everyone down here likes to refer to generic products by their brand name. Every soda in the word becomes a "Coke" even if its a Pepsi, every portable mp3 player becomes an "iPod" even if it's an "iPlay" and now ever PVR device is being referred to as a "TiVo" when it's really a Comcast PVR (which is probably made by Motorola or some other company).

TiVo might go away, but the name will stick in every household.

You Can't beat the Cable Companies Offerings... (3, Insightful)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766967)

The standard offerings by cable companies are pretty good. Cost $5 a month for standard definition PVRs or $10 a month for the HD PVRs.

That $10 a month for the HD PVR is practically untouchable. There just isn't any HD PVR solutions that are comparable. I am talking about more than just the over the air HD content that MythTV, et. all. can record. HBO-HD, InHD, TnTHD, Discovery HD, etc.

You can get cable boxes that output HD over firewire for recording purposes, but those firewire devices must respect the "Broadcast Flag" like signal the cable companies have implented. IE, you don't control the content coming from that port.

I am coming from an HD centric view point. SD centric viewers obviously have more choices and options available to them.

DVR Computer vs. Appliance (1)

MonkeyCookie (657433) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766992)

I have recently been looking into getting some kind of DVR for our living room and/or bedroom, and I don't think that DVR software is going to win out over DVR appliances such as Tivo anytime soon.

Ideally, I would like to have a device that is: cheap (I only want to spend more than $300), small (limited space near TV), quiet (I don't like to have noisy devices on all the time), and extensible (I like adding neat stuff like weather, games or my own custom programs).

Ideally, I would like a small, quiet computer that runs MythTV, which is incredibly extensible. However, building a small, quiet computer that runs MythTV takes lots of money to buy the small form factor equipment and the quiet power supplies, CPUs, hard drives, etc. I could use an old computer, but those are ugly, large, and rather noisy (too much fan and hard drive noise).

I find that Tivo, which is cheaper, provides everything except the extensibility. There is a beta of a Tivo API on sourceforge, which looks promising, but there aren't all the neat features and extensions yet, like one finds for MythTV. Tivo also isn't nicely upgradable, and the product lifetime service subscription needs to be paid again after an upgrade. On the other hand, I hear that Tivo has a software advantage over MythTV, where the UI is nicer and it does all sort of neat things for you.

So at the moment, although I would like a nice MythTV setup, I'm probably going to go with Tivo, primarily due to price/benefit ratio. I'm sure there are a lot of people who are in the same situation, so I don't see the DVR software gaining dominance until more hardware like the Mac Mini is available for a cheaper price.

I have heard rumors as to some Apple DVR hardware/software in the works. Anyone know about that?

DirecTV (1)

Belisarivs (526071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766994)

Does any of this stuff work with DirecTV or the Dish Network? Or, for that matter, digital cable? If you want any of these, you need a commercial DVR solution.

Dish Network DVR (2, Interesting)

trogdor8667 (817114) | more than 8 years ago | (#13766999)

I, personally, use Dish Network's DVR, and am quite appalled with it. Not only do I have to pay an additional $10 a month to use it (its supposed to be $5, but they give you a hidden fee), but its fairly unreliable. The system powers itself off if its not used in awhile. Thats not a bad feature. The thing is, if it does this, it doesn't record programs once its off. Quite annoying. To top this off, it will sometimes say it has recorded a program, but it didn't. So, when you try and re-record it (if you're this lucky), it will cancel the new recording because it will say its a duplicate. To add insult to injury, the box itself can become quite noisy, as it heats up a good bit, and the fans are loud. The Dish Network service is great, it rarely goes down, and is great, except for some occasional lags between the video and audio, but I'd be glad to trade my DVR in for a computer-based version any day of the week (mostly for DVD burning capability).

Live TV in Guide? (1)

stevenm86 (780116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767012)

I use MythTV over here and when you pull up the program guide, the currently playing program does, in fact, get resized and shows up in the upper right corner of the screen. Takes a bit of time to bring it up, though.. 2.8Ghz machine but you can still feel it chug.

Cable/Dish DVR++ TiVo, MCE, PC based DVR -- (1)

JymBrittain (880082) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767016)

I've been running a dual tuner PVR now for about 6 months. Unless or until someone comes up with a solution to let consumers record channels above 125 [my tuner cards can not...including the $400+ ATI X800XT All in Wonder] then AFAIK provider supplied solutions such as DTV or Comcast's DVR is the only way to go to capture HD content.

MCE and PowerCinema (2, Informative)

gregbains (890793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767034)

I have had two MCE2005 computers and loved them both, unfortunately the first one had the motherboard melted, apparently couldn't cope with my 24hour 7days a week uptime, but the current one is doing great (3 months old :d ) Inbetween them I had a Power Cinema software installed on a Windows XP machine, and that was awful. MCE gives me unlimited (hard drive is huge) recording time, free guide (one off payment for machine), and is one of the most easy to use software packages I have seen in a long time, the GUI is also lovely. Microsoft did this right, and it is MCE that is keeping me from switching to Linux, because I love my MCE

BeyondTV Does Show Guide and Live TV (1)

ThePlissken (824615) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767037)

With BeyondTV you CAN view the guide while live tv and even recorded shows are playing. It brings the entire guide up as a transparent screen and keeps playing the video in the background. It works great and with the remote that came with my Hauppage card it is only a button push away.

Slashdot idiocy (5, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767038)

"With TiVo's mounting price hikes..."

What series of price hikes are you referring to? The prices for the Tivos themselves have been consistently dropping, albeit with rebates (and the before rebate prices haven't been going up). The monthly subscription fee has increased just once in the past several years - certainly not at all in the 2+ years I've been a subscriber - and the multi-unit fee has actually DROPPED.

I'm guessing you've never had a Tivo - you just get all your "facts" from Slashdot discussions?

I love my SageTV Box (1)

zhez (906323) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767049)

I got a basic computer (3Ghz) with 512 MB RAM and then added 4 things:

-2 hauppage PVR150's (dual tuners) ($95 CDN each)
-A Super-quiet fan ($65 CDN)
-A Cooler-Master case ($30 more than a standard beige one)
-SageTV ($80CDN)

Then I signed up for the CANADIAN guide from Zap2It and I'm done. Whole thing took about 3 hours after the computer was running. Used an old copy of Win2kPro, an Old Nvidia card for TV out via S-video, and an old copy of PCAnywhere for remote-control from other parts of the house (the PVR150's come with remotes for actually pressing play/pause/etc).

My Wife loves it and can't live without it. WE CAN watch the current channel, an Xvid, a recording etc while surfing the guide.. but we never surf the guide anymore. We set all our shows as favourites and just watch recordings and XVids.

It kicks ass.

Broadcast Flag (1)

corby (56462) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767050)

I am interested in building an HD-capable PVR system, but I am concerned that some HDTV capture card manufacturers have already built in Broadcast Flag support in anticipation of the regulation that was to go in effect last summer.

I know that pcHDTV [] is safe. Have any of the other manufacturers, such as ATI, already built in Broadcast Flag capabilities?

I'm sticking by my decision (Tivo) (1)

martin_b1sh0p (673005) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767057)

I really wanted to build my own DVR/PVR box but I ended up getting a Tivo. I think what it comes down to with me, is I didn't have another box laying around. That appears to be the argument with most people towards building a cheap DVR/PVR.

Oh just grab a box you have laying around and for around $200 you'll have a sweet little MythTv box etc etc. But when you don't have one laying around you're looking at at least $500 from what I calculated.

So I picked up my Tivo box for $50 from Target and yes I do have to pay $13 a month but I figure that in the time it takes for that $13 a month to add up to the cost of my MythTv box (approx 3 years) I'll be ditching it all and going all HDTV anyway; and at that time I'll re-evaluate BYO DVR/PVR vs. flat out buying one.

No HD, though, other than OTA (1)

shimmerkid (661737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767067)

This is the real bummer here. Without CableCard [] , or its satellite equivalent, we will never be able to build an HD PVR, let alone some PC-based system. And even WITH CableCard, we miss out on Pay-Per-View, On-Demand, and other services (at least until the probably-never-to-see-the-light-of-day CableCard 2.0 that should be out sometime in 2007). I have a Comcast HD PVR. It works ok, although compared to my Replay 5000, it is pathetic, in terms of conflict management, predictability, etc. However, the Comcast box lets me record 2 HD streams at once. The Replay is only standard-def. As far as I can tell, Comcast is trying its hardest [] to derail CableCard. As for Satellite, don't count on anything, even as lame and rudimentary as CableCard, in the near future.

CableCard? (1)

thehun101 (218731) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767079)

Will any of the Media PC's be able to support Cable Card whenever it becomes available?

I use the Cable Company provided Scientific Atlanta DVR. It's a piece of junk, but it mostly works. The main thing that has kept me from building my own DVR is that I'll still need to rent a box from the cable company to decode the digital signal. When I can do it all with only one box, then I'll definitely be ready to switch.

- the Hun

Good free one (3, Insightful)

grungebox (578982) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767086)

GBPVR, found here [] . It's great, free, and does some really cool features. It's definitely worth checking. I was actually prepared to drop money on a Windows software if I liked it. I don't give two craps about viewing photos, and I don't really listen to much music that isn't in the car or on my own computer. All I looked for was a good PVR that also lets me play downloaded videos/movies/ripped DVDs. I'll give the quick take on the ones I've tried:
1) Meedio/MeedioTV - buggy as hell. And slow. It's also very new, as in a few months (MeedioTV is, at least). Looks nice, though.
2) SageTV - the built-in video browser/viewer isn't that good. I found setting up plugins sort of a pain, and I could never easily get ComSkip to work well. Maybe it was just me. It's also kind of pricey.
3) BeyondTV - no videomedia component at all; you have to separately purchase BeyondMedia. Other than that, I like this one the best. Never really tried messing with any plugins.
4) GBPVR - pretty good as is, much better with the MyVideos plugin and some other plugins that are very painless to install. Downside is none of the skins, even the MCE port, are attractive at all. Also, sometimes there's a lag between hitting a key and getting a response. Few crashes, less than Meedio but more than Sage/BeyondTV (I have roughly one crash every 3 weeks, running 24/7). Have to renew your Zap2It profile every three months to get an EPG, which is kind of annoying. Installing ComSkip a breeze, and it will auto-ship commercials (BTV and Sage require you to press some button during commercials to skip them, presumably for legal reasons; I'm not sure with Meedio).

There you go. There are plenty of other ones, like Media Portal or Myth. I've never tried MCE, though, and most people I talk to like that best if for no other reason than the WAF (wife acceptance factor). Likely, my gf prefers software she's used to, and since I already showed her how GBPVR works, she's happy with it. As long as Desperate Housewives and The Daily Show are recorded, the GBP-vo stays.

Re:Good free one (1)

jschul (794880) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767136)

I'll second GBPVR I've been using it for about a month and it has worked great. I especially like the ability to watch all my downloaded tv episodes/movies on the tv with a remote rather that having to watch on the computer.

they are going for quiet? (1)

ruiner5000 (241452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767090)

We're going more for quiet and reliable than for blistering speed: There's no intention of playing the latest 3D games on our TV, so we kept to the low-power, low-heat X300 card. ATI's TV Wonder Elite is one of the highest-quality TV Encoder cards on the market, though it unfortunately lacks dual-tuner support.

So they use a P4 at 3.2GHz? Extremetech just built the opposite of what 90% of homebuilt PVRs out there are using.

Software PVRs don't kill TiVo's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13767108)

I kill TiVo's

Pioneers DVR is full featured and cheeper than PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13767111)

Pioneer has some good PVRs for much cheeper than a PC. Mine has 80G drive,tv-guide,comercial skip, can play and record at the same time, good dvd writing, no flags and no subscription for about $500 canadian. product_id=10726&taxonomy_id=42-125 []

GB-PVR (1)

fungus (37425) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767119)

Currently using GB-PVR with an ATI 550 Pro.

Records MPEG files, works under Windows, and its FREE!

What's wrong with Tivo? (4, Interesting)

Blitzenn (554788) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767125)

It seems like Tivo is becoming hated around here for some reason. Even the review as posted freely admits that nothing, not even Windows Media Center comes (due to large screen picture quality) close to Tivo features and function. When you account for the cost of the other options, you have a real difficult time justifying anything else. A base Tivo unit is now $49, plus a liftime subscription for $299 (total cost of $348). The software and PC and tuner card(s) for the other options will cost at least twice that. There is nothing to install with Tivo short of screwing the cable in and plugging in the network, nothing to check compatability with. It's upgradable for those who like to tinker. The hacks, that give skip functionality and such, can be found from links off the Tivo site itself, and a simpleton can run them from the remote and have worked from day one and still work today. I love to put together solutions myself, but until the software comes on par with Tivo functionality and pricing, I can't justify changing. I would gain nothing and lose quality, functionality and money.

ATI MMC, alternatives, my 2 cents, etc. (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767138)

I currently use ATI MMC with my ATI Radeon 9800 Pro AIW and a set of rabbit ear antennae (no cable and satellite). It is a nice software in terms of features (TV-On-Demand, schedule recorders, closed captions recorder (requires ATI's VCR video file format), TV guide (Guide+), etc.), but it can be buggy since it likes to crash and has some issues. This is in Windows XP Pro. SP2 (all updates).

I would like its automated scheduler to be record with TV-On-Demand method so I can go back to the beginning watch while recording is in progress. This was disappointing. MMC doesn't let me do this. I have to do a manual TV-On-Demand for this feature. Also, if the file gets huge for like 2-3 hours, then it gets choppy.

I had looked and tried some programs like Snapstream, SageTV, PowerVCR, WinDVR, ShowShifter, and Video@Home. However, they were limited (e.g., missing CC recorder since I find it useful and I am partially deaf. However, these were a couple years ago. It would had been nice if I could use MythTV but the last time I checked 9800 Pro AIW were not supported.

Since I am upgrading my video card soon for mainly gaming, I am thinking of dumping the video card and getting a separate HDTV tuner card and NVIDIA card (ATI is bad in Linux as well beside its buggy Windows software) since newer games are demanding more graphic power. I am worried about the number of software available compared to ATI's MMC. What do these HDTV cards use for software PVR?

Thank you in advance for replies.

DirecTV TiVo advantage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13767145)

The advantage of those dual-tuner DirecTV TiVos is that they record the compressed signal as it comes from the satellite. No additional degradation due to decompressing (in the receiver) followed by on-the-fly compression in a software PVR, which is likely not as good as the big iron's they use to feed the satellite.

Let's be honest here (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767156)

The only real TIVO killer is and was TIVO itself. They've shot themselves in the foot once too many times.

Maybe the "new features" don't agree with people. (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 8 years ago | (#13767157)

Probably not, given that most of the people who buy tivos are sheep with too much money, but maybe the new "features" such as auto deletion of shows and "no record" flags are making people reconsider their purchase - especially if these "features" are forced on you. It could be just me, but the whole "you bought something that had a feature, and now doesn't anymore" seems like a kick in the balls - especially if you are expected to continue a monthly fee under their contract.

The lack of HD stuff - especially for DirectTV (they want $700 for a POS unit and that took forever to hit the market and it only does mpeg 2) is another concern. You'd think that Tivo would be kicking the ass of DirectTV, etc, in order to get their product out to market in a timely manner.
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