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Television Media Entertainment Hardware

TiVo vs. Windows Media Center Edition 335

Posted by timothy
from the compare-contrast dept.
The Importance of writes "Two reviewers make head-to-head comparisons of TiVo and Windows Media Center Edition (here and here). TiVo still comes out ahead, but MCE is improving. Of course, some tout the flexibility of PC-based DVRs, while others question what this flexibility means when you have things like the broadcast flag and the INDUCE Act."
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TiVo vs. Windows Media Center Edition

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  • Personally (Score:2, Interesting)

    by clester (744726)
    Not to troll in any way, but personally, I will always support Tivo in the Tivo vs. MCE case for the soul reason of giving M$ my business... Just my .02
    • Re:Personally (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Enigma_Man (756516) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:16PM (#9633458) Homepage
      Even if eventually MCE became the better product? (god of technology forbid)

      -Jesse
      • Re:Personally (Score:5, Interesting)

        by darth_MALL (657218) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:22PM (#9633521)
        "Even if eventually MCE became the better product? (god of technology forbid)"
        Wouldn't it be a good thing to see MS bring out a product worth supporting? It's an awful lot of energy wasted trying to dislike something. Maybe they could earn the #1 spot for a change.
        • Re:Personally (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by SIGALRM (784769) *
          It's an awful lot of energy wasted trying to dislike something

          Shady business tactics aside, Microsoft does produce some excellent server management tools, and great productivity software. I've learned that although I'm a huge F/OSS fan, it's hard to beat Visio.

          Sometimes, they win because they deserved to. And if MCE eventually falls into that category, I might just buy it...
          • Re:Personally (Score:4, Insightful)

            by I_Love_Pocky! (751171) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:42PM (#9633717)
            You realize that they bought Visio right? I mean that last few versions have been put out by Microsoft, but I haven't seen that many enhancements.
          • Re:Personally (Score:2, Offtopic)

            by RobotRunAmok (595286) *
            it's hard to beat Visio.

            Which is undoubtedly why MS bought Visio Corp., the guys who created it, circa mid-late '90s.

            But I agree with you. MS makes some great products, and it's juvenile to overlook them simply beacuse "M$ is Evil, d00D!!!" Frankly, if for nothing else, MS should be given props for inventing the stuff (Office suite integration, e.g.) that the other guys inevitably come along and re-create less expensively, more securely, whatever.

    • Re:Personally (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bje2 (533276) * on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:19PM (#9633483)
      that's exactly what i was thinking...don't let your anti-MS stance blind you to what they're doing...what if MS stumbles upon a cure for cancer...you just gonna ignore it, because MS discovered it???
      • Re:Personally (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arieswind (789699) *
        No, but if someone discovers a cure for cancer, and Microsoft decides to make their own version of the cure because they want to make a few bucks, unless it was overwhelmingly better, I wouldn't bother.. especially if the old drug was as well known as tivo is... tivo is almost synonimus with digital tv recording/playback/etc
        • Re:Personally (Score:3, Insightful)

          No, but if someone discovers a cure for cancer, and Microsoft decides to make their own version...

          If you had cancer, you would not care WHO had the cure. Been there, done that.

        • Re:Personally (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JVert (578547)
          I will always support Tivo in the Tivo vs. MCE case for the soul reason of giving M$ my business...
          Q.Tivo does not let you take your shows with you on your laptop. The cure for cancer is nice but can I please take the cure with me on the road?

          I.A."Not interested in your microsoft lifestyle."

          (I.A. ignorant answer)
          • Re:Personally (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cayenne8 (626475)
            "Tivo does not let you take your shows with you on your laptop. "

            Once you hack it...you can take the video off it and do as you please...

      • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:28PM (#9633584)
        "what if MS stumbles upon a cure for cancer...you just gonna ignore it, because MS discovered it?"

        We dont need no DRM enabled cancer cure. The GPLed treatment is almost as good. Granted you need to swap out about half of your body parts to be compatible with it.

        • "Granted you need to swap out about half of your body parts to be compatible with it."

          And you need to have an upper endoscopy for "full disclosure" of your treatment to others.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        what if MS stumbles upon a cure for cancer...you just gonna ignore it, because MS discovered it???

        If Microsoft stumbles upon a cure for cancer, I will personally devote each anniversary of that day to running through the city streets, screaming "God, NO!!! BJE2 WAS RIGHT!!! NOOOO!!!", wearing nothing but shaving cream, chocolate frosting, and the shattered remains of my dignity.

        Happy?
      • by fermion (181285)
        Any Microsoft cure will include an EULA holding MS harmless for any side effects, even those caused by negligence, such as loss of limb, insanity, sexual dysfunction or death. The user is responsible for all expenses incurred in the care for the illnesses, even those caused by MS.

        Health service providers will receive significant discounts if they furnish MS only solutions. These providers will not be able to diagnose any sickness for which a MS cure is not available. They will be forced to state that n

  • Guess what... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Last_Available_Usern (756093) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:15PM (#9633456)
    Hey...guess what I've never had to reboot so far...my Tivo. I don't intend for that to change anytime soon either.
  • Sorry (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:16PM (#9633459)
    But anyone who picks a PC based solution is someone with too much time on their hands, and needs to examine their lifestyle, perhaps.

    Computers are a hobby of mine, and *I* don't have the time or patience to set something like this up. $149 for a Tivo gave me dual tuners, snappy interface and recording of the original DirecTV data stream (no quality loss). $6 a month? If $6 a month is even an issue to you, again, take a magnifying lens to your life. Something isn't working correctly.

    • Re:Sorry (Score:4, Insightful)

      by timts (766509) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:21PM (#9633511) Journal
      a tv tuner card on pc can do much better than tivo, not to mention you have the ability to burn them on CDR, or burn them to DVDR, even DVD( on DVDR) and archive them. :D
    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BillFarber (641417) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:32PM (#9633619)
      Computers are a hobby of yours, but you don't have the time or patience to install a video capture card and beyondTV from snapstream?

      You might want to think about a new hobby if doing either of those strains your time or patience.

      • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @02:14PM (#9634013) Journal
        It may work fine for me, but if the whole family has to use it, it had better work perfectly 99.95% of the time. Features are wonderful, but if it doesn't work when you wife presses the "do this" button on the remote twice in a three month period, you may as well have purchased a rock with flashing lights on it.

        MediaPCs are still for hobbiests interested in playing around, not for consumer use.
    • Re:Sorry (Score:3, Insightful)

      by liquidsin (398151)
      Point me to the manual for setting up the tivo to play mp3/ogg through my stereo, download and play video off the internet, burn audio cds, vcds, and dvds, and play roms for all my favourite arcade and nes games right on my tv. Otherwise stfu about your ideas on what I should be doing with my free time.
    • Re:Sorry (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think you're overlooking differing points of view with these statements. First of all, computers are not a "hobby" of mine. I have always looked at them as being different than model railroading and stamp collecting because of the great rewards provided by being proficient at them. I work with computers for a living, and enjoy continuing to use them in my personal life as well.

      One of my future goals is to set up a PC based solution for basic idea mentioned in this article. When I do, will use a PC ba
    • Re:Sorry (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SilentChris (452960) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:35PM (#9633648) Homepage
      "If $6 a month is even an issue to you, again, take a magnifying lens to your life. Something isn't working correctly."

      Maybe to you, but *understanding* it is worth far more than $6 a month to some people.
    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AuMatar (183847) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:35PM (#9633649)
      6 dollars a month for the rest of your life. Even if you need to buy all new hardware, thats a payback time of 1-2 years. At worst the time to do it will add another year to that. Plus you'll never need to buy a new pc. If you want the latest cool feature, just update the software. Thats a much better deal than a Tivo IMO. Besides, I hate being nickle and dimed by recurring payments. And I don't want to pay for a lifetime contract, what if Tivo goes out of business?

      That stated- Microsoft would not be my software of choice. I'd go Myth TV or the like.
      • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

        by isorox (205688) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:43PM (#9633720) Homepage Journal
        6 dollars a month for the rest of your life. Even if you need to buy all new hardware, thats a payback time of 1-2 years.

        Wow, $144 for a new PVR-ready computer?

        Dont get me wrong, a MythTV setup is much more expansive then tivo, but you can get Tivo and 5 years listings for the price.
    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spronk (712662) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:37PM (#9633662)
      Recording TV shows is just one small part of what an HTPC does. A Tivo can't even come close to what something like MythTV can do. People get so hung up on the PVR aspects of HTPCs that they miss the bigger picture.

      Using a computer to replace a Tivo *is* rather silly. Using a computer to replace a CD player, DVD player, and Tivo plus provide Newsfeeds weather maps, video conferencing, create DVDs of your favorite shows and more not to mention provide that content to any room in your home isn't.

    • try $13/month (Score:3, Informative)

      by apachetoolbox (456499)
      Where did you get $6/month from?

      Standard tivo fee is at least $12.99/month. That's high for just downloading tv listings and keeping track of everything I watch. It should be free for the privilege of tracking everything I do with it in my opinion.
      • He has DirecTiVo, it's cheaper per month.

        stupid 20 second rule.. damn slashdot.

      • Re:try $13/month (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        He said that he got dual tuners, which means he's using a DirectTivo. Its a Direct TV box with Tivo built in. DirectTivo users only have to pay $6 a month for Tivo service. Been that way for awhile.

        Tivo did just lower the price of a second regular Tivo box to six bucks a month though
      • Re:try $13/month (Score:2, Informative)

        by bozzaj (682845)
        I think he's speaking of the DirecTivo units, which are slightly different. They only work for DirecTV, but they can record two streams directly from the satellite without additional compression.

        And the charge is $4.99/month for the service. Obviously, that's over and above the DirecTV service.

        If you're looking at analog-only cable or regular TV, Tivo becomes a harder sell. Personally, since I have DirecTV, I find it much more convenient to have a DirecTivo box instead of a regular Tivo unit that h
    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rs25com (710712) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:37PM (#9633669)
      Besides the hurdles involved, I think the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) plays a bigger part than we think about. I tried the TV on PC thing, and when it crashed in the middle of a show, or I had to use the computer and she wanted to watch something.... Yeah, I still use Tivo for TV and my PC for PC. ;)
      • Re:Sorry (Score:2, Interesting)

        by spronk (712662)
        My wife is the one who requested the removal of our Tivo after using our HTPC. Our boxes don't crash, they only get rebooted to update the kernel now and then but otherwise they're running 24/7 recording shows and what not.
    • Frankly I dont have the time to wait for directivo menus to draw... Ugh soo slow, I have a media center and a tivo in the house. Jumping through commercials and navigating through recorded tv is sooo much faster on the mce then the tivo.
    • Re:Sorry (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TechnoPops (590791)
      Well, what about those of us whose lives are computers (even if those people are few and far between nowadays)? Those of us who really enjoy these things, work with them on a daily basis, and like to be constructive? For us, it's more than simply what you get--it's what you put IN. It's about that satisfaction you get from seeing tangible results from your efforts in the things you love. Anyone who's passionate about anything understands this, and that's why there are people who will spend the time, mon
    • Re:Sorry (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Steve525 (236741)
      Yes, but you obviously have DirecTV. If you don't have DirecTV, and have no interest in DirecTV, then your comparison isn't valid. You'll loose the ability to directly record a stream, you'll become limited to one tuner, and the cost goes up to (I think) $13 a month. So, yes, for those who have DirecTV, or are interested in DirectTV, it's a no-brainer. For others, Tivo, is a less attractive (although still a very good) option.

      I've looked into building a PVR from an old computer recently. The combinati
    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Informative)

      by marcop (205587) <marcop@@@slashdot...org> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:51PM (#9633805) Homepage
      If $6 a month is even an issue to you, again, take a magnifying lens to your life.

      Don't forget that a PC will consume a lot more electricity than a Tivo. I haven't figured it out but I wouldn't be surprised if it cost around $10 a month more to keep a PC running 24/7 compared to a Tivo.
  • TiVo vs. MythTV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmplague (412185) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:16PM (#9633468) Homepage
    I want to see a comparison of TiVo vs. MythTV vs. Freevo vs. Media Center. From my experience, MythTV should definitely come up on top. I've got a box running MythTV that acts as my tivo, fileserver, network audio device, and game console. Can tivo do all that?
    • Re:TiVo vs. MythTV (Score:3, Informative)

      by CommanderData (782739)
      I'd add MediaPortal [sourceforge.net] to that list for comparison, although I would agree MythTV [mythtv.org] should come out on top, it's awesome!
    • Re:TiVo vs. MythTV (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:22PM (#9633518)
      Throw "SnapStream" into there as well.

      While not free, it's pretty cheap ($30 USD).

      My main PC doubles as a DVR when I'm not using it. It's a breeze to setup (as simple as you could possibly get, actually), looks wonderful, and functions very well.

      Granted, it requires some flavor of Windows (that can run .Net libraries), but it's still great. And they set it up that if the company ever goes under, you can point Snapstream to the same kind of data that Myth uses.

      It's really a must-see-to-believe thing. I thought it was going to be some cheezy software, but it is really well put together.

      However, I think a "Tivo" is a better solution. You don't have to sit there and configure stuff, update stuff, bla bla bla. It's relatively cheap (even with the lifetime subsription it's not that bad), and does everything you need (with the exception of burning the vids onto CD's or DVD's).

    • I think that depends on the feature set that's important to you. For me, perfect picture quality from my TV provider is really quite important. In which case the DirecTiVo is the clear winner. No F/OSS PVR can currently offer that. Hopefully, when CableCARD [timewarnercable.com] is implemented everywhere, that will change.
    • Actually i switched from MythTV to media center edition. Mainly because of the amazing UI of MCE ( eye candy on a TV is what its all about ) and the really really bad picture quality of the NVIDIA x11 driver tv out. ( only one version could do overscan and this version was particularly unsharp )

      I do miss a couple of features from Myth though, auto xviding of recorded shows rocked.
    • Re:TiVo vs. MythTV (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bandar8338 (791576)
      I was considering moving to Linux (yes, I use Windows, no, I've never had a virus) and looked at MythTV to replace everything that comes with the ATI All-in-Wonder that I have, but when reading the documentation, found out it didn't work with my card (or any of the All in Wonders). I'm a college student with limited space, and I can't justify not using a $200 piece of hardware.
    • Re:TiVo vs. MythTV (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2nd Post! (213333)
      Where can I buy a MythTV box?
  • If only tivo embraced being hacked, they'd be even more flexable than a TV.


    Personally I think hardware companies should encourage this practice. I picked my wireless router because if it's readily available

    third party linux-firmware


    If Tivo encouraged this practice, they'd have far more than media center very quickly.

  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ionsahmaet}> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:18PM (#9633480) Homepage Journal
    Here's a copy of my letter to Direct TV in regards to the Home Media Option

    Subject: Home Media Option

    Details: Where is it? This is something I would PAY for. You don't
    even have a mention of it on your website, or an option for a DVR in
    your 'Topics' above . At least you could be forthcoming about the
    reasons you don't offer this service.

    I have been a customer of yours for several years (I'm not putting my
    customer number in on purpose) and have had DirectTV Tivo for a little
    over 4 months.

    I purchased this 'service' under the impression that I would be able to
    network it, burn my shows to DVD, and stream shows to my PCs and Macs.

    DirectTV has disappointed.

    Your customer service is great, and I have very few service complaints,
    but your refusal to work with your customers on this issue has me
    investigating Dish Network and Replay TV and cable offerings in my area
    - soon my DSL provider will be providing video on demand.

    It is obvious to me that if DirectTV continues treating its customers
    unfairly, the customers are going to leave for a provider that
    understands fair use.

    Thanks for your time.

    (Reply follows)
    Dear Customer,

    Thank you for writing. As you know, the TiVo stand alone may offer the
    Home Media Option, but DIRECTV DVR with TiVo does not. However, DIRECTV
    DVR with TiVo may focus more on other features, such as video-based
    services like Starz on Demand. For information about TiVo stand alone
    units and service, please visit the website at: www.tivo.com or you can
    call 877-FOR-TIVO, that's 877-367-8486. Available 11AM-11PM ET daily.

    Please know that we are always looking for ways to enhance our services.
    Your suggestions are valuable and we use them to judge interest in
    various programming sources. In fact, we have made changes as a result
    of viewer feedback.

    We have forwarded your comments to our programming department. Please
    continue to visit our web site at DIRECTV.com for the latest news and
    information about our services.

    Additionally, as you know, DIRECTV makes changes and additions to our
    programming line-up from time to time. However, it is a DIRECTV policy
    not to discuss upcoming announcements until their official release date,
    and at this time we have no official announcement beyond what we have
    already communicated to the public. We invite you to visit the News
    Releases section of our web site at
    http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/aboutus/Headline s.js p for the latest
    announcements

    We hope that this information is helpful. Thanks again for writing.

    Sincerely,

    Ganesh
    DIRECTV Customer Service

    • Yea DirecTV sucks as a corperation. I just wish somebody would come out with a comparable service, dont even mention Dish I had there DVR it's pitifull and there picture quality is worse than DirecTV. Forget any device based upon analog capture it's one thing if it's a one time cost but there is such a quality hit untill you get into expensive cards it's hard to justify. Cable's analog is hit or miss and there digital offerings in my area are worse than DirecTV. The best fit I have found is the HD Direc
    • on the bright side you got a personal reply from a hindu god
  • forget MCE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BitchAss (146906) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:19PM (#9633486) Homepage
    It's been covered a million times here, but MythTV does more than MCE or Tivo.

    One day I gave MCE a try and found it to be a dreadfull experience. Sure, some of the widgets and transitions were nice - and the remote was pretty sexy (anyone wanna help me write a driver for Linux?), but it just left me wanting more.

    I have most of my media living on a different machine - MCE had a hard time dealing with that. I had to import my mp3s (not oggs - god forbid) into Media Player before MCE would recognize them.

    Large movies were a pain too - MCE wanted a nice screen shot of each movie - so a directory with 10-15 divxs was painful to browse.

    I have MythTV set up with a PVR-250 and it's the best thing ever. Automatic commercial flagging? check Windows? Not even. So much better.
    • Re:forget MCE (Score:5, Informative)

      by BRock97 (17460) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:31PM (#9633605) Homepage
      - and the remote was pretty sexy (anyone wanna help me write a driver for Linux?)

      Take a look at the LIRC 0.7.0 snapshots [sourceforge.net]. The Microsoft remote has been in there for quite some time and works well. In fact, you can use the IR receiver that comes with it and quite a few compatible IR remotes.

      I have MythTV set up with a PVR-250 and it's the best thing ever.

      Hear hear! I have a Myth server running two Hauppauge PVR 250s [hauppauge.com] and it is smooth. The guide is smart enough that I just select two shows to record and it handles the rest. The best part is that I have a Myth client running in the main TV room that is a stripped down Dell 4600c [dell.com] which I got refurbished for $360that fits perfectly into the entertainment center. All the advantages of the two tuners, but the quiet-ness of a small form factor PC. Awesome stuff AND two TVs can use the same recording repository!
    • Re:forget MCE (Score:5, Informative)

      by xplosiv (129880) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:41PM (#9633704)
      There is a reason Microsoft does not sell MCE over the counter, it's to avoid experiences such as yours. In order to provide a good experience, Microsoft provides minimum requirements to the OEM's in order to have a very optimized machine.

      If you were truly interested in giving MCE a try, you would have found that some of the bigger sites dedicated to this OS have articles/posts telling you how to disable this movie preview and how to deal with some of the other issues. Since you had this problem, I assume you downloaded a copy yourself, and didn't actually buy/test an OEM machine with MCE preconfigured.

      Last time I checked (few months ago), MythTV didn't support the FM tuner in the PVR series cards, Linux didn't support the RCA output on my Radeon 7000 series card (plenty of people use these cards in windows machines, including myself, without any problems), the remote was really hard to configure due to the lack of drivers, and the machine could not run 24/7 for more than a few days without running into some sort of problems.

      MythTV is a great application (I will be building another MythTV machine once I have more hardware), but unlike MCE, it isn't meant for the average consumer (which obviously you aren't, as you like to tinker), who in the end will determine which DVR/PVR 'OS' will become the dominant platform.
      • Re:forget MCE (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BitchAss (146906)
        I agree - Myth was very difficult to setup. Now that I've done it a few times, I could set it up in a couple of hours (including OS install). It's definitly not meant for the average user to setup, but I don't see why a Tivo like device couldn't be setup around it.

        I did download a copy of MCE to try it out. A friend of mine works in a distributer that builds MCE units and I was pretty impressed. I think as long as you use it in the certain way that MS intends, then great (well - except for the stabilit
  • Apples and Oranges (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WizzleWizzleWizzle (697435) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:19PM (#9633492)
    It seems to me that there will always be two markets; device and PC-based. Even if MCE is a pre-packaged, Microsoft deal, it still involves a desktop computer which not everyone has, or even, *gulp*, wants!

    Some people will always like to be able to control what is going on and configure their own system. Others will want nothing to do with configuration of any kind and will simply want it to work. Until M$ spins the MCE off into a device or integrates it with X-Box or whatever, the PC'ness of it will remain its barrier of entry to the mainstream.

    I deal with computers all day long and when I get time to watch TV, the last thing I want to think about are computers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:19PM (#9633495)
    I was reading a magazine article a couple of weeks ago that made the claim that Windows Media Center is the emerging standard for component interconnect and control. IE, in the future you aren't going to have a different remote control for each component in your home theater system, but instead everything is going to be simply controlled through a Windows Media Center PC-like device. The magazine claimed ~250 vendors had already signed on (including many big names).

    I found this rather disheartening: Microsoft taking over yet another market. Sigh...

    FWIW, I don't remember the name of the magazine, but it was some god-awful Home Theater magazine that is really just an excuse for advertising.
  • As long as there are cable boxes with svideo or RCA jacks there won't be anything stopping MythTV or MCE from recording the streams.
    • Re:As long as (Score:3, Insightful)

      by realmolo (574068) *
      I agree, but it's likely that we'll see consumer AV gear WITHOUT analog outputs in the fairly near future.

      The companies that make that stuff just can't WAIT to lock you out with DRM-protected IO ports. They talk about it all the time.

  • by base3 (539820) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:24PM (#9633545)
    . . . even if it does pass, is that vendors are going to be very careful when describng a product to only include non-infringing uses in its marketing material. It would be instructional to go look at the old ads for the GoVideo dual deck VCR. They talked about its lawful purposes, while revealing enough that someone with two brain cells would think "Whoa! I could use this to copiez teh movies!"
  • by SilentChris (452960) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:25PM (#9633554) Homepage
    No, not Linux. No, not even ease of use. Picture quality with DirecTV. DirecTV with Tivo is the only solution I've seen that captures the satellite's MPEG stream perfectly, while still providing a usable interface (hear me, Dish Network?)

    I'd seriously consider building my own set, but there is no solution out there that doesn't have some analog to digital conversion at some point. And yes, it matters. Particularly if you have a 40" HDTV. Digital cable/satellite compression is pretty visible as it is; adding an analog conversion makes it look hideous.

    In my idea world, I'd have a media PC that played DVDs, stored CDs, streamed direct digital television (like my Tivo) and (as a luxury) was wirelessly connected to the internet. All of these features exist as different pieces in other machines, but no one has them all together.
  • by antdude (79039) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:26PM (#9633573) Homepage Journal
    To me, it is nice for a simple PVR but it is sure buggy to me. A few times, I actually had blue screens of death.

    I also use ATI's Multimedia Center (MMC) for my gaming box with ATI Radeon 9800 All-In-Wonder (AIW) card. The software is nice with features, but also buggy (crashes a lot). There are a lot of features I miss like recording captions other than VCR video file format, being able to pause on demand while using scheduled recording like TV-On-Demand, etc.

    TiVo and other hardware PVRs are better since they don't crash like computers due to various settings, setup, hardwares, etc.
  • by grunt107 (739510) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:28PM (#9633586)
    A few years back the major a/v mfgs (like Yamaha, Denon, Pioneer) were supposedly agreeing on a common interface to their components, which could also be controlled by outside (read: PC) components. Has any of this gone forward? I would prefer the sonic advantage of standalone components, but would love to have server access (and use a live web connect as another "component"). Then MythTV (or TiVo) could be just another component enhanced by the home theatre system.
  • Oddly? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:30PM (#9633602)
    Oddly, all recordings defaulted to starting five minutes before the scheduled time.

    Not really. Back in the days when you had to manually enter the start and end time of a programme and set the clock by hand it was common for people to set the video to start 5 minutes before and let it run up to 15 minutes after.

    This was to ensure that if your clock was slow, you didn't miss the first minute or so and if it overran, you didn't miss the crucial last scenes.

    Even software such as Gemstars Video+ system puts 5 minutes before and 10 minutes after by default.

    Of course in this day and age of self correcting clocks, on screen programming and the special tag that tells you when a programme finishes this buffer probably makes less and less sense.

  • Canada as safe haven (Score:5, Interesting)

    by antarctican (301636) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:30PM (#9633604) Homepage
    See, if I had the time and money I'd setup a company here in Canada where we don't have these insane laws limited consumer rights. Yes, it's getting worse up here, but for now I see this as the near-by safe haven for developing PVR type products safe from being sued.

    Yes, importing could be restricted, but it's not stopping us from sending you guys cheaper drugs to get around that piece of insanity by your government - catering to all of big business' demands....

    So look north, let us develop your PVRs, it'll be good for us, you'll have more freedom, and I can only hope we're sane enough to never let our government pass such outrageous laws.... Move MythTV's code base off-shore or north.... such a great solution. :)
  • my MCE experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xplosiv (129880) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:31PM (#9633608)
    As someone who built his own MCE 2004 based machine, I have to admit I am VERY impressed with this OS. There is no way I would buy a TIVO now as I can customize this machine with any codecs and plugins I want and do as I please. People who say that the PC doesn't belong in the living room will have to wake up, Microsoft has figured this out a long time ago and are on the right track (there is still lots of room for improvement of course).

    My MCE 2004 machine (which runs 24/7) is 100% stable (the OS is based on XP sp1), even when keeping up to date with all the patches out there. I ended up getting rid of my SA8000 DVR from time warner because it is so reliable. There are addons out there such as the plugin which provides a nice interface to the video library (you pick the movie by clicking the 'cover', and it will automatically mount the ISO), or the web based interface. Add the fact that you can listen to FM radio using a PVR250MCE or PVR350 series TV tuner card, and you have a very nice entertainment machine. The only thing which comes close to this setup is MythTV (which I do like), but has some reliability & configuration issues which aren't user friendly.

    Since MCE can't be bought legally (you can only download it when you have a MSDN license), I will be 'buying' a second MCE machine once the next release comes out, and network the 2 machines (and other custom PVR machines which can share video data) so I can watch my video/dvd/broadcast anywhere in the house.
    • by spagma (514837) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:38PM (#9633678) Homepage
      Say what you want about Tivo, but I dont have to worry about my tivo getting hacked because I did visit windows update on a regular basis.
      • I haven't seen a post yet where a person complained their MCE based machine shows funny pictures ;) The only reason MCE should get to the internet is for the Guide update (which is free btw, unlike with Tivo), and windows updates. If you run a hardware/software firewall, or turn on the internal firewall, you will be just fine, even if you don't patch. If you decide to use the machine as a regular PC, well then you can't compare the Tivo and PC as they both are meant to do different things in that case, w
      • by LordSah (185088) *
        Set windows to auto-apply critical patches at 4:00am. There's no point in manually doing it for your TV box: there's no critical applications on your media box that would break.
  • by MaestroSartori (146297) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:34PM (#9633641) Homepage
    ...for those of us in the UK, at least as long as there continues to be no new Tivo kit worth buying. There are some decent PVRs apparently, but I'm told they all fall short on various aspects...
  • by Not_Wiggins (686627) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:36PM (#9633655) Journal
    With the push to move towards digital-only signaling, the PC is going to get squeezed out.

    I'm all for PC-based PVRs, but I have digital cable. The thought of re-encoding an MPEG2 stream that has already been encoded and decoded once really blows (especially when the compression they've used is so freakin' high to start).

    At least with TiVo, one can record the original stream un-decoded. Even then, this isn't an option for me as I don't have satellite (it is supposed to be coming "soon" for digital cable boxes).

    And I can't imagine that with the security wrapped into those digital receivers any of those companies are going to be hot to support a PC-based digital decoder card.

    Hate to say it, but when it comes to quality, I think the "receiver with integrated pvr functionality" is going to win out. 8/
  • by foooo (634898) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:36PM (#9633657) Journal
    TiVo is a Linux based PC. It is hackable enough to do a *lot* of interesting things that you can't on a normal TiVo.

    The reason why TiVo corporation doesn't support this "hacking" actively is that they need to be legally insulated from lawsuits.

    http://www.tivocommunity.com/

    ~foooo

  • by eltoyoboyo (750015) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:40PM (#9633694) Journal
    The MCE box is a general-purpose WIndows XP machine, so you can use it as a web browser, email terminal, and game machine. ... Of course, the downside of this is that you have to keep your MCE up to date on patches and fixes-- something that might be an unwanted hassle for people who don't live patch management every day.

    So as long as you keep it disconnected from the internet, you are better off until MS figures out how to deliver TCP/IP safety to the masses. The MCE is feature rich and aimed towards providing a full entertainment control center for audio components (AF/FM CD/TAPE/Record Player/Digital jukebox) as well as video components (PVR/Tuner/DVD Player/Digital jukebox). The internet connectivity or broadband cable/satellite are going to be part of the experience too. So Microsoft is going to have to address the security problems to make this fully marketable. It is not going to do well if it has a big sticker that says "Warning: do not connect to the Internet".
  • by GweeDo (127172) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:42PM (#9633715) Homepage
    I wonder when we are going to see Dish Networks (EchoStar) DVR offerings in these kind of comparisions. They have been advertising them a TON and now you can actually get a DVR from them for free (lease, not own). I have a Dish DVR 522 and there was no hardware costs to me at all. I don't own my dish, I don't own my receiver. But I do have a 120GB DVR with dual tuners that can feed to two tv's (each watching a different stream). While some might complain about the interface (maybe they are talking about older 5XX models), I find the 522 very easy to use. They have also announced that they will be adding support for loading pictures, mp3s and the like to it via the USB input soon.
  • Hidden cost of TiVo (Score:2, Informative)

    by EvanKai (218260)
    When something is advertised as being broadband enabled, I kind of expected an ethernet port on the TiVo I bought. Instead you have to buy a USB ethernet adapter which TiVo wants $40 for. You can find compatible adapters [saigon.com] for $15 and this wouldn't be much of a problem if I didn't need 6 TiVo's to work togther for a research project about media coverage of election poll results.

    The idea was to use the TiVo's to record several hours of several stations' election coverage. We went with TiVo vs. ReplayTV be

    • by Lumpy (12016)
      We went with TiVo vs. ReplayTV because we could easily move video to a TiVo with a DVD burner to archive content.

      HUH?? Tivo is insanely more difficult to do this on compared to a replayTV.

      replayTV boxes + a free app called DVarchive and you are done. move content from units, playback content on the units etc...

      the pvrtools will convert a mpeg2 file to a replayTV file with the needed other files created in a few minutes.

      Oh and replayTV 5000 series come withthe ethernet working and ready to go out of t
  • by sjonke (457707) * on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:52PM (#9633814) Journal
    Nothing but shit to record.
  • by jamesdood (468240) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @02:19PM (#9634069)
    My wife loves Tivo, it is simple to use, records shows she likes to watch, and I don't have to spend ANY TIME showing her how to use it.. I seriously doubt that ANY computer based DVR would be capable of this.
  • Love the TiVo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BranMan (29917) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @03:41PM (#9634841)
    Don't especially like the monthly fee, but it does stuff I didn't even dream of in a PVR. Like MOVING the recording of a first-run show (the Dead Zone) from Sunday night to tonight in order to accomodate something else I asked it to record. All without needing to bother me with the details. I doubt MythTV does that.

    I am mighty impressed with the folks writing the software at TiVo - it's all pretty slick, and JUST WORKS. No glitches, no gotchas, no excuses. That's what you need with the wife and kids using it.
  • by gearmonger (672422) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @03:56PM (#9635006)
    Unlike WMC, which *is* basically just a box and software, TiVo has a whole community and culture behind it.

    As an example, "News You Can Use From TiVo" is the only company newsletter I actually read. It's funny, fun, and has some cool statistics in it once in a while.

    When WMC starts developing a community, or when TiVo runs out of funding, that's when WMC will get on my radar (my guess is that it'll be the latter :-\.

  • My "Home Theater" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:40PM (#9636230) Homepage
    is a Kiss DP-1500, playing DVD/DivX/XviD and whatever, with network, hooked up to a huge Linux media server far far away from the living room using a network cable. The one thing I can not do is record, but I've found there is very little on TV I'd like to record anyway... most shows here are ages behind the US.

    Kjella

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