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Television Media Software Toys

Software PVRs Becoming Tivo Killers 439

Posted by Zonk
from the sad-state-of-affairs dept.
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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Software PVRs Becoming Tivo Killers

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:32PM (#13766844) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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? [wilsonet.com]
      • My reason... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by KingSkippus (799657) * on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:50PM (#13767011) Homepage Journal

        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.

      • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:59PM (#13767091) Homepage Journal
        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.
      • "What does MythTV offer that you don't have with MCE?"

        Less EVIL?
      • by tchuladdiass (174342) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:13PM (#13767211) Homepage
        For me, the main attractions for MythTV (or other Linux based pvr) is 1) I can throw the captur card(s) into my existing server (the one I used for general file storage, net gateway, email, etc...), and 2) I can throw together extremely cheap front-end boxes. A front-end consists of a motherboard with integrated net & video, case, and power supply. It network boots so it doesn't need a drive, and it pulls programming off the backend server so it don't need any capture cards. Total cost for a front-end box, ($30 for a cheap case / power supply, $40 for an integrated motherboard, $40 for a CPU, $20 for memory) is about $130. Could probably get it down a bit cheaper by skimping on the cpu speed and case/power supply quality, or by scavaging parts.
    • by jvbunte (177128) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:02PM (#13767118) Journal
      Another poster already mentioned Media Portal (an excellent opensource choice for Windows) but there is also GB-PVR over at http://www.gbpvr.com/ [gbpvr.com] 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.
    • It never fails, the interface is usable by the lady, and it was a breeze to install.

      I currently have a TiVo, which my wife loves, but I've been looking for a long time for a more integrated solution that can play media from my computer. However, all the current component solutions suck or aren't particularly user friendly. Then I was over at my friends' house one night with my wife and he had his MCE machine up and running. While playing with it, my wife exclaimed "Ooh, I want one of these". That wa

  • by Anonymous Coward
    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...

    -GenTimJS
    • "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.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        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*

        -GenTimJS
        • He's probably talking about folks with the ATI all-in-wonder cards (I have the all-in-wonder Radeon 9600 pro). They already come with all the hardware and software you need for a windows PVR. That's what they were built for.
        • hi, I guess he ment the ATI-All-in-Wonder that does not have right OSS drivers for capturing using MythTV. On http://www.rulerofearth.com/ [rulerofearth.com] you can get some working drivers for v4l2 and they work great with most Software TV apps under linux, but MythTV is an exception. But as allways, there is a solution: someone hack together the driver. From this page: Mythtv currently only supports capture cards that output planar YUV (as far as I know) and the bt82X chip can only output packed format YUV, so until someon
      • YOURE ABSOLUTELY WRONG!!! "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." You can buy a Hauppauge WinPVR at Compusa, Circuit City, etc... http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/buy/wtob_us.html [hauppauge.com] These cards are not obscure or specialized. They work well on many platforms and are easy to buy! These are hands down the most compatable / reliable
    • by Golias (176380) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:41PM (#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... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Prepare to read 500 "Windows is teh suck! Use MythTV on Linux! It is da bomb!" comments...
  • Not for Joe Public (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0x4B494C4C (921771) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:33PM (#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
    • 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.
    • by ipxodi (156633)
      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 de
  • Price Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bombadillo (706765) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:34PM (#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....
  • by phsdv (596873)
    Don't forget the open source Freevo and MythTV software. I have just installed them on my (Linux only ) PC. Works great!
    • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:34PM (#13766866)
    Then it killed my iPod too, because it knew too much.
  • Need a clue here- (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:35PM (#13766879) Homepage Journal
    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?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:47PM (#13766986)
      I'm not sure, but this link [theonion.com] will possibly help you out.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      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.
    • 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 cra
  • by fak3r (917687)
    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:

    http://freevo.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    or
    http://www.mythtv.org/ [mythtv.org]

    or is there another option I'm missing?
    • by Local Loop (55555) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:40PM (#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.
      • 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 fac
    • 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. (http://wilsonet.com/mythtv/ [wilsonet.com]). 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
      • Their DVR service is one of the few things they have competitive prices on. $10/month + nothing to buy is pretty great when a TiVo is over $100 + $13/month or whatever it is now. Plus, if you have the DVR, you don't have to pay $5/month for HD content.
  • Windows only? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by RoadWarriorX (522317)
    I, for one, have been interested in MythTV [mythtv.org] for a while. It's looks like a great F/OSS solution. Any others?
    • I've messed around with FreeVO before and I liked it... Not as robust as MythTV, but a breeze to setup and use...
    • 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.
  • by Cymage (612344) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:38PM (#13766909)
    I see they wanted Windows only, why didn't they include http://mediaportal.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]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.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:39PM (#13766910) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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.
    • I can't play wmv on my DVD player downstairs. I prefer SageTV at the moment because it produces MPG files, which my APEX AD-1200 DVD player downstairs can play. SageTV has been good to me to date, with no performance issues, and it runs nicely in the background of my main computer upstairs.

      The poor man's PVR: Hauppauge PVR-150, Burner with DVD+RW media, and a walk down the stairs to the DVD player.

      Net cost: $99CDN, plus perhaps $15 for a 25 pack of DVD+RWs.

      Before mentioning alternatives, please re-read th
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:39PM (#13766917) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by JoshDM (741866) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:41PM (#13766935) Homepage Journal
    It's called BitTorrent and a DVD Burner. Capture TV only. I pay for my cable. I just don't program my VCR properly.
  • 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"

    • by tgd (2822)
      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
      • I HAVE heard that MCE 2006 was supposed to support CableCARDs, but recently MS announced that they weren't releasing a new MCE until Longhorn. ** cough **
        • I HAVE heard that MCE 2006 was supposed to support CableCARDs, but recently MS announced that they weren't releasing a new MCE until Longhorn.

          A few nitpicks:

          I don't think a new version called "Media Center Edition 2006" was ever planned or announced. The article's introduction [extremetech.com] referred to the "massive Rollup 2 patch," which is a free update to MCE 2005. This update was supposed to include Cable Card support, but this feature was cut (according to Microsoft's Matt Davis). Here's the blog entry where I re

  • by SumDog (466607) * on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:45PM (#13766965) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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).

      Coca Cola has (or used to have) its own trademark police that would bring infringement suit threats (or suits) to bear on any restaura
  • by RockClimbingFool (692426) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:45PM (#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.

    • Totally agree. I had a DirecTV/TiVo setup at my old house. I was holding out until the price of the HD version came down a lot. Then I moved and took a look at Comcast's HD-PVR offering. One look was all it took and it was all over. I called DirecTV to cancel my subscription and they asked me why I was cancelling. I told them that I wanted an HD-PVR without having to pay $1000 for their offering. They offered to chop $300 off the price, but that was still not good enough. I thought I would really miss TiVo'
  • 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 comput
  • 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 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trogdor8667 (817114)
    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 t
  • MCE and PowerCinema (Score:2, Informative)

    by gregbains (890793)
    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
  • Slashdot idiocy (Score:5, Informative)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:54PM (#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?

    • Re:Slashdot idiocy (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've had a Tivo for a year or so and am perfectly happy with it. I bought the Tivo after evaluating DIY PVR systems by actually building a couple of them in standard PC cases. My conclusion? The Tivo unit is cheaper, quieter, and fits in with my other entertainment components better than the DIY alternatives. In fact, my Tivo (bought one of their refurbed units for $100) cost about one-fourth of what just a suitable case for a PC-based unit would have cost. Plus, of course, all of the other components
    • Re:Slashdot idiocy (Score:5, Informative)

      by devaudio (596215) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:49PM (#13767571) Homepage
      Tivo sent out a letter [to the tivo box, under messages](at least to NY Customers) that said they were increasing the price by 8.25% because of Sales Tax laws. Also, it's gone from 10.95 to 11.95 to 12.95 over the 5 years i've had it (the subscription price, not the price for the hardware)
  • 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 [pchdtv.com] is safe. Have any of the other manufacturers, such as ATI, already built in Broadcast Flag capabilities?
  • Good free one (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grungebox (578982) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:59PM (#13767086) Homepage
    GBPVR, found here [gbpvr.com]. 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.
  • 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.
  • by fungus (37425)
    Currently using GB-PVR with an ATI 550 Pro.

    Records MPEG files, works under Windows, and its FREE!
  • by Blitzenn (554788) * on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:03PM (#13767125) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • Then just to have it said, I totally dig my Tivo. I think the price is reasonable, and the interface is fantastic. My wife set it up all by herself, which I assure you is a ringing endorsement for its ease of use. I suppose I could build a MythTV box (and it did occur to me to just do that), but I feel like I'm getting my money's worth and that Tivo deserves some reward for being the guys who effectively reinvented the TV for us. As long as they treat me fairly, I won't look to replace them with a DIY a
  • 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 whi
  • The only real TIVO killer is and was TIVO itself. They've shot themselves in the foot once too many times.
  • 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 - especiall
  • that once tivo feels threatened by opensource/proprietary solutions/workarounds to their product, that they will find a way to stop this movement. let's see...they can go get a patent from the patent office which is so vague it'll allow them to blanket the entire market (lest we forget the gif, click, and one-click shopping patent disputes). they can approach the content providers and use an encryption algorithm that only their boxes and the boxes of those licensed to redistribute their feed (cable/satell
  • Why pay for MCE? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tcoop25 (808696)
    I have used MCE2005, and MythTV, and I got sick of both of them. There were too many problems with DRM with MCE and it wasn't as customizable as I wanted. I still wanted to use my computer to play games, and switching between dual booted OS's got annoying. I finally went with www.xlobby.com. It is a free, completely customizable HTPC fontend. It supports programs like SageTV, zoomplayer, ffdshow, winamp, etc (the most popular HTPC programs). It has built in control via xremote and your pocket pc or ta
  • ...and under active development. I set it up on my old PIII box to serve music, DVDs, web browser, and there are even some games I can play with my MCE remote. Nice FREE alternative to MCE, Snapstream, etc. The PVR functionality is there for when I have time to play with it, otherwise it makes a great media content server. MediaPortal: A Free PVR for Windows [paininthetech.com]
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:29PM (#13767375)
    TiVo has no need to be worried about software-based PVRs. It's got the entertainment industry behind it on that one. We talk on Slashdot from time to time about the broadcast flag and how it would essentially prevent software-based (and especially open-source) PVRs, but what gets a lot less notice is that the same restrictions already encumber digital cable TV. Digital cable TV boxes output an analog signal at a lower resolution than HD, but for the purposes of software-based PVRs, that's where it ends. The HD digital signal is also an output option from a digital cable TV box, either through DVI or Firewire, but that signal is restricted by the 5C DTCP content "protection" system, [dtcp.com] which prevents a signal from being transmitted unless the listening devices are compliant.

    Someone could probably come up with a software solution to defeat 5C, but with the DMCA [wikipedia.org] in place and without the DMCRA [wikipedia.org] to defend our rights, doing so would be illegal. Essentially, it takes open-source PVRs, which are legal and worthwhile in the analog domain, and puts them in the category of tools for piracy when used in the digital domain. And what's more, the DTLA [wikipedia.org] (which administers licensing of DTCP) will, just like the DVD-CCA, never ever ever grant a license for someone wanting to build an open-source PVR.

    TiVo has nothing to worry about from software PVRs - they'll die off slowly as the shift to digital HD continues. Then the entertainment industry can finish TiVo off at its leisure.
  • by _Shorty-dammit (555739) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:30PM (#13767391)
    in Snapstream's BeyondTV, if you hit E or have a remote button assigned to E then you get a semi-transparent program guide without having to stop LiveTV/playback. The author of the article was unaware of this apparently, as he thought you had to stop playback of a recorded program or LiveTV to get to the program guide. BTW, been using BeyondTV for over a year here, and couldn't be more happy with it. Had some trouble at first due to the capture card I was using (software-based) and after getting a pair of hardware encoder (hauppauge pvr-250) cards all was great.
  • Not Really... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by north.coaster (136450) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @03:00PM (#13767675) Homepage

    From the article:

    ...the DIY option is getting more appealing all the time.

    Not really, unless you're a geek with too much time on your hands. The DIY option will become appealing when it's as easy to install and set up as any other off the shelf appliance. Until then, a DIY PVR a hobby.

    TiVo, for all of it's faults, is still trivial to set up and use. In fact, it's so easy to use that my six year old child (who can barely read) figured it out. My wife and I were so happy with ours that we just purchased a second TiVo (the current rebate didn't hurt).

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

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