SageTV would you?


New Member
So I am looking into all my A/V options and would love some opinions.
I am exploring SageTV/TIVO/Windows Media Center.
It seems like SageTV is by far the best option with the exception that it is no longer supported by Sage.
I like TIVO, but not thrilled about not being able to access my media library, and if I want more than 4 tuners then I need to have my recorded programs spread over 2 boxes which could cause issues with copy protected media being able to be watched/transferred.
I like Windows Media Center but it has a max of 5 extenders which limits its usefulness.
It seems SageTV does it all.....unlimited tuners, access to media library, unlimited extenders (assuming your network and hardware can support it).
I have found a few New SageTV HD300 extenders and can piece together others through Ebay and other marketplaces....assuming I can get the SageTV licenses would you guys install a new installation of SageTV knowing that in the future it may no longer be supported at all? The last thing I want to do is spend time and energy setting it up and then the guide etc...stops working in 6 months?
Any other suggestions or alternatives? I guess I could do Tivo for TV & Windows MCE for Movies etc.....or do a combo of 1 Tivo 4 tuner with some Tivo minis and 1 windows MC with 5 extenders.
I plan to have 8-12 TV's throughout the house so multiple extenders are important.
Any advice or direction is appreciated.
I love the Roku/Plex combo. I ditched Satellite, we're now only HuluPlus, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video. We only pay for 5 shows on AIV, still *much* cheaper than Satellite. I can access my media library via Plex.
I also own SageTV and 2 HD200's, but there's literally zero chance I'd invest new $$ into it. Sure it does tons of stuff, but its a dead product. No desire to build expensive & hot HTPCs in each room, and you cannot easily get stuff via streaming esp since much of it came out after Sage was EOL'ed.
I see that there is now TV support being added to XBMC, While things like Raspberry Pi may not work as well as a SageTV HD300, I believe it is only a matter of time until low priced, more capable hardware is available. Much of the online content is in H.264 right now but the future will be H.265 and SageTV extenders won't be able to play those streams. If SageTV were still actively being developed it would be a great solution.
It's true, there isn't anything like SageTV out there (shaking my fist @ Google).  If you have the financial means, then it makes a great stop-gap measure.  The product has been 'stale' for a long time now, but it's still 100% functional, and runs on current hardware such as Windows 7.
I wouldn't call it 100% functional, if you cut the cord the GUI for HuluPlus is something only a mainframe programmer would love. You cannot add new stuff to your queue, only browse in an eye-burning fashion.
But, if you're one of the many who must pay for Satellite/cable and has no interest in streaming, then yes, SageTV can work. 8-12 * $250/each for extenders is a lot, though. $50/Roku * $8 is a lot better. (or $100/each if you get the most expensive one).
I purchased HD-200s and setup my own SageTV system after it was bought by Google - probably 6 months after. My wife and I have been enjoying the system since I got it setup!
I had no issue investing in the HD-200s - I use 3 of them and bought a spare just in case. I've continued to look into HD-300s, but they are just low-priority right now.
Leading up to the Google purchase I looked for alternatives and couldn't find anything that compared. After the purchase I waited to see what transpired and looked again for alternatives and again found nothing that compared for what I wanted... hence the reason I went ahead with the purchase and setup. There are PLENTY of threads on the SageTV forum where avid users continue to say that there is no reason that STV won't continue to work, yet users still abandon the product just because it's not "supported." There are already solutions in place for the program guide (which I haven't yet bothered to implement, since the current one is still supported, and Jeff (STV founder) continues to state that if they decide to stop supporting it they will provide plenty of notice.
Yes, certain features have had 'hicupps' such as the ability to access YouTube videos. However, this is usually recognized within a day, and firmware updates have been released in a VERY TIMELY manner for a product that's, again, no longer supported. In my experience, the longest wait was 2-3 days, which also happened to be over Christmas holidays.
We probably watch too much TV... numerous sitcoms throughout the week and year. If I had to estimate, I'd guess that we record 10 or more sitcoms each week, throughout the year. I haven't checked into the response time of the streaming services lately, but the last time I checked episodes weren't available until days or weeks after the original airing date. We do a "good job" keeping up with watching episodes either the night they air, or shortly after if we aren't home that particular night. Prior to using STV, we would schedule recordings for each show on our Comcast DVR, and wait until ~15 min after the airing time so that we could FF to commercials. So, other than being able to record more than 2 shows at a time, another reason that I use STV, is for commercial skip... and we like the ability to watch the content in any room.
Additionally, we do our best to eliminate most re-occurring billing services, which also eliminates the more 'premium' streaming offerings (a la Hulu Plus). I know people who wait until episodes are posted online (e.g. torrents - yes, I said it) and will download and watch them.... Personally, I don't want to have to spend the time searching for and downloading content from unknown sources (security reasons)... particularly when I can record it myself AT the time of airing.
Finally, the system search also came down to extenders. We have (3) wall mounted LCDs in our home, two of which have no additional devices attached, which we feel gives a very 'clean' look to the room(s). For these areas, I didn't want to have to deal with a HTPC or any sort of large-ish extender (e.g. Xbox) - and have to figure out where it was going to be mounted or placed (additional furniture). This alone eliminated MOST, if not all competitors. I don't recall the specifics now, but I know there are plenty of smaller devices (e.g. Roku, WDTV, etc) which are great media players... but I didn't see a good way to access any sort of recording schedule (e.g. program guide) via these alternatives. So, while I suppose I could run some sort of hybrid system and use 3rd party media players, I'd still end up with some other PC based software that I'd have to access to schedule recordings - not an elegant solution. So, yeah, I went with a non-supported system that fits our needs. I'll continue to use it until I find a better solution - but I'm not holding my breath, because I haven't seen anything that comes close.

I don't know who wants to read all of that, but to make the post a bit more interesting I feel like I should add pictures. Here is a HD-200 that I wall mounted behind one of my LCDs:

The room wasn't originally intended to be a nursery / baby's room (top picture), but we are undeniably having a child soon. The room was recently transformed (paint, chair rail, furniture) to accommodate. It's the only picture I can find that shows the TV mounted... the HD-200 is hidden behind:


Don't worry, I don't see the HD-200 in the picture above either ;)
Finally, in addition to the PVR functionality, I've also got ~115 movies (non compressed) in the library. We don't spend much time watching these on our own, but it's really nice when friends/family come over and ask about watching a movie. It's a LOT easier to allow them to scan through the list via STV interface than it is for them to look through a rack of DVDs.
I have used Windows Media Center 7 for the last 5 years or so and it has been great. Prior to that I had SageTV and liked it. I wasn't familiar with the limit of 5 extenders and that isn't quite accurate. You can have as many extenders connected as you'd like but only 5 simultaneous active connections.

I do have a potential solution for you although it isn't optimal. I upgraded my W7 MCE machine last year and had two MCE machines running at the same time with my bedroom tv connected to the new one (via extender) and the living room tv connected to the old W7MCE machine via the Xbox 360 (Ceton PCIE quad tuners in each machine). I made sure to move the recordings to the same place and it worked well. Initially there was a bug where two MCE machines would get out of sync. The work around is to copy your recordings from the "RecordedTV" folder to a storage folder and have both machines look at the storage folder.. This worked well for me since I had a fast 10K recording drive and so I moved my recordings anyway.

If you use W7 MCE (as opposed to W8), you can also use the Vista MCE extenders from HP, Linksys, and DLink, which I'd imagine you can find much more readily and cheaper than the Sage extenders. I'm partial to the HP extenders although the Linksys one isn't bad and the new Ceton Echo extender is getting close to prime time.

And drvnbysound, will you please stop posting pictures of your kids room? You can't be the proud papa until you're actually a papa. If you're this bad now, I can't imagine how you'll be when the little guy comes along. HAHA. Just kidding. Congrats! And post as many pictures as you want as long as you throw a few technical ones in every once in a while. It could simply be a tablet or fancy remote in the boy's hands or lap. :)
dgage said:
And drvnbysound, will you please stop posting pictures of your kids room? You can't be the proud papa until you're actually a papa. If you're this bad now, I can't imagine how you'll be when the little guy comes along. HAHA. Just kidding. Congrats! And post as many pictures as you want as long as you throw a few technical ones in every once in a while. It could simply be a tablet or fancy remote in the boy's hands or lap. :)
Now you're just giving me reasons to pull out my photography gear ;) Just for you I went and took a picture from the side the HD200 is installed on - let me know if anyone can see it:
And by photography gear, I mean...  I just started my blog here and fittingly chose to make my first post about photography.
... and no, I didn't pull all of that gear out to get any of the shots above. Just my camera and a single flash :)
/thread_derailment; sorry for hijacking
So back on topic, does SageTV have support for CableCard. My understanding for many cable providers is that to even get a channel like ESPN, you now need a CableCard. Is that true? If so, that would definitely put MCE at an advantage.
Thanks to everyone for all of the detailed replies......after doing some more homework it seems there is one other MAJOR hurdle for me with SageTV.
You can buy this and you can have a 4 tuner DVR capability with a CableCard.
It is my understanding that SageTV will not allow you to watch/record channels that have copy protection. If the channel is not marked "copy freely" by the cable provider then it cannot be watched/recorded by SageTV.
Can anyone with experience confirm this? Are there any workarounds other than paying for a cable box from the cable company and feeding it via component into a PVR?
Right. You can use CableCard with SageTV, but it requires a 3rd party plugin - SageDCT. However, there are other CableCard considerations (the copy flags you mention). I don't know if the below applies to FULLY supported CableCard solutions (I think MCE is the only one, but I could be wrong). Let me explain a little more...
A couple of months ago I bought a SiliconDust HDPrime, which is a networked, 3 tuner, CableCard device. I wasn't able to use it - the issue wasn't with SageTV or SageDCT, but my provider COMCAST! Content is marked with 'flags' and apparently each region or local office may handle it a bit differently. There are 3 different types of flags: Copy-freely, Copy-once, and Copy-protected. They work about the way that they sound. Understand that the inherent way that STV works, is that everything that you watch IS recorded, even if you don't manually select to record it... it's still stored on your HDD. My understanding is that channels that are marked copy-freely work just fine with STV and you can watch/copy/record them all that you want. Copy-once, means just that... you can watch/record them once. Lastly, copy-protected, means that you won't be watching them at all with STV, again because STV 'records' everything, and this content is protected.
What I found is that 95% of the channels I wanted to use the CableCard for (Discovery, TLC, ESPN, etc) were marked copy-protected and could not be viewed by the HDPrime device. Again, this wasn't a limitation of STV, but a limitation of the device due to the copy flags set by the provider. I don't know how MCE handles this, and if it's any differently, but my guess is that you still may not be able to record such content, even if you can watch/view it. Certainly something to check into if this is a route that you want to go. For me, viewing only wasn't an option... because as mentioned above, we wanted to utilize ComSkip.
Personally, I ended up going with (2) Hauppauge HD-PVRs, which cover the channels listed above, and I also currently utilize (1) HDHR. I've got a second HDHR that I plan to install, but so far, our recording schedule hasn't been limited by the single HDHR (which is setup for ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC).