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TiVo Killers?—Windows PVRs

electron

Administrator
Staff member
ExtremeTech decided to take a look at some of the major software based alternatives to TiVo and Microsoft Windows Media Center. I think they might have forgotten to include a few other great products, MediaPortal being an example I can think of right now. Their conclusion is not a surprise at all, but still not a bad article.

Read the article
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I have stayed away from PVR discussions because I have to admit I just don't understand the attraction. A dedicated DVR box like a Tivo (or in my case a ReplayTV) is cheaper, quieter, and looks nicer on my stereo rack than any PC ever made. It is also is not prone to boot problems, windows patches, driver issues, spyware infections, etc. etc.

So why would anyone want to do this with a PC?
 

smee

Senior Member
upstatemike said:
So why would anyone want to do this with a PC?
My number one reason for using a PC (or two) for this:

It's much easier to convert between formats or transfer the stored files from one machine to another (for permanent storage). I know that newer TiVos and Replays allow network connections (Replay long before TiVo), but it's really easy to just do normal drag-an-drop moves. I can copy things pretty quickly to another PC, edit them if necessary, and save them on a server if I want.

Also, I don't need to pay any subscription fees to Replay or TiVo to get the program guide. It's free with the PC-based programs. I do have an old Replay (Panasonic Showstopper 2020) with a lifetime subscription (from back when you didn't need to pay extra for it).

And nobody says that the PC has to be in the stereo rack. It can be anywhere. The location depends primarily on whether you want to use it to play back the recorded programs (I don't) and how you want to run A/V from the computer to the TV (or other stuff in the exposed stack).
 

jwilson56

Senior Member
Well as someone that has had a Tivo since the very early days I can say that I like my Tivo... but I also just recently (last week) bought MCE/PVR-500 and the remote to build up a new PVR. Why?

Well first I really want to be able to record two shows at the same time. Not that there are always two shows I watch during the same hour as much as I am tired of the networks starting and stopping the shows a few minutes early and late. Yeah Tivo can be set to record a few minutes before and after but what happens when you have a show set to record right after a show on a different channel? You will get scheduling conflicts. MCE can handle a few tuner cards so it will never have that problem.

Second I also want to be able to quickly convert to different file formats. Mainly for my PPC. There is a nice plugin for MCE that lets you do that very easily.

I will keep my Tivo around for awhile and compare the functionality of both.... and get back with the forum on what I think.

John
 

WayneW

Senior Member
One thing that I am nervous about is devices (PCs or stand-alones) that use restricted or proprietary file formats.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I guess I don't follow the file format/conversin issues. I record shows and watch them then either delete them or copy them to DVD. What is the advantage of file conversion? Who cares if the format is proprietary as long as it is high quality?
 

Mike

Senior Member
I have two tivo's and recently put together an MCE machine. I think its only a matter of time before MCE type equipment kills Tivo. The big obstacle is cost and possibly a little more maturity.

A few differences:
1. I can do anything with the MCE machine. Music, Movies, Internet, Pictures, Internet, games, etc.
2. Quality is much better on MCE (better connection) than on Tivo. I have one tivo that has component out and the MCE output still looks better. Plus if you do svideo out of the cable box into the mce machine for hd channels they look pretty nice.
3. Extensibility - Nice to add apps that tell you the weather forecast and the like.
4. Flexibility - You can do all sorts of custom play lists and the like.

Pictures
1. My wife's earliest complaint with Tivo was you can't play music and look at pictures at the same time.
2. Quality on pictures is much worse on Tivo (not surprisingly)

For all the flexibility and control, all you need is the price to come down a bit more and I think they will be much more popular. People have not come to the point where they think they need to spend $1k on a computer for the living room. Let the price drop a bit and let them become more prevalent and I think you will start to see them all over the place. Look at sunday paper adds, how many MCE machines do you see in Best Buy? It's increasing...
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
The main feature I like with my ReplayTV is the way it will automatically skip over commercials. (Something Tivo never offered) Does Windows MCE support this?
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
upstatemike said:
The main feature I like with my ReplayTV is the way it will automatically skip over commercials. (Something Tivo never offered) Does Windows MCE support this?
If it does, I can't seem to find it.
 

smee

Senior Member
upstatemike said:
The main feature I like with my ReplayTV is the way it will automatically skip over commercials. (Something Tivo never offered)
Until Replay had to remove it from newer units. My Replay predates commercial skip so I don't have it. But the 30 second forward and 7 second backward controls make it easy to skip manually.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
yep that's how I do it with MCE. MCE also allows you to define the # of seconds you want to skip when hitting 'skip forward' (or backward). I don't think you are going to see this commercial skipping feature in any newer PVR software package, except for MythTV.
 
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