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Media Software Television

Best PC DVR Software, For Any Platform? 536

Posted by timothy
from the open-minded-open-ended dept.
jshamacher writes "I've used MythTV for several years (first on Slackware, now via Mythbuntu) and it's good. But not great — I have a list of annoyances as long as my arm. For example, even 0.22 still has problems playing many DVDs and I frequently have to fall back on Xine. Since upgrading to new hardware, I've had issues with sound dropping out; these problems only occur for Myth, not for anything else. So now I'm trying out alternatives. Freevo seemed promising when I tried it a few months ago but it had its own issues. I'm also increasingly getting pressure from my family to get things like NetFlix streaming working on this machine. This seems to imply migrating to a Windows-based solution. I threw XP on it and tried MediaPortal but could never get that to control my Motorola cable box via the IR blaster. So my questions to you: What DVR software do you use? Are you happy with it? What don't you like? Are there any packages out there that 'just work' as media hubs and for time-shifting cable TV?"
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Best PC DVR Software, For Any Platform?

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  • Snapstream? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    When I was looking at making a media center box a while back I was looking at Snapstream which is Windows based software that seemed to support a lot of the Happague DVR cards and remotes. Since then I decided I didn't need the actual DVR function as much as just a box to stream SD videos from my PC to my TV so I took my old XBox and softmodded it to XBMC.

    • Re:Snapstream? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:07PM (#30304738) Homepage

      I've tried many different solutions, and there is only one that "just works": Media Center. I know it's Microsoft and all, but the thing works. It doesn't do half of what MythTV is all about, but it just works. And with a careful set of codecs you can read pretty much anything.

      • Add-ins help do what Windows Media Center doesn't do natively. I mean, My Movies 3 is probably the best thing since sliced bread for playing movies.
      • Re:Snapstream? (Score:5, Informative)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:08PM (#30305576) Journal

        I have to agree. Over the years I tried Myth, Mediaportal, XBMC, several different freeware TV capture packages, and I never could seem to find anything that "just worked" hassle free until I switched to Windows 7 HP x64. The windows 7 Media Center paired with an ATI HD600 USB I picked up for $20 on Woot! just works beautifully. Schedules, recording, it is all just nice.

        So if this guy is wanting an 'easy peasy" solution I would have to go with Windows 7 Media Center. Just pick up the upgrade version, do a clean install, and he'll be good to go. The only thing he'll have to worry about is if he has some old funky off brand TV card it might not have Windows 7 drivers. That is what I ran into with my old EasyTV FM card, but if you keep your eyes out capture devices can be had for pretty cheap. Better to spend a little money and have a solid eay to use PVR VS going cheap and spending all your time fixing it, at least IMHO.

  • Linux MCE (Score:5, Informative)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:14PM (#30303784) Homepage Journal
    Only just started fiddling with it, but it looks incredible. Always find it odd it doesn't get more mention when these topics arise.
    • Re:Linux MCE (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ynot_82 (1023749) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:23PM (#30303972)

      Linux MCE is an integrated bundle of software.
      The PVR part is MythTV, so may be be what the OP is looking for

      I personally love Myth, and wouldn't change it for anything
      but saying that, I use it as a media front-end only (no broadcast TV)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by EndingPop (827718)
      LinuxMCE uses MythTV for DVR functionality. It does use Xine/Mplayer for DVD playback. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinuxMCE#Software_components [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Linux MCE (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nametaken (610866) * on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:31PM (#30304112)

      This doesn't solve the Netflix issue. Netflix is in bed with Microsoft and delivers using Silverlight 2.

      It doesn't make any kind of sense that a business would deploy any solution using Silverlight, but whatever. I've whined about this before and obviously Netflix doesn't care.

      • In general I agree with you but Netflix does support non-windows machines as evidenced by their Roku support and I seriously doubt they're running Silverlight.
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Roku has closed source player software, and drm is handled by dedicated hardware.

          If any other DVD by mail people supported linux for streaming I would switch now. I have told netflix, but they do not care.

        • Re:Linux MCE (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@gmail . c om> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:59PM (#30304580) Homepage Journal

          Netflix also works on the PS3 system by Sony. My brother rents Netflix and they let him see movies on his PS3 via an App he downloaded for it.

          Novell Moonlight does work as a Silverlight plug-in for non-Windows operating systems like Linux, etc. Some people want to boycott Novell because they licensed Microsoft technology but when you need C# and Visual BASIC.Net for Linux, *BSD Unix, and Mac OSX they got you covered with Mono, and Moonlight for Silverlight support. I compare Silverlight to Shockwave Flash, just another virtual machine system and they both kind of do the same things.

          • Re:Linux MCE (Score:5, Informative)

            by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:05PM (#30304704)

            Moonlight does not support DRM, MS refuses to let them and both it and the mac version are falling behind.

            Silverlight is a fucking trap!

          • Moonlight is not the answer to the Netflix streaming video problem. I've got Moonlight 1.0.1 installed (been looking for a way to stream video to my linux box from Netflix) and here is what you get from Netflix when you try to stream a movie:

            Watching instantly on your computer Our apologies — streaming is not supported for your operating system. Note that your current Internet browser is fully compatible with adding titles to the Instant Queue for later watching on compatible devices. Complete Syst

      • Re:Linux MCE (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:10PM (#30304772)
        The poster needs to forget using a PC for Netflix. The video quality streamed to the PC is VASTLY inferior to what gets streamed to the Roku. Being able to steam to your computer is great on a 17"-22" monitor, but once you start getting up to living room TV sizes, you can really see the lower quality.
  • VCR (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Just make sure you get the clock set first

  • SageTV on XP (Score:4, Informative)

    by FormulaTroll (983794) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:14PM (#30303800) Homepage
    I use Sage TV (http://www.sage.tv/ [www.sage.tv]) on XP (If you're going to end up going that route anyways). It's been pretty reliable and I like the interface. I've also considered moving to Windows 7. I hear the media center functionality built in is pretty robust.
    • Re:SageTV on XP (Score:4, Informative)

      by jvbunte (177128) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:05PM (#30304694) Journal

      I used to swear by SageTV up and down. I was a very early adopter of this software and was promised "Free Upgrades" when I originally purchased it. Apparently "Free Upgrades" only applied until version 5.0+ was released, then it started costing money for every major revision.

      It's still good software, however I have a problem with advertising "Free Upgrades" and then skipping out on that claim. I stopped using them on that alone. (Don't lecture me on how they need to get paid for their work, I get that. Don't advertise "free upgrades" if you aren't going to follow up with that claim.)

      I have since moved to XBMC http://xbmc.org/ [xbmc.org] running on an ASRock ION 330 plugged straight into my home theater receiver and it plays 1080p pretty well, 720p flawlessly. The only drawback of XBMC is that it doesn't record (it was never meant to). Its playback capabilities are unmatched in my opinion (mplayer backend, if mplayer can play it, so can xbmc). It's crazy easy to install and use. I use the genuine Microsoft MCE usb remote control which is supported out of the box with no special LIRC knowledge.

      I use MythTV with a Hauppage HD-PVR back end for video recording, and although I believe there is a MythTV FrontEnd addon for XBMC, I simply share my recordings directory via CIFS and let XBMC mount the share directly for playback. I like the seperate MythTV backend because I have two XBMC/ASRock installations and both can then read from the same source for playback in either room.

      XBMC: Free (Please Donate, its really that awesome)
      MythTV: Free (Please Donate, its really that awesome)
      ASRock ION 330: About $350 on newegg
      Hauppage HD-PVR: About $200 on newegg

    • Re:SageTV on XP (Score:5, Informative)

      by RedR (880377) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:38PM (#30305168)
      I too have to give SageTV a big thumbs up. I've had it in place for over 5 years now and its been awesome!! I have it running on my main TV with a dedicated box and 5 tuners. It serves two bedroom TV's via a media extender product (via wired network tho wireless is supported too) as well 3 PC's in the house. It supports SD HD DVD (DVD "backups") and quite a bit more. Has support for music, weather and assorted other features that can be added via community packages. It does support changing the channel on STB (Set Top Boxes), as well support having more than one STB. I currently have one using the IRBlaster, and one using USB->Serial. This setup was fairly quick but did require some research on their forums. It is hands on though, and if you want to use any community packages you'll be reading the forums on how-to's. Again mine has been in place for 5+ years, with little effort since then to add new features, or make minor adjustments to storage locations, and setups for it. It uses Java and again for a "stable" production system, I've held back on any automatic updates to the main system. In short, I let the world test out the updates for a week or few before updating my main SageTV box with Windows or Java updates. While you are at it, take a look at GBPVR http://gbpvr.com/ [gbpvr.com] Its FREE, so hard not to have a look. It does support many if not all features that SageTV has, including IRBlaster/USB->Serial to control a STB. My only issue with it 5 years ago was it didn't have as many features as SageTV, including ones I needed at the time. But again, it was and is FREE, so it is well worth checking out.
  • EyeTV (Score:3, Informative)

    by drrck (959788) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:15PM (#30303832)
    If you have a Mac, Elgato's EyeTV product keeps getting better and better with each release. There are open source add-ons for commercial skipping, exports to iTunes/iPod, ect and the interface is pretty user friendly. It won't do Netflix by itself, but if you're hooking up a media PC then you've already got access to Netflix.
    • Re:EyeTV (Score:5, Informative)

      by sl3xd (111641) * on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:32PM (#30304122) Journal

      I'll also throw in with EyeTV. But, the thing to remember with EyeTV is that everything centers around TV:
      * TV Broadcasts
      * Output(s) from TV tuners (Sattelite/Cable) - and you would want an IR blaster for channel changing

      EyeTV does not play DVD's, or any other media other than that which is recorded by EyeTV.

      But what EyeTV does, it does well:
      * TV Guide Integration is pretty good, with a number of providers, depending on your locale
      * Scheduling (and auto-scheduling of series)
      * Editing of TV episodes - it's good enough for cropping out commercials if you want to keep the show.
      * Good hardware support
      * Easy to use
      * Auto (or manual) Exports to a variety of formats. (Whatever QuickTime supports - which is pretty much anything if you have the right plugin)
      * Easy (and automated, if desired) exporting to iTunes (for iPod or Apple TV's)
      * Can stream to an iPod Touch or iPhone
      * iPhone/iPod Touch interface application.
      * Integrates with ElGato's "Turbo.264" hardware, which is a USB H.264 encoding accelerator. Not the best compression quality, but it's generally faster than a dual-core Intel box.
      * If you have EyeTV on other macs in your network, it can use Bonjour to stream the TV shows to the other machines.

      So while it has a number of features that are quite Apple-centric (ie. good iPod/Apple TV integration), iPod Touch/iPhone application, etc... it still lets you export to pretty much whatever format you want easily. Or, if you don't want to do it that way, you can look inside the "eyetv" recording, and you'll find the raw MPEG stream, and you can use whatever software you want to export it.

  • Windows Media Center (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sporkinum (655143) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:16PM (#30303834)

    Windows Media Center, specifically Vista media center, has worked out well for me. I got a cheap ($250), refurbed gateway that came with a dual tuner card and Vista home premium. The listings are occasionally flakey, and the scheduled recordings won't automatically adjust if shows are pre-empted by football games running long. I control everything through the xbox360 using a $10 remote I bought on ebay. Very user friendly and cheaper than heck.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We did the same thing (refurbished Gateway w/ Vista Home Premium), a number of years ago (not long after Vista was released). We couldn't use the machine for a desktop because Vista was so non-functional (our first, last and only encounter with it), but we had a tuner card unused from a long-dead machine and put it in the Vista box and have been using it as our "TV" ever since. Amazingly, it actually functions as a TV. Netflix streaming works from within Windows Media Center without problem, every DVD we

    • I've used Windows Media Center as well and found that the listings are virtually non-existent for HD OTA programming. Most of the time, the HD channels won't even show up in the listing (specifically sub-channels, like 4-2, 4-3, etc, only 4-1 would show up normally). You can sometimes find a cable service that includes the same channels and remap them, but it's a HUGE PITA. This is true for WinXP and Vista, although I haven't tried Windows 7 yet. Anyone know if they fixed it yet?
  • I'm curious myself. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bo'Bob'O (95398) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:16PM (#30303844)

    I like the freedom of MythTV, I've been running it for about 4 years now, but it can often be tricky to get working if there is a problem. Particularly if there is a MySQL problem when I don't have a great deal of expertize in database administration. I'd like to take advantage of the new cable-card hardware coming out for high definition too.

    Right now it pretty much seems either windows media center or giving in and getting a TiVO, but I'm curious about some of the other things out there like Sage TV. Sadly, not everything is available online right now without having to go to bit-torrent, especially high-def content.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      You can get hidef over component, their is a happauge product that uses them and is supported in myth.

  • Windows Media Center (Score:5, Informative)

    by coolmoose25 (1057210) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:16PM (#30303860)
    I set up Windows Media Center on Vista and I like the way it works. It's pretty simple to use and set up. I bought a 2 tuner card for it so I can record 2 shows simultaneously. Even more useful is the integration with Amazon UnBox and Video On Demand. It just works. Makes trips to the video store extraneous. I haven't tried Netflix as I want simple on demand outside of my cable box. This machine is set up in the living room, and is hooked up to a 37 inch panel. I bought the overpriced remote for Media Center and that works well too (although the kids keep losing it) Overall, I'm happy with the quality, and plan on upgrading to Windows 7 at some point, but really don't have a need as it simply works well now.

    Now, cue the MS Haters and mod me down. I know, I know... I'm stupid and don't know what I'm talking about.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by HerculesMO (693085)

      Seconded. It's simple, the remote isn't too bad, it has a clean UI and a bunch of addons out there (greenbutton.com or something).

      Best of luck!

    • by stikves (127823) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:26PM (#30304036) Homepage

      Definitely agree on Windows Media Center.

      With my multiple HDTV tuners, excellent remote, Netflix, and Hulu plugins, and also Internet TV, it's basically irreplaceable. I'm not even mentioning you can stream to multiple Xbox'es on your house over the network... Oops, I mentioned that :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by seamonkey420 (1570909)
      agreed on MCE.

      i've used many of the other DVR/PVR applications (MythTV, SageTV, Nero, etc) but none have worked as smoothly as Media Center, Windows 7 MCE really brings its A game. :)

      i have a remote and IR blaster and mainly use mine to record just network tv; i can also easily access any of the recorded tv shows over my homegroup on any of my other Windows 7 laptops/netbooks and even my PS3.

      MP4 movies look and work well inside of MCE too (atleast on Win7, vista had a few issues w/MP4/h264 codecs sinc

    • by FrankSchwab (675585) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:07PM (#30304726) Journal

      I've got Windows 7 Media center running with a Linksys Media Center Extender.

      On the positive side, It Just Works. Having a paperback sized MCE (cheap on Ebay, BTW) next to the big-screen rather than a PC is very nice.

      On the negative side, Microsoft keeps trying so hard to prevent users from doing what they'd like.
      For example, they changed to the .wtv file format late in the Vista cycle, which broke things like dvrmstoolbox that was used for commercial skipping, and had no desire to help fix it. That's fixed by the community now, of course.

      They also broke ripped DVD playback on the extender. For the Vista media center, it was found that by creating a hard link to the DVD files (and giving the hard link a ".mp4" (IIRC) extension), DVD's would play fine on the extender. With Windows 7, sorry, but that workaround has been disabled.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Simulant (528590)

      Yes, MCE is pretty good as a out-of-the-box DVR. However, it can suck if you regularly download video to watch. It can neither play much of it (out-of-the-box) nor does it organize it very well. Be pepared to tweak.

      I also find it to be a bit piggish on resources. The interface is slower than I'm used to. It is often useless if accessing shared files over a wireless connection as it spends too much time & bandwidth indexing generating thumbnail previews to playback video properly. (on a 150Mbps (ma

    • by wolrahnaes (632574) <seanNO@SPAMseanharlow.info> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @08:03PM (#30306128) Homepage Journal

      One more vote for MCE.

      -CableCARD support
      -Netflix client built in (though no HD for now)
      -Great remote
      -Very simple but functional UI
      -Free if you have a half-decent edition of either of the last two Windows releases
      -Xbox (with software), Xbox 360, and numerous other devices supported as extenders for a single central home DVR

      I won't give up my HD cable channels, so Windows MCE, TiVo, and Moxi are the three options, end of story. Only one of those allows me to build my own machine and centralize all the tuners. If Myth or one of the others gains CableCARD support in the future, they might be worth considering. Until then...

  • Out of all the ones I've tried, Media Center ended up being the best fit for me. Others might have some more features, but Media Center had all the ones I cared about and most of the time implemented them better. The only problem I've run into is that their TV listings updater causes an ungodly amount of disk I/O and CPU usage for several minutes whenever it runs.

  • TiVo for the win? (Score:5, Informative)

    by powerlord (28156) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:19PM (#30303918) Journal

    The Original Questioner asks " So my questions to you: What DVR software do you use? Are you happy with it? What don't you like? Are there any packages out there that 'just work' as media hubs and for time-shifting cable TV?"

    I realize that the TITLE says "PC based DVR software" and the questioner certainly mentions only that, but they don't mention commercial solutions at all, so I'll throw in my answer:

    TiVo

    I have a Series3 that I bought with a lifetime contract ~2 years ago. I do not pay a monthly fee, and as of now, I am "saving" that cost (the lifetime contract covers ~ 2 - 2.5 years of monthly service fees).

    - It has two built in tuners.
    - It integrates with most IR remotes.
    - It can be controlled via IP (there are free remotes for iPhone/IPod and other devices to control it, etc.)
    - TiVo maintains a web site where you can log in and tell your DVR to record something.
    - Any Internet enabled TiVo (Series3, TiVoHD, TiVoHD-XL) can also hook into AmazonVideo, Netflix and Blockbuster accounts.

    - It also passes "the wife" test.

    Outside of initial setup (when we were on cable TV and I had to get TWC to come out and put CableCards in the thing), the ONLY maintenance I've had to do is reset its listings when we decided to drop cable completely and switch to using an Over-The-Air antenna, and changing the batteries in the remote.

    • - It also passes "the wife" test.

      Forgot you were on slashdot, huh?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimbogun (869443)

      I'm in the Tivo boat on this one. It's just easier. I spent so much time setting up MythTv (I've done it on PCs, laptops, and even an xbox) and maintaining it was always a pain. I finally got fed up enough and bought a Tivo. Since then, I haven't had any complaints, except as he said, resetting listings when you switch providers. I've really enjoyed the Tivo suggestions feature as well. I was tempted to get the lifetime contract, but instead I'm willing to pay ~$100/year for someone to maintain my DVR for m

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Until Tivo supports my cable provider of choice (DirecTV) in HD, it's not really an option. I am not alone in this.

        All those dishies on the rooftops means that Tivo is effectively locked out of that household.

    • Re:TiVo for the win? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Yaztromo (655250) <<moc.cam> <ta> <omortzay>> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:47PM (#30304386) Homepage Journal

      I'm on the TiVo boat as well. If you want to serve up media from a PC, throw pyTiVo [sourceforge.net] on it, and point it at whatever directory contains your video files. The format of the video files doesn't even matter -- on the back-end it uses ffmpeg to do the video conversion.

      I have a refurbished Compaq with a 2.4Ghz Core2Duo I bought last year, and it can convert at about 200fps, easily saturating the TiVo's network capabilities. Once setup, the system just appears in the Now Playing List. It has easily passed the wife test in my home over and over again (especially as she has access to the movies directory over the network from the desktop of her Mac -- if she gets something she'd like to put up, she knows to just drag and drop it into the folder, and then start playing it from the NPL on the TiVo).

      Yaz.

      • Re:TiVo for the win? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by markdavis (642305) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:49PM (#30305314)

        Last time I tried pyTiVo with my TiVO HD, the results were far from stellar. I do store many of my DVD's as 1Mb/s 264 + AC3 AVI files and it just didn't seem to like it. It down-res'ed them horribly and the resulting video was poor. Plus, I believe it trashes the AC3, resulting in just stereo (yuck) sound.

        Now, it has been at least a year since I messed with it (and gave up on it). If you think it has improved, I will give it another shot.

        Not having decent local streaming of video files has been my #2 complaint with TiVo (#1 being that we can't easily backup the damn settings to a USB key or something so if the unit dies we can recover many hours of work done with preferences, season passes, stations, etc). Otherwise, the TiVo HD is *extremely* impressive and I highly recommend it... it runs circles around any cable provider's DVR or "software" solution I have seen.

    • Tivo Warning (Score:5, Informative)

      by clinko (232501) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:05PM (#30304700) Homepage Journal

      A HUGE warning about the Tivo:

      Tivo lists show transferring is a big feature but...

      EVERYTHING worth watching on cable is DRM'd. EVERYTHING.

      It bugs me that they advertise this as a feature.

      Blame Time Warner, Cox, Comcast, whoever you want, but the TIVO does not transfer anything but your fox, nbc, and cbs channels.

      Analogy:
      - Ford makes a car that can't drive over speed bumps
      - Ford advertises the car jumping speed bumps
      - After buying the car, Ford tells you to drive on limited roads or YOU can call your local town hall to fix every speed bump in town. Ford has no responsibility, and will not assist in any way.

      Only 2 months left on my contract, and I'm done with this scam.

    • by dmorel (799497)
      Agreed. For what the OP is asking for, any of the HD flavored tivo's is ideal. Coupled with pytivo you can throw pretty much anything you ever have at it, and when it comes to the best DVR, tivo wins hands down. There simply is NO (reasonable) argument (that I can think of) to be made disputing that fact. The tivo UI/UX (despite whatever issues one may have with it) is just better than every other option out there. I've fooled around with everything under the sun starting with the first xbox based xbmc bui
    • Nero LiquidTV (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBCook (132727)

      I've had TiVos for years and years and years. I have a Series 3 now. I love it.

      But if you want a truly PC based solution, how about Nero LiquidTV [tivo.com]? It is basically the official PC version of the TiVo software. It still needs a TiVo subscription, but it has all the features and the same fantastic interface.

  • I've been using the Neuros OSD for a couple of years, and while it's kinda slow, it's hard to beat in terms of features/dollar. It's also very small, runs linux, and draws less than 10 watts. They also have a newer one called the LINK.

    Link: Neuros website [neurostechnology.com]
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:22PM (#30303962) Homepage

    The nice thing about a completely open and flexible system is that you can route around it's quirks with other tools. The fact that you can just drop in xine or mplayer is one of the key strengths of MythTV and would likely be necessary in any replacement. I've never gotten this fixation and insistence on using only MythTV for anything myth related. It doesn't have to be that way and that's kind of the point.

    Play with MCE and Front Row and see for yourself. The grass may not necessarily be greener.

    • He's looking for something that works, not something he needs to tinker with for half an hour in the middle of his movie date.

      I'm sure this is an honest mistake on your part, though. I mean, who would even consider user behavior as bizarre and alien as going on a date?

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        DVD? On date? Just what kind of loser are you?

        OTOH, when it comes to WAF it's hard to beat having her favorite shows ripped available at the touch of a button iTunes style.

        Even a 3 year old can handle MythTV in this capacity.

        Are you as capable as a 3 year old?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rockoon (1252108)

      The terible thing about existing completely open and flexible system is that you have to route around their quirks with other tools.

      There. Fixed that for you.

      [FC]I am Jacks complete lack of tolerance.[/FC]

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        ...except that MCE doesn't play any arbitrary video file.

        Neither does Front Row.

        You are Jacks complete lack of taste.

        Sage probably does much better but it's not what the Lemmings want to push.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)
          Arbitrary video files?

          We are talking about a DVR. It only needs to play back what it recorded.

          If you want to play arbitrary video files, there are plenty of awesome solutions (both open and proprietary) for that, and none of the awesome ones have any DVR functionality.

          [FC]I am Jacks bias detector.[/FC]
  • by llamalad (12917) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:22PM (#30303968)

    I'm still using MythTV for recording TV, but I'm currently selling off my MythFrontends.

    For viewing I've switched to an LG BD390. Much less hassle, plays everything I've thrown at (including HD streams recorded by the MythBackend) via UPnP and also does NetFlix and YouTube streaming.

    • by IpSo_ (21711)

      How well does it actually support MythTV though?

      I imagine its just a "dumb" video stream player that can't skip commercials or modify any of the programming that a regular Myth frontend can do?

      • by llamalad (12917)

        As far as modifying during playback...

        It supposedly supports captions with .mkv files.

        At some point I need to write a script to clip commercials from and transcode Myth's recordings into mkvs with subtitles.

        And before anyone asks- no, I'm not remotely concerned about inaccurate results from trusting mythcommflag to catch commercials.

  • GBPVR (Score:2, Informative)

    by networkzombie (921324)
    GBPVR works like an appliance should; easily, the first time, and always. You can write your own plug-ins and skins, or download them.
  • I gave up on this and have been using a DVD recorder with a built in hard drive for the last few years. The only hassle is having to program things twice due to lack of built in EPG, but my PVR is now old and I believe there are models that work now with digital EPGs where I live (Australia).

  • by kawabago (551139)
    I used to use mythtv but now have upgraded to HD cable box with dual tuner pvr. It is the best option for ease of use. Skipping commercials isn't automatic but otherwise I think it is the best price/simplicity option.
  • by Yosho (135835) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:25PM (#30304012) Homepage

    The MythTV backend for recording TV is great, but the frontend is very rough around the edges, even after years of development. As a general media center, XBMC is fantastic; its support for playing DVDs, video files, and music is the best I've found on Linux. There's also a plugin for XBMC [google.com] that gives it functionality as a MythTV frontend, and while it doesn't have quite the same range of capabilities as the official MythTV frontend, it nonetheless works well.

    Unfortunately, there's no way you're going to be streaming Netflix movies in Linux, due to Netflix's DRM. The only way to do it is with a Windows box or using an embedded solution. I use an Xbox 360 for that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrNemesis (587188)

      Have to echo this, especially since my TV habits have moved away from watching most of the crap I taped off TV and instead watching stuff I've ripped from my DVD's.

      Been using Myth since 2002/2003 so I'm no novice (still using the same DB I had in late 2004 - certainly been fun keeping that in sync with upgrades!) and it's a really nice recording platform once you've spent a year or two of hair loss exploring it's foibles. But the frontend is poor; very little in the way of swish or eye candy... yet still pa

  • most Set Top Box manufacturers actually use linux so I would choose one that can be controlled via firewire unless your going to get a TiVO see http://tivohme.sourceforge.net/

    again MythTV depends on the hardware that you use so I would say get some better supported hardware or buy something that they have done the integration for you

    regards

    John Jones

  • by Laoping (398603) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:33PM (#30304140)

    In years past I've used XBMC on the Xbox and Linux, then more recently Boxee and MediaPortal. I started wanting something that just worked, and was a bit easier to setup. I really like many of the Linux media programs, but they do take a bit of maintenance. So when the RC of Windows 7 came out I figured I'd give it a go. Once I found Media Browser (www.mediabrowser.tv), I was sold.

    So reasons I think Windows 7 is the way to go.

    1. Media Browser - Fantastic plug-in for media center. Almost as good as XMBC in it's prettiness and useability. Very impressive to show off to your friends and high Wife Acceptance Factor.
    2. Easy - It took me about a week of fiddling after work to get it setup the way I wanted.. and I had no issues getting DTS HD or pass-through audio to work. Very easy to get hardware accelerated video to work with ATI. If you use windows 7, check out the antipack, gets your hardware accelerated video working fast, along with all your audio. (http://babgvant.com/blogs/andyvt/archive/2009/08/02/antipack-get-your-videos-working-without-destroying-your-pc.aspx)
    3. Cheap Video card - I bought a Radeon 4350 off of Newegg, with passive cooling. Does 1080p video with 1 - 5% cpu usage.
    4. NetFlix , Media Center has a NetFlix plugin, no HD video, yet.
    5. Easy TV - Has a nice TV Guide, easy to make it work right. I do not have a cable card tuner for it yet, but Ati has on you can get off of ebay, and new models are coming out next year. Cable card tuner would eliminate your ir blaster issue. In the mean time there are a few MS Media Center remotes that come with ir blasters. Also TV shows go right into Media Browser.

    As this is slashdot I bet I will get spammed for saying so, but IMHO it is the best all around system out there right now.

  • Simple Mytv backend and cheap Xboxes running XBMC. Works really well - look at it now. Multiple front-end all around the house for £25.
  • XBMC (Score:3, Informative)

    by jackjumper (307961) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:36PM (#30304192)
    Lifehacker likes XBMC (http://lifehacker.com/5105649/hive-five-winner-for-best-media-center-application-xbmc). I use an Apple TV running XBMC and Boxee, which works pretty well, but is kind of slow. I'm planning on picking up one of these (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883103234&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-Desktop+PC-_-Acer+America-_-83103234) to replace the apple tv. Not sure what I'm going to run on it yet. I hear the Windows 7 media center is pretty nice, actually
  • I run mythbuntu with a boxee launch item in the main menu. Mythbuntu works flawlessly for capturing media and playing it back, boxee does everything else flawlessly. FTW!

    • I was doing that for a while, but Hulu's insistence on blocking boxee got annoying, and that was the only thing I was really using boxee for. Now that Hulu has its own linux client, I call that up from the Myth menu instead. It's technically against the terms of service to use the Hulu Desktop software on any type of appliance like that, but I don't lose sleep over it.
  • Since upgrading to new hardware, I've had issues with sound dropping out; these problems only occur for Myth, not for anything else.

    Hallelujah! From the lack of responses to my post about this issue on the Mythbuntu forums, I thought I might be the only one experiencing this problem. No one has stepped forward to either acknowledge this problem or offer a fix, which is very frustrating: I've been using MythTV for several years, and was only recently forced to reinstall everything after my HD died. I've

    • I've got an LG DVR that works fantastically for my purposes. It records TV, let me watch just about anything, including .AVI files encoded with DivX. (Home movies, of course.) It'll even play directly off a thumb drive or other USB storage mechanism. Favorite movies can be copied to the hard drive, and children as young as 5 can be taught how to turn on "Cars" or "Enchanted" and watch them. (The first is a home-made documentary on the manufacturing of internal-combustion vehicles, the second was a PBS speci

  • I use Boxee [boxee.tv] for playback. It's been very reliable for me on multiple flavors of Ubuntu. I realize it doesn't have true DVR capability, but your complaints seemed to be more to do with the playback portion of your experience and, using Boxee, I've had no problems playing back pretty much anything (though, for some reason, I can't get youtube to work). It also automatically indexes your media file collections (assuming you're following some standard media naming conventions, i.e. Lie.to.me.S01E01.avi) so y
  • Recording HD? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rlp (11898) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:44PM (#30304338)

    While we're on the topic - is there a good solution for recording HD from cable? I'm currently using analog cable with a Hauppauge card to record programs in standard definition. Potential solutions:

    1) DVR from cable company. Problems: I've gotten anecdotal information that these DVR's have poorly designed UI's and tend to be somewhat flaky (worse than Windows). Also, they are a closed system, I can't move the recording to a mobile device for portable viewing.
    2) PC + HD ATSC / Clear-QAM tuner card - this gives me the ability to record over the air broadcasts and cable channels that support Clear-QAM (which is a fairly small subset of cable channels).
    3) PC + HD Tuner Card + Cable Card - does anyone make one of these? Anyone have any experience with this?

    • There are companies that offer Number 3, but I think they're all pretty expensive as they tend to tailor to the high-end custom markets, although supposedly it's possible to get your own CableCard tuner without going through an OEM now. Probably still expensive, and it will probably never work with anything outside of Windows Media Center, but it is a possibility.
    • by foom (29095)

      I use:
      4) Cablebox with Firewire output + firewire port on PC.

      It works really quite well.

      Cable companies are required to offer cable boxes with firewire (usually the HD ones all come with it). However, depending on your cableco, the firewire output may or may not be encrypted. You can only connect it to your PC if it is not encrypted.

      Note that the presence or absence of encryption on the Firewire output is *totally independent* from whether the data is encrypted on the cable line. The cable box decrypts the

  • by TomXP411 (860000) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:44PM (#30304342)
    Sage TV, Beyond TV, and Media Center are all mature products that work well on Windows.

    Media Center is very "Microsoft-y", and it's not as configurable as the others. The upside is that it's seamlessly integrated with Windows, and it passes the WAF test rather well.

    Sage TV is a tinkerer's dream, but I never managed to get it successfully up and running with QAM channels mapped.

    Beyond TV was my favorite for a long time, as it's both configurable and stable. The only problem is that Snapstream has slowed active development of the consumer product. Their prime focus is on developing for the Enterprise market. (Think one server, recording a dozen news channels at once, extracting closed-caption information to create a searchable database.) BTV has one great bonus feature: It can automatically re-compress video down to H.264 and drop the show in to iTunes as a Podcast. This is pretty slick, since it lets you save several TV shows to your iPod or iPhone and take them with with you.

    BTV and Sage can both record HD through the Hauppauge HD-PVR, and all 3 can record ClearQAM content (usually your local TV stations.)

    Windows 7 Media Center will also record encrypted QAM cable with a CableCard, but the CableCard capture devices aren't quite ready for public consumption yet; I believe the ATI box's firmware is still in closed beta, and the Ceton device will hit the market early next year. (The Ceton card will record 4 SD or HD shows at the same time.)

    BTV and Sage can control your cable box with a USB-UIRT or MCE Remote (with an IR blaster). Media Center will only control your box with an MCE remote/blaster. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W5GK5C/ref=ox_ya_oh_product">Amazon has one for about $40 that works well.</a>

    BTV and Sage both can also stream live video to other PC's on the network. Media Center can only play back pre-recorded video; if you want to watch live TV an another PC, that PC needs a tuner card.
  • I'm currently a Tivo Series 3 user (Works awesome and basically zero maintenance, other than the monthly fee and a very occasional spontaneous reboot--???!!!)
    --That said, I've been keeping an eye on the Popcorn hour boxes...http://www.popcornhour.com
    --Looks like it plays all the media you can throw at it, and toss in a blue-ray drive and you can even watch those-
    It supports a Huge laundry list of features, but it looks like the one thing it doesn't actually do is the DVR of actual tv streams... Anyone know

  • I've been looking for a media jukebox that I can dump all my audio/video content onto. I *never* watch cable TV and have no interest in recording it or watching it with the system. What would be a good solution for this? I'd prefer to stick with something that runs on Ubuntu 'cuz that's what my extra box is currently running.

  • Cyberlink power cinema on WInXP, with Gigabyte USB tuner. Works great.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:14PM (#30304832)
    commercial skipping that does not even require a remote button press. That is the killer feature for me with MythTV and why I keep using it. I also have diskless frontends and when I want a new one I can just plug it in and it just works. And then there is the web interface that I can use to program recording shows from anywhere. I agree with other posters with just using xine or another player for playing DVD's and it not being a bad thing. You can send args to xine to surpress the splash screen and everything else and then seamlessly fall back to MythTV when you hit "end" on the remote so I don't see the problem. As for streaming, I got a blue ray player that has netflix streaming (a roku box would work and be cheaper). All of this is controlled with one universal remote. If you want flexiblity you get it with myth. If you constantly tinker and upgrade, you will always be tinkering with myth, but you can also choose to set it up and just use it. From everything I have seen, MythTV's flexibility beats everything else I have tried (to the point where people are using other solutions like xmbc as a part of their MythTV solution).
  • I have two PC based DVR's in the house. I've used several peices of software over the years and Sage TV has been the best. The UI is IMO much easier to use that Win MCE. It has the basic functions(record, play, ff/rw TV) as well as DVD playback, audio, pictures and other Video files. Its audio and video playback is limited to the codecs you have loaded. Native it will search and stream youtube videos. Their are several user created addons to enhance the look and feel as well as functions. Their is a new
  • by ayden (126539) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:22PM (#30307084) Homepage Journal
    I've been using Snapstream BeyondTV [snapstream.com] for 4 years. I started first with a Hauppauge SD tuner card. I now have a Happaugue HD-PVR [hauppauge.com], a Motorola HD FiOS box and change channels with a USB-UIRT [usbuirt.com]. The Motorola HD box connects the HD-PVR with component video and optical SPDIF cables. The HD-PVR connects to my Win7-x64 system via USB.

    BeyondTV downloads the TV guide, manages the recording schedule and controls the HD-PVR and Motorola HD box with the USB-UIRT. The recording format is an H.264 transport stream (the file type is .tp) which uses about 3.6 GB per hour on the HD-High quality setting. These files are readily burned to a Blu-ray disk without re-encoding. The system is completely seamless.

    My next step is to configure a DLNA enabled LG Blu-ray player in my living room to which I can stream the recorded files.

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