View Full Version : How does Tivo compare with the free-bies you get with fancy video-cards?
12-29-2003, 10:18 PM
Does anyone have any experience with these Tivo-like features in some of the video cards you can buy? Apparently, they work with free services out there that offer what Tivo does.
I assume the technology will be very similar; I can't imagine there's much too it. But I wonder how the services stack up.
Has anyone here built their own Tivo thusly?
12-29-2003, 11:33 PM
Here's one example: ATI AIW 9600 Pro (http://www.motherboards.org/articlesd/hardware-reviews/1277_4.html)
GuidePlus+ is the included entertainment guide for the AIW 9600 Pro and all ATI AIW cards, for that matter. This is a free service provided by Gemstar that acts like a TV Guide for the AIW card. Other services like TiVO can cost hundreds of dollars a year in subscription fees. To use it simply click on the Guide+ tab and it will ask for your name, zip code, and whether you use cable or an antenna. It's a bit unfortunate that it doesn't support Dish Network or Direct TV, but it works great for cable or local TV. After the download of up to one week of content, the currently playing program name is displayed whenever the TV application is launched. From the Guide Plus application, you can watch, record, setup to record or search for TV shows during the week of the downloaded program content. It's easy and self-explanatory.It seems that any video card with a TV tuner will do the trick, and the services seem comparable. If you really, really want TiVo-like service, this looks like a viable alternative. Of course, that's assuming your computer is powerful enough to handle it; I wouldn't expect to do much on an average computer while it's recording a show.
Also, a few friends of mine created something similar. They took an old computer and stuck in a video card with TV-out and AV-in ports. Viola, instant TiVo. There are no subscription fees because they don't use any service - it's basically a VCR, using software to control recording. Plus, it's not limited to 20-odd hours (since computers can have much larger hard drives than TiVo players) and it doesn't tie up their main computer when they want to record or watch something.
12-30-2003, 12:53 AM
I have a Radeon All-In-Wonder card and a couple of Tivos.
Though superficially the All-In-Wonder supports some of the features that a Tivo has, the whole is not equal to the sum of its parts. It's just not quite there from a stability and usability standpoint. The Tivo is something you can just plug in and use whereas the AIW takes a lot of tweaking and cursing and sometimes just doing simple things - like installing a game, will royally screw it up.
Tivos use normal PC hard drives, and adding more space isn't very difficult. I have about 100 hours recording time in mine, which I haven't come close to using, but if I wanted I could easily add another drive and more than double the recording time.
If you want to tinker, then by all means roll your own solution. If you like being able to plug something in and use it, get a Tivo (or a ReplayTV, they're good too from what I understand).
12-30-2003, 01:35 AM
Thanks, jmizzou and buckgully.
What I have in mind is devoting a pc exclusively to this function. well, also to be a massive mp3 player, where I'll rip all of my 600+ cds, then use the tv as the screen to access them. but other than mp3 player and tivo, I don't plan to put any other software on it.
I'm not afraid of rolling my own, and all the yuckiness that entails, but my big concern is that when it's all said and done, I hope the quality is similar to a Tivo.
12-30-2003, 02:14 AM
A Series2 TiVo with Home Media can play the MP3s and view photos that reside on networked PCs within the home. The Series2 uses a USB Ethernet adapter to attach itself to the home network to get program updates and access the computers and other TiVos in the home. You can buy an 80-hour TiVo for $300, a 150-hour upgrade (leading to 230 hours) for $200, and the Home Media option for $100. This seems expensive, but if you don't currently have a box to donate to this, nor one of these TV cards, then you may be coming out ahead. On top of that, the TiVo just works. The Season Pass software is great and the suggestions are nice too.
Also, TiVo service is only $12.95 / month or $249 for the life of the unit.
I personally recommend just buying the TiVo and the upgrades. I'm ecstatic with mine -- I had no idea how much it would alter my entertainment options.
12-30-2003, 03:06 AM
If you are into putting together a DIY box, check out the software at Freevo (http://freevo.sourceforge.net/about.html#About) and MythTV (http://www.mythtv.org/). Both are homebrew projects which offer free downloads. The Freevo link also shows a basic hardware package.
12-30-2003, 07:38 AM
Originally posted by Bill H.
What I have in mind is devoting a pc exclusively to this function. well, also to be a massive mp3 player, where I'll rip all of my 600+ cds, then use the tv as the screen to access them. but other than mp3 player and tivo, I don't plan to put any other software on it. I highly recommend you check out the "Home Theater Computers" forum on the AVS Message Board (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/). The members there are very knowledgeable about Home Theater PCs and have put together just about every sort of configuration you can think of. The sheer amount of info can be kind of overwhelming so make an effort to read through the FAQs first before posting.
12-30-2003, 02:00 PM
Bambi Hassenpfeffer wrote
A Series2 TiVo with Home Media can play the MP3s and view photos that reside on networked PCs within the home. The Series2 uses a USB Ethernet adapter to attach itself to the home network to get program updates and access the computers and other TiVos in the home. You can buy an 80-hour TiVo for $300, a 150-hour upgrade (leading to 230 hours) for $200, and the Home Media option for $100.
Thanks, Bambi Hassenpfeffer; I didn't know Tivo had that capability as well. I looked at their site, and the only screen shot they show (http://www.tivo.com/4.9.4.asp) is not very impressive; it looks like you have a single list of songs in big fonts. I've got perhaps 6,000 songs, and lists are pretty mandatory. Also, is their giant font (6 songs to choose from on the screen) the only option? Unfortunately, the only screen shot they show doesn't look very appealing for my needs. What is your experience like?
Murcielago and Hodge, thanks for the reading material. I'm actually excited about the prospect of Freevo, as it's on linux (which I prefer), and I'd planned on building this on windows, thinking these video card additions were unlikely to have non-windows versions. Have either of you had actual experience with the process? How bad was it?
12-30-2003, 02:17 PM
The more I read about Freevo and MythTV, the more I'm sold on them. Does anyone have a recommendation between them (or others of their like)?
12-30-2003, 02:43 PM
Bill H., I'm thinking about doing the Freevo thing myself, my cousin has been raving about it for the last few months. I have little experience with Linux, but he assures me it is a fairly simple and stable project. He followed this guide (http://zebulon.miester.org/~jstump/doc/freevo/html/index.html) for setup, sticking with the Matrox G400 video card and the Hauppage TV tuner. He has also talked about MythTV, but for now his feeling is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
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