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Does Tivo have any competitors?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Gifted1, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. Oct 16, 2013 #1 of 177
    Gifted1

    Gifted1 New Member

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    Are there any other companies out there that sell DVR units? And this is excluding cable companies that lease you a DVR unit.

    I know when I did some research a few months ago, I couldn't find any except for one that I think Sony sold years ago and they no longer sell.

    What else is out there besides Tivo?
     
  2. Oct 16, 2013 #2 of 177
    replaytv

    replaytv gun talk ignore list

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    You can buy a used ReplayTV DVR, but they are hard to use, not HD, and not supported. Some of them to have auto commercial skip though.

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Magnavox-MDR-513H-F7-320GB-DVR-and-DVD-Recorder/14291489

    Is a a current model sold sometimes at Walmart. Used ones are sold on eBay too.

    There are others that manufacture DVRs but none that compare at all to the TiVo. I have used many of the others and love TiVo. I don't work for TiVo. They wouldn't hire me.

    You dn't tell how you are going to the use the DVR so I can't give you more particular info.
     
  3. Oct 16, 2013 #3 of 177
    LoadStar

    LoadStar LOAD"*",8,1

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    There are definitely other OTA DVRs, but I don't know of any CableCard DVRs on the market other than TiVo.

    Edit: set-top cablecard DVRs, that is. Of course there are CableCard tuners for computers, and you could use them in conjunction with a compatible DVR software. (Thanks for the reminder, dlfl.)
     
  4. Oct 16, 2013 #4 of 177
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    And if you use a tuner card in your PC, you will still need a CableCARD and possibly a Tuning Adapter to tune your digital cable channels.
     
  5. Oct 16, 2013 #5 of 177
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    There are about a half dozen models of cablecard tuners that can be used with a PC running Windows Media Center. WMC turns your PC into a full fledged DVR with many of the same capabilities as a Tivo and then some. The best part is that there are no monthly or lifetime Tivo fees to pay. Guide data is free as long as Microsoft decides to provide it. Even then there are third party guide data providers that offer it for a reasonable fee.

    Any PC running Windows 7 or Windows 8 can use a cablecard tuner from Ceton, Hauppauge, or SiliconDust. WMC comes with every version of Windows 7 except Home Basic. You must have Windows 8 Pro in order to use WMC and it's only available as an add-on for $10 from Microsoft. Both versions are essentially identical.

    A cablecard tuner allows you to view and record any channel you're subscribed to from your provider. They work on any digital cable system as well as Verizon FIOS. The only caveat is that you can't order PPV through your PC, although you can order it over the phone, and you don't have access to Video On Demand. Other than that it works like any cableco DVR or Tivo.

    You can use media extenders to watch live or recorded TV from the main HTPC (Home Theater PC) in any room in the house via a home network. You can upgrade the PC to add as many tuners of any type (ATSC for OTA broadcasts, in-the-clear QAM, or encrypted cable) just by installing the drivers, adding the tuner, and rerunning WMC setup. There are an unlimited number of options you can install in a HTPC so it's much more versatile than any standard DVR. You can also control it using a WMC remote with a plug-in USB IR receiver.
     
  6. Oct 16, 2013 #6 of 177
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Windows Media Center development has been discontinued by Microsoft. It will continue to get guide data updates for the foreseeable future, but it's a dead product as far as enhancements and updates.

    Which means TiVo is currently the only retail CableCARD DVR on the market being actively developed. I honestly wish there was more competition because I think it would push TiVo to make their product better.
     
  7. Oct 16, 2013 #7 of 177
    atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Active Member

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    If you are looking for a New Stand Alone HD DVR Appliance, that you buy/own yourself (as apposed to rent from your pay TV provider) you have the following options:

    1. Cable & FIOS: TiVo
    2. AT&T U-verse: None
    3. Dish Network: None
    4. Direct TV: None
    5. Over the Air (OTA): TiVo
    Home Theater PCs can also be used for Cable & OTA but I don't think anyone is building appliance like devices anymore so you have to setup your own (which is easy) and there were some other discontinued OTA models that you might still find out there like the CM7400.

    So as you can see there isn't much choice, you can rent from your provider, setup a Home Theater PC, or buy a TiVo and that is about it.
     
  8. Oct 16, 2013 #8 of 177
    yokito

    yokito New Member

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    The last whole house solution that was pc based and easy to install was bought by google - SageTV - in June 2011 and buried in their Kansas fiber project.
     
  9. Oct 17, 2013 #9 of 177
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    WMC development may have been halted, but it will still be supported as long as Windows 7 and 8 are supported, at least with regard to updates and fixes. How long Microsoft will continue to provide guide data is anybody's guess, but I suspect it will be available as long as MS supports Windows 8, which should be approximately for another decade based on past history.

    FWIW, Tivo has done very little in the area of DVR development beyond what currently exists, AFAIK. They've mostly added a lot of bells and whistles to the platform in the form of Netflix apps and such. I believe they did add more feastures to the search function a while back, mostly in the area of internet TV.

    Unless something drastically changes in how TV is delivered to our homes, the DVR features in WMC should serve us well for quite some time. Aftermarket companies like Ceton, Hauppauge, and SiliconDust must believe that WMC will be around for a while or else they wouldn't still be coming out with new cablecard products. Ceton recently released their 6-tuner model and SiliconDust is supposed to be introducing a 4-tuner version of their HDHomeRun Prime sometime soon. They wouldn't be doing this if there was no market for them.

    I'm not exactly sure what would be required to make Tivo a better product other than making the service more affordable. Adding more tuners was a step in the right direction. Adding a more powerful CPU with more memory couldn't hurt as well as a faster NIC. Other than that, it does what it's supposed to do. Personally, I think they would be better served if they got rid of some of the extra bells and whistles they've added.

    A lot of people complain that Tivop needs to be better. Problem is, they don't specify what needs to be improved to make it so. A DVR is a DVR, plain and simple. A Tivo performs as a DVR quite well, but so does a WMC HTPC and most cableco DVRs. Each product serves a different niche crowd as they offer additional benefits (or not so much in the case of a cableco DVR other than access to PPV and VOD).

    Other companies have tried to introduce cablecard DVRs and have failed. Moxi was the most promising device, but not that many people knew about it. Lack of advertising kills more products than anything else, IMHO. Tivo mostly has no competition because nobody is aware of any.

    Any PC with Windows 7 or Windows 8 Pro can be set up to behave as an appliance. I realize a lot of people would dispute this, but it is entirely true, at least most of the time. I've got three HTPCs that I use on a regular basis that do not require any maintenance or tweaking other than installing the monthly Windows updates. The wife uses one of them daily and my primary HTPC is used from the time I walk in the door at night until I go to bed.

    I won't pretend that PCs don't have their issues, but most of them function just fine as long as you don't screw with them too much. I'm sure most of you use PCs on a daily basis at work so consider how long they function without problems. HTPCs work just as well, if not better, as long as you leave them alone.

    FWIW, I'd wager that Tivos will fail as often as any HTPC given that they mostly contain a lot of the same components and are used under identical circumstances. If anything, PC components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. Tivo builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?
     
  10. Oct 17, 2013 #10 of 177
    lessd

    lessd Active Member

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    Running a 100 to 200 watt PC as a DVR (a new TiVo uses about 25 watts)will work, but has its own problems as people who have tried it will tell you. This is a DVR solution for very few people.
     
  11. Oct 17, 2013 #11 of 177
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    They will not be updating or fixing MCE ever again. The entire development team was dissolved. So if there are any bugs now they will be there forever. Guide data will likely continue for at least a few more years, but there are no guarantees. They could decide at any moment it's too expensive and cut it off.

    MCE is a big part of our business, so I wish this weren't true, but it is. Between the killing of MCE, the proliferation of DRM and this new trend towards killing off CableCARD in favor of proprietary downloadable solutions, the DVR market here in the US is looking pretty bleak. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the Roamio was TiVo's last retail DVR.
     
  12. Oct 17, 2013 #12 of 177
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I misspoke about support being provided for WMC. I meant to imply that Microsoft would probably be providing guide data for as long as Windows 7 and 8 are still supported. You are correct in that there will be no further development or bug fixes ever again for WMC unless Microsoft decides to resurrect the division, which is pretty much never going to happen. As long as guide data is available, I'll keep using my HTPC as a DVR. If and when it comes to an end I'll probably look into third party solutions to acquire guide data.

    I haven't seen any statistics regarding streaming services vs. DVR use or disc rentals. I suspect that streaming won't impact DVR use as much as it does movie rentals on optical disc. Services like Hulu Plus do have a following, but many of us still like to record our own shows for playback with the ability to skip commercials. The younger generations seem to favor convenience over quality, which is quite a shame for the rest of us. I'd hate to see a consumer market driven by sheer impatience, but I fear that's where we're heading.

    Yes, people have tried to tell me and I've responded with an opposing view that tends to fall on deaf ears. To each his own. The reason that it is a DVR solution for few people is because they have preconceived notions and fears about using a PC as a DVR. I'd counter with the fact that there are far more people using HTPCs than you realize, but I can't back it up with actual numbers. Based on the various production runs of each type of Ceton tuner alone I'd guess that it's easily in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of units sold. That's a lot of units for a niche product.

    The thread title asked if Tivo had any competitors so I responded with a very viable one. Granted, HTPCs are mostly a niche product, but a competitor to Tivo nonetheless. In fact, there are a lot of HTPC users that used to own Tivos and made the switch, same as me. Conversely, there are some HTPC users that decided it wasn't for them and went back to using a Tivo instead. Defferent strokes is all it is.

    FYI, there are lots of PC components that can be used to build a very low power PC. I've got a Kill-O-Watt meter connected to my HTPC and the last time I checked it was using only about 85 watts under full load. The PC has a full ATX motherboard with an Intel i3-2105 CPU, 8GB DDR3 RAM, a Radeon HD7770 graphics card, a BD-ROM drive, 120GB SSD for the OS, a 1.5TB WD AV drive for recording, two Ceton InfiniTV4's, two Hauppauge WINTV-HVR-2250 dual ATSC tuners, an Intel gigabit NIC, a Corsair 550-watt PSU, and a Noctua NH-C12P low profile CPU cooler. Considering the capability of this PC, it would easily compare to three quad tuner Tivos with the added capability of being able to record from both OTA and digital cable as well as features a Tivo simply does not have. Power consumption is probably going to be fairly close by comparison.
     
  13. Oct 17, 2013 #13 of 177
    astrohip

    astrohip Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    I think this is an unfair statement. You could take your two statements and flip TiVo with PC, and the result would be the same. They're both built to do what they do, and unless one is buying some specific heavy-duty product, they are built to meet whatever demands the manuf thinks they need to be.

    Plus, AFAIK, TiVos are known as workhorses, and often last far longer than their intended (or even useful...talking to you, my old S2) life.


    Version 1:
    If anything, PC components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. Tivo builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?

    Version 2:
    If anything, TiVo components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. PCs builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?
     
  14. Oct 17, 2013 #14 of 177
    yokito

    yokito New Member

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    Ceton failed spectacularly with their echo extender and the Q didn't even make it to market. Hauppauge is in trouble. There are no good extenders for WMC.

    I agree, though, that WMC will probably function for another 10 years or so which is a very long time in terms of PVR solutions - but as a whole house solution WMC has never been a good choice.
     
  15. Oct 18, 2013 #15 of 177
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    The Q died because MS decided to discontinue MCE right before they went to market. It actually was a surprise to Ceton and screwed them over on a product they spent a lot of time and money developing.
     
  16. Oct 18, 2013 #16 of 177
    Curt

    Curt New Member

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    SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime.
     
  17. Oct 18, 2013 #17 of 177
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    I guess you've never heard of the Intel NUC, which runs at less than 20 watts in a 4"x4"x2" chassis. Even with tuners and drive you're talking less than 30 watts.

    Don't misrepresent the power usage of a modern PC to make a point, it's actually way less than Tivo now when you also factor in that an HTPC can sleep.
     
  18. Oct 18, 2013 #18 of 177
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    But it didn't make a lot of sense to me and others at TGB that Ceton didn't want to continue with WMC7 Embedded, MS has committed to license and support it for many years to come.

    There was something else going on with that product, IMO they took a look at the potential market and profit for the price they would need to charge and couldn't make the numbers work.
     
  19. Oct 18, 2013 #19 of 177
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Really? The thread topic is DVR competition for Tivo DVR. The 'R' in DVR stands for recorder. How many GB of recording capacity does the HDHomeRunPrime provide? (None as far as I can tell on their web page, which describes the device as a "digital cable TV tuner".)
     
  20. Oct 18, 2013 #20 of 177
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    If you're talking about a turnkey PC then I'd be inclined to agree with you. The comparison to build quality vs. a Tivo would then be spot on. However, I build my own so I can pick and choose better quality components than either pre-built configuration can offer. The result is not only a better performing machine but one that will likely last longer due to higher quality components. My HTPCs have been running absolutely trouble free for up to five years and counting. I've only had one maintenance issue with a HTPC in all that time and it was due to a failed Intel motherboard. I got a brand new one as a replacement under the 3-year warranty. Tivo would have given me something refurbished under their pathetic warranty.

    I just looked at the Tivo website and I noticed that they now offer two and three-year extended warranties, but I didn't see what the cost was. Chances are you're just going to get the same refurbished unit they would have given you under the normal warranty, but at a slight discount. I'll have to check this out further and see what they want for the extended warranties.
     

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