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Does Tivo have any competitors?

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

  1. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I had a response I previously posted but decided to replace because I realized it was a complete waste of time. You have a preconceived notion about WMC that will clearly never change. You also have some preconceived notion that if you ***** about it enough you will miraculously change the minds of everyone that has no issues with WMC into believing that you actually know what you're talking about. Your continued discussions on the matter make it clear to everyone here that it is not the case.

    You claim facts but have nothing to show for it but your experience with a single PC setup, and even then your "facts" are nothing more than your personal opinion (and that is an actual fact). This somehow makes you an expert on WMC, at least in your own mind. I have personally configured dozens of WMC PCs that work perfectly fine so I can safely say that I have far more experience than you do when it comes to installing and configuring a WMC PC. I use WMC on a daily basis, as do hundreds, if not thousands, of others, and somehow you know more about it than anyone else. In the grand scheme of things, you are irrelevant. Your futility in using WMC stems from your own inabilities or possibly just bad luck and nothing more. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will find peace. However, I think you are just an angry, bitter person craving attention. There is no other rational explanation for your continued participation in this non-discussion.

    Let it go. Nothing will be resolved by further discussion. Continuing this non-debate serves no one.

    The bad news is that I fully expect another ***** rebuttal to be posted shortly.
     
  2. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    In the ATL
    Please stop feeding the troll and this thread will die off.
     
  3. CrispyCritter

    CrispyCritter Purple Ribbon Wearer

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    North...
    Why is either one of them a troll???

    They are both stubborn and they are both incorrectly arguing from their own personal experience, but the latter applies to most of this forum. Neither is presenting any new convincing evidence in support of their theories. Situation normal for any forum.
     
  4. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

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    Yeah, but it's getting old. The same back and forth with nothing new added.

    There's no need for it any longer.
     
  5. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Agreed. The entire argument has been ridiculous from the start and I apologize for taking part in it and wasting everyone's time. OTOH, sometimes it's just fun to poke a troll and see what he'll do next. ;)

    Please note that I requested the thread be closed a while ago when it was obviously no longer productive. I admit guilt to prolonging the silliness so I'll stop now.

    Now, let's all give thanks for what we have and go stuff our faces with turkey and watch some football. Peace. :D
     
  6. srauly

    srauly New Member

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    Simsbury,...
    Meh. I just spotted this thread today (have been thinking about switching back to TiVo after having used WMC for the last couple of years). After reading the first page or two of posts I was excited about replying with my thoughts/experiences, but then I got to the last couple of pages and saw that Bigg thread-crapped all over it. So I shouldn't be keeping this thread alive by replying to it, but I guess I can't help myself.

    So, anyway, to answer the original poster's question, TiVo seems to stand alone in terms of an out-of-the-box consumer electronics solution. WMC (Windows Media Center), however, is definitely a viable alternative. I think there are pros/cons to each.

    Unlike Bigg, I think the UI for WMC is actually very good. It is a far cry above the standard Comcast DVR UI (though maybe their most recent DVR solution that they're starting to test in some markets is decent. I don't know as I don't have any direct experience with that). Sure, there are a couple of UI things with WMC that when I first switched from my TiVo HD (Series 3) I thought, "Oh, I don't like the way that works...TiVo was better", but there were also aspects to the WMC UI that I thought were superior to how TiVo did things. And the UI was certainly a lot snappier than my TiVo HD (S3) UI (but it sounds like UI responsiveness has been greatly improved with the Roamio line).

    One of the things drawing me back to TiVo is the promise of streaming to mobile devices. This was actually one of the reasons I was originally drawn to WMC. At the time, with TiVo, you'd have to first transfer your show *off* of the TiVo and onto a computer (which took time) and then convert the show to a mobile-friendly format (even longer). With WMC, you'd at least skip that first step. Since that time, I've experimented with Plex and other solutions which do a great job of transcoding on-the-fly WMC TV shows, but it only really works (well) on shows that have already completed recording. For shows still-in-progress, it doesn't really work (well). Whereas now (flash-forward nearly 2 years), TiVo with the Stream and Roamio units, can supposedly do exactly that (I'm still curious about how good the picture quality is on this transcoded content viewed on an iPad, etc.).

    If the ability to view live TV on your mobile device isn't important to you, I would definitely give WMC a serious look, with one more caveat. It's not a consumer electronics, "take it out of the box and plug it in" experience. You should be fairly technical and actually enjoy tinkering a bit. If that describes you, then by all means look into WMC. I would personally recommend looking into a refurbished Apple Mac Mini with HDHomeRun PRIME as a starting point, hardware-wise. Then, add Windows 7 w/Media Center. Total cost under $700. If you don't care about having a smallish system, you can spend even less by finding another capable PC (maybe you already own one?) or an older Mac Mini. I would recommend getting something with a decently capable CPU so that you can run Plex to do transcoding on-the-fly for mobile devices of pre-recorded TV shows as well as your movie collection. FWIW, I don't personally use a Mac Mini (I have a refurb HP tower w/Intel i7 that I paid about $500 for), but I think the Mac Mini is a beautiful piece of hardware, with lots of built in features, and is competitively priced to any other small PC you'd put together yourself. Plus, if/when you want to switch to something else, it will have a decent resale value.

    As I mentioned, I'm looking at the TiVo Roamio line right now. The biggest reason, quite frankly, is because I'm a tech geek and it's been a couple of good years with WMC now, but I'd kind of like to try something new/different, just for a change of pace. I do have very fond memories of TiVo and am interested/excited about the streaming possibilities. I'll add that my WMC computer is showing signs of failure. I'm sure I could resolve that entirely by reformatting/reinstalling Windows 7 (and I might not even need to do anything that drastic). So, that's an added factor, especially since my wife won't be very happy with me if my WMC server bites the dust while I'm out of town on work.

    I will agree with Bigg that the TiVo peanut remote was/is a wonderful thing, and I do miss it. But in today's world, can the TiVo be your one and only device? I have an Apple TV, too, and would still need my nettop PC (running XBMC w/PleXBMC) to play my movie rips, so I pretty much have to trade the TiVo remote for a multi-device remote like one of my Logitech Harmony remotes. As great of a design as the TiVo remote is, if it can only control one thing and I have to put it down and pick up a different remote for a different use, then it's a faulty overall solution.
     
  7. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Zzzzz .... zzzzzz. Probably some good info in that verbose treatise if I hadn't dozed off a third of the way through. :D
     
  8. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I'm curious as to why you'd recommend a Mac mini. I assume you'd have to install Parallels in order to run Windows 7 and Media Center. Macs aren't really the platform of choice for HTPCs. There are countless choices for PC platforms that will work well as a HTPC that are less expensive.

    I agree about the Tivo peanut. I understand why so many people love it due to the ergonomic design. Sadly, it is far too limited for controlling multiple components in a home theater system so many of us have to look elsewhere for an all-in-one solution. I think the Harmony remotes are favored more than any other remote for home theater use, but there are other choices as well.
     
  9. srauly

    srauly New Member

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    Simsbury,...
    You don't need to spend extra on Parallels. If your intention is to use it as a dedicated Windows Media Center server, you just use the built-in Bootcamp capability to install Windows on a separate hard disk partition.

    I think the Mac Mini compares favorably to those custom Assassin builds, or a NUC. A NUC, for example, doesn't come with RAM or a hard drive. And like the Mac Mini, you'll need to supply Windows yourself. So once you add all of those pieces in, you're not really saving much money. The Mac Mini even has built-in IR (though, to be honest, I'm not certain how easy it is to make use of that on the Windows side). The base model 2012 Mac Mini will you give you an Intel i5 (yes, it's a notebook version of the i5, but it's probably still faster than the CPU you'll get with a NUC), 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, gigabit ethernet, and HDMI out. $600 new, and cheaper as a refurb. You'll also get Bluetooth and 802.11n, though those features won't do much for you as a Windows Media Center server.

    How much money are you going to save if you build your own NUC? $100? And with the Mac Mini, if/when you decide to replace it in the future, you'll get a lot more for it on the used market.

    Now, if small size, low power consumption, and a sexy case are not important to you, I would recommend looking for a deal on a refurb / open box HP mini-tower. That's the route I've gone in the past (and what I'm using now). I scored my refurb HP tower with i7 (full desktop version of the i7) for about $500 over a year ago. It came with a 1.5TB drive, HDMI, 8GB of RAM, and a Blu-ray drive. It also came with a dedicated graphics card, but I actually pulled it out to save some watts/heat and with the thought that I might resell it to save a few more bucks, but I never got around to doing that, so it's just sitting in a cabinet somewhere.
     
  10. Curt

    Curt New Member

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    Eastern...
    I'd venture to say because of the small form factor, built-in HDMI and IR. The way I read it is he'd do a native install of Windows (Boot Camp). It's a nice looking device that can be left out to be seen.

    I use a Mac mini myself, but not as a HTPC. I use it as my media hub with Apple TVs deployed for content consumption. I looked into extending its functions for live TV recording and streaming but went with TiVo because that had SWMBO approval for ease of use.
     
  11. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    If you're looking for something in a small form factor, check out the latest Intel NUC Haswell models, the Gigabyte BRIX, or even the slightly older Intel Sandy Bridge models. These little boxes pack a lot of punch and are only about 4-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 1-1/2" in size. There's virtually no internal space for any type of expansion and you need to use a mSATA SSD with laptop DIMMs. There is a half-size mini-PCI-e slot if you want to add a wireless adapter, but most of them also have a gigabit Lan port, HDMI, and several USB2 or USB3 ports. You'd have to install the OS via an external optical drive or USB flash drive. I'm seriously thinking about getting one to replace my aging Dell Zino HD, but it will probably have to wait until after Christmas.
     
  12. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

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    Hartford-...
    I had a preconceived notion that MCE was this amazing product that could do what a TiVo could, but with cheaper, faster, bigger, PC hardware. I actually used it, and learned what a disaster it is in the real world.

    I don't know what you're smoking, but MCE's interface misses some of the most basic elements of a DVR interface, which even the old battleship boxes on Comcast can do correctly (albeit with few tuners, tiny hard drives, and no multi-room).

    It's true that MCE had better responsiveness for years, but what good is the responsiveness in an interface that makes no sense in the first place? TiVo's sluggish interface at least makes sense. And now with the Roamios, you can have your cake and eat it too.

    You absolutely need multiple devices. I have a TiVo, Roku, Apple TV, BD player, VCR, HTPC, AVR, DVDO EDGE, Wii, GCN, N64, and XBOX. That doesn't mean you need a universal remote though. Just use the remote for each device. And since the TV normally will be on the input for TiVo, you can use the Peanut to turn the TV and AVR on and off normally. And also, while you're watching TV, the peanut can handle the AVR's volume, so it's pretty friendly to use. The best solution is the original OEM remote for each device. I have about 10, I just use the right one for the right job.

    The idea of building an HTPC for DVR functions is great in theory, the problem is, it needs some halfway decent software to make it a reality, and right now, and for the foreseeable future, there is no decent software available that's fully CableCard compatible. So TiVo it is.
     
  13. srauly

    srauly New Member

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    Simsbury,...
    You're probably the only person I've ever heard of who has actually used the WMC user interface for an extended time and found it to be an awful or confusing. And reading through this thread and the one you linked to, it seems to be more of the same from you: You frequently make definitive statements that the WMC UI is awful but provide little to no examples/specifics.

    You did list one UI frustration that I agree with: The lack of a simple list view for all of your shows. Instead, everything is tiled to some degree. I don't agree with you that it's "confusing" to use, but do agree that it's inefficient to use. Unfortunately, those of us who prefer a list view seem to be in the minority these days, as just about everyone is using a tiled view now. Netflix, Apple TV, and many more. You have to move left/right/up/down to get to what you want.

    Kudos to XBMC for giving you the choice of several different types of views.
     
  14. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Funny, I thought I heard a noise. Nah, it just turned out to be more static. :rolleyes:
     
  15. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    You can most definitely display your recordings as a list in WMC. Select a show in the recorded tv screen and press the Info button on your remote. Scroll down the displayed list of options and select "View List." You can then select how you want the list displayed by selecting on of the options across the top of the screen. If you want to revert back to the large icons then do the same thing, but select "View Large" from the option list.
     
  16. srauly

    srauly New Member

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    Simsbury,...
    The "View List" mode is how I have mine permanently set. But it's poorly named, because it's not a single vertical list. It's a 5x2 grid (5 rows, 2 columns visible on screen). The "View Large" mode is a single row mode where you scroll right/left only.

    What I (and presumably Biggs) prefer is a single-column list where you only scroll up/down. In the XBMC software, for instance, they refer to that as "list mode". And I think that's how the TiVo's "My Shows" screen works.
     
  17. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I would also prefer a vertical scrolling list, but obviously the developers had other notions. I find it to be an extremely minor annoyance at best and certainly nothing to make WMC flame-worthy. I tend to try and keep up with my recorded shows so the list never gets above five or six columns of recordings, keeping navigation rather simple. I generally list the shows in chronological order in which they were recorded so I usually view the oldest first.
     
  18. srauly

    srauly New Member

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    Simsbury,...
    I don't disagree with you on that.
     
  19. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

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    I went into many specifics. Like the lack of a list view, the byzantine settings menu (ok TiVo's settings menu needs help, but it's still worlds better than MCE's), the fact that the DVR functionality is only one menu item among many in the main menu filled with other garbage, lack of SxxEyy episode numbering, etc. It's just a mess every way around.

    Exactly. It isn't a list. And it gives you very little feedback as to where the beginning and end of it is. It's very visually appealing, but falls apart if you have more than a dozen or two shows. I can't even imagine it with close to a terabyte of stuff like my TiVo currently has on it!

    Yeah, the NPL (or "My Shows" as they call it now) is just a straight up linear list by date, with folders based on the newest show in the folder, and since you can channel up/down to move through it, even on a laggy box, you can move through the whole thing with ease.
     
  20. Dec 1, 2013 #160 of 177
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Considering you can order the list either by date recorded, alphabetically by title, or by original air date, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where it begins at a quick glance. It also shows exactly where the program is in the list in the lower right corner when the show title is highlighted (i.e., 1|27, etc.). That's more feedback than the recording list in a Tivo provides, IIRC. Like I said, it's a minor annoyance at best. I've gotten used to it so I pay it no mind.
     

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