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What is the difference between Tivo and Windows Media Center?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by dtivouser, Dec 28, 2013.

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  1. Dec 30, 2013 #21 of 312
    DonWidmore

    DonWidmore Member

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    Like many people my interest is in purchasing a fully-functioning plug n play HTPC that I can use as a 6-12TB media center. I want to keep subscribing to shows while having the full range of expandability with a NAS, preferably RAID-5, and a place to dump what are approx. 400 DVD-Rs of shows I taped off TV in the 1980s and converted to DVD 10 years ago. I'd buy the top of the line TiVo from Weaknees if it meant I could move my files onto it.

    I don't really have the free time to build one, but Assassin HTPC and others end up in the $3k range when I spec them out...
     
  2. Dec 30, 2013 #22 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    There is no such thing as a completely silent Tivo unless you replace the hard drives with SSDs and use large heat sinks instead of fans. There will always be some noise generated by a Tivo, regardless of the model. Some are just noisier than others.

    I've upgraded every Tivo that's come into my possession with aftermarket drives so perhaps the drives I've used in some instances were noisier than others. Even so, I do recall stock drives being every bit as noisy. The noise wasn't always consistent and I suspect it was noisiest when taking an update or downloading data while buffering live TV. With dual tuners, the heads would be buffering two separate TV streams, causing the heads to jump between different sectors of the drive platters. This will generate noise on any spinning hard drive.

    The last Tivo I owned was a series 3 that resided in a TV stand in my family room. I could hear the drive clacking from across the room. I believe it had a 750GB drive, but I don't recall exactly as I upgraded it several years ago.

    Did your "media armoire" have closed doors? If so, that would be enough to muffle the sound of the drives.

    Assassin HTPCs can get a bit pricey, but he builds a quality product that should be relatively trouble-free. He also provides service after the sale and a warranty, IIRC. There are enough tutorials and recommended hardware configurations available that would allow you to build a perfectly fine HTPC. In fact, Assassin has a website with everything you need to know and it's now free to anyone: assassinhtpcblog.com

    Hardware RAID is really not the best solution as a media server, nor is it the most cost effective. There are several software RAID solutions that would be better suited for the task. FlexRAID, unRAID, and SnapRAID are three of the most popular software RAID programs. Assassin has a website dedicated to these types of servers that is also free: assassinserver.com

    FWIW, I can build a HTPC from scratch and have it up and running in about four hours. Most of that time is due to downloading Windows updates and I usually find other things to do while this is going on. I just start the update process and come back and check it later. Putting the hardware together only takes about 30 minutes or so, depending on your configuration. If you've already got a Windows 7 PC up and running it's only a matter of installing the tuners and drivers and then running WMC setup, which can all be done in less than an hour.

    My very first Tivo standalone (Philips HDR-112) took about three hours to run setup. Obviously, they have streamlined the setup process considerably over the years.
     
  3. Dec 30, 2013 #23 of 312
    dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

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    Thanks for the tip on Assassin! I've ordered the Ceton 6-tuner device to try it out on my main PC. With good results, I am going to assemble an HTPC.
     
  4. Dec 30, 2013 #24 of 312
    MeInDallas

    MeInDallas Member

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    I got the Ceton 6 tuner back after it was released, and I'm really impressed with it. I replaced the 4 tuner with the 6, and I didnt go all out on mine like most do. I put it in a Dell Optiplex 755 with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 and it doesnt miss a beat. I have an SSD for the OS, and 2 WD20EURS drives for storage. I really think you will be happy with it. I plan on one day making one of the nicer ones, but I just never have yet.
     
  5. Dec 30, 2013 #25 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    No problem. I also have an InfiniTV 6 that recently replaced two InfiniTV 4's in my main HTPC. I pre-ordered my first InfiniTV 4 five months before it was actually released and got one from the very first production batch. I paid $399 for it and still believe it was the best $400 I ever spent. Here's some other HTPC sites you might want to take a look at:

    http://www.thegreenbutton.tv/forums/ - Premiere site for Windows Media Center. You'll also find support for the Ceton tuners here.

    http://www.avsforum.com/f/26/home-theater-computers - Forum that discusses anything HTPC related

    http://www.missingremote.com/ - Great source for HTPC news, topics, and tutorials

    http://www.hack7mc.com/ - Everything you wanted to know about hacking Windows Media Center
     
  6. Dec 31, 2013 #26 of 312
    jbluemke

    jbluemke New Member

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    yeah..windows media center is done. There will be no more innovation
     
  7. Dec 31, 2013 #27 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    As indicated in a previous post, most of the innovations for WMC have come from third parties. The fact that Microsoft has abandoned any further development is completely irrelevant to most WMC users. WMC will survive as long as guide data is available from either Microsoft or other sources. I can easily see WMC in use a decade from now.

    FWIW, Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP and older OSes, yet I know a lot of people that are still using Windows 98, 2000, and XP. There is absolutely no reason to believe that WMC is even remotely done in the foreseeable future. As long as it still runs on your existing hardware, you can keep any system going indefinitely.

    Tivo has abandoned support for older platforms. According to your standards they are now useless. I think a lot of owners of these older platforms would tend to disagree with your assessment. ;)
     
  8. Jan 3, 2014 #28 of 312
    hoyty

    hoyty Member

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    This is the key issue. How long will Microsoft keep guide data alive? I think it is longer now then it might have been because I have a feeling the OneGuide in Xbox One uses a close relation (if not identical) guide data feed as WMC. Xbox One is going to be around for a while.

    Also I am inclined to believe that people will have Windows 7 running for as long if not longer than XP has lived (12 years) and WMC in 8/8.1 isn't broken per-se just not as fully supported by third party apps. It isn't guaranteed that WMC won't live on in Windows 9 it just won't have any new features.

    In my previous house I had Series 3 for my wife to use primarily for ease of use and reliability and then a WMC in home theater for expandability and other uses. I will agree with almost every Mr. Unnatural has said and WMC still has its place for sure but I am going to buy Roamio today to replace my Series 3 since I just want a simple 6-tuner device and I think I will survive with 3 TB for a while.
     
  9. Jan 4, 2014 #29 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    It's pretty certain that Media Center won't be part of the next Windows release. Then again, who's to say they won't continue to offer it as an add-on (I'm not holding my breath on that one)?

    There are third party providers for guide data used in other media center software apps, such as Media Portal and SageTV. Most of these sources can be used with Windows Media Center as well. Even if Microsoft stops providing guide data it should be available from other sources, albeit for a modest fee.
     
  10. Jan 5, 2014 #30 of 312
    DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    Biggest advantage for Tivo over Media Center? It Just Works (tm)

    That's it. If you enjoy caring and feeding for science projects, by all means geek out with Windows media center. If you are willing to tinker, it can be quite satisfying. But for the first time, with the Roamio finally delivering on excellent performance and UI responsiveness, I can unequivocally say that for me there is absolutely NO benefit of WMC over a Lifetime subbed Tivo. None - indeed, only negatives. I don't miss my WMC at all.

    EDIT: And with streaming services being so prevalent, the need to have terabytes of shows hanging around isn't nearly as appealing as it once was. I do have my movies ripped to my home server and serve them up from there.
     
  11. Jan 5, 2014 #31 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    The amount of caring and feeding all depends on your setup. I've got three HTPCs running 24/7 that require zero maintenance other than manually running Windows Update once a month. I could let them update automatically, but I prefer to pick which updates I want installed. Compared to the stability of Tivos, I'd put them both dead even in that regards, at least with my PCs. Obviously, YMMV.

    Whatever benefits you get from either platform depends entirely on how you use them and what you want them to do. I really like having everything available from a single device without having to switch inputs. I can watch and record live TV as well as enjoy Blu-Ray movies in 1080p with full HD audio. I've also got a vast library of DVDs, home movies, concert videos, and miscellaneous TV shows and videos archived on my 30TB server.

    I'm not particularly enamored with streaming services so I don't use them. Aside from shows they produce themselves, Netflix only offers movies and TV shows that were released years ago, most of which I've probably already seen when they were first run. Occasionally I'll discover a show that I missed during its first run, but that's what torrents are for. ;) Other services include commercials that can't be skipped, which totally defeats the purpose of owning a DVR. Virtually every movie I have on my server is more current than the vast majority of streamed content from Netflix.
     
  12. Jan 5, 2014 #32 of 312
    khidr

    khidr New Member

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    Jan 5, 2014
    Just started using tivo after many years with WMC, so I wanted to share thoughts from the other direction. Let me start off by saying - I love WMC. I've been using for years, and like Mr. Unnatural, grabbed the ceton infinity in that launch window before it was easily available. I just got tired of maintaining the hardware / squashing bugs. I partially blame the move to win8.1, but mostly just my own fatigue and decision that I didn't want to have to work at my tv anymore.

    But, let's talk about the actual differences:

    WMC is beautiful. As a pure interface, it is still the best looking dvr interface I've ever used. I love the transparent guide that floats in over live tv instead of giving you the standard windowed view, and the grid view for recordings/media is quick and intuitive to navigate.

    Tivo isn't ugly by any means, but it definitely takes a more 'standard' approach. The folder views for navigating recordings is totally functional, but as someone new to tivo - it can be a bit of a mess, with recordings in multiple folders depending on groupings, and generally just less attractive from a UI standpoint.

    On the other hand, the metadata that tivo grabs (without any effort on my part) such as telling me the season and episode number is wonderful.

    The metaphor for setting up recordings is a bit of an adjustment as well, the biggest negative for me is the split between the season pass and wishlist in tivo. In WMC I had no need for the wishlist - if I wanted to add a show and needed to catch up on old episodes, I would add a series recording with "HD preferred, or HD only" new and rerun, and let it grab all of the episodes for any channel.

    With Tivo, I'd have to do this as a wishlist if I didn't want to commit to a single channel, or set up a season pass for each station that might syndicate the show. So far - the wishlist has been a little more cumbersome from what I've seen, or needs someone with more experience to set it up perfectly. I definitely think a little more channel flexibility in tivo would be great, but only for the rare catalog shows.

    Internet video: On WMC I have two options - open whatever site I want since I'm using a pc running media center, or if I'm using a 360, use its comprehensive app store for internet video (with many many more options than the roamio has at the moment). In both cases, I can get to whatever streaming site I want, but in both cases I have to leave my tv/wmc interface entirely to do so.

    Tivo has netflix, hulu, youtube, and not-amazon-prime-video. BUT - if I search for a show, movie, or anything else - it searches ALL of these services and lets me get it wherever it might be. Unified search is a killer feature, and really one of the key arguments as to why it's wonderful to be using an interface that is still being actively developed by its owner. I would have loved for the xbox 360 to include my wmc guide/dvr in search results, but it would never happen.

    chromecasting/DIAL support: this is another truly cool thing. Find a youtube video on your phone, hit the chromecast button, select your tivo, and boom - instant youtube party. I've been burned on the whopping 35.00 I spent on my chromecast!

    WMC had some really nice advantages - basically infinite tuners, the ability to expand functionality with some great third party apps (the ceton mymedia center phone apps were lovely) and cheap reliable extenders in the form of xboxes that give you a ton of additional content. Tivo on the other hand has a monthly fee (even on its extender, which - really? come on!) and more or less limits you to what you've got (though it also has the ability to extend its abilities with third party apps a la pytivo, and hopefully there will be more opportunity coming soon with the html5 app store -

    I think ultimately, it comes down to how much work you want to put into your system. I'm happy with the switch, but I also think I just got the bug to have a change of pace coupled with a rough couple of months squashing bugs. If you hate cableboxes though, you really can't go wrong with either setup.
     
  13. Jan 5, 2014 #33 of 312
    Chris Gerhard

    Chris Gerhard Active Member

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    I think both can work great but TiVo is so much easier to set up and use. As far as the belief that despite Microsoft giving up on WMC, it will be adequately supported and improved by third parties, I consider that extremely optimistic.

    WMC is too difficult for me but now that Microsoft has given up trying to make it a viable, profitable product, something people will want to buy a Windows operating system to use or to set up a second computer in house, I wouldn't choose it even if could set it up and teach the female in house to use. Since I don't like to use WMC, I am sure not going to try and sell anybody else in the house on using it.
     
  14. Jan 6, 2014 #34 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Not being optimistic at all. There are already third parties that provide guide data for a modest fee. I think you underestimate the number of WMC users and supporters that would like to ensure it's longevity. Even if WMC disappears completely, there are other Media Center frontends, like Media Portal, SageTV, and probably others, that provide support for cablecard tuners. The only caveat is that the channels cannot be flagged as copy once by your provider.

    I'm not sure why you feel that WMC is too difficult to use. If you can install a card in a PCI-e slot and install the necessary drivers, you can use WMC. Setup is actually quite simple and the WMC UI isn't hard to use at all.

    I gave up on trying to sell WMC to the wife and son ages ago. I just slipped it in quietly and now they both use it on a daily basis. The wife used to use my old Tivo for watching live TV. Now she does it using WMC. She still complains if something isn't working the way she expects it to. Problem is, she has zero patience and no tolerance whatsoever and will start punching buttons on the remote thinking that eventually she can fix it using a brute force approach. 99.999% of any problems she has with WMC are usually due to operator error or something that is easily remedied by restarting Media Center on the PC. My wife does not play well with any type of technology.

    WMC is definitely a niche product and not something for the average user. If you want a product that works out of the box and you don't mind paying fees to use hardware you already own, then a Tivo is what you need. If you like more of a hands-on approach with virtually no limitations on the features you can add, then a WMC PC may just be what you're looking for. I've always recommended that anyone thinking of trying a HTPC should purchase an inexpensive TV tuner and connect it to an antenna. If you're already using Windows 7 then you're already most of the way there.
     
  15. Jan 6, 2014 #35 of 312
    DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    lol - with Tivo I have zero!

    As soon as you use "other than" the qualifier "zero" goes out the window :cool:

    And it may be relatively stable now, but what did it realisticly take to get where you are now? (That was rhetorical, BTW - please no dissertation on how easy it was to set up)

    Look, I have Windows, Mac and Linux servers in my house - over 48 wired ports of gigabit ethernet and commercial grade routing and wifi. I'm a geek - I just choose to geek out over stuff other than recording video.

    Any solution based on a general purpose computer OS may be more flexible, but the huge trade off is maintenance and no amount of sugar coating is going to change that. TiVo is plug and play, media centers aren't. That's my point. I'm not saying what you are doing is wrong, special, impossible, extraordinary, not extraordinary, etc. I'm just being realistic.

    Ever hear of beer goggles? Well geeks do the same thing with otherwise "ugly" tech - we overlook the warts as we get blinded by the underlying tech. Geek goggles, if you will. I've been guilty of it and will be again some day. I'm just pointing out your geek goggles are showing :cool:

    Finally, to the OP: WMC is dead. I wouldn't invest any time in it. Just look at how MS submarined Windows home server to see the ugly future.
     
  16. Jan 6, 2014 #36 of 312
    lessd

    lessd Active Member

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    I take umbrage at your statement about paying a fee for hardware you already own, TiVo retail sales model is based on this fee, they could have priced the product with service included from the start than nobody would be making such a statement, but they would have given up too much to the retail store that sold TiVos, and would not make out from the people that pay monthly as opposed to Lifetime. Retail discount is about 30% so a list price Roamio + at $400 cost the Retailer about $280 giving the Retailer about a 43% mark-up to list. TiVo did not want to give away another $120 on the service cost (for lifetime) or would have to charge more the customer. If you have Netflix streaming you pay a service fee to them and they did not sell you any hardware, but the hardware you use to get Netflix you own (in most cases).
     
  17. Jan 6, 2014 #37 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    As do I with my WMC HTPCs.

    Then you clearly did not read the qualifier. I can set mine up for automatic updates, just like your Tivos, but I choose not to.

    There were definitely some growing pains, but that was mostly due to using early versions of Windows 7 (i.e. pre-Service Pack 1) and less stable hardware. I can literally take just about any current PC hardware, install Windows 7 and any necessary support software and drivers, and turn it into a stable HTPC.

    I've got a 30TB unRAID server and hardwired ethernet in every room of my house, most of them with multiple connections. My router is a PC running pfSense. I've also got a Hackintosh and a Windows 8.1 PC, as well as numerous other Windows 7 PCs and laptops. I do like to geek out on other stuff, but I also like to have a stable setup for watching and recording TV. WMC gives me that. But like I've stated numerous times before, YMMV.

    No, you're just being negative. There's no sugar coating going on. My HTPCs require zero maintenance, period, no matter how you wish to twist my words. They're also literally plug and play when I get done setting them up. Any maintenance I perform is strictly voluntary and not required.

    By this standard, S1 through S3 Tivos are also dead since they are (mostly, if not entirely) no longer supported. If WMC were truly dead, explain to me how companies like Ceton and SiliconDust are still developing products to use with it? Clearly they know more than you do on the subject.

    The OP asked what the differences are between WMC and Tivos, not a dissertation on why you shouldn't use one or the other. WMC is alive and well, regardless of what the naysayers are telling you. ;)

    Sorry Les, didn't mean to ruffle your feathers. My point is that the actual cost of owning and operating a Tivo is high and above what they charge you for the hardware. Tivo has gone to a subsidized pricing structure, but charges you much more for the service as a result. I paid only $99 for lifetime service on my original S1 Tivo and about $100 for the Tivo itself. The hardware and software is much more advanced than the earlier models and you get more bang for your hardware buck, but you're paying far more for the privilege of using it than ever before. I applaud the direction Tivo is taking with their latest models, but they're making it much more expensive to own one. It's one of the main reasons I switched to HTPCs. I don't mind paying for a platform I can upgrade to my liking, but I dislike paying for a fixed platform that gives me little or no flexibility by comparison.

    Tivo could easily factor in the profit margin for the hardware, allowing the retailer to price it competitively, and simply tack on the lifetime service fee, much the same way that ReplayTV did with their DVRs. All I'm saying is that the cost of buying a Tivo is potentially 4-5 times more than the cost of the DVR itself. Imagine an unsuspecting person getting a new Tivo as a gift, only to find out that it's going to cost them another $400-500 just to use it, assuming they opt for lifetime service.

    To all: I was hoping to avoid turning this thread into another Tivo vs. HTPC pissing contest. If you have a valid point to make about feature comparisons between the two platforms, I welcome them. However, if you start posting crap that WMC is dead or it sucks or it doesn't work or any drivel to that extent, I'm going to set the record straight. I've never claimed that WMC is perfect and I have stated that it clearly isn't for everyone. OTOH, I've probably experienced as many problems with Tivos over the past decade or so as I have with my HTPCs, so clearly Tivos aren't perfect either. Both platforms are aimed at different target markets and each has something to offer over and above your cable provider's DVR. These are the features I'd like to focus on and leave the negativity at the door.
     
  18. Jan 6, 2014 #38 of 312
    cram501

    cram501 Member

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    I have both a WMC installation w/XBOX 360's as extenders and Roamios.

    When I had the Tivo S3 and HD, I considered WMC to be slightly better. The speed of the Roamios, streaming, copying speed, and the guide improvements puts the Roamio in the lead for me although it's minor.

    I already had the PC hardware available and an xbox 360. I eventually just converted the machine into an ESXI server so I could use the hardware for multiple operating systems. It's been operating find for the last few years without a problem. I've updated ESXI once or twice and patch the Win 7 WMC instance occasionally.

    I started it up initially because I wanted a solution where I could watch TV in different locations in the house. The S3 and HD were just too slow in transferring shows. The interface with the S3 and HD were acceptable although not as fast as I would have liked.

    If I was thinking about doing it today, I'd still probably do it for the geek factor in getting it working although the Tivos would be my main interface for watching TV. Real multi-room viewing (streaming, speedy transfers) with the Roamios was what I was originally looking to get working.
     
  19. Jan 6, 2014 #39 of 312
    dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

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    OP here. I have my Ceton 6-tuner PCI card working and have just started experimenting with it.

    One thing I notice as a genuine difference between WMC and Tivo is that with Ceton, I can assign a tuner to other Windows computers on my network. As far as I can tell (thus far), any Windows 7 desktop or laptop can run WMC and, with some really fragile configuration, watch and record live TV. This places a load on the network obviously and I'm not sure at what point it breaks. But so far, it's really nice-- enough that I wonder if I shouldn't have purchased the Ceton 6-tuner ethernet device instead. I figure that if sharing tuners over the internet is something I want to do, a device simpler than a full-on PC would be more reliable. The Roamio has proven to be pretty unreliable so far for me (not everyone, I know).

    Just a day or so into this and I can confirm what others said-- to make this work I have to be willing to tinker with it-- quite a bit so far, to get started. I'm hoping once I build a dedicated HTPC the config will stabilize and not require much handholding.

    As I research this, I find a lot of references to using XBMC for live TV viewing and recording. It seems to be done via plugins and I wonder how well. Once I get WMC stabilized I will try that too.
     
  20. Jan 6, 2014 #40 of 312
    heyted

    heyted New Member

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    That is the number one reason I chose an HTPC over the TiVo service. Although, manual recording with my unique TiVo Premiere without TiVo service combined with Google TV was not bad. But, I prefer open source software over WMC.
     
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