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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. Jan 7, 2014 #41 of 312
    lessd

    lessd Active Member

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    Almost all users of WMC have a geek factor but not all geeks use WMC over a TiVo. WMC is not real competition for TiVo, TiVo loss of sales to WMC is most likely in the .1% range, their loss of sales to the cable co DVR is most likely 60% - 80%.
     
  2. Jan 7, 2014 #42 of 312
    HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

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    My wife bought our first S1 for me for Father's Day in 2000 and lifetime service was $199. And I believe the Sony S1 itself was somewhere between $200-$300 as my wife recalls (she thinks $250). Lifetime later went up to $249 by the time we purchased our second S1 in 2002. I would disagree that you are paying far more for the privilege at least based on the initial normal retail pricing. And yes we picked up our second S1 for $100 when KMart was have a closeout on them but that was not the normal price then.

    Scott
     
  3. Jan 7, 2014 #43 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I realize I'm probably stretching things a bit when I get into cost comparisons. There are a lot of intangibles with each platform that make it more or less desirable for certain people. The initial cost of a Tivo is lower than ever, but I believe you're locked into a minimum service contract if you go with the monthly service, which is understandable based on the subsidized pricing of the basic units. Lifetime service is also more expensive so Tivo can make up the difference in the hardware costs.

    I'm not only cheap, but I prefer the DIY approach so HTPCs are right up my alley. Tivos used to hold the same attraction since they lacked many of the features that were developed by the hacking community and eventually found their way into production models. Tivos have lost their lustre for me because there's very little I can do with them anymore that hasn't already been done. Tivo has essentially rendered the latest models unhackable, or at least have made it so difficult that it's not worth the effort anymore. HTPCs take this to the next level for me, which is why I prefer them. To me, they pick up where Tivos leave off.

    Tivos are great DVRs. HTPCs are a complete media center with features that go well beyond what a DVR can provide.
     
  4. Jan 7, 2014 #44 of 312
    lessd

    lessd Active Member

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    You are leaving you own cost of labor out of your comparison, as two people without any DVR start out, one going with TiVo the other with WMC, the TiVo person will spend less time in setup and maintenance than WMC person, to someone with time on their hands this may make no difference, but for others it may make a big difference. That may be why there is not any DVR that is WMC-in-a-box solution as TiVo has.
     
  5. Jan 7, 2014 #45 of 312
    cram501

    cram501 Member

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    I wasn't making any comparisons to DVR consumer metrics. I was just stating why I originally set it up and why those reasons no longer really apply. The only constants have been the fun in setting it up and the ability to plop a broadcast on my desktop.

    WMC never had a chance with the majority of people. I've had little to no problem with media center but if a problem arose, I could figure it out and fix it. The majority of normal users wouldn't have the drive to track down problems let alone the patience or skill.
     
  6. Jan 7, 2014 #46 of 312
    cram501

    cram501 Member

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    If there was a WMC-in-a-box solution, I assume it would be set up and configured for you. In that case, the time required to set it up would probably be minimal. You would have to connect any extenders you wanted to use but that is pretty quick. (I'm assuming the OS and drivers are setup for you and you just have to go through the cable card set up.)

    I didn't find setting up WMC time consuming or difficult but I don't think it's for the average user who just wants to DVR their shows.

    I think the latest Roamio I got took a few hours to update and get set up properly. It was straight forward although it took longer than I expected.
     
  7. Jan 7, 2014 #47 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Ceton was working on just such a box called the "Q," but once the word got out about WMC no longer being supported they abandoned the project. I believe they showed it at the CES a couple of years back, but it was still a work in progress at the time. The "Q" was originally designed to use an embedded version of WMC. The Echo extender was originally meant to be used in conjunction with the "Q" as well as with other WMC PCs.

    The amount of time setting up a WMC PC depends entirely on what you start with. If you're building one from scratch then it will certainly take longer. If you're just setting up WMC on a PC that's already been built, the amount of time to set up WMC with one or more tuners vs. setting up a Tivo isn't a significant amount. In fact, chances are every one of you that's participating in this thread using a PC with Windows 7 already has a WMC PC. All you need to do to get it up and running as a DVR is to install one or more tuners and run WMC setup. Of course, it's slightly more complex than that, but only slightly. You'd still need to install drivers and activate a cablecard if using a CC tuner. I don't factor in the cablecard setup because you'd also have to do that with a Tivo.

    As for factoring in my labor, I would never do that for something I consider a hobby and a labor of love. It's strictly something I do in my spare time for the pleasure it gives me, as well as the rewards. I wouldn't do it if I thought it was taking up too much of my time. I'd also still be using Tivos if I thought it wasn't time well spent. ;) If I was doing it for someone else then I'd definitely factor in the time spent building and setting it up, not to mention supporting it afterwards (which is why I don't build them for others). If I had to choose between paying someone else to do it for me or do it myself then I would factor the time I spend as a savings and not a deficit.
     
  8. Jan 7, 2014 #48 of 312
    lessd

    lessd Active Member

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    Your absolute correct about your labor, I do project because I have fun doing them and would not spend the money to hire someone do them for me, I just would not have the project done at all. IE: I like to set up computers from just components, not something I would do for others, even if I could make money doing it as I don't want the support issues, I like picking my own components but I get more than I need and could purchase a completed computer for less money than it cost me to build one, so I understand people that like to tinker doing their own WMC, but that a small number of people compared with total DVR ownership in the USA.
     
  9. Jan 7, 2014 #49 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I think we just nailed the one major difference between Tivos and WMC PCs. Tivos are for people that just want to watch and record TV with the ability to stream online content from Netflix, Hulu, etc. HTPCs are for people that like to get their hands dirty and tinker. The amount of tinkering all depends on the combination of hardware and software used in the PC as well as the level of expertise the builder has.

    The main vibe I get from HTPC bashers is that they just don't want to get involved with it. Many people that have tried it and reverted back to Tivos mostly didn't want to deal with any maintenance or constant futzing with the PC. You have to want to do it to make it work. If you simply do not want to be bothered then stick with Tivo, plain and simple. If you like a challenge and don't mind devoting some time to a fun hobby, then HTPCs may be something to think about.

    I've been doing this for some time now and learned quite a few lessons along the way. This is probably why I'm able to put together stable HTPCs that just plain work the way they should. I've had my share of issues with HTPCs, but they weren't all limited to Windows Media Center. I used to have lots of issues with BeyondTV and Windows XP before I started using WMC. In retrospect, the major issues I had with BeyondTV were probably related to using too many USB tuners in my setup (I was running six at the time).

    I had lots of growing pains with Windows 7 prior to the release of Service Pack 1. I generally wait until at least one service pack has been released for any new Windows OS, but the aspect of using cablecard tuners in my PC so I could access all of my TV from a single box was too good to pass up. There were lots of flaky driver issues back then that I had to deal with. I also had to deal with several defective Intel motherboards that caused me untold headaches unrelated to Windows Media Center. You just can't build a working PC with bad hardware. Since that time, it's been pretty much smooth sailing (knock on wood ;) ) and everything has been humming along like clockwork. Any issues I ever had with WMC are in the distant past.
     
  10. Jan 7, 2014 #50 of 312
    drebbe

    drebbe Carbon Blob

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    The best thing about an HTPC is that is a PC. The worst thing about an HTPC is that is a PC.
     
  11. Jan 7, 2014 #51 of 312
    dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

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    I guess that's it, isn't it? And because it's a PC, along with the extra work, I figure I can also let the kids play PC games on the TV (at least the simple ones) or use Steam Big Picture.
     
  12. Jan 7, 2014 #52 of 312
    MeInDallas

    MeInDallas Member

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    I keep reading a lot of people saying that an HTPC requires a lot of work and tinkering, and that hasnt been my experience. Once it was set up, I hit the power button when I want to turn it on, record the shows I wanna watch, or just simply watch TV itself, and then if theres nothing scheduled to record, I shut it off. The next day the same thing. All updates are automatic, so nothing to do there. If I have stuff to record during the day or night I just leave it on. Nothing much else to do. No tinkering and no work, easy peasy.

    Now with the Tivo's I've had, thats where all the work was. Since the introduction of SDV and tuning adapters I've had nothing but problems. Everytime I had stuff scheduled to record, I've had to run thru the house at the top of the hour to make sure I dont have black screens or missing channels, and in fact my shows are recording, which is and was a huge pain. If there are errors and I catch them in time I could simply stop the recording, switch the channel and then back again, and start the recording. This is and has always been a lot of work babysitting a Tivo. If I'm gone then of course my shows dont record if theres some error. Tivo has always pointed the finger at the cable company for this but could never explain why on the HTPC I didnt get the same errors. It seems to me that if the errors were caused by the cable company they would be there on the HTPC as well, but they never have been.

    In the end, I know its impossible to come into a Tivo forum and make the case for WMC, everyone will pile on saying Tivo is the best of course and its trouble free and WMC is dead and sucks. At the end of the day I have to go with the most trouble free for me and that is WMC. All the apps that Tivo has are useless to me, I use none of them. I think it just has to do with personal preference, and for me WMC has been trouble free unlike Tivo.
     
  13. Jan 8, 2014 #53 of 312
    duckman2000

    duckman2000 New Member

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    Good points. I also have both TiVo and HTPC. The TiVo Roamio is what the family uses every day...they accept it, use it, like it, and there are no complaints about it, well worth the 50 cents a day subscription. It just works.

    The HTPC is used only occasionally and is more of a turn it on and tinker with it device (I have used various cards/devices from Happauge, Silicondust, Ceton, etc. over the years). Once in a while there may be something available on it I want to see or record, but for the most part, we could live without it if necessary.

    I always recommend to anyone deciding on which one to go with, that they see both in action. If you have a friend that has an HTPC and another with a TiVo box (preferable a Roamio, the current model), take your family members to look at each setup, the space it takes up, the user interface/screens, how to reboot/recover, and also the user search/find capabilities...

    For me, the TiVo wins the day-to-day acceptance and use by the family. It just works. They like it and accept it ... and no complaints about something not working :)
     
  14. Jan 8, 2014 #54 of 312
    steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

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    This brings up a question that hasn't been brought up (or most likely I missed :eek:).
    Wouldn't an HTPC have to use a tuning adapter just like a Tivo does? If so, do they not present the same problems?
     
  15. Jan 8, 2014 #55 of 312
    lessd

    lessd Active Member

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    I would assume so and where do you get the drivers from, TiVo has them built in VIA the USB port.
     
  16. Jan 8, 2014 #56 of 312
    MeInDallas

    MeInDallas Member

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    Well you would think so, right? But with WMC I dont have the same issues that I have with the Tivo regarding the black screens/missed recordings/lost channels etc. Tivo has always claimed that it was the cable co, and of course the cable co pointed right back and said nope. The cable co's argument has always been "If our DVR doesnt do it, and the HTPC doesnt do it, well that must mean the problem has something to do with Tivo since only Tivo has the problem, contact them." It's a big comical circle at this point, so I've given up on Tivo fixing the problem.

    I have a Ceton 6 tuner card. When you install it (PCIe) you download what is called the Ceton Installer from their website. Install it and it auto downloads all drivers when you start the program and installs them for you. The Ceton Diagnostic Tool keeps everything up to date and lets you know if there is a firmware or driver update.
     
  17. Jan 8, 2014 #57 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    The Ceton tuners are supposed to support tuning adapters if your provider uses SDV. FIOS doesn't use them so I've never had to deal with them personally.

    As MeInDallas said, Ceton has a diagnostic tool that can be used to check for the latest driver and firmware updates as well as provide an interface for performing the updates. You can specifiy to have it check for any beta firmware or drivers as well. You can also check the status of each individual tuner and numerous operating parameters.
     
  18. Jan 8, 2014 #58 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    LOL. True dat. :D The thing is, I'm reading a lot of posts where people seem to be avoiding HTPCs because of a preconceived notion that it will be a headache to set up and use just because it's a PC. I can't deny that this is the case for some people, but they tend to be in the minority of HTPC users. The latest release of Windows 7 is extremely stable and doesn't suffer from the same glitches that used to plague earlier versions. I used to have my share of problems with Windows 7, but not so much anymore. I've put together at least 7 or 8 HTPCs since the release of Service Pack 1 and they've all been rock solid with no software issues. The only problems I encountered was the result of defective hardware. I went through a stretch of two bad motherboards and several bad memory sticks in the same period. I received replacements for all of them under warranty and never had another problem.
     
  19. Jan 8, 2014 #59 of 312
    steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

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    This just occurred to me, TiVo vs. HTPC is similar to TiVo Desktop vs. PyTivo.
    You want a solution that just works (mostly), use TiVo Desktop. If you like to tinker and set things up yourself, PyTivo is the best way to go. :D
     
  20. Jan 8, 2014 #60 of 312
    WO312

    WO312 Active Member

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    Finger...
    I have 3 TA's in my house. The one attached to the HD has been flawless. The one attached to the Premiere has given me a very occasional problem. The one attached to the HTPC gives me a problem about once a month. Why it is so, I don't know.

    If I was adventuresome I would swap TA's to see if the performance follows the TA. But I don't feel like doing it. :p Plus I don't want to mess up the HD.

    Actually, now that I think about it, the HD has the S03 problem so I power down the TA every night for 4 hours with a timer. Maybe that's why it's flawless. Who knows?? :confused:

    Maybe I will put all 3 on the timer and see what happens.
     
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