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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 8, 2014 #61 of 312
    aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

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    Silent is relative since some people hear better than others especially at certain frequencies. I've owned dozens of tivos and can hear any tivo(fan and hard drive) from 15 to 20 feet away in a quiet room. Of course i can't hear a TiVo Mini since there are no moving parts.
     
  2. Jan 9, 2014 #62 of 312
    Worf

    Worf Active Member

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    For me, I use WMC and TiVo.

    The reason? My provider went encrypted digital and doesn't provide cablecards because there's no law for it (Canada).

    So I have WMC running on a really nice HTPC. But WMC's guide for me is not that great - my TiVo's season passes catch shows that are marked as "repeat" on WMC. So what I do weekly is run through the TiVo To-Do list, then copy that into WMC (manually), rearranging as necessary as the TiVO is dual tuner, but since there's no cablecards, I have a Hauppage Collosus (high-def capture card) connected via component to the cablebox, so single tuner).

    The WMC UI is "OK" - it helps if you have a mouse rather than exclusively keyboard navigation, and there's SOME integration with Blu-Ray players.

    But there are some things WMC is bad at - like if you plug in a USB drive, it's great it prompts you the first time, but you "lose" it. And there's no way to properly eject it either without minimizing WMC and going to the tray. That and LCDSmartie (which drives a small LCD display on my HTPC) doesn't like waking up from sleep - half the time it loses my LCD display.

    But it's nice - I built my HTPC for quietness - so all I hear when it wakes up from sleep is a click and a second as the fans spin up (all temperature controlled so the case fans are practically barely running, and a huge fan on the CPU that turns slower than the tachometer registers (250RPM, but I've seen it hit 400). But it also cost a lot more than my TiVo, and truth be told, I rather have my TiVo. But since I can't, it's the next-best alternative.

    And yes, the case fans run at 800RPM and the CPU at 250RPM in normal conditions - the heatsink and CPU are overspec'd so they're idling and producing very little heat and the case is airy so the fans basically are subaudible (800RPM - 13Hz, 250RPM - 4Hz). Yeah I could've gone with lesser components, but when building quiet, I wanted to ensure that parts aren't heating up because it means not having to move as much air.
     
  3. Jan 9, 2014 #63 of 312
    CoxInPHX

    CoxInPHX COX Communications

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  4. Jan 9, 2014 #64 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Man, that sucks.

    You shouldn't need a mouse or keyboard to navigate WMC. Any inexpensive WMC remote with IR extender will be automatically recognized and works much better for navigating the menus than either a mouse or a keyboard. The only time you need either one is when you minimize or exit WMC to do something on the Windows desktop. Blu-Ray playback is not natively part of WMC. You need a third party app for that. I convert all of my movies to MKV format and use XBMC for playback. Lots of people like to convert them to iso format and use PowerDVD or Arsoft's Total Media Theater. You'd also need AnyDVD HD to decrypt the movies for playback or when they're ripped to your hard drive. All of these apps cost money, which is why I go with MakeMKV for converting the discs and XBMC for playback. Both are free and work extremely well with minimal setup required.

    These are things that should be performed on the Windows desktop and not within Media Center. WMC isn't set up to handle standard PC operations like ejecting USB drives. Don't blame WMC because it can't do something it wasn't designed to do. I've heard nothing but problems when allowing a HTPC to sleep, so I leave mine on 24/7 and have no issues with wake up. I've got a small fluorescent display on the front of my HTPC case that can be configured to display all sorts of info about the PC, news, weather, etc. Problem is, the text is too small to be read from 8 or 9 feet away where I sit so I just unplugged it. Displays on HTPC cases are overkill, IMHO.

    Building a quiet PC can definitely cost a bit more. It's a great option if you really need a quiet PC. I have a heat pump in my house and my home theater resides in my finished basement where the heat pump is also situated. I have fans from the furnace and AC running constantly so any fan noise from my HTPC is inaudible when they're running. I also just installed a new water heater that has a built-in heat pump for maximum efficiency. It sits about 6 feet behind my recliner where I watch TV, so I have that added to the background noise when the fan kicks in. I can't hear the PC when I'm watching TV with the heat pumps not running so it's pretty quiet regardless of the background noise.
     
  5. Jan 9, 2014 #65 of 312
    duckman2000

    duckman2000 New Member

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    Same here. I have also noticed some errors in the WMC based guide that the TiVo guide got right. As for a quiet HTPC, mine is an older HP Compaq desktop. The stock fan was loud. All I did was change out the fan for a quieter one from Arctic and it is almost silent. CPU temps are still good even with high demand. My TiVo Roamio is also quiet and has been since unboxing and setup.

    Regarding remotes, the new TiVo Slide Pro keyboard remote is a must at only $49. It is backlit and it's great having a slide out keyboard for some of the apps in the Opera TV store.

    I am impressed with the TiVo Roamio, hasn't missed a beat since day one. Family is happy. No complaints. Well worth the 50 cents a day subscription!
     
  6. Jan 9, 2014 #66 of 312
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    The WMC guide (and the way it does series recordings based on it) is definitely not as good as Tivo's. And you also don't have advanced wishlist functionality (boolean searches) which I use for all my sports ARWLs on Tivo.

    So, as a basic DVR I find WMC to be inferior to Tivo in some respects (feature-wise), but of course there are many more things you can do with the PC in general and with WMC if you wish to go the plugin route.
     
  7. Jan 9, 2014 #67 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    That's interesting that you speak of a basic DVR since Tivo is anything but basic. The search and Wishlist features of a Tivo are definitely better than WMC (and any other DVR platform for that matter). It's one of the features that places it above being "basic." Basic DVRs are what you rent from your cable provider. WMC PCs are at least as good as they are in that respect.

    If you're looking for a DVR with all the bells and whistles at your disposal, Tivo probably wins, hands down. If you want a DVR with other features that extend beyond DVR and streaming capabilities, then the HTPC has the edge. It all depends on what you want to do with it.

    I'm not sure what the explanation is for the difference in guide data since both Tivo and WMC get their guide data from the same source. I can only assume that Tivo tweaks it slightly with additional metadata. Either that or WMC just doesn't retrieve all of it for display in the guide. If it's in the guide data then I wouldn't be at all suprised if someone hasn't already come up with a hack to display it in WMC. Sounds like I'll have to take a trip over to the Hack7MC website and do a little digging. ;)

    That was easy (took about 20 seconds to locate once I connected to the site). This looks like it might fill the void:

    http://www.hack7mc.com/2009/06/getting-tv-series-metadata-with-metabrowser.html
     
  8. Jan 9, 2014 #68 of 312
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    I just started using MCE again to record OTA from my HDHomeRun. I have one channel I can't get in HD via cable but can via OTA. I've been using a Premiere to record that channel, but it seemed silly to dedicate an entire TiVo just to recording one channel.

    However I'm not using MCE to watch them. Instead I setup VAP to monitor the recordings folder. As soon as it's done it's run through Quick Stream Fix and converted to a TS with pyTiVo compatible metadata. I then use autopush which monitors the output folder and auto-pushes the shows to my TiVo via pyTiVo. So they just show up on my TiVo automatically in the same list with all my other shows.

    Would be nice if TiVo added direct support for an external OTA tuner on the cable only Roamio's, but I doubt that's going to happen so this is the best I can do for now.
     
  9. Jan 9, 2014 #69 of 312
    dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

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  10. Jan 9, 2014 #70 of 312
    shwru980r

    shwru980r Active Member

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    If the guide data is incorrect and causes WMC to not record shows, that seems like a larger issue than setting up a computer versus Tivo. This would be a show stopper for many people regardless of setup complexity issue with WMC.
     
  11. Jan 9, 2014 #71 of 312
    ggieseke

    ggieseke Active Member

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    Right now I only use Media Center for OTA, but in my experience it handles the guide data even better in cases where a show was rescheduled due to a sporting event, local special, or some other silly cause.

    In cases like that on my S2 TiVos I have to catch the error and manually search for a future airing of that that episode. WMC seems to pay more attention to the "New" flag than it does to the 28-day rule and it records things that it already thought were a done deal.

    That may turn out to be a PITA on cable channels but it has served me well on antenna channels. Comcast is installing service tomorrow, so I may have more input later once I turn a Roamio loose on the rest of the spectrum.

    As always, YMMV but I like both systems. MC was a snap to set up and it's smart enough to wake up from sleep mode, record something, and go back to sleep. That was unexpected.
     
  12. Jan 10, 2014 #72 of 312
    Worf

    Worf Active Member

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    Yes, I could do all those things with a remote control (my PC actually has two - one came with the capture card, the other with the PC case (yes, my PC case has an IR receiver and can push the power button as well)). Both are set up, but in the end, I just use a mouse mostly with it.

    Blu-Ray is handled via PowerDVD which has good WMC integration - and is also "mousable" as it pops up a blu-ray control pad (up/down/left/right/enter/color buttons) as necessary). The main reason is mostly needing to jump in and out of the UI means I have to have a keyboard and mouse anyways close by, and the mouse works well enough everywhere that well, the remote's just annoying.

    Though, for extender stuff, the Xbox360 remote works really well. But locally, the mouse is faster.

    And the thing is, WMC is supposed to be a nice front end to Windows. When I plug a USB key in with media, it pops up and asks if I want to watch videos on it, view images, play music, etc. Of course, it doesn't do "the next step" because if you dismiss it, it doesn't pop up. So if you wanted to show a few images first, you click it. But then you want to watch a movie? Well, Movies doesn't list it!

    And ejecting SHOULD be on the menu - I mean, I can shut down my PC from WMC, I shouldn't need to eject it by going to the desktop, squinting to find the icon and then doing it there.

    It's these little shortfalls to the UI experience. I mean, it pops up a nice menu when I stick in a thumbdrive, but there's no way to do it again without physical insertion/removal, and you can't see the content on the drive after you've dismissed it. (Which, oddly, you could when the menu showed).

    If you wanted to treat WMC as a super-duper media box that does way more than a Roku or other media streamer, well, it's those little things that break it.

    And yes, I consider thumbdrive management key to the experience - I mean, people come in, hand you a DVD or thumbdrive of photos music and movies and want you to play it. Every other box does it without issues, but WMC makes you drop to the desktop. I don't expect full file management support, but I think a common use case of plugging in a thumbdrive should be handled fully.

    Granted, the default settings for Windows mean you don't HAVE to "safely eject" it...
     
  13. Jan 10, 2014 #73 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Like I said, WMC isn't designed to do what you're trying to do with a USB flash drive. You're trying to perform a PC task in a WMC environment. It simply doesn't work that way. It's a Media Center frontend, not an extension of the Windows desktop. If you want to perform Windows functions then you need to go to the desktop. FYI - in all the years I've been using WMC, you are the first person I've ever heard of that has complained about this.

    Nothing will show up under Movies unless you set it up under Media Libraries. There is nothing automatic about it. WMC is configured to work with static libraries and not removable file storage. However, you could probably add it to the library while the drive is attached if Windows assigns a drive letter to it, which it should.

    You should be able to play DVDs directly from the optical drive using a third party app like PowerDVD, but you may also need a copy of AnyDVD installed to circumvent the encryption. I don't believe WMC has native support for DVDs, but don't quote me on that. I've got all my Blu-Rays and DVDs converted to mkv files and I use XBMC for playback.
     
  14. Jan 10, 2014 #74 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Guide data in WMC is more likely to list a show multiple times and will therefore be recorded each time it airs unless flagged as a repeat, assuming you have it set up to record new shows only. I have never missed a recording due to a show being flagged erroneously as a repeat. There are some shows that are aired in other countries before they air in the U.S. so they may be flagged as repeats since, technically, they are. WMC shows the original air date in the show description so you might want to take a look at that before blaming WMC for missed recordings.

    Shows like Lost Girl and others are aired in Canada weeks or even months before they air in the states. They may be new to us and are first run as far as we're concerned, but WMC knows when they were actually aired for the first time so the record settings need to be adjusted accordingly. I set these shows up to record both new and repeats and never miss a recording. You can check epguides.com for info about the original air dates on just about any TV show that's ever aired to confirm this.

    WMC tends to populate the guide with generic data initially (i.e., just show title and generic description of the show with nothing specific to the episode being aired). As the actual air date approaches, the data is updated with the specific episode information and indicates if something is first run or a repeat.

    The best thing about WMC is that if something happens while a program is being recorded that interrupts or terminates the recording early (i.e., momentary power outage or loss of signal), WMC automatically revises the recording schedule to pick up the next airing of the same episiode. I don't believe Tivos are capable of doing this.
     
  15. Jan 10, 2014 #75 of 312
    shwru980r

    shwru980r Active Member

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    But if WMC is recording shows multiple times, that means a tuner is not free to record something else. Isn't the potential still there to miss a recording? And you're spending time deleting the duplicates.

    Even though you haven't been affected by the repeat issue, worf has been affected and uses an additional Tivo to resolve the issue.

    My point is that these discussions seem to be based solely on hardware comparisons, cost, and complexity of setup. I think guide data quality comparisons are an important factor to consider also.
     
  16. Jan 10, 2014 #76 of 312
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Yep, WMC will routinely record eps that Tivo won't so you have to play whack-a-mole with the dupes. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on your point of view.
     
  17. Jan 10, 2014 #77 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    In most cases, the guide data gets updated prior to the actual airing of the show. This usually prevents any multiple recordings of the same episode as any duplicate listings will get purged automatically once they're revealed to be duplicates. I've gotten in the habit of looking over my upcoming recordings list on a daily basis and weeding out any unnecessary duplicates before that occurs. It usually takes but a minute or less for me to do this since I do it regularly and there's rarely more than one day's worth of shows to review in the list.

    For instance, the list of shows 10 days from today may list every airing of The Daily Show as the description just says something about Jon Stewart and the basic concept of the show. This description is identical for each time listed. I know they're duplicates of the show that aired the night before except for the one that airs at 11 PM so I just delete the others. If I leave them alone, they'll eventually get purged from the list once they're fleshed out and indicate who the guest star is and anything else pertinent to the specific episode.

    I have more than enough tuners to deal with any extraneous recordings so it's never an issue. Most of the aforementioned duplicates tend to occur at different times of the day and not in prime time when I need the tuners for most of my scheduled recordings. I could probably get away with as few as four tuners and still not have any conflicts.
     
  18. Jan 10, 2014 #78 of 312
    duckman2000

    duckman2000 New Member

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    Duplicates are an ongoing issue. There is no reason why windows guide should not be able to download the correct guide for a certain geographical area and prevent duplicates in the first place. This is the 21st century and that's what computers are for. It's the little quirks like this that give TiVo the positive nod for day-to-day family use over the HTPC.
     
  19. Jan 11, 2014 #79 of 312
    Worf

    Worf Active Member

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    Well, I plug a USB drive in, WMC asks me what I want to do with it. It's not a "PC Task" to do that. I click "Play Music" and it shows me the music on the drive. If I back out, poof, it's gone. (Especially annoying if there's multiple media I want to access on the drive).

    In practical use, WMC should simply ignore it and not give me the option since it avoids all the issues to begin with, but since it prompts me, I expect it.

    And as such, it makes sense that if I need to do something special to the drive (i.e., stop it) then it should also be done in the WMC environment, because so far, everything I do stays within the WMC environment.

    And I regard it as one of those things that makes life unpleasant. Because all WMC needs to do is simple - nothing. If I'm supposed to drop to the desktop, then so be it - don't give me the option to play music/view photos/etc on the USB drive I plugged in and I'll happily drop to the desktop. But once you offer me the options, well, I expect full necessary behaviors - i.e., able to do all the options on the list and not just one. And stopping it as necessary. Hell, it would be nice if it put up a "USB" category and save all the effort. Because letting me partially view the contents within WMC and then asking me to drop to the desktop is a stupid UI.

    I don't know if WMC can play DVDs. When I insert a DVD, it prompts me if I want to use PowerDVD or WMC, but I'm not sure if WMC plays DVDs because of PowerDVD. Of course, if I insert a BD, PowerDVD pops up automatically (in the WMC UI mode - WMC doesn't shell out to PowerDVD. It's not perfect since PowerDVD is skinned for Windows 8 flatness, but it integrates with WMC as well as it can).

    As for duplicate recordings - that only happens for me if I have conflicts - if I hit cancel, sometimes it schedules in both shows again (you'd think Cancel would be "don't do anything" but it really means "Find a way to schedule in conflicting program")

    My bigger problem is that the guide says "(Repeat)" for programming that is definitely NOT repeat. It really makes the "Record new episodes" setting really useless because they don't record anything as the guide is marked as repeats.

    Hell, it's as if the TiVo 28-day thing is patented - if I set it to record repeats and first run, well, it'll be aware of episodes in the guide as it is, but if they're shown again beyond the guide, it'll happily record it yet again. Or rather, it's fair game after it's recorded as it loses the "will be recorded at another time" mark (the blue exclamation point).

    All in all, WMC is decent. It's not perfect - there's a lot of rough edges in the WMC UI (like removable drive handling - the fix is to simply not do anything and make me drop to the desktop if I want to view images/music/movies). And the guide is far from perfect (I've had to change the postal code several times as guide data mysteriously stops coming in sometimes).

    TiVo wins in the "make TV easy" department - I can count on it to record (can't trust a cablebox), guide data is generally very accurate and comes in without fault (I've had to manually "fix" WMC when it somehow stopped getting guide data, as well as incorrectly tagged shows) and it just works. It's limited, yes, but it works and I can trust it, count on it and rely on it. WMC, despite its failings, is decent. I don't quite trust it to work 100% (mainly because of the capture card and the IR blaster, but the guide data is another niggling issue), but well, given my choices, it's acceptable.

    And my new HTPC at fixes the reliability issues - the old PC I could expect failures daily. The new one, well, I can go days or weeks before something didn't record properly - it rarely mis-tunes a channel, and the capture card generally resets when it goes to sleep (it has a tendency to crash when powered up for hours requiring a reboot). But with WMC going to sleep, the card naturally resets so recordings generally work.

    Given a choice, I'd wish for TiVo to work again. Or for TiVo to release an app that gives me access to their scheduler so when I copy the recordings from it to WMC, I don't have to do it through my TiVo first. But WMC is a fairly strong showing. Especially given the dearth of TiVo alternatives.
     
  20. Jan 11, 2014 #80 of 312
    mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    WMC can only display the guide data it receives. I don't know how many times I have to say this to get it to sink in. Guide data is always a work in progress that tends to get updated with each daily download. The guide data for shows 10 or 11 days in the future is mostly a placeholder for that show. As the air date approaches, more info becomes available for that show that tells you whether it's first-run or a repeat.

    Worf - I don't know what else I can say to you with regards to the USB device non-issue (because that's what it is for the rest of us). Would you prefer that when you plug a drive into the PC while in the Windows desktop that you're prompted to use WMC to play the files or would you rather have the option to use Windows Media Player or some third party app? FYI - Windows Media Player is not one of the default players in WMC, IIRC, although I believe you can set it up to be. Music and video files will only play via WMC if you have the drive mapped in a Media Library. If you're getting the pop-up window asking if you want to play the files then it's coming from the Windows desktop and not WMC.

    You have to understand that the Windows Desktop and Windows Media Center are two completely different and distinct interfaces. WMC is not configured to recognize USB devices on the fly, such as when you plug one in while using WMC. The Windows Desktop takes over at this point with the aforementioned pop-up window. If you want to use the option to play the files then you'll probably have to exit WMC or minimize the window in order to do so.

    My recommendation would be to copy the files you wish to play from the USB drive to a folder you have already mapped as one of the Media Libraries for music or videos. You can then access the files in WMC and play them.

    That's how things work. Sorry if that doesn't meet your needs but that's the way it is and it's not going to change.
     
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