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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. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Can't say I blame you for that. I've been guilty of letting my passion for HTPCs override rational behavior and cause me to respond with more emotion than common sense. For that I deeply apologize. I hope that in some small way you did come away with some positive information regarding Windows Media Center to help you on your way.

    FWIW, I'm a huge fan of both platforms and have been for some time. I've owned and modified literally dozens of various Tivos since they were first introduced. I followed hacking developments for Tivos from the days when the Tivo forums were part of the AVSForums before they split out and became the Tivo Community Forum. I was also an active participant at the "other" Tivo forum that discussed hacks that will forever remain nameless here (the TCF software filters out certain words, phrases, and URLs and censors them because they don't want anyone here to know about the good stuff).

    I think the main reason I switched to HTPCs is the fact that you can't do much to hack a Tivo anymore. Most of the features enjoyed by Tivos users today were developed and used by the hacking community long before they made their way into the Tivo software. Now that I can no longer tweak my Tivos, I simply got bored with them. HTPCs give me the option to tweak to my heart's content. I don't view HTPCs as being superior to Tivos other than the fact that they are more flexible. As a standalone DVR I don't think there's a better product on the market than Tivo.

    FYI - I used to go by the user name of captain_video here and I still use that name in various other forums.
     
  2. captain_video

    captain_video Member

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  3. trip1eX

    trip1eX Active Member

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    The costs of an htpc are similar to a Roamio plus. A 6 tuner card alone is $300. Factor in the cost of a hard drive, mb, cpu, ram, case, power supply and a copy of Windows and there is little money to be saved especially given the appliance-like nature of a Roamio in comparison and its resale value and the lack of support going forward for WMC.
     
  4. trip1eX

    trip1eX Active Member

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    OH btw one thing annoying about WMC is it does change guide data at the last minute and so say you select a show to record in the guide a few days in advance it can end up not being recorded because later the listing slightly changed in the guide.

    It mostly has done that with sporting events for me. I'm more on the look out now for it. But sometimes the time can change slightly or the listing description changes and boom your show is not recorded.

    It is probably due to the fact I often manually record sporting events straight from the tv guide. I don't think it affects my season passes any.
     
  5. heyted

    heyted New Member

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    There are a significant number of people that just want a CableCARD DVR with just two or three tuners without having to pay a service fee. It is possible, for those that like to or do not mind tinkering, to build a HTPC with DRV capabilities with the prices shown below. All functional parts are new except the hard drive.

    I do not need six tuners. I paid $114.95 for a two tuner Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650. I could have paid $90 for a new three tuner HDHomerun Prime.

    I paid less than zero dollars for a used TiVo Premiere, and I used the hard drive from it. I made a small profit from the sell of some of the Premiere components.

    I paid $167.99 for a ZOTAC Mini-ITX Motherboard D2550ITXS-B-U.

    $0 -- Included with the mb

    I paid $37.68 for 4GB Crucial DDR3 2 2GB Memory Modules. I could have paid just half that with 2GB total.

    I used a TiVo Premiere case. I paid less than $0 after I sold some of the Premiere components.

    $0 -- Included with the mb

    $0 -- I use open source software. It works for people that do not have copy-protected channels.
     
  6. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

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    To build a decent and equivalent machine to a TiVo, the HTPC is nearly identical in cost. I built mine for exactly the same as the TiVo cost. You have to compare apples to apples, i.e. 6 tuner to 6 tuner.

    The only reason not to use a TiVo Roamio is if you want DirecTV or DISH. If you're on cable/FIOS, the Roamio is clearly the best option. There is nothing else close on the market. MCE is completely worthless, the cable company DVRs suck, and they are nearly always more expensive than TiVo anyways, and far more limited in every way.

    If it weren't for TiVo, I'd be paying more for DirecTV.
     
  7. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I only paid $229 for my InfiniTV 6 on Black Friday weekend. The new SiliconDust 6-tuner model is reportedly going to be sold for only $150, which is why the 3-tuner models are selling for less than $100 now. I fully expect to see a price drop in the Ceton models if they want to be competitive with SiliconDust.

    Consider that most people have already invested in a desktop PC or laptop. If they're running Windows 7 or Windows 8 or 8.1 Pro they can add a tuner and use Windows Media Center for minimal investment. I've always recommended that anyone interested in trying Windows Media Center to start off with the economical approach to see if it might be something they'd like to use. If they like it then they can invest in a dedicated PC for Media Center. You can find all kinds of turnkey off-the-shelf PCs for $300 or even less if you shop around, although the more popular approach is to build it yourself with exactly the components you want.

    Guide data can definitely change at the last minute, especially for sporting events. I always select them manually to record in WMC and I've never missed one that I wanted to record. If shows don't get recorded due to fluctuating guide data then that's not something you can blame on WMC. It only records what you tell it to. If the guide data changes then it's coming from an outside source that WMC has no control over. Tivos can easily suffer from the same guide data changes so it's unrelated to either platform.

    Which is clearly just your opinion. As a satisfied WMC user (and only one among thousands), I heartily disagree. :D
     
  8. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

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    An MCE PC with decent specs is about the same as a TiVo with lifetime, at least with was back with the Premiere XL4.


    Some people may be satisfied with unreliable, sub-cable company DVR functionality. Most will not be.
     
  9. cram501

    cram501 Member

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    I mainly use the Roamio's now but my WMC has been running strong for the last 28 months without a hiccup. WMC solved my multi-room problem a few years ago and has been rock solid since I set it up.

    Overall I think the Roamio is a much better solution for the vast majority of users but WMC has been very reliable for me. For those that want to tinker, WMC is a good set up. I still record shows with it but I use it less and less now.
     
  10. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I don't know of anyone that would be satisfied with such a product. If you're implying that WMC falls into that category they we'll just agree to disagree and leave it at that.

    Any DVR, whether it be a Tivo, WMC PC, or cable company box, has the ability to record and play TV with a fair amount of reliability. I've never used a cable company DVR personally, but I compared them with all other available options when I switched to FIOS and discounted them for a laundry list of reasons. My brother-in-law uses one of the FIOS DVRs and has no complaints. I tried for years to get him to switch to a Tivo, but he just wasn't interested.

    HTPCs and Tivos are at different ends of the same spectrum. At one end you have a DVR that works right out of the box with no assembly required. You plug it in, run setup, activate your cablecard, and you're good to go. Tivos are for those that just want to watch TV and aren't into tweaking PCs and such. OTOH, Tivo does offer a lot of extra features that go beyond what a basic DVR offers. The software is quite mature and it has a lot of sophisticated features unavailable to other DVR platforms, mainly due to copyrights held exclusively by Tivo. If you just want a device that you can set and forget, Tivo is definitely for you.

    On the other end you have the hobbyists and tinkerers. These are the folks that make up the bulk of HTPC users. We like to experiment with new things and modify them to do more than what a simple DVR can do. Since WMC runs on a PC, it is not without problems inherent to that platform. Anyone who has built a HTPC has probably had some growing pains along the way. The ones that stuck with it and worked them out have found that WMC can be a very enjoyable experience. They've also discovered that the platform can be expanded to do far more than any other DVR. The one great thing about it is that if you don't like the way something looks or behaves in WMC you can generally change it to suit your tastes.

    The point is, HTPCs aren't for everyone. I've mentioned this time and time again. Just because one individual had a bad experience with it is no reason to condemn the entire platform. I know I'm simplifying this because certainly more than one individual has had bad experiences with HTPCs, but the vast majority of them were people with little PC expertise that quickly discovered they were in over their heads. Early Windows 7 based HTPCs were problematic due to buggy software and conflicting drivers more than anything else. Every HTPC I've put together since the release of Service Pack 1 for Win 7 has been rock solid, regardless of what hardware I was using with it.
     
  11. waterchange

    waterchange Member

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    If one could get over the caveat of buying used, a $300 lifetimed TiVo Premiere is a great DVR appliance that fits this requirement. Just another option to consider for folks making this decision with these constraints.
     
  12. Worf

    Worf Active Member

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    Of course, one irritant I have with WMC is that the list of other showings of a show is limited. On a popular show like NCIS where there's plenty of syndication and time-shift channels, it's impossible to see the entire list - there's so many showings that it really only gives you a week's worth of showings.

    This is important for me as I need to reschedule the recording due to conflict. But I can't because the listings don't go far enough to record it! Of course, I can go to the guide and manually reschedule it there, but that's an annoyance.

    There's probably a setting somewhere to increase the number of showings allowed or to show all showings, but I can't find it.

    And shows that always show as "repeat" that are new episodes like Pawn Stars - which also only give you a week's worth of showings, so it's even more difficult to schedule.

    I know on TiVo it shows everything it knows about.

    Though I wish both would let me skip by day - there are so many showings that scrolling can be annoying. Only to remember that the showing is probably beyond the end of the list. I know when new episodes come out, so if I could ship forward by day it would be much better beyond the endless scrolling. At least TiVo shows you the date - WMC doesn't so if you miss the date it's a bunch of scrolling up and down.
     
  13. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

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    That's all great in theory. If there was a good piece of DVR software out there, it would work in practice. The ability to build a DVR with 50TB of storage and 20 tuners is great, in theory. The problem is, there is no good DVR software out there. I could see MCE as a back-up system with an OTA card backing up a CableCard TiVo, or for occasional use at a vacation home, but other than something like that, it just doesn't cut it. It's a nightmare to use, the interface is horrible, and it's unreliable. TiVo is for everyone who wants anything more than the cable company DVR.
     
  14. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Interesting. I've never had to deal with this issue so I'm completely unaware that it exists. However, you can narrow down the list if you're only interested in recording a show on a specific channel for which you've configured the series recording. Select the "view scheduled" option at the top of the recorded tv list and then select "Series" from the list on the left of the next screen. Locate the show you're interested in from the list on the right. Select it and it will show a list of all shows airing on that specific channel, depending on how you have the series record settings. In my case, I have it set to New only for NCIS. Since NCIS is currently airing reruns, nothing was listed for upcoming shows on the channel specified for my series recording.

    FWIW, I just did a search for all showings of NCIS and it returned 165 showings from Monday, January 20th, to Wednesday, January 29th, or about 10 days worth of shows.

    If you want other channel options to record from then set up a temporary series recording for that channel and repeat the process described above. While I haven't confirmed it, the list should display all upcoming shows airing in the current guide data listing for the channel specified. You can manually download the latest guide listing to make sure it extends as far as possible. Go to the main screen, select "settings" under "Tasks". Select "TV", then "Guide", and then "Get Latest Guide Listings". The guide data is downloaded in the background and a pop up alert will let you know when it's complete.

    A simple solution to avoid conflicts is to get more tuners. I have more than enough tuners in my setup so there are never any conflicts, which is why I've never encountered this problem. One of the primary reasons to go with WMC is the ability to add as many tuners as you need so you never have to deal with this type of situation.

    I'm pretty sure WMC will automatically reschedule a recording for the next airing on the channels you've specified if it runs into a conflict. You can go into the record settings for a show and change the specific channel setting to just record HD only or SD only and it will pick the next scheduled showing to record for any conflicts.
     
  15. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
  16. hoyty

    hoyty Member

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    Sammamish, WA
    I am not sure if you are just egging on Mr. unnatural or someone on the MCE team at Microsoft did something to you personally or what but this is a bit much. I have used a TiVo since the day the DirecTV model came available and MCE since it was a standalone XP based. I think they both have their places and at times due to TiVo hardware issues my MCE box has been more reliable. If you install Windows 7 vanilla (no additional software to muck things up) and have a network based tuner with reliable PC hardware I will put it up against a TiVo on uptime any day. Same for missed recordings.
     
  17. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

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    I'm saying it because I used MCE and then got a TiVo because MCE sucked. The HTPC is good for certain things, but being a DVR isn't one of them.
     
  18. Worf

    Worf Active Member

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  19. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I didn't realize you were up north. You folks have a completely different set of problems to deal with. I can't tell from your posts whether or not you can use a cablecard tuner in your PC, but if you can, that would certainly alleviate your conflict issues and avoid having to use an IR blaster with a cable box.
     
  20. Worf

    Worf Active Member

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    No cablecard - while the cable providers DO use cablecard boxes, NONE support third-party products. Otherwise I'd toss the crap out and plug 'em into my TiVo.

    Instead, what I use is a Hauppage Collosus, which is a high-def capture card. It connects to the cablebox via component (and can capture up to 1080i) and streams out h.264 encoded video. It features an IR blaster and appears to WMC as a regular digital tuner. Unfortunately, the WMC support is limited to a single "tuner". (There are two possible units - you can use the HD-PVR which is a USB2 external capture box, or the Collosus, which lives inside the computer hooked to the PCIe bus).

    Needless to say, the Collosus is better because when WMC sleeps the PC, the card resets (both devices have problems where teh firmware crashes - on the HD-PVR, you MUST reboot the computer. With the Collosus, most of the time, the sleep/wakeup resets the firmware and un-wedges the card. Still, it does fail from time to time).

    Like I said, it's an FCC law that requires US cable companies to support cablecard and third-party boxes. In Canada, with no such rule, the cable companies are greedy and basically lock you out.
     
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