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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

    4,359
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    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    I'm familiar with both the Colossus and the earlier HD-PVR. It does appear to limit you to a single device per PC since it uses the IR blaster to control a cable box. That severely limits the ability to record multiple shows simultaneously so I see why you have such concerns about conflicts. Unfortunately, I don't see where you have much choice for recording HD programs if you can't use a cablecard tuner or a Tivo.

    The only other available option I see is if you have multiple PCs with a Colossus or HD-PVR in each one, which can tend to get expensive in a hurry, not to mention all the extra boxes. Newegg has refurbs on sale all the time so maybe you could pick up an inexpensive dual core 2.0GHz or better unit on the cheap. It's not the perfect solution, but something you might want to consider.

    I did see mention in an article on the missing remote site that you could possibly use two Colossus' in SageTV since it will work with capture cards. Windows 7 doesn't recognize capture cards and requires the installation of a separate utility in order to see the Colossus as a digital cable tuner. There was also a hint that you could get two of them working with Win 7 with a little help from Hauppauge. Here's a link to the article:

    http://missingremote.com/review/hauppauge-colossus
     
  2. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

    5,427
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    Oct 30, 2003
    Hartford-...
    Some guy built a triple tuner DirecTV-fed system using HD-PVRs. It took up like half a rack. Definitely not ideal, that's for sure. Do the satellite companies up there have decent DVRs?
     
  3. dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

    1,813
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    Feb 10, 2004
    SoCal
    Well I started this thread a month ago and today I have to report that I'm giving up on using a PC for a PVR.

    What I wanted:
    1) Reliability (Roamio has very poor reliability for me)
    2) Retire the Blu Ray player and Apple TV
    3) Be able to do other things like play games

    What I invested:
    A) I assembled a great new PC with InfiniTV PCI
    B) I have experience building IT servers so felt qualified to do this
    C) Lots of time. I anticipated lots of time, I figured this would be a fun project

    What I've experienced: Abysmal reliability...
    . The InfiniTV is a network-based tuner (despite it's PCI connectivity) and the PC software just occasionally can't find any of the 6 tuners. Reboot fixes it.
    . Windows Media Center occasionally locks trying to play live or recorded TV. Reboot fixes it.
    . Numerous issues with a PC connected through a receiver via HDMI. If you boot it while watching another source-- display won't sync. Sometimes WMC complains there is no audio device. Reboot fixes it. Doing unnatural things to the display driver INF seem to get around this.
    . I bought an infrared remote control with intention of making it work, then programming my Harmony with the right codes. IR remote just doesn't work for me at all; WMC doesn't see the keypresses.
    . I also bought a 2.5Ghz Logitech cordless keyboard as a 10-foot device but it's range is really more like 3 inches.
    . ...so even controlling WMC is annoying
    . Oddly, the tuning adapter has been rock solid. The main problem with my Roamio has to do with TA issues, but for WMC I have not had to reboot the TA even once.
    . Windows doesn't natively play Blu Ray discs. So I'd have to spend some money on software for that -- the software is of a similar price as a dedicated BD player. (My BD player locks up on some discs so it needs to be replaced one way or another)

    So I tried XBMC instead...
    o Gorgeous UI, really good at playing lots of non-live media, but:
    o New capability in XBMC to play Live TV never really worked for me. There are SO many things to download and install and configure to get this working. At one point I actually got a picture through WMCserver but it's not reliable. I spent hours reading forums and wikis and don't really enjoy this sort of tinkering. Audio capabilities of the TV vs. the 7.1 receiver confuse it, for example.
    o Tried a different live TV engine (npvr) for XBMC which never quite worked.
    o Tried yet another live TV engine for XBMC which also never worked.

    So I tried MediaPortal...
    o Ditto on the ability to play non-live media, but
    o Ditto on live TV

    So to recap, what I was willing to invest was time but a month later, I've lost interest in goofing around with what feels to me like half-baked downloaded software.

    So please don't start a flame war over this. I've been careful to say "this was my experience" and I've already read that some of you have rock-solid WMC deployments. Thoughtful comments on the technology (rather than my obviously feeble PC skills) are welcome of course.

    Should I load Linux on this PC and try mythTV?
     
  4. dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

    1,813
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    Feb 10, 2004
    SoCal
    Another thing I noticed is that WMC doesn't seem to do a great job of organizing lots of recordings. I put a huge disk drive in this PC and with six tuners, fantasized about just recording everything on the major networks. :) But WMC doesn't organize recorded shows in the UI nearly as well as Tivo; I think with hundreds of recordings I'd have a tough time browsing the list for something fun to watch.
     
  5. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

    3,507
    19
    Sep 19, 2006
    In the ATL
    If you can't get WMC to work reliably with the Ceton? Sure it's worth a shot, but Myth is an order of magnitude more complex than WMC.

    But I use an HDHR Prime and it just works so can't say one way or the other how well the Infini will work with Myth.
     
  6. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

    4,359
    5
    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    Well, all I can say is that WMC isn't for everyone. I must say that the issues you're having are somewhat surprising so I have a few questions.

    1. Did you purchase the InfiniTV 6 PCIe version or the ETH? The ETH is reported to have some issues for some people, which is why I went with the PCIe version. The InfiniTV tuners show up under network devices in Windows Device Manager so they are, by definition, network devices. Unless you're setting them up to be shared across your network there shouldn't be an issue with them being recognized on the PC they're installed in.

    2. Did you run the Digital Cable Advisor prior to setting up WMC for a cablecard tuner? I'm not even sure you could run the setup with a cablecard tuner without running DCA first.

    3. Did you check the diagnistics utility for the Ceton tuners and make sure you have the latest firmware and drivers? If not, give it a try (it's accessed from the Start menu in Windows). The first window tab tells you if there's a newer version of either. The last tab allows you to perform the update. Note that you'll have to rerun WMC setup if you update either one. Make sure you release the tuners and then rediscover them after rebooting (I forget which tab it's on, but possibly the first one).

    4. Loss of video when switching inputs on your AV receiver or switcher is an EDID issue. You can perform a simple hack to correct it or invest in a Gefen HDMI Detective to fix it. Cost is about $100, although I recently picked up a used one on ebay for $50 plus shipping. I believe monoprice.com offers a similar device that's less expensive. These threads may be of some assistance, depending on what graphics card you're using:

    http://www.avsforum.com/t/1227161/edid-overrides-to-solve-bitstreaming-issues-for-ati-5xxxs

    http://www.avsforum.com/t/1091403/edid-override-thread

    5. What hardware are you using? Is it all new or recycled? Please list your motherboard and CPU and any other devices. Make sure you have all of the latest drivers and BIOS updates.

    6. XBMC won't work for live or recorded TV until you get the issues resolved in WMC. ServerWMC and pvr.wmc use the services from Media Center for live TV, recording, and the electronic program guide. I'm on the verge of trying this myself to see if I like it. I currently use XBMC for playing Blu-Rays and DVDs ripped to mkv files and it's really sweet.

    7. You need a compatible IR receiver to use with the PC. Any receiver that comes with an inexpensive WMC remote should work. I personally prefer the HP WMC IR receiver (about $10-15 on ebay). It should be plug and play. I use a Harmony One and it works beautifully with WMC and XBMC. Check this link: http://superuser.com/questions/2868...c-functions-to-my-logitech-harmony-one-remote

    8. Download a copy of MakeMKV for free. Go to the MakeMKV forum and look in the announcements section to get the latest registration codes. You can rip your Blu-Rays to mkv files and retain the main movie with HD audio and whatever subtitles you want. Just check the options to keep and let 'er rip. No need to buy expensive software for Blu-Ray playback.

    9. If your provider encrypts any channels that you receive, Windows Media Center is your only PC option for recording them. There are other options for using a cablecard tuner, but WMC is by far the easiest to set up.

    My suggestion is this - Wipe the hard drive and start over with a clean install of Windows 7 (you didn't mention if you were using WMC with Win 7 or Win 8/8.1) with just the basic hardware. When asked how you want to receive updates, indicate that you'll select it later and finish the install. Install the latest drivers for the chipset, LAN, graphics card, and any other hardware, but do not install the tuners or associated drivers yet. Update Windows to the latest version. There will be approximately 150 required updates so it will take a while. There is one update that's listed but unchecked (I believe it's something like KB971033). Leave it unchecked, right click on it, and hide it. You do not want this update as it causes WMC to do weird things on occasion. Start the update and then go grab a sandwich and a beer and watch some TV. Check back in an hour or two to see if it's finished. Repeat the update process until it says you're up to date.

    NOTE: I usually have a mouse and keyboard connected for the initial Windows installation and then use the WMC/Harmony remote to navigate WMC after opening it from the Start menu.

    Once you've installed all of the basic Windows components, drivers, and updates, download and install Microsoft Security Essentials and run a scan when completed. Shut down and install the tuners. Fire it up and install the drivers and then check the diagnostics page. If everything looks good (it should show the tuners and indicate that WMC is not configured to use them yet) open up WMC and run the initial setup. When that's done, go to the main WMC menu and you should see a listing marked Extras (scroll up or down to see it. See if the Digital Cable Advisor is listed (the Ceton software installation should download it automatically). If it is, run it and let it complete without disturbance. If it's not shown, do a google search and download and install it manually and then run it.

    Go to the main WMC menu and navigate to the Tasks -> Settings option. Select TV and then select TV Signal Setup. Follow the prompts and it will discover all tuners and configure them for use with Media Center and then download the latest guide listings. You can look through the other setup options for configuring the audio, TV monitor type, etc. Make sure you have the tuner connected to your cable or antenna and see if you can get live TV. You should be able to watch live TV channels at this point.

    If you have any additional software you'd like to install, now's as good a time as any to do it. I like to install the Shark007 codec pack to provide playback support for all types of audio and video that WMC may not handle by default. If you're running 64-bit Windows (which you should), you'll need both the standard codec pack plus the 64-bit add-on. After installing them, run the setup from the Start menu by right clicking the setup option and select Run as Administrator. Check the default settings on the main page and then close the window. Do this for both the standard and 64-bit options. Aside from that, I would keep any other software installation to a bare minimum. In fact, the less, the better.

    Let me know if I can be of any assistance if you wish to pursue it further. Good Luck!

    BTW, there are other options available for the way you want recordings to be listed in the Recorded TV list. If you don't like the way WMC does it, there are other apps you can install to improve your user experience.
     
  7. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

    5,427
    5
    Oct 30, 2003
    Hartford-...
    MCE is the only software I know of that can handle flagged CableCard content. Since HBO requires flagging, that pretty much cuts anything else out, even if you have a reasonable provider like Verizon or Comcast that doesn't over-flag.

    I have the same issues with my wireless stuff. I just got a bluetooth adapter to use an old Apple Bluetooth board with my MCE machine (I don't use MCE anymore, just as an HTPC, my TiVo has the CableCard), and after installing the 235MB driver package for the adapter, I find out it has range issues, as does my little Lenovo trackpad/keyboard thingy. The only thing, ironically that doesn't have serious range issues is the cheap no-name wireless mouse, so the Lenovo and Bluetooth receivers are now in plain view on USB extension cables at the edge of my TV stand, where they seem to work pretty well at around 9-10' away. I get the Bluetooth thing, as it wasn't made for an HTPC... but the Lenovo one is just totally unacceptable. It should do at least 20-30 feet...
     
  8. dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

    1,813
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    Feb 10, 2004
    SoCal
    Hi mr.unnatural, my hunch the last couple days was indeed to wipe the system and start over. I think npvr and some of the other solutions are starting to step on each other.

    To your questions:
    1) I did buy the PCIe version. With what it does to the network config in the OS, I figure I probably should have bought the ETH version to keep things simpler but it's interesting to hear about reliability issues with that. I bought a HD Homerun Prime in the woot sale a couple weeks ago but it's still in the box... once I saw TV on a PC I wanted more without sharing the PCIe tuners.

    2-3) Yes to both, and I did get to the point of recording 6 things at once in WMC, so I got over the hump for the Ceton-specific configuration. I have all checkmarks on the Ceton diags; if any of them show issues I know that nothing else will work. But the whole tech stack has shown to be very fragile for me.

    4) I have the INF hack but if I ever plug a different monitor on this PC, it will need to be able to take the same resolution as my TV.

    5) All-new hardware. Briefly: GA-Z87X-UD3H, i3-4130T, ST4000DX001, 2x8GB KHX16C10B1K2/16X, SSR-360GP, CNPS9500AT, LG WH14NS40, SST-LC10B-E-USB3.0, PCE-N53 (connected via RT-N66U), K400 keyboard. Existing receiver is a RX-V667, TV is a Samsung C8000. So, trying to stay low power and hoping to use the GPU on the i3. So far, system performance has been excellent; task manager and resource monitor show low usage. I'll get a dedicated GPU if I have to but doesn't seem necessary so far. I dedicated 1GB RAM to the i3 GPU. Windows 7 Professional, patched.

    6) ServerWMC was promising but XBMC playback performance was broken until I configured it down to 2.0 stereo audio vs. 5.1. I'd like to keep multichannel afterall.

    7) I bought a SANOXY remote but none of the keys have effect in WMC other than the joystick mouse. I did find the WMC option in the Harmony config ("find devices similar to Windows"). There was no software to go with the IR receiver unfortunately to test or remap keypresses.

    8) I'm set up with BD ripping tools already... tons of mkv's and iso's of my BD collection awaiting this HTPC! Slysoft works great for me. My family, oddly, expects to come home with a Redbox BD and watch it immediately (pfft).

    9) I know that everything but network TV has Copy Once set. Not sure if they are encrypted. Tons of SDV around here too (Time-Warner North County San Diego, former Adelphia territory so we have Motorola equipment).

    So yeah, a reinstall might be worth a try.
     
  9. Worf

    Worf Active Member

    1,990
    4
    Sep 15, 2000
    My rig is set up somewhat special.

    I have two monitors - the case has one and the other one is HDMI to my receiver. All the time I can switch to HDMI via the receiver and video will come out. Sometimes I need to minimize and maximize WMC as it initializes it to 1024x768, but once you minimize it, it goes back to 1080p and works fine. About half the time when I turn off the receiver, it switches to the built-in display (which when it does, I like because I can navigate WMC without having to turn on the TV and receiver - useful to see if I need to reboot it). In an ideal world, I would have them set to mirror, but it doesn't like it.

    The only really bad things I dislike about WMC are the lack of dates in the listings and on the recorded show list (+1 to TiVo to see what was recorded when), the odd limit to the number of shows it will show (I move NCIS around because the "new" episode is always on the timeshift channel and I have a conflict. But for some reason or other, "Other Showings" usually stops just short of the requisite showing, so I have to use the guide to set it up), and the inaccurate guide (a lot of "new" episodes get marked as "Repeat" - usually the very first showing of a new episode is New, but the "proper" showing (what I would get if I stuck an antenna on the roof), 3 hours later, is marked as Repeat. Technically correct, but damn I wish it could be handled better.

    Oh yeah, one major nit I have is when I'm in the scheduled recordings view, and I delete a show to resolve a conflict. Half the time, WMC will then clear the list, spin, then re-display the list. Except now it starts at the top. Which is annoying because you have to scroll back down to where you were. PITA.

    For me, the Collossus is nice (until it dies). The firmware sucks, but because my WMC goes into sleep mode quick and often, it ends up resetting the firmware so instead of having to reboot daily (as I have to with the HD-PVR), I can really just leave it for a LONG time. Single tuner works fine so far - my TV habits are such that network shows are high priority and I watch the cable channels on alternate timeslots.

    Other than a bug with PowerDVD (stick in a blu-ray and it'll spawn another copy of PowerDVD even if it's already running. It'll work, but exiting the mess usually requires quitting WMC).
     
  10. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

    4,359
    5
    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    dtivouser - Your configuration looks solid as far as your parts selection. It should make a fine HTPC when you work out the kinks.

    4) I assume this is some sort of hack to change the resolution to match your specific TV monitor. You should be able to configure this in the TV monitor setup menu without resorting to a hack.

    5) I assume you're using the HD audio and GPU in the Core i3 CPU for bitstreaming to your AV receiver. Make sure you have the Management Engine drivers installed or HD audio won't work. A lot of people miss this one.

    6) You should be able to get 5.1 audio with no problem. There is a quirk that may require you to turn off the menu sounds in WMC. For some strange reason this can affect multi-channel audio output. You may also have to configure your speakers in Windows as stereo rather than multi-channel. I have a 7.1 surround setup and it works fine with WMC and XBMC.

    7) I question this choice as I'm not really familiar with this remote. It appears to be a Windows remote, but it's not specifically for Media Center. If you go with something other than a Harmony remote I strongly advise you get one that specifically states that it is WMC compatible. If it's a compatible remote and IR receiver you shouldn't need any special software to use it or have to remap any key functions. I've got my Harmony One set up for a Windows Media Center PC and it performs all of the basic functions I need in every aspect of WMC and XBMC.

    Here's a good WMC remote that's usually available on ebay for about $10-15 (don't let the Amazon price scare you) and is sometimes packaged with the HP IR receiver:

    http://www.amazon.com/HP-Replacement-Center-Control-5069-8344/dp/B000PJ0FSS/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_12

    Here's the HP IR receiver I use that is very popular among WMC users (shown with a mini HP remote, but can be purchased separately or with the above HP large remote):

    http://www.amazon.com/Remote-Control-Receiver-Emitter-Vista/dp/B00AYE6JDO/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_8

    9) The copy once flag is set by your provider. Some providers flag all channels while others only flag a few, such as HBO and PPV. I'm lucky enough to be on FIOS so the only flagged channels are HBO and Cinemax, which I don't subscribe to. I really wanted to give SageTV a try when they came out with their DCT patch that allowed the use of cablecard tuners. Unfortunately, before I could purchase a license they were sold to Google and the SageTV store website shut down.
     
  11. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

    4,359
    5
    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    Worf - I feel you pain regarding the list of shows to be recorded. Most of the time the list remains stable and allows me to delete shows with no problem. There have been a few occasions where it did exactly as you described and constantly kept refreshing the screen so I couldn't navigate the list. Exiting the screen and entering it again usually resolved it.
     
  12. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

    3,507
    19
    Sep 19, 2006
    In the ATL
    And you're stuck with WMC given that everything except the locals is flagged, Myth is not a good option for you.
     
  13. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

    4,359
    5
    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    And that's the one reason so many people use WMC instead of third party media center front ends. It's the only game in town for a PC DVR if your provider flags any content. Otherwise, you need to go with Tivo or your provider's DVR. If you're lucky enough to have most of your channels flagged as copy freely then there are several other options available, such as Media Portal, SageTV (if you can find an available license), XBMC, and a few others.
     
  14. WO312

    WO312 Active Member

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    Jan 24, 2003
    Finger...
    dtivouser, if you do decide to give it another go, I highly recommend this: http://www.recordedtvhd.com/

    It is a WMC add-on that organizes shows by folders and other options. Makes the viewing experience much more like a Tivo. In some ways better.
     
  15. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

    4,359
    5
    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    That's a great little add-on for WMC, especially if you tend to hoard a lot of TV shows. I tried it for a while and liked it a lot. The only thing I disliked is that I tend to watch everything I record within a few days so there was never more than one listing under each icon. Some shows would have no art associated with them so it would essentially be a blank placeholder, IIRC. OTOH, I believe you have the option to gather art from various sources automatically or do it manually. Definitely worth giving it a try since it has a 30-day free trial.

    What's funny to me is that when you visit the link, most of the shows used as examples are either no longer on the air or were canceled for whatever reason. I think they need to update the web page with shows that are current.
     
  16. dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

    1,813
    1
    Feb 10, 2004
    SoCal
    OK I am re-installing Windows 7 right now with minimal hardware. I will let you know how it goes. It looks like the management engine gets installed with the Gigabyte MB driver kit. I bought the SANOXY remote mostly for the IR receiver (I think I paid $6 for both) figuring if nothing else I could train my Harmony One with codes from the SANOXY. That HP remote looks nice.

    In this re-install I'm playing a hunch regarding that Seagate drive. A couple times I noticed weird hangs going into Disk Management. I wonder if there's a compatibility issue with the hybrid. I ran ST diags on the drive which came back clean. So this install I've left the Seagate powered off and I'm installing to a different disk drive.
     
  17. dtivouser

    dtivouser Tivoless TCF Club

    1,813
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    Feb 10, 2004
    SoCal
    Sweet, I will give that a try once WMC is stable!
     
  18. WO312

    WO312 Active Member

    1,373
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    Jan 24, 2003
    Finger...
    I recently had a software update so he is actively improving it. I use my HTPC for archiving, and one neat thing about the program is not only does it organize by folder, but by season within the folder. I have a number of season passes set up for long time series and the season folders slowly get filled up as they air.
     
  19. MeInDallas

    MeInDallas Member

    910
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    Jul 31, 2011
    Dallas, Texas
    Are you installing the operating system on a different drive totally than what you are saving your TV files to? Or are you putting everything all on one drive?
     
  20. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

    4,359
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    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    Good point. However, you can create separate partitions for the OS and the RecordedTV folder, which is probably the best option if using a single drive. Just create a small partition (50-60GB should be more than enough) for the OS and then create a new simple volume in the remaining space when Windows has finished installing. If you used the entire drive for installing the OS you can shrink the partition and then add the new one at the end. I generally prefer to install the OS on a SSD and then use a standard drive for files and recordings. It makes boot times a whole lot faster.

    One additional tip - once you have Windows installed and updated and all drivers installed, make a backup iuso of the OS drive using Windows Backup. Create a Repair Disk while you're at it. That way, if things still aren't quite right, you don't have to do a complete reinstall with all of the drivers and updates. You just restore the OS drive image using the Repair Disk and point it to the backup image. It will wipe the OS partition and write the image to the drive. The restore process only takes about 10-15 minutes and is a whole lot faster than waiting for 150 updates to install, not to mention the OS and drivers.

    As for the Management Engine drivers and anything else related to the Intel CPU, check the Intel and Gigabyte websites for the latest and greatest as they tend to be more current than what's on the installation disc that comes with any motherboard. The Intel website may have newer drivers for the CPU than the Gigabyte site.
     
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