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Old 10-16-2013, 06:02 PM   #1
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Does Tivo have any competitors?

Are there any other companies out there that sell DVR units? And this is excluding cable companies that lease you a DVR unit.

I know when I did some research a few months ago, I couldn't find any except for one that I think Sony sold years ago and they no longer sell.

What else is out there besides Tivo?
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Old 10-16-2013, 06:46 PM   #2
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You can buy a used ReplayTV DVR, but they are hard to use, not HD, and not supported. Some of them to have auto commercial skip though.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Magnavox-M...order/14291489

Is a a current model sold sometimes at Walmart. Used ones are sold on eBay too.

There are others that manufacture DVRs but none that compare at all to the TiVo. I have used many of the others and love TiVo. I don't work for TiVo. They wouldn't hire me.

You dn't tell how you are going to the use the DVR so I can't give you more particular info.
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Old 10-16-2013, 07:04 PM   #3
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There are definitely other OTA DVRs, but I don't know of any CableCard DVRs on the market other than TiVo.

Edit: set-top cablecard DVRs, that is. Of course there are CableCard tuners for computers, and you could use them in conjunction with a compatible DVR software. (Thanks for the reminder, dlfl.)

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Old 10-16-2013, 07:13 PM   #4
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And if you use a tuner card in your PC, you will still need a CableCARD and possibly a Tuning Adapter to tune your digital cable channels.
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Old 10-16-2013, 07:23 PM   #5
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There are about a half dozen models of cablecard tuners that can be used with a PC running Windows Media Center. WMC turns your PC into a full fledged DVR with many of the same capabilities as a Tivo and then some. The best part is that there are no monthly or lifetime Tivo fees to pay. Guide data is free as long as Microsoft decides to provide it. Even then there are third party guide data providers that offer it for a reasonable fee.

Any PC running Windows 7 or Windows 8 can use a cablecard tuner from Ceton, Hauppauge, or SiliconDust. WMC comes with every version of Windows 7 except Home Basic. You must have Windows 8 Pro in order to use WMC and it's only available as an add-on for $10 from Microsoft. Both versions are essentially identical.

A cablecard tuner allows you to view and record any channel you're subscribed to from your provider. They work on any digital cable system as well as Verizon FIOS. The only caveat is that you can't order PPV through your PC, although you can order it over the phone, and you don't have access to Video On Demand. Other than that it works like any cableco DVR or Tivo.

You can use media extenders to watch live or recorded TV from the main HTPC (Home Theater PC) in any room in the house via a home network. You can upgrade the PC to add as many tuners of any type (ATSC for OTA broadcasts, in-the-clear QAM, or encrypted cable) just by installing the drivers, adding the tuner, and rerunning WMC setup. There are an unlimited number of options you can install in a HTPC so it's much more versatile than any standard DVR. You can also control it using a WMC remote with a plug-in USB IR receiver.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:21 PM   #6
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Windows Media Center development has been discontinued by Microsoft. It will continue to get guide data updates for the foreseeable future, but it's a dead product as far as enhancements and updates.

Which means TiVo is currently the only retail CableCARD DVR on the market being actively developed. I honestly wish there was more competition because I think it would push TiVo to make their product better.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:57 PM   #7
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If you are looking for a New Stand Alone HD DVR Appliance, that you buy/own yourself (as apposed to rent from your pay TV provider) you have the following options:
  1. Cable & FIOS: TiVo
  2. AT&T U-verse: None
  3. Dish Network: None
  4. Direct TV: None
  5. Over the Air (OTA): TiVo
Home Theater PCs can also be used for Cable & OTA but I don't think anyone is building appliance like devices anymore so you have to setup your own (which is easy) and there were some other discontinued OTA models that you might still find out there like the CM7400.

So as you can see there isn't much choice, you can rent from your provider, setup a Home Theater PC, or buy a TiVo and that is about it.
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:52 PM   #8
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..
Home Theater PCs can also be used for Cable & OTA but I don't think anyone is building appliance like devices anymore so you have to setup your own (which is easy) and there were some other discontinued OTA models that you might still find out there like the CM7400.

So as you can see there isn't much choice, you can rent from your provider, setup a Home Theater PC, or buy a TiVo and that is about it.
The last whole house solution that was pc based and easy to install was bought by google - SageTV - in June 2011 and buried in their Kansas fiber project.
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Old 10-17-2013, 09:05 AM   #9
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Windows Media Center development has been discontinued by Microsoft. It will continue to get guide data updates for the foreseeable future, but it's a dead product as far as enhancements and updates.

Which means TiVo is currently the only retail CableCARD DVR on the market being actively developed. I honestly wish there was more competition because I think it would push TiVo to make their product better.
WMC development may have been halted, but it will still be supported as long as Windows 7 and 8 are supported, at least with regard to updates and fixes. How long Microsoft will continue to provide guide data is anybody's guess, but I suspect it will be available as long as MS supports Windows 8, which should be approximately for another decade based on past history.

FWIW, Tivo has done very little in the area of DVR development beyond what currently exists, AFAIK. They've mostly added a lot of bells and whistles to the platform in the form of Netflix apps and such. I believe they did add more feastures to the search function a while back, mostly in the area of internet TV.

Unless something drastically changes in how TV is delivered to our homes, the DVR features in WMC should serve us well for quite some time. Aftermarket companies like Ceton, Hauppauge, and SiliconDust must believe that WMC will be around for a while or else they wouldn't still be coming out with new cablecard products. Ceton recently released their 6-tuner model and SiliconDust is supposed to be introducing a 4-tuner version of their HDHomeRun Prime sometime soon. They wouldn't be doing this if there was no market for them.

I'm not exactly sure what would be required to make Tivo a better product other than making the service more affordable. Adding more tuners was a step in the right direction. Adding a more powerful CPU with more memory couldn't hurt as well as a faster NIC. Other than that, it does what it's supposed to do. Personally, I think they would be better served if they got rid of some of the extra bells and whistles they've added.

A lot of people complain that Tivop needs to be better. Problem is, they don't specify what needs to be improved to make it so. A DVR is a DVR, plain and simple. A Tivo performs as a DVR quite well, but so does a WMC HTPC and most cableco DVRs. Each product serves a different niche crowd as they offer additional benefits (or not so much in the case of a cableco DVR other than access to PPV and VOD).

Other companies have tried to introduce cablecard DVRs and have failed. Moxi was the most promising device, but not that many people knew about it. Lack of advertising kills more products than anything else, IMHO. Tivo mostly has no competition because nobody is aware of any.

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Home Theater PCs can also be used for Cable & OTA but I don't think anyone is building appliance like devices anymore so you have to setup your own (which is easy) and there were some other discontinued OTA models that you might still find out there like the CM7400.

So as you can see there isn't much choice, you can rent from your provider, setup a Home Theater PC, or buy a TiVo and that is about it.
Any PC with Windows 7 or Windows 8 Pro can be set up to behave as an appliance. I realize a lot of people would dispute this, but it is entirely true, at least most of the time. I've got three HTPCs that I use on a regular basis that do not require any maintenance or tweaking other than installing the monthly Windows updates. The wife uses one of them daily and my primary HTPC is used from the time I walk in the door at night until I go to bed.

I won't pretend that PCs don't have their issues, but most of them function just fine as long as you don't screw with them too much. I'm sure most of you use PCs on a daily basis at work so consider how long they function without problems. HTPCs work just as well, if not better, as long as you leave them alone.

FWIW, I'd wager that Tivos will fail as often as any HTPC given that they mostly contain a lot of the same components and are used under identical circumstances. If anything, PC components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. Tivo builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?

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Old 10-17-2013, 10:38 AM   #10
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WMC development may have been halted, but it will still be supported as long as Windows 7 and 8 are supported, at least with regard to updates and fixes. How long Microsoft will continue to provide guide data is anybody's guess, but I suspect it will be available as long as MS supports Windows 8, which should be approximately for another decade based on past history.

FWIW, Tivo has done very little in the area of DVR development beyond what currently exists, AFAIK. They've mostly added a lot of bells and whistles to the platform in the form of Netflix apps and such. I believe they did add more feastures to the search function a while back, mostly in the area of internet TV.

Unless something drastically changes in how TV is delivered to our homes, the DVR features in WMC should serve us well for quite some time. Aftermarket companies like Ceton, Hauppauge, and SiliconDust must believe that WMC will be around for a while or else they wouldn't still be coming out with new cablecard products. Ceton recently released their 6-tuner model and SiliconDust is supposed to be introducing a 4-tuner version of their HDHomeRun Prime sometime soon. They wouldn't be doing this if there was no market for them.

I'm not exactly sure what would be required to make Tivo a better product other than making the service more affordable. Adding more tuners was a step in the right direction. Adding a more powerful CPU with more memory couldn't hurt as well as a faster NIC. Other than that, it does what it's supposed to do. Personally, I think they would be better served if they got rid of some of the extra bells and whistles they've added.

A lot of people complain that Tivop needs to be better. Problem is, they don't specify what needs to be improved to make it so. A DVR is a DVR, plain and simple. A Tivo performs as a DVR quite well, but so does a WMC HTPC and most cableco DVRs. Each product serves a different niche crowd as they offer additional benefits (or not so much in the case of a cableco DVR other than access to PPV and VOD).

Other companies have tried to introduce cablecard DVRs and have failed. Moxi was the most promising device, but not that many people knew about it. Lack of advertising kills more products than anything else, IMHO. Tivo mostly has no competition because nobody is aware of any.



Any PC with Windows 7 or Windows 8 Pro can be set up to behave as an appliance. I realize a lot of people would dispute this, but it is entirely true, at least most of the time. I've got three HTPCs that I use on a regular basis that do not require any maintenance or tweaking other than installing the monthly Windows updates. The wife uses one of them daily and my primary HTPC is used from the time I walk in the door at night until I go to bed.

I won't pretend that PCs don't have their issues, but most of them function just fine as long as you don't screw with them too much. I'm sure most of you use PCs on a daily basis at work so consider how long they function without problems. HTPCs work just as well, if not better, as long as you leave them alone.

FWIW, I'd wager that Tivos will fail as often as any HTPC given that they mostly contain a lot of the same components and are used under identical circumstances. If anything, PC components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. Tivo builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?
Running a 100 to 200 watt PC as a DVR (a new TiVo uses about 25 watts)will work, but has its own problems as people who have tried it will tell you. This is a DVR solution for very few people.
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Old 10-17-2013, 02:40 PM   #11
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WMC development may have been halted, but it will still be supported as long as Windows 7 and 8 are supported, at least with regard to updates and fixes.
They will not be updating or fixing MCE ever again. The entire development team was dissolved. So if there are any bugs now they will be there forever. Guide data will likely continue for at least a few more years, but there are no guarantees. They could decide at any moment it's too expensive and cut it off.

MCE is a big part of our business, so I wish this weren't true, but it is. Between the killing of MCE, the proliferation of DRM and this new trend towards killing off CableCARD in favor of proprietary downloadable solutions, the DVR market here in the US is looking pretty bleak. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the Roamio was TiVo's last retail DVR.
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Old 10-17-2013, 03:18 PM   #12
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They will not be updating or fixing MCE ever again. The entire development team was dissolved. So if there are any bugs now they will be there forever. Guide data will likely continue for at least a few more years, but there are no guarantees. They could decide at any moment it's too expensive and cut it off.

MCE is a big part of our business, so I wish this weren't true, but it is. Between the killing of MCE, the proliferation of DRM and this new trend towards killing off CableCARD in favor of proprietary downloadable solutions, the DVR market here in the US is looking pretty bleak. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the Roamio was TiVo's last retail DVR.
I misspoke about support being provided for WMC. I meant to imply that Microsoft would probably be providing guide data for as long as Windows 7 and 8 are still supported. You are correct in that there will be no further development or bug fixes ever again for WMC unless Microsoft decides to resurrect the division, which is pretty much never going to happen. As long as guide data is available, I'll keep using my HTPC as a DVR. If and when it comes to an end I'll probably look into third party solutions to acquire guide data.

I haven't seen any statistics regarding streaming services vs. DVR use or disc rentals. I suspect that streaming won't impact DVR use as much as it does movie rentals on optical disc. Services like Hulu Plus do have a following, but many of us still like to record our own shows for playback with the ability to skip commercials. The younger generations seem to favor convenience over quality, which is quite a shame for the rest of us. I'd hate to see a consumer market driven by sheer impatience, but I fear that's where we're heading.

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Running a 100 to 200 watt PC as a DVR (a new TiVo uses about 25 watts)will work, but has its own problems as people who have tried it will tell you. This is a DVR solution for very few people.
Yes, people have tried to tell me and I've responded with an opposing view that tends to fall on deaf ears. To each his own. The reason that it is a DVR solution for few people is because they have preconceived notions and fears about using a PC as a DVR. I'd counter with the fact that there are far more people using HTPCs than you realize, but I can't back it up with actual numbers. Based on the various production runs of each type of Ceton tuner alone I'd guess that it's easily in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of units sold. That's a lot of units for a niche product.

The thread title asked if Tivo had any competitors so I responded with a very viable one. Granted, HTPCs are mostly a niche product, but a competitor to Tivo nonetheless. In fact, there are a lot of HTPC users that used to own Tivos and made the switch, same as me. Conversely, there are some HTPC users that decided it wasn't for them and went back to using a Tivo instead. Defferent strokes is all it is.

FYI, there are lots of PC components that can be used to build a very low power PC. I've got a Kill-O-Watt meter connected to my HTPC and the last time I checked it was using only about 85 watts under full load. The PC has a full ATX motherboard with an Intel i3-2105 CPU, 8GB DDR3 RAM, a Radeon HD7770 graphics card, a BD-ROM drive, 120GB SSD for the OS, a 1.5TB WD AV drive for recording, two Ceton InfiniTV4's, two Hauppauge WINTV-HVR-2250 dual ATSC tuners, an Intel gigabit NIC, a Corsair 550-watt PSU, and a Noctua NH-C12P low profile CPU cooler. Considering the capability of this PC, it would easily compare to three quad tuner Tivos with the added capability of being able to record from both OTA and digital cable as well as features a Tivo simply does not have. Power consumption is probably going to be fairly close by comparison.

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Old 10-17-2013, 04:15 PM   #13
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FWIW, I'd wager that Tivos will fail as often as any HTPC given that they mostly contain a lot of the same components and are used under identical circumstances. If anything, PC components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. Tivo builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?
I think this is an unfair statement. You could take your two statements and flip TiVo with PC, and the result would be the same. They're both built to do what they do, and unless one is buying some specific heavy-duty product, they are built to meet whatever demands the manuf thinks they need to be.

Plus, AFAIK, TiVos are known as workhorses, and often last far longer than their intended (or even useful...talking to you, my old S2) life.


Version 1:
If anything, PC components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. Tivo builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?

Version 2:
If anything, TiVo components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. PCs builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:58 PM   #14
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Ceton failed spectacularly with their echo extender and the Q didn't even make it to market. Hauppauge is in trouble. There are no good extenders for WMC.

I agree, though, that WMC will probably function for another 10 years or so which is a very long time in terms of PVR solutions - but as a whole house solution WMC has never been a good choice.
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Old 10-18-2013, 02:31 AM   #15
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The Q died because MS decided to discontinue MCE right before they went to market. It actually was a surprise to Ceton and screwed them over on a product they spent a lot of time and money developing.
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Old 10-18-2013, 07:01 AM   #16
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Old 10-18-2013, 07:58 AM   #17
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Running a 100 to 200 watt PC as a DVR (a new TiVo uses about 25 watts)will work,
I guess you've never heard of the Intel NUC, which runs at less than 20 watts in a 4"x4"x2" chassis. Even with tuners and drive you're talking less than 30 watts.

Don't misrepresent the power usage of a modern PC to make a point, it's actually way less than Tivo now when you also factor in that an HTPC can sleep.
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:14 AM   #18
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The Q died because MS decided to discontinue MCE right before they went to market. It actually was a surprise to Ceton and screwed them over on a product they spent a lot of time and money developing.
But it didn't make a lot of sense to me and others at TGB that Ceton didn't want to continue with WMC7 Embedded, MS has committed to license and support it for many years to come.

There was something else going on with that product, IMO they took a look at the potential market and profit for the price they would need to charge and couldn't make the numbers work.
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:23 AM   #19
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SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime.
Really? The thread topic is DVR competition for Tivo DVR. The 'R' in DVR stands for recorder. How many GB of recording capacity does the HDHomeRunPrime provide? (None as far as I can tell on their web page, which describes the device as a "digital cable TV tuner".)
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:13 AM   #20
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Version 2:
If anything, TiVo components are more robust because they're designed for specific performance at a target price point and you can install whatever suits your needs. PCs builds boxes as cheap as they can get away with and still function. Which box do you think is going to be more reliable?
If you're talking about a turnkey PC then I'd be inclined to agree with you. The comparison to build quality vs. a Tivo would then be spot on. However, I build my own so I can pick and choose better quality components than either pre-built configuration can offer. The result is not only a better performing machine but one that will likely last longer due to higher quality components. My HTPCs have been running absolutely trouble free for up to five years and counting. I've only had one maintenance issue with a HTPC in all that time and it was due to a failed Intel motherboard. I got a brand new one as a replacement under the 3-year warranty. Tivo would have given me something refurbished under their pathetic warranty.

I just looked at the Tivo website and I noticed that they now offer two and three-year extended warranties, but I didn't see what the cost was. Chances are you're just going to get the same refurbished unit they would have given you under the normal warranty, but at a slight discount. I'll have to check this out further and see what they want for the extended warranties.

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Old 10-18-2013, 09:19 AM   #21
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Ceton failed spectacularly with their echo extender and the Q didn't even make it to market. Hauppauge is in trouble. There are no good extenders for WMC.

I agree, though, that WMC will probably function for another 10 years or so which is a very long time in terms of PVR solutions - but as a whole house solution WMC has never been a good choice.
I'm no fan of extenders due to their inherent nature. The SageTV extenders were supposed to be far and above anything available for WMC, but unfortunately they're no longer in production and SageTV was bought out by Google and buried in a closet. The irony is that a patch was developed to allow the Ceton tuners to work with SageTV for unflagged content. I was just starting to evaluate it when Google pulled the rug out from all SageTV users. I couldn't have bought a SageTV license even if I wanted to. There's nothiong more frustrating than having some big company buy out a smaller one and quash a great product just to eliminate any potential competition.

Aside from SageTV, WMC was just about the only option for a whole house solution, good or bad. Extenders work reasonably well for playback of recorded and live TV. I just don't like the lag time with the remote commands and constant network issues. I used to get network errors all the time on my extenders and the network would always test fine when I ran the network tuner app. It just got too frustrating to deal with.

Ceton got screwed by Microsoft on all fronts. The Echo won't work with Windows 8 and the Q never saw the light of day.
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Old 10-18-2013, 10:44 AM   #22
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I guess you've never heard of the Intel NUC, which runs at less than 20 watts in a 4"x4"x2" chassis. Even with tuners and drive you're talking less than 30 watts.

Don't misrepresent the power usage of a modern PC to make a point, it's actually way less than Tivo now when you also factor in that an HTPC can sleep.
Your correct, so one would need more than the average knowledge to put together or even know about Intel NUC, this is a alterative to TiVo maybe, but not directly competition to TiVo as I doubt TiVo has lost a large number of sales to this or any PC solution, BUT I know that TiVo main competition is the cable co itself, ATT and Comcast X1 (just to name the ones available to me) do get most of my friends, not just because of cost or better hardware, but they love the on-sight service at no extra cost, if Comcast correctly charges a TiVo customer a cable card with all tax adds about $9/ month to ones cable bill, and the cable co has deals for multi room DRV viewing.
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:29 AM   #23
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The Intel NUC, as well as the Gigabyte Brix, is a very small form factor PC that can be geared towards HTPC use. Due to its small size, it cannot accommodate anything but a mSATA drive, which tend to be a bit scarce, small in size, and not exactly cheap. They are energy efficient and can handle up to an Intel CORE i7 CPU, depending on the model. Intel is introducing a new model with a slightly larger case that can accommodate a 2.5" drive so that's good news. There's also word that a Celeron edition selling at around $139 will also be introduced.

There are no other internal expansion slots so if you plan to use it as a DVR you'll need an external tuner, either networked or USB, and an external drive for storage. I see them mostly for use as a satellite HTPC and not a primary HTPC, but they're certainly capable of being one.
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Old 10-18-2013, 02:43 PM   #24
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Are there any other companies out there that sell DVR units? And this is excluding cable companies that lease you a DVR unit.

I know when I did some research a few months ago, I couldn't find any except for one that I think Sony sold years ago and they no longer sell.

What else is out there besides Tivo?
I saw something called Simple TV, although I wouldn't consider it a legitimate competitor to TiVo.

It's a single tuner, and works only with antenna. No cable/satellite. It actually doesn't connect to your TV either. Apparently it's just for streaming to wireless devices. Although their website says it streams to Roku, so should be able to get on the TV through that.

Also, you have to supply your own external hard drive.

But I see that it does have remote streaming..

Oh, and premier service is $60/year, or $150/lifetime.

www.simple.tv
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Last edited by Balzer : 10-18-2013 at 02:49 PM. Reason: added comment about remote streaming and service
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Old 10-18-2013, 02:54 PM   #25
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Oh, and premier service is $60/year, or $150/lifetime.

www.simple.tv
Hmmm.. I also found that the yearly or lifetime service is tied to the user, not the box, so you could have as many boxes as you want for that cost..
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Old 10-19-2013, 11:35 AM   #26
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Single tuner and OTA only (now that clear QAM is mostly going away), plus you have to supply your own storage, for $300 all in? On the flip side it does offer mpeg4 transcoding like Tivo, but still, single tuner for what they want to charge?

Not much of a competitor IMO unless you're seriously cash-strapped, a Roamio Basic with or without the Stream would be way better than this.
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Old 10-19-2013, 04:38 PM   #27
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Really? The thread topic is DVR competition for Tivo DVR. The 'R' in DVR stands for recorder. How many GB of recording capacity does the HDHomeRunPrime provide? (None as far as I can tell on their web page, which describes the device as a "digital cable TV tuner".)
Settle down keyboard commando. No built-in storage, but it can be used with external equipment as a DVR. Unfortunately there's no direct competition to TiVo, which stopped innovating in 2010.
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Old 10-19-2013, 05:44 PM   #28
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Settle down keyboard commando. No built-in storage, but it can be used with external equipment as a DVR. Unfortunately there's no direct competition to TiVo, which stopped innovating in 2010.
Not that I have followed TiVo much after 2005 when I sold my first TiVo - just wondering about the Stream and the Mini - those have been around since 2010?
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Old 10-19-2013, 06:19 PM   #29
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The Stream was released last September and the Mini wasn't released until this March. They also released the new Roamio line in August.
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Old 10-19-2013, 10:42 PM   #30
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I am OTA only, no cable available in my area.

My first DVR was the Sony DHG series, but when Rovi pulled the plug on TVGOS last year, that became a boat anchor.

So I put together a HTPC with Win7 WMC and 2 SiliconDust HDHomeRun ATSC dual tuners. Having 9TB of storage was nice. But living in the boonies, the OTA signals from Seattle are not excellent, and I found that the HDHomeRun tuners were not good at handling multi-path signals, so I had to look for an alternative.

Just in time to discover the Roamio, whose ATSC tuners do a fine job of locking to multi-path signals. This is the first Tivo product that came close to offering what I need.

A bit OT for this topic, I guess, but for me the problem is finding a DVR that has ATSC tuners, which are becomming uncommon; so the 4 tuner Roamio is a welcome find. So for me, the only two contenders are Tivo and HTPC (if I could get satisfactory tuners). But the WMC software is annoying and prone to crashing (task manager to the rescue a couple times a week), so even though its free, its still a hassle.
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