Hello all, I'm a former TiVO user who switched to a Windows Media Center PC w/SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME cablecard tuner (actually, I have a 2nd one I bought still in box). So I've currently got 3 tuners active and another 3 I could easily add. I'm using this along with a couple of XBox 360's as extenders. So I've already laid out the original expenses, and it's probably dumb of me to even be thinking about switching back to TiVo, but the reasons I'm considering coming back are as follows:
1) My WMC experience is mostly great, but it's not as completely reliable as it was back in the day with TiVo. My main WMC server seems a bit flakey at times (worried a bit that the computer or hard drive might be failing), and I often turn on the TV to find that the screen is in a goofy resolution and I have to exit the WMC app and restart it. This was a bigger concern a while ago, but I've since trained my wife how to deal with this bug and she seems comfortable with the workaround now. I suspect that if I update Windows or some drivers or something I can probably fix it. Nevertheless, the theme here is that the WMC experience isn't as reliable or spouse-friendly as my old TiVo HD was.
2) Even though I have a couple of XBox 360's, I really only need to have two rooms operational. So some of the added cost of running a TiVo household is minimized a bit, and saving $20/month isn't necessarily a huge concern for me at the moment.
3) I really like the idea of the iOS functionality. We have a couple of iPads. I've been messing around for a while with Plex on my WMC box and while it does a great job of transcoding already-recorded TV shows, it doesn't support live TV and the Plex developers haven't shown any interest in this being a top priority for them. I look at this as another alternative to laying out money on a 3rd TiVo. Instead of having a 3rd TiVo in my daughter's room (which is difficult to run ethernet to, so the 3rd XBox 360 for her room doesn't get used much - it has WiFi, but full-bitrate MPEG-2 HD content is too bandwidth-heavy, so anytime she'd use it, it would be flakey).
4) I gotta admit...I miss that TiVo remote. Interestingly enough, I knew this going in and toyed around with some Windows applets which would possibly let me continue to use my TiVo remote, but they were a headache to set up and never worked flawlessly. I eventually gave up and just switched to using Harmony remotes (more money spent!) but I still miss the simplicity and layout of my old TiVo remote.
So, all that said, some questions...
a) I have a TiVo HD that I got a lifetime subscription on as part of a $99 email offer I got a while back. But it's just collecting dust. If I got a Roamio TiVo as my main unit, could I somehow utilize this older TiVo HD in my 2nd room and still transfer recordings between the two boxes, or would the TiVo HD be pretty much "disconnected" from the Roamio? FWIW, I have Comcast with no pay channels, so (AFAIK) all of my channels are flagged as copy-freely. If I can't connect the two to transfer shows, then I'd probably want to just get a TiVo Mini or entry model Roamio for the 2nd room, which then leads me to my next question...
b) What kind of money can I realistically get for that old TiVo HD w/lifetime?
c) I also have a new-in-box TiVo HD which was never activated and has no lifetime service (bought it on a whim when Blockbuster was clearancing them for $99 or something, but I could never justify paying the $13/month to activate the service, so I never opened the box). I'm guessing this is pretty much worthless to anyone else, but is there some way I can make it useful for a reasonable cost or finagle (sp?) another low-cost lifetime deal for it?
d) I'm seeing that Amazon is selling the entry-model Roamio right now for $150. This sounds like a better value proposition than buying a TiVo Mini for that 2nd room. I believe that the monthly/lifetime service for a Mini is a bit less than for this box, and the Mini is obviously smaller, but are there any other advantages to using a Mini in my 2nd room vs a basic Roamio? Along these lines...how painless is the process of transferring/streaming a show from one Roamio to another?
e) If I had a Roamio Plus (with built-in streaming capability) in one room and a basic Roamio in another, could I somehow use the Roamio Plus' streaming ability to stream (to my iPad) a show that's actually stored on the basic Roamio in the other room?
f) Just how good is the streaming picture quality (when used in your home network, as well as streaming outside of the house)? I'm very picky about PQ and I couldn't find any online reviews of the Roamio or TiVo Stream that said anything other than "the PQ was surprisingly good". I'd like something more measurable than that. FWIW (for anyone familiar with this), I've used both the AirVideo and Plex apps on my iPhone to play streamed Blu-ray movies and HD TV shows and the quality from those apps is really, really good, so I'd be expecting that level of PQ.
g) I got a "special offer" from TiVo via email offering me a new TiVo Roamio w/lifetime for $575/750/900 (depending on model), but those prices don't seem like anything special. Am I missing something? For example, it looks like I could buy a $150 TiVo Roamio from Amazon and add the lifetime for $400, for a total cost of $550.
h) For those of you who have been around for a long time (original TiVo HD or even pre-HD models) and/or have experience with Windows Media Center, how rock-solid reliable are the current TiVo Roamios? If one of the reasons for me considering switching back is because of the occasional bugginess of WMC, I'd hate to find that the current TiVo experience had similar/other annoying bugginess.
i) If I was to switch back, I'm entertaining the idea of using my old TiVo remotes (I've got a few) to control both my new TiVo Roamio and Apple TV, since the Apple TV can "learn" from any remote, and the old TiVo remotes had a hard 1/2 switch on them. What features/feel do the new TiVo remotes offer that I might regret losing out on if I did this?