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Old 03-17-2012, 12:58 PM   #1
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My journey back to TiVo? - Windows Media Center is dying

The hard drive in my Windows Media Center PC is dying, so instead of replacing, re-installing, etc. I've decided to give TiVo another go. I activated service on my old Series3 and am excited to get behind the wheel.

What brought be back was the TiVo Premiere Elite and introduction of the upcoming extenders (Preview). Finally a 4 tuner DVR box with 2TB of storage! I could never go back to less than 4 tuners. The extenders are a must, so really hoping the pricing is reasonable and that they actually work as a whole home multi-room streaming solution to match my current WMC + extenders.

Still waiting since my account says, "We're still processing your activation. Try again in 24 hours."

Wish me luck!
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:14 PM   #2
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I personally don't have reason to switch from our 2 S3's but I'm curious why you are not just replacing the hard drive and cloning the failing one (you said failing and no failed)?

Scott
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:57 PM   #3
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I think the Elite and the annoncement of the Previews and whatever the IP settop box will be called is a step toward Tivo for many htpc DVR users. 4+ tuners and no-subscription extenders is literally the main reason many switched (and I considered it).

My journey is likely to settle into 2 Elites in our two central TV areas (Family Room and downstairs Media room) with those IP boxes on the remaining three TVs in my home- if those boxes also support Netflix/Hulu, etc., which I assume is a no-brainer.
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Old 03-17-2012, 02:46 PM   #4
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I personally don't have reason to switch from our 2 S3's but I'm curious why you are not just replacing the hard drive and cloning the failing one (you said failing and no failed)?

Scott
Don't want to go through the hassle since I'd rather do a clean install vs. clone. Plus it's an excuse for a change since WMC is going to be a legacy product for Microsoft from Windows 8.

I could also go with one or two premieres instead of the extender if I really want a dedicated LiveTV tuner in other rooms along with the multi-room streaming, but the service could be killer. But that's getting ahead of myself for now. We'll see if the change sticks first.
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by g808 View Post
The hard drive in my Windows Media Center PC is dying, so instead of replacing, re-installing, etc. I've decided to give TiVo another go. I activated service on my old Series3 and am excited to get behind the wheel.

What brought be back was the TiVo Premiere Elite and introduction of the upcoming extenders (Preview). Finally a 4 tuner DVR box with 2TB of storage! I could never go back to less than 4 tuners. The extenders are a must, so really hoping the pricing is reasonable and that they actually work as a whole home multi-room streaming solution to match my current WMC + extenders.

Still waiting since my account says, "We're still processing your activation. Try again in 24 hours."

Wish me luck!
If you're fixing to drop big bucks on new TiVos anytime soon, go read the $99 lifetime thread about getting it on your S3 and cutting your monthly bill/boosting its resale value.
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Old 03-17-2012, 11:38 PM   #6
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Thanks. I figure I'll cancel after a couple months and see if they'll offer the $99 lifetime.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:25 AM   #7
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All you need to do is put a new drive in your computer and re image the drive from your backup drive. only takes 30 mins to do. You should make a backup image every week.


Quote:
Originally Posted by g808 View Post
The hard drive in my Windows Media Center PC is dying, so instead of replacing, re-installing, etc. I've decided to give TiVo another go. I activated service on my old Series3 and am excited to get behind the wheel.

What brought be back was the TiVo Premiere Elite and introduction of the upcoming extenders (Preview). Finally a 4 tuner DVR box with 2TB of storage! I could never go back to less than 4 tuners. The extenders are a must, so really hoping the pricing is reasonable and that they actually work as a whole home multi-room streaming solution to match my current WMC + extenders.

Still waiting since my account says, "We're still processing your activation. Try again in 24 hours."

Wish me luck!

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Old 03-24-2012, 12:30 AM   #8
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Thanks. I figure I'll cancel after a couple months and see if they'll offer the $99 lifetime.
You don't cancel, you call and threaten to cancel/say you're thinking of cancelling.
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Old 03-25-2012, 05:03 AM   #9
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All you need to do is put a new drive in your computer and re image the drive from your backup drive. only takes 30 mins to do. You should make a backup image every week.
Again, I'm just making excuses for myself to try something new.
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Old 03-25-2012, 05:18 AM   #10
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Well, like most things I took the plunge and went all in. Ordered an Elite ($399 box + $399 lifetime) and regular Premiere ($79 new box + $399 lifetime) last weekend. They shipped Monday from Texas, and arrived on Friday in Northern California. It took longer than the TiVo CSR expected since said he thought it would get here by Weds when I ordered it last weekend.

Anyway, I got the last couple m-cards from my local office earlier in the week, so I was eagerly anticipating the UPS man all week.

Both boxes were setup and connected 10 minutes after UPS delivered them on Friday evening. The Cablecard paring and activation in the Elite went very well as it only took one call to the Comcast activation line to get it done. I wasn't as fortunate with the Cablecard in the regular Premiere unit. That took 2 calls to the activation line with 2-Tier support needing to get involved. Anyway, both cards are now paired/activated and both TiVo units are up and running. Even with that I was impressed with how far Comcast's CableCard support has come since I last had to do this with my S3 TiVo years ago.

Even with the 20.2 update the HD UI is still considerably slower than my Windows Media Center, but having a single box vs. my WMC (PC + 2 external Cablecard tuners + 2 HD Homerun dual tuner units) it's a much smaller footprint and energy saver.

Ordered a movie from Amazon on-demand and it took much longer to start downloading to my Elite than I'm used to on a Roku. I actually called Amazon support since I thought something was wrong and they were fantastic. They credited my account for the movie and actually gave me an additional $5.

The multi-room streaming is also slower to start than I'm used to from my WMC extender, but still works nicely.

I've also setup the jython fork of pyTivo and I'm able to access all PlayOn content thanks to its PlayOn plugin, which is awesome. I like having one box to access various content, which keeps TiVo on par with my WMC PC and extenders.

I've setup all my Season Passes, so looking forward to giving this setup a good workout.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:55 AM   #11
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Well, like most things I took the plunge and went all in. Ordered an Elite ($399 box + $399 lifetime) and regular Premiere ($79 new box + $399 lifetime) last weekend. They shipped Monday from Texas, and arrived on Friday in Northern California. It took longer than the TiVo CSR expected since said he thought it would get here by Weds when I ordered it last weekend.

Anyway, I got the last couple m-cards from my local office earlier in the week, so I was eagerly anticipating the UPS man all week.

Both boxes were setup and connected 10 minutes after UPS delivered them on Friday evening. The Cablecard paring and activation in the Elite went very well as it only took one call to the Comcast activation line to get it done. I wasn't as fortunate with the Cablecard in the regular Premiere unit. That took 2 calls to the activation line with 2-Tier support needing to get involved. Anyway, both cards are now paired/activated and both TiVo units are up and running. Even with that I was impressed with how far Comcast's CableCard support has come since I last had to do this with my S3 TiVo years ago.

Even with the 20.2 update the HD UI is still considerably slower than my Windows Media Center, but having a single box vs. my WMC (PC + 2 external Cablecard tuners + 2 HD Homerun dual tuner units) it's a much smaller footprint and energy saver.

Ordered a movie from Amazon on-demand and it took much longer to start downloading to my Elite than I'm used to on a Roku. I actually called Amazon support since I thought something was wrong and they were fantastic. They credited my account for the movie and actually gave me an additional $5.

The multi-room streaming is also slower to start than I'm used to from my WMC extender, but still works nicely.

I've also setup the jython fork of pyTivo and I'm able to access all PlayOn content thanks to its PlayOn plugin, which is awesome. I like having one box to access various content, which keeps TiVo on par with my WMC PC and extenders.

I've setup all my Season Passes, so looking forward to giving this setup a good workout.
You will grow to love your TiVo. I made the same switch as you to two premieres with lifetime and it is awesome. I agree a little laggy but not anything major. Did you notice your picture quality to be better than your wmc boxes?
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:34 AM   #12
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Again, I'm just making excuses for myself to try something new.
You can buy a new windows 7 desktop computer and put a ceton cable card in it and then get a 2 tuner antenna card so you can record 6 channels at a time to a 3 tb hard drive.

I like my tivo but i sick of having to unplug my tuning adapter every week becouse of the gc file problem that tivo refuses to fix.
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Old 03-25-2012, 03:35 PM   #13
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You will grow to love your TiVo. I made the same switch as you to two premieres with lifetime and it is awesome. I agree a little laggy but not anything major. Did you notice your picture quality to be better than your wmc boxes?
No real notice in improved picture quality. I thought the picture quality from my WMC box was pretty good.
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Old 03-25-2012, 03:35 PM   #14
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You can buy a new windows 7 desktop computer and put a ceton cable card in it and then get a 2 tuner antenna card so you can record 6 channels at a time to a 3 tb hard drive.

I like my tivo but i sick of having to unplug my tuning adapter every week becouse of the gc file problem that tivo refuses to fix.
Luckily no tuner adapter required here (yet). Between the 2 Premieres I have 6 tuners now. I had 4 with my WMC box and it was enough for us.
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Old 03-25-2012, 04:10 PM   #15
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No real notice in improved picture quality. I thought the picture quality from my WMC box was pretty good.
You won't see any difference between your Tivo and what you get from WMC. They both do equally well at recording the digital stream directly from your cable provider or antenna.

I went the other direction several years ago and switched to WMC. I just started experimenting with XBMC and it looks quite promising. In fact, I like it so much that I've spent the last couple of weeks converting my collection of ripped Blu-Rays and DVDs to mkv format using MakeMKV. I forget the total number of titles, but it was probably in the neighborhood of about 700-800 movies.

My HTPC has one Ceton InfiniTV 4 cablecard tuner installed (I used to have two installed) along with two Hauppauge 2250 ATSC tuners. I'm also using a SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime three-tuner cablecard networked tuner that's shared between other PCs as well as my primary HTPC.
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Old 03-27-2012, 12:40 AM   #16
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No real notice in improved picture quality. I thought the picture quality from my WMC box was pretty good.
Well give us a update in a few days about how your liking it and impressions in general
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Old 03-29-2012, 02:45 AM   #17
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So far, so good. I only switched to WMC once to watch something that was previously recorded on it. Other than that we've been exclusively using our TiVos. No hiccups in picture quality or recordings yet (knock on wood).

I really like the mobile apps, especially the iPad app, which we use to view My Shows, To Do Lists, schedule recordings, start playback, etc without interrupting our viewing experience with TV menus.

Also, loving the PlayOn integration with pyTivo. There was an episode of "Best things I Ever Ate" that showcased The House of Prime Rib in San Francisco. I love that place, and my girlfriend said I just missed it when I got home from work. Hulu said it could not be played back on connected devices, but PlayOn was able to stream it.

Only minor nit so far is the bit of lag in the HD UI and Multi-Room Streaming delay in playback. With a WMC extender streaming playback starts instantly. Also, wish "My Shows" was mirrored on all Premieres instead of having to navigate to the Premiere box you want to stream from. Hoping the upcoming TiVo extender takes care of some of this.
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Old 03-29-2012, 02:54 AM   #18
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Oh, and not having a stop button is tougher to get used to than I thought.
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Old 03-29-2012, 06:33 AM   #19
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You can buy a new windows 7 desktop computer and put a ceton cable card in it and then get a 2 tuner antenna card so you can record 6 channels at a time to a 3 tb hard drive.

I like my tivo but i sick of having to unplug my tuning adapter every week becouse of the gc file problem that tivo refuses to fix.
Does the Ceton not have the same issues with tuning adapters?

Scott
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Old 03-29-2012, 03:10 PM   #20
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Oh, and not having a stop button is tougher to get used to than I thought.
I know right? That stop button is damn useful.

I've thought about switching back to TiVo too, but as loud as my 360 as an extender is, it is more than TiVo has right now. I'm not sure what is taking so long to bring a consumer version of the Preview to market, but for now I'll stay with Media Center.

I do have a Premiere Elite on loaner right now, though, and while I do really like the iPad app, the UI of the Premiere itself is still really laggy. Not enough to be a deal breaker like the lack of extender though.

The scary part is that even though Media Center is a legacy product, in some ways it is still the best DVR option out there.
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Old 03-29-2012, 11:21 PM   #21
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I dont see any complaints about the tuning adaptor and ceton on AVS Forum.
I Dont know if i will buy one yet. I just wish tivo would put out a update for the tivo hd to fix the gc file problem with the tuning adaptor.

It looks like the tivo hd has been abandoned by tivo and wont get anymore software updates



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Does the Ceton not have the same issues with tuning adapters?

Scott

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Old 03-30-2012, 12:49 AM   #22
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So far, so good. I only switched to WMC once to watch something that was previously recorded on it. Other than that we've been exclusively using our TiVos. No hiccups in picture quality or recordings yet (knock on wood).

I really like the mobile apps, especially the iPad app, which we use to view My Shows, To Do Lists, schedule recordings, start playback, etc without interrupting our viewing experience with TV menus.

Also, loving the PlayOn integration with pyTivo. There was an episode of "Best things I Ever Ate" that showcased The House of Prime Rib in San Francisco. I love that place, and my girlfriend said I just missed it when I got home from work. Hulu said it could not be played back on connected devices, but PlayOn was able to stream it.

Only minor nit so far is the bit of lag in the HD UI and Multi-Room Streaming delay in playback. With a WMC extender streaming playback starts instantly. Also, wish "My Shows" was mirrored on all Premieres instead of having to navigate to the Premiere box you want to stream from. Hoping the upcoming TiVo extender takes care of some of this.
Glad to hear that..the one show thing would be great though !
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:30 PM   #23
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The scary part is that even though Media Center is a legacy product, in some ways it is still the best DVR option out there.
+1. Have you tried XBMC yet? If you watch any variety of video files or movies, it will play just about anything you can throw at it. There's a patch available that will also support HD audio from Blu-Rays. Grab yourself a beta copy of MakeMKV and rip Blu-Rays and DVDs without having to buy expensive decryption software or playback software like PowerDVD or Arcsoft's Total Media Theater. It's all free!
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:53 PM   #24
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We used to use WMC (Windows 7) as our DVR solution. This was fed by two HDHomeRun units (4 tuners) and it worked well. The PC was in the basement and we used an XBOX 360 as the front end.

The problem that I always had was the XBOX would always show the dreaded "Network Issues" icon on the TV screen and the playback would become jumpy. I almost replaced my entire infrastructure with my attemps to correct this. I got it working "OK", but TWF was just never there.

Then we tried out SageTV. I ran a Ubuntu Server in the basement, used the HDHomeRuns for the tuners and bought two of the Sage HD300 Media Extenders. That was BY FAR the absolute best solution we have ever had. It was bullet proof!

Then SageTV decided to sell out to Google for what ever reason and while their software will still run, there is no real support any more now. Like many others, I sold my extenders on ebay - basically took the money while I could get it. Even today, I kind of wish I had that system back up and running. The server is still sitting in the basement unplugged... But, no more SageTV.

Too bad for sure!
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:35 PM   #25
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+1. Have you tried XBMC yet? If you watch any variety of video files or movies, it will play just about anything you can throw at it. There's a patch available that will also support HD audio from Blu-Rays. Grab yourself a beta copy of MakeMKV and rip Blu-Rays and DVDs without having to buy expensive decryption software or playback software like PowerDVD or Arcsoft's Total Media Theater. It's all free!
makeMK is free while still in Beta. Although MakeMKV has been in beta for a while now. I've used it for some of my HD DVDs, but for my BDs I just create full BD ISOs with IMG Burn and Any DVD HD running in the background.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:32 PM   #26
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+1. Have you tried XBMC yet? If you watch any variety of video files or movies, it will play just about anything you can throw at it. There's a patch available that will also support HD audio from Blu-Rays. Grab yourself a beta copy of MakeMKV and rip Blu-Rays and DVDs without having to buy expensive decryption software or playback software like PowerDVD or Arcsoft's Total Media Theater. It's all free!
I used MyMovies with WMC and thought it was pretty good. The iPad app was cool to search through my collection and start playing on any extender in the house.

While this was cool, I found that we hardly would watch a movie in our collection. Our viewing habits are more wanting to watch new releases, so streaming from Amazon or renting from Redbox fits our needs right now.

I'm thinking of just adding a Blu-ray player too. Walking over to insert a disc sounds like blasphemy, but taking into consideration how often that would be makes it no big deal. I guess the simple solution is often the best solution.
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:28 PM   #27
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The problem that I always had was the XBOX would always show the dreaded "Network Issues" icon on the TV screen and the playback would become jumpy. I almost replaced my entire infrastructure with my attemps to correct this. I got it working "OK", but TWF was just never there.

Then we tried out SageTV. I ran a Ubuntu Server in the basement, used the HDHomeRuns for the tuners and bought two of the Sage HD300 Media Extenders. That was BY FAR the absolute best solution we have ever had. It was bullet proof!

Then SageTV decided to sell out to Google for what ever reason and while their software will still run, there is no real support any more now. Like many others, I sold my extenders on ebay - basically took the money while I could get it. Even today, I kind of wish I had that system back up and running. The server is still sitting in the basement unplugged... But, no more SageTV.

Too bad for sure!
I had the same issues with my X-Box 360, which is one of the reasons I abandoned the extender idea. I was also trying out SageTV and about three weeks into my 30-day free trial they sold out to Google, so I gave up on that as well. I was really disappointed because the Sage extenders were supposed to be the best available with much better codec support than any of the WMC extenders. I'm waiting for the Ceton Echo extenders to hit the market so I can give them a try.

For now I'm using one primary HTPC for my Home Theater in the basement and a Dell Zino HD that supports the TV in the family room on the main floor. I just put a 32" flatscreen in the guest bedroom upstairs and I have another small HTPC that I'll be using for that TV.

I'm fortunate to be on FIOS because I can link WMC on both of the small PCs to the recording directory on the primary HTPC and share all of my recordings. This is only possible because FIOS doesn't flag any channels as copy once so I can share them freely on any other PC.

Alas, my poor Tivo sits on a shelf below the family room TV just clacking away and gathering dust. Did I mention that the Tivo is noisier than any of the PCs? I've used several different hard drives and it doesn't make a bit of difference in the noise level. I hear it as soon as I walk into the family room, whereas the Dell Zino is dead silent. I could never stand having a Tivo in the master bedroom for this very reason.

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makeMK is free while still in Beta. Although MakeMKV has been in beta for a while now. I've used it for some of my HD DVDs, but for my BDs I just create full BD ISOs with IMG Burn and Any DVD HD running in the background.
It seems like MakeMKV is perpetually in beta state. What's strange is that I have it installed on two different PCs so I could expedite the process of converting all of my ripped Blu-Rays and DVDs to mkv files. One PC is counting down the days as you would expect it to. The other one shows 30 days left in the trial even after using it for over three weeks.

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I used MyMovies with WMC and thought it was pretty good. The iPad app was cool to search through my collection and start playing on any extender in the house.

While this was cool, I found that we hardly would watch a movie in our collection. Our viewing habits are more wanting to watch new releases, so streaming from Amazon or renting from Redbox fits our needs right now.

I'm thinking of just adding a Blu-ray player too. Walking over to insert a disc sounds like blasphemy, but taking into consideration how often that would be makes it no big deal. I guess the simple solution is often the best solution.
If you only watch a movie occasionally then a standalone Blu-Ray player makes perfect sense. However, if you do watch a lot of movies like I do then a standalone player will drive you nuts. I have a standalone player that I've used exactly twice. I tried to get past the trailers and introductory crap and it would restart from the beginning of the disc if I tried to skip past any of it. Stripping out the extras leaves you with just the main movie, soundtracks, and subtitles of your choosing. When you start playing the movie you get just the movie.

I used to rip the movie with AnyDVD HD and then strip out the extras using Clown_BD but now I just rip it with MakeMKV on the fly and select only the items I want to keep. I could have done this with Clown_BD as well but some new releases would not decrypt properly so I'd rip them as iso's and wait for AnyDVD HD to issue an update that would work around the new encryption scheme. I don't have this issue with MakeMKV.

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Old 04-01-2012, 04:48 PM   #28
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So I actually am in this same boat as well. I used to have a S2 TiVo back in the day, then switched to Media Center. It was a big step up from the old interface as far as speed and such. But now my Media Center is failing, and so I gave the Premiere Elite a try and I'm really impressed. I like having the one box that kinda takes care of everything as opposed to the Media Center which always would reboot itself for updates, the resolution would go wonky at random, accidental presses of the power button on the remote would shut it off, it was noisy. Kinda the list goes on and on. The only two things I miss from MCE are the automatic commercial skipping (via ShowAnalyzer) and the stop button.

Is there any type of alternative to the stop button? Haha it's odd how much you miss that.
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:31 PM   #29
mr.unnatural
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When you say your Media Center is failing, are you referring to the hard drive or some other hardware issue with the PC? Wouldn't it be simpler just to install a new hard drive or upgrade the offending component?

Everything you mentioned as a problem is easily remedied with very minimal effort. You can turn off Windows Updates and just install the ones you want. There are lots of ways to make your PC quieter. Mine is way quieter than my Tivos. The resolution issue is probably a bad graphics driver or something related. I've seen that happen on my HTPC, but not since I switched to using an Intel CPU with integrated graphics. I think it only occurred when I had a flaky motherboard. I don't recall it happening on my discrete nVidia or ATi cards either.

PC hardware and software for Media Center PCs is extremely mature and far less buggy that it used to be. You might want to consider a newer Sandy Bridge CPU and motherboard if you ever change your mind.
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:41 PM   #30
Xab
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.unnatural View Post
When you say your Media Center is failing, are you referring to the hard drive or some other hardware issue with the PC? Wouldn't it be simpler just to install a new hard drive or upgrade the offending component?

Everything you mentioned as a problem is easily remedied with very minimal effort. You can turn off Windows Updates and just install the ones you want. There are lots of ways to make your PC quieter. Mine is way quieter than my Tivos. The resolution issue is probably a bad graphics driver or something related. I've seen that happen on my HTPC, but not since I switched to using an Intel CPU with integrated graphics. I think it only occurred when I had a flaky motherboard. I don't recall it happening on my discrete nVidia or ATi cards either.

PC hardware and software for Media Center PCs is extremely mature and far less buggy that it used to be. You might want to consider a newer Sandy Bridge CPU and motherboard if you ever change your mind.
The hard drive is failing, and the rest of the hardware is fairly outdated which is causing other problems. For one, I am really not a fan of the Ceton cards. I fail to get several channels (Comedy Central HD, Cartoon Network HD, MTV HD) for no reason at all with the HTPC. It simply says there's no signal. On the TiVo, these channels come in with no issue. To keep the HTPC viable, it will require basically a rebuild, as well as somehow getting the cable company out to troubleshoot why these channels don't work (they just blame the Ceton anyway). I'm not really prepared to invest hundreds more dollars in it when MS is making MCE a legacy product anyway.
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