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Old 12-28-2013, 11:10 AM   #1
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What is the difference between Tivo and Windows Media Center?

It's been a couple years since we've had one of these threads and the tech seems to have advanced a little bit.

I can't find much detailed information about Windows Media Center but here's what I've gathered:

1) You can buy a 6-tuner Cable Card / Tuning Adapter adapter for PCs now. Meanwhile Tivo Roamio also now supports 6 tuners.

2) Windows Media Center doesn't seem to charge for TV guide data-- is this true? It seems to get a 14-day feed just like Tivo.

3) Does Windows Media Center support Tivo-like Season Passes?

4) Roamio has new features for streaming Internet sources which probably has caught up to WMC and it's various plug-ins.

So-- in your opinion, what is the advantage of Tivo over WMC these days?
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:07 PM   #2
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Certain individuals bring this up within other threads over and over and over. So, you may want to search a bit if this thread does not gain steam quickly. However, my guess is that this will get rather large as fans of each platform push their positions.
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:47 PM   #3
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Biggest difference?
Windows Media Center is deprecated and will not get any additional development, it's a dead end, Tivo is continuing to innovate.

This coming from a user with both Tivo and WMC in the house, but that alone would stop me from investing in anything for the future involving WMC.
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Old 12-28-2013, 01:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtivouser View Post
It's been a couple years since we've had one of these threads and the tech seems to have advanced a little bit.

I can't find much detailed information about Windows Media Center but here's what I've gathered:

1) You can buy a 6-tuner Cable Card / Tuning Adapter adapter for PCs now. Meanwhile Tivo Roamio also now supports 6 tuners.
Unlike the latest crop of Tivos, you are not limited by the number of tuners you can use with Windows Media Center. You can mix and match ATSC, QAM, and digital cable tuners. WMC actually does limit you to four of each type, but there are add-on utilities that can expand this number. The current drivers for the Ceton tuners expand this to more than 30 tuners, IIRC. My current HTPC has access to 9 cablecard tuners and six ATSC tuners for OTA channels.

Quote:
2) Windows Media Center doesn't seem to charge for TV guide data-- is this true? It seems to get a 14-day feed just like Tivo.
This is correct. It tends to be more like 12 days of data, but there may be a few channels that have data extending to 14 days.

Quote:
3) Does Windows Media Center support Tivo-like Season Passes?
Yes. It also supports Wish Lists similar to Tivo.

Quote:
4) Roamio has new features for streaming Internet sources which probably has caught up to WMC and it's various plug-ins.

So-- in your opinion, what is the advantage of Tivo over WMC these days?
LOL, most people here already know I'm a fan of WMC so I tend to be a bit biased. Here's a few of the pros and cons for each platform, but there are many more to be sure. Keep in mind that the last Tivo I owned was the original series 3 so I'm not up to speed on all the latest features.

Tivo -

pros: Out-of-the-box appliance that requires virtually no expertise to set up and use. Excellent search features. This is the DVR you buy for your Grandmother to use.

cons: Either OTA or digital cable recording with the Roamio, but not both at the same time. (The Roamio Plus and the Roamio Pro DO NOT support OTA.) The Premiere has separate inputs for both OTA and digital cable and can record from either source simultaneously, as does the Tivo Series 3 and the Tivo HD. The Premiere 4 and 4XL are digital cable only. Cost per tuner can get quite high compared to WMC and a single HTPC when factoring in lifetime service (i.e., additional Tivo tuners require the purchase of a complete Tivo and lifetime service whereas all you need to upgrade a HTPC is just buying more tuners). Tivo cannot be repurposed if you stop using it as a DVR or tuner.

WMC PC -

pros - No monthly fees for service or guide data. Features are only limited by your budget and/or imagination. Has far more functionality than a Tivo, such as Blu-Ray playback and additional streaming services not included with Tivo. Cost per tuner goes way down after the initial startup cost. Additional features or tuners cost only as much as the hardware or software being added (most software add-ons for WMC are free, but there are a few exceptions). HTPC can still be used as a PC if you ever decide to stop using it as a HTPC. Only minimal PC expertise is required to set up Windows Media Center as a DVR (if you can install a hard drive or hardware drivers you can easily set up WMC). My HTPCs have been running non-stop for several years with no problems. I just retired two of my older HTPCs that I used as satellite PCs for watching TV and streaming movies from my server. They were both replaced with Intel NUC PCs, which only measure about 4.5" x 4.5" x 1.4". I've attached photos of the NUC. It's the small box to the right of the TV.

cons - Initial cost can be higher than a Tivo if limited to just a few tuners. Additional features may require a higher skill level to install and configure, but there are lots of tutorials and helpful forums similar to the TCF. Hardware and/or software mismatches can cause problems with WMC in some instances. This is something that's geared more to someone that doesn't mind tinkering with PCs, if the need arises.

As mentioned by dianebrat, support for WMC has been discontinued and there will be no further development. It is still available with Windows 8 and 8.1 (Pro version only) as an add-on for $10, but it comes free with every version of Windows 7 except Home Basic. Aside from the basic functionality of WMC, most of the important developments have come from outside sources, so the lack of support from Microsoft is pretty much a moot point. As long as Microsoft continues to provide guide data, WMC will be alive and well for many years to come. Even if guide data is no longer available from Microsoft, there are third party providers that can supply guide data at a minimal cost. Companies like SiliconDust and Ceton are still developing products for WMC, so it's pretty clear that they expect it to be a viable product for the foreseeable future.

This barely scratches the surface of each platform, but I tried to cover the major items. No doubt others will chime in to flesh out the list on both sides.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg NUC.jpg (32.6 KB, 100 views)
File Type: jpg NUC_Closeup.jpg (42.4 KB, 96 views)

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Old 12-28-2013, 01:59 PM   #5
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There you go. No need to search.
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:58 AM   #6
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Tivo -


cons: No OTA recording with the latest models.
Not going to argue with the rest of your opinion even though I disagree with much of it. But the statement above, intended to be presented as fact, not opinion is flat out wrong. Roamio supports 4 OTA tuners and with alacarte options, can support the features of the higher priced models including drive space, MOCA and streaming.
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:59 AM   #7
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If you go back and look you'll see that I mentioned I'm only familiar with Tivos up to the original series 3. I am vaguely familiar with features included on Tivos newer than that. I welcome any corrections or additions to my post if I said anything in error.

You're certainly free to disagree with anything I post, but it would be helpful to anyone reading if you could qualify that response and provide a rationale as to why you disagree. If some of the facts I presented are in error, please be so kind as to let us know why they are incorrect. OTOH, I think I pretty much covered any caveats or pitfalls anyone would encounter with a WMC PC so I'm not sure exactly what you're disagreeing with. If I left something out, by all means add anything to the discussion that you feel needs correcting.

However, looking at the Tivo website, it says the Roamio can support digital cable or HD antenna. Looking at the rear panel connections, it's pretty clear that the Roamio can only support one or the other and not both at the same time since it only provides a single coax input. A digital DVR should be able to support both at the same time, IMHO. This is one area I see as a major flaw in the current Tivo's design.

Neither the Roamio Plus or the Roamio Pro support OTA. I believe they are two of the latest model Tivos, so my statement was mostly correct. I had thought these two models were introduced a bit later than the 4-tuner Roamio, but a press release I found announced all three models at the same time. A WMC PC has no problems mixing both OTA and digital cable on the same PC. I have amended the statement you indicated with the actual facts from the Tivo website.

While much of my post may be considered opinion as opposed to actual fact, it is mostly based on personal experience with building and using numerous HTPCs over the past 6 or 7 years and also using and modifying Tivos from the very first model up to the Series 3, spanning well over a decade. I used Windows XP with BeyondTV for several years prior to the release of Windows 7 and the Ceton cablecard tuners. I have literally built dozens of WMC PCs since the release of Windows 7 and they all work quite well.

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Old 12-29-2013, 09:38 AM   #8
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I have had a series 1, a series 2, a series 2 DT, an HD, and a Premiere 4. I am currently only using the HD and Premiere. So I have a lot of experience with Tivo.

I also have an HTPC with Win 7, a Ceton 4 tuner USB, TWC, and a Tuning Adapter, for about 2 years. So a fair amount of experience with that.

I agree with most of what mr unnatural says about WMC, and I would add that I really like the capability of fast forwarding by one speed and still get intelligible audio. It works out to something like where I can watch a 1 hour show in 40 minutes on a Tivo, I can watch it in 30 minutes if I desire on WMC. Works well for talk shows - haven't used it for regular programming (except TAR).

Having said that, I don't have the same reliability, and I think it's due to the TA. Occasionally, maybe once a month, things just stop working and I have to work to get it back. Sometimes it's just restarting the TA. Sometimes I have to power down the Ceton. Sometimes it's 2 minutes. Sometimes it's 1/2 an hour to get things working. I have been away and come back to find a week didn't record. As such, I use it for a second source, not as my primary recorder. I still like it, I'm not going to get rid of it, since it also acts as my media server for my movies. I just can't depend solely on it. I blame TWC and their stupid SDV requiring a TA, but I'm not positive. At the end of the day it doesn't matter, but it is frustrating.

ETA: I've had some flaky things happen with the Premiere 4 also. I don't think Tivo is as rock solid as they used to be, but the overall reliability is better for me than WMC and a fix is usually just a reboot. Less technical ability required, in general.

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Old 12-29-2013, 09:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by mr.unnatural View Post
IIRC, models later than the Tivo HD and prior to the Roamio did not support OTA recording, but please correct me if I am mistaken.
OK.

The "models later than the Tivo HD and prior to the Roamio" is the Premiere line.

The original Premiere (at first, came with a 320 GB drive, later came with a 500 GB drive) and the Premiere XL (1 TB drive) have two tuners and are capable of tuning cable and OTA simultaneously,
while the Premiere 4 and Premiere 4XL have 4 tuners and are cable only.
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:24 AM   #10
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You must have posted this while I was correcting my original post on this. I went back and researched it a bit more and made corrections based on jcthorne's comment. I have also clarified the comment with regards to the Premiere 4 and 4XL. Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by WO312 View Post
I have had a series 1, a series 2, a series 2 DT, an HD, and a Premiere 4. I am currently only using the HD and Premiere. So I have a lot of experience with Tivo.

I also have an HTPC with Win 7, a Ceton 4 tuner USB, TWC, and a Tuning Adapter, for about 2 years. So a fair amount of experience with that.

I agree with most of what mr unnatural says about WMC, and I would add that I really like the capability of fast forwarding by one speed and still get intelligible audio. It works out to something like where I can watch a 1 hour show in 40 minutes on a Tivo, I can watch it in 30 minutes if I desire on WMC. Works well for talk shows - haven't used it for regular programming (except TAR).

Having said that, I don't have the same reliability, and I think it's due to the TA. Occasionally, maybe once a month, things just stop working and I have to work to get it back. Sometimes it's just restarting the TA. Sometimes I have to power down the Ceton. Sometimes it's 2 minutes. Sometimes it's 1/2 an hour to get things working. I have been away and come back to find a week didn't record. As such, I use it for a second source, not as my primary recorder. I still like it, I'm not going to get rid of it, since it also acts as my media server for my movies. I just can't depend solely on it. I blame TWC and their stupid SDV requiring a TA, but I'm not positive. At the end of the day it doesn't matter, but it is frustrating.

ETA: I've had some flaky things happen with the Premiere 4 also. I don't think Tivo is as rock solid as they used to be, but the overall reliability is better for me than WMC and a fix is usually just a reboot. Less technical ability required, in general.
I've been fortunate that I've never had to deal with Tuning Adapters and SDV. I'm also fortunate that I'm on FIOS. I have no doubt that using a TA can throw a monkey wrench into any setup, and a HTPC is no exception. This is probably a situation where a Tivo may be more stable and probably more desirable.

I was a huge fan of Tivo for over a decade and I still think it's the best turnkey commercially available DVR on the market. If you're not adventurous and don't like to tinker, then Tivo is by far your best option. What's funny is that the ability to hack a Tivo and upgrade it is what attracted me to it in the first place. The latest models aren't quite as amenable to hacking, although with the latest feature set it's not as desirable or necessary as it once was.

My main beef with Tivo, aside from the service fees that seem to escalate with each new model, is that I don't like being locked into a fixed platform. Tivo is still making headway with new features, but you usually have to buy a new Tivo to get them. With a HTPC, you can usually install a new piece of hardware or software to get a lot more functionality. I also like that I don't have to switch between Tivos or other audio or video components anymore. Everything I access in my Home Theater is available through my HTPC.

But just to be perfectly clear, a HTPC is more of a niche device that's geared towards the hobbyist and not someone that wants an appliance. HTPCs may or may not require a bit of tinkering and TLC that Tivos do not need. However, HTPCs can be configured to work just as well and as reliably as any Tivo. I've got a set formula for setting up a HTPC that just plain works and requires no tinkering over and above installing monthly Windows updates.

This is basically all I do:

1. Install Windows.
2. Install all drivers for the motherboard, chipset, graphics, HD audio, etc.
3. Install all Windows updates until they are current.
4. Install tuners and associated drivers.
5. Install any additional hardware, drivers, codecs (I use Shark007 with the recommended settings), and software.
6. Configure tuners, if required, prior to running WMC setup (the SiliconDust and Ceton InfiniTV tuners require this). It's also a good idea to update drivers and firmware to the latest versions.
7. Run WMC initial setup.
8. Run the Digital Cable Advisor if using a cablecard tuner (this MUST be done prior to setting up a cablecard tuner in WMC).
9. Run the TV signal setup in WMC (this discovers the tuners and configures them for use in WMC and also designates your provider and zip code for guide data).
10. Run any additional setup for Recorder Storage, speakers, monitor type, Media Libraries, etc.
11. Enjoy!

I forgot to mention that you'll also need to activate a cablecard at some point during the process. There is actually a step during the TV signal setup that tells you to activate the cablecard, but it can be done at any time before or after setup.

Edit: A couple of additional notes. I download and install Microsoft Security Essentials. It's free and doesn't interfere with Media Center like some AV programs tend to do (Kaspersky wreaks havoc with WMC). Once you've got everything set up, the guide data is populated, and you've scheduled all of your recordings, run a Windows backup. I prefer creating a backup image and storing it on a separate drive. This allows you to do a complete restore of your system if something gets hosed.

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Old 12-29-2013, 02:07 PM   #12
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Tivo

The main advantage that I have with the Tivo is that it is easy to set up, doesn't use that much power, doesn't make noise, and updates itself.
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Old 12-29-2013, 03:03 PM   #13
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The main advantage that I have with the Tivo is that it is easy to set up, doesn't use that much power, doesn't make noise, and updates itself.
Your Tivos must be quieter than mine. I have never owned a Tivo where the drive didn't seek constantly. I could never have one in my bedroom for all the noise they make. My NUCs are almost dead silent. You can't turn off the buffers on a Tivo so it's always recording something. You can try tuning it to a non-channel, but that's not exactly foolproof. With WMC, I hit the STOP button on the remote and it stops buffering live TV. The NUC also uses a SSD so there's no drive noise. The only noise it makes is from a small fan under the mainboard, and you have to get up close to it before you can hear it.

I can configure Windows to update automatically, but I prefer to pick and choose which updates to install. Tivo doesn't give you the option. I prefer to have some control over what gets installed.

A PC is going to use more power, but if you combine all of the individual components that you'd need to provide the same functionality (i.e., multiple Tivos, Blu-Ray player, etc.) the overall energy usage would probably be pretty close. I haven't put a Kill-O-Watt meter on my NUCs yet, but I'd wager they probably use about the same energy as a Tivo. The power supply is rated at 19V, 65W, but actual usage is reported to be less than half that. To be fair, I have to use external tuners and an external hard drive with the NUC so there is more energy being used by other devices that work with it. The current generation Haswell-based NUCs are supposed to use even less energy than mine.

Did I mention that the NUC boots into WMC in only about 15 seconds? Ridiculously long boot times are one thing I don't miss about my Tivos. I use SSDs for the OS in all of my PCs and the boot times are extremely fast.

WMC setup is on a par with setting up a Tivo. You follow a series of onscreen prompts and do what it says. There's really not a lot of difference other than setting up some additional features in WMC. There are other setups that can get more involved, but that's mainly for advanced features and add-ons.

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Old 12-29-2013, 07:22 PM   #14
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Ah, I didn't even stop to consider that a WMC (HTPC) replaces not only the Roamio, but the Blu-Ray player and even the Apple TV too.
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Old 12-30-2013, 12:08 AM   #15
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Your Tivos must be quieter than mine. I have never owned a Tivo where the drive didn't seek constantly. I could never have one in my bedroom for all the noise they make. My NUCs are almost dead silent. You can't turn off the buffers on a Tivo so it's always recording something. You can try tuning it to a non-channel, but that's not exactly foolproof. With WMC, I hit the STOP button on the remote and it stops buffering live TV. The NUC also uses a SSD so there's no drive noise. The only noise it makes is from a small fan under the mainboard, and you have to get up close to it before you can hear it.
For a quiet bedroom experience, a TiVo Mini might make more sense for someone invested in the TiVo infrastracture.

The Intel NUCs look interesting. How much of an investment did you make for each NUC including SSD + whatever else might be needed?
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Old 12-30-2013, 08:03 AM   #16
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I have two different NUC models, both with the CORE i3 3217 CPU. One model is the DC3217IYE, which I purchased used on ebay for about $200 (I think this was actually an open box unit as everything in the box was still sealed). This model has two HDMI outputs, three USB 2.0 connectors, and a gigabit Ethernet port. I bought two used 4GB DDR3 1600 SODIMMs on ebay for about $30 apiece on ebay and a 64GB MyDigitalSSD from Amazon for about $60. Total was about $320.

The 2nd model is a DC3217BY, which is basically the same except that it only has a single HDMI output, a Thunderbolt display port, and no Ethernet port. I purchased this new from nextwarehouse.com for $168. Newegg had a sale on a pair of 4GB G.Skill DDR3 1600 SODIMMs for $50 a few weeks ago so I picked up a set. The hard drive is a Plextor mSATA SSD from Adorama for about $74. I also picked up a Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet adapter on ebay for about $27, although I could have probably used a USB 2.0 Gigabit adapter for about half the cost. Total cost for this setup was about $320 as well. I could have trimmed the cost a bit by going with the MyDigitalSSD and USB Ethernet adapter for a total cost under $300.

I'm using a Lenovo 5902 keyboard/thumbpad remote with each NUC for keyboard input and mouse control if I need to do anything on the Windows desktop (the small blue dongle plugged into the front USB port shown in the photos I posted previously is the receiver for the 5902). I bought these a while back for about $25 each from Lenovo and they go on sale quite often. They lack function keys so I need to use a standard USB keyboard if I need to get into the BIOS. For WMC control, I use the HP WMC remote and IR receiver. You can find them on ebay for about $15-20 for the set. The HP IR receiver is very popular among WMC users, but any cheap WMC remote and receiver will work.

I added a 60GB 2.5" laptop drive to each NUC along with an external USB hub. The drives were only $25 each. In installed each one in an extruded aluminum case at about $5 each. They require two USB ports to provide signal interface and power, hence the need for the external USB hub. The drives are there just in case anyone wants to record a program via the NUC. I just tuck the drive and the hub out of sight.

For tuners, I use a SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime triple cablecard networked tuner for FIOS channels. These are currently selling for about $99. I also use a HDHomeRun Dual ATSC networked tuner for OTA channels. They routinely sell for about $59. Since they're networked, they can be used by any PC that has the SiliconDust software installed.

I have a server that has about 30TB of storage and counting. I have over 900 movies ripped from Blu-Rays and DVDs as well as numerous TV shows, concert videos, and miscellaneous videos. I can stream them to any PC in the house. All of the movies have been ripped and converted to mkv files and I use XBMC to play them back on the NUCs and other PCs in the house. They are in 1080p with full HD audio intact.

Either of these NUCs could easily be used as a primary HTPC with the additional of a larger external drive. The CORE i3 processor is more than powerful enough and even the Celeron 847 model has been reported to work quite well. There is also a CORE i5 model, but I see that as overkill for a HTPC. The latest generation uses the Haswell processors and are supposed to be more energy efficient.

I forgot to mention that the NUC power bricks do not come with a power cable. You need to pick up a power cable with the Mickey Mouse ear plug on the end. similar to what most laptops use. The idea behind this was that you can pick up the power cable that works on your particular power grid anywhere in the world. They're typically available on ebay for about $3-5. The newer Haswell models do come with the cable as many people complained about the lack thereof.

Note that I already had the HP remotes with IR receivers, Lenovo keyboard/thumbpad remotes, and SiliconDust networked tuners. All of these devices were used by the HTPCs that were replaced by the NUCs. This is but another example how you can repurpose hardware with a HTPC setup. With a Tivo, about the only thing you can use is the remote and hard drive, although if you plan on selling the Tivo you'll need to include both with the unit.

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Old 12-30-2013, 10:24 AM   #17
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For just a plug & Play operation TiVo is by far the best solution, for people who like to get into things WMC may be a great solution, but it not as family friendly as TiVo.
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Old 12-30-2013, 11:53 AM   #18
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For just a plug & Play operation TiVo is by far the best solution, for people who like to get into things WMC may be a great solution, but it not as family friendly as TiVo.
Agreed. The plug and play feature was implied under the "pros" list for Tivo.

WMC is family friendly as long as it behaves. This is not something you put together and give to someone to use that isn't tech savvy to a certain degree. As outlined previously, I don't pull any rabbits out of a hat to build a WMC PC and they've all been pretty stable. OTOH, they're PCs and are inherent of any glitches or pitfalls that can cause havoc on any PC. I've found that if you don't use them for internet access other than obtaining updates and drivers, they tend to be rather trouble-free. The trick is to keep the setup as simple as possible and you won't suffer any major headaches.

My wife and son use the two NUCs on a daily basis and the only time I see any issues is when they use XBMC for movie playback. I have an integration app that lets me execute XBMC from within Media Center. When I exit XBMC I am returned to the WMC main menu. However, for some strange reason, the menu won't respond to the remote. If I use the Lenovo keyboard/thumbpad remote and click on a menu item, the WMC remote will then control the menu functions. XBMC is actually a standalone application so I think what's happening is that the cursor/remote is still active in the XBMC window and the only way to regain remote control in WMC is to make the cursor active in that window. This is one of those advanced features I'm referring to so anyone just using WMC shouldn't experience these issues.

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Old 12-30-2013, 12:06 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by mr.unnatural View Post
Your Tivos must be quieter than mine. I have never owned a Tivo where the drive didn't seek constantly. I could never have one in my bedroom for all the noise they make.
I am puzzled by this comment as all my TiVos have been completely silent. They are located in my bedroom approx. 12 ft from my headboard in a "media armoire" if you remember those from the 90s and at no time do I recall hearing them at all except for intentional noise. Sounds like you had a lemon of some sort- but certainly not like anything I ever owned.

Part of the reason I know this is once when my Series 2 froze up I went right up to listen to it because I wanted to hear the hard drive run and my wife made fun of me about it- I couldn't hear anything.
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Old 12-30-2013, 12:14 PM   #20
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Like many people my interest is in purchasing a fully-functioning plug n play HTPC that I can use as a 6-12TB media center. I want to keep subscribing to shows while having the full range of expandability with a NAS, preferably RAID-5, and a place to dump what are approx. 400 DVD-Rs of shows I taped off TV in the 1980s and converted to DVD 10 years ago. I'd buy the top of the line TiVo from Weaknees if it meant I could move my files onto it.

I don't really have the free time to build one, but Assassin HTPC and others end up in the $3k range when I spec them out...
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Old 12-30-2013, 12:14 PM   #21
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Like many people my interest is in purchasing a fully-functioning plug n play HTPC that I can use as a 6-12TB media center. I want to keep subscribing to shows while having the full range of expandability with a NAS, preferably RAID-5, and a place to dump what are approx. 400 DVD-Rs of shows I taped off TV in the 1980s and converted to DVD 10 years ago. I'd buy the top of the line TiVo from Weaknees if it meant I could move my files onto it.

I don't really have the free time to build one, but Assassin HTPC and others end up in the $3k range when I spec them out...
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Old 12-30-2013, 01:20 PM   #22
mr.unnatural
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonWidmore View Post
I am puzzled by this comment as all my TiVos have been completely silent. They are located in my bedroom approx. 12 ft from my headboard in a "media armoire" if you remember those from the 90s and at no time do I recall hearing them at all except for intentional noise. Sounds like you had a lemon of some sort- but certainly not like anything I ever owned.

Part of the reason I know this is once when my Series 2 froze up I went right up to listen to it because I wanted to hear the hard drive run and my wife made fun of me about it- I couldn't hear anything.
There is no such thing as a completely silent Tivo unless you replace the hard drives with SSDs and use large heat sinks instead of fans. There will always be some noise generated by a Tivo, regardless of the model. Some are just noisier than others.

I've upgraded every Tivo that's come into my possession with aftermarket drives so perhaps the drives I've used in some instances were noisier than others. Even so, I do recall stock drives being every bit as noisy. The noise wasn't always consistent and I suspect it was noisiest when taking an update or downloading data while buffering live TV. With dual tuners, the heads would be buffering two separate TV streams, causing the heads to jump between different sectors of the drive platters. This will generate noise on any spinning hard drive.

The last Tivo I owned was a series 3 that resided in a TV stand in my family room. I could hear the drive clacking from across the room. I believe it had a 750GB drive, but I don't recall exactly as I upgraded it several years ago.

Did your "media armoire" have closed doors? If so, that would be enough to muffle the sound of the drives.

Assassin HTPCs can get a bit pricey, but he builds a quality product that should be relatively trouble-free. He also provides service after the sale and a warranty, IIRC. There are enough tutorials and recommended hardware configurations available that would allow you to build a perfectly fine HTPC. In fact, Assassin has a website with everything you need to know and it's now free to anyone: assassinhtpcblog.com

Hardware RAID is really not the best solution as a media server, nor is it the most cost effective. There are several software RAID solutions that would be better suited for the task. FlexRAID, unRAID, and SnapRAID are three of the most popular software RAID programs. Assassin has a website dedicated to these types of servers that is also free: assassinserver.com

FWIW, I can build a HTPC from scratch and have it up and running in about four hours. Most of that time is due to downloading Windows updates and I usually find other things to do while this is going on. I just start the update process and come back and check it later. Putting the hardware together only takes about 30 minutes or so, depending on your configuration. If you've already got a Windows 7 PC up and running it's only a matter of installing the tuners and drivers and then running WMC setup, which can all be done in less than an hour.

My very first Tivo standalone (Philips HDR-112) took about three hours to run setup. Obviously, they have streamlined the setup process considerably over the years.

Last edited by mr.unnatural : 12-30-2013 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 12-30-2013, 08:56 PM   #23
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Thanks for the tip on Assassin! I've ordered the Ceton 6-tuner device to try it out on my main PC. With good results, I am going to assemble an HTPC.
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Old 12-30-2013, 09:43 PM   #24
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I got the Ceton 6 tuner back after it was released, and I'm really impressed with it. I replaced the 4 tuner with the 6, and I didnt go all out on mine like most do. I put it in a Dell Optiplex 755 with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 and it doesnt miss a beat. I have an SSD for the OS, and 2 WD20EURS drives for storage. I really think you will be happy with it. I plan on one day making one of the nicer ones, but I just never have yet.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:23 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by dtivouser View Post
Thanks for the tip on Assassin! I've ordered the Ceton 6-tuner device to try it out on my main PC. With good results, I am going to assemble an HTPC.
No problem. I also have an InfiniTV 6 that recently replaced two InfiniTV 4's in my main HTPC. I pre-ordered my first InfiniTV 4 five months before it was actually released and got one from the very first production batch. I paid $399 for it and still believe it was the best $400 I ever spent. Here's some other HTPC sites you might want to take a look at:

http://www.thegreenbutton.tv/forums/ - Premiere site for Windows Media Center. You'll also find support for the Ceton tuners here.

http://www.avsforum.com/f/26/home-theater-computers - Forum that discusses anything HTPC related

http://www.missingremote.com/ - Great source for HTPC news, topics, and tutorials

http://www.hack7mc.com/ - Everything you wanted to know about hacking Windows Media Center
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:06 PM   #26
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yeah..windows media center is done. There will be no more innovation
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:17 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by jbluemke View Post
yeah..windows media center is done. There will be no more innovation
As indicated in a previous post, most of the innovations for WMC have come from third parties. The fact that Microsoft has abandoned any further development is completely irrelevant to most WMC users. WMC will survive as long as guide data is available from either Microsoft or other sources. I can easily see WMC in use a decade from now.

FWIW, Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP and older OSes, yet I know a lot of people that are still using Windows 98, 2000, and XP. There is absolutely no reason to believe that WMC is even remotely done in the foreseeable future. As long as it still runs on your existing hardware, you can keep any system going indefinitely.

Tivo has abandoned support for older platforms. According to your standards they are now useless. I think a lot of owners of these older platforms would tend to disagree with your assessment.
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Old 01-03-2014, 05:40 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by mr.unnatural View Post
WMC will survive as long as guide data is available from either Microsoft or other sources. I can easily see WMC in use a decade from now.
This is the key issue. How long will Microsoft keep guide data alive? I think it is longer now then it might have been because I have a feeling the OneGuide in Xbox One uses a close relation (if not identical) guide data feed as WMC. Xbox One is going to be around for a while.

Also I am inclined to believe that people will have Windows 7 running for as long if not longer than XP has lived (12 years) and WMC in 8/8.1 isn't broken per-se just not as fully supported by third party apps. It isn't guaranteed that WMC won't live on in Windows 9 it just won't have any new features.

In my previous house I had Series 3 for my wife to use primarily for ease of use and reliability and then a WMC in home theater for expandability and other uses. I will agree with almost every Mr. Unnatural has said and WMC still has its place for sure but I am going to buy Roamio today to replace my Series 3 since I just want a simple 6-tuner device and I think I will survive with 3 TB for a while.
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:09 AM   #29
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It's pretty certain that Media Center won't be part of the next Windows release. Then again, who's to say they won't continue to offer it as an add-on (I'm not holding my breath on that one)?

There are third party providers for guide data used in other media center software apps, such as Media Portal and SageTV. Most of these sources can be used with Windows Media Center as well. Even if Microsoft stops providing guide data it should be available from other sources, albeit for a modest fee.
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Old 01-05-2014, 01:10 AM   #30
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Exclamation

Biggest advantage for Tivo over Media Center? It Just Works (tm)

That's it. If you enjoy caring and feeding for science projects, by all means geek out with Windows media center. If you are willing to tinker, it can be quite satisfying. But for the first time, with the Roamio finally delivering on excellent performance and UI responsiveness, I can unequivocally say that for me there is absolutely NO benefit of WMC over a Lifetime subbed Tivo. None - indeed, only negatives. I don't miss my WMC at all.

EDIT: And with streaming services being so prevalent, the need to have terabytes of shows hanging around isn't nearly as appealing as it once was. I do have my movies ripped to my home server and serve them up from there.
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Tivo Roamio and Tivo Mini - woot!
Tivo Premiere - probably to be replaced by another Mini
Series 3 - On the way out the door
Tivo HD - On the way out the door
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