Topfield / Toppy users - is it better than Tivo or a Media Centre?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series 1 - UK' started by childe, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. Automan

    Automan Ex TiVo User

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    If you have MCE and Sky is there a solution for Sky's movie channels pin number request?

    Also does widescreen switching work?

    Automan
     
  2. Sneals2000

    Sneals2000 New Member

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    There is no widescreen switching if you use the official external Sky box + Composite/S-video analogue capture solution and have a 16:9 display - there is no Pin 8 interface that I know of nor any means for MCE to detect it (though someone could design a nice RGB hardware capture card that incorporated it - they haven't). (Obviously the Sky box output can be configured to switch between 4:3 and 4:3 with 16:9 letterbox if you have a 4:3 display - so this isn't an issue for 4:3 users?)

    However if you use the very unofficial - PC Satellite card with Conditional Access Module and Sky subscription, with unofficial DVB-S drivers that pretend to be a DVB-T card and fool Media Center, a long with the registry hack to get the EPG to work, then I see no reason why aspect switching shouldn't work as well as it does for Freeview (which is pretty good)

    I don't think there is a PIN number workaround for the former (in fact I'm pretty certain there isn't) - though the latter has no way to prompt for a PIN in the first place so it may not be an issue (I think PIN protection is implemented by receiver and EPG not encryption - so if you aren't using a Sky receiver, just a reverse engineered version of the Sky conditional access system it may be a solution)

    NB - the unofficial route is not for the faint hearted (I haven't tried it yet) - and could stop working at any time. Whether it is illegal is less clear - as you are still paying a Sky subscription.
     
  3. Sneals2000

    Sneals2000 New Member

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    Yep Apple TV has HDMI and Component (but no RGB or Composite/S-video) outputs, along with SPDIF audio. It has been hacked pretty effectively - you can run Mac OSX on it if you like, and it has quite a powerful video card integrated into it (well more powerful than the MacMini's) Integrated Wifi, Ethernet and a single USB port, combined with 40/160Gb internal storage (and this can be expanded very easily)

    It is small, neat, and quiet.

    Codec support for Divx is pretty easy to add - and the integration with iTunes out of the box for audio playback is fantastic - particularly with Cover Flow album art - and it is pretty speedy and much easier to use than many other extenders. (Odd that it doesn't support iTunes radio stations out of the box though) (Hopefully Leopard will move all Macs to have this rather than the current basic Frontrow front-end)

    Haven't seen many people use it as a streaming client (say as a front end for Myth TV) - though there should be no reason why it shouldn't work.
     
  4. Dazbear

    Dazbear New Member

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    Aug 24, 2001
    London UK
    Hi there

    Moved from TiVo to Toppy around 4 months ago and wouldnt look back. Improved picture quality, twin tuners, easy pc-toppy interfae, no sub and TAPS (My Stuff 5.5) allow for series links to be set up etc which I find more reliable that TiVos.

    TiVo served me well, but was time to move on.
     
  5. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    But don't I seem to recall Daz that your Tivo was a totally unmodified model with no enlarged hard drive or network card, Tivoweb etc, etc.

    There seem to be a lot of other reports that the My Stuff TAPS on Topfields are in fact fairly buggy and unreliable.
     
  6. Dazbear

    Dazbear New Member

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    London UK

    I can only comment on my experience and have found My Stuff to be rock solid (we are on V5.5 now - think the issues lay in the very early editions). My TiVo was unmodified, but personally for me (at this stage after 5 years) upgrading TiVo would have cost more than buying a Toppy - in that case dual tuner and the recording of direct digital signal swung it for me. Also, you may remember I was paying monthly sub - I know I am one of the few!

    The thumbs up/down thing never did it for me - most of the time suggesting programmes from CBBC - says a lot about me I suppose - hehe. MyStuff gives (IMO) the same Wishlist functionality based on keywords as well as series links, so I am happy. There are a myriad of TAPs to play with, so for peple who like to fiddle Toppy has a lot to offer.

    As I say, it will be down to personal preference. If another TiVo had been on the market I would have gone with one.
     
  7. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    Daz,

    I think if there was a Freesat Toppy then things might get more interesting but I am not very keen on spending a lot of money on a Freeview only DTT box when my expectation is that Freeview will soon only get FTA channels from BBC, ITV, C4 and Five with Murdoch gradually sweeping up the rest in his DTT pay tv Picnic service (for which you will need one of his proprietary boxes).

    It still seems to me that two or three years down the road my interests lie in a new large widescreen HDTV on which I can actually watch some form of HD picture. Sadly it seems this will not be the case on Freeview so hence again I will take more interest in the development of BBC Freesat with its greater choice of free channels.

    Also I like news channels. Soon there will be only BBC News 24 on Freeview whereas one has Bloomberg, CNN, Euronews, AlJazeerah International, France 24 and Russia Today on Freesat even if Sky remove Sky News (which they may not remove for a Freesat viewer via a Sky box with an FTV card like me).

    So in my view Freeview in the long term is going to be a medium with very limited channel choice and hence not wanting to go down that road. I see no reason why there will probably not be a Toppy supporting the BBC Freesat service next year.
     
  8. terryeden

    terryeden TiVo, Tivum, Tiva,

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    Surrey
    Is there a web interface for the Toppy?
     
  9. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    Is that a rehetorical question by any chance Terry?;):p

    Also I wonder if a Toppy has an interface you can access via a mobile phone like xtivoweb?
     
  10. terryeden

    terryeden TiVo, Tivum, Tiva,

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    Nov 2, 2002
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    It was not.

    Nevermind - it apears there is, there's information and a demo at
    http://topfield.qmtech.com/

    There is a TAP to allow you to send commands via SMS. Looking at some of the TAPs, it shouldn't be beyond the wit of man to generate an xhtml-mp site.

    It even looks like the new version implements FreeView Playback v2 - which should mean better series links. http://www.toppy.org.uk/static/DTGplayback.shtml

    Hmmmm hackable, dual tuners, web accessible, lossless recording, hdmi, regularly updated software, series links...

    Dear Santa....
     
  11. Dazbear

    Dazbear New Member

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    Aug 24, 2001
    London UK
    Yes to both web interface and mobile access. You can also network via wifi as it has a port for a standard laptop wireless card as standard. Direst PC interface is easy via USB.

    Toppy are just about to release a HD version too.
     
  12. johala_reewi

    johala_reewi New Member

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    Regularly updated software can be a curse as well as a blessing. Just ask Thomson owners who got lumbered with a buggy release recently. One of the nice things about the UK Tivo is that the base software doesn't change. However, should my Tivo die, a Toppy would be worth looking at.
     
  13. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    Strange as I didn't think there was due to be any HD on Freeview/DTT in the foreseeable future.

    I assume this is an EU or worldwide model for any countries that may be broadcasting in HD on DTT?

    I'm sure that a Topfield model as part of the BBC Freesat project is no doubt highly likely. Is this the one that will perhaps record in HD?
     
  14. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    Hmmm. I think there are a fair few who will disagree on that particular point.

    There are definitely still some unfixed bugs in the 2.5.5 Tivo software.

    For instance last night I was watching Long Way Round semi live 10 minutes or so behind the actual live recording but the program itself was being recorded by an SP. However about 10 minutes before the end of the recorded program Tivo gave a message saying it was going to chang to BBC1 to record The Blair Years and was that ok etc. But on looking at the Tivo there was no red recording light and Long Way Round had finished recording 10 minutes earlier.

    So I duly let Tivo change to record The Blair Years at which point Long Way Round stopped playing and I was dumped in to the start of The Blair Years recording. If I had told Tivo not to change to BBC1 then I assume it would not have recorded The Blair Years at all.

    Better executed software would simply have changed channel to BBC1 in the background to record and continued to let me watch Long Way Round to the end.

    Now the argument from those who will spring to Tivo's defence here will no doubt be that I was in effect watching the equivalent of the Live Buffer and that when a channel is changed the Live Buffer is cleared and this is why my viewing of Long Way Round had to be stopped and manually resumed. But I would argue that watching a recording live is not the same as watching the Live Buffer if it is not being recorded and that because the whole of that program had been recorded at the time when Tivo wanted to start recording The Blair Years it should have just changed channel in the background and let me watch to the end of Long Way Round. A small thing, not that bad etc but definitely scope for improvement along with an official Tivo version of Endpad etc.

    The Toppy does sound quite interesting now but the main thing against it is (a) That Freeview reception is still unacceptable in many areas of the UK and requires expensive £200+ aerial upgrades that even then may not be 100% successful and (b) BBC, ITV, C4 and Five seem to have their heart set on ensuring they control nearly all of Freeview to hang on to most of their previous non subscription fee minded audiences and the range of free channels on Freesat (including free HD channels) is likely to be much better and wider going fowards. Even the handful of Freeview channels not currently on Freesat will be free on Freesat by this time next year once BBC Freesat has launched.
     
  15. mikerr

    mikerr TiVoCentral.co.uk

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    I'm sure I've been in the same situation, and tivo did let me watch the end of my program. :confused:

    I remember being able to fast forward and rewind past the channel change, and thought it surprising...

    I do have a 3 hour bufffer though (and I thought you did too?)
     
  16. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    I also have a 3 hour buffer. However the behaviour you describe above only happens when the next program is not being recorded by the Tivo but the one you were watching and that is in the past was. Also don't forget the 3 hour live buffer doesn't exist when a program is recording. The buffer is instead the length of the recorded show.

    When Tivo has to record another show on a different channel and you are watching a show that was recording live but has now finished a while ago it behaves as described above.
     
  17. TCM2007

    TCM2007 Active Member

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    I'm sure there will be. Topfield make HD satellite receivers and satellite PVRs, although not as yet a HD satellite PVR. But I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

    I still don't think FreeSat will work on a large scale; all Murdoch has to do is waive the £10 Sky+ charge and you may as well get a box which can be upgraded to get Sky pay channels and which has an EPG for all the little FTA ones.
     
  18. TCM2007

    TCM2007 Active Member

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    I'm not sure I'd call that a bug as such; just a feature which doesn't work the way you'd prefer it to.

    The solution would have been to press the Record button, which would have dumped the programme you were watching into a recording and you could have carried on watching it.
     
  19. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    The flipside of that is that if Murdoch doesn't make you pay a subscription to have access to any Sky+ functionality (even on FTA and FTV channels) then a huge number of base level subscribers paying for only 2 to 6 Mixes may desubscribe entitrely. The only thing to stop that happening is his package deal including broadband some Mixes and sports channels. This is attractive financially in his bundled exchange areas but non existent outside them (accounting for the other 50% of UK homes).

    One irony of a successful takeoff in Freesat is that it may force Murdoch to produce a CAM for the Toppy and other similar PVRs and a very attractive initial subscription deal in order to bring back in to his pay tv net set top boxes that might otherwise remain completely outside it.

    I don't think Murdoch will bother with much of the above if he is allowed to have Sky Picnic on DTT. But if Picnic is turned down then Murdoch is going to mount a massive defensive move in the Freesat area to make it hard for the BBC to distribute many of their non Sky smartcard enabled boxes.

    Also in due course the marketability of Freeview vs Freesat is going to be hugely challenged once people realise they can only get FTA HD tv on satellite or cable. At that point a lot of current Freeviewers without any satellite dish planning issues may be willing to shell out the extra dosh to go down the FTA BBC satellite route. As soon as the message that satellite can be had without subscription becomes more widely broadcast FTA satellite will take off in a much bigger way.
     
  20. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    Hang on but the program I was watching was already recorded. So I don't understand why you suggest I would have benefitted from the provision of the additional option to press the Record button to dump it to disk as it was already stored on it.

    Surely in a situation where Tivo does not need to interrupt the viewer's existing watching to record the new program (this was the case here as the program I was watching was now a finished recording even though earlier on it had been a live recording) then it should have just started recording on BBC1 while leaving me still watching the recorded program on BBC2. There was no need for a warning message because no currently recording or being viewed program needed to be interrupted to start recording the new program.

    Instead of this I had to let it switch to BBC1 and start the new recording and then hit the Tivo button and start Long Way Down playing again in BBC2. Also as a result of this whole sequence of events Long Way Round had lost its place marker and I was forced to skip through it manually to the point where I had been watching Long Way Down before The Blair years started its recording.
     

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