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Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by mzegeek, Aug 15, 2016.
No e-peen action going on here, just trying to keep it real. As usual.
Wasn't a chicken little situation. Things really did go to hell. Nobody could have predicted EPG123 would come along and save the day. I wasn't going to wait around for a miracle. All I wanted to do was keep watching tv.
The only thing that happened was that the guide data looked like it was going to run out and leave everyone high and dry. This has happened several times before but it was always fixed at the last minute. I had enough faith that Microsoft would swoop in at the last minute again and get it working, just like they've always done. People were just getting antsy that this time it might not come back. If not now then the fear was that it could happen at anytime and that fear was fully justified. I was even looking into alternatives for WMC back then but could never find anything that wasn't vastly more complicated to set up and use, which would have been a hugely negative WAF and become unacceptable for use.
The Microsoft agreement clearly states that Microsoft could pull the plug on the guide data at any time and people just got tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop. A lot of people over at the Home Theater Computer subforum at the AVSForums indicated they bailed and switched to Tivo for this very reason so the Chicken Little reference is quite appropriate.
EPG123 wasn't the first alternative available to using guide data from Schedules Direct in WMC. It's just the first one that was sanctioned by Schedules Direct due to legal issues. BigScreenGlobal has been around for many years and does pretty much the same thing as EPG123, but it's much more complicated to set up and use.
You're right in that nobody saw EPG123 on the horizon. I've already got a lot invested in my HTPCs so I really didn't have much of a choice but to ride it out and hope for the best. I could have switched to Tivo without a lot of expense. I actually purchased six Roamio OTAs with lifetime for $300 apiece from Amazon, but opted to upgrade them and sell them on ebay at a profit rather than keep them. I did play with one for a bit after I upgraded it with a 4TB drive. It was pretty much what I remembered from when I had my S3 Tivos, although the UI had been updated a bit.
Right now it's just my wife and I in the house. We're finally empty nesters. She just wants something that allows her to watch TV while I like to record shows and watch movies and videos from my server. Wifey also wants access to kids shows that I have stored on my server when the grandkids are over. WMC and Kodi do everything I need them to do. While I do have the capability to record on every HTPC as well as share most of the recordings between them, it's not something I do very often. If my kids were still living at home then I'd probably go with a Tivo solution, but probably standalone Tivos in every room instead of Minis. One of the reasons I don't use extenders with WMC is that they're all dependent on the health of one HTPC. If it goes down then the rest of the house is SOL. Same goes for Tivo and the Minis. The main unit becomes the weak link in the chain. If it goes down then I've got a mutiny on my hands. Been there and it's not fun.
Tivos are great DVRs and I'd highly recommend them to anyone. I will, however, refute any claims people make that bash WMC just to prove some kind of point to support some kind of agenda in favor of Tivo. They are completely different, yet similar, devices aimed at two diverse markets. I don't blame anyone for switching to Tivo, but some of the excuses I hear are completely unjustified and unsubstantiated, if not downright lame. OTOH, if that's the way you feel about it then it is what it is.
Just note that anything I say in this forum is merely my own opinion, but I do attempt to back it up with facts whenever possible. If you can prove me wrong then I welcome the feedback. I don't know everything there is to know about Tivos or WMC so I enjoy being enlightened.
One can't draw conclusions based on (feature) check boxes. Rather you have to experience/judge the user experience. The user experience defines how well it addresses one's needs. As an example saying both offer Commercial Skip has no value. Only after using both and finding the user experience is completely different can one draw a conclusion.
In the world of DVRs you have users that fall into 3 basic categories.
The first group: They want an appliance setup and maintained by their provider
The second group: They still want an appliance but are willing to setup and maintain it themselves.
And the Third group: They don't need an appliance and are willing to setup and maintain a computer based DVR system.
If you are in the Third group a WMC system is workable. Otherwise it is not. It really is that simple.
For those who are able and willing to setup and maintain a WMC system, if it or a TiVo based system is better is a personal preference. I have had both, and recently upgraded my Windows 7 computer to windows 10 and disconnected the OTA tuners. For me a TiVo Bolt (or Roamio) are just to easy and work to well to make it worth messing with using the computer for a DVR anymore.
That's kind of the whole point here - can we tech-savvy users make WMC work? Sure, with more effort than is probably necessary on an ongoing basis, even moreso if you use extenders.
Will it be as seamless for everyone in the house as a Tivo+Minis in most cases? Hell no. Will it be cheaper than a Tivo+Minis in most cases? Again, no.
Therefore Tivo wins, UNLESS you must have some extra bell or whistle that only an HTPC provides (not WMC itself, which is inferior in almost every way to a Tivo setup for DVR functions alone).
I was wondering when someone was going to start up the "Tivo is superior" pissing contest. I won't get involved with that discussion, but I will pose a couple of questions to the Tivo aficionados here and you can decide for yourself what works best for you (of course we already know what that decision will be based on where we are, so it's not really a fair contest).
1. Can Tivo bitstream HD audio to a compatible AV receiver or preamp/processor?
2. Can Tivo do 7.1 audio?
3. Does Tivo support Dolby Atmos?
4. Does Tivo support 3D formats?
5. Does SkipMode work for all channels?
A properly configured HTPC can do all of the above. SkipMode will work with 100% accuracy, but only for the top 20 or so channels and it requires human intervention to properly map the commercials. That's a rather primitive method, albeit effective, for mapping commercials. I am curious about one thing, do any of the streaming services supported by Tivo offer any of the aforementioned audio formats? This is more of a curiosity than a feature comparison. I suppose it may be considered unnecessary if the services that Tivo supports don't provide audio in any of the aforementioned formats. The thing is, I use my HTPC to play Blu-Ray rips that do contain these audio formats. With a Tivo I'd need a standalone Blu-Ray player to give me these features.
I believe some of the streaming services support 4K. I am unsure what the current status is for 4K support on a HTPC, but I believe it is currently possible. EDIT: I just checked and HTPCs can do 4K with one of the newer graphics cards.
As for DVR functions on a Tivo being "superior" to WMC, I will only add the following. WMC allows me to set up series recordings (aka Season Passes). WMC will automatically re-record a program at the next available time if an error occurs that prevents the show from being recorded properly. I can pad my recordings both before and after and vary the length of the padding. I can set up a wishlist for future recordings. I have a search function that seems to work fairly well. EPG123 allows me to search via categories and locate premieres for any new or returning show. In other words, it's a full-featured DVR that works and works well. In fact, it does everything I ever used a Tivo for.
The only area I will concede where Tivo is clearly "superior" is with their search engine. It is more sophisticated and refined than WMC. Tivo is severely lacking as a Home Theater component for the way I use my HTPC. Aside from audio processing, input selection, and amplification, I only have one component in my system that does everything I want it to do - a HTPC. I just can't do the same things with a Tivo. That doesn't make it inferior, just inadequate for my needs. The things that you claim make a Tivo "superior" are mostly fluff and features I would never use. I just want a DVR that will record the shows I ask it to record. If the recording gets hosed it has enough sense to record it again at a different time so I don't miss anything. I've probably missed more recordings using Tivos over the years than I have using WMC.
FWIW, this thread is about a replacement for WMC, which implies the OP is looking for a PC-based solution, not a Tivo.
WMC cannot do native SKIP MODE. Skip mode is where you push one button to skip ALL the commercials and the show starts up again. TiVo even notifies you with a cute sound to tell you when to push the button. No comskip, no VideoRedo, no guessing, no 6 30-sec's and 2 7-sec's back and hope for the best, it just works!
Sorry, but the feature list is growing smaller by the day. Want Netflix from the same UI as your TV shows? Not anymore on WMC, Microsoft killed it. You'll have to swap inputs to either your smart TV or an AppleTV or Roku. Want Hulu, AmazonPrime, YouTube, Vudu, HBOgo from that same 10ft. interface? Not on WMC. Want to search for "Game of Thrones" and see where on ANY of those services, including live TV the episodes can be found? Sorry, only on Tivo.
TiVo used to be behind, you're quite correct. But while Microsoft left WMC to wither and die on the vine, TiVo kept adding things to where it's pretty darn nice. I say this as a former staunch WMC user (6 years) and defender who did all that stuff (Netflix add-in, Amazon add-in, comskip, channel logo, Mymovies, etc.) WMC could have been GREAT. It had plug-in support, a strong user community, it just didn't have the thing it needed, the company's support.
I've moved on. I'm happy. You're staying, you're happy. We're all happy, happy, happy.
Complete and utter lie, because you know damn well that WMC cannot do SkipMode.
But again, truth for all is not what is being sought here. 'Truth' for mr.unnatural's use case is all that matters.
4K on a PC is largely irrelevant. UHD disks can't be "ripped" and those services supporting 4K streaming (including Atmos) do not support PCs...
Even though I think the discussion is DVRing...if you want to talk high-end audio and such. I found PCs worthless. All of them had "noise" on their HDMI output when their signal was feed via pre-outs to a separate amp (for 7.2.4). I could even hear the drives spin up in my rear top speakers. This was with PCs from relatively high-end power supplies (CORSAIR RM1000i) to low-end external power supplies (ASRock N3150DC-ITX) and several different amps.
ShowAnalyzer can be set so that the commercials are skipped automatically with no operator intervention. As I indicated, SkipMode only works for the 20 major channels that Tivo chooses and possibly a few others. ShowAnalyzer works for every channel that is not flagged and can be fine tuned so that it works with near 100% accuracy for any given channel. No automated solution works 100% for mapping commercials so there will always be some that don't get mapped correctly. SkipMode has someone else do the work for you, which is very convenient, but still limited to only a handful of select channels. If you don't watch the majority of those channels then it's like not having SkipMode at all.
The Netflix app in WMC was never that good to begin with. I don't use any streaming services so the extra bells and whistles Tivo adds in this area mean nothing to me. Aside from the search functions that Tivo offers, the DVR portions of both Tivo and WMC are pretty equal, which is all I really care about. If I wanted streaming services I'd just add a Roku or similar streaming device and set up an activity on my Harmony Remote to control it.
Like I said, it's all good. Everyone watches TV using the method that they prefer. It's good to have choices. Just because I prefer WMC doesn't mean that it will fit your lifestyle. It's not a question of which device is "superior" but whether or not it meets your needs. Tivo and WMC are both great products. I'm glad to see that Tivo continues to evolve and provide their customers with the latest features and technology. They wouldn't be able to survive otherwise. The thing I like about using a HTPC is that I can add whatever features I want and not wait for Microsoft or anyone else to include them. You don't get to pick and choose what features Tivo puts in your box.
I never said WMC could do SkipMode. I said a properly configured HTPC could do virtually the same thing. You just keep fishing for things to argue about.
Perhaps, but there is a fair amount of 4K content available from other sources that can be played on a PC. If history has taught us anything, it's just a matter of time before UHD disks can be ripped.
I can't say that I've ever heard any such noise from my HTPC. Then again, my home theater setup isn't in the most ideal of environments because I have an indoor heat pump and heat pump water heater that run in the background all the time so chances are they could be drowning out any such noise. I got cured of the high end audio disease decades ago. Now I just sit back and enjoy the audio and video without getting neurotic about it.
There's an awful lot of cherry picking going on here. If anybody mentions something Tivo does better, your response is that you don't use or care about that feature/aspect anyway, so it deserves no consideration (Netflix and other streaming, channel logos, high end audio, electrical noise, etc.). Well, I don't do file streaming or 4k, so I can pretend that those features don't exist on either platform.
We seem to be hung up on commercial skip. Everyone acknowledges that it's possible to some extent on both platforms. But in terms of accuracy and simplicity, there is no contest. In WMC, I have to do THIS and cross my fingers. On Tivo, I press one button. (If you don't want to follow the link, it's a thousand word procedure).
The streaming capabilities are actually a pretty big deal to most since they want one box to do it all. A PC is not that box, especially when it comes to streaming services. Tivo has the major ones nicely integrated, and they are easy to control.
Everybody participating in this debate is a WMC and a Tivo expert. Nothing has been said that all of us didn't already know. The bottom line is, WMC is a dead product which is more complicated to set up, use and maintain than Tivo. There is no future in a WMC system. 10 years from now, WMC, if it still works at all, will be exactly the same as it is today and will still have to run on Windows 7, if you can find hardware that it will still run on. Tivo is still actively supported and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
10 years from now there's a good chance the way we receive TV at home will be drastically different from the way we currently receive it, making both Tivo and WMC obsolete. Streaming services seem to be the way things are headed and options to record anything legally probably aren't going to be forthcoming, essentially killing off the DVR.
Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but I take great exception when people say a product is dead when it is, in fact, still alive and well. I know people that still use Windows 98 because they have apps that will only run on that platform. As long as TV providers transmit programming using the current standard, WMC will remain a viable product for as long as you can get guide data for it. Finding hardware to run Windows 7 shouldn't be that much of a problem. There is an abundance of used PCs and peripherals on ebay that should satisfy that need for quite some time.
Microsoft stopped any further development of WMC before they abandoned the project and dissolved the division. My question is, what exactly did anyone expect Microsoft to do to improve the DVR function of WMC? Frankly, I think it works pretty darn good the way it is. As for further development, if it ain't broke, leave it the f&*k alone. Aside from the extra bells and whistles added to Tivo for streaming and such, what have they done to improve the DVR portion of the device that makes it better than WMC? The search function is the only feature that stands out in my mind, but please tell me where they have vastly improved the device in that area since it was first introduced?
When I say there are features in a Tivo that I have no interest in, I only say that to put things in perspective from my point of view. I was a long time Tivo user for over a decade before I started using HTPCs. When I realized they could do everything my Tivo could do, at least from the perspective of how I used my Tivos, and provide me with more flexibility for expansion and modification, I was sold. I have conceded time and time again that other people's needs differ from mine and Tivo may be better suited for them. I'm not here trying to convert anyone or sway them to my way of thinking. I'm just here to share ideas and voice my opinion, same as everyone else. You don't have to agree with them, same as I don't have to agree with yours.
From my perceptive that is already happening, but Tivo is riding the wave and WMC is a sinking ship. WMC isn't dead yet, but I am changing with the times... and WMC no longer seems to be "relevant". Most of my viewing is done via Netflix and Hulu Plus. Delivering content "over the top" is the future, and to some extent the "present"... the DVR is the past. As WMC is no longer in development, and not supported on microsoft's latest OS, I went ahead and jumped ship. Sure, it may not capsize for a while, and some might be completely satisfied going down with a sinking ship, and jumping last minute... but that's just not how I roll.
I was very critical of the shift to streaming media until I REALLY tried it... canceled my cable and went to a Hulu Plus subscription... and I found out that I was actually missing a lot more than I thought by relying on time shifted, locally recorded, content. I don't have to know what I'll want to watch before it airs. I can choose to check out a show AFTER it has already aired, regardless of whether I had to insight to record it... or whether I had even heard about it prior to it airing.
Again, just my personal experience. I know there are a lot of people not ready to embrace the shift that is happening in the way content is delivered.
I agree with all of the above, although I'm not sure how well TiVo is "riding the wave" into the future of streaming-based TV. TiVo is an excellent, generally easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain traditional DVR but it's just not a first-rate streamer (nor is it set to participate in the new/coming wave of cable TV service that emphasizes on-demand, cloud DVR, and IPTV rather than QAM channels). And to what extent the post-merger TiVo will compete in the retail space going forward is an open question. I have little doubt that current TiVo retail units will still be receiving active service a few years from now but it's quite possible that we'll see no new generation of retail TiVos after Series 6 (Bolt) and that there will be no further developments/improvements of the TiVo service/features/UI post-2016.
In fact, I can imagine a future conversation, similar to this thread, playing out between a longstanding TiVo user versus users of some more modern TV gadget/service, with the TiVo user taking the place of the WMC user in this thread, insisting that TiVo isn't dead yet...
Are you forgetting about the eBox?
I've got no argument with anything you guys are saying. I have not personally given streaming services a thorough test so I can't comment on their performance or content other than to say that many of them have exclusive content that would require multiple subscriptions in order to get the shows I want. There are lots of streaming boxes out there that probably do a better job than Tivo, but I can't make an honest assessment based on supposition. I hear lots of good things about the Nvidia Shield, but it's a bit pricey.
I guess I'm just old school when it comes to time shifting. Been doing it so long that it just feels like the thing to do. I'm guessing most of you got Tivos for the same reason and many of you eventually started using the streaming features. At some point I may give the streaming thing a try and see how I like it. I need to investigate the various services and see which ones are worth the money. Anything with commercials is eliminated right off the bat.
That doesn't mean I'd switch to Tivo. I'm perfectly content using WMC for as long as it lasts, and it will probably last for quite a long time. Call it dead, defunct, obsolete, or whatever gets you through the day. All I know is that it works and is completely reliable. EPG123 just gave it a new lease on life and makes it a better DVR app than ever before.
I understand the rationale why many of you made the switch from WMC to Tivo. I went through long periods of frustration and growing pains when I first started using HTPCs. They could be finicky and a royal PITA sometimes. There were many occasions where I felt like chucking it off a tall building. Then, somewhere along the way, I must have stumbled across some magic formula of hardware and software because everything just started working and didn't require any intervention or tinkering of any kind other than manually selecting and installing Windows updates every so often.
A stable, working HTPC with WMC is a pleasure to use, and I use mine daily. I'm a stubborn old fart and when I set my mind to doing something I see it through. My stubbornness paid off because now I have several working HTPCs that are essentially trouble-free. If you were also lucky enough to get yours working but decided that you didn't like the UI or some other feature that you preferred on a Tivo then more power to you. It's not necessarily something that will appeal to everyone, even without the additional upkeep.
Ah, I should have explicitly noted that I was referring to retail TiVos (although I thought that was evident from the context). None of my comments are necessarily applicable to cable boxes that are TiVo-branded/powered.
Which is most likely what the "New" retail TiVos will be, nonetheless. We are just MSO Beta testers in their minds, after all.
The signs keep pointing to this more and more if you ask me.