Alternative PC PVR Solutions to TiVo/HTPC/PVR Information

   Posted April 3, 2005 by Jimmy Selix in TiVo

This is another guide to TiVo service alternatives which utilize your PC and TV tuner card. This tutorial provides an overview of the three main commercial personal video recording (PVR) software packages (non-open source) and includes helpful notes about each.

Home Theater PC (HTPC) systems have recently emerged on the market. An HTPC is basically a PC that has the ability to be used with a big screen TV/LCD in a living room setting. A few basic requirements for it include the following: TV/S-Video/HD outputs to connect to a TV, TV Tuner/AV inputs for the TV and other devices, FM tuner (optional), DVD drive/burner, remote control/wireless keyboard, and a large capacity hard drive on which to save your recorded Tv shows.

When installing your HTPC, the first obstacle you might encounter is that you have hardware, but you have nothing to drive it. You will also need to know which software package will be compatible with the devices you have. Below is a brief summary of three of the best PVR commercial software packages available (not including open-source projects).

SageTV (STV) : In my opinion, SageTV provides the best PVR software on the market. It has a built-in EPG (electronic program guide) for the USA and custom STVs to change the UI and features of a program. SageTV also includes numerous add-ons such as commercial skip, Web server, and more. It provides features similar to TiVo that allow you to record shows based on what you like or do not like. In addition, STV will work with certain remotes, and it has a weather suite.

PowerCinema 3 TV Plus Edition: I received this PVR software with my TV tuner/remote package. It has a user-friendly layout and provides a superior viewing experience. However, it lacks the built-in channel guide and listings that STV provides. This makes recording a tedious task since it requires you to find the show, the date and time, and the setting manually. However, this is the only package I can use if I want to use my FM tuner. STV does not support FM tuners yet.

BeyondTV3 : This software package provides a nice overall layout and has the ability to let you change your recording schedule via a web interface from anywhere that has an Internet connection. Although the SageTV webserver plugin does the same and has a program guide, it does require a monthly subscription to the service.


About Jimmy Selix

Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.
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