Which to get for recording off StarChoice: DVR, DVDR or computer? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
 

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Old 2006-12-10, 11:14 PM   #1
audible
 
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Default Which to get for recording off StarChoice: DVR, DVDR or computer?

I'm trying to make my mind up between getting a DVR, a DVD recorder or a computer for recording from Starchoice.

The DVR is the obvious choice except that the *choice beast is overly expensive and I'd still have to buy a DVD recorder if I want to archive, which I definitely want to do.

The recorder is also a good choice, it's cheaper, can archive but can't time shift HD, it also is more difficult to set up for easy timed recording.

The computer is the most versatile but again can't time shift HD (yet!), is difficult to set up and most of the software seams "not ready for prime time". The good thing is it's easily upgradeable as new technologies come on stream and archiving is a cinch.

I'd appreciate any comments from those that have had a similar dilemma and made a decision, what that decision was and if you're happy with it.
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Old 2006-12-11, 12:07 AM   #2
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Arrow Well...

I've built and used an HTPC that can record from a capture card, a NTSC tuner card and a satellite card. I've also integrated a REPLAY TV (Tivo competator) into the system.

The HTPC has the flexability to master and burn DVD's and it's almost as simple as the DVD Recorder I bought for my son, but given the cost of a good HTPC and the integration hassles, the PVR Set Top with it 's high integration and ease of use work out best for me.

I find the amount of storage adaquate to archive a few special shows and manage to hold a weeks worth of primetime HD by watching shows a few days delayed with no problems.

Now if you used mostly SD, then there is SO much storage that needing to archive to DVD isn't really required.

Of course, if the matter came down to HiDef, then the set top is the ONLY answer today.

So it depends where HD is and how tech savy you are.

For the price of building a good HTPC, you can buy a HD DVR and a DVD Recorder for archiving.

I only have 1 HTPC, no DVDR's and 5 set top PVR's, so maybe I'm either a little biased or have seen the light based on past experiences.
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Old 2006-12-11, 04:42 AM   #3
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Default Very Interesting, but...

Thanks for the reply ARR. Your HTPC intrigues me, what satellite card do you use and what signal does it work with, SC or and American satellite. I have a Hauppauge 150 card sitting around for capturing SD stuff but, where I live, off-air is not a possibility. Do you find ReplayTV works with SC and is it the set top box you have or the PC version.

I'm partial to the HTPC route but haven't found a clean path that integrates the satellite programming (SC) into the system. There's only a few network shows that I watch and I'm not interested in archiving those. Some documentaries and old movies are about the only things I would want to keep. HD would be nice but I could sacrifice that just now if capturing an SD recording from the HD source provided a superior picture than SD direct.

Working with PCs is not a problem but fighting with them is. My business takes a lot of my time so when I do get the time to relax I want to enjoy it not fight with technology. I'm long past the stage where tweaking and trying out various and sundry drivers and software solutions is enjoyable. There is way too much software out there that simply does not work as advertised and I don't want to be a Beta tester in my very limited spare time. If there is a clean software solution out there that will efficiently work with a SC set top box and integrate the SC programming then I'm all ears. If not, then I guess the PVR route is the way to go.
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Old 2006-12-11, 04:48 AM   #4
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If you feel comfortable running linux, MythTV works nicely, and allows you to use 3rd party schedules to create recording timers, etc. You will have to either use a IR blaster from the PC to the receiver, or set the timers on the receiver manually.
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Old 2006-12-11, 09:35 AM   #5
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If timeshifting of HD is a priority, then a DSR530 is the only choice. But, that doesn't allow any archiving possibilities.
I run a Sony Vaio Studio Monitor PC with MCE 2005/TV tuner, controlling a 505a *C STB. Microsoft provides the free *C guide which downloads every day and one button programming is a snap. If I wish to record a program off an HD channel, I reset the 505a video settings to accommodate the widescreen with 480p recording. Once the program is recorded, I can "stream" to my HT or archive to DVD with an authoring program. The Sony program I use is called Click to DVD, which allows frame by frame editing and professional looking DVD's. This gives me the flexibility I want.
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Old 2006-12-11, 09:35 AM   #6
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There is no satellite card that legitimately works with Canadian providers. You are stuck using analog capture cards and IR blasters.

The Replay boxes don't support Canadian listings, but can be made to work with software called Wirns. TiVo Series 2 directly works with Canadian providers. I can't say for the Replay PC software. Both boxes let you archive to PCs and DVDs.

If you don't want to muck around much, TiVo might be your best bet. It takes some babysitting, but not as much as other things might.
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Old 2006-12-12, 06:11 PM   #7
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Wasn't most of this covered in the DVR thread that's about ten below this thread in the listings? There was a lot of input there about what works and what doesn't.

To restate here what I've used and what has worked and not... I started on the Starchoice receiver with a generic Pioneer hard drive based DVR and it was just too frustrating with the rerun recording. I went back to Tivo when they picked up Canadian guide data. Tivo's channel changing left a lot to be desired. Too many errors and, after having used Tivo for five years total, I have finally given up on it. I liked Tivo early on but lately they've been giving into the networks/studios and their DRM demands. The more recent multiple year contracts and ever-increasing subscription fees has made me lose respect for them as a company. After all, a new single year contract gets you a $20 a month fee. I guess they're hoping to get people locking in for 3 years.

I changed to SageTV a while ago. SageTV is a computer-based DVR much like MythTV mentioned above. Canadian listings are included and, outside of the original software purchase, there is no subscription fee like MythTV. SageTV can be customized with multiple SD and HD tuners and there is a huge community developing free add-ons for it. This is what I liked about Tivo years ago. There was a healthy development community but changes to the Tivo hardware (again bowing to the networks and studios) has made it very difficult to do anything to current hardware.

As classicsat said, there is no legitimate computer card for satellite providers so analog capture is your only route. If you can get OTA HD from your location Myth or Sage is probably where you want to look.

Last edited by Avaloncourt; 2006-12-12 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 2006-12-12, 10:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avaloncourt View Post
...I changed to SageTV a while ago. SageTV is a computer-based DVR much like MythTV mentioned above. ...
Did you ever evaluate Beyond TV?

If I had to purchase PVR s/w , how does Sage & Beyond compare (no pun intended)
BTW, the REPLAY is an early hardware box and not the new s/w ones.
It also can be tweaked to support local guide feeds like TIVO.

I also use a Hauppage 150 but with multiple cable & sat PVR's, it doesn't see much action anymore, short of error screen shots when I was bug reporting to *C.

The sat card is DVB and the s/w by design is PVR since it just stores the raw mpeg.
Used for those wild feeds out there and somewhat as an analyser of signals with special software.
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Old 2006-12-12, 11:25 PM   #9
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Talking Beyond TV

I have been running Beyond TV 4 as my PVR of choice! Works flawless. Guide data is always 7 days ahead of time, search functions etc...

My pvr box is a

Athlon XP 3200+
1GB OCZ Dual channel PC3200
Asus A7N8Xe-Deluxe
Two WD Caviar SE16 7200 500GB
WinTV-PVR-350
MyTV USB IR Blaster

Far more reliable than the DSR530 i have, never a issue with lockups. Audio drops etc...

I love my 530 but for now it is my Beyond TV 4 for me...

See what the new code in the new year does for the stability of the 530..
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Old 2006-12-13, 06:20 PM   #10
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Default Thanks guys

I really appreciate all the replies. I looked at software PVRs a while ago and at that time none of them supported Canadian satellite guides and we where left with third party add-ons that had to be manually downloaded weekly.

It's good to know that Sage and Beyond TV have their act together for us poor Canadians. As mentioned I like the idea of a HTPC for the upgradeability so it looks like I'll go that route. I probably have enough components lying about to build a system with the exception of a CPU and a descent video card.

I've read many reports on Sage and Beyond TV but none specific to their use with *C. I'd appreciate some debate on the merits and caveats on these products and what 3rd party components and software would be an appropriate consideration to add to the mix.

Over the air is not a possibility for me as I live in the middle of nowhere about 120Km west of Ottawa.

Thanks, and again, your input is very much appreciated.
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Old 2006-12-13, 06:44 PM   #11
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For no fuss, no muss up front or after the fact, SageTV, BeyondTV or MCE 2005 would be your best bet. MCE and SageTV are free on the guide updates and I know that the MCE guide goes all the way to 14 days on almost all the channels.

MythTV is a rock but you have to go through a hard place to get there most times.

The major advantage that Sage and Beyond have is that they do not require a DX9 card like MCE 2005 does.

With any of the softwares and a Hauppauge card, you will not require much horsepower. For SD content, a P3 1GHz is enough. Anything more is gravy for when you demand multitasking from your setup or if you want Sage, Beyond or Myth to do on the fly encoding to DivX (Which does need a fair bit of power).

Just keep in mind that the HTPC route, while wonderful, is like a $$$ vortex and you will find yourself wanting to add and/or change things for the first 6 or so months, if not longer. Read my HTPC adventure thread for more perspective.
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Old 2006-12-13, 10:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARR View Post
Did you ever evaluate Beyond TV?

If I had to purchase PVR s/w , how does Sage & Beyond compare (no pun intended)
BTW, the REPLAY is an early hardware box and not the new s/w ones.
It also can be tweaked to support local guide feeds like TIVO.
I looked at Myth, Sage and Beyond. I was a little uneasy about the Myth implementation and customizations. I looked at Beyond but I just can't remember why there was a pass. It seems to me that I read some review that was negative in some way that was important to me. I wish I could remember what that was.
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Old 2006-12-13, 10:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audible View Post
I've read many reports on Sage and Beyond TV but none specific to their use with *C. I'd appreciate some debate on the merits and caveats on these products and what 3rd party components and software would be an appropriate consideration to add to the mix.
I also had a tough time reading about anyone's experience with Sage and StarChoice/ExpressVu. I have had no issues at all with my StarChoice receiver (DSR 505). It's been rock solid. I went with the USB-UIRC IR controller. I'm glad that I did. There are no built-in profiles for the 505 (or it's Zoom previous life) but set-up was easy. I had to make one little edit in Sage's created profile because it was repeating digits. Other than that it has been perfect in its channel changes. I had so much trouble with my Tivo messing up the IR transmitting. It doesn't help that the 505 drifts over time and the timing changes. Sage with USB-UIRC has been rock solid.
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Old 2006-12-13, 10:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by que3jxp View Post
the MCE guide goes all the way to 14 days on almost all the channels.
I have one problem with the *C eastern guide for MCE, they don't show the HD channels from 281 to 289 for some reason. You can still do a time / channel record though.
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Old 2006-12-14, 07:31 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbracing24 View Post
I have one problem with the *C eastern guide for MCE, they don't show the HD channels from 281 to 289 for some reason. You can still do a time / channel record though.
REALLY?! That's weird. That would kill it for me right there. Manual recordings don't mean much when all of the HD channels have been removed from the ability to automatically select them. I rely on that a great deal. I have my Starchoice networks selections set up to maximize the use of the HD as a way to get me other time slot choices to avoid potential conflicts. Not having the ability to set favorites that will automatically utilize the HD range would be a immediate veto of anything MCE. This is the first I'd ever noticed anyone bringing this up. I wonder why they've done this. You can always take them out of the channel list but you can't put them in if the guide data doesn't exist.
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