Tivo HD vs. Windows HTPC for Canadian OTA? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Tivo HD vs. Windows HTPC for Canadian OTA?

I understand your point. I have a HTPC and I am having a 20 TB system custom built for me within the next two weeks as I have grown out of my existing HTPC. I really do not need cable TV at all. In Toronto I can get ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Citytv, Global, SunTV, Omni1, Omni2, CTV, PBS, TheCW, CBC, and so on. Yes the tuner card would be great if on channels over 100 that are in HDTV but if a cable customer only subscribes to basic cable or extended cable (CH 2-99) No cable card is needed and you as a HD Cable TiVo owner can get all the HD channels over the air as well as all the SD Channels from CH 2-99. Now as for user experience I have a HTPC as well and trust me NOTHING WORKS as well as TiVo! HTPC cannot record HD off your Rogers box as well through its ATSC Tuner same as TiVo. You can record HD on a HTPC if you buy a Hauppauge HD capture box that uses the analogue hole. So if you’re not computer savvy it’s a real Pain! Something always bugs up with a HTPC (NOT WITH TIVO) So if you want the best value for your buck TiVo is the best way to go! My HTPC that is being built cost me $6,000 basically because it holds 20 hard drives for now and room for another 20 drives with a total of 40drives so that I can store my entire DVD / Bluray and Music collection. My HD TiVo can then be used to stream content to and from my HTPC. I have tried every PVR out there and an tell you that nothing beats TiVo even if some features are not available! Its value and ease of use costs far less than any other option on the market.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 11:31 AM
 
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I meant the original cost of the unit, not the subscription. Surely part of the upfront cost of the unit goes to the cost of hardware. Although that will pale in comparison to the monthly sub fees that you will pay which is the one downside to TiVo.
There is a price difference between the Tivo Series 2 and the HD unit in the U.S. but here in Canada I have yet to see a Tivo Series 2 for less than $180 and the HD units in the U.S. are about there maybe a little bit higher. Again, if I had the option I would use it mainly because I could also dump some of the cable costs by going OTA.

HTPC do not do HD from my knowledge without Cable cards so you are in the same boat but the HTPCs usually cost more than a Tivo unit for the hardware. Maybe I am wrong but my brother has an HTPC and he said if we could get OTA he would dump it and get a Tivo to get the HD channels.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 11:33 AM
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This gets down to the old OTA vs. BDU comment. It depends on what you want to watch. In my house we watch very little OTA TV shows, the bulk of our watching is (for me) sports which is probably 90% channels like TSN, RSN, Score and Setanta. For the wife it is music channels and movie channels - the variants of TMN plus Turner Classics. For the kids it is Treehouse, and most recently NickJr.

I think the functionality between HTPC based PVRs and TiVo is quite similar and I personally prefer SageTV or Win7MC as I think they are better at playing back non-TV based content. I do have two HD-PVRs so I can record two HD cable channels at once, plus one OTA channel plus one SD digital cable channel. I agree these are more maintenance than a TiVo but they also have the benefit of $0 monthly fees. Depending on your needs you could build an OTA only dual tuner PC based PVR for well under $1000.

My HTPC currently has about 8 TB and it cost nowhere near $6000!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 11:38 AM
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HTPC do not do HD from my knowledge without Cable cards so you are in the same boat but the HTPCs usually cost more than a Tivo unit for the hardware. Maybe I am wrong but my brother has an HTPC and he said if we could get OTA he would dump it and get a Tivo to get the HD channels.
HTPCs quite easily handle OTA-HD in Canada. With Windows Media Center you have to make some slight tweaks but the other PVR software like SageTV, MythTV, etc. all handle OTA-HD out of the box. And with the Hauppauge HD-PVR you can also capture any and all HD cable channels.

I am not dumping on TiVos - I think they are great which is why I had two of them for many years. And this was before TiVo had Canadian guide data so it was a pain in the butt to have to generate your own guide data from XMLTV. But I personally cannot live with OTA only nor can I live with the crappy Rogers PVR box. That is why I built an HTPC that can capture everything and deliver it throughout my house. It is more work and more expensive but it is by far the best solution IMHO.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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People have no Idea and just have to forget about the service fee or lifetime service. Once you pay even for one month I can tell you this YOUR TIVO BILL WILL BE THE ONLY bill you will never care about paying for. Nothing at any cost records your shows as easy and as reliable as TiVo! LOL I use a TiVo PVR to control a Rogers HD PVR. Why because without TiVo my god you have no idea where anything programs are on. So with my costly Cable bill I know that TiVo is always recording without me having to manually set it up to do so. So while others are manually just recording only the shows they know about my TiVo is going crazy recording all my shows / movies that I like. If a movie with Robert denero is on TV TiVo just records it for me. A regular PVR even a HTPC you have to actually know it’s on and manually tell it to record. Once you live with TiVo believe me you will not care how much any service costs you!
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 11:46 AM
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A regular PVR even a HTPC you have to actually know it’s on and manually tell it to record. Once you live with TiVo believe me you will not care how much any service costs you!
I am sorry but you are wrong there with respect to HTPC PVR software. I use both Win7 Media Center and SageTV and their Search capabilities are very similar to TiVo. You can tell them to record anything with "DeNiro" or "The Simpsons" on whatever channel and whatever time. You can tell them to record FirstRuns only or all including Repeats, etc. There is very little difference between this functionality between TiVo and Windows Media Center and SageTV. I haven't used MythTV but I bet it is similar in those respects as well.

I agree that the Rogers PVR totally sucks and has "Soviet-like" software.

HTPC PVRs can also do other interesting things - I have an addin for SageTV that extends the recording time for sporting events if the game is not over. This app monitors the ESPN.com website to tell when a game is over. That works great to ensure that you don't miss the end of games that go into overtime or just run a little long.

Thes HTPC based PVRs use the same underlying data as TiVo but you are not paying a monthly fee.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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I have both HTPC and TiVo. A HD TiVo VS HTPC used for OTA HD TiVo wins hands down! With the HD TiVo you just set it up and your done. TiVo will record everything suggest shows you may like. Wish list seasons pass. Everything is automatic and you’re done. With HTPC it’s just a VCR without a Tape. If you don’t know what channels every show you watch is on or airs than it won’t record it. For this reason alone TiVo is worth the price of the unit and service. I want to live my life. I bought TiVo and pay for TiVo service so that I don’t need to know what channel or times my shows are on. I just want to tell TiVo what I like watching and let TiVo do it all for me wile I live life. Ahhhhhhhh the freedom. That’s worth everything to me.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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I am sorry but you are wrong there with respect to HTPC PVR software.
I hear you I have all that as well. I am getting and blowing $6000 on my HTPC (cant wait to get it) I can tell you this my wife is somewhat of a geek as well and knows how to use tech but finds it hard at times to use a HTPC. For us geeks and tech save folk yes we can play with a HTPC and have it do all sorts of crazy stuff. But as a device that just works without ever fooling with any settings ever after first setup TiVo wins hands down. At my Moms Home I set up a TiVo 8 Years ago. Yes 8 years ago and Yes long long ago you could have TiVo here in Canada you just had to know how. Anyway I set it up once 8 years ago and it’s still running to this day 1 first setup and never touched it again. As for my personal HTPC (Mother of god the things I have gone through!) It’s better now with Win 7 but boy what a pain at times.

Last edited by stampeder; 2010-01-08 at 12:31 PM. Reason: quoting trimmed as per rules of forum - post approved afterwards
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 12:07 PM
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I have both HTPC and TiVo. A HD TiVo VS HTPC used for OTA HD TiVo wins hands down! With the HD TiVo you just set it up and your done. TiVo will record everything suggest shows you may like. Wish list seasons pass. Everything is automatic and youíre done. With HTPC itís just a VCR without a Tape.
You are probably using the crappy PVR software that came with your tuner card that has extremely basic functionality. From your comments it is obvious that you have never used any decent HTPC software.

Get some decent HTPC PVR software like SageTV, Windows Media Center (which is included as part of Vista or Win7 Home Premium so you may already have it), BeyondTV or MythTV.

For example here is the search screen in Windows Media Center. If you would want to set a series recording for Family Guy then you would click on that and it would give you options or you could just say record everything.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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LOL yes I am using Windows 7 and use it all the time. I have mymovies on it with over 900 DVDs and 200+ Blurays and for that HTPC wins hands down over TiVo. And yes I used sagetv as well and am aware of it. I even have Boxee and yes have a way to use it here in Canada. I agree with you on most of what you are saying. The fact that you can have 5+ Tuners and so on is great! As for a seamless system that does everything for you TiVo is far better. I use my HTPC as DVD / Bluray server and also some TV but find TiVoís automatic approach way better. TiVo suggestions is great.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 12:46 PM
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But if you say that "With HTPC itís just a VCR without a Tape." then you are either making a misstatement or you have never used this software to record TV shows because what you are saying is patently false.

To record a show on any of the PVR software programs that I mentioned above you merely enter the Show Title and it will record any and all instances of that show at any time on any channel (subject to any restrictions that you apply) plus you can pad the beginning and ending time, etc. The search and set recording functionality for these software programs is pretty much the same as with TiVo.

You may use MyMovie with Windows Media Center to playback your ripped movies but it sure doesn't seem as if you have used it for PVRing TV shows.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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No I see your point. I say VCR without tape because as the user I have to manually set up the PVR to record the shows they want just like a VCR. I have to know what I like and what channels these shows are on. I am aware about the search on windows media center and media center is worth every cent over any Rogers or satellite pvr any day. This is why I have both systems and both together are great together. With TiVo I like the seasons pass feature and the fact that I don’t need to know what time or what channel any of the shows I like are on. On top of that I love the fact that TiVo is recording all the time. TiVo’s ability to record suggestive programs based on the shows I watch is an outstanding feature because it aggregates 100's of hours of TV for me to watch at any time I wish. I use MCE for other cool things like a movie server or for cd playback with cover art. Yes TiVo can stream MP3's but MCE is butyifull in its ease of use and cover art. TiVo lacks this and even though it can stream my music I use MCE instead. Another great feature that MCE has is the cover art you get for movies that are now playing on cable is stellar and outstanding. The eye candy is Beautiful no argument there. Wish TiVo did that! LOL looks like you a cool guy who is into the same toys I am. Its fun and I totally understand your point. MCE is for people like us who like to play with our toys. TiVo is for people who just want to chill and just watch TV there way without thinking of tweaking or settings at all. If you’re like me you probably spend more time tweaking and playing with our media centers than watching actual TV. And I love that myself.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 01:37 PM
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HTPCs scare an entire group of consumers who are habitually intimidated by computers... we all know folks like that.

A Tivo HD is more to their level of comfort as a machine that "just works", except that for Canadian OTA there is a lot of concern over whether it will indeed "just work".

Either way, for Canadian OTA PVRing a consumer pretty well requires a geekish family member or neighbour to get one of the above working properly for them, right?



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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-08, 02:54 PM
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I'm not a fanboy, but TiVo is the best, bar none.

I've seen nothing that matches the user-interface for ease of use. It had the intelligence to track delayed programs and only grab the new content, plus Season Ticket made it a snap to record entire series.

[OT]
BTW, what the h3ll is a PVR?

I've had a TiVo for ~10yrs, and just Googled "Tivo PVR", thinking it was some kind of new gadget, and it came back with "Do you mean Tivo DVR?

Why do Canucks have to re-invent the names of products that existed for decade(s) before coming here?

Similarly, I have a Food Disposer in my kitchen, for which I paid with cash from the ATM.
[/OT]
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 2010-01-10, 02:50 PM
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Why do Canucks have to re-invent the names of products that existed for decade(s) before coming here?
Because the CRTC requires it!
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