MCE to record TV as CGMS-A - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-06, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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MCE to record TV as CGMS-A

Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post
The general public has no idea what any of that is, except for possibly the 1394 ports.
I only have slight idea what CMGS-A standards are (copy protection?) even after doing a quick Google search.
You are obviously not trying to use MCE to record TV as CGMS-A is wreaking havoc with reliability of recording, paticularly for Canadians.

The FCC knows what all of those things are and sets rules that govern how they are used. The CRTC takes the Rhett Butler approach of not giving a damn.

Last edited by stampeder; 2008-04-07 at 12:12 PM. Reason: Split from an OTA Forum thread
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-07, 08:05 AM
 
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Quote:
You are obviously not trying to use MCE to record TV
Why would I use another bloated POS M$ product to do something I can do better elsewhere??
I would then be a idiot as I have absolutely no use for any sudo monopoly that wants to control not just the internet, but now how and what I watch on TV.

Copy protection my ass.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-07, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post
Why would I use another bloated POS M$ product to do something I can do better elsewhere??
I would then be a idiot as I have absolutely no use for any sudo monopoly that wants to control not just the internet, but now how and what I watch on TV.

Copy protection my ass.
My, my - what hatred! What else is better? I think MCE is a very nice product - it has a very attractive UI and has extenders which are a great feature. It also is extendable/customisable by the user community.

MCE may have some copy protection but it is a lot more open than cable or satellite company PVRs, it is more flexible and the user interface is miles ahead of the cable/sat options. The major downside is the difficulty in getting non-OTA HD into a PC, especially outside of the US, but that is not unique to MCE. But if all you are interested is capturing OTA HD and non-OTA SD then there is very little copy protection to deal with.

The only options that are even in the same league as MCE are BeyondTV, SageTV, TiVo and perhaps Myth but each has its own drawbacks.

That said, I am likely to switch to use SageTV from MCE as Sage will likely support the HD tuner card coming from Hauppauge in the very near future and it is still up in the air with MS.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-08, 02:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne
The only options that are even in the same league as MCE are BeyondTV, SageTV, TiVo and perhaps Myth but each has its own drawbacks.
Do tell. Please give precise examples from your experience with them.

Also please stop using a word like hatred - it stereotypes you and the other person.



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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-08, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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I will use a word like hatred when the original post contains a stereotypical Microsoft basing response to a product that they have likely never used. That is what was being emoted in the post.

In terms of PVRs I have extensive experience with TiVo (Series 1), XP MCE, Vista MC, Beyond TV, SA8300HD and limited exposure to Sage and the Bell PVR.

The products offered by the cable and satellite companies in Canada are very weak. The Rogers PVR is very slow, has only rudimentary search capabilities, has a UI that is ugly, doesn't allow extension to other TVs and does not allow you to move content to PCs or DVDs. One positive is that it simplifies connection to your HT and it is easy to add hard drive space, although there is only room for one additional drive. My impression in limited exposure to the Bell PVR is that it is slightly better but not hugely so. You cannot do placeshifting with this device unless you buy a slingbox. You cannot use this device to watch internet TV types of shows other than the VOD offered by your cable co. The Rogers VOD is very buggy and often crashes.

XP MCE has a very nice UI with full search capabilities and also works as a front end for all of your media content such as photos and pictures. There are very good add-ins for features such as managing your DVD collection and place-shifting. You can also use this product for watching pretty much any file type that you can find. Content can be converted to other formats and burned to DVD. You can buy Media Center Extenders that allow you to play content from your HTPC anywhere else in your house. It also comes free with the OS, assuming that you buy it as an OS. It is trivial to add more hard drives to your system as you could have several terabytes of hard drive space if you desire. You can use tuners connected to analog cable, digital cable boxes and satellite boxes. Channel changing is somewhat slower as you have to use an IR blaster. In terms of HD there is no way to get HD into MCE other than OTA. PVR software from MS respects CGMS-A flag which is problematic for Canadians - it appears that only MS respects this flag. MCE extenders work very well with some limitations - they do not allow you to view digital TV and they don't work so well with video formats other than MPEG-2 and dvr-ms.

Vista MC (WMC) comes with Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate so it is likely the most installed PVR software on the planet but I bet only a small minority of people running these OSes actually use the product. It is the only PC based PVR software that allows you to record cable HD channels but that requires a whole new PC with CableCard tuners -you cannot add these tuners to an existing TV. The UI in VMC is a fair bit different from MCE some folks prefer it, I don't. The library management features of VMC are not very intuitive and VMC seems to believe that all card readers on your PC are good places to store video files. There are now V2 extenders available that allow you to extend VMC throughout your house. One model is to build a system with multiple TV tuners and throw it in your basement. You would then put extenders at every TV to act as the front end to all of your content.

You can use an XBOX or XBOX360 as an extender to Vista MC or XP MCE. The UI is pretty much the same as what you would have at the PC itself.

The TiVo has an excellent UI and TiVo has done a good job of making it easier to get content off of the device although there can still be some copy protection at times. The only TiVos sold in Canada do not do HD - there is an HD model available but that can do OTA and CableCard which isn't available in Canada. TiVo probably provides most of the other features of MCE except that I do not believe that you cannot play various different types of video files such as DivX. TiVo has very good search capabilities, it allows you to record series, etc and it is very good at organizing content after you have saved it. You can add hard drive but not as easily as with HTPCs. I believe that you can also share content across TiVos in your house if you have several TiVos. One downside of the TiVo is the cost of $12.95/month - none of the PC PVRs have a regular fee.

BeyondTV is more focused just on TV - it does not have the music, photo, etc. stuff built into it but there is a sister product called BeyondMedia. BeyondTV can do most of what MCE does and it has a feature that can automtically remove commercials and re-encode your files into more efficient formats such as WMV or Divx. I do not believe there are any extenders available for BeyondTV. BeyondTV is a commercial product - you have to pay about $70 for it. Just like all of the PC based products you can use BTV with HD OTA and with non-HD cable and satellite, typically with and IR blaster. You can placeshift with BTV.

If I were to start from scratch I woule likely go with SageTV. It has pretty much all of the features of MCE and it appears that you can customize the UI as there is an MCE-like interface called Sage MC. Sage sells extenders that can do HD and these are cheaper than MS's V2 extenders. Sage seems very proactive at improving there product, much more so than MS. Sage has said that they plan to support the Hauppauge HD PVR product on release or shortly thereafter. They also take more of an effort to get their product to work with more different types of hardware. There is a placeshifting option for Sage. You can also get Sage to work on a Windows Home Server box which is something that you can't do with MS's PVR software.

MCE and VMC store video files in the dvr-ms format. That is essentially a MPEG-2 file with metadata included. It is easy to convert this file type to MPEG-2 as it does not involve re-encoding. BTV (and I think Sage as well) store files directly as MPEG-2 and they have other files, such as XML files, to contain metadata such as program name, channel, etc.

Note that all of the PC based PVRs (MCE, VMC, BTV, SageTV) are full PCs which is both a good and bad thing. The good thing is that you can use them for other purposes such as web browsing or you can throw in a BluRay drive for just over $150 and have a BluRay player. It is also pretty easy to add codecs if new video files become popular. Assuming that broadcasting of TV shows over the web takes off you have a way to view such content on your HT. The bad thing is that it may take a while to get them properly configured and they are more prone to crashing than a TiVo and perhaps a cable box although Rogers cable boxes have a tendency to crash when access VOD. All of the PC based solutions and TiVo have excellent search capabilities and allow you to easily record an entire series - that is not the case with the Rogers box.

Is that precise enough?
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-08, 10:09 AM
 
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Fair writeup Wayne.

Some addendums to the MCE details (since it's the only system I know well):
- Cablecard in MCE is somewhat of a moot detail in Canada, since it's not a standard we have access to
- MCE has several mature plugins, similar to the other PVR tools, that add significant functionality. Specific to PVR functionality, LifeExtender removes commercials from recorded TV. Also MyMovies and other up-and-coming plugins make MCE a very capable movie library (rip DVDs, organize movies, playback any ripped or downloaded format)
- Most v2 extenders also play back XVID video

Pete
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-08, 12:43 PM
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So SageTV is better than MCE then. Why didn't you just tell the other poster that? Also you forgot to describe MythTV (you referred to it earlier, implying that MCE is better).

Using the term "hatred" should be avoided because it is not becoming of you, regardless of the rationale you've given.



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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-08, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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I don't have much experience with MythTV - I have seen it and it is an option but it doesn't have extenders I don't believe which is one downside. Other than that it likely has all of the upside of the other PC solutions with the proviso that it is a Linux rather than Windows based solution. That is either a positive or a negative depending on whether you believe that Microsoft is the best thing that ever happened to mankind since the harnessing of fire. (That's a joke - really it is!)
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-08, 04:37 PM
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the rhetoric of technology

Wayne, I found your analysis of the options quite informative and, while I don't have quite your expertise in this area, I agree with your assessment. Perhaps, because Myth TV avoids DRM issues so well, it is a superior option to MCE, but you correctly point out it requires a bit more knowledge of computing. Each release of Mythbuntu requires less effort to install, though.

Sage TV, with the new Hauppauge PVR, sounds well worth checking out, too.

BTW, I think the moderator might have pointed out the unfortunate use of the word "idiot" too. Perhaps Wayne, as I did, reacted to the enthymeme created in its use. (Enthymeme refers to informal syllogism, identified by Aristotle.)
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-08, 04:42 PM
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There are no rules against a member suggesting his own idiocy.

I did a Google of "mythtv extenders" and found lots of stuff. In my own home all of my computers anywhere on my network can be MythTV frontends to my MythTV backend just by clicking on an icon. I could build small, silent, diskless extender boxes too that would do the same thing. Each frontend has its own profile in the backend's database. Streamed video is HD-capable and streamed audio is passthrough, so DD.1 and DTS are supported, as well as are a plethora of codecs courtesy of the Mplayer libraries. My 2 ATSC tuner cards ignore the broadcast flag (should it ever be enforced).

If a person is a DIYer with good computer experience there's nothing more satisfying than setting up a DRM-free MythTV environment over their LAN. It is a great solution to videobruce's anger at Microsoft's ill-considered CGMS-A enforcement.



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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-08, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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The extenders for Sage and MS have the added benefit of being able to stream LiveTV - I don't know if you can do this with Myth to other PCs. That gives you the option of not requiring a cable/sat box at your TVs- just have them at your HTPC server, assuming that you have at least as many boxes/tuners as you will want to watch+ record simultaneously. These extenders are also silent, fit nicely into your AV rack, and they are likely cheaper than a barebones PC - you can get V1 MCE extenders on eBay for about $75, V2 MCE extenders for about $250 and Sage extenders for $199. But a full PC is much more flexible than an extender.

I don't know that DRM is an issue at all with Sage or BTV - they simply record shows straight to an MPEG-2 file and there is no DRM at all around such files, just as there is no DRM on MPEG-3 (aka MP3) files. Both flavours of MCE have the stupid CGMS-A problem but other than that I haven't had any other DRM issues with them.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 2008-04-09, 02:38 AM
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The extenders for Sage and MS have the added benefit of being able to stream LiveTV - I don't know if you can do this with Myth to other PCs.
Yes I can, with full pausing/rewind/fast forward/commercial skip functionality. I don't use cable or satellite anymore, just OTA, but yes it can be done with those. MythTV is very good.



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