powermatt wrote:I was wondering when someone was going to mention media center. I'm using a Ceton card myself. Haven't looked back to Tivo since. Tivo was always too limited and too slow for my tastes. It can't touch having premium cable on a full Windows PC.
I've used all three quite a lot over the years (TiVo, cable company DVR, HTPC) and I disagree.
Windows Media Center is dying even faster than people claim TiVo is. It doesn't even come with Windows 8 by default and the free licenses for new Win 8 users will no longer be offered after this month. Microsoft hasn't added any new enhancements/features to Media Center in years and they don't seem at all interested in its future at this point.
Further it's extremely annoying when you haven't used it for a bit and you go to watch something, then Windows update or Java update, or Adobe update (or all three) pop up and interrupt you. Then recordings occasionally fail at random due to Windows' general instability or due to it deciding not to download the latest guide listings for some reason, or the guide listings are just plain wrong sometimes. Also my Ceton card got messed up and wouldn't take a firmware update so I had to send that back for replacement. All that is in addition to other quirks like having to re-do the PlayReady nonsense periodically, the system deciding to change to an incorrect screen resolution any time I don't power on/off the receiver, TV, and HTPC in the just right order with an appropriate delay between the correct two, having to maintain virus protection, patch the OS, etc. It's also much more power-hungry than a TiVo or STB, and often much louder as well, unless you get super-expensive fanless or large-diameter-low-rpm-fan components.
Sure, it runs fine most of the time, and I can use it OK and work around the quirks myself, but a non-techie would want to throw it in the trash within the first month. Overall a Windows-based HTPC is a pain in the neck as a primary TV/DVR for multiple users.
A Linux HTPC can be either somewhat better or worse depending how it's set up, but that also invalidates the "full Windows PC" argument, and still isn't for non-techies in general.
As for the cable company DVR. The software is clunky and doesn't have nearly the feature set of either the TiVo or the HTPC, and the box doesn't have nearly enough space and doesn't support external storage expansion yet (and if it did I would still have to buy only a very specific WD eSATA hard drive for it, at my own expense).
All the while, my TiVo Premiere XL has worked flawlessly aside from a little bit of menu lag when deleting recordings. It has plenty of space and once set up, it "just works" and I never have to worry about it. To many people that's worth the price of admission.