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Need help deciding what to do (TiVo vs. alternatives)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I have a 5 year old dual tuner TiVo HD with a lifetime subscription. For the most part it's been good over the years, except it is showing its age now and is fairly limited compared to what is out these days. The 2 tuners is a bummer, when all the new shows come on at the same time. I also need a way for Multiroom viewing in an additional room. The TiVo is in the living room, but my wife and I watch some different shows, and I would like a way for one of us to be able to watch our shows in the living room, and the other can watch in the bedroom. Also pausing and picking up and resuming where we left off in another room would be a great and helpful feature to us.

Here are my top priorities:
  • 4+ tuners
  • Multiroom viewing
  • Ability to stream local content from a media server

And to a lesser extent
  • Sling-like functionality
  • Netflix/Amazon/etc support
  • No monthly fees. I want to just buy something and not have to continue paying for it every month.

TiVo does have products now that will make at least most of this possible, however it all seems so expensive to me. I can purchase a TiVo Roamio Plus ($399.99) with a lifetime subscription ($399.99), and then a TiVo Mini ($99.99) with a lifetime subscription ($149.99). That gives me 6 tuners (or 5 plus the Mini), Multiroom viewing, a sling functionality, Netflix, however that all adds up to $1049.96, not even factoring in the cost of a new hard drive if I decide to upgrade the hard drive to something bigger. This also, as far as I know, will not allow me to stream content from a media server (I am mostly concerned with .MKV's). This means I would also need to buy 2 WDTV lives to play my content.

Can I do better than $1049.96 + tax with another combination of devices? Things have changed so much since the last time I researched buying my TiVo that I figured I'd be best off just asking people who are in the know and present my specific situation. Thanks for any help.
post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblockster View Post

Can I do better than $1049.96 + tax with another combination of devices? Things have changed so much since the last time I researched buying my TiVo that I figured I'd be best off just asking people who are in the know and present my specific situation. Thanks for any help.

I think only a TiVo will meet your priorities. One way you could save some money is to buy two used Premiers with Lifetime and network them together. Then you could watch your recordings in both the living room and an additional room. Each Premier would give you at two or four tuners, depending on which model you choose.
post #3 of 13
Another option would be a Windows Media Center + Extenders setup as well smile.gif
post #4 of 13
+1

A PC with a cable card tuner like the Ceton InfiniTV 4 plus an Echo extender (or Xbox for mkv's) in each room meets all your requirements except Netflix/Amazon (I use a streaming blu-ray player for that). Cost is $2/month on my cable system, free on some others. I've been running 5 TVs like this for nearly 2 years without a hitch. Wife thinks we still have Dish. My equipment costs were $100 for a used tuner card, $50 for a used PC, $30 for RAM, $80 for a hard drive, $60 for an SSD, $15 for an IR dongle, and about $100 for each extender (x 4 rooms), for a grand total of about $700. This was recouped in about the first year and a half of service. Now I'm saving about $40/month.
post #5 of 13
Your only options are TiVo or HTPC, considering your requirements. The TiVo will have a higher up-front cost but probably be easier to set up, while the HTPC will be cheaper but more difficult to configure.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. So it sounds like the TiVo solution I presented or a set of HTPCs is the way to go.

What kind of specs do HTPCs need to be at these days to stream 1080p video over the network?

I guess in addition I'd need to get one of those Ceton InfiniTV 6 ethernet tuners, and a big hard drive somewhere. How responsive is the Ceton unit? Is changing channels and starting/pausing recordings pretty snappy? One of the annoyances of my TiVo HD and even my TWC cable box is changing channels is so slow. Forget channel surfing, I end up just going to the guide to find something to watch as it is too slow to navigate channel to channel.

Thanks again for any input.
post #7 of 13
Not a set of HTPCs, just one plus extenders. More than one presents all kinds of limitations and difficulties due to copy protection. HTPCs don't need much horsepower at all. As I said earilier, mine was a $50 POS from ebay which was several years old, and it works fine. I would just avoid the really low powered processors like Atom and the like. If you plan to connect it directly to your main TV, then you will want a decent video card (AMD 6xxx or better). Budget $15-$40 for that in case the PC you buy has video that isn't up to par.

Channel changing on Ceton or Silicon Dust, especially with SDV, is still slow, maybe 3 seconds or so. Probably the same as you get today on your cable boxes and Tivo. Start/stop/pause is instantaneous.

There is a ton of info in the HTPC forum. Take a look at Assassin's guides especially. You can easily go way over budget. That's why I stick with used parts whenever possible.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

Not a set of HTPCs, just one plus extenders. More than one presents all kinds of limitations and difficulties due to copy protection. HTPCs don't need much horsepower at all. As I said earilier, mine was a $50 POS from ebay which was several years old, and it works fine. I would just avoid the really low powered processors like Atom and the like. If you plan to connect it directly to your main TV, then you will want a decent video card (AMD 6xxx or better). Budget $15-$40 for that in case the PC you buy has video that isn't up to par.

Channel changing on Ceton or Silicon Dust, especially with SDV, is still slow, maybe 3 seconds or so. Probably the same as you get today on your cable boxes and Tivo. Start/stop/pause is instantaneous.

There is a ton of info in the HTPC forum. Take a look at Assassin's guides especially. You can easily go way over budget. That's why I stick with used parts whenever possible.

What extender(s) do you recommend? The 360 is out because it uses a lot of electricity, takes a while to boot up (in my opinion), and do you need to pay for live to use that feature? I don't pay for live. The Ceton echo seems to get poor reviews from the demonstrations I've seen on YouTube, plus it will only play what Windows Media Center will (ie no MKVs).

Either way I'll start reading up on the HTPC forum. Thanks
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblockster View Post

What extender(s) do you recommend? The 360 is out because it uses a lot of electricity, takes a while to boot up (in my opinion), and do you need to pay for live to use that feature? I don't pay for live. The Ceton echo seems to get poor reviews from the demonstrations I've seen on YouTube, plus it will only play what Windows Media Center will (ie no MKVs).

Either way I'll start reading up on the HTPC forum. Thanks
You don't need live for extender functionality, only for Netflix. I have never and will never pay for live either. I've never understood why people pay MS for something they get for free on any other platform. Makes no sense to me.

Echo's were buggy at first and still are somewhat (zoom comes to mind). Some folks hate them, but I absolutely love mine. I sold my 4 Boeing 747's, I mean Xboxes, and got 4 Echos a while back. I couldn't care less about MKV playback since I have plenty of other devices for that. Other extenders are a lot worse IMO (no WOL, slow, etc.). If you have a good network, Echo works fine. After the initial growing pains, mine have been solid. They are slow to boot, but if that bothers you, just leave them on. I think they only use 4W. The price is a little steep for what you get, so watch for sales. Between sales, buying used and flipping a few on ebay, my net cost for each of my Echos is under $100, same as I originally paid for my Xboxes.

EDIT: Just saw a pretty sweet deal in another forum on the 360 E for $129. They're supposedly quieter than the Slim, and power consumption is 10-15W less, reportedly.
http://www.amazon.com/Xbox-360-4GB/dp/B00D9EPI38
Edited by mdavej - 10/2/13 at 11:56am
post #10 of 13
Blockster...
I also have a older (dual tuner) TiVo-HD and it has served me well.
That being said- I just added the $199 TiVo Roamio (4 tuner base model) to my account Monday, and it's head and shoulders above the old TiVo-HD we both own.
Just the ability to connect to the TiVo Mini's and Stream make it worth getting.
It's also nice to have 4 tuners. I went with the base model because it can receive OTA from my antenna if we get another major outage (think Sandy) in our area.

If you want easy to use, manufacturer support, community support and even (forced) cable co. support go with the TiVo Roamio.
FWIW_ I got the 4 year warranty on my Roamio at Best Buy for $34.95.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by replayrob View Post

Blockster...
I also have a older (dual tuner) TiVo-HD and it has served me well.
That being said- I just added the $199 TiVo Roamio (4 tuner base model) to my account Monday, and it's head and shoulders above the old TiVo-HD we both own.
Just the ability to connect to the TiVo Mini's and Stream make it worth getting.
It's also nice to have 4 tuners. I went with the base model because it can receive OTA from my antenna if we get another major outage (think Sandy) in our area.

If you want easy to use, manufacturer support, community support and even (forced) cable co. support go with the TiVo Roamio.
FWIW_ I got the 4 year warranty on my Roamio at Best Buy for $34.95.

Well, that's good to hear that the Roamio is an improvement. The thing that I am juggling the most in my mind is things have to be simple. If I were single and lived on my own it would be one thing, but my wife isn't going to be up for any sort of troubleshooting when I'm not there, and she's already used to the TiVo. I think I'm leaning more towards going that route.

Since it isn't an absolute dire need, I wonder if they will be having some decent black friday sales on TiVos?
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblockster View Post

Well, that's good to hear that the Roamio is an improvement. The thing that I am juggling the most in my mind is things have to be simple. If I were single and lived on my own it would be one thing, but my wife isn't going to be up for any sort of troubleshooting when I'm not there, and she's already used to the TiVo. I think I'm leaning more towards going that route.

Since it isn't an absolute dire need, I wonder if they will be having some decent black friday sales on TiVos?
I think that's a very good point I hadn't thought of. HTPC works fine for me since my son or I could fix it if something went wrong. But I'd never in a million years get my parents one with no one around to take care of any issues. They're pretty solid once you get everything set up, but any software/hardware failure or cable card error can leave you dead in the water. If the cost were the same, I'd definitely prefer Tivo over HTPC. The only reason I have an HTPC at all is to save money.
post #13 of 13
Well, if you're at all concerned with ease of use- then the TiVo wins hands down!
I plugged in the new TiVo Monday, let it do it's updates, called Cablevision to bind the M-card and I was done.
Tuesday night I gave my 16yo daughter a quick 10 min checkout on the TiVo interface- and she was good to go. Last night when I came home from work- I saw she had already set up several season passes, etc .. and was already watching Robert Irvine from a recording. Very easy, especially if you've ever used or owned a TiVo previously.
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