Originally Posted by Phaid
Once I got HDTV in December of 05, the MythTV box really wasn't an option any more. Since then I've had HD digital cable from two different providers (Comcast and Optimum) both with the Scientific Atlanta SA8300HD DVR (though Comcast and Optimum load different firmware onto the DVR). Frankly, there's no comparison between the commercial DVR and MythTV. The commercial system does everything faster (powering up, changing channels) and never, ever crashes.
The other advantage the cable co. DVRs have is the simple quantity of hardware they ship with, that would cost a fortune to replicate in a FOSS system: the SA 8300HD, for example, has 4 tuners (2 NTSC, 2 QAM) 2 of which can be used simultaneously (to record one program while watching another live one, or record two programs while watching a third prerecorded one) and four outputs (composite, S-video, HDMI, and component), two of which may be used simultaneously to output different programs.
Bottom line, if you have a 4:3 CRT TV and basic cable, MythTV is probably a cost-effective solution, and certainly more flexible than any commercial solution out there. If you have a nice widescreen TV and digital cable with HD channels, MythTV just can't compete with the stuff the cable company offers, and even if you have the time and money to build an equivalent system the result won't be as good.
I bought a widescreen HDTV CRT (without built-in HD tuner) in the summer of 2003 to replace an old dying analog TV. I time-shift the majority of my TV viewing. As a result, any HD tuner I would consider buying had to have PVR capability. I'd been subscribing to analog cable because I was initially told by my HOA that rooftop antennas were not allowed (I know better after joining and reading AVSForum and learning about the FCC laws). Our situation in Denver is such that we didn't have full power HD broadcasts, but will hopefully by this summer, so I held off buying an ATSC tuner and watched line-doubled analog cable for the last few years. I hate paying monthly fees for stuff like cable, so Tivo Series 3, even at the cheapest pre-pay subscription of $100/year was not so appetizing. I figured Tivo S3 at $600 + $300 (3 year) upfront subscription fee adds up to roughly $900 over 3 years. The recently introduced HD-Tivo at only $300 is cheaper, but only 20 hours recording storage is ridiculous. This summer, Comcast offered a special deals on HD cable, like free HD-PVR and free 2nd room install, so I bit and ordered it with their HD-PVR, however, instead of just paying $7-9/month for basic HD channels, they forced me to upgrade to their premium HD package with all their HD channels in order to get the HD-PVR. I got a 6-month discount on my cable internet as well. But all my discounts have expired and I'm currently paying $75/month more for HD-PVR and HD channels. So that's $900 a year. The only HD-PVR Comcast offers in my area is a Motorola (DCT3416) which is a dual tuner and stores about 30 hours of HD content). I've noticed some limitations such as it freezes up and reboots when I try to switch between watching 2 recordings and a live channel. I quickly filled up the 30 hour capacity after only a few months and had to keep deleting unwatched programs to record new programs. An hour of HD uses up 7% of the drive. For the typical 3 1/2 hour college football game, that is amost 25% of the drive space I have to have free. On a weekend that I need to record both a college and NFL game without being able to watch and delete one before recording the other, I needed to have almost 1/2 the hard drive free space! MythTV is free, but you have to pay $20/year for Schedules Direct program guide. I've priced out hardware for a dual tuner HD HTPC at $850 (that includes networking hardware like a router and UTP cable, ATSC antenna, DVI cable, and 500GB drive which should be good for 70 hours less the OS and Myth software). I am spec'ing my HTPC for both MythTV and VistaMCE rather than a "wnewell cheapie" because it needs to be a front/back end Myth box in a MicroATX media case that will be as close to a silent PC as possible in my A/V rack under the TV, going for Core2Duo because of heat and power savings and 2 GB RAM. I plan on running MythTV, but want the option to maybe set up a dual boot for VistaMCE if that suits my needs better (Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, although I'll be using it for TV viewing 90%+). The Myth option is cheaper than cable HD-PVR after the 1st year, while the Tivo option is cheaper than Myth for the first 3 years. HD-Tivo ($300) plus 3 year-subscription ($300) plus a 500GB drive (either replacing the internal or future eSATA - $100) is cheaper than my Myth box until after 5 years. I'm looking to keep the system at least 10 years, if not forever, so Myth is most cost effective over the long haul. The other benefit of Myth is ATSC, which is better resolution than compressed QAM cable. Supposedly cable-card will be available with Tivo, but I feel that the cable companies are very reluctant. I want my Myth system to be reliable, so am leaning towards Mythdora since Mythbuntu and Knopmyth are both based on unstable Debian. Is Myth more reliable than VistaMCE? I'd hate to loose a recording because it crashed while recording in progress. Another bonus of Myth is that I can stream a program to a computer in my bedroom office (if it's a Linux box running Myth front end, or maybe the new Myth front end for Windows on a Vista box) when I want to catch some live TV (like the news) while working on a computer without having to run downstairs to the living room.