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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One area I've been hoping to extend my HTPC functionality into is the PVR area. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there are currently no practical solutions.


Specifically, to be a true PVR, in the Tivo sense, you must (IMO) be able schedule recordings and not have it interrupt watching live television.


ATI's latest MMC verision (8.1 for my Radeon AIW 7500) came very close, but is a canyon width away. I.e., they added the MulTView feature, which I was so excited about, that I ran out and picked up a TV Wonder card. My disappointment is total. Specifically:


- The feature list on ATI's site clearly states that the you can "Record one (program) while viewing another". Unfortunately, it doesn't tell you the little detail about how the show being recorded takes control of the audio signal. So, yeah, you can watch a different channel as long as you don't mind listening to the show being recorded. I even tried playing with the audio mixer and muting the main (being recorded source) and unmuting the MultView source. This, predictably, results in the wrong audio embedded in the recorded file. How stupid is this?


- There is no control OVER THE ASPECT RATIO! So I guess you're just out of luck if you don't happen to run a 4:3 resolution (which many in the HTPC crowd, you know, the type of people that would be interested in two tuners and PVR functions, don't have) are just out of luck.


- You can't get audio in the MulTView window while in Demand TV mode.


These items, for my money, make this feature absolutely useless. It has one usable feature: PIP (except for in Demand TV mode). If you're like me, you've never once used PIP after first verifying that it works on your TV. It's nothing more than a gimmick.


The above shortcomings are all the more annoying, given that ATI specifically states that MulTView allows you to "Record one while viewing another".

http://mirror.ati.com/products/faqs/mmcfaq81.html


Yeah, sure, if you don't need sound at all. It's boggling that they would go so far as to provide a feature like MulTView and leave out a couple of simple features that would actually make it useful. Good work guys!

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So, with the rant out of the way, the question becomes: is there any solution out there with these features:


- schedule digital recordings, with an on-screen guide.


- Demand TV (i.e., pause live TV, etc.)


- record one show while watching another show.


- full control over aspect ration of BOTH TV tuners.


ShowShifter doesn't seem to have the dual tuner capability.
 

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I'm interested in this topic as well. I'd be happy to just get something with Guide+ functionality that didn't crash so much - or require manual weekly updates to download the new guide and reprogram your recorded shows.
 

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It doesn't list the ATI AIW cards on the requirements so I assume it isn't supported.


I will add to Pawn's rant on ATI ...


So I look to upgrade to MMC 8.1 for the bargain price of $10. I realize it wasn't good for Pawn but maybe I'll like it - and for $10 how can I go wrong. I begin to fill out the web forms and get near the end when I realize the shipping. Lowest shipping cost is $10. So the cheapest price you can pay for this is $20. Meanwhile, the software is a free download if you have a recent AIW card.


Thanks again ATI for finding a new way to screw me over.
 

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For the closest Tivo-like functionality, it seems like SageTV is it. It does require a hardware-encoding TV card like the Hauppauge PVR250 or 350. so it won't work with the AIW. The nice thing about hardware encoding is that it uses very little CPU power, and can encode in the background.


Downside of SageTV is that it is highly integrated with the EPG, which has a monthly fee. Right now, it has very limited coverage, so make sure you live in one of the covered areas.
 

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If SageTV doesn't fit your needs you might have a look at Snapstream . It uses software encoding which requires greater system resources although the AIW is supported.


You might also want to check out MyHTPC which has some interesting EPG's being developed as plug-ins, including support for the AIW. Click here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by RTK
If SageTV doesn't fit your needs you might have a look at Snapstream . It uses software encoding which requires greater system resources although the AIW is supported.


SageTV looks to be an excellent solution, but the EPG coverage is sadly limited. Canada (my locale) seems to be left out of EPG coverage for many programs. They won't even accept a non-numeric area code in the coverage suggestion form.


This is one of the reasons I stick with ATI's MMC, due to the Canadian coverage in the Gemstar guide. But there is another frustrating thing I just realized about ATI's implementation of Gemstar: there is no abilty for memorized recordings (using the guide). How sad.


Snapstream also looks interesting, and they claim Canadian coverage is coming. However, they make no mention of dual tuner capability, which, IMO, is a huge mistake.


Thanks for the suggestions.
 

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I maybe completely off track, but what about MythTV ( www.mythtv.org ) or Freevo (freevo.sourceforge.net).


They are both linux applications but they sound like what you are looking for.


I am thinking of setting up a dedicated box to run MythTV as a substitute for my broken VCR.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by bartler
I maybe completely off track, but what about MythTV ( www.mythtv.org ) or Freevo (freevo.sourceforge.net).


They are both linux applications but they sound like what you are looking for.


I'm a huge fan of Linux, I have a dedicated Linux router box as a gateway for home network, etc. I've been using Linux since the early 0.85 series kernel, installing Slackware off of 20 something floppies downloaded from WUarchive.


That said, Linux is far too much of a pain the butt for something as commercially oriented as an HTPC (IMO). I am so sick and tired of the whole domino routine: MythTV? Ya need Glib2, need Glib2? You need Kernal blah blah. Need Kernel blah blah, you need blah blah. Need blah blah.......?


If there was ever an argument against plug in architecture, it's Linux.


Also, my machine does far more than PVR use, I wrote my own custom software to control lights, my security system, my HVAC system, etc.. Linux isn't an option.
 

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However, with the newer dependency tools like up2date, apt-get and Gentoo's Portage system, dependency issues are automatically solved. I don't think Slack has something like that, but if you use Slack, you know that already. A friend of mine uses slack because "It's hard. I've got to work at it." I'd much rather use my commuter than work on it.


apt-get mythtv will install all the other packages you need, as would up2date mythtv, and portage's emerge mythtv


I'm a huge fan of Linux also, and have been using it on the desktop as my only OS since the mid 2.0.X kernel string. I've not run into the domino game you're talking about, but then again, I don't use Slack.


matt

Quote:
Originally posted by pawn
I'm a huge fan of Linux, I have a dedicated Linux router box as a gateway for home network, etc. I've been using Linux since the early 0.85 series kernel, installing Slackware off of 20 something floppies downloaded from WUarchive.


That said, Linux is far too much of a pain the butt for something as commercially oriented as an HTPC (IMO). I am so sick and tired of the whole domino routine: MythTV? Ya need Glib2, need Glib2? You need Kernal blah blah. Need Kernel blah blah, you need blah blah. Need blah blah.......?


If there was ever an argument against plug in architecture, it's Linux.


Also, my machine does far more than PVR use, I wrote my own custom software to control lights, my security system, my HVAC system, etc.. Linux isn't an option.
 

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I couldn't agree more. I used to have a dedicated Linux box and loved how great it was to have all this free use software. The problem was I spent more time configuring it than I did using it. Finally decided to use WinXP and leave it alone for now.

Quote:
Originally posted by mmb
However, with the newer dependency tools like up2date, apt-get and Gentoo's Portage system, dependency issues are automatically solved. I don't think Slack has something like that, but if you use Slack, you know that already. A friend of mine uses slack because "It's hard. I've got to work at it." I'd much rather use my commuter than work on it.


matt
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by mmb
However, with the newer dependency tools like up2date, apt-get and Gentoo's Portage system, dependency issues are automatically solved. I don't think Slack has something like that, but if you use Slack, you know that already. A friend of mine uses slack because "It's hard. I've got to work at it." I'd much rather use my commuter than work on it.



I only mentioned Slackware as evidence that I've been in the Linux game for a while. I use Mandrake at home and Redhat at work. I still find it a pain in the a## whenever installing something new.


However, there's nothing I'd like more than to abandon Windows our workstations at work. That won' t happen until Wine, or something else, can emulate AutoCAD (and, no, nothing else will do).
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by pawn
SageTV looks to be an excellent solution, but the EPG coverage is sadly limited....
Hi pawn,


Check out this thread on the SageTV forums. As of version 1.2.8, SageTV can now accept guide listings via a plugin. There is now a plugin available for xmltv. XMLTV ( http://membled.com/work/apps/xmltv/ ) covers most of Canada and the US through use of Zap2it. With the plugin and xmltv installed you are no longer limited by the service coverage of Sage. Check it out. I'm Canadian as well and with the xmltv support in SageTV I now have as close as you're going to get to a Tivo in Canada.


Regards

Lester
 

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Bump. My reply didn't seem to move this post to the top so this is a manual bump.
 

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I'll add that SageTV is incredible, and they're adding features all the time too. I'm hoping HDTV support comes sooner rather than later, but they're looking at it at least.


I live in an area they provide listings for, so I can't speak for the XMLTV plugin other than the fact that it exists.
 

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Unfortunately, none of the other PVR solutions with the sole exception of ATI MMC supports closed captioning. I mean, come on!!! Why can't these guys include closed captioning support into their software? Is there something wrong with closed captioning??
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Lester Jacobs
Hi pawn,


Check out this thread on the SageTV forums. As of version 1.2.8, SageTV can now accept guide listings via a plugin. There is now a plugin available for xmltv. XMLTV ( http://membled.com/work/apps/xmltv/ ) covers most of Canada and the US through use of Zap2it. With the plugin and xmltv installed you are no longer limited by the service coverage of Sage. Check it out. I'm Canadian as well and with the xmltv support in SageTV I now have as close as you're going to get to a Tivo in Canada.


Regards

Lester


Thanks for this. I will begin playing immediatley.


I've actually gotten the ATI stuff working so-so with a few workarounds, but I reallt want to experiment.


Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by GLucas
Pawn,

To get the sound on your ATI setup to play through the one that is not recording, you need to go into the "initialization" and set it to "Mute while recording"
True enough. I played with this a bit before I posted. Sadly, it turned out that my troubles (with audio) were related to my crappy Audigy. I just sold this on Ebay, so it will trouble me no more.


Thanks.
 
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