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I did a comparison of a standard Dell HTPC vs a Series3 HD Tivo to see what was the better deal and here's a recap:

Cost


There is not a big cost difference between the HTPC and the Tivo. The base cost of the Dell HTPC was about 600 dollars but I added another 100 for a HD Tuner giving a SD and HD TV tuner. You can get a Series 2 Tivo for a lot less (only about 250 dollars) but it can only record standard definition. If you went that route, you could configure a HTPC for a lot less than 600 dollars so I think the cost is still fairly close between the two. Also remember that Tivo requires a monthly subscription fee.


Winner: Tie

Ease of Use


In some sense this isn't a fair comparison because the embedded Tivo software just has to handle the recording TV aspect where the HTPC has a full operating system as well as the PVR software which is Windows Media Center Edition 2005 in this case. However, the Tivo software is definitely easier to use and a much higher acceptance factor among non-technical people.


Winner: Tivo

Setup/Maintenance


Again, the Tivo wins in this category as you simply have to plug and play while the HTPC is a full computer you have to setup. I will say that configuring Windows Media Center is very easy to setup and configure even for non-technical people, especially if you buy a system with the TV tuner cards installed.


Winner: Tivo

Upgrade Ability


While some people with Tivo will disagree with me since in the past you have been able to put in a bigger hard drive yourself (it involves some linux hacking) and with the Series 3 you can add an external eSATA hard drive, the HTPC wins this category. You can always add more TV tuners to your HTPC while the Tivo is limited to two. You can also upgrade the other components in the HTPC such as the video card and hard drive that will provide advantages over the standard Tivo.


Winner: HTPC

Functionality


Both the Tivo and the HTPC have a lot of extra media functionality such as viewing photos, playing mp3s from other devices and even streaming video from other sources. (The Tivo has its Home Media software) But the HTPC has two major advantages: the ability to have a DVD drive (or a HD DVD/Blu Ray drive in the future) to view DVDs and also the ability to better incorporate internet video content as well. Also remember that the HTPC is a full blown PC that can be used for other tasks as well. We can probably all agree that a dedicated HTPC wins in this category.


Winner: HTPC


Conclusion



The Tivo has come a long way and has lots of features available like the ability to upgrade the storage and operate as a central media server. This combined with its easy to use software makes it a tough contender. However, the overall functionality per dollar and upgrade potential you get out of a HTPC is still unmatched and overshadows the Tivo.


Winner: HTPC



So what do you guys think? For the same cost would you get a HTPC or Series3 HD Tivo?
 

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I've got both and hands down the Tivo wins. I have simple record and watch demands and the Tivo is SO much easier to use. It seems as though the HTPC is never set and forget.


Your comparison points are right on, I like the idea of essentially unlimited storage space with the HTPC, but I'm running the Tivo with 1T raid array with no problems (despite what Weaknees.com would have you believe).


I'm not sorry I have the HTPC, but wouldn't bother to setup another. IF the Tivo price ever comes down, that's where I'd go.


Ciao
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lstepnio /forum/post/0


I feel that one of the most important factors with the Series 3 is the cable card encrypted QAM recording support.

thats coming pretty soon with mce..... got some beta drivers up and running with HDHomeRun at their website.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaetamer /forum/post/0


I've got both and hands down the Tivo wins. I have simple record and watch demands and the Tivo is SO much easier to use. It seems as though the HTPC is never set and forget.


Your comparison points are right on, I like the idea of essentially unlimited storage space with the HTPC, but I'm running the Tivo with 1T raid array with no problems (despite what Weaknees.com would have you believe).


I'm not sorry I have the HTPC, but wouldn't bother to setup another. IF the Tivo price ever comes down, that's where I'd go.


Ciao

Im actually the opposite.... I really think media center is easier to use but doesnt do a few things very well (which dissapoints me some) but with vista the new sports section and movie guide are very very nice and something tivo doesnt do as well imo.


But the biggest advantage over tivo to me is the extender concept.... In fact my media server isnt even connected at all to a tv anymore (and does strictly server stuff so I havent had the reliability issues some have had) and being able to have the same recorded list/live tv experince everywhere in the house is very nice. Its not an added on feature like show sharing is with tivo. (and thats a big deal to me having one interface at every tv I own)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagouar /forum/post/0


But the biggest advantage over tivo to me is the extender concept.... In fact my media server isnt even connected at all to a tv anymore (and does strictly server stuff so I havent had the reliability issues some have had) and being able to have the same recorded list/live tv experince everywhere in the house is very nice. Its not an added on feature like show sharing is with tivo. (and thats a big deal to me having one interface at every tv I own)

May I ask you to contact me privately? I'm interested in how you manage the shared interface with a media server.


No sweat if you're not into such a request.



Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcoyle /forum/post/0


I did a comparison of a standard Dell HTPC vs a Series3 HD Tivo . . . .

What Dell HTPC? Do you just mean an XPS running MCE?

They still think we're all cubicle drones, some of whom play games.


"Huh? What have I missed?"

Rip van Winkle
 

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I've got both! The HTPC serves as a way to listen to music, watch ripped DVD's, check the network cameras, the weather, etc. The Tivo serves as a cable box. Until HTPC's can do CableCards, I don't see one replacing a Tivo Series3 in my setup.
 

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I actually have an HDHomerun and this device will only support unencrypted cable QAM or OTA. The only claimed advantage with the HDHR is that the drivers will (might) allow QAM support into MCE. MCE currently does not support QAM at all but SageTV for examples does.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jagouar /forum/post/0


thats coming pretty soon with mce..... got some beta drivers up and running with HDHomeRun at their website.




Im actually the opposite.... I really think media center is easier to use but doesnt do a few things very well (which dissapoints me some) but with vista the new sports section and movie guide are very very nice and something tivo doesnt do as well imo.


But the biggest advantage over tivo to me is the extender concept.... In fact my media server isnt even connected at all to a tv anymore (and does strictly server stuff so I havent had the reliability issues some have had) and being able to have the same recorded list/live tv experince everywhere in the house is very nice. Its not an added on feature like show sharing is with tivo. (and thats a big deal to me having one interface at every tv I own)
 

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I agree with most of your analysis except two.

1. Cost: HTPC is a winner. I recently built a Beyond TV HTPC with Vbox tuner and Geforce 7300LE. The cost break down is

Dell PC amd 64 x 2 3800+ 160G HD and 1G mem: $389

Beyond TV + tuner + remote: $109

Geforce 7300: $30

Total cost is $530. I don't think you can get a Tivo series 3 at that price.

To make a fairer comparison, you may need an extra 300 G hard disk which may cost around $100. Of course the price I got is not every day price, you've got watch these components for a while to get the best deal of each one of them. For example, a $30 Geforce 7300LE is not easy to get. I have not seen it since I bought it. But I guess you can get a $55 one fairly easily at new egg anytime. The absolute price difference is not that big considering the overall cost.

This may bring the cost closer to Tivo 3 but hey there will be zero monthly fee for life. That is the tie break.


2. Easy to use. I would rate it a tie with Tivo. My system is so stable, it never crashes and I programmed my harmony remote to control it and it just looks like any consumer box.


I would think the biggest downside of HTPC is to build it to work. I took me quite a bit of effort to get it fully work. I encountered all sorts of problems from small to big. But if you are very good at PC(I am a computer professional but not an expert on PC), HTPC is the way to go. Because once you get it to work, it works beatifully. Lastly, I guess HTPC can beat the picture quality Tivo provides. Does tivo let you set a output resolution of 1360x768 or 1920x1080? These are the two current native resolutions of Plasma and LCD. If Tivo only gives old fashioned 720p or 1080i you can not get the most power out of the latest flat panels.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tcoyle /forum/post/0


I did a comparison of a standard Dell HTPC vs a Series3 HD Tivo to see what was the better deal and here's a recap:

Cost


There is not a big cost difference between the HTPC and the Tivo. The base cost of the Dell HTPC was about 600 dollars but I added another 100 for a HD Tuner giving a SD and HD TV tuner. You can get a Series 2 Tivo for a lot less (only about 250 dollars) but it can only record standard definition. If you went that route, you could configure a HTPC for a lot less than 600 dollars so I think the cost is still fairly close between the two. Also remember that Tivo requires a monthly subscription fee.


Winner: Tie

Ease of Use


In some sense this isn't a fair comparison because the embedded Tivo software just has to handle the recording TV aspect where the HTPC has a full operating system as well as the PVR software which is Windows Media Center Edition 2005 in this case. However, the Tivo software is definitely easier to use and a much higher acceptance factor among non-technical people.


Winner: Tivo

Setup/Maintenance


Again, the Tivo wins in this category as you simply have to plug and play while the HTPC is a full computer you have to setup. I will say that configuring Windows Media Center is very easy to setup and configure even for non-technical people, especially if you buy a system with the TV tuner cards installed.


Winner: Tivo

Upgrade Ability


While some people with Tivo will disagree with me since in the past you have been able to put in a bigger hard drive yourself (it involves some linux hacking) and with the Series 3 you can add an external eSATA hard drive, the HTPC wins this category. You can always add more TV tuners to your HTPC while the Tivo is limited to two. You can also upgrade the other components in the HTPC such as the video card and hard drive that will provide advantages over the standard Tivo.


Winner: HTPC

Functionality


Both the Tivo and the HTPC have a lot of extra media functionality such as viewing photos, playing mp3s from other devices and even streaming video from other sources. (The Tivo has its Home Media software) But the HTPC has two major advantages: the ability to have a DVD drive (or a HD DVD/Blu Ray drive in the future) to view DVDs and also the ability to better incorporate internet video content as well. Also remember that the HTPC is a full blown PC that can be used for other tasks as well. We can probably all agree that a dedicated HTPC wins in this category.


Winner: HTPC


Conclusion



The Tivo has come a long way and has lots of features available like the ability to upgrade the storage and operate as a central media server. This combined with its easy to use software makes it a tough contender. However, the overall functionality per dollar and upgrade potential you get out of a HTPC is still unmatched and overshadows the Tivo.


Winner: HTPC



So what do you guys think? For the same cost would you get a HTPC or Series3 HD Tivo?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lstepnio /forum/post/0


I actually have an HDHomerun and this device will only support unencrypted cable QAM or OTA. The only claimed advantage with the HDHR is that the drivers will (might) allow QAM support into MCE. MCE currently does not support QAM at all but SageTV for examples does.

It supports qam now.... they posted some beta drivers in their forums a few days ago. Its only one tuner right now (for testing purposes) but I would think within a few weeks they will have something stable with dual tuners so taking it on the go with my gigabeat S or webguide is actually possible. To me this is a stop gap product while I wait for the cable labs protection to be cracked or they come to their senses and let me use webguide/gigabeat with cablecard recorded products. And so they can remove the stupid requirement that you buy a new computer.


And yes I know it does unencrypted cable but that will get most peoples ota networks atleast (and for me all the networks since i live in an area where our hd towers are 90 miles away so cable is the only real option to get 2 of the 4 major networks). and most importantly its not drm'ed due to cablecard restrictions. Not even mentioning the fact that you have to buy a new computer right now to even get cablecard.
 

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I've had a Tivo since the beginning. But quickly wanted dual tuner functionality. Tivo's answer was buy another Tivo and add another subscription. I didn't like that answer, so 4 years ago I added an HTPC computer and have never turned back. I upgraded my Series 1 to a Series 2, because it was only the cost of the box and they transferred my service.


But my Tivo has been relegated to my 3rd option for recording.


The key reasons are my 2 HTPC boxes could do dual tuner and HD long before Tivo could. Tivo's Dual tuner just came out earlier last year. And the HD was end of last year. Now they want another $200 to transfer my lifetime subscription.


For me, Tivo was too little too late. With my HTPC boxes, I have mutli room viewing. I can EASILY transfer files and move them to my laptop for viewing. (No TivoDesktop needed.) Even my pioneer plasma has home media gallery function that I can stream HD shows from either computer. Add the xbox360 as an extender and seriously, not a problem.


The concern over stability has not been an issue for me. One of my HTPCs is also the kitchen computer, my houses email server, web server, photo printing machine. I have not had a crash in god knows how long. *KNOCK ON WOOD* let's hope it stays that way.


The one thing I would say that Tivo has over HTPC is that it's better for someone like my parents.


Just my thoughts... I used to be a big proponent of Tivo, but have since felt there are other options that are out there.
 

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I actually posted a huge comment on your original blog post with this article wherein I defended my choice to get a Tivo Series 3 this past weekend.


Now I'm not so sure that was a good choice.


The UI is UGLY. Really, everyone at TivoCommunity raved about it - but it just felt like a major step back in time for me - like I was going back to 2000 with my ReplayTV. The MCE and it's sliding menus, etc. is just more gorgeous to look at.


Noise factor - the constant humming the hard drives on the Tivo bugs me. My MCE is in a different room so I don't hear the PC at all (not really a fair comparison, but if you can hide the PC in a closet and just use the IR extender, you're in better shape)


The remote seems slightly sluggish to me then my XP MCE remote. I think what I already had was fine.


OH! And there is an audio sync issue with the optical digital out for the Series 3. Even the wife notices it, so I think I might be taking it back.


I just wish I could find a way to record HD. I'm a huge loser because all I want to do is time-shift American Idol in HD so I can read stories to my kids before they go to sleep. I"m tired of watching it in SD - if someone can crack CableLabs or this HomeRunHD thing works, then I'll just do that.


I'm not interested in streaming HD content free around the world - I just want to see Ryan Seacrests dreamy eyes in beautiful 1080i! (That last bit was supposed to be sarcastic..
)
 

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I've been interested in building a Myth box for quite sometime now but while trying to price the project out I've hit a bit of a snag. Let's start off by defining some requirements. The Myth box should be able to do at least everything a Series3 can do and then some. This gives me a list that looks like this:


-Dual recording of ether SD or HD material

-HDMI Output

-Optical Audio Output

-Wireless Connection to my network

-At least match Series3 32 hours of HD recording

-Look at least as good as a Series3 box

-DVD Burner

-Beat the price of a Series3


Sounds simple enough accept you can now get a refurbished Series3 for $450.00 plus one year of service for $130.00. That has no tax and free shipping for a final cost for 1 year of $580.00. Now I understand that with the Series3 each year after the first I will also be paying at least an additional $156.00/year in service verse $20.00/year on the Myth box.


Let's breakdown by price the hardware I have determined would be necessary to match the Series3.


CPU - Intel e8400 3.0 GHZ Dual Core - $240.00

HD Dual Tuner - HD-Homerun - $170.00

SD Dual Tuner - PVR-500 MCE - $140.00

Storage - WD 500 Gig 7200 RPM SATA (~55 Hours HD vs. 32 on Series3) - $100.00

Motherboard - ABIT I-N73HD LGA (HDMI/Optical Audio outputs) - $85.00

Memory - 1 Gig DDR2 PC2-6400 - $45.00

DVD Burner - LiteON LH-20A1L-06 - $35.00

WiFi - Linksys PCI 802.11g (Compatible with Myth???) - $25.00

First year of service - $20.00


Right there I am looking at $880.00 if I can swing free shipping on all parts. You might also notice the there is no case or power supply listed. Finding a case that looks good and could blend in with my Samsung 61 DLP, Oppo 980, and Onkyo 505 has been a real challenge. Today I learned about the new Omaura cases that should be available soon. These cases look amazing but I fear they are going to be well over $100.00 before adding a power supply. For the time being let's estimate I could get an Omaura case with power supply for $120.00. This brings the final project cost to $1000.00 for year one.


At that price the Myth box doesn't save me anything until year 4 of ownership after which I should be saving $136.00 a year. At that rate it would take just under 12 years before the Myth box had paid for itself in savings. To me it just doesn't seem worth the trouble with these numbers. So I'm here asking for ways to reduce the overall cost of the Myth build.


Reviewing my list of hardware do you see anything that is overkill? The highest cost item at the moment is the Intel chip which should come down considerably over time. We can only hope the HD-Homerun drops in price or even better integrates SD.


I would gladly pay $250.00 for a HD-Homerun+ that could do both dual SD and HD seamlessly. That would allow me to eliminate the PVR-500 and leave a ZERO card box if I switched to a USB WiFi adapter(Myth Compatible???).


Any advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated. Until then this project will be put on the back-burner pending price drops on the required hardware.
 

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When you say that the HD Homerun does not do SD do you actually mean that it is has ATSC/QAM-only tuners and no NTSC function? From my (limited) knowledge, as I'm doing my research for my first HTPC, the HD Homerun should have no trouble picking up SD signals from, for example, a 480i OTA digital broadcast (which is what I would use it for, so this concerns me).
 

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The HD home run doesn't do analog. That means that is won't pick up most of the channels on basic cable.


What the Tivo S3 does that I am pretty sure a Myth box will not do is be able to receive encrypted CATV channels.


Tivo S3 has a very nice guide that is very frequently updated. One example was where I wanted to Record "Lost" on both the Tivo and the MCE. The guide on the MCE didn't have it in the schedule but the Tivo did.


Tivo now has Tivo to Go. That makes it very easy to to make DVDs of recording from many channels. As far as I know you can not do that on a Vista Cable Card system.


The Tivo is an appliance that is very stable. The HTPC is a computer that needs to be rebooted or have some forms of maintance that may interupt a recording. When you have a Dual Tuner DVR you never know when something is scheduled to record. I really like having the HTPC and "Cable Box" separate.


~Jay
 

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Along with many others here I struggled for years trying to get my htpc to work properly for tv and just plain gave up. Just look into the threads on this forum the tgb to find out about the issues people are having with their new htpc's with cable card tuners.


Instead of the s3 I purchased the tivohd unit last december. With the new tivotigo service it is no problem transfering shows to the server and converting to dvr-ms or mpeg is crazy easy, frankly it's automated for me.


The only drawback to the tivohd is it won't allow you to transfer copyprotected shows to your pc. Well that is only applicable if you leave it 'stock'.


I started by taking the drive out and 'mirroring' it to a 1tb hitachi drive. I then added a second 1tb drive to the usb port so I now have 2tb of internal storage.


Then comes the fun part. Without going to far as I don't want to get banned as this is one of my favorite websites, lets just say it's possible to transfer all shows from the tivohd unit. You do have to change the prom on the unit, easy to do. After that it's just a matter of changing the bootup code to kinda 'ignore' cp flags. Now there is no show that can't be transfered to the server. The nice part is the shows are not 'tied' to the pc it was recorded on as with the tuner pc setups.


there is one slight problem though. Transfers from the tivo to the pc are very slow. It's about 2x the shows time for transfer. Tivo is aware of this issue and is working to fix the issue though I doubt it will ever transfer at speeds we would expect.


Now combinging my tivohd and my htpc with server, I have what I have been working on for years. It is 100% reliable and has never caused me a single issue. I think the tivohd and the htpc are a perfect marriage.
 

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I have both an HTPC and a TIVOHD.. What Tivo does obviously is that handles encrypted digital cable.. Depending on your viewing habbits that may be very important to you. What I like about it is that guide handles analog antenna, analog cable, digital antenna, digital cable, and encrypted digital cable all selectable directly from on integrated guide. Oh an if you can get your cable card up and running the rest is pretty much plug and play.


On the other hand there are issues with decompression artifacts, poor PQ on HDMI to my DLP at least.. I am using component out as a result... and of course the guide is a never ending expense.


For me though, it will be easier in the long run to get my wife more comfortable with a totally integraged environment like Media Center. BTW HD Homerun works very well, it may not handle encrypted content but it combined with an analog tuner in the pc gives you a lot of hd and sd cable content.


I will probably look at the Hauppage card for my HTPC to capture to the de-encrypted cable out of the Tivo on conponent.
 
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