PVR Experiment with MythTV

I’ve been a PVR user for quite some time now. While many people use the Tivo, I started out with the ReplayTV side. My first PVR was the Panasonic Showstopper, a rebranded ReplayTV unit. In fact, I still have and use this quite obsolete PVR today.

But it is obsolete, and the paltry 10 hours of record time at high quality is starting to get to me. I’d like to be able to burn recorded shows to DVD, a process that would require removing the hard disk, hooking it up to a desktop computer, and then returning it.

So, I started out looking for a new unit. I considered four choices: a new ReplayTV, new Tivo, or a homebrew MythTV or Freevo unit.

The ReplayTV options were nice, but would cost $750 for a 160-hour unit with lifetime service (and I don’t want to pay $13/mo for service either!). And while ReplayTVs can now be accessed over a network, still I don’t have much control over the capture format of content.

Tivo’s 140-hour unit would be $650 with lifetime service, but I’d have to also purchase an add-on network module to be able to download content for DVD burning. Again, expensive.

So I looked at MythTV and Freevo. While Freevo appeared to have the easier setup, MythTV clearly was the more mature and featureful product. Some of its features that greatly appealed to me were:

  • Ability to record in MPEG2 DVD format with hardware MPEG2 capture card
  • Versatile client/server setup, permitting TV to be watched, recorded, and played back from various computers on the network (also permitting scattering of video capture cards around the network)
  • Many record options, including nice conflict management/resolution screens
  • User-friendly, intuitive interface
  • No monthly costs
  • Modules to play and rip DVDs, play games on TV via a NES/SNES/whatever emulator, view current weather conditions, etc.
  • Customizable record formats
  • Others too…

So, I’ve ordered the MythTV hardware… more on that next time. I’ll be posting my MythTV experiences here.

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