Building a Linux PVR, Part 2: Microsoft's MCE 2004by Purav Sanghani on September 16, 2004 12:05 AM EST
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IntroductionA few weeks ago, we introduced the first of a series of articles on building a home made PVR, "Building a Linux PVR Part I - MythTV Setup and Install". Today, we bring you the second part of the series, which focuses on Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 and how it compares to the Linux-based MythTV.
When Microsoft first introduced their Media Center Edition of Windows, many saw this as a great opportunity to acquire a cheap PVR, since it was combined with a PC that could be used for the usual day-to-day tasks, such as word processing or browsing the Internet. But with that, Microsoft decided to bundle MCE with custom PCs that are built using the short list of supported hardware by big names in the industry, such as Hewlett-Packard and Gateway Computers. It could not be bought off store shelves by PC enthusiasts who already had hardware capable of PVR operations, nor did Microsoft plan on supporting hardware besides those from the few names it worked with.
Fast forward to today where Microsoft has begun selling OEM versions of their Media Center Edition to "Mom and Pop" shops to be installed on only Media Center Edition certified machines. This is a step forward, since it gives more power to those smaller shops. Media Center Edition still does not have support for the long list of hardware that MythTV does, but Microsoft has expanded their driver list quite a bit from their first release.
Although we installed MythTV from scratch in the previous review, we will use KnoppMyth in this half of the analysis. KnoppMyth installs cleanly and easily, but does not offer as much support as getting your hands dirty with a "from scratch" install.
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unnefer - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - linkActually, there is a mythTV frontend for Windows, called (of all names) winMyth. I haven't used it so I can't comment on it's use. It can be found here: http://winmyth.sourceforge.net/
As for the article, it was pretty even IMO - just one issue.
Why use knoppmyth to compare to MCE? They don't even come close to being similar.
Knopmyth is basically a gloryfied "LiveCD" and only supports what the developers think should be supported.
Why not install Fedora (or another distro) and then install mythTV and anything else required to get it fully-functional to the same extent as the MCE install.
Remember, MCE is on 2 cds and takes just as much effort to install and setup correctly.
Brazen - Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - linkI'd like to see an article on setting up a linux pvr server and then be able to access the server adn watch tv from a client running on Windows.
gimper48 - Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - linkOk so I will ask again where are you finding that Case for that price?!!! I want to build one but I am having a tough time finding a couple parts for those prices.
TrogdorJW - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - linkI'm not sure I get the point of the detractors of this article. For one, the conclusion is that KnoppMyth/MythTV is the overall winner due to flexibility (at least if you're competent enough to configure some additional options). Second, the software vs. hardware encoding was clearly stated, and there were good reasons for going with the cheaper software encoding cards (price, more flexibility on encoding choice, and you get two cards as well). Are there features that do not get addressed? Yes. Would you all spend the time to read four more pages of commentary on features that 95% of people probably don't care about? Hmmmm.....
Now, all I need to do is resist the urge to spend money on building my own PVR. Or maybe not? I wonder how well an old P3 1.4 GHz would do with PVR duties if I get a TV card?
JKolstad - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link#17: Fair enough, but my point is that if legal restrictions prevent DVD playback from working, it either (a) simply shouldn't be an option for the user to select in the first place or (b) a dialog should be displayed mentioning as much (You can word things pretty generically... just say, "DVD playback is unavailable due to the lack of a DeCss plug-in. According to the DMCA, such software cannot be legally distributed with this application, nor can information be provided on where such software could be obtained. Please search the Internet for further information.")
But letting a use choose an option that then just leads to a blank screen frustrates both novice AND expert users.
#20: Granny isn't going to come within 10 feet of a PVR? Hmm... maybe, but I'd bet you plenty of TiVos are sold to the 60+ crowd, and PVRs aren't far behind.
Daita - Friday, September 17, 2004 - linkWhat about comparing something like Snapstream or SageTV to MythTV for the windows platform as they're more comparable to what MythTV offers. Snapstream with the new 3.5 version thats in beta right now offers multi-tuner support, web scheduling, client server operation, transcoding, and with the new plugin system will allow users to implement many more features. While this is a 3rd part addon for windows I still think something along these lines is much more comparable than Windowa MCE.
frizzlebiscuit - Friday, September 17, 2004 - linkXsecrets, you read my mind. I noticed the same errors in the article regarding KnoppMyth and MythTV, and had the same reactions. Thanks for saving me some typing.
On MCE: I have not spent any time with MCE, but it looks similar to UltimateTV, which is in some respects a good thing.
On grandmas: No elderly person on earth is coming within 10 feet of a PVR. Therefore it's a fallacy to base evaluations of these systems on such a standard of usability. That being said, Supernerd shouldn't be the standard either, but I don't think that is the case here.
On user interfaces: Interfaces should be optimized for a TV and a remote control. MCE looks like it's designed for a monitor and mouse. Supernerd may watch TV at his computer, but I don't. Myth gets it right.
rjbAnandtech - Thursday, September 16, 2004 - linkSo will ether of these directly connect to a Cable TV or Satellite TV feed? How about a version that does HDTV? What card can be used to support HDTV from Satellite?
cesman - Thursday, September 16, 2004 - link"KnoppMyth installs cleanly and easily, but does not offer as much support as getting your hands dirty with a "from scratch" install." As one of the developers behind KnoppMyth, that is the point. KnoppMyth was/is designed to get a set-top box running in the quickest and easiest manner. What sort of "support" are you looking for?