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pvr, playtv or htpc??

luke90

Active Member
Hi,

So ive been possibly looking into recording freeview and the 3 methods in the title are the 3 i am considering. Basically i just wanted opinions on which you guys think would be best. Very vague question i know but just wanted to know what you might do.

Basically i have a budget of £150 but if i went for a htpc this could be upto £250 tops. (the main role of the htpc would be to just record freeview, to work as a media library and possibly record freesat in the future. i would upgrade when i had more money). i would build the htpc myself and it would be very basic.

so i have some good points and bad points i can think about for each

PVR -
Adv. built for the purpose and so minimum setup etc
Disadv. would have to buy a new one when i wanted to upgrade to freesat recording, limited hdd space

Playtv -
Adv. already have a ps3, seems like cheapest option (i would upgrade ps3 hdd though), heard good things about it.
Disadv. doesnt and wont support freesat meaning would have to buy another box.

HTPC -
Adv. fun to build, easily upgradeable, could just buy a freesat pci card when i needed it, multiple uses i.e. media storage (films, music etc)
Disadv. most expensive option at the start, got to have pc next to tv in the lounge

So any opinions or advice would be great...

Thanks

:)
 
F

frankies

Guest
htpc is difficult to keep within that price range. htpc done right should be a power horse that can handle anything you throw at it. not much of a point of putting together a low spec pc, have to switch it on- manage the fan noise issue and extra electricity consumption, only to get something that could be had with a 100 quid tesco pvr.
 

luke90

Active Member
ye i see what you mean but problem is with a pvr is that when freesat recorders come out ill need to buy a new one....

htpc is easily upgradeable. and can buy a freesat card to go in it.

tough choice. haha

so far speccing out a pc at about £150-£200 with upgradeable options easy
 

Fe_man2000

Well-known Member
I lean towards the PVR choice but I havent got a HTPC so some of this is what I have read, not actually done.

PVR - pro's - dual turner, series link etc etc easy to use day to day, works out the box. HDD limited but easy to get 320 GB for around £150

PlayTV - NOT dual tuner (for recording) - I have heard the opposite to you on this that its very average and with the cost of upgrading the HDD I would get a PVR for the same money everytime.

HTPC - good hobby device - exspensive and requires a lot more effort to maintain/setup - dual tuner ???? EPG ??? Easy to upgrade to bigger HDD.

Do you care about streaming video to the TV e.g Divx, Xvid ?? If so HTPC has some advantages - also possible to play games if that is of interest to you.

Personally I play games, stream video and record freeview and I dont use a HTPC. I find that I want my recoding to be as close to 100% foolproof as I hate missing things I have set to record - having a dedicated PVR gets me as close to that as possible and its easy to use and the wife likes it. I dont want my PC tied up to recording when I may want to use it. And I stream my video to the TV via a Xbox 360, PS3 can do the same so I cant see the advantage of a HTPC other than BIG storage and archiving of TV shows. I have a Humax 9300 320GB dual tuner HMDI - works a treat.
 

Cyril

Active Member
I cant see the advantage of a HTPC other than BIG storage and archiving of TV shows. I have a Humax 9300 320GB dual tuner HMDI - works a treat.

Though less reliable than a TiVo or Humax/Topfield DVR, Vista Media Centre has an awesome interface and extremely powerful PVR features (even comparable and surpassing TiVo in some areas).

In terms of PVR features I would rate very approximately:

Unsubscribed Skyplus or SkyHD 0.01/10 (they disable PVR features if you don't subscribe)
Fortec Innovation 0.5/10
General Freeview DVRs, Digifusion 0.7 to 1.5/10
subscribed Skyplus or SkyHD 1/10
Humax/Topfield unmodified 2/10
Unmodded USA ReplayTV or USA TiVo series 1 v1.3 (from 1999) 3.5/10
Unmodded subscribed TiVo (series 1 from 2000 v1.5) 3.5/10
Unmodded subscribed TiVo (series 1 from 2001 v2.5.5) 5/10
modified Topfield 6 to 7/10 -but getting better each day!
Unmodified Vista or Xp media centre 6/10
Modified subscribed TiVo (series 1) 7/10 -but getting better each day!
Modified subscribed TiVo (series 2 or 3) 8/10 -but getting better each day!
Modified Vista or Xp media centre 8/10 -but getting better each day!


So just on the PVR features alone (greater than 7 day (sometimes 28day) EPG, conflict resoultion,wishlists, searching facitilies, extenders etc..) the HTPC is worthwhile if you use Media Centre.
You can also add almost any features you like if you are able to write code.
Some people have written code to display train timetables, weather, show you onscreen who is telephoning you etc..

I would recommend either Windows Media Centre or Vista Media Centre. They can be hacked to give as many tuners as you want or can cram into your PC.
The new upcoming Vista TV pack should allow for decent integration with Freesat.

However if you are not a techy I would steer well clear of any PC based solution as you can muck up your setup all too easily!

Stick to the Humax if you want something simple and reliable.

For reliablity I use multiple TiVos in conjuction with SkyHDs and Media Centres. So I would need failure on several boxes to miss anything.

Simple DVRS:
Advantages: Tend to be reliable, not many features, so not much to go wrong.
Disadvantages: Only dual tuner, limited disk space. If you try to use it like a TiVo you end up spending hours trying to program tons of stuff and wading through the EPG

Complex HTPCs:
Advantages: Choice of may different OS and recoding programs with very many different features. Hundreds of extra PVR features available above and beyond almost all DVRs -(Only TiVo has some features not provided on an HTPC yet if you exclude integration with Sky PayTV). You can swap parts add a combo HD-DVD/Blu-ray and integrate and automate anything e.g. lights, curtains, aircon, central heating.
Tax deductible :)
Current best interface is Windows Media Centre, though no proper support for High Definition yet, no proper tight integration with Sky PayTV, though Freesat support is imminent.
Disadvantages:Less reliable, can be costly in both time(support/problem fixing) and money.
 
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Fe_man2000

Well-known Member
Fairs points and well said but I disagree (sort of) on a couple of points - non of them technical as your completely correct there altho I think 2/10 is a bit low for a humax/topfield PVR. (im in the uk so our tivos are crap by the way)

I have a Tivo, had Sky+ and now have a Humax 9300T as I no longer have sky at all.

I think it depends where you live in terms to TV and how you use it. You can go to an lot effort, spend a lot of money and have a large rack of kit to ensure you can record "strictly come dancing" and "Top gear" on Dave and a movie on Sky movies 1 all at once - but this is moving into the hobbist arena.

Now dont get me wrong we are on AVforums where hobbists come to chat so thats fine but personally I find that I watch a few hours of TV a day and a £170 single box does it all nicely and more than that it means that I dont have to think about it much which is what I want.

When I got rid of the Tivo I was gutted that I couldnt search for actors names on the new PVR but to be honest I only did it twice on the tivo in years and I dont miss Tivo suggestions at all. Also unless you are a keeping TV collector you really dont need 750+ GB of storage - I am struggle to put a dent in 320 GB (and theres a 500GB model out now).

I am technical and build servers for a living so the HTPC holds no fear for me but I dont want to make watching TV my hobby - its the thing I do when I am not playing with computers. :)

So HTPC - fun if your up a new project or need to have some very in depth features but not for some one who wants to record eastenders and then watch it later on. Plus its rather exspenive to get a dual tuner box that doesnt look like a PC and sound like a jet engine (compared to a PVR)

PVR - I like to watch TV sometimes and not think too much about it but I wont be able to do some of the advance searching a HTPC can do. or browse the internet or watch downloaded Videos. (unless you have a PS3/xbox)

PlayTv - that bloody Ps3 is gathering dust it must be good for something......hmmmmm :)
 

luke90

Active Member
i wouldnt want to subscribe to anything as im just a student so a one off payment is what im looking for. the thing that made me look at a htpc was that i would like to build one and would find it fun setting up. also i could upgrade it when i got more money i.e processor, hdd, freesat. i could also use it as a general pc if i put vista or xp on it.

i would also want to use the htpc for storing films and music and this is what made me lean towards it aswell. i could then stream videos from the htpc to the ps3 or just play them straight off the htpc.

pvr's however would be cheaper at the start and are easy to use and fit well in the lounge. i think im looking for something more than a pvr now though thinking about it as i do want to store films etc and then blurays if i got a bluray player in the htpc.

so i think i am leaning towards a htpc...
 

Cyril

Active Member
I think 2/10 is a bit low for a humax/topfield PVR. (im in the uk so our tivos are crap by the way)

I think it's about right -the Humax and Topfield have twice as many useful PVR features as SkyHD or SkyPlus - though I suppose I could lower the SkyPlus score to 0.7/10 :)

The scores were on the PVR/EPG features only, and don't take into account cost,size, power usage,upgradeability,number of tuners, Hi Def capability, platform capability, ease of use, interface quality, sound or picture quality, reliability.

Here's what I consider pure PVR/EPG features:
Chase play
Recording buffer
Not losing buffer when going into the menu
Conflict resolution
Series links (Season pass)/record on ALL channels, radio channels
Series link prioritisation
Ability to record radio
Ability to search beyond 24 hours
Greater than 7 day EPG
Wishlists, suggestions
first run only
Padding -negative, positive, automatic, soft, hard , intelligent
Any other software intelligence - TiVo and Media centre have these in spades, but most are sadly lacking in UK DVRs.

So depending on your viewing habits, a Humax might be 9/10 overrall.
But for me it's only a 2/10 as PVR features and High Def are most important.
Sadly SkyHD gets 9/10 for HD but 1/10 for PVR features -I want a SkyHD TiVo badly :(
 
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fishmanpete

Guest
i have a very powerful htpc- runs crysis at full 1920x1080, runs bluray, runs anything. i have vista with media center with loads of hd space. but i'm considering buying a separate pvr as it is far too much effort to put in to get anywhere near the same benefit of a 150 pound topfield or humax. even when done, it's too much a hassle to maintain. having it boot up and keep going just to watch tv- will waste 5 times as much electricity as a pvr.
 

luke90

Active Member
even when done, it's too much a hassle to maintain. having it boot up and keep going just to watch tv- will waste 5 times as much electricity as a pvr.

yes, i can imagine this being a problem. only problem is is that when freesat recorders become available i will then have to shell out on one of those where as i could just buy a pci card for a htpc.

i think maybe i should have specified earlier i am not just building the pc for just a htpc, i also hope to upgrade it to use as a regular pc at some point in the future. the kit i have looked at gives me the option to upgrade quite substantially which would be good for building a higher spec system in the future. also i would be able to use it as a media storage device which is quite important.

however i have just read on the new humax 9300t and this does sound good. especially as there is a 160GB at £130 or a 320GB at £200
 

kingjude

Standard Member
see i started asking that same question on another post, but i was wondering about the xbox 360... cuz i have a pc... built for gaming.. q6600, 2gb ram ocz, 1tb hdd, blu ray, dvd, corsair 550 watt psu, gigabyte p35 chipset... nvidia 8800gt with 1 gb ram on it.... so i was like well.. why not xbox 360 right? stream from my pc to the tv?? jus add a tv tuner to my pc and i can stream tv from pc to xbox to my tv.....

but i have extra parts.. i have a e2180 cpu.. 500 watt psu.. 2 gb ram and 160gb hdd.. now i would have to buy a motherboard.. and a graphics card.. was think abolout a 8600gts nvidia card and getting a micro atx mobo by xfx and doing it that way...... and have that under my tv.... set up a network and stream from my main pc to this smaller spec pc but still watch movies, music and all that.......

or should i just get a xbox 360?? :) people have said jus to go with a htpc.. what u guys think??

i mean yea pvr... and all that... but i think it would look cooler to have a smashing piece of equipment under your tv..... not just a humax..... there are pci cards that do free sat hd now..... so why not do that and be future proof?
 

luke90

Active Member
if you can stream to an xbox 360 and have a pc which is capable of doing that i.e you have bluray etc then why not buy the 360 and do that? or even better a ps3 ;)
haha

do u have an xbox already or am i right in thinking you dont yet?
 

kingjude

Standard Member
ur right i dont have an xbox 360... so thats why im asking everyone on here.. should i just build a htpc? or because i have a good spec rig/pc that i should just stream?????
 

luke90

Active Member
get the 360 and use it for games and media ;)
stream from your current rig

why not get a ps3?
 

BiRNiT

Standard Member
HI,
Reply to the original question:

PlayTV everytime, for the sake of £40 you will be greatly impressed. I bought one a while back and find it so slick and fast aswell as easy to use, you will only be dissapointed with any thing else. Just to note, the picture quality is amazing for SD, ive seen many other freeview boxes (humax,topfied...etc) and tbh nothing comes close to the picture quality Though it cant record 2 channels at the same time, and no series link as of yet, it has too many things going for it to be ignored. Buy one, and if you dont like it then its not like you have spent a fortune.

:devil:
 

Mr_Sukebe

Active Member
HI,
Reply to the original question:

PlayTV everytime, for the sake of £40 you will be greatly impressed. I bought one a while back and find it so slick and fast aswell as easy to use, you will only be dissapointed with any thing else. Just to note, the picture quality is amazing for SD, ive seen many other freeview boxes (humax,topfied...etc) and tbh nothing comes close to the picture quality Though it cant record 2 channels at the same time, and no series link as of yet, it has too many things going for it to be ignored. Buy one, and if you dont like it then its not like you have spent a fortune.

:devil:

+1. If you've a PS3 with fairly big internal HD, it's a bit of a no-brainer. No it's not as functionally strong as most standalones. However it does have brilliant video output, is very stable and receives regular updates. There's even mention of HD recording capability in the latest firmware, though I'm guessing that it would require a new external USB connected box to support that.
 

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