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  #1  
Old 16.08.2006, 13:01
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TiVo-esque

Greetings!

First of all, I'd hate for this thread to turn into free advertisement for some company's service. If it does, I'd agree to cutting it from here and moving it elsewhere.

I'm trying to figure out the best way of getting TiVo like functionality on my Swiss TV. I understand I can build my own out of a Linux box, or I can subscribe to BluewinTV, or Comcast's digital recorder. There are probably other ways of time-shifting shows in a user friendly way.

The features I would look for is the ability to record from any channel I can normally receive, the ability to capture the english audio channel as well as the regular audio, eventually capturing satelite broadcasts, and of course shuttling around the video.

I'm about to blindly sign up for the Bluewin offering. I wonder if anyone here has used any of these and would be willing to share their experiences of joy and/or disappointment.

Cheers!
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Old 16.08.2006, 13:04
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Re: TiVo-esque

also consider Windows MCE and perhaps Media Portal
having two TV tuner cards would probably allow dual-recording
alternately, a satellite PVR like Dreambox would also go some way to fulfilling your requirements....

The questions I have to ask:
what do you want to record?
how much do you want to pay?

other questions could follow....
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Old 16.08.2006, 13:20
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Re: TiVo-esque

I figure I would just cue up a bunch of programs that I am interested in and watch them at my leisure, when I want to watch. At the moment, I have basic cable service, but might eventually get satelite. My kids like to watch certain shows that air at the most inconvenient time. It's like a bargaining chip in child rearing. With this, we can at least choose when we want to watch.
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Old 16.08.2006, 13:38
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Re: TiVo-esque

With a subscription service, I assume the program listings are maintained by the service provider. With a DIY solution, I wonder how the program listing is maintained.
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Old 16.08.2006, 13:59
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Re: TiVo-esque

depending on your source and what you choose, there can be an EPG.

I've seen Win MCE with 2 satellite cards getting a good EPG, for example
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Old 16.08.2006, 14:09
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Re: TiVo-esque

One of the things I noticed about programming here is that it is not always followed on schedule. I've seen shows begin 15 minutes after schedule. Maybe this occurs only after some live event, like sports or some (ahem) horse wagon parade. I wonder how dependable the program guides are.
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Old 16.08.2006, 17:29
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Re: TiVo-esque

We are using the recorder from Cablecom's digital cable service. The only problem is that you can't record - or even watch - in dual language on most stations. It is apparently a limitation with their service (that they claim to be working on). It goes with the default language rather than the original language.

We use it to record mostly stuff on BBC 1 and BBC 2. The schedules aren't perfect and we've learned to schedule the start a couple of minutes early and end a couple late.

We've only had it a few months and I keep wondering how we watched TV without it before! For us, it is worth the money (as it seems the weird stuff we like to watch is usually on in the middle of the night, etc.).
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Old 16.08.2006, 17:33
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Re: TiVo-esque

indeed; you use the EPG instead of programming start-end times (because we've all f--ked those up on a VCR haven't we?) but then you're at the mercy of those updating that EPG.

The Sky EPG isn't bad. I would never give up Sky+.
My Dreambox is slightly different; EPG is something you work on and I do have padding of 5 minutes each side. And then I chop-chop-chop and reformat the saved transport stream into MPG format
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Old 16.08.2006, 17:40
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Re: TiVo-esque

question for anyone out there - do you have a Bluewin tv300?

If so, what do you think of it?
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Old 17.08.2006, 13:38
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Re: TiVo-esque

I went ahead and order BluewinTV. I will gladly submit a review after I set it up and use it.
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Old 22.08.2006, 12:43
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Re: TiVo-esque

Quote:
I went ahead and order BluewinTV. I will gladly submit a review after I set it up and use it.
I am definitely interested in your feedback, as we are considering Bluewin TV... Any word yet?

jack
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Old 22.08.2006, 13:06
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Re: TiVo-esque

Oh, yes! Thanks for reminding me.

I ordered BluewinTV300 from the Swisscom website, and it arrived within 2 days. The documentation is only in G,F & I. Unfortunately, there is no English documentation.

Set up was very easy. 1. Connect cable from wall to BWT300 box. 2. Connect SCart cable from BWT300 box to TV. 3. Finally, plug in BWT300 to power outlet.

You simply turn it on, and it goes through a 20 set-up process. It automatically scans for available channels, and downloads the program guide. The simplicity of installation exceeded my expectations.

I was surprised to see the box did not require a separate Internet connection for the program guide. Rather, it downloaded the program guide through the TV cable itself. So that exceeded my expectations too.

What I don't like is that there are only a handful of channels that are available through the program guide. The usual SF1, SF2, RTL, etc. There was no BBC, CNBC, nor CNN. So recording shows for the missing channels require entering text and time through the remote control. Also, the onscreen menus are only available in G,F and I. Again, no English.

What I do like is that it is truly cool and convenient! I like how it preserves the language track when tape multi-language broadcasts. I can simply stack up shows and choose which ones I like.

There is one other feature I really appreciate. Shows can be selected for recording through the BWTV website. I think, but I'm not sure, that I can choose BBC shows from there without having to enter text.

One thing I would like to figure out if two shows can be recorded at the same time with the low video quality setting.

Feel free to ask if you have any specific questions.
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Old 22.08.2006, 13:12
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Re: TiVo-esque

it's a single-tuner machine so no you can not record two channels at the same time.

Quote:
Kann ich zwei Sendungen gleichzeitig aufzeichnen?
Wie ein Videorekorder auch, ist der Bluewin TV 300 Harddisc-Recorder mit nur einem TV-Tuner ausgestattet. Sie können deshalb auch nur eine Sendung empfangen, und diese aufzeichnen oder anhalten.
Während eine Aufzeichnung läuft können Sie jedoch eine Sendung aus Ihrem ARCHIV ansehen, oder ganz normal über Ihren Fernseher fernsehen.
Tell us about the links you can set up; I assume season links work - but does it have functionality like Tivo where you thumbs-up something and it records similar things? Now that was killer functionality

And of course without a decent EPG and the fact that you fast-forward through ad breaks, this functionality is very welcome
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Old 22.08.2006, 13:46
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Re: TiVo-esque

I'm not sure what you mean by "links". Perhaps you are referring to a recording task.

There is no recommendation engine like the one on TiVo. In the program guide, there is a section for program themes, for example; Film, Musik, Culture and so on. There are approx. 8 in all. But then then this only lists the shows that are covered in the EPG.

Let me know if you want specific listings of channels and features.

As you browse the program guide, you simply click the red record button to record it. If there is a conflicting job, it will prompt you for which one you would really like to record.

You can program a regularly occuring show or series. Serials are marked with the "Serie" tag.

I should note that we had a BIG DISAPPOINTMENT last night. We recorded a movie with Billy Bob Thornton and Charlize Theron. I think it was called "The Big Hit". Anyone, my wife and I really got into it. I even made popcorn. As the show was about to reach its climax and epilogue. It suddenly stops! It turns out it did not record the show in its entirety. We sat there with our jaws dropped. Slowly looked at each other and busted out laughing. We felt really ripped off. So we just made up our own conclusion - Billy Bob Thornton ends up with Charlize Theron, and Patrick Swayze ends up with BB's wife. If anyone saw the show, we sure would like to know what happened after the Rodeo scene at the end.

The lesson learned is to extend the programming time automatically by 10 minutes. But that would prevent you from recording one show after another. This is not really a problem with the BWTV300 box itself, rather it is due to the lax scheduling of the broadcasters here. But what do you expect? We're in Europe. It may take a couple of generations before people here learn to pick up the phone and demand process changes.
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Old 22.08.2006, 13:49
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Re: TiVo-esque

I use CableCom digital recorder... it does the job. can record two simultaneous channels, bbc 1&2 mostly :¬)

At 35 bucks a month, I'm impressed enough.

Language problems as it just switches back to dubbed channel, but since I only watch the Beeb I haven't been bothered to complain.

Lob - weren't you flogging a Dreambox?
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Old 22.08.2006, 13:55
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Re: TiVo-esque

Thanks for the feedback...I think we'll give it a try also...I like the fact that even though you must commit to one year, you can get out of the contract with only 30 days notice...

Please do feel free to provide any further tips/experiences/suggestions... I will also make a post on our experience...

Jack
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Old 22.08.2006, 14:11
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Re: TiVo-esque

With CableCom, is the 35 bucks in addition to the cable subscription fee, or is it included? The thing I like about BWTV300 is that it's only 15 CHF, but we also have cable service. I wonder if the CableCom offer is actually a better bargain.

I've been on a crusade against TV watching, but figure this is not the same as passive channel surfing. At least we can now choose shows with redeeming values and skip the commercials. This definitely redefines TV watching for us.
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Old 22.08.2006, 14:18
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Re: TiVo-esque

Quote:
I use CableCom digital recorder... it does the job. can record two simultaneous channels, bbc 1&2 mostly :¬)
Ah! So with concurrent recordings, you don't have to worry about dropped endings. You can simply set it to record a 15 minute overlap while it starts up another job?
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Old 22.08.2006, 14:26
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Re: TiVo-esque

Quote:
Lob - weren't you flogging a Dreambox?
I'd never sell my Dreambox!
I did sell the satellite system that I was using before with a Dragon CAM but the possibility to integrate the DB into my network was too appealing.

Can I also summarise Sky+ functionality to anyone who might be interested (Phos especially, as not all PVRs in Europe are like the Bluewin one )...

Quote:
I've had Sky+ for over two years and it's a very good machine; changes to schedule are usually also reflected in the EPG (say, for example, a sports event overruns) and it can record two channels at once whilst replaying a recorded show (and with no stuttering or other effects).

Recorded shows and movies are at broadcast quality. There is absolutely no loss in quality from live/recorded TV.

It can output Dolby Digital 5.1 sound on certain channels.

You can upgrade the disk in the machine fairly easily.

The only negative point (and this is from knowing what can be done with Tivo) is that you can't Thumbs-Up a programme and get similar programmes.

On the bright side, you can add shows to the planner from trailers shown in the ad breaks.

So 9/10 and I would not be without it.
to balance everything, here's:
Quote:
Not for the faint-hearted, the Dreambox is the tinkerers' dream (no pun intended). I'm yet to figure out what this box would offer with default software installed as you can get more user-friendly boxes which do the same job.

DM500-S is about the size of a VHS video cassette. This little box of tricks has one card slot (takes ANY card as long as you know how to make it) and can be connected to a network and indeed the internet.

My DM500 has a permanent mapping to my HTPC and I use the PVR functionality extensively to record shows and movies. Setting timed events is of course something akin to programming a VCR and sometimes, even The Elite screw things up - so Sky+ has the appeal for the masses here.

With the software and files loaded, the DM is presently (and I mean today and perhaps today only!) able to open Premiere (German, including PPV) and TPS (French, including PPV) as well as other packages on satellites I don't receive a signal from.

It doesn't stop there; once a movie is recorded onto the HTPC, I use the PC to joint the transport stream files, split the multiple languages from the stream and delete the ones I don't need, chop the movie so I have just the main event and finally, join the video and audio back together in MPG format.

This means that I can then play the movie back on either Dreambox or my other network media player.

Dreambox - 10/10 (for me), 6/10 (the wife)
As the thread's into the area of PVR, I think these mini-reviews are quite valuable.

I'll finish with finer details:
Sky - I have a sub from England. Don't ask me to do it for you - I can and will only point you towards Germansky, skycards.net, etc. Google is your friend
Dreambox - bought from www.satshop.ch - he speaks English and is very helpful and delivery was quick.
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Old 22.08.2006, 16:14
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Re: TiVo-esque

Quote:
Ah! So with concurrent recordings, you don't have to worry about dropped endings. You can simply set it to record a 15 minute overlap while it starts up another job?
Yes, the overlap is no issue, but the limit on overlaps is two.
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