Well not exactly like Tivo, but close enough. I had gotten tired of trying to tape shows or download them after they had showed and I wanted a better way to do things. Being the practical person I am (it also helps that I’m cheap) I decided to turn my computer into a High Definition Personal Video Recorder (HDPVR). I had been watching shows on my computer for a while and thought why not make the process easier and get better quality at the same time. Tivo would be nice but I’d rather not have to pay a monthly fee to get full functionality and I’m looking towards the future and an HD tv.
I decided on pulling down over the air (OTA) high definition because I don’t want to pay for TV and 90% of the shows I care to watch are broadcast for free. Next I bought a HD tuner card, VBOX DTA-150 ATSC HDTV receiver, and ran coax from our rooftop antenna to my room. The funny thing is you don’t need a special antenna to get HD signals but they’d probably try to sell you an “HDTV” antenna at one of the big box stores. I hooked up the 20-30 year old antenna on our roof and it works great.
Next I had to decide what software to run to manage and schedule all of my recordings and playback them back. I started off with GBPVR, open source, and it worked ok but I just wasn’t very satisfied and had to fuss with it. I looked at the commercial offerings, I didn’t want Microsoft Media Center so I tried the trial of BeyondTV. Wow, what a difference and the nicest thing about it is that it works great with minimal configuration. Trial was only for 21 days and it was reasonably priced, but they were throwing in a decent Firefly RF remote for free for a limited time so I bit and ordered it.
In this process I also found out that an hour of uncompressed HD video can take up about 6-8 GB on the hard drive so I had to order a new 250 GB Western Digital SATA drive to expand my 160 GB storage capacity to about 400 GB.
So I pretty much have all the functionality of Tivo for a fraction of the price, considering the new HD Tivo they just released is well over $600, plus the monthly $13.