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The MythTV Convergence

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September 8, 2006 10:58:56 AM

The grand unification of personal digital video recorder technology converges. In fact, we think you would do well to treat the MythTV suite of software applications as a harness for exercising greater control over those appliances that govern our daily activities outside the workplace.

More about : mythtv convergence

September 8, 2006 11:34:18 AM

I have worked with Windows and Linux for years in my office. I have no time to play with a linux box at home, when Windows does the same thing in less time. Give me a Windows app any day of the week. I am currently using MCE 2005 with 3rd party plugins and have no issues with playing, recording or networking it with my various home PCs.
September 8, 2006 11:57:33 AM

from the sounds of it (I have never tried MythTV), only the intial build and configuration is slower and more cumbersome. The article seemed to suggest that the front-end clients can be windows based anyways if you wish, and those are the systems you would be interacting with daily.

Granted, I am sure setting up the server environment would take a dedication of some significant time. However, if the end result is a FREE software to interact with so many different kinds of media on a potentially FREE OS, that is a huge bonus for those of us on a budget. :)  Plus, Linux can run quite well on antiquated hardware, or even extremely cheap new purchased hardware. Every aspect of this project could be done for very little money, especially if you have access to some spare older pc's.

I am extremely curious to see the upcoming articles. I only wish they would create PDF versions we could print up later to reference (hint!).
Related resources
September 8, 2006 12:10:31 PM

Just a side note: it is pointless to make a post about how much you love M$ and how you don't care about *nix.
September 8, 2006 12:18:13 PM

I definitely do not love MS. I am simply saying, the MCE alternative is not "better enough" to make someone who already has it switch. Though, I agree with the post that if you did not get the OS free with the PC, cheaper alternatives are nice. If you do not want to hassle with the extra work and already are gaming with a MS PC, something like MediaPortal would be a better solution.
September 8, 2006 1:52:56 PM

Well, I know some linux, and I tried installing MythTV a little over a year ago, and it is NOT the "happy shiny" experience that myth boosters claim. As soon as you try to do anything even a LITTLE advanced, you end up being catapulted into the deepest regions of linux hacking. By the time I was done, I was deeply versed in SAMBA, video drivers, capture drivers, RAID drivers, etc., etc. - and still the system didn't work right. As long as you are installing Myth on known good hardware configurations (i.e. lots of other people use the same hardware), you should be OK. But the minute you setp off the reservation, you can hit deep quicksand.

And the vaunted "user community" only helps when they feel like it, not when you need the help. I tried numerous times to get some assistance (politely, with detailed descriptions of the issues and my attempts to resolve them), only to be totally ignored. That's because there is no formal support for the system, so you are at the whim of whoever reads your request and decides they feel like helping that day.

I was told outright that if I expected to get help from the community, I should "contribute" by beta testing, writing code, or writing documentation. Only then would I have a high enough profile in the community to get a helpful response. I was also told, directly, that the lead developer of Myth considered it to be a personal project, and if someone else got use out of it then fine, but not to expect him to go out of his way to help people.

I'm not making a word of this up. Maybe the situation has changed, maybe not. But I'm a very happy SageTV user, and don't see much reason to switch.

Regarding the article itself, can you guys please label it clearly as the biased boosterism that it is? It is nowhere near an objective review, and the "detailed comparison" table is an absolute joke. What, exactly, was the point of throwing up the logos of SageTV and others, without any discussion or comparison whatsoever? This isn't journalism, it's blatant promotion, and should be clearly labelled as such.
September 8, 2006 2:16:00 PM

That was one of the most incomplete and one-sided articles I have ever read. None of the common problems are listed and there isn't any comparison to other products that goes beyond lip service.

Would you like to record HD pay channels from your cable or dish provider? I'd like to be able to switch back and forth between HD pro football games from my dish provider on Sundays while recording both. Try doing that with your Myth TV box for less. Try doing that without spending 30 hours on getting everything setup. If 30 hours sounds reasonable to you, you don't value your time enough.

Bo
September 8, 2006 2:26:20 PM

unless the football games you are referencing are available in Free To Air satellite, I believe there is currently now way to accomplish HDTV recording in North America with a HTPC to my knowledge. The reason, is that unless things have changed, the North American cable/satellite companies will not release their encryption information to video card manufacturers, so those video cards are incapable of descrambling the signals. If what you are looking for is in Free to Air, the article does describe being able to support multiple video cards for input and recording at the same time, and therefore my guess would be that is supported.

I believe I have read this is not the case in Europe, where you can directly use a video card for decoding incoming television signals, because those television companies cooperate with video card manufacturers.

We have to keep in mind, that right in there it states this will be a multi-part article, so of course the first one will be incomplete. However, I have the impression that follow-up articles may not go into detail of comparisons with equivalent products, that is a good point.
September 8, 2006 2:36:06 PM

Have you tried any of the Linux distributions that have MythTV Suite all ready built such as MythDora (Fedora based www.g-ding.tv) and KnoppMyth (Knoppix based)?

I had MythDora up and running in a couple hours.
September 8, 2006 2:53:08 PM

You are correct in that there is no way to record satellite or cable HD channels using a computer. There are no HDTV capture cards available in the NTSC standard. There are HDTV tuner cards, which can be used to record OTA (over the air) HD signals. So if your local TV station also broadcasts in HD (uncommon) you can record that. But as far as I know no one has been able to record HDTV off of satellite or cable.

Now, I run one of these boxes in one of the most self-configuration required environments there is (Gentoo + MythTV). And I'm a linux noob. But I got it to work. Maybe some people just have an aptitude for it, maybe I have widely used hardware, I don't know. But I love it, it does everything I want and runs on a PC that I spent a total of about $250 on (since I had some parts laying around already). It does all the things a good DVR should do: record, cut commercials, transcode to smaller files, built in TV guide. That much was good enough for me.

But now I can play music (samba over some files from your windows box and you're done) through my surround sound, rips CDs (VERY slowly), plays DVDs with or without menus (if you use xine or mplayer, respectively), rips DVDs, get local weather, play games, and I'm sure there's more. All from one box. That's what I think makes it worth the work to get it going.
September 8, 2006 2:58:34 PM

Quote:
Have you tried any of the Linux distributions that have MythTV Suite all ready built such as MythDora (Fedora based www.g-ding.tv) and KnoppMyth (Knoppix based)?

I had MythDora up and running in a couple hours.


I tried no fewer than 4 packages, including KnoppMyth, as well as 3 "home brew" installs. None of them ever worked correctly with all the hardware. I spent 2 months on the project, lost a LOT of weekends, and finally installed SageTV in an afternoon and have been running great since.

"Up and running" is vague. I had it "up and running" numerous times, just never running right, with the right options and the right features and the right hardware support. I could easilly put together a basic box to just be a DVR, but add in the raid controller, client systems, SAMBA support, etc., etc., that I needed and you end up fighting a nightmare.
September 8, 2006 3:32:18 PM

I have tried several packages, myth, knoppmyth, sage, beyondtv, gb-pvr.

The bottom line, though, is that the Linux solutions required a great deal of Linux expertise to get the hardware working, while the Windows solutions generally worked out of the box.

ATI has developed an HDTV capture card with built in cablecard, but due to licensing and other legal stuff, it might only work with Vista, and even then might only work with Vista's built in software.

It is sometimes hard to justify the DIY DVR's, especially when sattelite and cable companies offer full featured devices without the headaches, but I just remind myself that a Texas court did order a cable company to disable ALL their DVR's. The order was later postponed, but that doesn't change the fact that any commercial DVR is at the whim of litigation.
September 8, 2006 3:34:53 PM

I saw that a open source project MediaPortal was not even mentioned. Why not? Yes it is beta but has many followers and the features are growing and you can build it yourself with support for many TV tuner cards plus it works on Windows, not Linux, so don't ask.

So take a look at the home page of MediaPortal and look around and maybe even download the latest version to try it out. If you have problems then jump on the forum to ask for help or provide suggestions how to make it better. I think this project has more ears listening and developers working to turn suggestions into reality than any other similar platform.

Mike Zemina
September 8, 2006 3:42:51 PM

This article reads like a press release for MythTV. I seem to remember tomshardware.com once being much more objective, critical, and thorough.

I have been kicking around various spare-hardware PVR systems for quite awhile and I remember several months ago being really excited to see that Tom's was doing an article on building your own Media Center PC....and then the article was nothing (not as bad as this one, which is more like an advertisement, but lame)...no explanation at all about the hardware choices (beyond 'this extremely expensive graphics card ought to do nicely'...nothing about what one might experience with a graphics card one or two steps down from the choice, etc..) very little on the software (like they read the back of the box on them and said 'so we chose Windows MCE').

What happened? Was I just spoiled by their awesome processor comparison charts and they always wrote weeks and weeks of spamacious fluff?

PS - I take it back if the next three parts contain exhaustive comparitive testing of all available software options with dozens of hardware configurations, charts, etc.....and then MythTV comes out on top in all categories (explaining part one).
September 8, 2006 4:10:52 PM

I got hooked on myHTPC w/GotTV and have since bounced around between Meedio, GotAllMedia, MediaPortal, gbpvr, finally sucking it up and buying MCE2005. None do everything I want them to. I'd like to see a more in-depth current Ubuntu+current MythTV install with networked clients from a site of this technical calibur (which I would classify somewhere between a noob and a guru) to see how it stacks against all the Windows apps I've tried.

Here's what I want my HTPC to do.
1. Remote Control based GUI.
2. Media front end with some sort of cataloging system.
3. Hardware based TV tuner functionality.
4. Timeshift SD.
5. Timeshift OTA HD.
6. Support for unlimited number of simultaneous tuners.
7. MAME/console emulator front end.
8. Some sort of extender functionality.
9. Widgets like weather and Caller ID.
10. Stable!

gbpvr was very close, and a wonderful free app. I do not want to manage a bunch of client PCs, and the MediaMVP is just too limited. Despite its limitations and requirements, once MCE2005 timeshifted a live HD show on the Xbox360, I was sold.
September 8, 2006 5:34:06 PM

I hope they compare it with GB-PVR!!!! It runs on windows. Why spend crap loads of time getting Linux running correctly with your hardware and then configure MythTV to run correctly.

GB-PVR can do tons of things. I would like to spend my time setting up the PVR software then having to spend so much time setting up the OS.

Hope they compare it to GB-PVR!

http://www.gbpvr.com/pmwiki/
http://www.denguru.com/2006/04/25/htpc_on_the_cheap_wit...

My 2 Cents....
September 8, 2006 7:52:41 PM

My example using pro football earlier could have been stated in an easier way.

I think software of this nature will be able to compete with products like Tivo when it allows recording of HD HBO, ESPN and everything else out there. The missing link in every article of this nature I have seen is that they neglect to mention that HUGE shortcoming of not being able to record from premium channels. Some of us also want to record HD versions of Deadwood, Dead Like Me, Weeds, NFL Football (only available from DirecTV), etc., etc.

The ATI cablecard device is reportedly aweful. The FCC should step in and require the sat companies to standardize on an equivalent to the cable card so that software like this becomes viable to the masses and intelligent solution in a box devices can be created by anyone.

This whole bit about MythTV allowing music to be used over the surround system is just dumb. What can't do that? If you install any OS you can add that feature. My XBOX360 caan do it. Is there an OS you can't find a player for?
September 8, 2006 8:05:52 PM

Knoppmyth rocks, if you want to try out mythtv I would recommend using this distro. http://mysettopbox.tv
September 8, 2006 8:20:40 PM

I enjoyed the article.
I am already trying to install myth on MEPIS 6.

Look forward to the next part of the article.
September 8, 2006 8:56:21 PM

It isn't bad to say the advantages of MythTV in an article.

They did not say the disadvantages (mentioned by others in this thread) which I think is irresponsible journalism.
September 8, 2006 9:19:25 PM

There's an alternative PVR called Beyond TV. It's made by Snap Stream: http://www.snapstream.com/Products/beyondtv/features.as...

Features list:

Quote:

Easy Fast-Forward and Rewind

Pause, fast-forward and rewind not only your recordings, but also live television. Beyond TV supports multiple speeds of fast-forward and rewind and 30-second skip and 7-second instant replay.

Beyond TV: SnapStream.Net Program Guide, 2 weeks of TV listings for the U.S. and Canada



Powerful Program Guide

Beyond TV's integrated electronic program guide (EPG) has up-to-date listings for the U.S. and Canada. Tell Beyond TV what kind of broadcast source you have and it will construct a personalized guide for you.
Intelligent Recordings

Tell Beyond TV which shows to record and it'll do the rest. Record an entire TV series, a single show, or all of the new episodes of a show with the click of a button.


New! Support for over-the-air HDTV

Beyond TV now supports recording free over-the-air high-definition television (HDTV). With SnapStream’s EPG you can easily browse and record HDTV channels and high-definition programs. Get a picture with six times the sharpness of standard television. Listen to Dolby Digital surround sound. HDTV support puts you in the action.

See our HDTV Setup Center to learn more.



Skip Commercials With SmartSkip™

Tired of sitting through commercials? Seen the first five minutes already? Quickly watch recorded shows by skipping blocks of commercials or other parts of the show. SmartSkip™ lets you watch TV more efficiently and conveniently than ever.

Turn on the SmartSkip™ feature and Beyond TV will automatically insert markers at major scene changes of all HD and SD recordings, creating chapters. Users can then easily skip quickly from one chapter to another at the touch of a button. Skip thirty second intervals, or play seven second instant replays.



Search Smarter, Find Shows Faster

Sure you like ER...but there's more than one show out there about double bypass surgeries. Search by keyword and see more shows about the stuff you're already interested in. Beyond TV will find all the shows pertaining to the topic or genre of your choice when you search by title or keyword. Type in the name of your favorite program and our electronic program guide will show you all the times and channels on which it's playing. Have a favorite actor or director? Just search on his name and Beyond TV will find all the matching TV programs.




New! Browse by Category

Have to see the Astros take on the Cubs? With expanded searching capabilities, Beyond TV 4 allows you to browse by category for sporting events, movies, and more. It’s like having a free, built-in movie store and a continuously updated game day guide. Now you can find exciting lesser known shows in the genres you love to watch.



New! Support for MPEG-2, Windows Media and DivX

Feel free to choose your recording format—Beyond TV 4 now supports DivX, Windows Media Video (WMV), and MPEG-2 formats. DivX and Windows Media are space-saving and portable. With files ten times smaller than MPEG-2 files, DivX and WMV offer the same great recording quality as the other formats in a fraction of the space. And with new support for DivX 6.1 and its Intel Hyper-threading and Dual Core optimizations, you can record or ShowSqueeze DivX up to 300% faster!



Advanced Settings With the Web Admin

If you're the kind of person who knows what he wants, and expects to get it, Beyond TV's Web Admin is just what you're looking for. It gives you extensive control over advanced settings and options through an easy to use web interface. Change the directory your shows are saved to, customize your channel lineup, and control the quality and format of your recordings. Configure specific ShowSqueeze, SmartSkip, and timeshifting settings and more.



Shrink Recordings with ShowSqueeze™

Save hard drive space and enhance portability with ShowSqueeze. ShowSqueeze lets you recompress any standard-definition (SD) or high-definition (HD) recorded show to Windows Media (.wmv) or DivX files. Opt to have all of your recordings automatically compressed or select specific shows to ShowSqueeze.



Need to entertain the kids on a long road trip? Tired of reading the newspaper on your morning subway commute? Transfer recorded shows in the WMV format to devices like Microsoft Portable Media Centers, Pocket PCs, Windows Mobile 5 smart phones and laptops for on-the-road viewing. Now you can take your TV shows with you and watch them anytime, anywhere.




Extend Beyond TV Throughout the Home

Deliver the Beyond TV experience to other PCs in your home with Beyond TV Link*. Beyond TV Link lets everyone in your home network access all the recordings on your entertainment hub. It’s like having Beyond TV on all PCs and laptops in your home! You can even watch live television broadcasts on networked PCs without having to purchase additional TV tuner cards.

* Beyond TV Link is a separate add-on product to Beyond TV


Join the Community

Do you want to know what other Beyond TV users are watching? Join the SnapStream Community by opting-in when you install Beyond TV and then let Beyond TV Buzz show you what you and everyone else is recording.

Advanced Support for Multiple Tuners

If two of your favorite shows happen to air at the same time, don't worry… Record more than one show at a time or watch one while recording another. Beyond TV offers advanced multi-tuner support to let you record more of your favorite TV shows.

Powerful Conflict Resolution

Set recording priorities, and Beyond TV does the rest to record as many of your favorite shows as possible. For example, if two shows are scheduled to record at the same time, Beyond TV will record the one you want to see more, and search for a way to record the other one at a different time. It won't record the same episode twice, and will record programs based on your priorities, minimizing conflicts.

Schedule Recordings Over the Web

Forget to record your favorite show? Don't sweat it. Schedule recordings from the Internet browser or a web-accessible cell phone with Beyond TV's Remote Recording feature.

New! The Radio in Your PC

Now you can play and timeshift FM radio stations with Beyond TV 4. Skip commercials or listen to your favorite song over again. FM Radio support lets you setup and easily access six preset stations.

Burn Recordings with 3rd Party Software

MPEG-2 recordings made with Beyond TV are ready to burn onto DVDs. Easily record in DVD-quality MPEG-2 format and create your own personal video library with DVD-ready recordings and 3rd party software.


Yes one does have to purchase it, but if you don't own the tuner card, you can purchase the compatible hardware for it.

Again, it may not meet everyone's expectations, but this is an application that doesn't require MCE, or even XP, or need the latest and greatest hardware.

More info can be found here: http://www.snapstream.com/Products/beyondtv/sysreq.asp

MaximumPC (Sept. 2006) covered this softwrae and loved it. So, its more than just a complicated-to-manage piece of software.

*Note: I do not work for Snap Stream, nor am I involved with any advertising company, I felt this would be a worthy alternative than to the several linux distros and to having to acquire MCE.
September 8, 2006 10:04:53 PM

Quote:
blueeyesm - Why buy the snapstream product when you can get MediaPortal for free? http://www.team-mediaportal.com/


I read that as "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" :D 

To answer our Q:

Umm - to maintain the economy? To feel good about yourself (if you are addicted to shopping)? :) 

Actually, I believe it needs Windows XP, as one of the essential files it requires is WMP10, which cannot be installed on Windows 2000 iirc. I didn't see on that site whether or not WMP9 will work. Beyond TV can.

I'm not sayin its the best solution, just an alternative :) .
September 9, 2006 12:29:48 AM

For the record, there is a community developed package that allows MCE 2005 to record HDTV direct from the FireWire ports on Motorola and Scientific Atlanta STBs. I am unaware of any similar capability in any other HTPC software.

Also, I know someone personally, who is a MythTV nut. All I actually end up hearing about is him and his other Linux pal having to constantly fight with the system to get it to do some cool new thing or another. My wife would kick my a$$ if I messed with our MCE 2005 system that much!!!

The only real direct competition that I see out there for MCE 2005 and the soon to arrive Vista MCE, is SnapStream. If MS built MCE with the ability to watch live TV from a MCE PC that did not have a tuner card, it would be all but totally complete.

Contrary to popular belief, MCE is not as demanding as most try to make it sound. That list of systems running MythTV would easily run an MCE 2005 setup. I have personally stress-tested MCE installs on systems as slow as a P3 with 512MB RAM and they will run at least as responsively as a commercial PVR device/STB.

MCE DOES allow the use of other codecs to facilitate the playback of just about every format out there. There are even community codec pack self configuring installs that will (Not 100% stably, I must admit) allow for ALL video formats, including QuickTime, to play right in the MCE interface.

The only real shortcomings that I see in MCE 2005 are:

- Lack of remote live TV capability
- Lack of official record to network server support
- Lack of officially supporting more than 2 tuners
- Lack of broad OFFICIAL codec support

Only one of these issues is totally in the hands of MS to fix (remote Live TV). The rest are easily dealt with via the user community.

Which leads me to the following...

The snobbery that DOES exist in the Linux community is nearly non-existant in the Windows and MCE community. That alone makes the MCE universe a TON more inviting.
September 9, 2006 10:12:47 AM

I found this article a little one sided too, but I've been running MythTV happily for a couple of months. Honestly, I haven't tried any other PC-based recording system since the days of my old ATI All-In-Wonder pro, so I can't give a balanced statement either.

But I can say that I am able to record HDTV not only off of my over-the-air HD tuner, but through the firewire port on my cox cable box(ESPN-HD, Discovery-hd, etc). Once I was able to piece together all of my hardware, the install was a snap... I used the ATrpms package on top of Fedora core 5.

And as for recycling old hardware, I have 2 old xboxes set up in the bedrooms running mythtv. (I heard some people prefer xbmc, but i haven't tried it.) The xboxes can't play high-def content, but they do an ok job of streaming the regular analog and digital tv.

I've installed a few plugins, but my favorite by far has to be mythstreamtv. It runs on my backend, and transcodes the original files on the fly to a streamable format, superior quality to youtube. My main expense in this was splurging on hard drive space... but i have 1 terabyte of usable space on my raid array. :) 

The main drawback to mythtv (or any pc-based pvr that i know) is the premium channel issue. I can't get any movie channels (hd or no) through firewire. The only way I could get it would be to get another box and record it through s-video or something similar, but I'd rather keep my cox dvr for the movies, so it'll do hd. If they ever allow cablecard (II?) support for mythtv, I think it'd be perfect. but then again, i haven't really tried the others. Anyway, this post is a lot longer than i was planning it to be, so I'll cut it off here, and hope it makes sense.
(it's after 5am here... almost bedtime!)

-dave
September 9, 2006 6:31:17 PM

Quote:
Well, I know some linux, and I tried installing MythTV a little over a year ago, and it is NOT the "happy shiny" experience that myth boosters claim. As soon as you try to do anything even a LITTLE advanced, you end up being catapulted into the deepest regions of linux hacking. By the time I was done, I was deeply versed in SAMBA, video drivers, capture drivers, RAID drivers, etc., etc. - and still the system didn't work right. As long as you are installing Myth on known good hardware configurations (i.e. lots of other people use the same hardware), you should be OK. But the minute you setp off the reservation, you can hit deep quicksand.

And the vaunted "user community" only helps when they feel like it, not when you need the help. I tried numerous times to get some assistance (politely, with detailed descriptions of the issues and my attempts to resolve them), only to be totally ignored. That's because there is no formal support for the system, so you are at the whim of whoever reads your request and decides they feel like helping that day.

I was told outright that if I expected to get help from the community, I should "contribute" by beta testing, writing code, or writing documentation. Only then would I have a high enough profile in the community to get a helpful response. I was also told, directly, that the lead developer of Myth considered it to be a personal project, and if someone else got use out of it then fine, but not to expect him to go out of his way to help people.

I'm not making a word of this up. Maybe the situation has changed, maybe not. But I'm a very happy SageTV user, and don't see much reason to switch.

Regarding the article itself, can you guys please label it clearly as the biased boosterism that it is? It is nowhere near an objective review, and the "detailed comparison" table is an absolute joke. What, exactly, was the point of throwing up the logos of SageTV and others, without any discussion or comparison whatsoever? This isn't journalism, it's blatant promotion, and should be clearly labelled as such.


This is SPOT ON. I fought with mythtv for 6 months to get it to do exactly what I wanted it to do, and was never fully successful. I then turned to other linux based htpc software, then to 4 or 5 windows based HTPC-based software, including gb-pvr, snapstream (which I purchased), the open-source one (cant remember its name, sorry) and sagetv.

After NONE of them worked for _me_ (not that they didnt work. They didnt do everything I wanted them to), and thats an important point I'll exapand upon, I bit the bullet, swallowed my pride and installed MCE 2005, and thought I was in heaven. After installing the OS, drivers, and the updates, I had a 100% fully functional PVR in 10 minutes. It just worked. The very first time. Now, MCE has some definite tradeoffs, such as being stuck with the windows IR remote, and no front end/back end, but I'll deal with that.

When you are looking for PVR/HTPC software, the most important thing for you to do is list exactly what you want it to do. Some software does TV well, some are better for watching your ripped movies and/or DVD's. Some are easier to setup, some have better support than others. Take all these things into consideration as well.

Mythtv, while a nice idea, is disasterous if you, as the quoted person said, deviate in any way from a standard installation, using hardware thats fully supported. I would say without a doubt, the biggest crutch for mythtv is lirc. Its simply horrible, and again, straying off the beaten path leads you into known and fully (community) unsupported territory rapidly.

I might touch on mythtv support as well. I reported a VLC bug to the mythtv mailing list twice. The first time, my post was implied as mailing list "noise", the second time I was referred to the mythtv-users list. THE USERS LIST! to report a bug?! Let me say a few more things about mythtv. I needed it to play my rather large library of online (stored on my hard drives) movies. They are a collection of divx, xvid, dv, and dvd img files in various container formats. Neither xine nor mplayer will play them all properly, and the one piece of software that does, VLC, is unsupported.

Lastly, let me mention that purevideo, the dvd codec and framework from nvidia widely regarded as the best there is, doesnt work with linux. So keep that in mind as well as you weigh your choices.
September 9, 2006 9:12:39 PM

This is the first time I'm posting on tomshardware's forums and it is a sad day. The summary table is just a big lie (save the two most uninteresting items). It is fantastic that it is published as it is. It is hard to consider this as a semi virtually serious article as it is...

Note: I haven't used MyTH TV at all yet, but I am a user of MCE, and here is my take on it:

MythTV: Open Source; free to obtain, use, and modify
MCE: Proprietary; pay to obtain and use but not modify
That's correct. They at least read the licenses.

MythTV: Interchangeable codecs (OSS and proprietary)
MCE: Proprietary codec cannot be changed
What the heck does that means? You can install all the codecs you want on a windows machine. They'll work on MCE just fine.

MythTV: Software and hardware decoding support
MCE: No software decoding support for 2004
Software decoding? What does that mean? Decoding videos? You can disable that anytime you wish on MCE.

MythTV: Output to DivX and MPEG2
MCE: No support for DivX or MPEG2
This is just a (intently?) badly phrased sentence, which is trying to induce readers into thinking that MCE cannot play DivX files (or MPEG2 files for that matter)?

MythTV: Setup requires moderate Linux know-how
MCE: Simple setup and configuration
Here it is even more funny since it does MCE a service to actually lie in this instance. MCE is a PITA to install, believe me on that one. The reason is simple: It was designed to be an OEM OS only, so only retailers had to deal with installation. So either you buy one (HW+SW) or you buy the software alone and you spend nights trying to get the thing up and running.

MythTV: Runs on Linux and MacOS, feeds to Windows
MCE: Runs on Windows only
Duh? A Linux app vs a Windows app. summary table needs to remind the reader of that fact? Besides, MCE can feed to an XBox or any media center extender for that matter.

MythTV: Ultra-low system requirements
MCE: Modest system requirements
Here I don't really know but for one thing: h264 decoding. There is no codec on Linux capable of decoding an High Definition H264 video on anything less than a 5GHz computer - and that would be 720p only. My sempron 3000+ is able to do that under windows. Search for CoreAVC which is just about 50% faster than any competition to this day. And it only runs on Windows... damn!

MythTV: Support for companion and third-party plug-ins
MCE: No plug-in support
No plugin support? I have 7 plugins installed at the time of this writing. What the hell?

MythTV: Scalable network architecture (master/slaves)
MCE: Basic TCP/IP network support (single unit)
The reviewer has never heard of a media center extender (such as both xbox). One can view all the content and access the tv recordings and scheduling with this. How is this "single unit" ???

MythTV: Record once, transcode and play anywhere
MCE: Record and play locally only
See issue above. True, MCE cannot transcode.
September 9, 2006 9:50:15 PM

I built my first knoppmyth box in 2004 (as a linux newbie) on a P3-500 with 256mb of ram.

Within 30 minutes it was all running and I was recording and watching my first shows. All this on a 10GB drive no less. It was just a test system. The WinTV PVR-350 doesn't even work in Windows with less than 600mhz.

There are lots of solutions out there, pick one, who cares? MS has a good solution, it costs money. Linux has a good solution, it costs time.

Figure out which one you are willing to part with.

As for my knoppmyth system, it's evolved several times over the years. It does things I'm very happy with and I have media freedom with it. I did it because I wanted to start learning linux. Now I have a backend running in my office, a front end in the den, another that I will hook via wireless in my bedroom and I'm happy with it.

If you are interested in it, go out and do it, pick which ever one you want. Time or money, thats the only choice you have to really make.
September 9, 2006 10:06:09 PM

I guess I'm the only one that caught this typo?

Quote:
Related savings can be rolled into expanding your underlying hardware infrastructure to provide better storage space - how about a fast RAID-1 implementation across four serial ATA drives? Can TiVo do that easily?


I'm assuming that should've said RAID 0.
September 10, 2006 3:59:29 AM

Why in the world would you compare MythTV to an old version (2004) of Windows Media Center? And you mention features that are only available in an SVN version of MythTV. Horribly biased article.
September 10, 2006 5:30:03 AM

If proposed legislation is passed MythTV may not be worth the effort to install. The MPAA is lobbying hard to take comtrol of all PVRs.
September 10, 2006 8:50:48 AM

Quote:
If proposed legislation is passed MythTV may not be worth the effort to install. The MPAA is lobbying hard to take comtrol of all PVRs.


link?
September 10, 2006 5:52:18 PM

Quote:
If proposed legislation is passed MythTV may not be worth the effort to install. The MPAA is lobbying hard to take comtrol of all PVRs.

It is really quite difficult for the MPAA to take control of a PVR.
TIVO, and ReplayTV are easy because they can get a court order against the companies who operate the infrastructure the PVRs run off of. The same goes for Comcast, RCN, etc... PVRs.
PC DVRs are a different story. In order to stop you from recording a program, the signal between the output device (cable tuner, DVD player, etc...) needs to be encrypted so it can't be picked up by a computer's video/TV capture device. To the best of my knowledge, the only encrypted content comes from HD-DVD and Bluray players. This does not affect DVRs much, as they are typically used to record television broadcasts.
While its true the MPAA might like to have control of DVRs, they are probably a long way off.
September 10, 2006 6:52:25 PM

Quote:
I could easilly put together a basic box to just be a DVR, but add in the raid controller, client systems, SAMBA support, etc., etc., that I needed and you end up fighting a nightmare.


I guess the idea of software RAID was completely lost on you ;) 
September 10, 2006 8:49:16 PM

Google "broadcast flag" and read several views & opinions. I started with
www.eff.org.
September 10, 2006 9:34:49 PM

Ed and I've jointly written two books in this area, one on MCE the other on MythTV and have spent hundreds of hours working with each of these two environments. Among
the many things I learned during this time was that

(a) if you look at the number of add-ons, the types of data and
applications, and the kinds of media that the two environments can support,
there's no disputing that MythTV can handle more kinds of data in more ways
than MCE can

(b) if you look at the architecture of the two environments, there's also no
disputing that MythTV's client/server front-end/back-end architecture
supports distributed systems with more capture cards and playback
capabilities than MCE can. In fact you can easily record and playback more
kinds of media at the same time using MythTV than you can with MCE
This is the basis for our belief that MythTV is technically superior to MCE.
Everyone's entitled to an opinion, but ours is based on many hours of
interaction and solid, inarguable experience.

As for the 2004 MCE chart, that was a place holder that came from a draft and not the final copy. We're looking to correct this soon.

By the way, what MCE 3rd-party plugins are you speaking of specifically?

Justin Korelc
September 12, 2006 7:35:28 AM

I have limited Linux experience and have never set up mytTV, however I've been thinking about it for a while. One thing I note though is that according to the documentation, the hardware requirements are not insignificant.
Looking at the hardware database of working configurations, I would say they seem to be comparable to MCE2005, albeit a bit less demanding but hardly 'ultra-low'.

A quote from the mythTV documentation:
http://www.mythtv.org/docs/mythtv-HOWTO-3.html
Quote:
For a good MythTV experience, you must understand that MythTV exercises your hardware more than a typical desktop. Encoder cards generate DMA across the PCI bus. The CPU is busy encoding / decoding video. Hard drives are constantly reading and writing data. Building a MythTV system on older / "spare" hardware may be an exercise in frustration and can waste many hours of valuable time.


Personaly I'm thinking of re-purposing my current desktop, a 2.8GHz P4 for a mythTV installation.
September 12, 2006 3:38:05 PM

The ultr-alow implication stems from the fact that you can get by with the ultra-compact VIA Eden series boards. See: link
for an example of this. I would say that qualifies as 'ultra low'.
September 17, 2006 4:52:11 PM

Quote:
These were the best captures I've ever seen!


Not sure what card, but they all look like upsampled DVD and HDTV signals. If they are, that would explain the impressive quality of the images.
September 17, 2006 10:07:28 PM

I'm probably showing my ignorance but I'm confused: (a) I didn't know myth suported HDTV cards. In fact I thought there were hardly any available. (b) When you say upsampled, do you mean on a PC? Does that mean the TV/capture card plays no part? It doesn't seem likely. And they look like TV programs, not DVD's...

As I said, excuse my ignorance. :oops: 
September 17, 2006 10:18:38 PM

HDTV is doable on Myth: http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/index.php/Configuring_HDTV

When you are dealing with upsampled/scaled DVD or HDTV content, you are dealing with digital data. Because of this, the images will already have a headstart in image quality over anything that is processed vai an analog tuner or analog input card.

And Yes. A PC can/does the upsampling either at the CPU or the GPU level depending on if there is a hardware accellerated product like PureVideo installed (Only available for Windows).
September 27, 2006 12:51:37 AM

Good luck with that Firewire thing. I called my cable company about it, figured it'd be awesome to use a relatively low end computer that had firewire support to watch some HDTV and do the PVR thing.

Basically, cable companies ain't dumb. They figured this out fairly quickly and unless you get lucky and get issued one of the early boxes, you'll find that the firewire port is disabled when you go to use it for your PVR box.
November 29, 2006 5:17:50 PM

Was it me, or was that article poorly written and in need of a good editor?
May 3, 2007 1:07:14 AM

I'm using beyond tv and it does everything most users would require. I'm using beyond tv after having tried for months to get gbpvr to work properly, i wish I had been one of the MANY people for whom it worked instantly and completely.
Here is my problem... my old roommates had a mythtv system up and running and sweet Jebus was it nice. This was at least 3 yrs ago and it seems things have only gotten better. We had our main box in the livingroom running dual tuners with two other boxes on the network (each with a single tuner ) transparently "merged" . all recordings all media all IN ONE PLACE!!
I have NO linux experience myself and will be taking the mythtv plunge this weekend once all the parts for my new pvr/home media server have arrived. I am moderately competent in windows system building and will report back on exactly how this attempt goes down.
I'm thinking LinuxMCE... it looks snazzy
August 9, 2007 9:16:07 PM

FYI, there's a major new release of the FOSS project LinuxMCE that includes whole-house HD PVR from MythTV, movie, music and photo server, integrated telephony and smarthome.
All a/v source devices, DVD jukeboxes, and online media are shared through the home so you can put all your a/v gear in a rack in one room,
with only thin clients in the rest of the rooms. It includes a gyro-controlled UI that lets you navigate long lists of media and the TV's EPG by
waving, like a Wii, for fast, smooth control. Also wave to scan through your media and adjust volume and lights.
Watch a demo walkthrough on <a href="http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=217602560290510...">Google Video</a> or download the video in
high-def at <a href="http://linuxmce.org">linuxmce.org</a>. Installation is 25 minutes and every step is shown starting with a clean PC.
!