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Is SageTV 4 the path to Media Center Nirvana?

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May 3, 2006 5:32:29 PM

Looking for an alternative to Windows Media Center? Michael Baggaley takes a look at a candidate that just might fit the bill.
May 4, 2006 5:03:33 AM

What would you say your top ten list for media center applications is? I'm curious mostly about what you thought (or any one else that has used) MythTV. I'm looking to build a HTPC, linux based, of course.
May 5, 2006 12:38:39 PM

You missed two of the most interesting features of SageTV--its ability for customization through plugins and its thriving user community. These are the main reasons that I ended up with SageTV. For example, SageTV does not contain features like automatic commercial skip or web-based management of recordings. However, people have come up with extensions that implement these things. Some of these additions have even made it into the base product.
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May 5, 2006 1:46:22 PM

It may be all in what you have gotten used to, but I have been playing around with SageTV on an older computer with my recently retired ATI tuner and its clunky. But this is coming from a BeyondTV user so its probably to be expected.
May 5, 2006 5:18:45 PM

Quote:
What would you say your top ten list for media center applications is? I'm curious mostly about what you thought (or any one else that has used) MythTV. I'm looking to build a HTPC, Linux based, of course.


I've tried a bunch of media center apps and in all honesty I don't consider most of them worth mentioning. I hate to say it, but after playing around with several of them off and on I always end up slithering back to my Windows Media Center. I know I know! I admit, I feel dirty for loving it, but Media Center is my favorite. If you're a Linux lover MythTV is a great way to go. It's crazy-versatile and has a lot of really nice features.

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You missed two of the most interesting features of SageTV .

You're right. From what I saw in the week that I reviewed SageTV, there is a really a thriving community out there. If there are perspective SageTV buyers out there I would definitely recommend looking around to see what the user community has developed.

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its clunky. But this is coming from a BeyondTV user so its probably to be expected.

I know how you feel. Once you get used to the features in one application it's hard to make the leap to another one.
May 5, 2006 6:01:02 PM

Yeah I see your point I have been using GBPVR which is a free software(windows) for a couple years now and even though it is a pain to set up it has more addin features than anything I've ever seen. The comskip application developed for sage tv by the community is used in GBPVR as an addin and I was curious why it was not mentioned. I am looking for an aplication that can launch emulator games like nes,snes,genesis,n64 as well as commercial skipping before I go away from GBPVR. Granted the setup would never be an issue except they always add features with new updates which requires the program be resetup with the newer versions of the plugins every once in a while. I was also considering myth TV and wondered how these two compared if I could do the same thing without an MS OS that would be nice.
May 5, 2006 6:28:10 PM

I've really been enjoying these recent HTPC articles. They give good insight into what goes into designing and implementing an HTPC. I also find them to be very accessible to the novice and have recommended them to many of my friends and family members who are thinking of building one.

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You missed two of the most interesting features of SageTV--its ability for customization through plugins and its thriving user community.


I don't really think that he "missed" features. From what I have read, it seems that these articles are aimed at providing the reader with information about the best out-of-box solution. The features that you named are community developed and are not included "in the box." While it may have been nice to mention community support, the average Joe HTPC builder won't be looking for commmunity plugins - that's sort of a niche within an already small niche.

Anyway, keep up the good work!
May 5, 2006 6:55:03 PM

Good article, although it doesn't sound like there are any major reasons for switching to Sage TV. I do have a question: does Sage TV or any other MM software allow you to update the program guide and schedule records by title via the COMCAST digital cable menu???? I currently run ATI MM Center and it only allows you to schedule records by title via the analog connection, not S-video.

I would be very appreciative if someone knew the answer to this.

Thanks,

Andrew
May 5, 2006 9:17:07 PM

I disagree plugins and add-ins are not a niche in HTPC building. If your going to go through all the trouble of building a HTPC your going to custimize it. If not you can spend the extra money on windows MCE and be done. The tinkering with the software to get it to do what you want is half the fun in an HTPC build. It starting to appear to me that the more money you spend on software the lest customizable it is.
May 5, 2006 9:19:13 PM

I wrote the article HTPC on the Cheap with GBPVR and if your going to go digital you need an IR blaster but it is known to be possible for GBPVR and I think windows MCE. GBPVR is free so give it a try you have nothing to loose.
May 6, 2006 3:45:08 AM

I am going to build a HTPC this summer, and does anyone know of any SageTV community forums that I could go visit?
May 6, 2006 12:35:03 PM

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I am going to build a HTPC this summer, and does anyone know of any SageTV community forums that I could go visit?


Go to http://www.sage.tv/, select Support, and then select Forums. There is also a Downloads link in their forums. You may also go to http://www.sage-community.org/.
May 8, 2006 6:06:28 AM

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it seems that these articles are aimed at providing the reader with information about the best out-of-box solution

Well put. After all, if there is a helpful plug-in or add-on that is developed by the user community then that means that the original application was lacking enough to inspire a user to try to improve it on their own.

That being said, I'm very glad that users take it upon themselves to improve the media centers that are available. Since it's doubtful that many commercially available media center apps will incorporate something as controversial as advertisement skipping; it’s nice to know that features like that will be made available regardless.


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The tinkering with the software to get it to do what you want is half the fun in an HTPC build

Oh those countless hours of tinkering. :D  There are times that I wish I had an extra HTPC on hand just to test out some of the user-created add-ons before I install them on my main rig.

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I wrote the article HTPC on the Cheap with GBPVR

GBPVR is one that I haven't had the pleasure of trying out yet. It sounds like it's been ideal for you. I'll have to take it for a test run soon.

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I am going to build a HTPC this summer

Good luck on your build. You won't regret it!
May 11, 2006 4:21:51 PM

Great article's on the HTPC. I have Dish Sat. and when I look for a tuner
card they are all 125 channel cable ready. Is there a tuner card that will work with Dish Sat.? What are my options I can't get cable where I live out in the
country. Thanks any input would be appreciated.
May 15, 2006 9:13:36 PM

Ok you need 3 things to pull off a satelite hook up. First you need a tuner card that will take the s-video signal coming out of dish box with rca audio (sry there is no way to go hi-def unless you have a boxtop dvr that connects to your computer with a firewire). Second you need an channel changer, also called are IR blaster that works with your cable box. Finally, you need a program that works with both you IR blaster and your tuner. I suggest a separage dish box for the tuner so you can record while your watching live tv and no one changes the channel while you are recording. GBPVR can do this and I think windows MCE can. I didn't see this in sage TV and it should have been in the review whether or not it can be done.
August 8, 2006 11:03:31 PM

I got distracted in your article when you mentioned your network server and movie files. I have numerous videos from my collection painstakenly converted to my server, and I'm a little OCD, so I'd love to know how you created images for your movies rather than the obligatory black screen or screenshot?
August 9, 2006 12:49:56 PM

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I got distracted in your article when you mentioned your network server and movie files. I have numerous videos from my collection painstakenly converted to my server, and I'm a little OCD, so I'd love to know how you created images for your movies rather than the obligatory black screen or screenshot?

I used the snapshot feature in the VideoLAN player.
November 18, 2006 1:20:23 PM

So what are peoples top choices for software. I am about ready to finish a HTPC (give me a little over a month) and am buying standard top notch equipment that should run in anything.

However I hear Media Center lacks the commercial skip features I so desperately desire. I also hear that Media Center has some Content Protection Built in, which really makes me upset. I hear some people love Beyond TV and it was recommended in Maximum a few months ago. MythTV seems to be linux only, and beign someone who has never been able to set up a linux machine (though Ive tried many times, and I get frustrated and stop, and Im no rookie) I need a windows solution that is easy to use, can manage multiple disks (even over Gigabyte Network)without hastle, easy to use, skip commercials, plays TV, Music, Media, and outputs to a formate that can be used by other computers on the network.

I am Also using this TV as a Pre-Amp (Im using an old Top End Pro-Logic receiver) and am afraid of the dreadfull 100% volume on Boot up, that will blow the crap out of my 3K speaker system

I am also interested in wondering if their is any video passthrough devices that will push HDTV or DVI signals right through with minimum or no delay. I would like to Hook up a Gaming rig (PC, XBOX 360, Sony PS3, etc) to the box, just like any Pre-Amp could do.

I really havent found any good forums to talk about this stuff in. TGForums is probably not the best place in the world to go for HTPC required discussions. As you can see, I really need to find a home for where I can get my questioned answered.

Please help...

Thanks
Mike
November 22, 2006 7:13:57 PM

Quote:
So what are peoples top choices for software.


Hey greenjelly, In all honesty, After trying out a bunch of media management programs my preferred media center is still Microsoft's MCE. The simplicity of design and ease of use are saecond to none. You're right however - MCE does require you to contend with a non-standard file type and there are some veiled threats that sometime in the future Microsoft will begin implementing heavy DRM-based restrictions on TV recordings making MCE far less desirable for most of us.

That being said, I'll probably be in the market for a non Microsoft based HTPC soon.

Having reviewed both, I would have some difficulty deciding between SageTV and Beyond TV. Sage TV is a more complete Media Center package (having the ability to manage TV and act as a media player for other files. However, I preferred Beyond TV when it came to TV recordings and management. Beyond TV is a TV recording program only. It does not include a media player. However, BTV does have an add on program called Beyond Media, but it was pretty underdeveloped the last time that I looked at it.

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However I hear Media Center lacks the commercial skip features I so desperately desire.


If you're looking for commercial skipping I would seriously consider BTV. I am not aware of any other commercial companies that have done as much work with advertisement detection than BTV.

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MythTV seems to be linux only, and beign someone who has never been able to set up a linux machine (though Ive tried many times, and I get frustrated and stop, and Im no rookie)


Myth TV is viable, but as you said, it can be a bear to set up. I don't blame you for looking into a windows based system. You might want to try Media Portal which is a free windows based open source solution that seems to be written well (It was created by the same people that wrote the popular Xbox Media Center program)

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I need a windows solution that is easy to use, can manage multiple disks (even over Gigabyte Network)without hastle, easy to use, skip commercials, plays TV, Music, Media, and outputs to a formate that can be used by other computers on the network.


:D  Finding perfection is difficult in the media center market. You'll find that getting what you want will take no small amount of balance and compromise on your part, but the journey is half the fun!
November 23, 2006 6:53:59 AM

October's Maximum PC stated that Beyond TV is the best PVR software they ever tested. The article also advised against investing in a HDTV tuner until cablecards are available in 2007.

My only complaint against BeyondTV is Snapstream does not offer it in a Linux version.
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