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Detailed Comparison Chart

The MythTV Convergence
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There are other Linux-based media applications that can produce a similar media experience, and repurpose standard-fare computer equipment as video recording and playback gear. Freevo and GeexBox are two likely examples, but they fail to match the feature sets for either MCE or MythTV. The following table outlines some of the prominent differences between the latter pair of products.

MythTV MCE 2005
Open Source; free to obtain, use, and modify Proprietary; pay to obtain and use but not modify
Native, interchangeable codecs (both OSS and proprietary) Proprietary codecs acquired separately
Support for MPEG2 transcoding Third-party codecs provide MPEG2
Setup requires moderate Linux know-how Simple setup and configuration
Frontends for Linux, BSD, Mac OS X, feeds to Windows Purely Windows with Xbox frontends and various extenders
Ultra-low system requirements Moderate system requirements
Support for freely obtainable native and third-party plug-ins Support for free and variably priced third-party plug-ins
Scalable network architecture (masters/slaves) Basic network architecture (MCE and extenders)
Default format is a modified NuppelVideo (NUV) Default format is a modified MPEG-2 (DVR-MS)

Perhaps the most profound and telling advantage to MythTV is that its status as a community-based product means anyone can lend a hand in the development process. Possible contributions range from suggesting new and improved features, to creating and implementing new components. In fact, that is how many of the bundled plug-ins and add-ons found their way into the existing MythTV suite, and many more follow suit in each new release.

In the next article, we take a look at what truly distinguishes MythTV from all other media system software: its impressive scalable network architecture enables a staggering variety of topologies and arrangements that should have you dusting off and repurposing old systems just for the joy of putting them back to work.

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