Want TiVo-like technology without the subscription fees â€¦ even without the TV? A few months ago, I described my attempts to set up my computer as a Personal Video Recorder (PVR), but I hadn't yet decided on the software I would use with my brand-new TV tuner card. Since then, I've tested the rudimentary PVR software that came with the card, then tried Sage TV and Beyond TV before deciding to purchase the latter.
This won't be a point-by-point comparison between the different options and their features. If that annoys you, let me draw your attention to the words â€śnon-techieâ€ť in the title, and translate the phrase for you: I don't know what I'm talking about.
I may not know specs, but I know what I like. And what I like is a system that lets me do what I want to do with the least amount of hair-pulling possible. The advantage I have over a true technophobe is that while I might be a bit of an idiot about computers, Iâ€™m not afraid of them, so I will blithely mess around until I get things right. Plus, I'm not ashamed to follow directions.
The disadvantage is that while I find it a fun challenge to get everything working properly, I have limited patience for technology thatâ€™s supposed to make my life easier instead making my life a dark pit of unending torment. So if I can set up a computer-based PVR by myself, Iâ€™m convinced almost anyone else can too.
Both systems can be controlled with a remote, though the one included with the tuner card I got is basically useless. Beyond TV and Sage sell remote controls, but I stick with keyboard commands and the mouse, since I don't have much choice but to sit at my desk while watching the computer.
It all started with TiVo jealousy provoked by my American friends (it isn't easily available in Canada - they now offer subscriptions here, but you have to cross the border to buy the sets). The integrated PVR my cable company offers would be great if they had one for non-HDTV customers, and if the price wasn't so steep.
But the low start-up cost of a computer-based system, with no subscription fees, might have swayed me to choose that option even if I did have others. Once I bought the TV tuner card for my computer (for $100 Canadian on sale), and the PVR software (Beyond TV for $70 US), my financial outlay is complete.