Tuesday, October 11, 2005


/. is pointing to yet another review on PC based PVR's. But this one seems worth reading - or I should say, the comments seem to be better. By better, I mean that the comments contain a good deal of personal experience data on the pro's and con's of various programs. Eventually Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is one of the best solutions in terms of stability and ease of use, and has a respectable set of features. I don't know if Microsoft bought it or developed it themselves, but if they did do it on their own - just goes to show that Microsoft can actually do something and do it well. Or at least, pretty well. There are a few comments about how it's a resource hog - but who really knows what that means any more with the wide variety of machine configurations? Just have to find drivers that block or don't pass on the flag to prevent digital duplication.

ReplayTV and MythTV received LOTS of positive comments too, especially in the feature department. They are getting more stable as time goes on, and installation is getting better. But what's a little up-front pain anyway? SageTV may be up there close to the top. BeyondTV didn't receive many comments, but had scores close to SageTV. GB-PVR has a number of followers as well, and seems to include MediaMVP which makes it super easy to have the PVR PC in another room, although I've seen a fair number of comments about Myth being able to do that as well Mythdora and knoppmyth also get mentioned some, although I also may have seen mentions that they aren't as up-to-date and, although Myth is so complex that it is difficult to install, knopp has other problems that frustrate people enough that they just switch to MythTV. Here is a link to two more comparisons (looks like knoppmyth isn't the way to go). And another comparison, where Knoppmyth users take the reviewer to task. MythDora wins again. One comments suggestions problem free installation with ubuntu + mythtv. Other links/comparisons are here and of course, /. And to complete the discussion, don't ignore the possiblity of XBMC - which seems to prefer ubuntu as well.

HDTV support appears to be possible if the correct components are chosen ahead of time - especially if you have a good video card that will offload the decompression of H.264/MPEG-4/AVC. There is a review discussing such things here.

Updated: The PVRblog looks to have good info as well. And of course, /. has yet another (monthly?) story on it.

Updated2: Wired has an article with a few names I've not seen before.

Updated3: Interesting quote about how rabid TiVo fans are: Go to an online TiVo forum and ask about feeding your TiVo listings from XMLTV rather than subscribing. Bask in the hostility. Here's a hint: google for "oztivo", "tivocanada", and "service emulator". Learn perl. Then lament the fact that you'd be sued and lynched if you ever told anyone how you did it.

Updated4: Here is the latest on /., this time about MythDora, plus lots of associated comments. How did I miss this (BYOPVR: Build your own PVR) previously? About.com has a decent summary as well, and floopyhead has some insight and links. And the latest again on /.
Another decent "summary of equipment" site is Linuxis.

There are also several forums for home theater PC / PVR / DVR.
#1 (hardforum.com),
#2 (2cpu),
#3 (doom9.org)
& here
#4 diy-pvr-dvr-htpc wiki
#5 mysettopbox.tv
#6 htpcnews
#7 Highdef forum

Lists/writeups of media-pc's, media streamers, players, and set-top boxes.

And forums for just certain brands of DVR's / media boxes:

Example builds: #1

Update 5: Beware of HDCP support problems. Here is a certified list for video cards. Wonder how motherboards fair? Answer: not well yet. There are about a dozen boards, and none of them are likely to be supported by Linux/MythTV anytime soon. So what will be supported by Myth?
  • Unichrome by Via (but maybe not the Unichrome Pro?)
  • VIA CX700M2 with the VT3157 chipset (but it uses Unichrome Pro!?&&!). This hardware supports everything, but the Xv drivers which use the Unichrome Pro drivers do not support any acceleration. Well, maybe the most current ones do? It is quite confusing, actually. Regardless, Via's documentation seems to say that it'll do 1080i MPEG2, but I'm guessing 1080p MPEG4 is probably "right out". Maybe I'm aiming too high, again.
  • Or just do it via software. XvMC (possibly using -vo xvmc:bobdeint:queue -vc ffmpeg12mc).
  • Some people have done some reverse engineering on the Apple front.
  • Alan Nisota's directshow patches for CoreAVC port to Linux



On the dedicated chipset front, Sigma has some very interesting offerings:
  • The EM8620L does not support VC-1 and H.264.
  • The EM8622L/24L/28L (single chip solutions) do. 24L has 10/100 Ethernet, as does the 28L. 24L has a graphics input port also. Supposedly handles 40 Mbps (which should be enough??? HD-DVD is limited to around 30 Mbps?)
  • Add one to each of those numbers for a non-macrovision version... EM8625L or EM8629L
  • SMP8630 series (SMP8634 and SMP8635) have HDMI output and other stuff to help support Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Supposedly handles 300 Mbps? Has a 300 MIPS CPU with 3.2 GB/sec unified memory controller, dual USB 2.0, IDE controller, 10/100 Ethernet MAC,
At one point, an SDK was available. These chips are available in the following boxes:
  • Teac HDRM7250 PVR (has an SMP8635LF)
  • Celrun 900H (with "Windeo" UWB chipset)
  • TRZ-8300 (SMP8634LF) - see directfb mailing list for email contact with good english (using uClibc)
  • X300T (SMP8634LF) - supposedly rebranded KiSS from Cisco/Linksys. See this.
  • TVIX M6000 (SMP8634)
  • Blu-ray disc players with SMP8634's: Panasonic DMP BD10, Pioneer BDP HD1, Sony BDP-S1, BDZ-V9, and BDZ-V7
  • limHD200i (EM8623) - h.264 playback confirmed
  • Evesham Technology's iplayer (same - no 1080p)
  • DSM-520 (EM862x?)
  • TVIX HDM5000U (EM8621) - 1080i/720p
  • KiSS (by way of http://threebit.net/mail-archive/mythtv-users/msg00256.html) (EM8620)
  • Gctglobal/Allwell EM6821 PCI card (gctglobal)
Then we have stuff from Broadcom and ST:
  • STI7100/STB7100 (300MHz ST40 core, a venerable 32-bit SuperH processor) - might not do 1080p? Also looks like it has an ST231 core.
Of course, some of these device may not have enough resources to run MythTV... for example this supposedly don't support Myth. Other discussion.

Forum user links: kjack and tom Someday soon I need to divy this info up into sections. Cases are a whole 'nother thing, get those from Thermaltake, or maybe from this list - and make sure the power supply can handle... oh....
30 or so Amps of 12V!