ReplayTV vs. Tivo: Should I care?

I have to confess to a weakness in my geekness: Although I readily admit to being a geek of the first magnitude, pills I cannot be considered — in any way — to be an “A/V geek.”

I simply have no knowledge of — and really, mind no interest in — whether the Tritanica XLG AirWoof 9000 Multimedia Transceiver with Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/Steel-belted orange peeler is really any better than the second generation Blastfactory OmniHD Pro Z3 Handheld Video Duplitasticator. But sometimes I want to know.

That said, anybody got any preferences when it comes to choosing between Tivo or ReplayTV (or some other DVR technology) for recording reruns of House and 24? I’m not looking for the latest, greatest thing; I just want to come home and watch Monk on those occasional nights when I forget to program the Betamax.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

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11 thoughts on “ReplayTV vs. Tivo: Should I care?”

  1. I highly recommend the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005… I find it simple, easy to use & takes less space in the living room… also I’ve got it set-up to “back-up” the dvd’s I buy into the system so whenever I want to watch a movie, I just go to My Movies, select the DVD and bamn it’s playing… Setting up season recordings are incredibly easy… and you can browse all the movies that will be playing in the near future on your available channels and just set em to record… I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!

  2. Mel, what are the specifics of your system? I’ve been batting around the idea of rolling my own PVR for a while. I was planning on buying XP MCE and Sage TV, but what do you use for hardware? Your primary system, or a dedicated HTPC? Thanks!

  3. I know people that use Windows XP media center, but I think Tivo is way easier to use and muxh cheaper to get into.

    We are using Time Warners HD DVR and we hate it. The poor functionality really makes it difficult to watch/record. You can’t reliably find programs with the search tool and the interface is lousy. We are probably going to go back to a Tivo unit sometime soon.

  4. I would recommend TiVo. I don’t even consider ReplayTV a contender anymore. Ever since SonicBlue went bankrupt and RTV was sold off to D&M Holdings to be part of DNNA, they’ve been stagnant. They haven’t released new hardware for a couple of years, and it has been nearly as long since the last software update. DNNA cancelled promised features, wrapped up the work pending at the time, and that was it. They gutted ReplayTV and transferred most of the engineers to other divisions. All they’re doing is selling off the stock they have and trying to license their patents out.

    TiVo is very easy to use, and very powerful. Just the DVR features are better than anything else out there – ReplayTV, Moxi, and the crappy cable DVRs. And if you connect the TiVo to a home network you get a slew of features you can’t get with the other solutions. Check out the resources available from the user community: http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=tivolovers

    You don’t have to be a geek to use TiVo, but it has many things to appeal to geeks as well.

  5. and i thought i was soooo cool diggin’ on my TW DVR. a few replays of sctv and a late night brazil waiting for me and i was suckered. what an easy bitch i was.

  6. I bought a used PC which had an AMD (bout 1.5ghz) processor, bout 250GBs when you combine the two hard drives and a 256mb video card for bout $400… I bought the OEM version of the MCE 2005 & the remote from Fry’s for bout $150 and got a tuner card for bout $50…

    I’ve got it setup as a dedicated machine for watching DVDs (plugin copies DVDs to hard drive), watching TV, playing music through the home theather system, showing pictures (you just have to experience the joy of having family over, starting the music and playing a slideshow of an event and having everyone start talking bout things relating to the pics)…

    I’ve heard you can also setup the HD receiver from Comcast to connect to the PC via firewire n record shows in HD… I’ve got the HD box… still have to take the time to connect n configure it…

    one word of caution is that you definitely need two tuners… it gets irritating if you want to watch a live show and there is someone that someone else has reset to record… or if you preset something to record and someone else cancels it because they wanted to watch live tv… I’ve got it setup with a splitter so the cable goes into the pc and the tv so for live tv, you use the tv tuner… and for recorded tv or important shows (where you DON’T WANNA MISS A SECOND) we use the media center… I need to just get another tuner… $50… but I’m just too lazy to buy it 😀

  7. I’ve said this before, but I’ll re-iterate for the sake of internet posterity, I think the Replay is more geek friendly, while the Tivo is more user friendly. As long as you don’t have a need for the more geekier side of video recording (digitizing video sources, time-shift networking, web-based recording, installing larger hard drives, second harddrives, set up pc’s as networked recorders, recover erased video data, etc., etc.), and Tivo doesn’t make you pay for the home networking option, then by all means, go Tivo.

    On the other hand, Tivo does annyoing things like put commercials on while you’re trying to skip commercials, turn on DRM flags, find news ways to advertise to you, etc. so at least because ReplayTV doesn’t have any development anymore, no one is trying to make it do intrusive things like that.

    I think it comes down to the geek level expectation. While you can do similar things to a Tivo, it’s not as easy to do so as Replay, but a Tivo is easier to use. And when you have to describe a ReplayTV as “just like a Tivo”, then it’s lost the game. It’s the betamax of DVR’s.

  8. I would have to strongly disagree with Pootie Tang. TiVo is fan more hacker friendly than ReplayTV. Since TiVo is based on Linux, and RTV is a closed RTOS, it is much easier to develop hacks for TiVo than for ReplayTV. Upgrading a drive in a TiVo and/or adding a second drive is *trivially* easy. I’ve done it several times. And if you’re not comfortable doing the work yourself, there are several vendors who sell ready-to-run drives you can just drop into a TiVo, and for the really nervous you can pay them to do the work. I know there is a vendor who does similar work for ReplayTV, to be fair – there are just several for TiVo.

    With TiVoToGo in the Series2 systems there are tools like TVHarmony’s AutoPilot and Galleon which can automate transfers to a PC. Moving video to/from a PC is officially supported, unlike ReplayTV. There are many tools and methods for converting the TiVo video into other formats, and automated tools for the PSP, iPod, PalmOS, etc.

    Even without hacking the TiVo itself there is the Home Media Engine API and SDK that allows ANY 3rd party to develop software that you can access via the TiVo. Galleon is the best HME application out there, IMHO, but there are many others. For web based recording the TiVo checks every 15 minutes over the network, RTV has a ~24 hour blackout window.

    If you hack the TiVo itself there are many features – you can enable telnet and ftp shell access (remember, it is a Linux box). TiVoWeb Plus and the plug-ins for it give you network access to just about everything on the system.

    There are many, many hacker resources for TiVo: http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=tivolovers

  9. The ReplayTV is by far the better product. It has had much better networking capabilities then the Tivo untill recently. I still think it’s better. With DVArchive you can remotely copy or stream video to a Mac/PC. I’m only sorry that the ReplayTV has fallen onto hard times, and is not likely to recover. Tivo now does HD, and has more networking options, but these days, I’d go with a EyeTV or Tubestick on a Mac, rather then a Tivo.

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