Well I decided to spend some of my large tax refund on something other than more taxes and upcoming dental work.
I picked up a Memorex DVD burner ($129 after rebates) and a Hauppauge WInTV PVR 250 card ($100 after rebates) from CompUSA. Good deals. The Memorex DVD burner is just the highly acclaimed Pioneer A06 burner repackaged. The PVR card comes with some very good software that took me by surprise. They also give you an IR remote which works very well with card's software. They have your normal TV viewer app with the time shifting feature (pause live tv and start it up again from where you left off) and one touch recording. They also hooked up with TitanTV which is a free web site service that lets you to one click set your scheduler service to record a show at a future date. The way VCRs should have been. The WinTV Scheduler app is set up to pick up a MIME type when you click on the TitanTV web site links. The software is fairly configurable too. I can set what quality I want the video recorded to, VCD up to DVD. I can do commercial skip and it has a handy mpg editor to easily strip out commercials if you want to burn the show to disk.
Of course the next step (there's always a next step in this business) is to put it next to the tv to act as a TiVo box. It is somewhat of a geek hobby to do this, many sites full of information on how to make that happen --
Obligatory slashdot post
..and also load up something more powerful either using open source or commercial (still need to go through my “collection“ ) software --
The cool thing to do is to pick one of these little Shuttle pcs and load your pvr card in it. The problem there is you really can't expand anywhere with it, no room for wireless nic, hard drives are limited to 2, possible Linux incompatibility, etc. The pros would be it's small, quiet, low power and looks nice next to the tv. More like a TiVo appliance. On the flip side would be to pick one of the cheapo refurbished eMachine/HP/Compaq pcs from TigerDirect or somebody. It's bigger, sucks more power, louder, sets on the floor but it's expandable. Strange thing, those refurbished units lack AGP slots which sucks since AGP TV out cards are so cheap. More research needed.
Most people would say that buying a TiVo or ReplayTV is cheaper and more sensible. I agree with that however it's not as fun :) Having access to the guts is just too much fun to pass up. I can change out software, use a wireless network, add FM radio recording, add bigger hard drives, burn shows to DVD, etc. I have to earn my geek card somehow right? No that doesn't mean I should make my own TV, toaster or microwave...
Comments and feedback?