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Build Your Own Tivo

9 November 2004 No Comment

I have a second desktop that’s aging poorly, a Pentium III 450Mhz processor and some disk storage, not much else. I’ve been using it as a Linux box just to familiarize myself with the OS again.

I’m thinking of turning it into a PVR. What’s a PVR? A Personal Video Recorder, think Tivo. A PVR let’s you do all the things Tivo does and more and without any subscription fee!

Basically all you need is
a) an old computer (doesn’t have to be the latest or greatest)
b) All the disk space you can muster. A 1 hour TV show will take about 3GB of storage, depending on the quality you record at.
c) Something to grab the TV signal and dump it on your hard disk or in technical terms a video in/tv tuner card with hardware MPEG 2 compression. The Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-250 seems to be the way to go here for about $120.
d) Something to take the signal from your computer and dump it out to the TV. Also from Hauppauge the Media MVP seems to be a solid choice.
e) Software, http://www.gbpvr.com/ will let you manage the entire thing through your TV.

At this point you’ll have a PC aquiring a cable TV signal and storing TV to disk. You can put the computer in a totally seperate room and run a single ethernet cable to the Media MVP in your living/TV room.

Moreover, you’ll be able to schedule recordings, play internet radio, listen to MP3’s, CDs, watch DVDs playing on your computer etc. All free. Considering Tivo charges $12.95/month and $99 for the Tivo unit, just to watch/record TV I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

There’s a great community website (http://byopvr.com) with fairly active discussion forums on the pros and cons of hardware and software.

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