Taking the DVR Plunge - WinTV-PVR250BTV , Snapstream Beyond TV, and Firefly Remote

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by BrianEWilliams, May 16, 2004.

  1. A couple interesting threads recently about building a DVR convinced
    me to take the plunge. I have an extra computer, so the total cost is
    pretty low. $180 for the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR250BTV MPEG-2 TV tuner
    card, Beyond TV 3 software, and a Snapstream Firefly remote control.

    The one thing that is missing is a video card with TV out, but I can
    get that later if the DVR works as well as advertised. Not much fun
    watching TV on a computer monitor, but it will be a good way to test
    everything.

    I will order later this month when my credit card cycle ends, and then
    I'll post results. If anyone already has this bundle, I'd love to
    hear about it. This is the link in case you are interested:

    http://store.snapstream.com/ff-btv-250btv.html

    I already have (and LOVE) a TiVo, and this DVR setup will be for
    another room. Thought about just getting another TiVo, but what's the
    fun in that? Plus, I like the ability to directly access the
    recording to re-edit and put on disk. My wife is especially excited
    about having another computer cluttering up our living area.
     
    BrianEWilliams, May 16, 2004
    #1
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  2. BrianEWilliams

    Richard M. Guest


    I just purchased this bundle,
    http://store.snapstream.com/snpcitucakit.html but also have this:

    http://store.snapstream.com/hamediamvp.html for watching mpg files on
    any tv where I have a wired network connection. I currently use it on
    a front projection system with great results. This device will also
    play mp3 and jpg files with onscreen menuing for access. Actually, I
    bought this item first, from Radio Shack, for playing home videos
    created with Pinnacle 8 then realized the potential of the PVR 250.
    These 2 items complement each other.

    I initially installed with an unstable OS and all worked well for a
    couple of days. I had to resintall XP and the only problem I am
    having now is that the Beyond 3 software is not finding any active
    channels when selecting 'Live TV'. The WinTV software functions OK.
    I will sort this out with Snapstream tech support this week. I am
    sure it is some sort of setup fix, for it was all working at one time.

    Rich M.
     
    Richard M., May 16, 2004
    #2
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  3. BrianEWilliams

    Keith Clark Guest

    Well, since you asked... ;->

    I have the PVR-250 and BeyondTV (purchased separately). I have a Firefly
    remote scheduled to arrive tomorrow or Tuesday. Using just the Hauppauge
    remote, it works *great*. The Firefly will let you control more
    applications like a DVD player etc.

    They work GREAT. I don't have a TIvo and haven't used one so I have
    nothing to compare it to, but BeyondTV is just awesome. When it was
    installed on my tower machine, I left it running for weeks w/o rebooting
    or crashing, and it never missed a recording. I know at least three people
    where I work that have ordered it since I got it up and running...

    Make sure you install a VNC server on the DVR machine if you'll be using
    it without keyboard or mouse so you can administer it from another PC. One
    thing I've noticed is that when you boot up, Windows puts the mouse
    pointer right in the middle of the screen and it stays on top of what
    you're watching. The workaround is log in to the DVR box over VNC and move
    the mouse pointer out of the way.

    Download VNC server and client here : http://www.realvnc.com (open source,
    GPL license).

    Oh, one more thing - the real-time clock on most PCs are notoriously
    in-accurate. Sometimes they'll lose or gain time just by doing a CPU
    intensive task.

    So you'll want some form of network time-sync utility that's fairly
    configurable, and free if possible. The one I've been using the last
    couple of months is "Time Synchronizer v2" from Softnik Technologies. I'm
    paranoid so I configured it to do a time check every minute (I'm on DSL).
    It's great. I never know it's even running, except that the PC always has
    the right time now. According to Windows Task Manager, it consumes 3.7 MB
    of system memory which I don't consider to be an issue. Both machines I
    run it on have 512 MB and haven't had any memory issues (all the processes
    for BeyondTV can take close to 100 MB depending on what you're doing).

    http://www.itoolpad.com/products/timesync/
     
    Keith Clark, May 16, 2004
    #3
  4. Keith, sorry for the top post, but many thanks to you and the other
    response(s). Nothing like hearing from someone who already has the
    product. I may hold off on getting everything until my wife heads to
    Ireland for 3 weeks in the summer (WITH the kids!!!), and then I can
    play with everything to my heart's content.
     
    BrianEWilliams, May 16, 2004
    #4
  5. BrianEWilliams

    Keith Clark Guest

    Just a side note - I just got back from Fry's and saw some Firefly remotes on the shelf. They're every
    bit as nice looking as on the website...
     
    Keith Clark, May 16, 2004
    #5
  6. I have the Hauppauge WinTV Theater card in my PC and used Intervideo's
    WinDVR 3 as my TV viewer/recorder. I've been using a WinTV card since '94
    and PVR software for over two years. Just a week ago, I went ahead and
    got a TiVo. So far, recording programs using the TiVo is so much easier
    and convenient than with WinDVR/TitanTV (EPG). I also like TiVo's default
    on-screen TV Guide.

    Just my 2 cents,
    Steven
     
    Steven Whatley, May 17, 2004
    #6
  7. BrianEWilliams

    Keith Clark Guest

    Almost anything is easier than Titan...

    For what it's worth, BeyondTV has a great onscreen guide from which you can
    easily search for programs, or you can schedule recordings from any web
    browser on any other computer. Doesn't get much easier.

    http://www.snapstream.com/Products/Products_PVS3.asp#screenshots

    That said, I'm sure Tivo's are fine machines too. Except that with Tivo it's
    not so easy to remove commercials completely and archive your shows to DVD...

    Unlike WinDVR or the Hauppauge software, BeyondTV is designed to be used with
    no keyboard or mouse, only a remote control, and has a pretty useful overlay
    style interface.
     
    Keith Clark, May 17, 2004
    #7
  8. Almost anything is easier than Titan...
    I used all three and I agree, Titan isn't all that great (I use it for
    my HDTV OTA Recordings). I also use Beyond and Tivo, one thing Tivo has
    on BeyondTV is the more efficient Guide Display, it takes forever to
    find shows with Beyond, that horizontal display isn't as easy to use as
    the Vertical one that Tivo provides.

    If you know that the show you are looking for is on Wednesday in two
    weeks, you have to scroll like crazy to get to it on Beyond (of course
    with the web interface you can go directly to that day), with Tivo, you
    simply enter in the day and channel and you get a full listing for
    several hours.

    Also Tivo allows you to search the guide data for specific shows by
    entering in Keywords, you can only do that from a Web browser on Beyond.
     
    Stephane Beaudry, May 17, 2004
    #8
  9. TiVo is fantastic. It's the only technology purchase I have made that
    significantly improved the quality of my life. (OK, maybe a computer
    with internet service is on that list, plus I guess you have to throw
    the TV and cable service in because that's part of the whole TiVo
    thing. Is a car a technology purchase?).

    If you like watching TV, have some money you could spend, and are even
    faintly interested in technology, YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO BUY A
    TiVo!!!! It's as simple as that. Feel free not to believe me, and
    you will never know how wrong you are until you get one, or something
    similar.

    The folks on alt.video.ptv.tivo know this already, but I bet many on
    rec.video.desktop are still watching live TV.
     
    BrianEWilliams, May 17, 2004
    #9
  10. BrianEWilliams

    me6 Guest

    TiVo is fantastic. It's the only technology purchase I have made that
    I have no doubt Tivo is great

    But my problem with it is that it requires a monthly
    fee.....susbscription.

    I just wont/can't pay any more monthly running fees for anything.

    Anyway to get Tivo to work without superscription?
     
    me6, May 17, 2004
    #10
  11. I have no doubt Tivo is great
    I totally agree with you on that one, if Tivo hadn't had a lifetime
    subscription I probably would have never been interested, I was one of
    the lucky ones, I got my lifetimes at 200$ each, I am way ahead at this
    point.
     
    Stephane Beaudry, May 17, 2004
    #11
  12. BrianEWilliams

    Keith Clark Guest

    Those are good points. What it really boils down to is personal preference in the
    end. There's no one right solution for everyone.

    For my own use, I can easily live with the issues you mentioned with BeyondTV, as
    it'll allow me to add more tuner cards when the new software comes out. We've
    stopped watching "live TV" for the most part since I put the media-center PC in
    the living room, and with our diverse tastes, multiple tuners is a must-have
    feature.

    Keith
     
    Keith Clark, May 17, 2004
    #12
  13. BrianEWilliams

    Jay Chan Guest

    http://store.snapstream.com/hamediamvp.html for watching mpg files on
    Glad to hear you have good experience in streaming video over the
    network using MVP client. Would you mind telling me which way that you
    network -- wired/wireless, or 100MB or 1-gigabit? Do you notice any
    delay or missing frames when you stream video?

    Thanks.

    Jay Chan
     
    Jay Chan, May 17, 2004
    #13
  14. BrianEWilliams

    Jay Chan Guest

    http://store.snapstream.com/hamediamvp.html for watching mpg files on
    Glad to hear you have good experience in streaming video over the
    network using MVP client. Would you mind telling me which way that you
    network -- wired/wireless, 100MB/1-gigabit? Do you notice any delay or
    missing frames when you stream video?

    Thanks.

    Jay Chan
     
    Jay Chan, May 17, 2004
    #14
  15. BrianEWilliams

    Jay Chan Guest

    Oh, one more thing - the real-time clock on most PCs are notoriously
    Good point.

    One thing that I want to add is to make sure the "Day Light Saving"
    option in the time-zone setting is Enabled.

    After I installed PVR-250 and Beyond-TV in my PC on Saturday, I found
    that the Program Guide in Beyond-TV was always one hour ahead of the
    real program schedule. Re-loading the program guide didn't fix the
    problem. The problem went away as soon as I had enabled
    day-light-saving and then re-loaded the

    program-guide.

    Jay Chan
     
    Jay Chan, May 17, 2004
    #15
  16. BrianEWilliams

    Keith Clark Guest

    Did you install a "time sync" client so the box will continually check to
    make sure it has the right time?
     
    Keith Clark, May 17, 2004
    #16
  17. BrianEWilliams

    Joe Smith Guest

    Joe Smith, May 18, 2004
    #17
  18. BrianEWilliams

    Jay Chan Guest

    Did you install a "time sync" client so the box will continually check to
    I believe so (I saw some kind of time synchronizing info in one of the
    page in the Windows Adjust Date/Time window).

    But I don't think this has anything to do with whether the time is
    correct or not. Indeed the time in my PC was correct when I was having
    that problem. According to messages in SnapStream Discussion forum,
    this problem has nothing to do with getting the correct-time, and has
    more to do with time-zone or the day-light saving option. In my case,
    the time and the time-zone are both correct. The only thing that
    Beyond-TV didn't like was the day-light-saving-option was disabled.

    Jay Chan
     
    Jay Chan, May 18, 2004
    #18
  19. BrianEWilliams

    me6 Guest

    After I installed PVR-250 and Beyond-TV in my PC on Saturday

    So how are you liking it so far Jay?
     
    me6, May 18, 2004
    #19
  20. You could just mentally include the cost of the lifetime subscription
    with the price of the unit. I believe that makes their cheapest
    bundle about $450, which I consider an absolute bargain if you like to
    watch TV.
     
    BrianEWilliams, May 18, 2004
    #20
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