26 Aug 2004, 05:20

D.I.Y. Tivo

One of the things I did last month was to finally complete the TV recording computer that I’d been collecting parts for forever. I’ve been using it for over a month now, and overall I’m thrilled with it. The software I’ve been running on it is Beyond TV which has a very good if not as good as Tivo user interface. In addition I’ve been using the Firefly RF remote from the same company, which can also be used as a mouse (somewhat, as you control the cursor with arrow keys which is fairly clunky) and the buttons can be customized to control just about anything. The remote came with software called Beyond Media that serves as a decent Media PC desktop replacment, allowing you to lauch the TV app, play music and videos, listen to internet radio, view pictures, or launch any app that you add to the menu. Beyond TV also runs a server that lets you control the recording software from other computers and download or stream recorded shows (and even live TV) to other computers on your network. Recorded shows can be compressed down to 600 megs/hour with no visible loss in quality so that means on the 160 gig drive I have in there now I could store an ungodly amount of shows. (And I think we all know its just a matter of time until I slap another one of those in there) I’ve currently been amassing a large collection of Seinfeld and Futurama. If all of the above wasn’t enough I’ve gone ahead and put NES, SNES, and Genesis emulators along with MAME to handle all my nostalgic gaming urges. So that’s the good stuff. On the downside, the image isn’t quite as sharp as with regular TV (or even a Tivo if my memory serves correctly). Very light colored parts of the image look a little washed out, and I haven’t been able to correct that with any of my video card’s settings. Also I’ve found that it will probably require defragging on a monthly basis to keep performing well. Finally, I wish I’d gotten a much smaller case. To me though, those are just minor issues. For all the flexibility and control I get by going this route rather than a set-top box I’m more than happy with it.


Comment by Sarah on 2004-08-26 19:55:23 +0000

Rocking your world: Fred’s last day is next Friday. Oh yeah, I have some good news too, call me back and I will tell you.

Comment by Brett on 2004-08-27 09:22:42 +0000

I use Tivo at home and I love it, but this definitely sounds like an option. You have any cost figures? Is there any monthly service charges or anything? I would be happy to put forth a larger initial investment if I don’t have to pay $6.00 a month for Tivo service.

Comment by Will on 2004-08-29 17:43:33 +0000


My cost figures wouldn’t be a very good estimate, since I used a lot of parts I had sitting around already. I would figure though if you picked up a super cheap low-end prebuilt system, the only additional expenses would be about $150 for the TV capture card, $60 bucks for the software, and probably some amount of money for a second hard drive. I’d say it’d be pretty tricky to build one for less than the initial cost of an actual TiVo, but then again there’s no montjly fee so that’s a bonus. Still, its definitely more about the freedom to do what you want with recorded shows and the expandability than it is the cost.