May 23, 2007

I want my PVR

Posted in Commentary at 7:34 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

An ode to my Windoze PVR (Personal Video Recorder)

I don’t know why, no-
I can’t know why.
It’s so beyond I
it’s so beyond my mind.

Oh how Windows dies
so many times in one life,
and each time Windows dies
I turn around and cry
and I see your screen again

smiling at me.

Sunshine love all beaming
into every pixel
and every beam,

telling me there will never be a last time
just watch the wheels and smile.

And each time Windows dies
I stare into blue light
and I lose my data again.

I borrowed and mutilated this ode from here. But it really does say what happened to my trusty Windows based PVR over the past 6 months. I built it in the year 04 using XP and Snapstream software. So far I have burned out two tuner cards, one hard disk, one cooling fan and a DVD burner. But, it had worked and worked well enough that the family could use it without having to know how to use WIndows. Me, on the other hand, sweated over the upgrades, the database corruption (thanks for nothing dot net) and keeping Windows alive. But, in the end, it was for naught. No matter what I did, Snapstream would shudder during live TV, botch the recording, freeze and general raise havoc with trying to use it. And there is no fury like that of a three year old who can not watch Dora because the @#*@) PVR is borked.

Enter stage left with a spare Mini. Doesnt everyone have at least one spare Mac Mini now days? I used a Duo Core 1.6 Mini with 2 gig of RAM and 80 gig drive. Nothing special or tweaked. I bought Elgato 250 and used their software called “EyeTV2”. Right now the Mac is connected via S-Video to my slightly older but cheap 42 inch plasma and I hope to be ordering an upconverter to get it on to component video like my AppleTV is. Blue tooth mouse/keyboard rounds things out. It took no less than 5 minutes to install the Elgato unit and drag the software into the apps folder. Another 5 minutes keying in which cable I use, zip codes etc. Another 10 minutes learning how to use the Apple remote with it and we had a live PVR running on the Mini. Beat that Windoze..

Now, to be very honest, I miss SnapStream, alot, ok, a ALOT. The EyeTV software is crude to be kind. I mean it works but it’s crude compared to what I had on my Windows box with Snapstream. I was able to do EVERYTHING from the keyboard and 10 foot menu. I did NOT get an OSX dialog box when I asked to cancel a recording in progress, I did not have to drop into an OSX application to set up a recurring schedule to record John Stewart, I did not have to listen the damn audio when I dropped from live TV back to the menu screen and a few other complaints. On the other hand, the Mac has not crashed once, I had zero driver issues, playback is excellent, record quality is excellent and I like that I can use either the keyboard or the Apple remote most of the time. I do dislike that the program guide will NOT let me skip by page unlike Snapstream which would let me page up or down. Honestly, I would even pay a small fee to get a nice polished guide to use. I mean, the Mac is so damn good and looks so good, this software really stands out as “crude” and it is the first time that I can say a Windows version of software is better than a Mac version of the same type of application.


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