TiVo vs. Windows Media Center

digital501

� TiVo vs. Windows Media Center: Digital501.com has a pretty accurate post comparing a Series 2 TiVo with a Media Center PC and concludes that:

“WMCE currently has more features than TiVo, though TiVo is catching up. WMCE requires a large cost up front, but no monthly fee, while TiVo is a lower (or no) cost up front (for basic models) but has a monthly service fee. MCPCs can also be used as home computers. Finally, TiVo is much easier to install. So based on this, if you need a home computer anyway, you might as well get an MCPC, that is, if you can put it near your entertainment center (else you need a Media Center Extender, which is about the price of a TiVo). If you have cash to spend up front, an MCPC is probably a better value. But if you are looking for something that is initially inexpensive and easy to set up, TiVo would be best for you.”

They did not mention HDTV which I think is one of the most important considerations, so I will add a bit on this in.

Media Center can record HDTV, but only through over the air transmissions, TiVo Series 2 cannot record HDTV at all.

On the other hand, the DirecTV TiVo can not only record satellite premium HDTV (which MCE cannot) but it has four tuners (two HD, two standard def). This is the unit that I personally own and watch most of my TV on at the present time. Be careful with this unit though in the longer run as DirecTV very well could stop supporting it someday or force a trade in as they have recently begun a move from MPEG2 to MPEG4. The DirecTV HDTV TiVo supports the outgoing MPEG2.

Both Series 3 TiVo and CableLabs approved Vista Home Premium machines will record HDTV coming up later this year. Comparing a Series 3 CableCARD enabled TiVo with a Vista Home Premium CableCARD enabled PC will make for a very exciting comparison when the time is right.

I wrote a piece comparing Media Center with the DirecTV HDTV unit back in July of 2004 here.

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  1. Jeff Stoddard says:

    Small point of clarification here. You said “the DirecTV TiVo can not only record satellite premium HDTV (which MCE cannot) but it has four tuners (two HD, two standard def)”. In fact the HD Directv Tivo has four tuners, but there are two satellite (SD or HD) tuners and two OTA tuners (HD/digital only, no analog SD)

    Jeff

  2. Robin says:

    What you said about TiVo Series 2 and HDTV is true. However, TiVo Series 3 will have 2 HD tuners in it. And if you wanted have 4 digital tuners in your Media Center (like the DirectTiVo has), you would just have to buy the cards for it. However, at around $100 a pop, this would not be real cheap.