My TiVo looks like it might be on the way out: It keeps dropping sound then pausing live TV. It’s been suggested that this might be due to the HD dying, but regardless there is no support for these devices anymore and if TiVo in the U.S.A. should turn-off the servers my box connects to, then there’s nothing I can do about it.
So it might be time for a new PVR. I previously tried to get an IceTV Skippa, but they went bust immediately after I received the box. FWIW the UI was terrible. Hoping to find something that doesn’t require an ongoing Internet service (Just use the OTA guide data) and has a decent UI.
Check out Humax products. They are well reviewed and pretty straight forward to setup and use. I had a 4Tune failure in warranty and was able to take it to their office that is only 15 minutes from me, showed them the problem, and they gave me a new replacement, no hassles. The 4Tune can use on OTA guide or an internet guide. I have mine hard-wired into my network for youtube and the catchup TV offerings that are delivered by internet. I cannot speak for all the models, but the major deficiency of my 4Tune is you cannot use a bluetooth keyboard with it, and navigating, entering text, etc is very tedious with the remote. There is a smartphone remote app that is not much better.
IME all the PVRs have idiosyncrasies so at the end of the day it is almost a “name your poison” process to pick one.
Also check out what functions your TV has…many Smart TVs have basic PVR functions and can stream many of the shows on free-to-air channel Freeview Service (such as iView, SBS-On-Demand, 9Now, 10Play, 7Plus).
Tablets and Smart phones can also access Freeview services through specific channel apps (there is a Freeview one but haven’t tried it) and tablets/phones some allow screen casting to some Smart TVs with such functions. While the quality of the image may not be as good as that broadcast, may be sufficient for your needs.
Download data allowance also needs to be considered, as well as download speeds.
Quick update: I bought a FetchTV Mighty. This box has 4 tuners and a 1TB hard drive and costs $400 outright. The UI is pretty straightforward and quite responsive (One of TiVo HD’s drawbacks is the laggy UI because of the anaemic CPU in the box). Overall I’m pleasantly surprised with the box. It seems OK as a PVR and it has Stan and Netflix apps installed also.
There’s also the streaming pay-TV services and own-brand on-demand video, but these are pretty unappealing.
There’s also the FetchTV Mini box for $150 with no hard drive and a single tuner, but this does not offer the PVR functionality, so is of no interest to me. Some Harvey Norman stores have stock of the $270 FetchTV Gen 2 boxes, which look superficially like the Mighty (And also have 1TB hard drives), but only 3 tuners and the curvy older-style remote.
I haven’t tried the Humax boxes recently (None were powered-on at the store I was in) - but they were terrible in the past (When the TiVo UI was obviously superior).
That is 100% accurate. We first “met Humax” with a PVRSmart that was only SD. It was bulletproof. When Humax first moved to HD it was not “pretty” with buggy firmware and often curious operation. Humax have regrouped with their more recent products.
Yeah, I suspect Humax have gotten better over the years (After all: FetchTV did). I just couldn’t try one out to see what it’s like. Nevertheless, looking at the poor and inconsistent industrial design of the (4?) boxes they offer that might be “PVRs” - I’m not confident that their on-screen UI is much better.
What do I mean about poor industrial design? Three of the boxes are full component width (with a fair amount of air inside them, I think). None of them seems to have very many common design cues. They all have some amount of useless front-panel controls and/or displays.
Anyway, I’d still be interested in hearing reviews of the Humax boxes (and even an impartial review/comparison of PVRs on the market now).
Another thought is if you have a PC that you leave plugged in most of the time (either on or in sleep/hibernate mode), you can get a HDTV tuner card and software that allows a PC to be used as a PVR. The software can wake PCs from sleep to record shows.
I have a good friend that also made a media box with an old Windows PC and HDTV card which was used for such purposes and sat under his non-smart plasma TV. It worked well and allowed him to also store copy of his digital photos and videos for easy of showing others.