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I have been happily using MythTV to record and (crucially) timeshift and watch TV programs (also crucially) over the network.

I got this all set up about 4 years ago, and it's been running since, and doing it well, but what has come along in the last 4 years which might do new shiny tricks I don't know about?

Also, I'm using xbmc as a htpc interface now, which has some, but not much support for myth. It is a linux box, so I can run mythfrontend if I want to, but I've found I haven't done this much.

So, in general, what software is there for recording and distributing (over local network) TV programs and what are its killer features?

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2 Answers

Windows Media Center is pretty good at what it does. The version in Windows 7 is nothing short of fantastic.

Works well with another Windows Media Center pointed at the Recorded TV folder.

It doesn't do streaming of live TV over the network to another WMC box, but it DOES do that to a Windows Media Center extender device, by far the best of which is the xbox 360 (also the cheapest, I think.) That's completely seamless.

Also the very good Windows Media Center IR remote control works with the built-in IR receiver on the xbox, so no need for a game-style controller to control your TV.

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SageTV is another great option. It comes in server/client configurations is you want. They have a compatible client for all flavors, Windows, Mac, and Linux. There's a Placeshifter client for shifting TV across the web, ala Slingbox, and an inexpensive extender (the SageTV HD Theater) if you don't want to build your own client.

Out of the box hardware support is unmatched. I currently record from cable boxes with three Hauppauge HD-PVR's quickly changing channels via firewire. Out of box the software user experience is good, but the developer community is thriving and plugins make the experience one of the best.

Check out:

  • Batch Metadata Importer (automatically downloads FanArt;poster, banner, dvd covers, etc.)
  • SageMC Custom Interface (a massively customizable user interface with options up the wazzu)
  • SageMovieWall (a set of fancy views into your movie collection)
  • TVExplorer (combines recordings and downloaded videos into one easy to use view)
  • Netflix for SageTV
  • Pandora for SageTV
  • etc.

The list goes on and on. Getting the UI exactly as you like isn't for your average computer user. But then again, you did ask this on SuperUser.com. :-)

In addition, SageTV handles music, DVD's, photos, pretty much any media you can throw at it.

Besides Windows Media Center another choice is BeyondTV. BTV is great for the average computer user looking for a simple out of box, TV only, PVR experience.

I've tried others over the years but always come back to SageTV. It'll be interesting to get my hands on Windows 7 Media Center...

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