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December 16, 2004

Control your content: Build your own DVR

Build Your Own PVR has some interesting things to say about the restrictions starting to appear on DVRs. Both on Tivo and MSO provided DVRs, restrictions on recording video on demand and undoubtedly other content are starting to appear, limiting the time you can leave those recording on your DVR. With more and more restrictions being placed on consumers of retail DVRs, the better it is to just build your own DVR using off the shelf components and software.

The roadblocks to building a DVR system are steadily being removed. DVR software is getting easier and easier to install and use, while at the same time, getting more competitive with products like Tivo. Hardware components like video capture cards are dropping in price, with $70 cards like the Hauppauge 150MCE and AverMedia 1500MCE, as well as bargain basement computer CPUs, motherboards, and hard drives, easily capable of providing the necessary horsepower.

The one remaining roadblock, shared by Tivo unfortunately, is the lack of a standalone solution to HDTV. It's easy for a HDTV set-top box to record a compressed signal directly to a hard drive, but it's very difficult to take an uncompressed HDTV signal and compress it and store it to a hard drive. That's why you only see either over the air HDTV capture cards or HDTV DVRs provided directly from cable and satellite operators. Encoding HTDV signals in real-time is still a tough nut to crack. At this point, that will be the Achille's heal for homebuilt systems moving forward, particularly as the dubious "broadcast flag" requirement takes effect for hardware manufacturers.

At this point, I'd rather have a good DVR system than HDTV, but that equation will change over time as more and more content is available in HDTV and a clear standard for next generation DVD technology comes out. Hopefully before that tipping point, we'll see some new affordable HDTV encoders make their debut.

Posted on December 16, 2004

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Just to be clear, 99% of the comments in the article you linked to aren't mine/byopvr... it's copy-paste of Cory Doctorow's post on boing boing that I felt embodied why you should look gift hardware from you cable company in the mouth.



Posted by: rampy at December 16, 2004 11:23 AM

BTW, you're take on it is pretty much spot-on!


PS here's the link that I meant to include in the prior post but got borked. That'll teach me to post without previewing!


Posted by: rampy at December 16, 2004 11:28 AM

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