Alternatives to TIVO

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Alternatives to TIVO

Post by newkidontheblock » Tue Nov 19, 2013 11:29 am


I am slowing working towards cutting the cord. Currently we have DirecTV with 1 HD DVR, 3 HD Tuners and are paying around $125 per month.
Current service allows us to watch recording shows from any of our 4 TV's in our home.
We watch local sports, HGTV, Scandal, General Hospital.
I am getting antenna installed in my Attic.
We already have Amazon Prime and Netflix.
We have 3 apple TV's and a mac mini. Currently mac mini is used for hosting music, movies, family videos and pictures. Mac mini runs all the time.
I do own PC as well but I don't keep them running all the time.
I am considering purchasing Synology NAS device.

I do need a DVR like service. TIVO looks great but monthly charges can easily add up. If I try to replace what I have currently I am looking at purchaing Tivo Romeo and 3 Tivo mini plus monthly fees.
Even if I can stomach the purchase price the monthly service charge for 4 devices will be $35. This seems expensive to me. Buying a life time subscription is an option but technology is changing so quickly that I don't want to do that.
My home is wired with Gigabit ethernet.
We don't watch any TV on our computers.
The solution has to be user friendly.

I may consider Hulu plus and if that gives us all the shows we like perhaps I will live without DVR. Amazon does have a few inexpensive DVRs but they will be stand along devices.
Aereo is not available in our area yet and it will not work with apple tv. It requires airplay from another device. Perhaps I can purchase Roku and see if that works with Aereo.
Simple.TV seems promising and claims to work with Apple TV. They haven't released their 2 tuner box yet.

I am resigned to spending $33 per month in TV fees as it is still a lot less than $120 I am paying but I want to make sure I have review every option before committing to TIVO.

Let me know if you have any suggestions.

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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by Jay69 » Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:30 pm

Cut the cord 3 years ago and built a Window7 HPTC with the built in Media Center software (WMC). I have 4 tuners and use a 2TB green drive for media storage. I'm not a huge windows fan but will admit that WMC works like a champ.

I think an I3 intel processor works great for a media center. Can surf, stream, record and playback at the same time without issue. Take some time a look at the AVS forum.

Edit: Forgot to add, monthly fees!
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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by 22twain » Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:55 pm

TiVo's lifetime subscription looks expensive as a one-time charge, but for me the break-even point on my single TiVo Premiere (purchased a year ago) is only about 3.5 years. Also, the subscription "belongs" to the box, not to you, so boxes with lifetime subscription sell for good prices on eBay etc. if you decide to upgrade to a newer model or switch to something else.
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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by BanditKing » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:10 pm

I've tried several different DVRs, and I always come back to TiVo because it has the cleanest and simplest interface. First Tivo was in 2000 with Direct TV, and now I have one with cable. I will admit I work for a cable company, so I get free service there, but to me it's worth the subscription for TiVo for that interface.

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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by tyre123 » Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:41 pm

When I discontinued my cable service about 2 years ago, I installed an antenna in the attic and purchased a Magnavox DVR/DVD player. The interface is not nearly as user friendly as the DVR included with the cable service, but being free of any monthly fee and being able to record what I wanted made the <$250 I think I paid for the DVR well worth it. It's not perfect, but I'm happy with my current setup. Try searching for Magnavox HDD on Amazon. There are several results. I really don't know which I have since it's been quite a while.

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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by Alskar » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:34 pm

Here's a list of potential solutions (in no particular order):

1. Google Chromecast
2 Apple TV
3. SlingBox
4. TV with built-in streaming (many newer TV's are so equipped)
5. TiVo Roamio
6. Media PC
7. Cable Service DVR

Some of these will actually store shows for later replay; others will only stream on-demand.

I personally have a TiVo Premier with a lifetime subscription. I'm about a year from paying back the investment in the lifetime subscription. I think TiVo is overrated...not a big fan. I think Comcast's basic DVR does everything my TiVo Premier does just as well and cheaper.

Since I don't watch sports, my plan is to eliminate cable TV altogether and just stream from Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, etc for some shows and rent DVD's from the library for others. If you're into sports, it gets more complicated and I don't have a solution for that.
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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by Geist » Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:45 pm

I've never liked having cable, because most of the channels & shows are trash... So I've either just never had cable at all, or only had the most bare-bones option available. My HD antenna works great for live/1st-run shows on all of the major networks. I still rarely turn on my TV, so I supplement that with Hulu+ for most of the shows that I want to watch. I also have Amazon Prime (though I really got it for the free 2-day shipping), with which I'm able to watch movies & older TV shows. I had a Netflix subscription for a little while, but was rather disappointed by its lack of recent (<2 yrs old) stuff, so I let it expire. I also had a Roku2 for a while, and it wasn't bad for collecting everything together, but didn't offer much additional. When it was stolen in a burglary, I replaced it (and my stolen TV) with a smart TV that could stream directly. So that's about it for me... Total cost: $30-$40 HD antenna + $15/mo ($8/mo Hulu + $7/mo Amazon) vs. $30-$50/mo cable subscription + $100-$300 DVR.... yeah -- it was an easy choice for me.

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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by Mudpuppy » Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:27 am

If you want to recorder over-the-air (OTA) signals without paying a subscription, it sounds like the Magnavox DVRs would be right up your alley:

320GB model:
500GB model:
1TB model:

This is pretty much the go-to recommendation for an OTA DVR without paying for a subscription service or building your own HTPC. You do have to program it with the date, time, and channel to record, just like you used to program VCRs. Without a subscription service to access TV listings, it can't "automagically" know when a show is on to record it, so you have to manually tell it to record.

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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by southerndoc » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:49 am

Highly recommend the TiVo Roamio. Hands down the best DVR ever made. I have a Roamio Pro with 6 Minis connected, all of them with lifetime subscriptions. It's expensive, but Comcast wants $9.95/month for each additional outlet. Without the Minis, I would be paying $60/month extra in just additional outlet fees.

The base Roamio has an over-the-air tuner, but it doesn't include the built-in Stream. You can purchase that separately. I mention this because it's a nice feature. You can stream shows to your iPad. We used it the other day while traveling. Nothing like watching shows from my DVR while in a hotel 1,500 miles away. The quality was pretty good.

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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by bradshaw1965 » Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:01 am

I use an HD Homerun with an OTA antenna.

Windows Media Center works nicely on Windows. For a Mac EyeTV is an option, but you'll need an $80 license and $20/year sub for TV listings after the first year. If you prefer Linux, take a look at MythTV, but I don't have personal experience with that setup.

If you were simply looking for a DVR replacement, an HD Homerun Prime uses a cable card to decrypt your cable subs and work in much the same manner as an HD Homerun, but with the additional content unlocked.

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Re: Alternatives to TIVO

Post by 22twain » Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:51 am

Mudpuppy wrote:If you want to recorder over-the-air (OTA) signals without paying a subscription,
and if you're satisfied with standard definition instead of high definition,
it sounds like the Magnavox DVRs would be right up your alley: [...]
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