My main requirements for my next move into digital TV, and doing away with the VCR:
- Watch and record digital TV, record two channels at once
- HD not essential (apart from ABC1 HD offering Sydney news, there’s no unique programming on HD at this stage)
- Transfer recordings off to the PC for keeping
- Quiet and compact and low power consumption while on standby
I had thought I might go buy a Topfield PVR. The 7100 model looks quite good, and meets all the other requirements above, including dual HD tuners. Best price I can see is $599. A Topfield 5000 is similar but in SD, for about $250 less, though a little harder to find these days. Other brands out there include the TviX, Beyonwiz and Panasonic (pricey but probably very reliable).
Some people I know swear by Windows Media Centre on a PC.
One forum discussion I read estimated the price for building a decent Media Centre PC is about $750. Buying one would be more expensive, possibly double that or more. One alternative might be a Mac Mini running EyeTV, which I assume would be a little more expensive (looks like about $780 for the Mac, $200 for the EyeTV).
My thinking at the moment is that although the PC option is more configurable and will do more things, it’s also going to be more expensive, space may be an issue, it’s going to take some work setting it up, and I’ve been bitten a few too many times by the perils of TV tuner cards, to the point where I’m sick of dealing with them.
But I’m willing to be convinced. (Cue Tony and Nathan and others…)