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Tivo, DVR, Windows media Center...will any of these work for me?

Posted on 2004-09-22
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I currently spend half omy time in china and half my time in the US.  I am trying to find a way remotely record TV in the US and then access it via the internet so I can watch it in china.

Baiscally I think I will need some DVR recorder which I can remotely select shows to record and then somehow export or send these recording to my computer or another DVR recorder in china so that I can watch them.

Olease try to give me the most specific solution possible.

Please save me from the monotony of chinese TV!!!!!!!
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Question by:andsieg
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by:Callandor
ID: 12127368
You can get a Tivo-like solution by using a PC and installing a Hauppauge PVR250 card in it, along with SageTV.  The SageTV will allow you to schedule recordings (even from other PC's on the network, using the SageTV client) and the PVR250 will record from over-the-air, cable, or any other source that can be plugged into the card.  The shows will be saved in a specified folder on the PC in mpeg2 format and at the highest resolution will take 2GB/hour, but you can set it for less.
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by:andsieg
ID: 12127445
wow, this sounds promisng but can you also give me advice on how i would access my PC in the US and then transfer the files to my PC in china?
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by:cyrnel
ID: 12127505
If you're a Linux fan check out MythTV.

http://www.mythtv.org/modules.php?name=MythFeatures

Same concept based on open-source with a fairly agressive feature-set. The usual Tivo plus support for hardware MPEG-2 (as in PVR350), mpeg4 (much more space efficient), multiple simultaneous input... Used to require extensive setup but now a number of distros are available from enthusiasts mostly ready to go.

Dave
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by:Callandor
ID: 12127506
You have to set up an ftp server on the machine and open the ftp port.  Create an id and password for logging in and you can grab the files.  I hope you have broadband.
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by:cyrnel
ID: 12127587
Whether MPEG-2 or 4, the files are stored on the capture system and can be transferred wherever you like. You transfer them as any other files (http/ftp...) and watch with your preferred viewer. MPEG-2 would not be my choice in this case simply due to file size. If you have a good CPU & disk (2+GHz, 7200RPM) you can crank mpeg4 down to ~700MB/hour with very respectable quality. That's still a lot of data to transfer but sounds like you're willing.

Dave
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by:andsieg
ID: 12130409
what about possibly converting the files into divX files, would that be possible solution for decreasing the size of these files?

700MB an hour is definitely on the large size and even though I have broadband I imagine I would be only able todownload two and at most three hours day.  I hope I could get up to four or five hours a day.
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by:cyrnel
ID: 12131463
DivX and XviD are competing but compatible MPEG-4 codecs. Either can be used for what you're doing, though it will come down to the recording application as to what's supported. (XviD is the MythTV champ) Systems that have been around a while tend to rely on hardware compression and are currently more likely to use MPEG-2. It's been standardized longer with more hardware available. (as in the Hauppauge cards) Open source PVR projects usually support whatever the author likes best (and gets their hands on), and XviD being open source is the most common there. (DivX is closed and they haven't been supporting anything but Windows very well so it has fallen behind in the enthusiast community.) There aren't as many MPEG-4 hardware accelerators as for MPEG-2 but several players and cards are hitting the market. Really, hardware acceleration isn't as necessary as it was a couple years ago. While it's always nice to have another processor, MPEG-4 codecs are more efficient for real-time recording and PC's are much faster. With XviD on a dedicated PVR box hw acceleration isn't much of an issue until you try to encode multiple video streams simultaneously.

/ramble off - sorry, it's late.

So, if you want something that works out of the box buy a Hauppauge card or get a BeyondTV combo from snapstream.com. If you want more flexibility & better compression go with a Linux setup like MythTV. You'll need a tuner/capture card for Linux anyway so the combo would be a good way to get started. Once you decide on features & have the time you can use the tuner in a Linux setup.

Dave
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by:Callandor
ID: 12132456
Cyrnel has already covered what good quality mpeg4 will require - 700MB/hour.  If you want to reduce the size more, you'll have to give up quality or picture size.
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