Favorite Shows are Back

A lot of my favorite TV shows are back on the air after their hiatus break, so I’m getting back to my regular watching schedule. Unfortunately, I missed a few of them for various reasons (e.g., business travel, forgetfullness, etc). so it seemed I was out of luck. However, I noticed that most of the major broadcasters are now making their recently aired shows available for playback from their web sites. Because of this, I was able to watch missed episodes from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Lost a few days after their original air date. In fact, nearly all shows on Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC offer viewing of their TV shows online. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a way to download such episodes to my Zune for playback later.

In case you’re wondering, below are the TV shows that I make an effort to watch every week (in no particular order):

  • Teminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • Lost
  • Jericho
  • Heroes
  • Stargate – Atlantis
  • Life

Now, if I can only get a TV tuner card for my PC to record these shows for my Zune….

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11 thoughts on “Favorite Shows are Back

  1. Ben says:

    Hauppauge 1600, Vista MCE + MCEBuddy = priceless

  2. zunetips says:

    Ben: Thanks for the recommendation. Have you tried using GB-PVR? It’s a freeware application for use with certain TV Tuner Cards. Since I have Vista I would probably use MCE, but I was wondering if you had looked at GB-PVR.

  3. Xsabre says:

    I personally use SageTV. Not because it is any better than those mentioned above, but because the development community is very active. There is a plugin or skin for anything you can imagine.

    I have been using the SageMC theme for several years. It has been updated hundreds of times with great new and improved features.

    http://tinyurl.com/2o9klf

  4. zunetips says:

    Xsabre: Isn’t SageTV for Linux systems? Or, does it work with Windows? Also, is SageTV freeware?

  5. Xsabre says:

    I think you maybe referring to MythTV. Only linux based and free. I believe that there is a canned Ubuntu MythTV distro that gets things going quickly without all the trouble of regular setup of MythTV.

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MythTV

    SageTV you have to purchase but I believe that it is worth it.

  6. zunetips says:

    You’re right, I was thinking of SageTV. I’ve gotta get a cable line installed in my home office (near my computer), and then get a TV tuner card. What I want, is software that will record TV shows in the background without having to popup an application window on my screen. Does MythTV do that?

  7. Xsabre says:

    MythTV and SageTV work the same way. The application runs in the background and you can bring it up whenever you like.

    The feature that I love the best is the commercial skip. It reviews shows as they are being recorded and tracks where commercials are than skips over them automatically when I go to see them. I can’t tell you how amazing that is. You have to configure it with a plugin but it is very easy and it does a wonderful job. I get about 90-95% success rate with commercial detection. But your mileage may very…

    BTW, my media pc was something I created for fun. My friend kept telling me about his TIVO doing this and that and I thought I would try doing the same thing with a pc. Total cost about $500 (if you have an old pc you can do it for less $130). It now has taken a life of its own. I don’t watch regular TV anymore. On top of that I have my movies, musics, youtube & google video access, RSS Reader, etc. There tons of other stuff you can add to it but some are over kill. See for yourself

    http://tinyurl.com/2o9klf

    If you can installed a hard drive and pci card u have all the skills you need. Trust me..

  8. zunetips says:

    Xsabre: That’s really cool. Can you give some details on the hardware in your media center system, and how you use the SageTV software? Is this a “headless” system, where you don’t have a monitor connected to it? I’m wondering if I can create a very small Tivo-like system and just put it in my family room connected to my cable TV for input.

  9. Xsabre says:

    “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” Morpheus – Matrix

    Sorry I couldn’t help myself…

    The hardware specs are very minimalist. The first system I had was an old gateway that was given to me because they were going to throw it out. (Specs 800 Mhz, 1 Gig Ram, 120 GB H D, Nvidia FX5200, BTW 800 Mhz is not a typo it was that slow but it worked great) The only things I purchase was a graphic card and 120 GB HD. The system worked great for over a year and than I gave it away as a Christmas present to a friend of mine.

    My new system (not really new as it is over 2 years old) is a cheap emachine that I got for $250. (Specs 1.5 Ghz, 1 Gig Ram, 160 HD, Nvidia 6600 Passive Cooled) I purchase the Nvidia 6600 passive cooled (i.e fanless) and a new power supply. I would recommend a passive cooled graphic card as it will not make any noise which is important if you are planning on using it in your living room. The power supply I purchased because I had read that emachine power supplys were not that great and on top of that I could reduce the noise levels as well.

    You can probably get a slim profile system (ie Inspiron 530s) and work from there. To future proof your system I would recommend no less than 2 Ghz processor, 2 Gig Ram and a Nvidia 7000 Series or better. It will allow you to process Standard and High Definition Television. Additionally, make sure that whatever graphic card you purchase will be able to connect to your TV. HDMI is standard connection for new televisions so keep that in mind.

    The 3 Most Important Components:
    1) Video Capture Card – Hauppauge 1600
    2) Hard drive – Get largest size you can afford.
    3) Media Software – I use SageTV very easy to setup, but Window Media Center which comes Vista Home Premium should work well. MythTV works too just may require more work to get it running.

    My system is connected to my television and I control it with the remote that came with my Hauppauge capture card. You can program the remote to do anything within the software.

    Here are pictures of SageTV with SageMC Plugin.
    http://tinyurl.com/2wza7m

    One thing I would recommend is you configure and test the system with a monitor first and than connect it to your TV after testing. Helps a great deal with configuration and debugging.

    Let me know if you need any additional information or have questions.

    Xsabre

  10. zunetips says:

    Xsabre: Thanks for that information. It sounds like you created your own TiVo-like system that works great. Here’s a few more questions:

    1) I’m curious, how large is your system case? Do you have any pics of your setup?
    2) What format do you record your video? Is it MPEG2 format?
    3) Do you convert you video files to Zune format (WMV or MP4) on this media machine?
    4) Do you have a wireless network card for transferring converted files
    to your Desktop PC?

    Thanks again for your valuable feedback.

  11. Xsabre says:

    Here are the answers to your questions…

    1) The system is a standard emachine. 14.5 x 7.25 x 16.50-inches (H x W x D, approximate) I don’t have any pictures but it just looks like a TV with a computer next to it. I was on a budget when I created this so a clean look wasn’t on the top of the list. There exist slim profile systems. http://tinyurl.com/7ayou

    2) MPEG2 is the default for SageTV and most other DVR Software.

    3) I don’t but there is a plugin for that. http://tinyurl.com/2kcwn2

    4) Yes

    So the journey begins…

    Good luck

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