Media Center Edition 2004 vs MythTV

A quick recap on what we found when building our MythTV box a few weeks ago:
  1. MythTV is a third party application that runs on various Linux distros, including SuSE Linux 9.1, on which we based our PVR. A few others are Mandrake, Red Hat, and Debian. It can also install from a CD in about 20 minutes, with minimal configuration, using KnoppMyth. That's what we are using for this portion of the analysis.
  2. MythTV is compatible with various TV capture cards, including software and hardware based encoders/decoders (WinTV GO, WinTV PVR-250/350, AverTV Desktop PVR, etc). Generally, if hardware is supported in Linux, it can be at least forced to run on MythTV.
  3. MythTV does not have high hardware requirements. It will operate on a slower Pentium II machine with some quality loss, of course, but will compensate for weaker CPU configurations if a hardware-based capture card is used.
  4. MythTV supports plug-ins, which makes it a piece of software that can be expanded upon and, being open source, can be tailored to anyone's personal needs. Encoding capabilities, most importantly, can be expanded to allow use of various codecs and compression techniques.
We haven't posted much coverage on Windows Media Center Edition besides the original introduction that we wrote about 18 months ago. Here is what we know about Microsoft's PVR OS:
  1. Windows Media Center Edition 2004 is, of course, proprietary software, which means that it cannot be altered or tailored to different needs. Since it is proprietary, though, it is fully supported by Microsoft when installed on certified hardware by certified vendors.
  2. Media Center Edition 2004 does not support software-based encoding, which means that a hardware-based capture card, such as the PVR-250/350 from Hauppauge, is required.
  3. Video encoding is based on Microsoft's own codec and cannot be changed to allow use of various other codec's such as DivX or MPEG2 codecs for DVD output.
  4. Configuration is just as simple as Microsoft's other products, like the original flavors of Windows. Some may disagree, but compared to Linux, Microsoft packages are a snap to install and configure.

Index The Test


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  • - Saturday, October 24, 2009 - link

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  • unnefer - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - link

    Actually, there is a mythTV frontend for Windows, called (of all names) winMyth. I haven't used it so I can't comment on it's use. It can be found here:

    As for the article, it was pretty even IMO - just one issue.

    Why use knoppmyth to compare to MCE? They don't even come close to being similar.
    Knopmyth is basically a gloryfied "LiveCD" and only supports what the developers think should be supported.
    Why not install Fedora (or another distro) and then install mythTV and anything else required to get it fully-functional to the same extent as the MCE install.
    Remember, MCE is on 2 cds and takes just as much effort to install and setup correctly.
  • Brazen - Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - link

    I'd like to see an article on setting up a linux pvr server and then be able to access the server adn watch tv from a client running on Windows. Reply
  • gimper48 - Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - link

    Ok so I will ask again where are you finding that Case for that price?!!! I want to build one but I am having a tough time finding a couple parts for those prices.

  • TrogdorJW - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - link

    I'm not sure I get the point of the detractors of this article. For one, the conclusion is that KnoppMyth/MythTV is the overall winner due to flexibility (at least if you're competent enough to configure some additional options). Second, the software vs. hardware encoding was clearly stated, and there were good reasons for going with the cheaper software encoding cards (price, more flexibility on encoding choice, and you get two cards as well). Are there features that do not get addressed? Yes. Would you all spend the time to read four more pages of commentary on features that 95% of people probably don't care about? Hmmmm.....

    Now, all I need to do is resist the urge to spend money on building my own PVR. Or maybe not? I wonder how well an old P3 1.4 GHz would do with PVR duties if I get a TV card?
  • JKolstad - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    #17: Fair enough, but my point is that if legal restrictions prevent DVD playback from working, it either (a) simply shouldn't be an option for the user to select in the first place or (b) a dialog should be displayed mentioning as much (You can word things pretty generically... just say, "DVD playback is unavailable due to the lack of a DeCss plug-in. According to the DMCA, such software cannot be legally distributed with this application, nor can information be provided on where such software could be obtained. Please search the Internet for further information.")

    But letting a use choose an option that then just leads to a blank screen frustrates both novice AND expert users.

    #20: Granny isn't going to come within 10 feet of a PVR? Hmm... maybe, but I'd bet you plenty of TiVos are sold to the 60+ crowd, and PVRs aren't far behind.

  • Daita - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    What about comparing something like Snapstream or SageTV to MythTV for the windows platform as they're more comparable to what MythTV offers. Snapstream with the new 3.5 version thats in beta right now offers multi-tuner support, web scheduling, client server operation, transcoding, and with the new plugin system will allow users to implement many more features. While this is a 3rd part addon for windows I still think something along these lines is much more comparable than Windowa MCE. Reply
  • frizzlebiscuit - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    Xsecrets, you read my mind. I noticed the same errors in the article regarding KnoppMyth and MythTV, and had the same reactions. Thanks for saving me some typing.

    On MCE: I have not spent any time with MCE, but it looks similar to UltimateTV, which is in some respects a good thing.

    On grandmas: No elderly person on earth is coming within 10 feet of a PVR. Therefore it's a fallacy to base evaluations of these systems on such a standard of usability. That being said, Supernerd shouldn't be the standard either, but I don't think that is the case here.

    On user interfaces: Interfaces should be optimized for a TV and a remote control. MCE looks like it's designed for a monitor and mouse. Supernerd may watch TV at his computer, but I don't. Myth gets it right.
  • rjbAnandtech - Thursday, September 16, 2004 - link

    So will ether of these directly connect to a Cable TV or Satellite TV feed? How about a version that does HDTV? What card can be used to support HDTV from Satellite?

  • cesman - Thursday, September 16, 2004 - link

    "KnoppMyth installs cleanly and easily, but does not offer as much support as getting your hands dirty with a "from scratch" install." As one of the developers behind KnoppMyth, that is the point. KnoppMyth was/is designed to get a set-top box running in the quickest and easiest manner. What sort of "support" are you looking for?

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