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kingdragonfly
29-03-2006, 03:01 PM
I know we have quite a few people outside NZ. If you're one of those unfortunates you can stop here.

I am in no way affliliated with Sky.

I have a few personal observations regarding building personal video recorders. I've touched a few PVR software and hardware products, but by no means all.

Anyhow I think I can safely say you can't build or buy anything as nice as MySky, even if you were to use two Sky boxes, two IR blasters and two video capture cards.

Reason one: since it records the digital signal directly to the hard drive, a recorded show has exactly the same quality as a live show (no analog to digital, digital to analog conversion)

Reason two: it can record two programs at once, without the expense of hardware based video encoders, or alternately a fast CPU.

Reason three: it's tough to beat it's interactive guide for setting up recordings.

Reason four: no IR (infrared) blaster worries to change channels.

What's "missing" from MySKy is apparently a way to get at the digital video recordings directly. In other words, someone might want to burn a program to CD/DVD, such as your typical public domain non-copyrighted religious show, to watch later at Church. (wink, wink)

The TiVo in the States, and some other PVR's do allow this, though sometimes this means voiding the warranty.

You could, of course, play the show and connect a PC with a video capture card, but it has the problem of slightly degrading the signal (digital to analog, analog to digital).

Did I miss anything?

gcarmich
29-03-2006, 03:19 PM
I owned and used a Sky+ box in the UK from virtually the launch there (yep they've had it for years) Sky+ by the way is the UK name for My Sky.

Anyway - it changed the way I watch TV. The only real downside to it is ... it doesn't connect to the rest of the home network, why can't I watch a program I've recorded on a computer in another room, why can't I cut them to DVD to free up space.

So now I'm in NZ, and Sky+ is here but I want more ....

So whats the options, Tivo, not available here. Media Center, well yea but then we are back to two Sky decoders, with blaster to do why My Sky can do and analogue recordings.

Ideal world, Media Center (or linux stuff) with two PCI cards that can decode sky.

And on the similar subject - what is the state of digital TV in NZ

Peter H
29-03-2006, 03:29 PM
Downside - will only let you watch a movie once - also, if you stop halfway thru, thats it - it's gone. :annoyed:

gcarmich
29-03-2006, 03:32 PM
In the UK it gave you 24hr window from when you first started to watch it before it removed it.

kingdragonfly
29-03-2006, 03:41 PM
Downside - will only let you watch a movie once - also, if you stop halfway thru, thats it - it's gone. :annoyed:
I've heard rumours of some people that always hook up some recording device when watching a pay-per-view program, such as a PC with a video capture board like the Hauppuage PVR-150, but of course this is stealing from Sky.

Graham L
29-03-2006, 03:53 PM
... but of course this is stealing from Sky.And if that happens, the Sky will fall on Chicken Little. :thumbs:

pctek
29-03-2006, 03:55 PM
Downside - will only let you watch a movie once - also, if you stop halfway thru, thats it - it's gone. :annoyed:
Thats pathetic. More Big Brother rubbish.

Miami Steve
29-03-2006, 04:22 PM
Downside - will only let you watch a movie once - also, if you stop halfway thru, thats it - it's gone. :annoyed:
The downside of what? My understanding of My-Sky is that the programme is recorded to HDD and can be watched as often as required until deleted. :confused:

kingdragonfly
29-03-2006, 05:15 PM
I believe Peter H's referring to pay-per-view movies.

Peter H
29-03-2006, 05:20 PM
Correct

Miami Steve
29-03-2006, 05:26 PM
So, with MySky, you only get one chance to watch a PPV movie, whereas with the standard decoder you get 24 hours to watch as often as you wish? Is that correct, or am I still not understanding?

Antmannz
29-03-2006, 07:29 PM
Ideal world, Media Center (or linux stuff) with two PCI cards that can decode sky.


A Hauppage PVR-500 has two encoders on board.

Considering the cost of paying for the setup + the monthly rental = no thanks. It's way too expensive for a piece of hardware you don't even own.

Hitech
29-03-2006, 08:46 PM
Yes you did miss something while i myself would love to have my sky i happen to think that paying $600 for something that isnt yours is well on the nose and a rip off,sky made a profit last year of $100 million surely they could afford to subsidise this so as more people can get it.

kingdragonfly
30-03-2006, 10:02 AM
It is true
* you don't own it
* it's expensive
* you can't network it (two TV's playing different programs from one machine)
* PPV movies only show once.
* you can't get direct access to the stored "off the air" videos, without capturing it in another device, meaning you lose a little quality.

In Sky's defence, it's cheaper than most PC based PVR you could build. You don't have to worry about fixing if it's broken. It very easy to schedule recordings, even different two programs running at the same time.

Even assuming you're reusing a PC for a PVR, and installing freeware Linux based PVR software, you still need two IR blasters, two Sky boxes, and two video capture board, it's hard to come under $600 (a single PVR-500 is nice but it is ~$275).

I'm only aware of one off-the-shelf PVR that includes a IR blaster, and it's only sold in the States. Microsoft's solution needs quite a bit of hardware behind it.

Filed under it's too early to tell: hopefully it won't get to a point where one dud MySky box get replaced from another rebuilt but still not working box.

The Pace decoders, such as the DSR2000, can be tricky for training an IR (infrared)blaster from your remote control, as I can personally attest.

The USBUIRT is not too friendly toward it, but the TIRA seems a little more robust. Unfortunately some PVR software has only supports very specific IR blaster. Hauppauge does include an IR blaster with their video cards, but I haven't tried it.

Girder from Promixis makes generic software which can drive a IR blaster, among other things.

http://www.usbuirt.com/overview.htm
http://www.home-electro.com/ira2.php
http://www.promixis.com/products.php?section=girder

Antmannz
30-03-2006, 12:50 PM
Interesting costing there kingdragonfly.

My PVR is admittedly re-using an old PC, and I have no need to record Sky; but total cost so far is $130 for the Hauppage PVR-150 OEM. I decided against infra-red control in favour of a wireless keyboard/mouse, but that's causing a few problems at the moment as I'm trying to find a wireless combo with decent 3m-ish reach. Even if I had have chosen the PVR-150 + remote it still would only have cost me approx $200.

That's substantially less than $600 + a Sky subscription.

kingdragonfly
30-03-2006, 12:58 PM
Did you use the Hauppauge IR blaster to change channels on the Sky Box, for automatted recordings? I haven't tried it.

Antmannz
30-03-2006, 04:28 PM
I don't have Sky so ........

BIFF
30-03-2006, 04:59 PM
I personally prefer Media Center, the cost was as follows:
$300 for PC (Dell GX260, 2.6GHz CPU, 1GB RAM)
$300 for 2x tuners
$110 for 200GB HDD
$120 for Graphics Card
$60 for Remote and IR receiver/2xblasters
$100 for DVD Writer

so $990 and I own the thing.

It's good because I have a lot of options with it, plays DVDs and DivXs etc, rips and stores 200+CDs with cover art and correct names, decodes AC3 audio to Pro logic II so I can have 5.1 audio without a DTS receiver, runs MAME with media center front end, holds my pictures, extends media to Xbox over the LAN, plays shoutcast streaming radio using media player playlist tricks, has an FM tuner... the list is limited by your imagination. I think that's what cool about having a whole PC rather than just an appliance.

Only down side is the $15 per month for the second decoder.

kingdragonfly
30-03-2006, 05:20 PM
I'm currently using SnapStream, after Showshifter want out of business. Pretty solid, once I got the IR blaster going with Sky (with some outside help)

Actually Antmannz the Infrared blaster works on just about anything controlled by an remote, including TV's, (or even some AC/heaters). For automatting recordings, you can't beat 'em.

(Note: some IR remote use out-of-the ordinary codes / frequencies, including some of Sky's boxes. Most IR blaster can handle almost anything now.)

For those possibly unfamilar with the concept, basically you hook up an IR blaster to your PC. You train it by pressing the buttons on your remote control, and it memorizes the codes.

Then you point the IR blaster at your Sky box, Telstra box, TV, whatever.

Software such as Girder will then string together the appropriate codes, like changing to any channel, turning on/off the power, basically anything you can do from a remote.

Some Hauppauge video capture baords have IR blaster; I've never used Hauppauge's but I'm curious about it's performance.

OrangeDrink
23-02-2007, 02:27 PM
Feel the need to chime in with a few points specific to MySky in New Zealand, many perhaps will not pertain to Sky+ in the UK but here we go



Anyhow I think I can safely say you can't build or buy anything as nice as MySky, even if you were to use two Sky boxes, two IR blasters and two video capture cards.

That may be true, the MySky box is a great piece of hardware. Sadly the software is utter crap and lacks much functionality to make use of the imressive hardware. Contrast it with the capabilities of even a Series 1 Tivo (which are about 7 or 8 years old now) and the Tivo has far better functionality, minus of course the ability to record 2 streams at once.



Reason one: since it records the digital signal directly to the hard drive, a recorded show has exactly the same quality as a live show (no analog to digital, digital to analog conversion)

and yet in New Zealand the standard of the broadcasts is so poor on most channels that makes no difference.



Reason two: it can record two programs at once, without the expense of hardware based video encoders, or alternately a fast CPU.

With the very limited number of channels you might want to record things on here I've hardly ever used the ability to record 2 programmes at once.



Reason three: it's tough to beat it's interactive guide for setting up recordings.

The Interactive guide is a joke, series links stop working at random, programmes get renamed mid week meaning you lose things you schedule too early in the week, particularly for Rugby matches I find. On top of that it only looks ahead about a week and it doesn't give you recording options for specific series links. There's no ability to search for programmes coming up, there's no ability to search based on anything, let alone actor/director/genre/keywords etc.

Sum up: Could've been great but poor software and functionality make it not realy worthwhile. If I could go back in time I'd get a US TiVo box with a NZ image and a plain Sky Decoder.