Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The wretchedness of trying to build a cheap PVR

My old PVR is dead. To give you an idea of how old it is, it contains a 40GB hard drive. It's ancient - not even worth trying to salvage any bits out of it.

Since Le Tour is approaching, I need to get something up and running to record SBS. I've been looking at a variety of PVRs that range from very cheap to around 500 bucks, and I'm yet to find one that really stands out and says "buy me". I want something that will record TV and allow me to copy existing movies onto it over the network - I've ripped most of our DVDs, and I don't like the idea of using attached external storage.

I was having a hard time deciding what to do, when I had a brain wave. I bought a new PC recently, so why not rebuild the old one as a PVR? How hard could it be?

Well, for something that seemed so straightforward at first, it's turned into a nightmare thanks to Bill Gates and his crew of useless programmers. I thought about building it with Linux for about 5 seconds, and then gave that idea away. I rebuilt an old laptop last year with Linux, and whilst it worked and ran well, I never gelled with the software. I'm starting to have second thoughts about using Linux.

The only OS I had for the old PC was Vista, so I plonked it on - dead easy. Then I tried to apply service pack 1. I must have tried it 20 times over the last 4 days, and spent hours looking at workarounds on various forums. I've even rebuilt the PC 5 times - no dice. It just refuses to accept SP1.

Which is bonkers, since I rebuilt it and installed SP1 and SP2 just last year. Maybe it hates me for relegating it to the lounge room. I don't know.

Anyway, my advice after dicking around with it for the better part of an entire weekend is just go out and buy a proper PVR that someone else has built.


cav said...

Get one of then Foxtel thingies that record TV and satellite stuff.

The only problem is that the grandkids ring up and want their programs recorded, then come the weekend there is very little memory left to record the car racing.

We record a lot of stuff and watch it later, that way you can zoom through the ads.

Anonymous said...

Slipstream sp1&2 in and then reinstall.

Pat Heuvel said...


Have a look at the Panasonic DMR-BWT700 (or 720 or 820...). 500GB to 1TB of storage. I have two seasons of MotoGP on it so far, and have copied them off to Blu-Ray. Works brilliantly, great quality.

I got mine from graysonline.

Iain Hall said...

We are still running XP on all four of our computers here and it works very well indeed and uses less space just for the operating system than Vista.

Spilling Ink said...

Depends on which Linux you're using.

Coconutdog said...

Have a look at the Humax HDR-7500T. We have one and it hasn't missed a beat.

DMS said...

This may not be necessary, since you are a "sophisticated user" it seems, but consider a second-hand TiVo.

They were hideously expensive new (for what they were) but are OK 2d hand, the EPG is still supported and are extremely simply to use (primary feature). On second thoughts, maybe maybe Cav could buy one - but for the grandkids?