MySky, Tivo, Igloo, Magic, Freeview, PVR

What is the ultimate media center... I'm intrigued by the lack of cohesion of the entertainment devices in our living rooms, and I am sure the complexity is so that shops can sell more appliances.

The issues:

  • Most freeview boxes are dumbed down, and any PVR (Personal Video Recorder) function is limited, requires a thumbdrive, and a large navigational sequence to find your content, plus decode the filenames which might just have a TV channel number with a timestamp. 
  • TV's now include EPG (Electronic program guides) and smart apps like smart phones. They allow you to play content off a USB drive, or to pause live TV onto the same device. But they don't offer PVR recording or if they do, they don't offer "series link" and only have 1 tuner, so can only record/watch 1 channel at a time. 
  • PVR's like Tivo and MySky and MagicTV, give you the series linking capabilities, but tend to use proprietory file formats, so that you can't easily access that content from other devices in your home. 
  • MySky costs the earth. Tivo is now hard to come by from anywhere that might offer a warranty or trust in the purchasing process. 
  • Igloo, Sky's new answer to freeview, i had hoped might be a contender. But alas, they did not include the PVR and Series linking features. Perhaps a purposeful decision to keep people on mySKY. 
  • Content on demand is the way of the future for many, but it doesn't offer high definition (HD) that I enjoy on my 54inch TV. I want to watch the nightly news in HD, but I want to watch it when i have finished cooking dinner. So I really need that terrestrial signal with PVR and series linking, so that i can watch the news when i want, plus record other great series on these channels. 
  • AppleTV doesn't have a tuner, not sure what happened to Google TV, and MS media center has been promoted for years, but what happened to it. Why does no one sell off the shelf MS option?

My hope for the future

What i really want is a TV (or setup box) with the following top level menu:
  • Watch live TV ( from multiple sources, terrestrial, satalite, internet, pay tv, all via a standardised EPG)
  • Watch TV/Movies on demand (with a standardised content search system)
  • Setup series linking of TV programs from the EPG, preferablly with Tivos cool feature to automatically delete the news recordings after 48 hours. 
  • Watch prerecorded PVR content (with clearly named programs, with option to keep episodes from a series together like in Tivo)
  • Watch other video content, home movies etc (via directory structure)
  • Access this device, with full menu and content streaming, on any tablet or phone in the house. 
  • Setup series linking from afar via smart phone/web.
Is it too much to ask? All of the technology has been around for years, but no one has packaged it together. 
If you have any tips or suggestions on the ultimate media center, please do reply. 
I am awaiting a custom XBMC build as we speak. 

Posted: Tuesday 4 December 2012


  • You'd think in this day and age there would be a simple all in one unit that would tie everything together. It's harder being in a small fragmented market. Every company needs ROI so they lock things down with proprietary formats, and make some integrations harder, I guess not wanting to step on the toes of other operators.

    Recently bought Apple TV and it is great streaming almost anything from the net.

    Apple TV doesn't integrate normal tv as far as I'm aware but I generally avoid regular tv in the first place. Tried to stream One News from iPhone 5...not accepting HTML5 yet so I gave up. Seems idiotic really.

    Good luck with the custom build! Let us know how it goes.
    Posted: 2012-12-11 10:31   by Adrian
  • I've built my own using a PC with Windows Media Centre, Dish TV PVR, and now Tivo. The Dish TV was a lemon from my perspective and I got rid of it not long after I acquired it. The best experience was building it myself using a PC with tuner cards installed but it was also the most hassle getting things like the EPG to work. But once you've done it, is the most flexible option and the best user interface of the options I've tried. There are other open source options as well such as Myth TV but haven't tried those. I am started using Tivo when my PC crashed and I didn't have the time to start all over again and I have found Tivo to be excellent. You can also get Tivo desktop which allows you to copy files to your PC although I don't use that. Big down side with Tivo is that you can no longer buy it in NZ other than second hand.
    Posted: 2012-12-10 09:08
  • Hey Reuben, the team at JACK worked closely with ili who are a NZ based home automation company.
    They have a clean system that manages tv viewing series recording via say freeview and allows viewing listening to music and movie library as the Internet etc. The options with it are endless.
    Call me to check out my set up or go and see the ili guys in Albany.
    P.s it also controls all your music zones throughout the house plus plus plus
    Posted: 2012-12-10 07:07   by Steve Hopkins
  • I'm not an expert, but have seen a few geek sites tell you how "open" the Dish TV PVR's are, and their 500G HDD is not encoded, it does do Series from the EPG, and can also use a USB stick.
    I'd check out the Geek sites for more clues
    Posted: 2012-12-06 13:52   by Paul
  • I'm not an expert, but have seen a few geek sites tell you how "open" the Dish TV PVR's are, and their 500G HDD is not encoded, it does do Series from the EPG, and can also use a USB stick.
    I'd check out the Geek sites for more clues
    Posted: 2012-12-06 13:49   by Paul