TiVo Alternative (Software or Hardware)

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Maxington, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Maxington macrumors 6502

    May 11, 2007
    Oshkosh, WI
    I currently have a TiVo and have been using the service for over 5+ years. My TiVo is dying and I am looking for alternatives to record and watch TV shows.

    Is anyone using other software or hardware to do the same thing TiVo does?

    Why I like my TiVo:
    - Ability to record shows easily
    - Ability to have a "season pass" that records all shows for a season

    Any ideas and/or suggestions?
  2. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Assuming you want a Mac-based solution, the main player seems to be Elgato EyeTV:


    ... it does recording & there's a client app for iOS. It has a "series pass" feature, but it may depend on a subscription to a particular listings service, so I haven't tried it.

    If you want a "just works" solution rather than a challenge, don't read on.

    If you want an open source solution then the all-singing, all-dancing solution is MythTV http://www.mythtv.org/ - but (in most cases) you'll need a Linux system to run the server part**.

    It has a reputation for being rocket science to set up, but if you use something like MythBuntu (http://www.mythbuntu.org/) to install it on a dedicated machine, and it recognizes your hardware, its not too bad (tuning could be easier). The complexity is partly because it supports so many standards, multiple/distributed tuners, different listings sources etc. Once its up an running, then its perfectly friendly.

    The main challenge is finding a tuner that's supported & occasionally a bit of faff locating the driver or the firmware - my EyeTV Diversity tuner works fine and, in the UK, grabbing the free listings from the off-air digital source is adequate. It doesn't have "series pass" as such but it can automatically record programs based on title, subtitle and (optionally) channel & time, which does the job pretty well. Your Mileage May Vary in other countries and/or with Satellite/Cable systems.

    Its a client/server system, so you can have a backend with the tuner hardware & filestore and have multiple frontends on your network that can watch TV and recordings. The good news is that the frontend does work on the Mac.

    ** The server *will* run on Mac but, since OS X lacks the LinuxTV framework, the only tuners it can use are a few ethernet-based ones like HDHomeRun. I *have* successfully had it working with the frontend running on OS X connecting to the backend running in Linux under Parallels (VirtualBox wouldn't hack it - I think its the USB support needed for the tuner) - however, that's more "something to do when there's nothing on TV" than a practical solution :)
  3. lstone19 macrumors member

    May 3, 2010
    In what way is it dying? The moving parts (the hard drive and the fan) are both easily replaced. The TiVo system number is in ROM, not the hard drive, so the drive can be replaced without it being considered a new system (important if you have lifetime service) although you would need to set it up again.

    TiVo Community (www.tivocommunity.com) is a better place for getting TiVo information including information on DIY repairs and upgrades including sources and instructions.

    I once thought I had a dying TiVo. Opened it up and it was clearly the fan. Ordered a replacement from one of the third-party suppliers, had it in a few days, and was back up and running in short order.
  4. Maxington thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 11, 2007
    Oshkosh, WI
    In the past I had replaced a HD in one of my old units. My current unit is having boot sector problems so a new HD would solve the problem, but at this point I am looking for a new alternative.

    I have been paying $12.95 for years and looking for something different. My ultimate solution would have "apps" on my AppleTV that I can just watch the shows I want to watch (I know I can purchase some episodes via iTunes).
  5. redscull macrumors 6502a


    Jul 1, 2010
    Elagato is too limiited. Can only record one thing at a time, and only basic cable unless it does the equivalent of human-controlled channel switching using the cable co's hardware. TiVo at least integrates cable cards to get extended channels and has dual tuner (but even two tuners is kind of inadequate these days).

    And now in my area, the cable co is moving to switched digital which even TiVo can't access. So it's getting to the point where the cable co's equipment is really the only option if you want all the channels you pay for. Or you drop cable altogether for internet programming via Hulu and Netscape, but then you miss out on a lot of content.
  6. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    There isn't much of an alternative, I've been looking.

    The problem with eyeTV is the lack of Cablecard.

    I ended up buying a new TiVo. They're running pretty good deals on the Premiere, but the hardware quality is not as good.
  7. ReggaeFire macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2003
    While technically "unsupported", multiple tuner setup has worked fine in EyeTV for years, as long as everything is pointed at the same source (i.e. you can't have one tuner on cable and another on OTA) and you're not using the EyeTV HD device (it might work with that as well, I'm not sure). I've had a three tuner eyetv setup for a couple years now with no issue.
  8. rmsilver7 macrumors newbie


    Nov 18, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I've been a Tivo user for 11 years, mostly happy with them, but when I get pissed at them I start looking at alternatives and I recently found Moxi, which is a 3-turner stand alone box and does not have monthly fees. But it's got a pretty spendy price tag of $599. One of these days Tivo will piss me off enough I might switch over. http://www.moxi.com

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