PC Magazine (10/04/05 issue) reviewed five DVR software packages as alternatives to Microsofts Windows Media Center Edition (MCE). All were deemed good values and worthy competitors of Tivo… assuming you have an extra computer with decent specs. Meedio Pro earned an Editors’ Choice award and was followed closely by Snapstream’s BeyondTV bundle. Bill Howard preferred Meedio’s level of customization and sound effects over the competitors, while he appreciated SnapStream’s inclusion of the Firefly remote.
PC Mag says: If you’ve been longing for a media-centric PC for the living room but haven’t wanted to buy a new Media Center PC to get it, you’re in luck. Media-player software packages you can load on an existing PC have gotten much better, giving you a TV-friendly interface to access your music, photos, DVDs, videos, and (with the right hardware) even live and recorded TV. Some tasks are demanding of Windows resources, so don’t expect to run one of these MCE workalikes on your three- or four-year-old PC without a hiccup. But if your PC is up to it, the DVR functions of all the products here are just about on par with TiVo – only without the monthly subscription fee.
PC Mag also handed out an Editors’ Choice stamp to the HP z555 running Windows MCE, proclaiming it “nears perfection.” I find the praise a bit high considering they complained of regular reboots due to sluggishness and average system speed.