PC Mag Reviews DVR Software, Meedio #1

MeedioPC Magazine (10/04/05 issue) reviewed five DVR software packages as alternatives to MicrosoftÂ’s 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.

HP z555

1 thought on “PC Mag Reviews DVR Software, Meedio #1”

  1. I’ve been working with several PVR solutions for the PC over the last eight months or so. I’ve tried BeyondTV, MCE 2005, and Meedio. I briefly gave MythTV a shot, but I could not get all of my hardware to play nicely with Linux (especially my motherboard, an MSI RS480).

    MCE 2005, in my opinion, has the best interface and reliability of the Windows-based solutions. BeyondTV has some really cool features, like ShowSqueeze, that make it a compelling option. And Meedio feels like a mature application, until you get to Meedio TV. :-) The on-screen channel and guide information is useful when watching live TV, but the options Meedio gives you are pretty lame. The default is text on a black background. If you have show information and the mini-guide displayed at the same time, it almost obscures the whole picture. If you enable transparent backgrounds, then the text is very difficult to read. Meedio developers would do well to look at BeyondTV’s solution, which is text over a “smoked glass” background, making the text easy to read yet not covering the TV image. Also, some of the information dialogs that pop up can’t be closed with a remote control that relies on Girder; I actually had to use a mouse to click “OK” on a couple of messages. Little things like that kill the “PC-less” experience.

    I’ve just started looking into Media Portal, which is an open-source PVR application. It looks like it’s actively developed, and coule be a contender to Meedio. Better yet, since I’m a software developer, I can actually go into the code if I need to and fix something that doesn’t work like I want it to. I really like that freedom a lot. The only question is whether or not it will work well enough to evaluate it before I dedicate a bunch of time to it. :-)

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