Don't qualify for UVerse, what now?
January 17, 2010 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I am seeking opinions and advice about TV/DVR service or setup that will let me record multiple programs at once and watch them from any TV.

I have a Series 2 TiVO (with a lifetime service plan) purchased in 2003 when I still had cable. I switched to DirecTV a couple of years later and got their dual-tuner TiVO system. Although I have these two TiVO units, DirecTV apparently hobbled theirs so it's impossible to watch shows recorded downstairs on the upstairs TV and vice versa.

This has annoyed me for years, so I finally signed up for UVerse which comes with "multi-room DVR" service. Unfortunately, the tech came out to install it and found that I was a few hundred feet too far away from the telco equipment for the service to work reliably.

I want to achieve "multi-room viewing" somehow and am looking for advice about how to do it. I still have DirecTV for TV and I have a DSL broadband connection, though I am open to switching either of those if needed (I live in the St. Louis area in case it's relevant). I'm also open to replacing the TiVOs with something else, whether that's a device I buy or something I build like MythTV. I'm a programmer, good with a soldering iron and handy with technical things in general. Finally, I don't mind spending money up-front on equipment, but I hate monthly fees and want to avoid or minimize them as much as possible.

Any ideas?
posted by tomwheeler to Technology (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could look into Moxi and their three tuner device with Moxi Mates. This is a DVR that takes CableCARDs* (like the TiVo Series 3 and TiVo HD units) and whose purchase price includes a lifetime subscription to its DVR service. Of course, it's a bit spendy, where a Moxi 3-tuner with 2 Moxi Mates is $999, but it'd do exactly what you want.

Only hitch? You'll have to switch video providers to a cable company or Verizon's FiOS service if available. They are the only providers I'm familiar with that provide CableCARDs, and such 3rd party devices like Moxi are not available for satellite or U-Verse.

* What is a CableCARD? Wikpedia's explanation. Mine: In 1996, the FCC mandated that cable companes separate the encryption from the display functions of a set-top box and allow customers to use their own display set-top. To say the uptake rate has been low would be charitable, but it does let competing DVR setups like TiVo, Moxi, and Windows Media Center (now available in geeky DIY format) decrypt pay cable channels and use them in a manner more in tune with what the end user might want.
posted by fireoyster at 2:19 PM on January 17, 2010

DirecTV is supposed to have a new HD TiVo with multi-room viewing this year. If that doesn't interest you, Windows Media Center can be easily extended with inexpensive Xbox 360s. You can buy pre-built Windows Media Centers capable of recording shows off of HD Cable or build one yourself.
posted by jeffkramer at 3:26 PM on January 17, 2010

If you get a second Tivo, you can stream between them if they're on the same network.
posted by CorporateHippy at 10:45 AM on January 18, 2010

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