Western Canadian TV delivery
May 23, 2005 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm *this* close to throwing away my Bell/ExpressVu satellite/PVR setup. What are alternative ways to feed my TV addiction in western Canada?

The ExpressVu software has always seemed clunky to me and now it's having mysterious problems that prevent the search function from working at all (it could only search ahead 48 hours even when it was working). I'd like to find another system but I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars to jump from the frying pan to the fire.
posted by timeistight to Technology (2 answers total)
I bought an old Series 1 TiVo from eBay, and then upgraded the internal hard drive. Then I used a home-made serial cable and connected it to my computer, which acts like the TiVo service.

Gives me 2 weeks' worth of listings from Zap2it's XML service.

Not sure if it's supposed to be public knowledge or not, due to the "gray market" status of TiVo in Canada, but there's a website dedicated to this stuff (and has software that is specifically made for Canada).

I'm sure if you google it you can find it, plus there are forums there as well that really helped me set things up.
posted by MiG at 12:13 PM on May 23, 2005

(Prices are for the equipment, non-PVR)

Legal Choices:

- Star Choice satellite (before you buy, call their 800 support number and decide if you can wait that long -- last call I made took 1 1/2 hours). Just the other week they announced an HD PVR. ($60 - $100)

- Your local cable provider. Most of these offer digital/HD/PVR. ($0 depending on the provider)

- Big tall TV tower (depending on your exact location, this could get you up to a dozen stations, or it could get you only CBC). Standard def. TV, hook up a Replay TV unit or something homebrew (eg: MythTV) for PVR functionality. ($200 - $300 for the tower, $100 for the antenna, $80 for the rotator IIRC)

- C-Band satellite dish. Not much Canadian stuff to subscribe on these (not much for free either), but plenty of US networks to subscribe. All the legal fights there's ever going to be on C-Band resellers have been fought, so you can feel secure the men in red coats won't be hauling you off for watching HBO on one of these anymore. PVR functionality is going to be the same as for antenna based TV service. (Usually free if used [get a unit with a VCII decoder!], $1000 - $2000 for the dish new, $500 for a good receiver new)

- Free to Air satellite. Free, but pretty much only religious & ethnic content. Plenty of PVR options, but not much in the way of a TV guide. ($200)

- Internet TV. Next to impossible to find more than a few individual channels (most of which are pornos), set top boxes are tough to come by. GOOD LUCK! ($?)

- Microwave transmitted TV. Locally, LooK TV offers this, they will point an antenna at their transmitter tower for you. ($499 in the case of LooK TV).

Less-than-legal alternatives:

- Subscribe to a US satellite TV service through a Canadian broker. Easier to say than to find since the RCMP have been busting down their quite seriously doors lately. Lots of PVR options. ($200 equipment, probably $100 to set up an account)

- BitTorrent. :-)

Definitely not legal alternatives:

- Satellite TV cracking. If you're thinking of this you're too late to the party, I'm afraid. Don't spend your money -- all the satellite providers are moving to much more secure smartcards soon (many already have) and you'll just be dissappointed. ($100 - $200 right now, $??? in the future)

A little note: If you don't like ExpressVu's software, DishNetwork is the company that provides all the equipment to ExpressVu.

If I've managed to miss something please let me know -- I think I've covered pretty much every common way to get TV here.
posted by shepd at 4:26 PM on May 23, 2005

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