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To TiVo or not to TiVo!!!

To TiVo or Not To TiVo!!
by Gary Woods

TiVo is very cool. It allows you to digitally record shows even when you're watching something else, as well as pause a show in the middle and then pick it up where you left off when you're ready to start watching it again. But if you've got an old PC laying around and between $70 and $80 in your pocket you could have the same features with no extra monthly charge. To make the software work your computer has to have a TV-tuner card and at least 15GB to 20GB of hard drive space.

There are two companies that offer the software, Snap Stream's Beyond TV 4.2 which retails for $70 and Sage TV Media Center for $80. Both applications allow you to record, pause, and rewind live TV via bright and clear full-screen windows. Each also manages multiple installed TV tuners, for recording two programs simultaneously or juggling HDTV and standard TV.

Both applications download your cable provider's program guide, including specific information on each episode. You can decide between recording specific episodes or all episodes of a show, or you can set a daily or weekly recording schedule. Also, both programs store and catalog recorded programs for easy playback. The shows are usually stored as MPEG-2 files for easy DVD burning, editing, or watching on your favorite media player.

Beyond TV has an optional $30 software component that extends DVR programming and playback to any computer on the same local network.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. You can hear Gary on the Radio at 1290 AM Monday 9-10 AM and he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc