Making a DVR

About three months ago, I became fed up with always missing the two programs I like to watch (PTI and Battlestar Galactica).  However, I did not want to pay Comcast $10/month (or so) for a DVR plus an upgrade to digital cable.  Buying a Tivo was out of the question as it is expensive and, once again, no digital cable.  What is one to do?

Well, if you have a decent old computer sitting around plus about $50-100, you can make yourself a DVR.  When I bought my Macbook Pro, my old ABS laptop suddenly became obsolete.  However, I have a penchant for buying fast computers and my old laptop was still very functional (albeit greatly slowed thanks to Vista).  I found a TV Tuner at NewEgg and went from there.

You can connect a computer (plus TV Tuner) to a TV at least two ways (depending on your computer’s outputs): 1. through S-video plus headphone jack or 2. through an Xbox 360/media center.  Since I have an Xbox 360, #2 was my route of choice.

A Vista/XP computer can connect to a computer (that is anywhere in the house) through a network.  Turn on Windows Media Center and select the same within your Xbox dashboard and viola, you should be connected.

However, there are a few drawbacks to this interface such as an inability to see the computer’s desktop if you prefer, say, YouTube videos to regular TV.  Now that I have moved and have access to my fiance’s 42 inch plasma, I am going to start using S-video plus a wireless keyboard/mouse.  When I do that, I will be able stop typing to you on this relatively puny 15 inch screen and hot laptop.  I hope it works as well as I imagine.

p.s. A few weeks after I set up my own DVR, my fiance informed me that her parents and her bought me a Tivo + subscription for my birthday (review of the TV in a bit).  Looks like my DVR is moving locations…


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