I really, really want to stay on a DIY DVR solution - that gives me more control over how my DVR & clients are configured and the functionality we have - including the ability to watch live/recorded TV, personal/downloaded videos, and have access to streaming & cable On Demand programs.
When Microsoft was investing in WMC - it was the best available on the market and attracted 3rd party developers who extended the environment to fill in the gaps. But that was years ago - and we're still using the same WMC, now with less 3rd party support and an uncertain future.
When Microsoft announced they would not bring the stagnant WMC over to Windows 10, I invested in the SD DVR Kickstarter project and installed a Comcast X1 DVR - two clear options for replacing our WMC environment, which must support both DRM and whole home DVR (replacing our 6 Xbox 360 extenders).
While the Comcast X1 DVR is a huge improvement over their previous DVR offerings, it still falls short. They've done a great job integrating live & recorded TV with their streaming and On Demand services, but it still a "closed" system. They control the ability to fast forward/reverse skip for some programs - and will unlikely ever have anything close to commercial skipping (which would impact Comcast's revenue). And you can't access your own videos or other streaming services. Since we get a free X1 DVR with our cable package, we'll probably always have the X1 DVR here, but, with the limited functionality still present in their X1 offerings, can't justify paying monthly fees for the X1 STBs.
To be fair to Silicondust, they never claimed in their Kickstarter campaign description that they intended to make a WMC replacement - they always said they would be making a simpler "reimagined" DVR. Though Kickstarter supporters can rightfully claim SD promised a WMC replacement, because SD included at 3rd party video review - which states he intends to use the SD DVR as a replacement for WMC for himself and his family. At least for this first release, it's pretty clear SD is going to fall far short of providing a WMC replacement. They've opted for simplicity, dropping basic features like a program guide grid - and if you need DRM, you can't use 3rd party solutions like Kodi or Plex. We already own 3 SD cablecard tuner boxes (one purchased as part of the Kickstarter investment) - so I still hope SD will see the light - and figure out how to provide a complete WMC replacement - likely partnering with someone else who already has a complete whole home DVR environment, and is primarily missing DRM support.
After all of the people have commented on TiVo, I spent time yesterday researching this. I have a spreadsheet created last spring to evaluate the SD DVR and X1 DVR, comparing them to how we use WMC. The SD DVR fills in very little of the spreadsheet. Surprisingly, the combination of 2 TiVo Bolts and a network of TiVo Minis provides almost everything we have today in WMC - plus adds new capabilities that we'd like to see - like integration with the major streaming services and Plex (to access our personal music, photos and videos). The only area that isn't clear is how we would watch recorded programs "offline" while travelling (on a plane or in a hotel room), since TiVo has dropped their Desktop software - and it looks like they are now focusing only on Apple and Android devices for remote/offline viewing. [Really want to have offline viewing on our larger display Windows tablets & laptops.]
If a miracle happens and SD does eventually come out with a WMC replacement, we would end up spending $30 per year with them for guide service plus have to purchase replacements for our Xbox 360s. With X1, we would save on the monthly cablecard rentals, but have to pay monthly fees for each of the X1 STBs to replace our Xbox 360 extenders. For TiVo, we'd have to purchase two Bolts, pay annual $150 service fees for each (after the first year), and purchase TiVo Minis to replace the Xbox 360s.
SD's "reimagined" strategy doesn't seem to make much sense. Their current customer base is likely much more interested in a more powerful DVR solution than what they are planning. Potential customers who want a "simpler" DVR, seem more likely to prefer the fully supported TiVo or cable/satellite DVRs - and would likely not plan to "roll their own" by using a PC or a NAS coupled with SD tuners. It seems more likely that most (if not almost all) of SD's cablecard customers are more likely to stay on WMC for as long as possible, and when they decide (or are forced) to make a change, they will more likely skip over SD's less functional DVR and go to whatever solution (at that time) provides the most functionality and flexibility.
Since every solution is going to end up costing more than what we are paying today with WMC, SD may also have guessed wrong on their pricing and business model. If SD could provide (likely with 3rd parties) a complete whole home DVR replacement for WMC, it's likely that community is willing to pay more the $30 per year - in order to continue to have the control we are used to having with WMC - as long as the out-of-pocket costs still provide a short and long term savings over TiVo or cable/satellite solutions.
For now, we'll continue using our combination of WMC, Plex and Smart TV apps - which is working well. Though, I'll admit that if we could come up with a good solution to watch offline TiVo programs on our Windows laptops, the better integration and committed program guide service support with TiVo is tempting, even if we have to spend more to get it...