Goodbye WMC, it's been a long ride

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Re: Goodbye WMC, it's been a long ride

Post#61 » Sat May 07, 2016 2:00 pm

The Xbox 360s are dead end - any replacement for WMC will require replacing them - and we have 6 of them we are using as extenders.

We have 3 potential replacements for WMC for this year - Comcast's X1, TiVo and SD's DVR.

Comcast would be rental of the DVR and satellite STBs, but that would eliminate the need to rent cablecards - which are now costing us $200 per year for the 2 cablecards in our WMC. While their new X1 DVR is a significant improvement over their previous DVR - and does integrate their streaming and VOD into the same interface - there are limitations (commercial skipping, inability to play our personal videos, ...) - plus the monthly cost will be significantly higher in the long run.

If TiVo produces a 6 tuner variant of the Bolt - we'd be able to get down to 1 cablecard (a $100 savings per year). We'd replace the Xboxes with Minis (one time $150 each) and have to pay TiVo their subscription fee - at $150 per year. The Bolt integrates the major streaming services plus supports Comcast's VOD - and also provides access to our personal media library. And the TiVo software now has commercial skipping (for the major networks prime time programs) and the 1.x playback with audio that we often use for sports programs. It would cost more than our current WMC - but it would also give us more functionality - and even better, a company actively supporting the products and program guide. The possible negatives of this option - if they don't produce a 6 tuner Bolt, then we'd have to get 2 Bolts - which would increase our annual costs by $250 - plus there is a risk their acquisition by Rovi could destroy TiVo.

SD's DVR had potential - but the functionality is falling short of what is available with X1 or Bolt. The lack of a program guide grid (while some are growing to like the slices) is probably a deal killer for family, and they've made several other design decisions (at least for this first release) that may make it less attractive (such as requiring access to their cloud servers - which seems to slow down performance of the program guide and recording features). You should be able to get the equivalent of an Xbox 360 extender for $100 to $150, and may have multiple options (unlike X1 or Bolt). Since it's taken them over a year - and they still don't have DRM support, coupled with some of their design decisions - it doesn't appear their DVR will be a serious competitor to X1, Bolt or WMC this year. Perhaps if they can get a partner to integrate the DRM support into other existing, fuller featured DVR software packages - we'd find something that could serve as a WMC replacement. But that also doesn't appear to be on the horizon for this year.

As long as we can keep WMC working, there's no great urgency to find a replacement for WMC. WMC continues to work very well for us - and if we do shift, because of the investment required for new hardware, we'll only do that if we have confidence it's a solution we can use for at least 5 years (to justify the short term costs).
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Post#62 » Sat May 07, 2016 3:16 pm

bob_p wrote: The possible negatives of this option - if they don't produce a 6 tuner Bolt, then we'd have to get 2 Bolts - which would increase our annual costs by $250 - plus there is a risk their acquisition by Rovi could destroy TiVo.

Such as providing crappy guide data to customers.
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Post#63 » Sun May 08, 2016 1:55 pm

Unclear if the poor WMC guide data from Rovi is due to Rovi or how Microsoft is accessing the data. Rovi provides guides to other customers, surely those customers wouldn't be satisfied with the poor quality guide data we're seeing with WMC.
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Post#64 » Sun May 08, 2016 2:35 pm

It's rovi just look at tv guide.con

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Post#65 » Sun May 08, 2016 2:43 pm

Bob,

Roamio does everything Bolt does except 4K. Just get some used 6-tuner Roamios with lifetime.
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Post#66 » Sun May 08, 2016 8:30 pm

bob_p wrote:Unclear if the poor WMC guide data from Rovi is due to Rovi or how Microsoft is accessing the data. Rovi provides guides to other customers, surely those customers wouldn't be satisfied with the poor quality guide data we're seeing with WMC.

audinutt wrote:It's rovi just look at tv guide.con

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It's actually both.

Rovi provides some data that Microsoft doesn't use properly, causing bad data in WMC. You can look at some of the issues with epg123 development and see how even if you have good data, if you don't use it properly and import it in to WMC in a correct manner your results will be sub-par. Fortunately with epg123, any issues are resolved fairly quickly because of an awesome developer. Nobody is working on the Microsoft feed to fix any of their issues.

As for Rovi quality, yes you can see some of the issues on tvguide.com. In some cases there are just blatant errors that should be caught if they had any kind of system in place to catch them (like for one week, out of the blue, a show gets incorrectly replaced with a completely different show that is not even normally broadcast on that channel), but other issues, such as incorrect seriesId assigned to some episodes is not necessarily noticeable on the web site (to be honest, this one may also be a Microsoft conversion issue, but who knows?)
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Post#67 » Mon May 09, 2016 7:24 am

Crash2009 wrote:
Wilky13 wrote:Yeah, I've turned off auto update on my Windows 7 HTPC. I have 2 Xbox 360s and an Echo. I plan to ride this setup out for as many years as possible.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
you might also want to remove/disable MSE, if you have it. MSE is an open door for unwanted updates also.


Yeah, I used to use MSE. Switched to Avast.
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Post#68 » Mon May 09, 2016 7:29 am

bob_p wrote:The Xbox 360s are dead end - any replacement for WMC will require replacing them - and we have 6 of them we are using as extenders.

We have 3 potential replacements for WMC for this year - Comcast's X1, TiVo and SD's DVR.

Comcast would be rental of the DVR and satellite STBs, but that would eliminate the need to rent cablecards - which are now costing us $200 per year for the 2 cablecards in our WMC. While their new X1 DVR is a significant improvement over their previous DVR - and does integrate their streaming and VOD into the same interface - there are limitations (commercial skipping, inability to play our personal videos, ...) - plus the monthly cost will be significantly higher in the long run.


You should call Comcast about them charging you so much for a cable card. When I had Comcast 2 years ago, they paid ME $1.50 for using "my own equipment" (I had a $1.50 credit every month for using a cable card vice their crappy DVR boxes). And now with TWC, I only get charged $3.00 a month ($36.00 a year)!
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Post#69 » Mon May 09, 2016 12:46 pm

One of my cablecards went out last year and required replacement. The only way Comcast could get the replacement activated was to change all of the cablecards on my account to the new pricing. Even with the "customer-supplied equipment" credit, it still comes out to $100 per year per cablecard.

I spent most of one day on the phone with multiple levels of Comcast's support - and just about everyone in the local Comcast office trying to find a way to workaround this - and they couldn't find any solution. The best they could do was give me an additional discount on my package, to adjust for the price increase.

It could be an issue with just the Comcast packages located in our area - and may not be what Comcast is still charging for other areas.

As for purchasing a Roamio - if we make the switch to TiVo we'll plan to use the equipment for at least 5 years - to justify the cost of purchasing the base DVR and all of the extenders. Our primary DVR will be connected to a 4K TV - so there's benefit (for us) in using a Bolt instead of a Roamio. Since TiVo has shifted the 6 tuner Roamio Pro to their "outlet", hopefully that's an indicator that they are planning to release a 6 tuner Bolt "Pro".
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Post#70 » Mon May 09, 2016 1:00 pm

bob_p wrote:As for purchasing a Roamio - if we make the switch to TiVo we'll plan to use the equipment for at least 5 years - to justify the cost of purchasing the base DVR and all of the extenders. Our primary DVR will be connected to a 4K TV - so there's benefit (for us) in using a Bolt instead of a Roamio. Since TiVo has shifted the 6 tuner Roamio Pro to their "outlet", hopefully that's an indicator that they are planning to release a 6 tuner Bolt "Pro".
That's my plan too. It's why I picked up a spare Roamio with lifetime. I expect to get at least 8 years out of my current Roamio and 8 more out of my spare. Unfortunately, with cable prices continuing to go up, I'll probably switch to streaming well before that. I just put my parents on PS Vue which has some DVR capability and is only $35. It's working out great for them and is probably the next phase for me, whenever my cable rates become too painful.

Bolt being 4k isn't really a big benefit and probably won't be for years. I don't see cable or OTA going 4k for years. The only benefit now is from a couple of streaming services which you could easily get with some other box (Roku 4, etc.). But I can't stand paying for DVR service, so I could never get a Bolt myself, even if they gave them away for free, whether I have a 4k TV or not.
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Post#71 » Mon May 09, 2016 4:14 pm

EPG123 has reinvigorated WMC for me. Works really well.
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Post#72 » Tue May 10, 2016 11:52 am

I agree with the desire to avoid paying DVR charges - which was one of the major reasons we invested in WMC in the first place many years ago.

However, now that Comcast has significantly increased cablecard costs (at least in our area), shifting from WMC to TiVo will only cost us an additional $50 per year, assuming we used a 6-tuner TiVo DVR, replacing our 7 tuner WMC (one Ceton, one Silicondust). If TiVo actually provides support for their software - and guide service, the additional $50 is a reasonable expense, compared to what we have with WMC - especially if there is some user maintenance required to convert over to EPG123 and then manage it.

As for streaming, there are a number of challenges in pulling the plug on WMC and shifting to streaming for everything. For live programming, streaming options are still limited. Unlike WMC which provided a common interface to all of the streaming services, each streaming service has their own app - so that you end up using multiple streaming apps/services to replace what we have in one place with WMC. While TiVo does provide some integration with streaming services - they don't cover everything. And, streaming services can have more control over the content you are streaming - forcing you to sit through commercials (that you can skip over with a DVR) or restricting navigation (inability to skip forward or backward). And, if you want to view programs offline (which you can do with WMC), the streaming apps may not support that.

For us, we've shifted to using streaming services for the unique TV series only available on those services - plus any movies we want to watch at home. For the rest of the programming (most of what we watch today), WMC is still the best option for watching live and recorded TV. And, if WMC stopped working - TiVo (if we're willing to buy their hardware and pay the extra $50 per year) is closest to providing comparable (if not better) functionality.
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Post#73 » Tue May 10, 2016 12:43 pm

PS Vue takes care of most of those issues. You get a common interface for every channel, grid guide, live streaming, on demand and even limited comm skip. I was shocked how well it worked.
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Post#74 » Thu May 12, 2016 8:31 pm

I just pulled the plug on WMC, and I've been around since the 2005 XP edition with an original 1st generation XBOX as my first extender. I kept losing my OTA data, while cable listings remained populated. I fixed it numerous times, only to have it return constantly. I just bought the new 1TB OTA Roamio with no subscription fees. I'm debating whether to sell my WMC hardware, or hold on to it in case I want to return sometime. I'm looking forward to a Tivo guide that integrates with Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon. Although, it's depressing to see such a wonderful WMC product be squandered.
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Post#75 » Thu May 12, 2016 10:28 pm

See this:
http://www.thegreenbutton.tv/forums/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=9950

If you can stomach paying for at least one Comcast X1 DVR box, you can stream from it (both tuners and recordings) to your IOS/Android devices and PCs (via a browser). Plus later in 2016 they plan to release an X1 App for Roku and 2016+ Samsung smart TVs. I suspect this will depend on your Comcast region being completely switched over to MPEG4/H.264. They offer deals periodically where the X1 DVR is "thrown in".

Two months ago I just made the switch back to Comcast with X1 DVR. Bundle deal where the DVR was part of the package. My WMC is officially put to bed. My HTPC has been wiped clean and converted to W10 for other purposes. I decided to NOT wait any longer on the SD DVR project.
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Post#76 » Fri May 13, 2016 1:07 pm

We get a free X1 DVR with our Comcast package. After investing in the Silicondust Kickstarter campaign, I created a spreadsheet listing the functionality we use in WMC (plus a few features we'd like to have), and then created columns to compare WMC to X1 DVR, SD's DVR and TiVo.

The X1 DVR is a significant improvement over their previous DVRs - they've done a great job integrating live TV and Comcast's streaming & "On Demand" services. For example, if you tune to a premium channel and begin watching a movie after it's started, you have the option to seamlessly switch to streaming and start the movie at the beginning.

However, there are some negatives that are probably deal killers for us. The X1 DVR has some limitations in navigation during playback. They can limit skip forward/backward, to force you to watch some programs in real-time. We have automatic commercial skipping setup on our WMC system (which even works with the extenders) - and Comcast will never support that (they have their own ad-driven networks). They don't support any personal media, so you can't view your own or downloaded videos. And - the cost for their "extenders" will be relatively high, because you currently have to rent X1 STBs to replace Xbox 360s.

Because we have the X1 service, we have access to their browser and Android apps - which provide full access to all of our subscribed channels from any device connected to our home network - which is a really nice feature. And adding apps for other devices like Roku or Samsung Smart TVs could eliminate the need to have some of the "extenders". Though it's not clear if those apps will get full access to the DVR capabilities...

The apps also provide some support for watching programs away from home - though they currently prevent most channels from being viewed outside of the home.

If WMC died today - we could use X1, though it's more likely we'd shift to TiVo - since TiVo supports important missing features like commercial skipping, 1.x playback with audio, personal/downloaded videos, ...
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Post#77 » Fri May 13, 2016 3:49 pm

Specifically, they limit skip forward/backward on some On Demand shows. DVR recordings can still be skipped around (can you imagine if they limited that too?)
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Post#78 » Fri May 13, 2016 8:58 pm

RyC wrote:Specifically, they limit skip forward/backward on some On Demand shows. DVR recordings can still be skipped around (can you imagine if they limited that too?)
On the X1 I have found that they only disable the FF during On Demand. The SKIP still works. There is a little programming sequence (hack?) that you can do to enable SKIP AHEAD and SKIP BACK on X1. I don't recall now how to do it, but if you search through their X1 forums you can find it. I think the skip ahead can be set to 30s, but the skip back is fixed at 15s. Or something like that. Anyway they do appear to work (at the moment) with On Demand.

But, yeah... no commercial skip feature.

One thing that helped us with the transition was the ability to use something like VLC to play .WTV recordings we made with WMC. I can use a Win10 laptop connected to the TV to play some non-DRM recordings we hadn't watched yet. Like an entire season of a couple different network shows. This doesn't work for recordings that had DRM applied (basically every channel besides the local broadcast TV channels).
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Post#79 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 5:58 am

I'm about 6 weeks into my TiVo Roamio OTA 1TB (no subscription fees) with 3 mini's attached. I won't be going back to WMC either. The seamless switching between OTA and Vudu/Netflix/Amazon will keep me satisfied. The TiVo is also configure to learn what I like, and record suggested shows or movies. The HD is only 11% full, and there are over 300 suggested recordings on it. I have no problem finding something to watch, although, I'll probably have to turn the suggestions off once my shows start in the fall. Every time I dropped cable on WMC and went back to antenna, I would end up missing cable and sign back up when a good offer was presented. I don't see that happening anymore, except for maybe some football games. With suggested recordings, easy access to streaming content, reliable local listings (40+ channels), I can always find something to turn on. I'll just buy "The Walking Dead" season on Vudu this fall, and add it to my OnePass on TiVo.
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Post#80 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:54 pm

6 month later update:
Decided to take the update to Win10 while I still could. Did it on a spare SSD in case I wanted to go back to Win7 (and WMC). I cloned my Win7 install to the spare SSD, took the Win10 update and made sure it was activated, then clean installed it. I setup NextPVR to replace WMC as my TV backend. Setup was a snap. I already had a Schedules Direct subscription (was using the excellent EPG123). Everything works as well as WMC, if not better. Live TV starts faster in Kodi and seems generally smoother and faster. It is nice to not have to use a mishmash of programs (WMC, EPG123, Ceton My Media Center, ServerWMC, MyChannelLogos). NextPVR contains all of that functionality itself. It natively supports Schedules Direct EPG, Kodi as front end support, channel logos via schedules direct, and a webserver for scheduling/accessing/streaming.
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