Is the home DVR even needed anymore?
I have had a couple of posts here discussing home dvr setups and even talked about my own personal home dvr setup. In IL everything was working perfectly, but since I moved to Boston I have yet to get Mythtv working properly. As a result my wife and I have had to depend a lot on streaming services such has hulu.com and tv.com. So far everything we could possibly want is on the web to stream the very next day after it airs. I don’t think we have missed much of anything which leads me to the question do we really need a DVR system?
My initial thought is two fold. First is that we have been getting by just fine without the DVR, but secondly, I have a computer just waiting to record and broadcast to my tv. So on the one hand streaming tv sort of negates the need to have a DVR, but I already have everything purchased and so it seems like a waist not to use it. I figured that I would pose the question and give my thoughts and see if I get any feedback.
First lets compare. The main purpose of the DVR is to record TV so I can watch it at my leisure. Streaming TV fixes this problem with the one caveat that you usually have to wait overnight for the content to show up on the servers. After that the DVR allows me to pause or time shift live or recorded tv. Streaming allows for time shifting, but, again, I’ll have to wait for it to be posted before that is of any value. DVR allows me to record any show that is broadcast to my TV. This is a clear winner for DVR streaming doesn’t allow me to watch the back episodes of 3.5 Men it really only works with new episodes (though this is changing if you look at tv.com or hulu.com). Finally DVR allows me to keep the episode for as long as I want/have room. Streaming looses here as well you are at the mercy of the servers, one day the content is there the next it is gone. Generally you will want to watch streaming video no more than 2 weeks after the show aired, and it is safer to do it within the week.
With all of that you should think that clearly DVR wins, but I am not so sure. For one streaming can be done on most any computer, but a DVR requires special hardware and software all of which costs money. Also Streaming is simple click on a few links and you are watching the video at worst you’ll have to install Adobe Flash. DVR requires some advanced setup and can be daunting. Further, for those who didn’t build their own DVR, streaming requires only an internet connection, there is no monthly license or usage fee (last I checked TIVO still charges monthly and even Mythtv users pay a marginal $15 a year for tv listings, beyond that is the fact that if you go to an all streaming method you don’t have to pay for cable/satellite tv which can be $30 or more a month).
So who is the clear winner? I am not sure right now. On the one hand I like to have the option to time shift live tv (though I am rarely watching live tv anymore) and I already have the hardware to do it. On the other hand why pay money for tv that I could just watch over my internet connection (note that right now I am not paying anything for my basic cable, yes that is right 15 channels of glory, half are in Spanish, and the rest are PBS). What spurred this was a tool that someone showed me that allows you to download hulu video (post forthcoming), this can help if I get backlogged so I can save the episodes before they are dumped from the servers. The other deciding factor is what to do with my current hardware. I have been interested in Boxee. With Boxee I could put my Mythtv hardware to good use and still use my larger tv rather than a laptop screen for streaming. So what are your votes/thoughts?