This is a review that is way overdue, I have had the software license for SageTV Media Center and SageTV Placeshifter over a month now, and when I got back from Expo Monday, I loaded it onto my Media Center PC. Many of you know that I am a big DVR fan and I have not watched live TV in months.
The Sage TV Media center software turned my spare Computer into a full blown DVR, that had all of the features of my cable providers provided DVR. The PC that I installed the software on was a standard HP Media Center PC (you do not need a media center PC just a TV Tuner Card), a gig of Ram and a stock Video Card.
The software installed very easily and I was quickly using the my remote control to run through the configuration screens which were very straight forward. I was happy to see that the software supported parental controls. It also had a unique feature that they call Intelligent recording. This feature will record programs that it learns through viewing habits which I thought was pretty novel, a buddy of mine that was at the house says TiVo has a similar feature. Part of the configuration setup required me to import the channel lineup for my cable provider it was a very easy part of the process. The Sage TV Program guide that they provided is pretty standard in it’s layout as compared to my local provider guide.
Recording and playback of shows was very easy, and the program guide gave me some interesting ways to find the content I was looking for. Sage TV Media Center also has a DVD play feature. Additionally you can import your music and picture collections. I did not spend a lot of time using those two features, and from the quick look of the interface for Music and Picture playback seemed to be pretty straight forward.
So overall the Sage TV Media center application seems to be a great addition to my multi-media experience and for $79.95 well worth it.
Their was a second piece of software that I was provided it is called Sage TV Placeshifter, available as an add on for an additional $20.00. This is where I got very excited, as you all know I have been considering getting a Slingbox as I have in the past spent a great deal of time on the road and have wanted to watch some content on my DVR while on travel. Well the Sage TV folks have created a software equivalent of that hardware device that works in conjunction with the Sage TV Media Center. Now I was a bit worried on how this was going to work considering the upload speed trouble we have been having.
The installation of the Placeshifter software was straight forward and I did a test connection at the house. The Video across machines came up fine, but the real test was to go to another location. I needed some coffee this morning so I decided to test the Placeshifter video while I was enjoying my coffee at a shop with WiFi. The Placeshifter interface is nearly identical to the Sage TV Media Center. So I fired it up and provided my login credentials and queued up a recording of “Chris Angel Mind Freak” that I had stored on the box at home. The Video quality was ok, it was better than I expected it to be. There were a few artifacts but I am not sure if that was because I was on a Wifi connection. You could tell the video was compressed and it appeared grainy at time but pretty remarkable considering that my upload speeds at the house have not been good.
This software will not replace a hotel TV but it will allow me to watch programming I may be missing while on travel . I think your mileage is going to vary based upon your network connection and how good you push speed is from your home.
Overall both software applications were easy enough to use that anyone familiar with a DVR could handle the setup, recording and playback. It’s kinda cool because I can now watch or at least listen in to shows while I work in the office without having a full blown TV taking up space not to mention I can fast forward through the commercials. [SageTV]