A monthly subscription fee to record TV shows? Thanks, but no thanks. Thankfully, Snapstream has created a product that captures most of TiVo’s features without that annoying subscription fee.
I can understand the appeal of TiVo, but I just can’t be bothered to pay for it. A monthly subscription fee to record TV shows? Thanks, but no thanks; I’d just as soon stick with the timer on my VCR. It may be more obtuse to set up than TiVo, but I’m not going to pay $12 a month to record “Matlock” reruns. Thankfully, Snapstream has created a product that captures most of TiVo’s features without that annoying subscription fee.
Snapstream’s Personal Video Station 3 basically turns your computer into a TiVo, provided you have a video-capture card installed and a fairly fast PC. PVS3 has all of TiVo’s features, or at least all of the features people actually care about or find useful. You can watch live TV, of course, through your current cable subscription, and also use the program guide to record single episodes (or every episode) of a particular series. PVS3 doesn’t takes note of the kinds of shows you enjoy and record its own suggestions as TiVo does, but who cares? Sharing videos with family and friends is just as easy as recording and watching them yourself: The program contains an intuitive protocol for streaming videos over a home network or the Internet at large.
Video quality ranges from terrible to very good, depending on how much memory you are willing to devote to each program. There are about a dozen different quality settings you can tweak, with the option of recording in MPEG2 or Windows Media formats. If you have TV-out enabled on your PC, you can watch shows on your TV, but everyone else will have to settle for watching programs either at their computers or burned onto DVD. Personally, I love this program and use it all the time. It’s just so fun to use, so easy to set up, and the combined price of the software and a capture card is cheaper than the base price of a TiVo itself.