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The home entertainment revolution may be exciting, but sometimes it sure is expensive. Instead of shelling out for a TiVO, SnapStream offers a way to turn your PC into an entertainment center without the subscription fees.

The home entertainment revolution may be exciting, but sometimes it sure is expensive. Instead of shelling out for a TiVO, Houston-based SnapStream offers a way to turn your PC into an entertainment center without the subscription fees. Co-founder Rakesh Agrawal chats about television, culture, and being in control of your own TV destiny.

Why do you think there’s a need for your software?

People have very busy schedules that are often jam-packed with things to do throughout the day. Television programs are still a very large part of our culture and broadcasters are really producing some quality programs. However, it can be difficult for everyone to watch TV according to the broadcasters’ schedules and Personal Video Station 3 has created a way for viewers to watch their favorite shows on their own schedules, whenever they want.

Why did you choose to make a computer-based recorder like this?

By building Personal Video Station 3 out of the PC, rather than with dedicated, proprietary hardware, we make it so our customers can do a lot of powerful things with their recorded TV shows. Things like watching TV shows around the house over a wireless network or watching TV shows on a Pocket PC handheld device. Personal Video Station 3 also eliminates a lot of the financial pain associated with hardware PVR. Our software is priced at $99.99 and we do not charge any subscription fees.

How is the company unique in the marketplace?

One of our main goals is to integrate the home entertainment center with digital devices, while taking advantage of the networking capabilities of these devices. We have developed our product so that users can actually take their recorded programs with them on the road, by downloading them to smaller gadgets like Pocket PCs. This enables even greater flexibility for viewers as to when and where they want to watch their programs.

Finally, one of our distribution models–try before you buy–is also very unique. There’s no other product where a consumer can make a free download and try out a fully-capable PVR package for 3 weeks.

Do you have anything in the works for the future?

Yes, there are two big projects under way–one is a new release of Personal Video Station for the Christmas season. The new release will build on the software’s basic PVR experience and will probably have some things that are completely unique to our product.

What are the largest challenges that you see in providing your software? Persuading non-technical consumers that installing a TV tuner card is not as intimidating as it seems is a challenge we face. Getting beyond the early adopters is a hurdle that we work on overcoming daily.

To this end, a lot of our product development is aimed at making the process of installing and using Personal Video Station even easier than we’ve already made it. We are working hard to get a foothold in the home entertainment arena and fulfill our vision for the PC to function as a home entertainment center.

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