At home we still record TV the old-fashioned way – using video recorders. It’s all very 20th century and we should really think about updating our methods. Here are the things we’re considering.
- Buying a hard disk based system, Something like a Tivo. You can’t buy a new Tivo in the UK any more, but they are available on Ebay. Alternatively there are many similar systems now in the shops and the prices are falling to realistic levels. Many of them also contain a writable DVD drive.
- Getting one of the hard disk based systems that you can currently get from digital TV providers. I think that the only one currently available is Sky+, but NTL (who provide my cable TV) have one in the pipeline. As I understand it the advantage here is that because the system is tightly coupled with your TV provider, it ties in with your EPG and allows you to record more than one channel simultaneously.
- A home made hard disk system based on MythTV or something similar. That will almost certainly be more flexible than the previous two suggestions.
And then there’s the idea that you don’t need to record anything, because it’s all available anyway. Some of these systems are still a few years away from being a good solution.
- BitTorrent seems to be the current system of choice for sharing TV shows. Two potential problems with this, one larger and one smaller. The larger one is that not all programmes will always be available – tho’ friends that use it tell me that it’s rare not to find what they want. The smaller problem is that a lot of the available programmes come from the US, and less people seem to have widescreen TVs in the US – so a lot of the shows I’ve seen from BitTorrent aren’t in widescreen – even when widescreen versions are available. But, like I said, not a huge problem.
- Digital TV providers have started to make available various programmes as “video on demand”. Telewest Teleport is a good example. HomeChoice has something similar. Again, you have the problem that not every programme will be available – but the selection can only get better.
- Promise.tv is a homebrew version of a similar system. It just records everything broadcast by your TV provider, so you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want.
- The BBC are starting to experiment with making programmes available for a week after the broadcast date. You can watch them using a program call iMP. If this is successful then it’s likely that other broadcasters will also start doing this.
So there are plenty of options. I’m convinced that in five to ten years this will have become a non-issue as we’ll just be able to download and watch any programme that we want whenever we want to watch it. But this situation is still a few years in the future so we need an interim solution which will probably be based around one of the hard disk systems. If anyone has any advice on which way we should go then I’ll love to hear it. Or, if I’ve missed anything out, please let me know.