SnapStream Beyond TV 3: Television Without Limits
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- Media server that changes PC into a TV/DVR combo
- Pause live TV; use instant replay; skip forward or back
- Program guide; search for shows by title
- Skip commercials or parts of TV shows in one click
- Shrink files and replay them on portable devices
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Beyond TV 3 brings powerful PC television recording within everyone's reach. No more video tapes or VCR timers to fumble around with -- stream it live to any PC device in your home, across an 802.11b or Ethernet network. Watch, pause, rewind and record your favorite TV shows on your PC using Beyond TV's simple and easy-to-use ViewScape interface. No subscription fee is required; scroll through local listings, change channels and set up new recordings with the integrated program guide.
Top Customer Reviews
The installation of the program was flawless.
The TiVo features the software maker claims work as stated. Time shifting, being able to watch a recorded part of a program currently being recorded, works well. I was concerned MPEG-2 encoding would not work because my TV card did not support it. This was not a problem. The remote control of my TV card also works fine.
Converting recorded program files to a format that would play on my Pocket PC worked well. The features associated with saving hard disc space I have not used very much, but what I have used has also worked well.
The Cons or Limitations with this program based upon what I know ( Which maybe missing a great deal) are: You do not have to pay a subscription fee for TiVo that is fine, but you have to leave your computer on all the time, or be vigilant enough to know when to turn it off and on. It may be cheaper but it is not free if you are used to turning off or putting your computer to sleep while you are not using it.
An earlier reviewer here stated that if you used Windows Media Player while a program was being recorded, the recording process was damaged. I have not tested that on my system, but I have found playing a game that puts any significant load on the graphics card has the same result. I doubt that people having motherboards supporting dual processors would have any better luck. By the way this was not something I did on purpose. This is something to keep in mind if you have a computer recording programs that may also be used for games by the other half of the household population.
The good news in this regard is you can load up your system with Office applications, email stuff, and do some non-media type surfing on the internet without having any effect of the quality of the program being recorded. The ability to do this might be affected by the components you have in your computer.
If you are considering purchasing this program you might be also thinking about what TV card to buy or if the one you have is adequate. The bottom of the line Huappauge TVcard and remote (also important) works for my purposes.
The TV cards I have experience with have a feature called pinned on top. This feature coupled with the ability to control the size of the screen makes it possible to keep a reduced screen in the same place on top of any other window screens regardless of the window based selections. For example, unless you have a pinned on top window on top of a Word Document or any other application, it will not disappear the moment you make a mouse click or keypress. Being able to type in Word and keep another application on the screen is just one example of what pinned on top can do.
Taking a program recorded by SnapStream and playing it back using the VCR function of Hauppauge would seem to be the way to work around this short fall. Unfortunately I have not been able to get this to work.
As mentioned by other revieweres, this version come with a free upgrade to Version 4. The request I made for this upgrade by email took about a week and one half to process.
One of the strong points of this program has beyond the ability to capture desiriable programs put on the air (so to speak) is the data compression features it has.
My experience with the user interface to get and watch programs has worked GREAT! Understanding and using all the data compression features of this program has is beyond me at this point in time. Version 4 and my bottom of the line TV card has DivX encoding. What that does is not much of a concern to me as disc space is not a concern.
If you have a TV card in your computer, this is a must have program. If you do not have a TV card in your computer, this is a good reason to get one.
Not that it will do any good, but I will request SnapStream to include a pinned on top functionality in their furture releases of software.
Remote recording is great and I can schedule any recording that I want from any internet connected computer. Even better, I can stream Live TV and my recorded shows to just about any internet connected computer. Snapstream provides the TV / Program guide for free and is integrated nicely. The listings update automatically and you can search for programs well into the next week. Superfast setup to record an entire season of General Hospital or The Amazing Race.
After just a few short weeks, you will have hours upon hours of shows recorded and you will be a true TV junkie. With a 250 GB hard drive, at the highest quality setting, I can record about 80 hours of MPEG-2 quality TV. Play with the quality settings and I can record more than 300 hours in very good quality. Do you know how many shows that is?
You can also ShowSqueeze a recorded show which is Beyond TV's ability to compress a large file (3 GB 1 hour show) to a smaller (1 GB 1 hour show) without losing quality. SmartSkip goes through your recorded shows and marks where the commercials are so you can skip through them easily. VERY HANDY!
Even though my wife and I simply refer to it as TiVO, it's not and is wayyyyyy better. Give it a try. It works flawlessly with my DirecTV satellite system. Good support by Snapstream and has good user forums and knowledge bases.
Buy it. Bond with your TV.
This thing is absolutely great. One of the first things you come to appreciate is the free online TV guide. With the guide I can find my show easily and then tell it to record all new episodes. It then skips old episodes and will even follow the show when it moves from one night to another (i.e. goes from Wednesday night @ 7pm to Thursday @ 8pm). Try that with your VCR!
Recordings can take up a ton of disk space - about 2.4 gig per hour. Beyond TV has an option where it will shrink the disk space required after the show completes. You can tell it to do the shrinking during non prime-time so it doesn't interfere with your usual work. Net effect is about 1/4 of the space is needed (.7 gig versus 2.4 gig) and I can't detect any quality difference!
I won't repeat what others have said about what all it can do so I will jump to why I gave it 4 stars.
Beyond TV does not record in anyother format other then MPEG-2.
You can choose the quality of the file but you can not change MPEG video or audio formats. This makes the process of using popular DVD making programs like Vegas DVD architect, Nero, and Roxio Re-encode/transcode when making DVDs (witch takes a long time with slow processors). In most cases you will find the video format (720x480 NTSC 29.975 fps) ok. The audio format will cause programs to re-encode/transcode.
So if you want to just record and watch shows this is a very good program. If you want to record and make DVDs then your better off finding something else.
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