Snapstream's Personal Video Station


PVS kills the VCR
— 12:00 AM on November 4, 2003

ASK ME ABOUT THE COOLEST piece of technology I've bought in the last five years, and after some reflection (I love my iPod, after all) I'll give you a one-word answer: Tivo. Non-believers scoff when told by the faithful: "It will change the way you watch TV." But then, they of little faith become the converted, and are soon singing the praises of the PVR (personal video recorder).

Of course, the Tivo is simply a very good implementation of the PVR concept, which raises the question: can it be done differently, or better? If a Tivo is made of a PowerPC chip with a pittance (by current standards) of RAM, just imagine what could be accomplished with recent PC hardware. Ah, but the devil's in the details. Tivo succeeds not on the merits of its hardware, but its software, which is so easy to learn that it reduces a potentially complex device to an appliance that your grandmother could use.

There are a number of solutions out there attempting to bring Tivo functionality to the PC, but so far, the generally acknowledged front runner is Snapstream's Personal Video Station. This software claims to nail down most of the Tivo's feature set, and provide functionality that even Tivo can't duplicate. So does Personal Video Station live up to its creator's claims? We're about to find out.

   
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