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We're cutting the cable and putting up an antenna. I have a not-too-old laptop I plan on using as a DVR (or PVR - not sure what the difference is), and have an inexpensive USB TV tuner on order. Any suggestions for software?

Currently the PC has Windows 7 with Media Center. I was looking at MythTV - it seems pretty full-featured (installing Linux on the laptop shouldn't be an issue). But I have no experience with either of these.

Desired features:

  • Auto record shows
  • Pause/Rewind Live TV
  • Act as a server - other PCs on network can access recordings
  • HD

Optional features:

  • iPad app to access recordings
  • Media server for my videos/pictures/music
  • DVD/Blu-ray grabber - store copies of my DVDs on disk
  • Work with multiple USB tuners - watch and record at same time
  • Netflix/Amazon Prime Integration
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Follow up (since nobody answered).

I ended up going with NextPVR. I didn't go with MediaCenter since Microsoft has abandoned it. I did not use MythTV because the tuner card I purchased did not have a Linux driver (I ended up returning it but was already using NPVR on Windows 7). NPVR has most of the features I needed.

With all the PVR software I've looked at there are 2 parts: a front end and a back end. The back end manages recordings and stuff, and the front end is the user interface. I have been playing with NPVR as the back end and Kodi as the front end. As of yet, I have not decided on NPVR's front end or Kodi. NPVR is nice and simple, but I have a Raspberry PI 2 set up as a 2nd PVR in the bedroom and NPVR isn't available for Linux but Kodi is both Windows and Linux. So Kodi has the advantage of consistency - both PVRs have same UI.

Lastly, I originally purchased a $35 USB tuner. It picked up only half the stations my TV did. I ended up going with HDHomerun. It's more expensive but it has 2 tuners and gets all the channels as my TV so I feel it's worth it. I live 50 miles from the nearest city. YMMV.

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