Tivo is great, but it ain’t cheap. The hardware can be a little pricey, and the monthly or lifetime subscription fees are a little hard to swallow for the uninitiated. And it’s actually very limited in what it can do when you compare it to the likes of MythTV and Beyond TV – two seemingly excellent alternatives to Tivo.

Both packages will let you turn any x86 PC into a PVR powerhouse.

MythTV is totally free and open source. Beyond TV is a commercial product, but with no subscription fees. Both have received glowing reviews wherever I’ve looked. SnapStream has even produced a remote control specifically for use with their DVR software – the final piece of the puzzle that turns the PC into a real life media center capable of stealing Tivo’s thunder.

I’m actually getting a little tired of Tivo’s interface. MythTV is actually reskinnable!

MythTV can even act as an emulator front end – so you can play all those awesome SNES games right there on your TV if you’ve got say, a USB->PS2 controller adapter. In fact the more I read about MythTV, the more I want it! I just don’t have any spare hardware to install it on. 🙁

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