SageTV 2.2 Hauppauge PVR-150 Bundle Review

Our modest P3 SE440BX-2 based system accepted the Hauppauge card without any problems and the SageTV software was smart enough to walk us through our analog cable setup, Comcast here in the valley, and automatically download the electronic TV guide so we could immediately start picking shows to record. I say 'pick' versus 'program' because that's what makes PVRs so much fun to use. It's like being a kid in a candy store and saying 'I want that, that and that!' It couldn't be much easier whether it's a one-time deal or 'season pass' as TiVo likes to calls it. SageTV also lets your choose from a variety of formats and quality levels. Good quality recordings eat up about 3 gigs of disc space per hour.

The software also starts to record things on it's own, just like TiVo, based on your viewing habits. We weren't all that impressed with the initial programs it decided to record for us but it's supposed to get smarter over time. We were happy it found all the reruns of 'Family Guy' but were perplexed why it thought the Larry King show was compelling television.

SageTV has one of the best PVR interfaces we've seen on the PC. In full screen mode the text is big enough to be read from across the room, say from a couch in a media center room. So it's your choice whether you want to navigate the menus with a mouse or with the included remote. We opted for installing the package on a PC away from the family room, burning our shows to DVD and watching them later on the TV.

One of the things we really like about SageTV is it doesn't eat up a lot of resources and runs happily in the background recording shows. Even on our modest P3 system, SageTV went about its business and did not impact our ability to run basic office apps while Panda antivirus and Microsoft's antispyware were running in the background.

We'd like to see Frey Technologies take this gorgeous interface and make it even faster. It's simple, for sure, yet jumping between menus seems to require more effort than it should. And at times it feels a little slow to respond. Quick keys for teaching the software your likes and dislikes would be helpful too. Our 160 gig SpinPoint was getting eaten up pretty fast by all those Larry King shows SageTV was trying to get us to watch. What kind of algorithm derives Larry King from the Simpsons, Family Guy, The Jon Stewert Show and Medium' This needs some fine-tuning.

All in all, SageTV is one of the first PC PVR software packages that really gives TiVo a run for its money. The Hauppauge PVR-150 works well with the SageTV software and it's a reasonably priced bundle at under $150. With no service fees and a small initial investment it's a very attractive offering from Frey Technologies.

Visit SageTV for more information.