Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Frugal Tip: TV on YOUR Schedule

Today’s tip is going to be a little more techie than the prior two, and we’re going to make some assumptions, which I’ll get in to.


First I’m going to assume you watch TV.

Second I’m going to assume that you have a high-speed, always-on internet connection at your home.

Third assumption is that you have a computer running Windows [ Vista Home Premium | Vista Ultimate | Windows 7 RC1 | Windows XP Media Center Edition ], that’s easy enough.


I’ve been a TV connoisseur since I was a kid. So much so that I’d plan my schedule AROUND the TV Guide. Today I think it’s crazy to plan your schedule around an entertainment device or medium.

Luckily, today we have Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) which let you automatically record your favorite shows, store them on a hard drive (HDD), and save them for you to watch later – on your schedule. That’s just awesome – but it comes at a price. To buy the equipment (TiVo HD DVR, which has a dual digital tuner and records up to 20 hours of HD programming) plus an annual subscription to their programming you’re going to be out $398.99.

Windows Media Center

Most versions of Microsoft’s Windows come with Media Center already built in: think TiVo-functionality for Windows.

To be able to watch TV on your computer you will need a TV tuner card (if your pc doesn’t already have one). The nice thing is, with the Digital TV Switchover finally here, you can go this route and not have to buy a Digital Tuner Box – we won’t add that into the savings because the TiVo HD would do the same thing.

Hauppauge 1213 WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual Hybrid PCI-E TV Tuner Board with Media Center Remote Control and ReceiverSo, assuming your computer doesn’t have a TV tuner card in it, you’ll need to buy one. I’d recommend the one I got: “Hauppauge 1213 WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual Hybrid PCI-E TV Tuner Board with Media Center Remote Control and Receiver”. This is a PCI-Express card that has two hybrid tuners on it (you can record two analog or two digital TV shows at one, or one of each) which comes with a remote control and a USB IR receiver for the remote. This will run you $132.98.

Once you’ve got that in there setting up Media Center is as simple as following a wizard, after that you just have to tell it to record the shows that you want to watch, it’ll do that for you. There is no monthly or lifetime subscription fee to download the TV data with Media Center.

Of course, you probably want to watch the shows on your big screen TV and listen to them through your 5.1 speakers. To do that you just need the appropriate cables, but you’d need similar cables for the TiVo, too, so that’s pretty much a wash.

How much will it record? As much as you have hard drive space for it. You can pick up a 1 TB Western Digital Green line SATA HDD for less than $90, which will give you about triple the recorded TV as that TiVo will.


Initial savings: $266.01

Annual savings: $99


Total Tip Savings

Frugal Tip Annual Savings
How can you Shave and Save? $27.88
Alternate to Shaving Gels and Creams $47.28
TV on YOUR Schedule $99.00

Tune in for our next Frugal Tip!


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