I want to add full Freeview PVR functionality to my current home theatre setup, and am wondering whether I should just build a full HTPC from scratch, or buy a high quality Freeview PVR machine, eg a Panasonic model.
Price is not a huge problem, and I'm happy to pay extra for good functionality.
My current setup is this:
1. Yamaha RX-V667 AVR hooked up to 5.1 surround sound speakers/woofer. The quality of the speakers is medium in audiophile terms but essentially cost me several thousand dollars. The Yamaha receives input from all sources.
2. The Yamaha feeds HDMI out to my big JVC TV which displays 1080i, I'm not looking at upgrading this in the near future. It's not 3D (not interested) and serves our needs.
3. A 3 year old Dell laptop with a dedicated ATI card, which runs XBMC and is essentialy running as an HTPC. It has an IR receiver and so I can control it with my logitech remote, and we use it to watch high quality internet streams/downloaded videos in 720p, 1080p with surround sound. It's working well, but lacks TV functionality. It's connected to the AVR by HDMI. It tends to run hot and its fan can be slightly annoying.
4. Panasonic Blu-ray player connected via HDMI to the AVR.
5. Until recently a Zinwell 620HD freeview box which I have managed to brick by incessant fiddling with firmware.
6. A logitech remote which can drive 5 devices at once.
So, what I want is to be able to have full terrestrial digital TV functionality, with timeshift, recording, able to record two channels at once, recording full series etc etc.
What is absolutely important to me is this:
1. Good responsive user interface. My in-laws had a TiVo which was not too bad in terms of UI (a bit cluttered), and also a DishTV which I thought had a poor UI (but haven't fiddled with it much).
2. Ability to be in standby until woken by recording schedule. The TiVo my in-laws had seemed to be designed to be always on (I think to always be recording 15 minutes of TV for timeshift), with the standby option hidden in the menu somewhere. It also had a horrendously long boot up time.
3. Ability to switch audio streams intelligently on the fly. My Zinwell would get confused between AC3 surround (TV1, 2 and 3) and AAC stereo; and lose audio output if set to Dolby when the source channel was AAC.
4. Ability to record surround sound stream. The Zinwell would only record stereo streams (modded with olevia firmware).
5. Cool and quiet running.
What would be nice (but not essential) is the ability to remove ads.
So the question is, should I look at buying a $500 to $600 unit such as a panasonic model, or bite the bullet and build a HTPC which does everything I want (with it's associated headaches and expected issues from any windows build). I estimate the HTPC to cost up to $1200.
What do people advise? Anyone got experience with any of the panasonic models?
Thanks for your help!