I was happy to see that Sage TV played smoothly on the various PC's on which I tested it. Frame rate was acceptable and smooth. Image quality was just fair initially, but after tweaking the settings, the picture was great. Audio was a mixed bag - it was bright, clear and loud on one PC and muffled on another. Again, after adjusting some settings and tweaking what I could, the audio quality improved.
Recorded programs looked and sounded good as well.
There are, quite literally, too many user options to list in this review. If you are once who love to adjust settings and tweak things - this is a great setup for you. While it does work just fine with the automatic configuration tool - I found that both picture and sound quality could be improved with a little trial and error.
What I loved about this program were the many options for recording TV shows. I could record a live show, schedule to record something particular that was on at another time and even schedule to record every future airing of a particular show. If this sounds a lot like "Tivo" or other programs - it is.
One of the things that sets Sage TV apart from the crowd is the "Placeshifting" option. During the setup, the user can add additional "placeshifter" users with passwords. When these users download the Sage TV placeshifter program and input the "Locator ID" of the "Server" or host computer, the user can have access to all the content on the host computer.
Imagine that you need to travel and you want to take your laptop with you. You don't want to pay for programming on the hotel TV - or perhaps you have some down time and bring your computer to the lobby to take advantage of the WiFi connection. Just log into Sage TV and you can catch the baseball game at home or any other program you might want. Suppose there is a time change - just ask your family to record the game, log on later and watch the recorded content on the "host" computer.
This also works great when your kids go off to college and can't afford cable TV. All they need is an Internet connection and the software and they can "log on" at any time and watch TV.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In order for Placeshifing to work, the host Computer needs to be on and the Sage TV application needs to be running. It can be minimized - but it must be running in order for a remote user to log on.
This is very cool software. Provided you have a TV tuner and access to a cable jack or the S-Vido connection to your cable box, the options available to the user are really plentiful. This was fairly easy to configure - but if you need to install a TV tuner - it might require a little more technical proficiency.
The interface is really great - just like navigating TV on your Cable box. The options for recording and scheduling recording are terrific and the ability to control all the media content on your PC is just icing on the cake.
If you are in the market for creating a true "Media PC" - this is something you really should take a look at. If you have "Placeshifting" needs - this is a slam dunk.
- Incredibly comprehensive
- relatively easy to configure
- great recording options
- ability to organize your entire media library
- So many options
- tweaking to your individual machine does need some trial and error work
- placeshifting might require some router configuration
The Sage TV Media Center Software is available for US$79.95, add the Placeshifter component (which I very much recommend) for a total of $99.95 all at www.sagetv.com
Sage TV also offers many "Bundles" which include TV tuner cards, remotes and media extender units - the prices vary - all products can be found at their web site.