The PVR software in MCE is very much like TiVo… you can search for content by genre, channel, time, or thru a guide. MCE can search by keywords, but TiVo’s Wish List is much more powerful. MCE is stronger on movies, as it goes to the internet and pulls down everything you could possibly want to know about a movie. It even pulls the chapter names from your DVD, so it displays a description rather than “Chapter 3 of 25”. It pulls the movie poster, director, plot and actors, even actors with minor roles that don’t even appear in the credits. You can hyperlink around all day, seeing what other movies a particular actor has been in, etc.
The software that comes with the Hauppauge cards is ok, but it’s not very appliance like. What makes MCE so great is that is operates trouble-free like an appliance and integrates with ALL your media, not just PVR stuff. Use one MCE remote to play compressed videos (Divx Xvid, WMVs), DVDs, MP3s, internet radio, channel surf, and even play games. There are some minor usability issues that TiVo does better, but MCE is like 95% there and is way better than any other software PVR, IMO. Sure Snapstream has a few nifty features (like showing you in a timeline how much of the program is left), but you have to pay for extra add-on features that MCE gives you for free. Once you get used to MCE you’ll never look at the standard software again – it’s just very polished.