Is SageTV 4 the path to Media Centre Nirvana?

SageTV Client And Placeshifter

Client is the feature that really makes SageTV shine. It allows you to turn any PC on your network into a SageTV extender. Client contains the same menu structure and functionality as the full SageTV, but instead of playing and recording local files, it uses streamed content served up from a SageTV-based HTPC on the network.

A computer running a full version of SageTV 4.1 streams to the client the required multimedia content, including live TV with functional time shifting, recorded video, imported videos, music, photos, and so on. Using Client to add an additional HTPC to your home is easy, convenient, and could eliminate the need to purchase large capacity hard drives and TV tuners when building a second HTPC. It also opens up the option to build a backend SageTV server that can be hidden in a closet in your basement; from there, it can stream content to a lower-powered, quieter, better-looking front-end client PC in your home theatre.

I was very impressed with Client. All of the main SageTV functions and shortcuts were transferred to my client computer, and even on a slow 100 Mbps connection I was able to run a fully-configured client version of SageTV within a couple of minutes. It was very gratifying to use the live TV stream to time shift through advertisements on the client PC.

For those that want to have the functionality of the SageTV client, but do not want to put together a second HTPC computer, SageTV offers the SageTV Media Center Extender. This is essentially a rebadged Hauppauge Media MVP, but comes with a SageTV Client license that allows it to connect to the SageTV server.

As I was putting the final touches on this review, SageTV released SageTV Version 5.0. After a quick run-through, I determined that 5.0 is essentially the same as SageTV 4.1, but is compatible with a new add-in feature called SageTV Placeshifter.

Placeshifter acts in much the same way as SageTV client, but is optimized to work over low-bandwidth connections including 802.11b wireless and over the Internet. Sounds a lot like Slingbox, but without the cute chocolate-bar hardware.

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