After a few searches and a friend's recommendation, I've settled on NextPVR as my PVR solution.

NextPVR is a good replacement for Media Center in it's entirety. It is able to handle all of the media categories previously handled by Media Center - Photos, Music, Videos, Recorded TV and DVD. It has a good web interface built in and it seems pretty reliable and well supported so far. As with any PVR/freeware solutions, there are some weak points and a few bugs, but nothing insurmountable.

I have chosen to use just the PVR functions of NextPVR and this is easily achieved within the settings - all features within NextPVR are loaded as plugins. Since I don't require access to the Music, Videos, DVD and Live TV sections, I simply disable them in the settings. This way, my PVR is concentrated solely on that job, I don't tie up receivers by watching live tv and the menu is uncluttered for accessing recent recordings.

Installation/Set Up

This was remarkably straight forward and that meant I was able to migrate recordings from Media Center straight across to NextPVR without any delay.

Installation went without a hitch and I was pleasantly surprised to see that my less known dual DTT receiver (TBS6281 Dual DVB-T2 PCIe receiver) was discovered, scanned and found all available channels straight away.

As with any initial scan, there was was a delay where I was unable to use or configure the application, but that is to be expected.
During the scan, I noted that it was scanning with a single tuner and I was concerned that I'd have to go through the whole process again, but there was no need for concern - at the end of the scan, I was offered the option to apply all of the channels to the second tuner. I like this - it means that you only need to scan once where your tuners match, but you can also scan multiple times if your delivery method differs from tuner to tuner.

The settings screen is available at any point by right clicking within NextPVR, so you don't need to worry about settings you may not understand yet, just get the basic installation working and come back to make any tweaks later on.

And speaking of settings, there is a multitude available, allowing you to fine tune the operation of NextPVR to exactly meet your requirements. There was only one setting that I had to change in a configuration file and that was to do with allowing video streaming over the internet. This is disabled by default to avoid bandwidth limit issues.
While I made this change, I have yet to use the feature as I have chosen a media server solution which handles that much better.


So since this was the kicker that moved me off Media Center, it had to be good. The EPG is downloaded over the air on a daily basis. That's a fairly standard approach to downloading EPG in software, so I'm not concerned that I may miss late EPG updates (I handle programme over-runs individually by selecting a post-record time for the programmes that are most likely to be affected by over-running).

The EPG is fully searchable and allows the keyword recordings that I required. It also allows you to group channels to reduce the size of the EPG grid at any one time. Including a channel in a group doesn't exclude it from any other group, so this is very flexible.

Since most of my recordings are made on HD channels, I have a HD group which is displayed by default when I go to the TV Guide.

There is a bug where EPG listings don't download, which will require you to keep an eye on the TV guide and ensure that it is kept up to date.
Recordings are made by Recording Service, which is a Windows Service that runs in the background and manages a few of NextPVR's functions. It appears that this service may get into a state where it acts as if something is still being recorded when it is not and therefore blocks EPG downloads. This has only caught me out once, although I have corrected it a few times before it has become critical.

You can normally download EPG data through the Settings screen, in the Channels view. When this bug is active, the manual EPG update appears to complete in a matter of seconds, although you will end up with no new EPG data. This can be corrected by right clicking on the NextPVR status icon in the Windows System Tray and clicking Restart Recording Service. Now when you go back into settings, you will be able to download the EPG listings again.
EPG downloads are quite slow, so give yourself 10-15 minutes, following which the EPG should be fully up to date again.

I was initially under the impression that you could only update the EPG while the recording service was not running, but I've since been corrected by a visitor to this site who said:

You can update the EPG anytime by running

"C:\Program Files (x86)\NPVR\NextPVR.exe" -updateepgonly

from the command line or by creating a desktop shortcut and running it from there. Another option is you can add it as a Windows task and have it run every how many hours you want. If your data refreshes every 6 hours, you could set it for 6 hours.

Even if you have NPVR running, you can run update EPG anytime.

So thanks for that!


From the EPG and Search pages, setting recordings is a very simple process. Clicking on a programme will load a screen which allows you to fine tune how that programme is to be recorded - one off recording, series or series (new episodes only). It also allows you to filter the recordings down to the day and channel and also set pre and post record times, to allow a safe window and avoid clipping the recording.

As with Media Center, you can limit the number of episodes kept for any programme, but you can also specify which folder to save the file to.

This has turned out to be a useful feature for me as I am able to break down my recordings into the following folders:

Default - Recordings in here are kept for 14 days before another application archives them. This means our most regularly watched programmes are easy to get to and are recorded without any extra encoding processes, keeping the quality as high as possible.
Fasttrack - I archive programmes in this folder shortly after they have finished recording, which is useful for keeping the kid's programmes out of the main PVR application.
Movies - In order to reduce the size of files on my TV drive, I've set this folder to archive shortly after the recording has finished. Movies have their own folder so the archiving application can route the archived files to a different folder for the media server to manage them better.
Noarchive - There are certain programmes that we don't want to archive - stuff that has a short lifespan where the information in the programmes may go out of date quickly. These programmes go into the noarchive folder, where I manage them by setting a limit on the number of programmes to be retained in the record settings for that series.

Recordings are made in the .TS format, so they are the MPEG transport stream that has been received and demultiplexed. This is good as it means there is no extra encoding process to get the file down to MP4 etc and we can watch recent recordings as if they were on live TV.

The only gripe I have with the recordings screen is that it is displayed as a list. I prefered the grid view in Media Center as that excels where there is a number of recorded tv shows. The list is more limited in the number of shows you can see at any one time. This is better handled by the media server that I have chosen.

Recordings are handled by the recording service.

Web Interface

One of the really useful features of NextPVR is that it has a web interface straight out of the box. While you will probably have to allow this through your router (instructions are easy to find through google for your router), it is well worth doing.

The Web Interface allows you to view the TV guide (making use of the channel groups you may have already set up - this has to be configured on each browser that you access the server from), view recordings (including a list of failed recordings) and view Scheduled recordings (including conflicts and recurring recordings). You can also access Live TV should you wish to, but this will obviously tie up one of your receivers. Streaming live tv outside of your network will require changes to the config files.

I use the web interface to check on the state of the EPG - where data downloads have failed, there will be empty blocks in the EPG or the EPG will not run its normal 8 days (uk freeview).

There is also another interface referred to as NEWA. This is available at http://{your address}:8866/guide2.aspx and it has some extra features that haven't made it into the standard web interface (epg search etc), although the front end doesn't look quite as slick.


As I previously mentioned, this application has good support - following one update, I got some video dropout at the bottom of the screen. I reported this in the forum (in an existing topic for the same fault) and following some fault finding, I had a repaired file working within a couple of days.

This fix has now been bundled into a new release, which I was notified of when I started NextPVR a few days ago.

If you get to a version of NextPVR which doesn't have any bugs for you, you can stick on that version with no problems. You can turn off update notifications if you wish, or you can ignore the first one and it will not persist. You would run the risk of very hard fault finding if you see a feature in a later version and chose to skip versions to get that update.