Sunday, June 13, 2010

Popular Freeware HTPC GB-PVR Becomes N-PVR with New Beta

One of the more popular freeware, open-source HTPC programs has always been GB-PVR.  The HTPC program offered a free alternative to HTPC enthusiasts.  This weekend the developer of GB-PVR announced the long-awaited, next generation of his HTPC software – N-PVR.

Here’s the announcement from the developer:

This is a big release with lots of changes. I've had to make changes to some stuff that was holding GB-PVR back, and along the way I've broken all the plugins and skins etc.
In the beginning of December I started rewriting GB-PVR from scratch. I did this for a variety of reasons. A few of the most important reasons include:
- problems with legal ownership of GB-PVR codebase
- many things in the architecture didn't work well, but were impossible to change in the existing framework without major pain for users
- hack upon hack were added over the years as application evolved from a single tuner analog application to a multi-tuner analog/digital application
- millions of odd little rules users had requested over the years, that I no longer understood fully. This made the application fragile and prone to breaking stuff when I made small changes. (yes, you'll probably be annoyed that your specific rule is no longer there)
- and a pile of other stuff...
Sticking with my crappy naming ability, the new application is called N-PVR (short for 'next pvr').
This is a lot of change, and its still rough in places, so should be considered a public beta. Fortunately, its an entirely different application, and can be installed on the same machine as GB-PVR 1.4.7 for you give it a test drive.
I also have to say a big thanks to the testers, who have suffered through this big change from its very feeble early builds, and given me a lot of help along the way.

The new user interface is very similar to GB-PVR.



Partial List of Changes & Features:

  • Better Vista & Windows 7 compatibility with Vista/Win7
  • More hybrid style application to better support both 10ft and 2ft user interface usage. PVR mode can be disabled for those who just want to watch tv and don't want all the menus etc. Still lots more to be done on this side of things, but the start of this is in place.
  • Devices are automatically detected and capture sources created.
  • Channel Scanning is different. Channels are created by default with no EPG, so that the app is ready to be used even by those new users who haven't invested the time to find an EPG source.
  • Better handling of digital channels, and multiple audio streams, multiple subtitle streams etc.
  • Usable over Remote Desktop
  • Native multidec support, including multirecord-multidec;. No more need for You do still need ffdecsa.dll for the decryption algorithm though. Place your plugins in "C:\Users\Public\NPVR\MDPlugins\Trident DTV Tuner #1-1" (for example).
  • Configuration for new capture sources can be copied from another capture source.
  • No more Config app. The Settings screen is now accessible from the UI
  • More animations, and the ability to easily turn off animations.
  • Time-shared channels like cbeebies in UK will now be picked up regardless of what time of day you scan for channels.
  • Media libraries auto refresh file lists if changes are made to the currently directory (files added/delete etc).
  • Tray app which shows more status information, including what devices are doing, and any pending scheduled recording
  • Ability to run without recording service for those that just want to watch tv, and don't want extra stuff running in the background.
  • If recordings or live tv doesn’t work, there is now nice friendly error messages to tell you why. A few more messages still to be added though.
  • The app is permanently in timeshift mode. No more live preview. Channel changes are much quicker than the old timeshift mode though, and no pauses between shows.
  • Analog and Digital tv is now "all .ts, all the time". Sorry fans of third party mux filters.
  • Multi-record is always used, for both recordings and live tv.
  • EPG is based on UTC for dates/times, so no more issues around daylight savings time
  • Metadata and artwork are shown when playing files from Recordings or Video Library.
  • Can import ready recordings from GB-PVR's recording-dump.xml file.
  • Support for ATSC broadcast EPG
  • Updated built in web app (NEWA).
  • Supports analog tv via soft encoder devices.
  • Basic support for North American Close Captions on digital TV.
  • Plugins can now act as the main menu menu
  • Plugins now have lots more information about things happening in the system
  • Plugins can now control playback (pause, play, skip)
  • Plugins can now show themselves above video
  • Plugins can now get monitor for keypresses while video is playing (for example, to launch themselves over the video on a certain key combination)

For a complete list of changes, more information on installing and download head to the N-PVR forums