It's amazing how electronics just seem to multiply adding new functionality in a dynamic ever changing tapestry that this image captures perfectly. At first, I added a video server to my home network to capture DVD quality content from the satellite dish. Later on, I added a DVD player that supported playing network audio content. Then came laptops, smartphones, a Popcorn Hour,NAS, NetFlix and a TIVO.
I initially wanted the Popcorn Hour to be the network multimedia hub, but while the Popcorn Hour plays back nearly every audio and video file that I've thrown at it, it doesn't actually create content. The Popcorn Hour also does streaming media very well (UPNP, DLNA) and I could sit and generally watch any MP4 format content on my iPod Touch without downloading the movie, but while I did this a couple of times, I don't actually use UPNP too much.
The TIVO does create content pretty well but due to its strong ties to the cable companies and movie studios, ninety percent of the content that it creates is locked down to the TIVO and cannot be copied or even played on any other device. TIVO even prevents copying or archiving content that it pulls down from the internet even when the content states it it can be freely copied. If there is web media that you want to keep then continue to use content delivery feeds to your computer not the essentially useless (for internet content) TIVO.
The most recent addition to the network was the NAS server, based on FREENAS. The NAS, installed on a 1 Terrabyte drive, supports HTTP (a mini web site for content access), WEBDAV, FTP, SAMBA and CIFS. So any device on the home network from smart-phone to DVR can create or consume content directly on the NAS.
The TIVO has now been relegated to a primarily cable content consumer device and the Popcorn Hour is now the central viewing device for non-cable and network enabled content.
What next? We don't watch a lot of DVD's directly as the the video capture server can just rip a DVD and drop it onto the NAS as digital content. While the price of Blu-ray players has dropped to reasonable levels, I don't find too much HD DVD content that is worth paying the Blu-ray premium for. The Popcorn Hour is a few years old now though so I may upgrade that when/if a better device comes along but there is no pressing need to do that right now. Probably the next big change will be downsizing and just completely dropping cable. If I do drop cable service then the TIVO would probably go as well.