When it comes to recording your favourite shows, you made the smart move and decided to roll your own DVR with SageTV instead of buying TiVo or paying recurring monthly fees to rent a DVR from your cable provider. Besides automatically pushing your recordings onto your iPod, you can put other DVRs to shame by adding a web interface to SageTV. With SageTV’s Web UI you can schedule and manage recordings, set your favorites, access your recordings and even stream live TV over the web. Let’s get to it!
Install your tuner card and SageTV
Last year, Adam gave you the skinny on how to install a TV card and start kicking homebrew DVR ass with SageTV. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to follow the exact same process to get started with SageTV before you install the web interface. SageTV will cost you $80 and comes with a 15-day free trial if you want to make sure everything works before purchasing. For those of you who already dropped the ducats on SageTV, it’s about to become the best $80 you’ve ever spent on a piece of software.
Download and install the web interface
The SageTV web interface is a run-of-the-mill Windows executable that you can download from Sourceforge and is very simple to install. The only setup required is to choose a username and password. I have found on more than one occasion that I wanted to share my username and password with friends and family so they could check it out—or even so they can schedule recordings of their own. (I recommend choosing a username and password that you’d be comfortable sharing, but that’s your prerogative.)
On the “Installation Options” screen, leave all of the defaults enabled and choose “Install.” When the installation completes, make sure SageTV is running and pull up
http://localhost:8080/sage/Home in your browser of choice. After entering your username and password you’ll be greeted with your sparkling new web interface for SageTV.
Open a port on your router
In order to access your web interface from outside your home network, you’re going to need to enable port-forwarding for port
8080 on your router. Port forwarding will differ from router to router, but typically you should add an entry that looks similar to mine below. Be sure you to substitute your own IP address for the computer hosting the web interface (your homebrewed DVR).
Assign a domain name
As long as you’re going to access the web interface from outside your home network, you can go ahead and assign a domain name so you don’t have to track and remember your computer’s external IP address whenever you want to log in. Remember that the Web UI installs itself into subdirectories on port 8080. So after you assign a domain name you’ll need to point your browser to
Scheduling recordings over the internet with the Web UI is a breeze. The Web UI syncs with your existing SageTV program listings so you can peruse listings and schedule recordings with one-click. The Web UI has many different views you can choose from. In my opinion, the most intuitive is the “EPG Grid View” (see below), which can be found under the “Program Guide” drop down.
Setting SageTV to record a show for an entire season is as simple as choosing the show, and clicking “Add Favorite.” SageTV has a whole slew of management options like which channels you want to record the show on, how many episodes you want to save, whether you want the recordings to expire and much more.
Download your recordings
You can download and watch your recordings anywhere. Under the SageTV heading, select “Sage Recordings” to download and watch any of your recordings. Keep in mind, however, that these downloads will be rather large, so make sure you’ve got some time and a fast internet connection before you decide to download an hour-long show. If you don’t need the show in full broadcast quality, streaming may be a better option.
Stream your recordings or live TV
My favourite feature of the Web UI is the ability to create a playlist and stream live TV or your recordings. The one drawback to streaming is that you are limited by your upload speed. When you’re on your local network you’ll have no problem, however, when you leave the network you’ll need to reduce your stream quality so the playback isn’t choppy.
Extra help for the SageTV Web UI (should you need it) is available in the SageTV forums. Besides the satisfaction of completing a fun DIY project, a home grown DVR with a web UI gives you instant access to your favourite television shows no matter where you are in the world. Also sharing, burning and transferring your videos becomes that much easier since you don’t need to physically interact with the computer running SageTV. For the total price of $80 you can’t go wrong with SageTV and a free web UI.
Kyle Pott is Lifehacker’s Contributing Editor who can’t dream of returning to a world without SageTV and its Web UI. He has never ever purchased any third party applications for Windows except SageTV.