A while back wanted to know about a replacement for my Dreambox. I was also asked to write up a summary of the replies.
Initially I assumed that my Dreambox 7025C was failing, it showed a classic symptom, progressively increasing error rate which wasn't showing up on my neighbors. Since we share the cable they should see the problems too, so I ordered new tuners for the box and the problem persisted. In the end it turns out that the problems were initially showing on such channels that my neighbors weren't watching or in such amount that they didn't pay attention to it.
In the end it was a problem in the feed and my box is just fine. I now have 2 brand new DVB-C tuners for the 7025 (anyone want to buy them?) and a perfectly working setup. (YAY!).
In a way I feel lucky that the box wasn't failing on me. Nobody suggested any complete solutions, but I was able to spot ReelBox Avantgarde as a possible alternative. It runs Linux like I want it to, but it's way too expensive. Another alternative could have been Maximum 8000, which appears to be a re-branded Marusys C-8000. It has Linux as the OS but the community side appears to be rather lacking. Then again, it's a pretty new device...
I was suggested VDR and MythTV as the DIY solution. I dismissed MythTV without even looking in to it. Although I must admit that it's been quite a few years since I tried MythTV, but it was way too unstable for my taste. Also I wasn't too happy about the architecture of it.
VDR is something I could have tried. The downside appears to be that it lacks in hardware support. The last time I was building my own PVR I ran in to the common problem of getting a decent output to the TV. VDR folks have traditionally solved this by using a HW decoder card to output the stream directly to the TV. Using VDR with a budget DVB card is possible but not recommended because of the CPU power needed to decode the stream. I've always considered VDR to be the more sophisticated solution of the two, but it is starting to sound a lot more hassle than it's supposed to.
Also, the DIY solutions are hard to get in to a decent form. Usually the cases are bulky and custom modifications are required. I'm not one of those guys that install neon lights to their computers to make it look cool, but if I'm having it in my living room I expect it to look decent. Take a look at the VDR boxes section on the website for examples. While I admit that it's up to me to build a decent box, I'm not willing to spend too much time hand picking every single component so that it fits a casing and works with the given application.
Finally, I'd like to thank all the people that sent me comments. Even though I ended up sticking with the current setup, it was a valuable look in to what is out there. The Dreambox I have, doesn't have a HDMI output and lacks in few areas. Keeping that in mind I'm eventually going to take this same look in to the alternatives while picking a replacement for the current box. Lets hope VDR, MythTV and Elisa (to name a few) continue to evolve and the video output properties of Linux become better and eventually I'll have the possibility of replacing my current setup with something that is even more flexible.