3 November 2005
By Don Saunders
All of the software reviewed in this article provide you with an attractive front-end to view tv listings. The fact that they are also released under the GPL is an additional benefit.
Although the Radio Times feed provides farily comprehensive descriptions for the programmes, it doesn't provide you with channel images. This was only critical for GShow TV where you need the images installed to easily differentiate between the channels.
Out of the software under consideration, GShow TV has the least number of features (as a tv listing programme). However, both FreeGuide and Maxemum TV-Guide receive my strong recommendation and are certainly worth installing. If you like to see software rated, I would give 3/5 to GShow TV, and the others receiving 4/5, as they provide most of the essential features required for a tv listing guide. However, there are a few critical omissions from both FreeGuide and Maxemum TV-Guide. FreeGuide is lacking:
A list mode, which would allow me view the listings of an
individual channel. Even with a large monitor it is a bit cumbersome
having to scroll between the day to see what's on a single channel.
Searching facilities. Being able to search for entries would be
very useful, as having two weeks worth of listings means that it is
possible to miss programmes of interest.
Linking movies to IMDb. It would be great addition if you could click on
a movie listing in FreeGuide, taking you directly to the relevant movie
entry at IMDb. This would be something very easy to implement.
The first two of these features is mentioned in the TODO file, so
hopefully they will be implemented in a later release. With these
additions, FreeGuide would be a great little utility.
Whereas, Maxemum TV-Guide would really benefit from printing facilities, customized listings, and a facility to set reminders for individual episodes of programmes.
None of the software is a direct replacement for DigiGuide, partly as the quality of the programme descriptions in DigiGuide are considerably better than those provided via the feeds supported by XMLTV.
FreeGuide's use of a web browser for printing its personalised tv guide, and using XMLTV to download the programme listings helps to reduce any unnecessary duplication. The author plans to include printing from within the application in a future release.
My personal favourite application out of the three in questionis FreeGuide which I now use every day. It certainly lacks lots of features provided by DigiGuide,and is rather slow when moving between days. However, it acts as a good front-end to the Radio Times feed which provides
me with a guide where the listings are accurate, and reasonably comprehensive. One
criticism which really is aimed at Radio Times is that listings don't
indicate the series/episode number of the programme, which is useful
when there is so much duplication of material on the UK tv channels.
I certainly recommend that you visit FreeGuide's website and
download this software today. Bear in mind that as the software requires Java it does
have quite a hefty memory footprint. It is not therefore recommended for systems with limited RAM. Nevertheless, give it a whirl.
FreeGuide - 4 stars (out of 5)
Maxemum TV-Guide - 4 stars
GShow TV - 3 stars
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