The software offers all the DVR features of TiVo, including the ability to pause live TV on the desktop, record favorite shows directly to a hard drive, and skip commercials. Users also get TiVo service features like WishList search, Season Pass recordings, and TiVo Suggestions.

The software also supports HD recording and viewing and lets you control your cable or satellite set-top box. Beyond this, the Nero software adds the ability to transfer shows to portable devices such as iPods, iPhones, or Sony PSPs, and to burn them to DVDs.

According to PC Magazine analyst Joel Santo Domingo, here are the downsides: a TiVo box is still easier to set up, any software installation is subject to PC foibles like viruses, and a dual-core CPU is needed for it to work well. Nor does Liquid integrate in any way with Windows Media Center edition.

The bundle comes in two flavors: a $199.99 retail package that includes both a TiVo PC remote with transceiver, plus a TV tuner card. Both that and a $99.99 software-only downloadable version come with 12 months of TiVo service – already a savings versus the annual $129 TiVo service plan, and you don’t have to buy the set-top box, which starts at $149.99.