questionsanyone have any tips of using a cablecard?

vote-for16vote-against
vote-for9vote-against

The most important question is, what are you looking to accomplish with a CableCard? Do you want to store the recordings on your computer or are you more of a TiVo person and not want to keep a computer on 24/7 or so?

Just so you know, many cable operators are using a technology SDV (switched digital video), so most likely you will need a TA (Tuning Adapter) and a CableCard. Your operator will most likely give you the TA for free with the CableCard if needed. For Windows you will most likely be stuck with Windows Media Center (an extra cost in Windows 8/8.1).

I have an HD Homerun Prime and love it.

You might also want to keep a hold of this when requesting one: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/cablecard-know-your-rights

vote-for6vote-against

WOW... good tips so far. As for my goals, here is a bit of background.

Got rid of all the cable-supplied DVR's on the house. have a TiVO in one room (just installed it in the past 24 hours) for the tech-non-literate of the household. want another box, for someone that is more tech savvy, so I was thinking I could take one of my computers that I do not use so much anymore, and install a cablecard to turn it into a DVR. maybe in turn use that to stream to other TV's in the house, (almost all the TV's currently have ROKU's from woot attached)

my first round research indicates that I may not be saving any money in that a cablecard device to hook up to a computer costs roughly the same as a stand-alone device. I might find a discount in terms of the price of digitally-updates channel guides. but I am still interested in going the DIY route if for no other reason than to say I have done it and I know how.

vote-for7vote-against

@theant: If you want to go the Windows route (which with a computer you don't really have a choice here), make sure your old computer is powerful enough to pass the digital cable advisor from within Windows. Personally, I would recommend at a minimum of 2GB of memory for standard definition content and 4GB or more for high definition. You will also need a capable graphics card (integrated above Intel HD 2000 or above will most likely work).

For specific product recommendations, if you want something inside of your computer the Ceton Infinitv line of tuners would be great otherwise an HD Homerun Prime would be awesome as well. One word of caution on the HD Homerun Prime is it is about to be replaced by a version that can transcode H.264 (won't have as big of an impact on your network, which by the way you will need to have a wired connection for this). Silicondust recently released an Android app (Homerun View or something like that) which has amazing potential as an Android tuner.

vote-for6vote-against

Since I ran out of space before, continuing on.....

If your provider encrypts the channels (Time Warner for example), you will not be able to share the content over your network unless it is marked copy freely. Most of Time Warner's channels are marked copy once meaning it can only play back on the computer from which it was recorded. Not all providers do this, but be aware this is an increasing trend in the past few years.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Good luck!

vote-for4vote-against

@hackman2007: Thanks for the info. That helps my decision a lot.

Looks like I'm going to have to get a computer with 3-4 gigs of RAM running win7 And a graphics card that costs more than twenty-bucks. This is a bit more than I was intending, but that's OK. An Xbox 360 to play stuff on alternate screens seems to be a good choice also. Although I will be taking a good long look at the idea of turning my android devices into secondary viewing screens.

So software so far looks like I will try windows media center. Anyone have any other suggestions?

vote-for3vote-against

I have a TIVO for both of my tv's. The cable co. installed the cablecards, if your cable co. allows you to do it yourself it didn't look that hard. The cablecards run me $5.90 a month. You can transfer the programs between the TIVO's and more.

vote-for3vote-against

The 2 disappointments I've had with using a cable card with Windows Media Center is no picture-in-picture and when you get an EAS alert it blocks part of the screen for the duration of the alert. The second one is more of an aggravation than a disappointment. I bought the 4 tuner Ceton when it was first released. I'd go for the 6 tuner version if you can, though. I've come up against the limit a several times.

vote-for2vote-against

I've been running Windows Media Center since 2007, and using a CableCard tuner for it since Ceton introduced their infiniTV series of tuners. Since their initial offering I've upgraded to the 6-tuner Ethernet (external) version and it's been working great.

I agree with a few of the comments above: 4GB RAM, and a windows 7 machine. I'll add a few items that I learned over the years:

- Unless you use this for other purposes (gaming, etc), there is no need to use anything other than the onboard video. In fact, this will only add complexity and potentially, heat, to the system. I can record 6 channels at the same time, watch a recorded program on it, and 3 extenders, and re-encode video at the same time and I have never seen my system so much as hiccup with the onboard video.

- One area I wish I went bigger on is horsepower. Mine serves well as a dedicated HTPC , but I mentioned above, I like to take my video on the go. Encoding is slow at time, so if this is a consideration, go bigger.

vote-for1vote-against

@acraigl: Thanks for more tips!

I did get a Tivo for one setup. But I really want to do a computer for another. After doing more research (and reading replies here on woot) this is my latest stance.

One enthernet-cablecard-turner (still debating on brand since they all seem to offer a ethernet version) Going to get as many tuners in it as I can afford. Then a computer running win7 pro with media center (and maybe another software DVR solution). computer will require at least a dual core processor preferably quad core. And 4-8gigs of RAM. I'll hook it up and see how the video is, and if I don't like it I'll pop in a video card.
Thinking of building a FreeNAS box also for all the media I already have. Then I can use the FreeNas as extra storage for the media center PC if needed. That will enable me to also use that same PC to play media from ANY source (cable, local, internet) while using the FreeNAS as a DLNA server for local content.

vote-for1vote-against

@theant: If you don't have it already, get a copy of Windows 7. It comes with Media Center at no extra cost. Also, Windows 8 does NOT allow you to boot directly into Media Center...not natively, anyway. There is a simple work around, but Windows 8 as a media center is just an all around PITA. I had it installed on my Living Room MC for about 2 weeks before I went back to Win 7.

Also, regarding video cards, you can very easily run a Media Center with a $20 Video Card. Microcenter routinely sells the Radeon HD 5450 and 6450 for $20 after a $10 MIR. I've bought 2 from them in the last year, both installed in Media Centers running in my house. (I have 3 total). If you don't have a Microcenter nearby, Newegg has those deals, also, from time to time. The 5450 is perfectly capable of handling HD video from a tuner.

vote-for1vote-against

Continued...

My Living Room MC has an Ceton Infinitv 4 tuner card installed, and the other 2 Media Centers share 3 tuners from a HDHomerun Prime. You should be aware, though, that if you go with a networked HD tuner, you really should be sure that you have a solid Network set up. You will need a good router, and if you want to view HD video over wireless, you need to have at least an N network. Wireless G networks will be taxed to the limit trying to handle HD video from cable.

I have Charter cable, and my 2 cablecards cost me $2 a piece per month, so $4 total. And, since I was able to piece out my computers from used parts, and deals, It took me less than 15 months to break even, compared to Charters price for renting HD DVR cable boxes. Now, for the amount of tuners I have, I am saving about $16 per month. I could technically view 7 different channels with my current setup, if I were to share the 4 tuners on my living room PC over the network.