Do you need HD in other rooms? Or just HD in one room and SD in others? And do you need just local HD channels, or cable channels too?
If you already have a PC running Windows Vista, then a Windows Media Center extender option would work well to provide HD DVR capability for local networks
to one or more rooms. If you want to tune and record the digital cable channels from Time Warner, you'll need a new Vista CableCard PC. The cheapest one is available from Dell
for ~$1250 with dual CableCard tuners. You can read more about Windows Media Center here
To turn your existing Vista PC into a multi-room HDTV DVR for locals, you would require at least one HDHomerun
(dual-tuner) @ $169, plus a Linksys DMA2100 Media Center Extender
for each room. If you already own an Xbox360, then that will also act as Windows Media Center extender, eliminating the need to buy the Linksys.
With the HD extender on each TV, you have a program guide, you can watch and pause live TV, you can schedule recordings, and you can watch recorded programs. All the programs are saved to the hard drive on your PC and streamed to the HD extender. Each room with a HD Extender
has access to the same recordings.Program guide with Windows Media Center Extender
If you don't have a PC running Windows Vista, SageTV is another low-cost alternative to provide local HD
to one or more rooms. With SageTV, you would also buy one or more HDHomerun
(dual-tuner) @ $169 and install the $69 SageTV server software on a computer. Then you buy one $199 SageTV HD Media Extender
for each TV. Note SageTV does not support CableCards.
With the HD extender on each TV, you have a program guide, you can watch and pause live TV, you can schedule recordings, and you can watch recorded programs. All the programs are saved to the hard drive on your PC and streamed to the SageHD extender. Each room with a HD Extender
has access to the same recordings.Program guide with SageTV HD Extender
Versions of SageTV are available for Windows, Windows Home Server, OS X, and Linux.
There are no subscription fees with Vista Media Center and SageTV, beyond the energy cost to run your PC 24/7 (up to $200/yr). With these solutions, you are limited to OTA and unencrypted QAM (i.e. local channels), unless your cable provider is one of the few that does not copy-protect its cable HD channels. If your provider is among the few that does not use copy protection, you should be able to connect a HDTV STB from the cable co to your PC via Firewire and get encrypted channels as well.