Cable HD content --> Mac or PC hard drive? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-29-2004, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Is it permissible and/or doable to capture both HD and SD content from my cable company to hard disk?

I have four strong computers in my house, including a P4 3.0 MHZ w 1gb RAM and a Macintosh G5 with 2.25 Gb Ram. All four have 19" CRT monitors. The top two have DVD burners.

I live in Pasadena, CA, my cable company is Charter Communications, I already get their digital service. (also broadband internet, distributed by Lynksys router to all four computers)

My 12-year-old RCA television just went kaput. I have no DVD player or TIVO-type system.

I want to move up to HD and into archiving for personal use. Not thrilled with the idea of antennas etc. I have no budget for plasma or projector, etc.

Charter has a tremendous value, for an additional 14.00 per month I can add their full array of HD stations PLUS their DVR service, which acts like TIVO and stores up to 50 hrs of content on a hard drive inside the box they will install here. The DVR can record all HD content, with playback at full quality.

Plan A is/was to get a 30" 16:9 tube such as SONY KV30XBR910 or KV30HS420 and a DVD player with recorder. The (less than solidly certain) contacts at Charter told me that, yes, I could go right out from their signal to a DVD burn, and that I could also go from the "saved" Charter DVR content to the burner. I am dubious about that last. But if either is true, I hope I would be able to pop the DVD with raw footage into my PC and/or Mac and manipulate it. [I have no intent to deprive Charter of any fees, or disbribute content in any way.. strictly for personal use.]

Plan B is tugging at me, however. Don't buy a HD display yet nor the DVDplayer/recorder. Instead, run the cable into a card in either the G5 or the PC. record content onto hard drive, then manipulate with software to edit/snippet and burn to DVD. Play back on the computer monitors. I could replace my dead TV with a simple 250.00 set. Plan b tries to give me 1) direct control over the content and 2) a small purchase budget.

I looked into EyeTv (mac) and MyHD and HD Wonder cards....they seem to only capture OTA-HD, not cable HD. Please correct me if I am wrong on that.

Is there a way to capture SD and HD content from Charter Cable onto the hard drive of a PC or Mac for manipulation and archiving without violating anyone's property rights and with full retention of quality?

Thanks for your help and please don't scream too loud if this newbie post is too naive for this advanced forum.

::::: Opera :::::
Pasadena, CA
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-29-2004, 03:01 PM
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you shouldn't trust the guys at the cable company too much. there are a few things you're up against

--capturing on the computer.

the only options out there right now are piping it via firewire to your mac (easier) or pc (harder), but that only works if your cable company has firewire on their cable box and it is unencrypted. and AFAIK this only works with the HD content, no way to get out SD content.

the other option is to route it to a tv/tuner card in the computer. this would give you SD (analog only, digital if you hook the cable box to it). then you could also record stuff. for HD, again you're up against the encryption problem and only a handful of HD Tuner cards will accept the QAM or 8VSB (i think those are the two common ones) format that cable companies use. And the jury is still out on how well this works, a few people having success a few are having problems.

btw, you're cable company would be very 'progressive' if they allowed content to be taken directly off their DVR and burned...

i think an alternative to plan B would be to use the tuner and record content, then instead of burning it, just reveal it the other computers on the network. with a nice front end like myhtpc ( or xlobby ( family can watch things on demand. basically the same thing, just a little tweaked.
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-05-2004, 05:35 AM
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Here's an article I found a few months back that has some info you might need;
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-05-2004, 06:31 AM
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Check the HDrecorders forum here at AVS. I am using firewire from a Charter 6200 box and can record. You need Windows XP and all the software is free for download. I am experiencing some problems, with HDNet movies and sometimes Showtime, with a grey screen. I attribute this to the C5 flag being set on these channels for some content.

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post #5 of 5 Old 10-05-2004, 07:20 AM
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Charter uses 5C encryption on their cable channels. You'll only be able to record HDTV content from the local networks (ABC, CBS, etc) to your PC or Mac. Thus, there is really no advantage over a card like the MyHD2, assuming you can get good reception.

Note that DVD is not really adequate as a HDTV recording medium. A standard DVD only has capacity for 30-40 minutes of full bitrate HDTV. In a few years, we'll have HD-DVD and blu-ray recorders for HDTV, but until then, D-VHS tape is the only affordable medium with adequate MPEG-2 HDTV capacity.
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