Get rid of the need for cable box? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
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So I'm a little confused on this topic.. I've been wanting to build an HTPC thinking it was, essentially, a beefed up system that combines that functionality of a media player, cable box, DVR, and whatever else all into one device. However, the closer I'm looking, I think I've been mistaken on one point.

Originally, I thought you could use a digital TV Tuner to get rid of the need of a cable box. I'm using Time Warner Digital Cable with DVR, and I absolutely hate the cable box. It's some Scientific Atlantic something or other. Don't have the model with me at the moment.. but it is really slow in channel browsing, waking up from sleeping, and sometimes doesn't even wake up "good". Sometimes I'll wake it up and I won't get any sound. Or the resolution will be all whack and have a tiny window in the upper right corner. It stays that way until I change channels. It's annoying.

Anyway, back to the topic, I was hoping to use an HTPC as a substitute for the cable box. Is this feasible? Is it even possible?

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: I believe the current cable box is a scientific atlanta explorer 8300hd
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post #2 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 08:43 AM
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Yes, no, sorta.

If you only care about channels that your cable provider leaves in the clear, either as analog NTSC or unencrypted QAM (ClearQAM), then any old HTPC with a tuner card will do.

If you want channels that are encrypted, you will need to buy a whole PC with a CableCARD tuner from one of the PC manufacturers such as HP, and get a CableCARD from your cable provider. Currently this is the only way you can get CableCARD capability on your PC.

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post #3 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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What does that mean, "leaves in the clear"? I know you mean that those channels are not encrypted, but how would one know which channels are like that?
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post #4 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 09:14 AM
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You might have to check with your local cc-
Not much left in the clear these days anyway for most folks - usually what you could receive with a regular antenna, although there are a few exceptions.
Might also check some of the other forums here with regards to local programming and availability.
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post #5 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenaf View Post

What does that mean, "leaves in the clear"? I know you mean that those channels are not encrypted, but how would one know which channels are like that?

Standard programing is usually unencrypted, if you pay for channels its not. Stay with your 8300HD you'll have less problems.
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post #6 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenaf View Post

What does that mean, "leaves in the clear"? I know you mean that those channels are not encrypted, but how would one know which channels are like that?

Check the silicondust site, they've got a page you can enter your zip and it should give you the clear QAM channels available.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #7 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenaf View Post

What does that mean, "leaves in the clear"? I know you mean that those channels are not encrypted, but how would one know which channels are like that?

Change this URL to your zip and it shows what you will get (subject to change).
http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun...Postcode=32201

Oops, stanger already gave you this.
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post #8 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 02:18 PM
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Have you looked into just upgrading your cable box? Usually the newer cable boxes such as HD PVRs will fix problems like lagging channels and commands.

I agree with DJWikiera: as far as I'm concerned, an HTPC for TV isn't worth the hassle.
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post #9 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 03:39 PM
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Except for a few locations the cable from your wall contains both analog and digital channels and the channels you can receive are based on the tuner being used since there is no filter in the street connection restricting what you receive to either analog or digial only. And many digital tuner scan receive unencrypted QAM cable channels in addtion to OTA digital channels. The clear QWAM cable channels are a subset of the digital channels that you can receive with a OTA digital tuner in your location and consist of local Network affiliates and PBS channels.
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post #10 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

Check the silicondust site, they've got a page you can enter your zip and it should give you the clear QAM channels available.

It's not accurate. For my ZIP, it lists 3x more channels than are actually ClearQAM. Universal HD is a glaring example, as that's a pay channel.

As far as ClearQAM support, you will get ZERO help from the cable company on this. They'll probably even tell you that digital channels can't be tuned by anything but a cable box, in fact. They don't want people knowing about ClearQAM as they would lose a lot of revenue. Just about anyone at the cable company you can actually talk to on the phone probably has no clue of what QAM is anyway!

Heck, even finding someone at a cable company that knows what a CableCARD is takes several tries. As the rental fee for a CableCARD is substantially lower than a cable box, it comes back to reduced revenue again.

I use my PC to record ClearQAM channels, but finding those is kind of hit or miss; it takes some work on your part. VMC finds most of them, but not all of them, too. You have to know the channel and sub-channel specifically for those. I do also use a 8300HD to record the pay channels, too. It's not so reliable, so the PC is more of a backup, but it always works. I use my Xbox360 to watch stuff on my PC, so it works out.
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post #11 of 11 Old 12-28-2008, 06:49 PM
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The cable companies are only required to provide the signals to one digital sub channel per local high powered broadcaster so the number of channels available over clear QAM will always be signifcantly less then the number that are available with an OTA digital tuner.
No cable only channels such as Universal channels are requied to be available via clear QAM since they are not broadcasting from a local transmitter in your neighborhood.
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