Pinnacle Ultimate Stick and Comcast HD BOX mystery! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 39 Old 09-19-2009, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a DELL XPS M1530 laptop that I bought one year ago. It's fast and there is nothing wrong with my laptop.

However, I don't understand how I can capture HD program from Comcast HD BOX with my Pinnacle Ultimate Stick. The specific model for my HD BOX is Motorora DCH3200. More info about the box can be found on google. I want to give you guys a link, but it's not allowed.

If it is not possible to do capture anything from HD Box with my Pinnacle, what else I can do to capture HD program with its original resolution?
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post #2 of 39 Old 09-19-2009, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

I have a DELL XPS M1530 laptop that I bought one year ago. It's fast and there is nothing wrong with my laptop.

However, I don't understand how I can capture HD program from Comcast HD BOX with my Pinnacle Ultimate Stick. The specific model for my HD BOX is Motorora DCH3200. More info about the box can be found on google. I want to give you guys a link, but it's not allowed.

If it is not possible to do capture anything from HD Box with my Pinnacle, what else I can do to capture HD program with its original resolution?

If you want to capture HD from your cable box, you will need this:

http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hdpvr.html
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post #3 of 39 Old 09-19-2009, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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If you want to capture HD from your cable box, you will need this:

http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hdpvr.html

Is that the only way? It seems not only expensive, but it does not support MPEG2 format neither!
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post #4 of 39 Old 09-19-2009, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

Is that the only way? It seems not only expensive, but it does not support MPEG2 format neither!

Yes, that's the only way to capture HD from your Comcast box.
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post #5 of 39 Old 09-19-2009, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

but it does not support MPEG2 format neither!

It supports h.264 encoding, which is vastly superior to MPEG2.
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post #6 of 39 Old 09-19-2009, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Yes, that's the only way to capture HD from your Comcast box.

Well it's not the only way, but it's the cheapest, easiest, most effective way (for our uses).

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #7 of 39 Old 09-19-2009, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Well it's not the only way, but it's the cheapest, easiest, most effective way (for our uses).

WoW! 250 dollars is the cheapest? Is there anyway to make this more expensive?

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It supports h.264 encoding, which is vastly superior to MPEG2.

Everytime I play h.264 videos, they alway suck up my CPU. Sometime, it needs encoding software to play certain videos, which I'm not a particular a fan of. That is why MPEG2 videos are always what I prefer.
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post #8 of 39 Old 09-19-2009, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

WoW! 250 dollars is the cheapest? Is there anyway to make this more expensive?

Absolutely. Each HD PVR will only record one channel at a time. Add another $250 plus the monthly cost of another cable box if you want to record from 2 channels at once.

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Everytime I play h.264 videos, they alway suck up my CPU. Sometime, it needs encoding software to play certain videos, which I'm not a particular a fan of. That is why MPEG2 videos are always what I prefer.

You're doing something wrong. The 8600M GPU in your laptop should be doing most of the work. Use MPC-HC for playback and your CPU usage will be <20%.

H.264 is several times more efficient than MPEG2. You'll get much higher video quality and much smaller file sizes. MPEG2 is dead for anything except DVDs.
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post #9 of 39 Old 09-20-2009, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

WoW! 250 dollars is the cheapest? Is there anyway to make this more expensive?



Everytime I play h.264 videos, they alway suck up my CPU. Sometime, it needs encoding software to play certain videos, which I'm not a particular a fan of. That is why MPEG2 videos are always what I prefer.

I have seen it from dell small business a couple times for ~150. I am sure it will go that low again.
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post #10 of 39 Old 09-20-2009, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

WoW! 250 dollars is the cheapest? Is there anyway to make this more expensive?

Yeah, you could start looking a professional capture cards and the associated massive system requirements.

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Everytime I play h.264 videos, they alway suck up my CPU. Sometime, it needs encoding software to play certain videos, which I'm not a particular a fan of. That is why MPEG2 videos are always what I prefer.

Sounds like you're not encoding your H.264 to DXVA compliant profiles. The HD PVR does.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #11 of 39 Old 09-20-2009, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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The thing about h264 videos is that not only it sucks up my CPU processor, but the picture doesn't play smoothly. I mean it does not sync along with the sound so it seems they do not move in the same speed which I found really annoying.

Another thing about h264 videos that I see people cap from HD box is that it gives such a low birate and it makes it looks like SD program upscaled to HD program.

I really don't want to be stubborn here, but I believe that HD-MPEG2 is the best because it doesn't compresse anything eventhough the only downsize of it is bigger filesize.

Therefore, if I buy this thing and my Comcast HD Box supports MPEG2, can I still record it in HD-MPEG2? Or will it encode everything and compress it to h264?
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post #12 of 39 Old 09-20-2009, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

The thing about h264 videos is that not only it sucks up my CPU processor, but the picture doesn't play smoothly. I mean it does not sync along with the sound so it seems they do not move in the same speed which I found really annoying.

Again, you're doing it wrong. Follow the advice that we're giving you and h.264 files will play back beautifully. Do it not just because we're right, but because nothing records to MPEG2 any more. Any new capture card you buy is going to record to h.264, so you may as well get it working correctly now.

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Therefore, if I buy this thing and my Comcast HD Box supports MPEG2, can I still record it in HD-MPEG2? Or will it encode everything and compress it to h264?

No. Your comcast box will not output any sort of digital format. Moving digital captures from cable to your computer is exactly what your cable company is trying so hard to prevent. That is why the only solution is an expensive capture device like the HD PVR which takes an analog signal from your cable box.
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post #13 of 39 Old 09-20-2009, 12:31 PM
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I know you don't want to be stubborn, but you are being stubborn.
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post #14 of 39 Old 09-20-2009, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

The thing about h264 videos is that not only it sucks up my CPU processor, but the picture doesn't play smoothly. I mean it does not sync along with the sound so it seems they do not move in the same speed which I found really annoying.

Another thing about h264 videos that I see people cap from HD box is that it gives such a low birate and it makes it looks like SD program upscaled to HD program.

This is all because "you" aren't encoding your H.264 right. Professionally encoded H.264 is great. Over half of all Blu-ray Discs are H.264 and they are spectacular, better than anything you'll get MPEG-2 from your cable company. H.264 is not your problem, it's the way it's been used.

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I really don't want to be stubborn here, but I believe that HD-MPEG2 is the best because it doesn't compresse anything eventhough the only downsize of it is bigger filesize.

Sorry, but you are wrong. MPEG-2 uses MASSIVE compression, just like H.264. Raw HD is about 1Gbps, your reference HD MPEG-2 is about 20Mbps, that's 50:1 compression.

H.264 done well can be as good or better than MPEG-2, and at smaller file sizes to boot.

Quote:
Therefore, if I buy this thing and my Comcast HD Box supports MPEG2, can I still record it in HD-MPEG2? Or will it encode everything and compress it to h264?

Your box will not output an MPEG-2 stream period. It decodes the MPEG-2 and will output it as SD NTSC over RF, Composite or S/Video, or uncompressed HD over Component or HDMI.

If you want to record HD, Component is your only option and the HD PVR is your best bet for that.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #15 of 39 Old 09-20-2009, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

Sorry, but you are wrong. MPEG-2 uses MASSIVE compression, just like H.264. Raw HD is about 1Gbps, your reference HD MPEG-2 is about 20Mbps, that's 50:1 compression.

H.264 done well can be as good or better than MPEG-2, and at smaller file sizes to boot.

The key point here (for the benefit of the OP) is that h.264 is so much more efficient than MPEG2. The MPEG2 stream that comprises the main feature on an average DVD is about 6GB. That stream can be compressed down to about 2GB in H.264 with no appreciable loss in quality. Alternately, the average 720p blu-ray rip weighs in at around 6GB, and is obviously of significantly higher quality that any DVD.

That is the reason why everybody uses h.264 these days. You can either have the same quality at 1/3 the size, or much higher quality at the same size as MPEG2.
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post #16 of 39 Old 09-24-2009, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, but you are wrong. MPEG-2 uses MASSIVE compression, just like H.264. Raw HD is about 1Gbps, your reference HD MPEG-2 is about 20Mbps, that's 50:1 compression.

H.264 done well can be as good or better than MPEG-2, and at smaller file sizes to boot.

I don't know why it results such a big difference in compression. Are we talking about capping program from TV or Blu-Ray? I'm asking this because I don't care too much about Blu-Ray. It's capping programs in HD that I want.

Even if we are talking about capping program in HD, I have never seen anybody who was able to cap anything with birate in 1GB. The best capping quality I saw was FEED which provides stunning 40 mbps. There I have seen done in both h264 and MPEG2 format. However, it's MPEG2 format that I prefer because its format is allowed to be played with any media software without exhuasting my CPU possessor.


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Your box will not output an MPEG-2 stream period. It decodes the MPEG-2 and will output it as SD NTSC over RF, Composite or S/Video, or uncompressed HD over Component or HDMI.

If you want to record HD, Component is your only option and the HD PVR is your best bet for that.

Are you saying to me that there is no way for me cap anything from my Motolora Comcast HD box in MPEG2?

Well, I see at least one person who does it. Yes, that is right. This person is still able to cap programs from Comcast HD BOX in MPEG2.
However, I have no idea who he does it and I try to ask him how he does it, but he refuses to answer me.
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post #17 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 05:21 AM
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However, it's MPEG2 format that I prefer because its format is allowed to be played with any media software without exhuasting my CPU possessor.

That's different than saying it's uncompressed or better quality, I can understand this desire.

Quote:


Are you saying to me that there is no way for me cap anything from my Motolora Comcast HD box in MPEG2?

Well, I see at least one person who does it. Yes, that is right. This person is still able to cap programs from Comcast HD BOX in MPEG2.
However, I have no idea who he does it and I try to ask him how he does it, but he refuses to answer me.

Either he has a modded box (ala R5000, which is hard to find a box that works), is not using a box, and is clear QAM capturing directly off the cable, or he's very lucky in that his box has firewire enabled and it is not requiring DTCP.

What is certain is that he's not using an ATSC tuner to capture the boxes output.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #18 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

Are you saying to me that there is no way for me cap anything from my Motolora Comcast HD box in MPEG2? Well, I see at least one person who does it. Yes, that is right. This person is still able to cap programs from Comcast HD BOX in MPEG2. However, I have no idea who he does it and I try to ask him how he does it, but he refuses to answer me.

Don't be too hard on him. Me may be doing it using questionable methods and while he may be willing to use such questionable methods himself, he may not wish to disseminate such information to random people.

Aside from that, some people feel they've put in a lot of effort to be able to do something and random folks on the internet don't have the right to expect to bypass all that effort just by asking. I'm reminded of that because I once asked someone how to do something and he finally responded to me after two weeks telling me he wasn't going to respond at first, and why. Then I got a page of what he went through before he arrived at a solution. Then the solution.
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post #19 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 08:17 AM - Thread Starter
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That's different than saying it's uncompressed or better quality, I can understand this desire.

Well, it is still somewhat related to quality because I know one capper who used to cap everything in MPEG2, then the digital switch in July changed the way on how he could cap it. Therefore, he started to cap program in HD-h264.

Yes, the file may be smaller, but h264 videos which he capped provide the average birate of 7 to 8 mbps while MPEG2 videos that he used to share provided the average birate of 14 mbps.

Another reason that I want my video to be MPEG2 is because I want any videos that I have to be untouched and unedited.
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post #20 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

Well, it is still somewhat related to quality because I know one capper who used to cap everything in MPEG2, then the digital switch in July changed the way on how he could cap it. Therefore, he started to cap program in HD-h264.

Yes, the file may be smaller, but h264 videos which he capped provide the average birate of 7 to 8 mbps while MPEG2 videos that he used to share provided the average birate of 14 mbps.

Another reason that I want my video to be MPEG2 is because I want any videos that I have to be untouched and unedited.

Unfortunately, most cable companies lock down their boxes. Usually, the only way to record from them is via the component video-out and the only reasonably-priced device that will do that is the Hauppauge HD-PVR. You could still capture to MPEG-2 using your Pinnacle tuner, but it won't be untouched/unedited and it certainly won't be in HD.

By the way, the MPEG-2 videos are bigger because they need more bitrate to get the same quality as H.264.

Best you could do for untouched/unedited MPEG-2 HD is connect your tuner directly to the wall and hope you get a bunch of ClearQAM channels.
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post #21 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Man View Post

Well, it is still somewhat related to quality because I know one capper who used to cap everything in MPEG2, then the digital switch in July changed the way on how he could cap it. Therefore, he started to cap program in HD-h264.

Yes, the file may be smaller, but h264 videos which he capped provide the average birate of 7 to 8 mbps while MPEG2 videos that he used to share provided the average birate of 14 mbps.

And? You say nothing in here about quality.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #22 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

or he's very lucky in that his box has firewire enabled and it is not requiring DTCP.

In my area (Utah) the firewire port is enabled on the DCH 3200 and the flag is only set on some of the premium channels. I can capture ESPNHD, SpeedHD and others. It depends on operator and region, but I thought that most non-DVR cable boxes have firewire enabled. Having the channels flagged for recording is another matter though, and maybe I'm just very lucky.

Using CapDVHS indicates a > 30mbit stream, but the actual file sizes seems more like the 15-20mbit range.
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post #23 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

And? You say nothing in here about quality.

The quality that I refer to my post was the birate. I believe that the more birate, the better quality.

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In my area (Utah) the firewire port is enabled on the DCH 3200 and the flag is only set on some of the premium channels. I can capture ESPNHD, SpeedHD and others. It depends on operator and region, but I thought that most non-DVR cable boxes have firewire enabled. Having the channels flagged for recording is another matter though, and maybe I'm just very lucky.

Using CapDVHS indicates a > 30mbit stream, but the actual file sizes seems more like the 15-20mbit range.

Are you saying that you can cap HD program in MPEG2?

If so, would you please telling how to do it? Mine box is NOT DVR and I thought that firewire only works with MAC computer/laptop. As I said, I have Dell laptop so I don't know how to make it works.

Moreover, what are you guys talking about when you say flag?
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post #24 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 05:20 PM
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I believe that the more birate, the better quality.

And that's where you're getting it wrong. Refer to my earlier posts. H.264 provides significantly higher quality at the same bitrate as MPEG2.
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post #25 of 39 Old 09-25-2009, 08:50 PM
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The quality that I refer to my post was the birate. I believe that the more birate, the better quality.

That's true only if you're comparing files created with the same codec. For example, if you encode the same source to MPEG-2 at 14Mbps, and then re-encode to MPEG-2 at 19Mbps... the second encode will likely be of higher quality than the first. But you cannot compare bitrates between MPEG-2 and H264 (or VC-1). Encode that same source to MPEG-2 at 14Mbps and then to H264 at 14Mbps... and the latter will be of better quality (possibly much better). Encode to H264 at 9Mbps and in most cases it'll still yield a higher-quality result than you'd get from 14Mbps MPEG-2. MPEG-2 is very old; H264 and VC-1 are much more efficient.
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post #26 of 39 Old 09-27-2009, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
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It's true that MPEG2 is very old, but a lot more software support more of MPEG2 because it has been in the market longer and that is why people probably use more of MPEG2 than any other sources.

And yes, there may be more sources that are more efficient than MPEG2, but my box actually supports MPEG2 and I don't like it if using Hauppauge HD-PVR mean encoding everything to h264 because I like it raw stream.

Anyway, now I feel there is a hope because I was told that I can firewire to cap HD programs in MPEG2 format. However, I thought that firewire is used with MAC computer only. Since I have Dell laptop, how am I supposed to make it work?

By the way, how do I check is my box is actually have firewire enabled and what is the point of having enabled if they are trying to so hard to prevent people from recording raw stream?
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post #27 of 39 Old 09-27-2009, 10:10 PM
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The ONLY way that you will get the original MPEG-2 stream from the Motorola STB is if you get it from the FireWire port (which can be done on a PC as well as a Mac). The problem is that not everyone is lucky enough to be able to do that. BigLan is definitely extremely lucky. With my cable company and most others, I cannot even capture some local primetime shows (including Heroes).

You can use your Pinnacle stick to capture the MPEG-2 stream for anything that your cable company broadcasts unencrypted. For the rest, the HD-PVR is the way to go.
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post #28 of 39 Old 09-27-2009, 10:15 PM
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By the way, how do I check is my box is actually have firewire enabled and what is the point of having enabled if they are trying to so hard to prevent people from recording raw stream?

They are required to have it active by Federal Law. They comply with the law by making the port active but then use flags to prevent recording. They cable company does not want you to be able to record anything unless you record it on their box.
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post #29 of 39 Old 09-28-2009, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
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The ONLY way that you will get the original MPEG-2 stream from the Motorola STB is if you get it from the FireWire port (which can be done on a PC as well as a Mac). The problem is that not everyone is lucky enough to be able to do that. BigLan is definitely extremely lucky. With my cable company and most others, I cannot even capture some local primetime shows (including Heroes).

I'm very new to this firewire thing so I don't know where to start.

I don't even know what FireWire port looks like in the HD Box nor where plug it to my laptop. Please help where I can learn more about this.

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You can use your Pinnacle stick to capture the MPEG-2 stream for anything that your cable company broadcasts unencrypted.

Do you mean plug in the coxial cable to my Pinnacle Stick. Well, you know the cable that is supposed to be connected to HD box? If that is the case, it would be using cable without the help of HD box. Will it reALly work?
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post #30 of 39 Old 09-28-2009, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

They are required to have it active by Federal Law. They comply with the law by making the port active but then use flags to prevent recording. They cable company does not want you to be able to record anything unless you record it on their box.

Yes-the QAM channels are encrypted except the locals.

However the trick is:
1. Get a Comcast HD DVR, and schedule the shows on the DVR,
2. Then use CapDVHS through firewire to send them to your PC. This works for all the channels except premium channels like HBO which sems to be flagged copy never? Its a bit roundabout but work for me.

Good luck.

The H264 route works for all channels, but you can only record live, and one channel at a time, plus you have another decode/encode step, and the caps are not currently the easiest to edit out commercials and such because the editing software is lagging the codecs.
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