Is switching from cable box to a tuner worth it? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 08-15-2010, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a Comcast dvr STB and an HTPC. I could add a tuner card and switch to 7MC and I know I'll get a much better guide and dvr with more space.

It'd have to be an m-card tuner, so the cost will be $400 for the Ceton, or I'm guessing at least $250 for the upcoming HDHomerun. Plus the monthly cable bill. Since the dvr costs $15, it'd take 1-2 years to recover that. I would also lose on-demand which I'm starting to like.

Are these tuners future proof and worth investing in?
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-15-2010, 09:11 PM
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If it pays for itself and by paying for itself you get a htpc (eventually) and you dont have to pump money into a monopoly whose only interest is to further charge and screw you... but $400 up front just for the tuner is steep.
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post #3 of 8 Old 08-15-2010, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, this decision would be a lot easier with the older tv tuners, but cable card is costly.
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-16-2010, 01:26 AM
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if you have the money it pays for itself then do it. if you dont then wait. but each month you just dig your own grave the more you give to those damn telcos.
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post #5 of 8 Old 08-16-2010, 07:29 AM
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I wouldn't nec. look at it from the money savings perspective, cuz it will take quite a bit of time to break even and tech might move on by then.

Look at it from the perspective of will this improve my experience and is it worth paying for that improvement?

I would say try to find someone nearby that has one set up and see if you can play with it a bit to get a feel for if you think itll be worth it or not. For example losing on-demand definitely does suck a bit, but you also gain a lot in other areas such as better guide, networked content etc. depending upon how you set it up.
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-16-2010, 11:54 AM
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I'm definitely looking at it from a cost perspective. I currently have two S3 Tivos with two CableCARDs each, two standard STBs and one HD box. One of the Tivos has lifetime and the other is monthly with the Multi-service Discount (currently at $6.95 but slated to change to $9.95 monthly when the current 3-year commitment expires day after tomorrow).

I'm paying about $12 for the four CableCARDs (I'm still grandfathered in with the $2.99 FIOS rate), $20 for the threes STBs, and $7 for the Tivo service, for a grand total of roughly $39 per month. I can get rid of all of these items and pay only $3.99 for a single M-card, for a monthly difference of about $35. It would increase by another $3 if I decided to keep the 2nd Tivo on my account.

I just bought a Ceton CableCARD tuner and three Linksys DMA2200 media extenders (one new and two used) for a grand total of about $700, including shipping. At $35 per month I figure it would take me 20 months to recover my investment and start putting money back into my pocket. That's not a bad turnaround time considering how much I probably laid out for the Tivos and other TV-related costs over the years. I can probably recoup at least half of the money by selling the lifetime Tivo and probably another $150 or so for the 2nd one. I've had both Tivos for at least three years so I figure I've gotten my money's worth out of them.

Cost aside, having the ability to share programming and have everything consolidated in WMC is a huge plus for me and the family. If the media extenders don't cut it I have several small form-factor PCs (Dell Zino HD and an Acer Revo) that I will probably use in place of two of the extenders. This is in light of the recent news about CableLabs relaxing their requirement for sharing of tuners between PCs on a network. The individual PCs can share the tuners in the main HTPC without the need for an extender. The good news is that they'll also have access to my growing library of Blu-Rays and DVDs on my unRAID server.
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post #7 of 8 Old 08-16-2010, 02:57 PM
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The thing is can you really match the image quality. I have Tivo HD, and I send all my video through a DVDO Duo. So far at least the caliber of video coming out of an HD5450 just does not compare to what can be done with Tivo to the Duo. I run the Tivo in native so the scaler in the Duo can do all the deinterlacing and scaling. I know people on this thread are big on video out of PCs but I just don't get the same results out of TV from the PC. I will grant that blu-rays look okay, so it must be codecs somehow.

I am sure there must be some combination of settings that should match but it seems pretty difficult to match.

BTW the tuners are also pretty poor in general. I have a couple of HDHR and I give them a 6 on capability as tuners, the Tivo is an 8, a cheap Samsung set top box the DTB-H260F would be a 9.5.. The Sammy does a great job as tuner, too bad it won't send native resolutions because the scaling is kind of horrid. The Tivo finds and locks to station the Silicon Dust tuners give nothing black, the Sammy locks and find station that are only black on the Tivo HD.

I have a bunch of PC tuners around, and the flexibility they provide is nice, I just remain unconvinced with their signal grabbing abilities and getting the video quality out of them is also a question mark.

Just another blank signature.
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post #8 of 8 Old 08-17-2010, 05:14 AM
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PC tuners tend to vary in quality and the ability to tune in weak stations. I've tried numerous tuners over the years and settled on the HP USB tuners (rebadged Hauppauge 950Q's). They do as good a job as my S3 Tivos ever did. I just picked up a Ceton CableCARD tuner but I'm waiting for Verizon to come out and install the CableCARD on the 25th.

Comparing the video output of an HTPC vs. a Tivo going through a video processor isn't exactly a fair comparison. Try the output of the Tivo while bypassing the processor to do your comparison. I'm guessing you can't run the HTPC through the processor due to HDCP issues and such.
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