HTPC Tuner Recommendations - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-03-2011, 08:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi.

I am looking to add DVR funtionality to a HTPC (built with a i will be building. Basically i want to be able to record analog channels to the local HDD and watch them later. Currently i have Comcast HSI and i have those free Basic analog channels that connect via coax directly into your TV. I am also planning to add future digital and HD channels soon so i want to make sure that whatever card i buy will support this.

Anything you guys can recommend? I will be adding this into a pci-e slot with a Zacata AMD HDMI board.

Thanks
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-03-2011, 08:25 AM
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You could start at the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1250. That does both analog and digital. If you need more tuners, just go up from there.

If you are wanting to record encrypted digital channels, you are going to need something you can use cable card on. Whole different price range on those suckers, and you'll need to make sure you can rent a cable card from your provider.
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-03-2011, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TornadoTJ View Post

Whole different price range on those suckers, and you'll need to make sure you can rent a cable card from your provider.

I tried getting one from my cable company but they told me that i needed a new box (Comcast HD-DVR) to go with it. I've never subscribed with Comcast Cable before so i guess it's recommended if you don't currently have their service. All i have is internet business class.

Thanks for the info.
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-03-2011, 10:45 AM
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generally speaking, dont listen to the customer support folks at comcast, they don't have a clue what they are talking about, and will do anything to rent you one of their boxes.

If you want to start out now, I would suggest the Hauppage 2250, as it will record analog or digital, and do 2 channels at a time of either (2 digital, 2 analog, or 1 of each).
Without paying anything more than what you are paying now, you will likely get a handful (25-40 channels) in digital, mainly your local broadcast channels and public access channels. The local's will be in HD. This is called unencrypted QAM, or ClearQAM. To access all of the expanded digital content, you will need something along the line of a Ceton InfiniTV4 or ATI DCT. The Ceton card can tune 4 digitals at a time, the ATI can do 1. Neither of these do analog, however.

if your PC has the slots, there is nothing stopping you from getting the 2250 now, and adding the Ceton later, though.

"The satisfaction of a great price will be overshadowed by the bitterness of poor quality."

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post #5 of 10 Old 03-03-2011, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TornadoTJ View Post

You could start at the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1250. That does both analog and digital. If you need more tuners, just go up from there.

If you are wanting to record encrypted digital channels, you are going to need something you can use cable card on. Whole different price range on those suckers, and you'll need to make sure you can rent a cable card from your provider.

The 1250 is SOFTWARE encoded, not good for video quality. Hardware encoders look much better even though analog signal isn't so great to begin with. IMHO the "combo tuners" (one digital one analog per card) offer the best value for cable users unless you can get a 2250 at a reasonable price.

Edited to add: Dad-gum those combo tuners have really shot up in price, they are only about $20 cheaper than a 2250.
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-03-2011, 04:09 PM
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-03-2011, 05:11 PM
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The OP said: "I am also planning to add future digital and HD channels soon so i want to make sure that whatever card i buy will support this. "

Just to be absolutely clear, none of the cards recommended, i.e. the 1250, 2250, HD Homerun, EXCEPT for the Ceton card, will meet this demand. With Comcast, to get anything but the most basic package (which is normally the local channels + C-SPAN + Home Shopping), you need a cable card device. If you are planning on upgrading your cable package to anything but the free/basic basic cable that comes with internet, you will need a cable box or cable card device in order to view the content (such as expanded channels, and non-local HD channels, and premium channels). If you want to get that content on your PC, and you know for a fact you are going to upgrade your cable package, I would not waste my time or money with any of the suggested non-cable card tuner cards suggested above. (If you don't plan on upgrading, then you don't need a cable card, and can use any of those suggested card, and get like 20 local, basic basic channels for 'free')

Your options:

1) Buy the Ceton InfiniTV. It is a bit steep in initial cost, but it has 4 tuners, which means you can record up to 4 channels at the same time, or watch a channel and record 3 more, or share tuners with extenders.

2) Buy a used ATI DCT. This is a discontinued cable card tuner that has a single tuner. You can only find it second hand. There are internal and external versions.

3) Wait a few months and see if and when the announced Silicon Dust HDHomerun Prime is released. It has 3 tuners, and is an external networked device.

4) Get an HD cable box from Comcast, and get a capture device, like the Hauppauge HD-PVR. The older external box only has component or s-video connections, while a newly announced "colossus" is an internal card and supposedly does capture over HDMI. You need to attach a little IR sensor running from the card to the cable box IR eye in order to get your PC to change channels. IR Blaster is what it's called.

Also 1-3 require you to rent a cable card from Comcast (but not a cable box), and vice versa for 4. Cable cards are cheaper to rent than cable boxes.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-03-2011, 05:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zryder View Post

generally speaking, dont listen to the customer support folks at comcast, they don't have a clue what they are talking about, and will do anything to rent you one of their boxes.


I called time warner and they told me the same thing. You can get a cable card but regardless you still have to rent at least one box to get the channels.

Which to me sounded like bs but I figured that was the policy.

Can anyone confirm getting a cable card from TW without any boxes.
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-04-2011, 08:05 AM
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Oops, I didn't mean to pick the software encoder version. The 2250 is the way to go.

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Originally Posted by Cool Face View Post

hd homerun? dual input version

That's what I have, but he said he wants to do analog also. HD Homerun won't do analog at all.
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-05-2011, 07:41 AM
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I think for a modest price he can buy the 2250 now and begin to dabble in the HTPC/PVR world as he clearly would like to begin learning. Once he masters all of what it can do (and whether he gets ClearQAM (HD) channels on the cable) he'll see what it can do and decide on future upgrades in the future, and as products emerge into the market...
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