The differences in the approach between Silicon Dust and Ceton is essentially a software design approach assuming the Prime cablecard devices works like the HomeRuns do. While I have the Ceton and feel it is a very good tool there is much to be said for the Silicon Dust approach to the software. Sadly, the hardware designs compromises for each don't make any sense from the customer perspectrive.
The customer ideally only wants to use one cablecard. 4 tuners without dynamic tuner allocation is a mismatch just as 3 tuners with dynamic is a mismatch for most folks. Four tuner is enough for all but the most demanding situation if you have dynamic allocation. 6 tuner solutions that require two cablecards is not an economic approach. 4 tuners would easily be enough for most folks if they were assigned on a first come, first serve basis dynaically.
Because TV Signal Setup in Media Center is so tedious you don't want to do it very often, that is the beauty of the SiliconDust software design and the weakness of the Ceton Network Tuner software. With the SiliocnDust approach you set the PC up so that TV Signal Setup thinks all the tuners are available all the time. When you are running at a particular TV you only run out of tuners when they are all acutally in use. With the Ceton you can have no access to a tuner at all even though none are being used anywhere in your Home Group.
On the Ceton a simple thing like the PC with the Ceton 4 being powered off while a Client PC has a tuner being accessed and you break TV Signal Setup. Think UPS here and don't down the PC hosting the Ceton card without cruising your house to make sure one PC somewhere doesn't have Media Center minimized with a tuner tuned.
I have run the TV Signal Setup with the Ceton many times, too many times in fact. 4 tuners one cablecard and dynamic allocation is from a practical point of view the way to go. That combo would be cost effective to buy, cost effective to operate and would provide sufficient tuner access for quite a number of PCs and WMC extenders. Unfortunately that is not a product combination we get to choose.
Life is much better than it was before Ceton and SiliconDust put their products in the market but each strategy is slightly flawed. 3 tuners even with dynamic allocation is not enough. A 6 tuner Silicondust solution would almost be an embarrasment of riches. Realistically, with 6 tuners dynamically allocated, you would really never run out of tuners. Too bad it costs Comcast users a hundred dollars a year to rent the second cablecard required to drive the tuners 4,5 and 6.
Most of the time you will never have tuners 5 and 6 doing anything in a dynamically assigned environment unless you're providing cable television to a dormitory.
With the Ceton 4 tuners is not enough to handle every TV or PC I have in the house that are frequently used a 4 tuner SiliconDust would though...
So if those 4 tuners were dynamically allocated I would be hard pressed to ever run out of tuners. I do have an HD Homerun feeding ATSC from the roof. The Homerun helps so I am can better take advantage of the 4 statically assigned cablecard tuners. Still with a Ceton 4 and an HD Homerun providing the locals I have to have two Extenders in places I would prefer PCs and my wife's PC does not have access to a cablecard tuner at all. All this gear and it's not enough, crazy really.
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