Basic HTPC Question - Watching Cable Channels - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-09-2012, 09:46 AM - Thread Starter
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For a while now, I've been intrigued at the idea of pulling in all my available media into a single TV watching experience. I've looked at various media streaming boxes like Roku, WD Live, Apple TV, etc. But with those, I would have to switch between my cable box and that device.

Then I discovered the Logitech Revue. It looked awesome because I would be able to plug my cable box output into it, and then be able to browse and watch cable channels (even DVR recordings) from the same interface as everything else. Then I found out that Logitech is discontinuing the Revue, and Best Buy is no longer selling them. I'm sure I can find one online, but I don't know that I want to buy a discontinued device.

So that brings me back to the idea of an HTPC. I'd like to be able to watch the following, all without having to change TV inputs:

- Watch cable TV (I currently have an HD DVR cable box)
- Browse the cable TV guide (I hate my current cable guide, it's ugly and clunky)
- Record / playback cable TV (DVR functionality)
- Stream Netflix
- Stream Hulu
- Stream video files
- Rip DVDs to storage for playback
- Listen to MP3s (from network drive)
- Browse the internet (nice to have, but not necessary)

The first three items are where my questions are, because I know an HTPC with XBMC can do the rest. I've searched HTPC forums and guides, but can't seem to find answers to the following questions:

1. Is it possible to connect cable TV to (and watch TV through) an HTPC?
2. Is it possible to view the cable guide using an HTPC?
3. Is it possible to setup recording of shows using an HTPC?
4. If all of the above is true, can an HTPC be built to work regardless of cable provider? (I'm thinking of possibly switching to DirecTV in the near future)

Thanks!
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-09-2012, 10:01 AM
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you can set up a pc as a DVR one of two ways - by using ota or cable tuners (preferable) or using a capture device.

when using tuners, your computer IS your cable box. the tuner is the piece of pc hardware that actually accepts the cable company's signal and allows you to view it and record it. with a device like the Ceton Infinitv4 you can record up to four programs at once and not need to rent any cable box or pay for dvr service.

A capture device requires you to continue using the cable/satellite company's box. In that situation, it is more like the Logitech Revue but with the ability to record. Your computer will have to output ir signals like the Revue does to change channels on the box. If you go to satellite this is your only option.

The DVR software of choice for a lot of posters here is Windows Media Center. It is the only way to use a cable tuner with premium channels like ESPN, Discovery, and HBO.

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post #3 of 6 Old 01-09-2012, 10:25 AM
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You can get a Hauppauge cablecard tuner or Ceton, the Hauppauge is less than half the cost and supports 2 recordings at the same time like an older DVR. If youve never cared about recording more than 2 shows at the same time then get the Hauppauge since its MUCH cheaper. Cablecard tuners dont work with satellite.

You'll be able to drop the expensive cable box, cable cards usually have no subscription fee, if they do its very low. Your cablecard tuner will pay for itself in no time. You wont lose any remote functions, WMC supports everything you can imagine from a WMC remote or Logitech Harmony.

The only downside is Cable Cards are one-way only which means you cant do on demand or anything that requires sending a request to the cable company.

This is the interface youll use for TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azO1tO919I8

I think you will find it just a bit better than the cable provided one from 1998...
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-09-2012, 02:04 PM
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Given the requirement for Cable TV, I would agree that a CableCARD tuner is the way to go, like our 4-tuner Ceton InfiniTV

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post #5 of 6 Old 01-09-2012, 03:02 PM
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Like the Ceton, the Silicon Dust HDHomerun Prime accepts a CableCard and allows you to use the Windows Media Center to watch TV and to function as a DVR. It only has 3 tuners (for watching and recording multiple shows simultaneously) compared to 4 but is a little cheaper than the Ceton. It is a standalone device in your network and can be seen by other HTPC's or extenders (ie XBox) without depending on the on/off state of your primary HTPC. Either way, you can't go wrong.

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post #6 of 6 Old 01-24-2012, 11:26 AM
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Are there any internal CableCard tuners aside from the Ceton? I don't need four tuners; two would be plenty.
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