CableCard tuner - which one to buy? - AVS Forum
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Old 02-12-2012, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Since Internet research can only get you so far, looking for advice from the crowd here..

Not ready to quite go the full HTPC route (especially since I already have a nice reliable desktop - Dell XPS, quad core processor, 9 GB of RAM), but looking to make better use of my PC to record and watch/archive shows, mostly sports events, been doing that for years on a DVD recorder, but of course SD just doesn't cut it anymore. I have a Hauppauge HD PVR which is awesome, but of course that's limited to whatever my cable box puts out, and obviously that limits what I can watch while I'm recording. So I'm ready for an upgrade, especially now that my holiday bonus at work finally kicked in.

I watch/record a ton of sports, so multiple tuners are a must, especially for something like the NCAA Tournament, and then over the summer for the Olympics where I'm totally the guy trying to watch everything at once. I experimented with an internal QAM card with little success although I do have a USB stick, even though I don't even get all the locals on that.

I've looked at HDHomeRun, Ceton, and the Hauppauge CC tuner. Which one(s) should I get? Ideally, I'd like to have a minimum of 4 tuners for busy sports days, even if that means mixing and matching tuners. Plus I have an Xbox 360 that I'd love to set up with a TV in another room and/or ditching my cable box altogether.

Also, somewhat related.. 1 of my favorite features of TME with the HD PVR is that I can set the bit rate on recordings, useful since I burn a lot of stuff to disc, especially now that blank BD-R's are getting more and more inexpensive. Can that be done in Windows Media Center? Or is there another add-on program where I can set the bit rate, even if that drive me to 1 of the tuners or another?

Thanks in advance for the advice. Sorry for being a little long-winded.. brevity is not 1 of my strong points.

This is television. It has nothing to do with people, it's to do with ratings! For fifty years, we've told them what to eat, what to drink, what to wear. So what do we do? We give 'em what they want!
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:22 PM
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I got the Ceton PCIe and am pretty happy with it. Right now I'm suffering through a clean install of Windows 7, but prior to this I installed it and it worked great using media center and my 360 as the extender. To be fair, I think I'm having more problems than most because of ALL the video cards in the market, I happen to have the 8800GTS which apparently doesn't play nice with the Ceton. I vote for Ceton.
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Old 02-13-2012, 12:53 AM
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I would vote for the Ceton InfiniTV, but I'm a bit biased...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike7143 View Post

I got the Ceton PCIe and am pretty happy with it. Right now I'm suffering through a clean install of Windows 7, but prior to this I installed it and it worked great using media center and my 360 as the extender. To be fair, I think I'm having more problems than most because of ALL the video cards in the market, I happen to have the 8800GTS which apparently doesn't play nice with the Ceton. I vote for Ceton.

To clarify, video card problems would happen with any CableCARD tuner.

Quality Assurance Manager, Ceton Corporation
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Old 02-13-2012, 01:10 AM
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I think this more depend on your setup. I've heard good stuff on both Hauppe and HDHomerun.

There is a HDHomerun that has six tuners. It requires two cablecards. The HDHR3Cc only requires one, but only has three tuners. I like the HDHomerun because it's basically a network attached tuner. Thus, if you don't have extra slots or space in your PC, it becomes a none issue. That said, the HDHR can sometime not play nice if you have a wireless connection in your setup. Being wired definitely makes things a lot nicer. I've heard the newer HDHR3 or HDHR6 aren't quite as bad with signal fluctuations.

Hauppe does have a four tuner card. Only requires one cablecable. This means you'll need either have the machine on 24/7 or make sure it wakes for recordings, or to access shows when using an extender. I've read people having problems with it. I had an issue with the HDHR2 and my PC not waking to record, so it's just not Hauppe.

The other thing to note, if you use Media Center, the default limit of tuners is four. I've heard there is a hack to expand beyond that, but I don't know it myself. I only have two, so I didn't need to know it.

And since you're into watching multiple games at the same time, Media Center does not have any Picture In Picture functions. HDhomerun's QuickTV can be setup to do multiple instances using one tuner for each. I haven't read of any hacks for Media Center on this. I'm not sure if any live/pvr programs all this. I've read EyeTV on OSX can do picture and picture.
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Old 02-13-2012, 04:14 AM
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[quote=erickotz;21637415]I would vote for the Ceton InfiniTV, but I'm a bit biased...



To clarify, video card problems would happen with any CableCARD tuner.
QUOTE]

+ 1 ... 100% true

@ the op ...

I would go with the ceton pci - x card . I have one and it works great . Set up is not bad at all IF you follow the instructions to the T . Also know that this card needs a hot cable single . -12 db to +12 db and performs very well at as close to -0 db as possible.

My issues with the set up were self inflicted by not following the directions for the card AND Windows Media Center . Also had a piss poor cable signal.

I would also like to say that the Ceton support staff ( Eric too !) helped me 100% of the way even when the issues did not belong to them and even offered to step in with my cable co. if needed to help get me squared away .

That alone is worth the price of admission
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Old 02-13-2012, 04:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike7143 View Post

I got the Ceton PCIe and am pretty happy with it. Right now I'm suffering through a clean install of Windows 7, but prior to this I installed it and it worked great using media center and my 360 as the extender. To be fair, I think I'm having more problems than most because of ALL the video cards in the market, I happen to have the 8800GTS which apparently doesn't play nice with the Ceton. I vote for Ceton.

No offense but I have that vid card in my every day pc and would not use it in a htpc . That card is at least three years old . Great card in the day though !
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Old 02-13-2012, 07:22 AM
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I just wanted to clarify on the 88900GTS video card. No offense is taken. I realize it's an older card. The desktop my Ceton is in is about 3+ years old. I didn't think when I bought the ceton that of all the cards out there, the 8800GTS has issues with the ceton. The PCI-e card WILL work with the 8800GTS, but not fully. I could never get premium channels (HBO) to play well on the PC. They worked fine on the extender though.

Bla Bla Bla, I'm sure the OP doesn't have an 8800GTS so it's a moot point. I recommend the Ceton PCI-e. If you're good with the specs on it and it's capabilities, I'd recommend it. Also, it'll run just fine on a 3+ year old system! Intel 2.6GHz dual, 4GB ram, 8800GTS.
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Old 02-13-2012, 07:53 AM
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I've got two InfiniTV 4's in my HTPC. 'nuff said.
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Old 02-13-2012, 08:56 AM
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Another happy InfiniTV4 customer...
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flocko View Post

No offense but I have that vid card in my every day pc and would not use it in a htpc . That card is at least three years old . Great card in the day though !

You don't need the latest and the fastest to get HTPC to work properly. Getting the most up-to-date gaming card is an overkill, since HTPC will not even use 10% of the card's capability.

I have been using the onboard Radeon 4250 for a few years, and quite sucessfully. It does what it is intended to do in a "Whole house DVR"


I also vote for Ceton, have had the InfiniTV4 since August of 2010.

Also, if you really want 6 tuners, but don't want to pay to rent 2 CableCards, wait a little bit, Ceton is going to release the hexa-tuner InfiniTV6 pretty soon...

Also, if I am not mistaken, to show appreciation to the early adopters of InfiniTV4, Ceton is going to send them InfiniTV6 for free! Right, Erik? ha ha ha I know, wishful thinking... But, if you think it, they will come, right?

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:31 AM
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I think either the Ceton or HDHRP would work for you. As someone who also archives sports (and the reason I got an HDHRP), you may want to investigate how your cable company flags channels, i.e. copy-once or copy-freely. I'm fortunate in that Verizon leaves virtually all of them copy freely, so there is no problem editing/archiving or watching from a different PC. If you're unlucky enough to have a provider that marks things "copy once" then you're much more limited.

You can use your XBox as a media extender which will help with the live viewing, but not with potential archiving.
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Old 02-13-2012, 02:39 PM
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I got a HDHomrerun Prime last week and aside from my problems with Comcast, it installed and worked great for me from the get go.

I looked at the Ceton, but prefer the external approach of the Prime.
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Old 02-13-2012, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

You don't need the latest and the fastest to get HTPC to work properly. Getting the most up-to-date gaming card is an overkill, since HTPC will not even use 10% of the card's capability.

I have been using the onboard Radeon 4250 for a few years, and quite sucessfully. It does what it is intended to do in a "Whole house DVR"


I also vote for Ceton, have had the InfiniTV4 since August of 2010.

Also, if you really want 6 tuners, but don't want to pay to rent 2 CableCards, wait a little bit, Ceton is going to release the hexa-tuner InfiniTV6 pretty soon...

Also, if I am not mistaken, to show appreciation to the early adopters of InfiniTV4, Ceton is going to send them InfiniTV6 for free! Right, Erik? ha ha ha I know, wishful thinking... But, if you think it, they will come, right?

You missed the *. It was Free* with the *saying shipping and handling changes of $699.95 apply

Quality Assurance Manager, Ceton Corporation
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses. Definitely leaning towards Ceton and I love the fact that Time Warner has their support line phone number and a link to their website on their web page. Hopefully I have more luck this time with PCIe cards than I did the last time. A couple more questions though..

I know the limit for tuners with Windows is 4 (and yes, I know I can get around that), but is that only 4 per type? So if I have my USB stick to pull in QAM channels, does that limit me to only 3 from Ceton or would I be able to get all 5? Aside from that, if I decided to add another device like an HDHomeRun on top of that (assuming I up the number of available tuners), will that work to use, say, HDHR and Ceton in the same computer if I set up Media Center properly or is that a catastrophe waiting to happen that would never work?

I asked this before, but it got a little buried in that first long post.. my priority is more recording/archiving than it is just watching. Is there a way (either through Media Center or another add-on program) where I can set the bit rate/quality of a recording if I know exactly what I'm looking for?

This is television. It has nothing to do with people, it's to do with ratings! For fifty years, we've told them what to eat, what to drink, what to wear. So what do we do? We give 'em what they want!
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erickotz View Post

You missed the *. It was Free* with the *saying shipping and handling changes of $699.95 apply

ha ha ha, we are not on ebay... I don't see it anymore, but people use to sell stuff for a $1 and charge $200 in shipping.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quaker2001 View Post

Thanks for the responses. Definitely leaning towards Ceton and I love the fact that Time Warner has their support line phone number and a link to their website on their web page. Hopefully I have more luck this time with PCIe cards than I did the last time. A couple more questions though..

I know the limit for tuners with Windows is 4 (and yes, I know I can get around that), but is that only 4 per type? So if I have my USB stick to pull in QAM channels, does that limit me to only 3 from Ceton or would I be able to get all 5? Aside from that, if I decided to add another device like an HDHomeRun on top of that (assuming I up the number of available tuners), will that work to use, say, HDHR and Ceton in the same computer if I set up Media Center properly or is that a catastrophe waiting to happen that would never work?

I asked this before, but it got a little buried in that first long post.. my priority is more recording/archiving than it is just watching. Is there a way (either through Media Center or another add-on program) where I can set the bit rate/quality of a recording if I know exactly what I'm looking for?

Yes, you can use all 8. First off, the Clear QAM tuners are not going to max out your CableCard tuners. I have a Ceton InfiniTV4 and 4x USB Clear QAM tuners.

Plus, when you install Ceton drivers, it will increase the tuner support to 32 or something ridiculous like that.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:17 AM
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The SiliconDust HD HomeRun Prime is currently on sale for $169 at J&R Music via either Amazon or Buy.com with free shipping.

http://slickdeals.net/
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:33 AM
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As others have stated, the limit is per tuner type, and not total tuners. Furthermore, our current software release ups the limit to something completely unreasonable.

Quality Assurance Manager, Ceton Corporation
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quaker2001 View Post

I asked this before, but it got a little buried in that first long post.. my priority is more recording/archiving than it is just watching. Is there a way (either through Media Center or another add-on program) where I can set the bit rate/quality of a recording if I know exactly what I'm looking for?

CableCARD tuners just take the signal (which is already compressed) off the wire and put it in your PC. No CableCARD tuner (whether ours, SD, ATI, or Hauppauge) does any sort of re-compression, so no.
If your content is copy freely, you can re-compress it after it's on your disk.

Quality Assurance Manager, Ceton Corporation
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Old 02-14-2012, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

The SiliconDust HD HomeRun Prime is currently on sale for $169 at J&R Music via either Amazon or Buy.com with free shipping.

http://slickdeals.net/

Thanks, just bought one. I already owned the OTA Silicon Dust and it was awesome. Just moved and have Verizon FIOS and the cable box is terrible so I'm really looking forward to the cable card version of this tuner.
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Old 02-14-2012, 12:25 PM
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I have been using the HDHRP for the last few days and have been plagued by the VoLC errors and no tuners available errors, but only after trying to use the HDHRP on two different Media Center PC's. This problem caused me to miss 2 sporting events over the weekend that I was really wanting to see. For this reason I have a Ceton InfiniTV 4 (PCI-express version) being delivered today, I hope it's more stable. It was disappointing because the original HDHR was flawless for me.
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Old 02-14-2012, 12:51 PM
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I also picked one up when I saw the ad. I've currently got two InfiniTV 4's in my main HTPC, but most of the tuners are sitting idle. I was planning to configure them for use with other PCs using the tuner sharing wizard, but I'm hesitant to have the other PCs dependent on the health of the primary HTPC.

I dumped all of my extenders because the family was constantly griping if the main PC rebooted or had a hiccup of some kind. I like the idea of having the tuners available on an as neeeded basis rather than having them locked into a fixed configuration.

My Cetons have been rock solid since I bought them. I've got one of the original units that was shipped out in the initial batch from the production line. I bought the 2nd one about four months ago when they had the first price drop. The 2nd unit is of the latest design. I'm hoping I have the same luck with the HDHR Prime as I have with the Cetons.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlerm View Post

I have been using the HDHRP for the last few days and have been plagued by the VoLC errors and no tuners available errors, but only after trying to use the HDHRP on two different Media Center PC's. This problem caused me to miss 2 sporting events over the weekend that I was really wanting to see. For this reason I have a Ceton InfiniTV 4 (PCI-express version) being delivered today, I hope it's more stable. It was disappointing because the original HDHR was flawless for me.

Could be an issue with the Prime changing IP addresses and WMC not realizing it. Try reserving an IP address for the Prime so it never changes.
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:57 PM
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Some more info: I am using the 20120128 download for the HDHRP. I can tune and watch any subscribed channel using the QuickTV app, and when I do then the video in MCE starts working. When I close QuickTV then video playback stops in MCE and I get a VoLC error. I get the same results on 2 different Win7 64-bit MCE machines. I installed and activated the Ceton card last night and so far it has been working fine.
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:53 PM
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Really wish the Ceton card would drop in price again. I was mulling over building a htpc over the holidays and now that I'm all in I keep hoping it'll drop back down to $219. You snooze you lose...
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:13 PM
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I just received my SD HDHR Prime today and ran through the installation on both my primary HTPC and a Dell Zino HD that I had connected to my family room TV. I pulled one of my InfiniTV 4's from the main PC and used the cablecard in the HDHR. I had to get it reactivated over the phone in order for it to work with the HDHR Prime as it had a different Host ID and Data ID from the InfiniTV 4 it was pulled from.

I had initially done a self-install on the Ceton and I still had all the instructions that came with the card to set it up. I tried reactivating it via the website but it kicked it back and told me to call a toll-free number for Verizon support. There was a different phone number supplied with the original setup instructions so I used that one instead. I had to get the new Host ID and Data ID from the WMC cablecard setup screen and punch in the numbers over the phone, but it was quick and easy to do and I was up and running in no time.

Since I already had one InfiniTV 4 in my primary PC I had been using Tuner Salad to increase the tuner limit to 12. Apparently, when I removed the 2nd InfiniTV 4 and reran Media Center TV signal setup it defaulted back to the original 4-tuner limit. WMC indicated that it found four tuners but added a note saying it found three others but couldn't use them because it exceeded the 4-tuner limit. I canceled the TV setup and reran Tuner Salad and was then able to get WMC to use all 7 cablecard tuners.

One thing I did when running the SD HDHR setup was to specify Windows Media Player as my preview player. Although I haven't had much time to test the tuners and how well they work in WMC, I didn't get any errors when playing live TV. I'll try some recordings on the Zino and see how it goes.
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troylane View Post

Really wish the Ceton card would drop in price again. I was mulling over building a htpc over the holidays and now that I'm all in I keep hoping it'll drop back down to $219. You snooze you lose...

But the HDHR Prime at $170 is a great deal, not sure why you wouldn't consider that. I've been running one for a couple of months now and it's been rock-solid.
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Old 02-16-2012, 06:29 AM
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I have been running a HDHR3-CC for about a week with the latest F/W. For a typical home, three tuners seems to be enough.
I had some HDCP address lease issues; tweak the router and all is happy now. Wife is currently beating the $hit out of it with her demanding DVR fetish.
I did try a Hauppaug 2650; it was a little to buggy for the wife. I really didn't work hard to resolve the bugs; before grabbing the HDHR.

Hauppauge 2250 (OTA)
Silicondust HDHR3-CC via FiOS

Two HTPC's under the roof.
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:57 AM
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... Time Warner has their support line phone number ...

If you have Time Warner, you may run into issues archiving your shows. From what I've read, they copy-protect just about everything.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

But the HDHR Prime at $170 is a great deal, not sure why you wouldn't consider that. I've been running one for a couple of months now and it's been rock-solid.

I haven't had a chance to fully evaluate mine yet since I just installed it last night, but I had no problems setting it up and getting it working. Someone asked me why I had to get it reactivated on FIOS since they don't pair their cablecards with a given device. I'm still a bit fuzzy on the subject of pairing but I thought it needed to be reactivated when it displayed different Host and Data IDs during the cablecard setup in WMC. When I called the toll-free number and entered my activation code and zip I was presented with the option to reactivate the card with another device, which is exactly what I was trying to do. I punched in the new Data and Host IDs on the phone and was up and running in no time.

I love my Cetons but was a bit leary about permanently assigning a tuner to another PC. I only have two PCs that use cablecard tuners at the moment, but I'm hoping to expand that at some point and eliminate both my S3 Tivo and a HD box that I'm renting from Verizon. It's mostly going to boil down to convincing the wife to use it, which won't be easy.

I use all four tuners in the current InfiniTV 4 on a regular basis so I wasn't about to give one of them up. I bought a 2nd InfiniTV 4 when they went on sale for $219 at Newegg a while back, but I doubt if more than a single tuner was being used by my main HTPC. My one fear is that if I assign one or more tuners to other PCs I'd run into a situation where I'd need them on my HTPC and would come up short. My other concern is having all tuners physically located in one PC. I ran into the issue of having the main HTPC go down regularly when I was using extenders and it ended up souring the family on the concept. With the HDHR I can at least maintain a TV feed to the rest of the house. It also gives me access to one or more extra tuners should the situation ever call for it.

However, for a single HTPC, my solid recommendation would be for the Ceton InfiniTV 4. Outstanding product with excellent support.
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