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post #1 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Alright, I'm currently running a Windows 7 based HTPC which has the specs of a decent sandy bridge based gaming rig. I recently got Comcast cable(Digital Preferred) and have the standard set top box with no DVR since I don't feel like paying $16/mo. The set top box is running via HDMI to my receiver and optical for audio, however that's a limitation of my receiver not being able to handle audio through HDMI. I currently own a PVR-500 and a Fusion HDTV 5 Gold which is installed but I've only used them for OTA signals and never cable.

I'm curious to see if I would need a better card to pick up the signal from the Comcast box. The Comcast box also has the standard coax out but I've been reading a lot about the encrypted signals from a lot of the cable providers and the PVR-500 I believe can only handle 125ish channels according to the white paper. I've been seeing a lot of talk about the Elgato, hauppauge colossus, and the Ceton InfiniTV 4. I have no problem spending around $200 for some of those types of solutions if it means I can use my HTPC as a full DVR with no channel restrictions because of encryption, but most of the articles I see are from people who are trying to bypass the cable box as well. What would you guys/gals recommend?
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post #2 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 10:45 AM
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you have two main options

1) use a "capture device". In this case, you will still have a cable box provided by comcast. you will take component from the cable box to the capture device.
-Benefits: no DRM on anything. You can freely copy and modify your recordings. You will also retain your ability to watch on demand programming and will have a "backup" device if your PC were to go down.
-Downsides: WMC was not designed with capture devices in mind so it requires some tweaking to make it work. Also, you will need to use IR blasters so your htpc is able to change the channels on the cable box.

2) use a cablecard tuner. the coax would go right from the wall into your pc. the computer then acts as the cable box.
-Benefits: no box rental fees. likely no HD technology fee. no chance of IR blasters getting confused about what channel is actually on.
-Downsides: DRM. comcast isn't very bad in this regard, but your premium movie channels will be locked down. You will still be able to watch and record them, but not to manipulate the recording to say, convert it into a mobile friendly mp4 file. PC based tuners seem to be more sensitive to signal quality than the box you would rent from comcast.

I use a cablecard tuner and am very happy with its performance.

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post #3 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 10:54 AM
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post #4 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 11:20 AM
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My local Comcast office (Fort Lauderdale, FL) has recently started marking anything not from the basic local channels as copy once for me. So they seem to be going that route.
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post #5 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

2) use a cablecard tuner. the coax would go right from the wall into your pc. the computer then acts as the cable box.
-Benefits: no box rental fees. likely no HD technology fee. no chance of IR blasters getting confused about what channel is actually on.
-Downsides: DRM. comcast isn't very bad in this regard, but your premium movie channels will be locked down. You will still be able to watch and record them, but not to manipulate the recording to say, convert it into a mobile friendly mp4 file. PC based tuners seem to be more sensitive to signal quality than the box you would rent from comcast..

Also to add an additional point, if you intend to archive shows on premium channels you will lose the ability to watch them if you upgrade your PC due to the DRM tying the recording to the box that made it.
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post #6 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 11:39 AM
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Yeah, it's pretty muscle locked down. I'm suprised somebody hasn't added this to MakeMKV or Clown by now.

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post #7 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so for editing and being able to archive, would a tuner like the Colossus be the best bet? It's an HDMI tuner which I like the idea of mainly for quality, but I know a lot of people are using the cable card setups. The issue with that is that Comcast would have to come out and set it up(although I hear you can fight it and get the card if you want to go through that) and the whole "copy once" that I've been reading about. And since I mainly use my HTPC as shares for remote PCs and XBMC or Explorer for local usage, that might cause an issue.

EDIT: I'll also add that I don't mind the whole having to use the Comcast box since it's not all that intrusive within my media center, I just want to be able to record what I want with the least amount of limitations or channels being blocked for BS reasons.
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post #8 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerberus2k7 View Post

Ok, so for editing and being able to archive, would a tuner like the Colossus be the best bet? It's an HDMI tuner which I like the idea of mainly for quality, but I know a lot of people are using the cable card setups. The issue with that is that Comcast would have to come out and set it up(although I hear you can fight it and get the card if you want to go through that) and the whole "copy once" that I've been reading about. And since I mainly use my HTPC as shares for remote PCs and XBMC or Explorer for local usage, that might cause an issue.

HDMI connections are tied up in DRM too. If the channel has copy protection on it, I am pretty sure it will require HDCP (the HDMI DRM). The Colossus will not work like that and you will have to use component cables.

Cable companies by law have to let you self install cable cards now.

If you intend to share with other computers you could very likely have problems. Ghost Lobster is a user that has a good set up like that, using a Hauppauge capture device.

My HTPC front end set up
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post #9 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

HDMI connections are tied up in DRM too. If the channel has copy protection on it, I am pretty sure it will require HDCP (the HDMI DRM). The Colossus will not work like that and you will have to use component cables.

Cable companies by law have to let you self install cable cards now.

If you intend to share with other computers you could very likely have problems. Ghost Lobster is a user that has a good set up like that, using a Hauppauge capture device.

That's why the Colossus uses component video and optical. Get excellent 1080i and DD5.1 which is all you can get from your cable or satellite box anyhow, without DRM hassles.

But that's a totally different device than a cablecard tuner. While a lot of people use the IR Blaster to change channels, it's not really a tuner. Think of it more the way you used to use your VCR to record shows. But as a capture device it's outstanding. The quality of captures is visually equal to the original cable or satellite signal, in my view.
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post #10 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerberus2k7 View Post

Ok, so for editing and being able to archive, would a tuner like the Colossus be the best bet? It's an HDMI tuner which I like the idea of mainly for quality, but I know a lot of people are using the cable card setups. The issue with that is that Comcast would have to come out and set it up(although I hear you can fight it and get the card if you want to go through that) and the whole "copy once" that I've been reading about. And since I mainly use my HTPC as shares for remote PCs and XBMC or Explorer for local usage, that might cause an issue.

EDIT: I'll also add that I don't mind the whole having to use the Comcast box since it's not all that intrusive within my media center, I just want to be able to record what I want with the least amount of limitations or channels being blocked for BS reasons.

As mentioned the colossus is a no go through HDMI to protected channels, though the component quality is just fine.

I actually use a hybrid setup with a ceton tuner for all non-protected channels and two colossi (with dvblink for colossus) for protected content.

Colossus set up in general is fairly technical so i would avoid it if you are not great with computers. Additionally using more reliable channel changing methods (i.e. firestb) takes additional technical understanding and ties you to 32bit OS as a 64bit driver is not available.

Setting up a mixed solution with ceton and colossus is even more of a pain (i.e. you have to manually edit the guides of both so that you don't have your channel line up repeated twice in your guide).

Both options are feasible but the capture approach is more expensive/kludgy at the benefit of having complete control of the files.
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post #11 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

HDMI connections are tied up in DRM too. If the channel has copy protection on it, I am pretty sure it will require HDCP (the HDMI DRM). The Colossus will not work like that and you will have to use component cables.

Cable companies by law have to let you self install cable cards now.

If you intend to share with other computers you could very likely have problems. Ghost Lobster is a user that has a good set up like that, using a Hauppauge capture device.

Tell that to Charter, wouldya! They call it a truck roll to remove the trap from the line on a new install but it is only $10. If you have CATV already, then yes they have to let you self-install.

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post #12 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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And to add more stuff into the fray as I like to weigh all my options, what do you think about the SiliconDust HDHR3-CC HDHomeRun PRIME CableCARD? Or do all cablecard devices suffer from the same DRM limitation? And is the limitation only for premium movie channels, or does it affect stuff like Discovery HD?
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post #13 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerberus2k7 View Post

And to add more stuff into the fray as I like to weigh all my options, what do you think about the SiliconDust HDHR3-CC HDHomeRun PRIME CableCARD? Or do all cablecard devices suffer from the same DRM limitation? And is the limitation only for premium movie channels, or does it affect stuff like Discovery HD?

All cablecard tuners have to behave the same way. The DRM is set by the cable company and they have to abide by it.

There is no consistent standard on it.

Many cable companies DRM everything that isn't a local channel.

Fios doesn't DRM anything.

Comcast changes from market to market. In Pittsburgh where I am it seems to only be movie channels.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
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post #14 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

All cablecard tuners have to behave the same way. The DRM is set by the cable company and they have to abide by it.

There is no consistent standard on it.

Many cable companies DRM everything that isn't a local channel.

Fios doesn't DRM anything.

Comcast changes from market to market. In Pittsburgh where I am it seems to only be movie channels.

I think fios does the premiums too (only), no?
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post #15 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 01:19 PM
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Colossus set up in general is fairly technical so i would avoid it if you are not great with computers. Additionally using more reliable channel changing methods (i.e. firestb) takes additional technical understanding and ties you to 32bit OS as a 64bit driver is not available.

I don't think it's difficult if you're not trying to set it up to control the change of channels. If you are just using it to record using Showbiz, I've found it to be pretty straightforward.

Personally I use it to record from a DirecTV DVR.
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post #16 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't think it's difficult if you're not trying to set it up to control the change of channels. If you are just using it to record using Showbiz, I've found it to be pretty straightforward.

Personally I use it to record from a DirecTV DVR.

I'm kinda thinking that this would be the main type of usage. My HTPC is mainly controlled via KB/mouse since I do use it for gaming and VMs. But if the Colossus doesn't play well via HDMI, what would you guys suggest for a tuner card instead? I'm running a Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 so I have 3 PCIe x1 slots and 2 x16 slots although one is currently in use and the heatsink blocks one of the x1 ports. I've decided to go this route for a few reasons. The main one though is that the current PC will be migrated to either a mini gaming rig or a ZFS based SAN/NAS and will be most likely replaced by a Mac Mini due to the form factor. However that's probably a year off or so. As for working on PCs, I'm perfectly comfortable. As long as I don't have to do some weird volt modding to get it to work or write some custom C++ program I'm pretty much good. Also is Hauppauge a decent enough brand to look at? Only reason I know about them is because of my PVR-500 which I got for free but I never really messed with it since I didn't watch too much stuff OTA. Ultimately I think I'm going to purchase a card tomorrow with whatever is decided.
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post #17 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Cerberus2k7 View Post

I'm kinda thinking that this would be the main type of usage. My HTPC is mainly controlled via KB/mouse since I do use it for gaming and VMs. But if the Colossus doesn't play well via HDMI, what would you guys suggest for a tuner card instead? I'm running a Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 so I have 3 PCIe x1 slots and 2 x16 slots although one is currently in use and the heatsink blocks one of the x1 ports. I've decided to go this route for a few reasons. The main one though is that the current PC will be migrated to either a mini gaming rig or a ZFS based SAN/NAS and will be most likely replaced by a Mac Mini due to the form factor. However that's probably a year off or so. As for working on PCs, I'm perfectly comfortable. As long as I don't have to do some weird volt modding to get it to work or write some custom C++ program I'm pretty much good. Also is Hauppauge a decent enough brand to look at? Only reason I know about them is because of my PVR-500 which I got for free but I never really messed with it since I didn't watch too much stuff OTA. Ultimately I think I'm going to purchase a card tomorrow with whatever is decided.

If you are looking only to archive, as it sounds like Zon2020 is doing, and what it sounds like you are indicating, then the colossus would be fine even though it would have to be component (there is no real HDMI capture-everything card unless you have a HDCP stripper). If you are looking to replace your dvr then something like that Ceton would be more along the lines of what you want.
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post #18 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kemist1117 View Post

If you are looking only to archive, as it sounds like Zon2020 is doing, and what it sounds like you are indicating, then the colossus would be fine even though it would have to be component (there is no real HDMI capture-everything card unless you have a HDCP stripper). If you are looking to replace your dvr then something like that Ceton would be more along the lines of what you want.

I don't have a DVR currently since I hate the 250gig limitation. Just the standard STB that comcast provides. As for a HDCP stripper, I'm not sure what type of hardware I would need or even if it will see a connection since I'm not too sure on the legal aspects of it. But as for the end result, you're pretty much spot on. Something to record and archive for use whenever with no limitations to how often I can transfer it on my network or what devices can view it.
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post #19 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Cerberus2k7 View Post

I don't have a DVR currently since I hate the 250gig limitation. Just the standard STB that comcast provides. As for a HDCP stripper, I'm not sure what type of hardware I would need or even if it will see a connection since I'm not too sure on the legal aspects of it. But as for the end result, you're pretty much spot on. Something to record and archive for use whenever with no limitations to how often I can transfer it on my network or what devices can view it.

Then if you really want full access no matter what above all other tv viewing aspects the regular Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212 usb or the Hauppauge colossus are your best bets.

You would probably want at least 2 of them and you would have to use the dvblink software.

If you dont want to get into legal aspects use component rather than HDMI.

Note that you will still need 2 normal set top boxes with this configuration.

edit: do you want to archive only, or also watch live tv through the device.

Infrequent archiving is quite different from dropping cable co dvr and going HTPC.....
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post #20 of 21 Old 05-11-2012, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Then if you really want full access no matter what above all other tv viewing aspects the regular Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212 usb or the Hauppauge colossus are your best bets.

You would probably want at least 2 of them and you would have to use the dvblink software.

If you dont want to get into legal aspects use component rather than HDMI.

Note that you will still need 2 normal set top boxes with this configuration.

edit: do you want to archive only, or also watch live tv through the device.

Infrequent archiving is quite different from dropping cable co dvr and going HTPC.....

Also watch live TV
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post #21 of 21 Old 05-12-2012, 03:32 PM
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Also watch live TV

Then the above post will work for you.
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