Questions About Which Tuner to Buy - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
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So, I'm planning to build an HTPC as soon as AMD Trinity comes out (pushed back to October noooooo!!!). I know plenty to select the normal components, but I'm completely lost when it comes to the world of TV tuners.

I want to be able to record all the channels I can get with Comcast's X-Finity Triple Play phone/internet/cable plan, from NBC to Comcast Sports Net to Comedy Central (I suppose this would be QAM?). I'll be recording no more than three shows at a time, and I'll usually not be recording anything.

The tuner would need to be PCI or preferably PCIe. The budget for the whole system is around $500, which will probably leave me around $100 for the tuner. Less would be very good, though.

It also needs to work with, preferably, Ubuntu TV, though we don't know anything about it except that it's based on Ubuntu, but if that's not possible than at least Ubuntu + XBMC or Win 7 + XBMC (or WMC in a pinch, I suppose, but I like XBMC much better).

Thanks guys!

EDIT: I was also wondering if I could do anything to allow XBMC to use Blu-Ray.

EDIT2: HDMI recording is also important, though obviously cable recording takes preference.
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post #2 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by ImThat1Guy View Post

The tuner would need to be PCI or preferably PCIe. The budget for the whole system is around $500, which will probably leave me around $100 for the tuner. Less would be very good, though.
It also needs to work with, preferably, Ubuntu TV, though we don't know anything about it except that it's based on Ubuntu, but if that's not possible than at least Ubuntu + XBMC or Win 7 + XBMC (or WMC in a pinch, I suppose, but I like XBMC much better).

Because everything except for your local "broadcast" stations are going to be encrypted, you will need to either get a Ceton PCI card or a HDHomeRun that works with cablecards. You will have to use Windows Media Center to record and playback those encrypted recordings. Either the Ceton or HDHomeRun will likely run you several hundred dollars.
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post #3 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Several hundred dollars? I was under the impression that I could at least record NBC, CBS, and the like that come standard with like everything on pretty much any tuner.

Could I get links?
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post #4 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Nevermind, found the cards you referenced.

I'm still disappointed. Are there any ways to use the cable box for converting and such, while recording with a TV tuner?
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post #5 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 04:00 PM
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I have a Ceton w/ 4 channels and it works well. Here is a little cheaper option:

http://www.amazon.com/Hauppauge-WinTV-DCR-2650-Tuner-Cable/dp/B005FPT38A

If you keep your eyes open and are patient you can find a HDHomerun Prime or Ceton on sale.

Really and cable card tuner is the way to go.

Good luck!
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post #6 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by josrq View Post

I have a Ceton w/ 4 channels and it works well. Here is a little cheaper option:
http://www.amazon.com/Hauppauge-WinTV-DCR-2650-Tuner-Cable/dp/B005FPT38A
If you keep your eyes open and are patient you can find a HDHomerun Prime or Ceton on sale.
Really and cable card tuner is the way to go.
Good luck!
In what way is that worse than the Ceton or HDHomerun Prime?

Anyways, I'd like an internal card. I suppose I could maybe spring for the Ceton.
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post #7 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 04:17 PM
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The HDHomerun Prime and the DCR 2650 are very similar (which is no surprise, since both are made by Silicondust). The difference is that the Prime has 3 tuners and can be connected to the network (Ethernet connection), whereas the DCR 2650 has only 2 tuners. Prices are roughly $50 / tuner (or cheaper depending on sales).
The Ceton is the only internal card available as of now.
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post #8 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Rico66 View Post

The HDHomerun Prime and the DCR 2650 are very similar (which is no surprise, since both are made by Silicondust). The difference is that the Prime has 3 tuners and can be connected to the network (Ethernet connection), whereas the DCR 2650 has only 2 tuners. Prices are roughly $50 / tuner (or cheaper depending on sales).
The Ceton is the only internal card available as of now.
Ah, I see.

Well, I'll probably spring for the Ceton.
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post #9 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ImThat1Guy View Post

Several hundred dollars? I was under the impression that I could at least record NBC, CBS, and the like that come standard with like everything on pretty much any tuner.

Just to clarify. If all you want to record is NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS, and CW then yes, any tuner card that can tune QAM will do. But you specifically mentioned Comedy Central and a sports channel. If you want to record those in digital HD, then you need one of the cards mentioned above. If you're OK recording the old 480p analog signals in your basic cable package, then you can look for a tuner card that includes an analog tuner and a chip to encode the analog signal as digital. Something like this Haupauge would probably work. I've never used it, it's just the first one that came up when I searched NewEgg.

Having said all that, the analog channels are going to look pretty rough on an HDTV. And, as I alluded to in the previous paragraph, that will still only include the "basic" cable package.
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post #10 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll get a CableCARD solution then.

Also, I may consider an external solution if it is cheaper and compatible with XBMC.

This post might have gone through multiple times- I kept getting errors. Apologies if it does!
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post #11 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh, I'm also liking the fact that the HD Homerun Prime is basically a network attached tuner. If my WiFi speeds (Ethernet wiring the whole house is unfeasible) are enough, I could put off the HTPC purchase for even longer (though do I want to do that?).
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post #12 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 06:36 PM
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The HD Homerun Prime needs to be connected to your network that is then connected to your HTPC that is connected to your HDTV. It is not a stand alone device.

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post #13 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

The HD Homerun Prime needs to be connected to your network that is then connected to your HTPC that is connected to your HDTV. It is not a stand alone device.
I know. It would just make stuff a bit easier as I could really just run a cable from my computer, about 10 feet from the TV, under the carpet and to the TV. Plus, it could be recorded and watched anywhere.

Still, the A/V equipment we have is about 10 years old. Replacing it with such a glorious all-in-one solution as an HTPC would be great.
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post #14 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 07:44 PM
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Which cable? HDMI, DVI or VGA?

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post #15 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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HDMI.

But I've all but decided to go for a full HTPC. I've worked out the cost, and going a bit over won't be a problem, so the InfiniTV is probably the tuner I'll use.

However, the whole idea of a network-attached TV tuner is great. The HTPC will eventually serve dual-duty as NAS and HTPC, but even still that's not really the greatest solution.
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post #16 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 07:57 PM
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I have 6Tb in my HTPC plus a 64GB SSD.. Six drives total.

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post #17 of 23 Old 06-08-2012, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I have 6Tb in my HTPC plus a 64GB SSD.. Six drives total.
Nice. I only have space for 4 drives, with maybe room to velcro in an SSD somewhere (or use an mSATA SSD, if the motherboard supports it).
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post #18 of 23 Old 06-09-2012, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by ImThat1Guy View Post

I'll get a CableCARD solution then.
Also, I may consider an external solution if it is cheaper and compatible with XBMC.
This post might have gone through multiple times- I kept getting errors. Apologies if it does!

If you want a cablecard solution, then none of them will be compatible with XBMC. Well, not directly anyway. I *think* Windows Media Player can play the encrypted recordings the same as Windows Media Center. If that's true you could figure out a way to rename the recordings, get them in the XBMC library, setup Windows Media Player as an external player, and then play them that way. Honestly though, it would probably be easier to just use WMC.
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post #19 of 23 Old 06-09-2012, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pkscout View Post

If you want a cablecard solution, then none of them will be compatible with XBMC. Well, not directly anyway. I *think* Windows Media Player can play the encrypted recordings the same as Windows Media Center. If that's true you could figure out a way to rename the recordings, get them in the XBMC library, setup Windows Media Player as an external player, and then play them that way. Honestly though, it would probably be easier to just use WMC.
That's a shame. Of course, playing and recording TV is way more important than using XBMC.
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post #20 of 23 Old 06-09-2012, 11:08 AM
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wifi will not work for hdtv signals. too much bandwidth. the network needs to be hardwired.

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post #21 of 23 Old 06-09-2012, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
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wifi will not work for hdtv signals. too much bandwidth. the network needs to be hardwired.
Not even dual-band wireless N at 600Mbps max?

Oh well, I've kind of but not really changed my mind on getting the HDHomerun thing.
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post #22 of 23 Old 06-09-2012, 07:35 PM
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Some prime info from an owner.

Networks need to be wire to get any kind of reliability particularly with streaming signals like TV. Packet loss over wireless will happen and using a prime has shown me where the wholes in my system are and tells me why sometimes I have a hard time loading a web page. You have all learned to just hit refresh and then the page fully loads usually. You can not do that with a TV stream. The best is to use a dual band and restrict it to just 5hz band to reduce interferance and have a full strength signal. Even then you are going to pix due to packet loss. It is just a question of degree.

Recording ease depends a lot on the service provider and not so much on the tuner or DVR program. Verizon is the best as everything is copy freely so you can use lots of regular DVR software just like with basic clearQAM level channels now. On the other extreme is Time Warner who marks any encrypted channel as copyonce requiring WMC for all but clearQAM.

Do not assume that Basic cable channels will remain unencrypted. The FCC opened this to debate and took opinions from november into february on their published plan to allow encryption. You are future proofing yourself with any of these devices. I expect a decision by early fall and a revision of the plans issued before football season but when they allowed the first encryption decission it was mid-September. By December Comcast had my area encrypted, I had 9 months with the dual tuner (a beautiful experience) with all the channels I paid for; then I had to live with a STB till last fall. I still use my dual for local channels, SD and HD. With the prime if you do not have a CC installed it can tune clearQAM for now.

In the long run I think that the prime will deliver a broader list of devices it can link with. Currently there is one app to stream SD signals to the ipad2. For six months a beta has been running on an android app and I am sure we will see some other very usable programs that will link to any device that can be put on a network [like a dlna TV] that does not need a computer to access the prime. The Ceton can't do it, the Hauppage can't do it without a computer to run their tuners. Take the computer out of the loop and all kinds of playback issues shared by all these devices go out the window.

Right now the best way to get around a bunch of playback issues is to use extenders to get the best possible signals on your TV. This is the direction that Ceton is going with the echo and Q. To make a home DVR that can use one m-card and have 6 tuners they have decided to make a more desirable STB that incorporates networking so that an extender can be used easily. The video output of the Q will probably match the xbox and this will end many video playback quality issues. With a locked system software issues will melt away and stability can be achived more readily. The prime is a bit of a network hog and works best with giga speed which can require many upgrades, probably the reason why it is only 3 tuners. For large families the Q can be a huge savings over HD STB and DVR's, many service providers are announcing six tuner dvr's.
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post #23 of 23 Old 06-11-2012, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkscout View Post

If you want a cablecard solution, then none of them will be compatible with XBMC. Well, not directly anyway. I *think* Windows Media Player can play the encrypted recordings the same as Windows Media Center. If that's true you could figure out a way to rename the recordings, get them in the XBMC library, setup Windows Media Player as an external player, and then play them that way. Honestly though, it would probably be easier to just use WMC.
XBMC will work with a cablecard for all NON-FLAGGED channels, it will play encrypted channels as long they are copy-freely.
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