I'm not looking to build an all out media center as I don't have a lot of media to share. What I need is to the ability to watch my cable tv/live tv on my a) living room tv b) my desktop c) my laptop. I'm doing this because I want to consolidate everything and also save on money and expand on the capabilities down the road.
Right now I'm getting about 200 channels with HD with a regular HD cable box from Time Warner. It allows absolutely no DVR or recording and only 1 of my TVs gets the higher tier, encrypted channels. The living room TV gets only basic cable as it does not have a cable box, just straight from the wall coaxial to the TV. I COULD just get HD-DVR boxes for both TVs but that's $40/month and after 2 years god knows what kind of crazy setup and hardware I could have built with that money.
This is my current plan so far taking budget and simplicity into consideration but being that I'm new to media centers and HTPC (I didn't even know there was such a thing until few months ago), I may have not even considered better options. I'd love to hear some input or suggestions!
1) Return my HD box back to Time Warner and ask for a CableCard ($2/month).
2) Buy a Ceton TV Tuner or an ATI TV wonder digital cable tuner and hook it up to my desktop running Windows 7.
3) Use Windows Media Center to setup the CableCard feed and watch Live TV thru WMC. This will also allow for recording and TV guide.
For the living room TV (uses OTA antenna):
1) Use my Xbox 360's Windows Media Center Extender app to watch Live TV and record things to my desktop's harddrive.
If there's better, less complicated way to get the cable stream here, i'd like to hear it. I looked into apple tv and stuff but doesn't seem like it would work. HD Homerun prime would work thru xbox360 which leaves me with my first option. I don't like the fact that everytime I want to watch cable tv and switch from OTA antenna to cable, I need to turn on the xbox, boot it up, then enter the app and then choose LiveTV. Wish there was some way to consolidate the OTA antenna and cable TV so it's just 1 big channel lineup on my TV. Any suggestions?
For my Macbook: (Here is where I have problems and need suggestions)
1) Install bootcamp and run Windows Media Center Extender. I do NOT want to do this. I don't want to have to boot into a completely different OS just to watch tv. I'd like to be able to do work on my Mac and also switch between Live TV or have a small window open to keep up with a show or a game.
2) Use Splashtop Remote Desktop to Remote Desktop to my desktop computer running Windows 7. Won't be a native application but it's not a bad alternative.
Ideally I'd like to be able to have my Macbook be capable of running Windows Media Center Extender to get the TV guide and recording abilities. I know the SiliconDust HD HomeRun Prime allows for my computer to access my cablecard feed over network but for Mac I heard some of the channels will not work. Which defeats the purpose so I'd rather remote desktop.
Does anyone see a better, more efficient way to handle all this?