Total noob, but you've got to start somewhere
I want to help my dad out for his birthday. For forever, he has enjoyed recording shows and movies from cable on his DVD recorder. I don't think he even watches them often, it's more about the fun of recording stuff and having it there if he wants. Recording just makes him happy, I can't really explain it. Comcast gave him a new box and now a lot of the stuff he wants to record is blocked for copy protection. He also has about 2000 DVD-Rs with no organization.
He likes to record stuff from the cooking channel, AMC, news, movies, and shows from premium channels like Starz. He hates DVR and won't use it.
I thought this might be a good opportunity to ditch the DVD recorder and physical media, and get him set up with a computer based system, where he can organize and actually enjoy his collection. We happen to have a spare computer in the garage that we could dedicate to media recording. It's a desktop with space for a lot of large capacity drives. Based on a quick web search, the Hauppage HD PVR looks like a nice plug and go solution for recording from the Comcast box into the computer.
Does anyone have any experience with this setup and Comcast copy protection? Will he have the same problems with the Hauppage as the current DVD recorder?
I'd also be grateful if anyone has a better solution or can point me toward a basic guide to getting started with this stuff. Thanks!
I've used this device to filter CP and it works quite well. Note it would work with his existing DVD recorder(in line with S-video or composite) and I believe inline with one of the component wires to use with a component capture card. Personally from the way the OP describes their dad I bet he'd be just as happy using his existing DVDR with this filter, I know no way my father would have the patience to use a computer capture card
I have a Grex and it works quite well, as joed32 said later, just install it inline with one of the video wires and you don't have to think about it, it will let you record anything you want.
There are cheaper(and more expensive) filters than the Grex but personally I wouldn't to go any cheaper than the Grex and I don't know as if you'd gain much by spending more. The cheap filters tend to really lighten the picture and reduce resolution even more than the Grex. Note avoid the very cheap VHS filters that you might see, while they are OK at removing analog Macrovision only they won't remove the digital CP found on things like a STB or even DVDs.
I have Comcast/xfinity here in Pennsylvania. I have been able to not only decrease my bill but I have literally increased my happiness level with comcast. I too enjoy being able to record and store media on my own hardware. I would suggest you start off by looking into Windows media center and other software like MediaBrowser.
I knew I simply wanted to be able to access all my digital media from one storage area but have it easily accessible from any location in my home. Here is what I have been able to setup in my home.
You will want to get a pretty fast internet connection as some of the software I mentioned will use a lot of bandwidth. I personally went with an upgraded speed here of 50 Mbps down and 6-10 Mbps up. My collection is not as large as your dad's. I started by setting up a home network in my case hardwired 10/100/1000 with wireless AC. I bought XBOX 360s for my remote television locations to use as WMC extenders. I purchased some network hard drives for media storage. In my case I really like the WD MyBook Live and WD MyCloud drives as they can be accessed remotely with other items like iPhones or Tablets. As far as size of hard drives to buy I would suggest you go as big as you can. You will need a few TB just to store his current movie collection. You may even want to consider an NAS. If I had to guess I would say you will probably need in the neighborhood of 10 TB to store that collection of 2000+ movies along with any music and images or even movie trailers for that matter. I also recently picked up a Roku 3 box that I have been playing around with as well.
Main Computer (I leave this on 24/7)
I then enabled Windows Media Center (WMC) on my Windows 7 computer. I then installed AnyDVD HD, Auto Rip & compress, Handbrake, MyMovies, PlayOn, PlayLater, Make MKV, Kylo, My Channel Logos, Haali Media Splitter, ffdshow and most recently MediaBrowser. I needed WMC to be able to see the cable channels. I did some research on video adapters and made the decision I was going to go with a cable card adapter. I wanted to go that route so I could get rid of all the Comcast owned hardware in my home except the cable card itself. This gave me another benefit not only does comcast give me the first card for EACH Device free but they give me a $2.50 credit each month credit on my bill because I own my own video equipment. Personally I choose the SiliconDust HD HomeRun Prime (external) it has three tuners built into it. It only requires one type M cable card. I get a lot of channels including HBO from Comcast and when I first picked up the cable card from them they took it upon themselves to change my package around to something I did not ask for so that took a separate call to get straightened out. I also had to go to Microsoft and install a Digital Cable Adviser software for media center to be able to see all the digitally encoded channels. I have an External Blu-Ray burner hooked up as well so I can store my movies or blu-rays on my network hard drives and can access them from anywhere on my network.
Note: Microsoft starting with Windows 8 has moved the WMC to a pay add on for their operating systems. It is still free from many of the previous operating systems they have out. WMC has one of the best cd/dvd recording software built into it. Also, Microsoft limits the number of extenders to 4 if you want or need more then 4 extenders you will want to install a program called TunerSalad as well to lift that restriction.
I have all my televisions connected either directly to my network or directly and through the xbox 360. Please note the newer XBOX One does NOT support Windows Media Center or any other Media Center software on the market. The XBOX One only offers a "Pass Thru" HDMI port which would not be able to be used as an extender.
This setup will allow you to record and store on your own hard drives (not some cable or other company owned/ controlled Cloud) any DVD or Blu-Ray your drive can recognize. It will also allow you to record from for the most part any channel you can see on your computer. Cable companies are not allowed to limit the channels you can access simply because you have your own equipment either. The FCC protects you from that as well. The PlayOn/PlayLater software will put a plugin into your browsers if you want it to that will allow you to record from any of the hundred plus internet channels it offers as well as any site with video content on the web.
This setup is not cheap but so far it has made me smile regularly as I keep finding new things I can so with it that I did not realize before. I have spent a lot of time and effort to build this myself and find myself constantly looking to improve on it. I also have been looking into going with open source software as much as I can because I want to get away from Microsoft. One of my major reasons I have stayed with them this long is because I want to be able to have the same or very similar interface on the computer as I do on my televisions yet still control it with a remote control.