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Minimal/cheap cablecard pc?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am looking to purchase a pc that will use a cablecard so I can watch/record all of the hdtv channels on my pc that I subscribe to via cable. I understand (not an expert...still learning) that it has to have a special bios. I don't want to spend a lot of money on hardware as I already have it. I have a quad core processor, 4 gigs ram, blu ray recorder, nvidia GTX 285 1 gig vid card, 24" 1920x1200 monitor, 2tb scsi 15k rpm drives....etc. All I want is the cheapest setup so I can gut it and put my hardware in it since you can't just buy a motherboard with the special bios aparently. Does anybody have any suggestions? Im getting frusterated at the prices of these OEM pcs that I have seen so far in my research as I don't need 90% of what they offer.

Thanks.
post #2 of 11
I think the cheapest HP with dual CableCARD was $1200-$1400 last I looked.
post #3 of 11
You should read this thread:
http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/thread/333042.aspx
There are a bunch of motherboards shipping pre-populated with the necessary BIOS support (most likely by accident). The most significant issue is getting a hold of an activation key but if you read through the thread you'll see the various methods folks have gone through to get past this. The other major issue is that there's always a risk MS will come up with some method to disable the non-offical OCUR boards but that seems like a long way away.

On another note, as a long time CableCard PC owner (actually several, in addition to building several for others), I'd seriously consider waiting until the Hauppauge HD-PVR/Windows 7 support is fleshed out and go that route instead. With the Hauppauge solution you eliminate the need for a special motherboard, eliminate all the DRM crap tied to cablecard recordings (right now ANYTHING you record via cablecard is encrypted and you can't do crap with it, like compy to another PC or sync to a portable media player for example; there's even a risk you can lose your recordings if you change too much hardware in your box), all the headaches dealing with the cable company still being retards when activating a cablecard, and you won't lose the ability to rent pay-per-view stuff as you'll have a set top box with the hauppauge solution (you can't do any on-demand stuff with Cablecard). Oh yeah, and don't forget that there's still no SDV solution yet for PC's. One down side to the HD-PVR though is a minor loss in visual quality as you are re-encoding the analog video signal but we are talking about a very very small loss in quality that can not even be seen by most. Well, and that you'll need to have one set top box for each HD-PVR so it's not as "elegant" of a solution. Oh yeah, the HD-PVR recordings are also much smaller than via cablecard as they use h.264 compression (cablecard recordings use MPEG-2).
post #4 of 11
The HD-PVR is an expensive product. You will need to rent one STB from your cable company for each HD-PVR. Thats $20+ a month. And no live TV viewing. Not a great product.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by almostinsane View Post

The HD-PVR is an expensive product. You will need to rent one STB from your cable company for each HD-PVR. Thats $20+ a month. And no live TV viewing. Not a great product.

Just because it doesn't work well in this particular situation or didn't work well for you doesn't mean it's a bad product.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by almostinsane View Post

The HD-PVR is an expensive product. You will need to rent one STB from your cable company for each HD-PVR. Thats $20+ a month. And no live TV viewing. Not a great product.

What are you talking about? The HD-PVR hardware is LESS expensive than an ATI digital cable tuner and you CAN watch live TV using SageTV as the front end (and, thanks to DVBLogic, also within VMC with the TV Pack and some various hacks, but it's still a pain which is why I said wait for official support in Win7). And 20+ a month for ONE ADDITIONAL SET TOP BOX? I don't know who your cable provider is but mine, Comcast, charges $6.99 a month for an "additional outlet fee" which includes the box. And for my second cablecard... I have to pay the "additional outlet fee" AND $1.79 a month for the cablecard so it cost me MORE for the cablecard.
post #7 of 11
Ace Computers is about as cheap as they come for a CableCard setup. I talked to Mike Leach in their sales department, and he was very friendly and helpful.

http://www.acedigitalhome.com/

Justin
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvmarino View Post

What are you talking about? The HD-PVR hardware is LESS expensive than an ATI digital cable tuner and you CAN watch live TV using SageTV as the front end (and, thanks to DVBLogic, also within VMC with the TV Pack and some various hacks, but it's still a pain which is why I said wait for official support in Win7). And 20+ a month for ONE ADDITIONAL SET TOP BOX? I don't know who your cable provider is but mine, Comcast, charges $6.99 a month for an "additional outlet fee" which includes the box. And for my second cablecard... I have to pay the "additional outlet fee" AND $1.79 a month for the cablecard so it cost me MORE for the cablecard.

I appreciate the info. I need the cablecard solution so I can watch the encrypted digital channels that I subscribe to. I have comcast as well and currently all digital channels are unencrypted while they are testing the changes that will occur at the end of this month when they switch to all digital (well chans 30+). Its too bad the cable labs/ms makes this so difficult. Its like they really don't want the business to begin with.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvmarino View Post

You should read this thread:
http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/thread/333042.aspx
There are a bunch of motherboards shipping pre-populated with the necessary BIOS support (most likely by accident). The most significant issue is getting a hold of an activation key but if you read through the thread you'll see the various methods folks have gone through to get past this. The other major issue is that there's always a risk MS will come up with some method to disable the non-offical OCUR boards but that seems like a long way away.

On another note, as a long time CableCard PC owner (actually several, in addition to building several for others), I'd seriously consider waiting until the Hauppauge HD-PVR/Windows 7 support is fleshed out and go that route instead. With the Hauppauge solution you eliminate the need for a special motherboard, eliminate all the DRM crap tied to cablecard recordings (right now ANYTHING you record via cablecard is encrypted and you can't do crap with it, like compy to another PC or sync to a portable media player for example; there's even a risk you can lose your recordings if you change too much hardware in your box), all the headaches dealing with the cable company still being retards when activating a cablecard, and you won't lose the ability to rent pay-per-view stuff as you'll have a set top box with the hauppauge solution (you can't do any on-demand stuff with Cablecard). Oh yeah, and don't forget that there's still no SDV solution yet for PC's. One down side to the HD-PVR though is a minor loss in visual quality as you are re-encoding the analog video signal but we are talking about a very very small loss in quality that can not even be seen by most. Well, and that you'll need to have one set top box for each HD-PVR so it's not as "elegant" of a solution. Oh yeah, the HD-PVR recordings are also much smaller than via cablecard as they use h.264 compression (cablecard recordings use MPEG-2).

Very good read, thank you. As far as MS disabling/changing things, they can't unless you do window updates. So it looks like you need 3 things to enable this on any pc. 1) MB with ocur bios 2) cablecard device and 3) ms codes to activate the correct version of vista to allow the usage. I would guess this can all be done for under $350 which is a lot better than $1000 for a cheap oem pc that will do it all assuming you have good enough hardware to do the rest which I do.
post #10 of 11
The solution may be Tru2way units that apparently are coming later this year. Here is an example:

http://www.engadget.com/2009/04/01/m...-cable-setups/
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYSportz View Post

Ace Computers is about as cheap as they come for a CableCard setup. I talked to Mike Leach in their sales department, and he was very friendly and helpful.

http://www.acedigitalhome.com/

Justin

As did I. I highly recommend Ace. Mike will help you get exactly what you want.
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