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Recording to PC through HDMI?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking about getting a Sony "L" series all-in-one computer/HDTV for my kitchen. The unit has an HDMI input as well as NTSC and ATSC tuners. It also has a composite video input and an RF coax input. I will be connecting it to a cable box via HDMI to use as a TV as well as a computer.

Tech support reps at both Sony USA and my local Sonystyle store insist that the computer will be able to record program content coming in over the HDMI input, using, for example, the DVR functions of Windows 7 Media Center. I have my doubts. First, there is language in the owner's manual suggesting that you cannot capture audio/video signals coming through the HDMI INPUT port or the VIDEO INPUT jacks and save them into a file on your computer. Second, it is my understanding that HDMI copy protection generally makes it difficult to get that content onto a PC.

Does anyone know for sure whether Media Center (or any other software) will recognize and record from the HDMI input? My alternative is to connect the RF output of the cable box to the RF input of the computer, but that would limit me to standard definition. I'd like to believe the Sony reps, but if someone here is familiar with these computers, I'd have more confidence in the answer.
post #2 of 3
You know the correct answer. The tech people are point blank wrong and the owner's manual clearly indicates so, as you found. You got level 1 tech that does not know what HDMI is all about.

It appears you should be able to capture OTA HD content from the built in TV tuner in Windows 7, but that's about it.

There are ways to capture HD content from some sources. I have used Hauppauge HD-PVR which will accept 1080i over component from sources such as satellite and cable boxes and transfer to PC via USB. It is a bit clunky but works to capture 1080i with DD5.1 this way via a freestanding application. It has very, very unworkable integration into Media Center, at least in my experience. ATSC/Cable QAM tuners designed for the PC, such as Silicon Dust's HD Homerun, do integrate very well into Win 7 Media Center and will allow recording of 1080i cable QAM (unscrambled) or OTA.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Bill. Page 165 of the manual also says this:

"You cannot capture audio/video signals coming from the device connected to the HDMI INPUT port or the VIDEO INPUT
jacks and save them into a file on your computer. It is logically impossible because the audio/video input source must be
either the HDMI input or the video input to receive such signals and, to access Windows for any file operations, you must
change the input source to the computer input."

The statement doesn't make much sense. However, when I pointed this out to the tech support rep, he said the manual was wrong! I do have to ask whether you have any personal experience with this Sony or the previous similar versions, because that's the only way I can be sure.

I believe that the RF input must communicate with the PC, because the literature is quite clear that you can use the DVR functions to record TV. If it can't be done via the HDMI or video inputs, then that just leaves RF. That's how the tuners get their signal, and I believe you can record from the internal tuners. The tuners, by the way, are NTSC and ATSC; the specs say nothing about ClearQAM.

I could get a DVR from Comcast, of course, but I would prefer to record to the PC. I'm looking at a short list of other options for getting high quality (if not strictly HD) content into the computer:

Hauppauge HD PVR
HD Fury
Black Magic Intensity Shuttle
Geffen HD PVR
Monsoon Hava Platinum
Pinnacle something?
AverTV USB HD DVR

Any thoughts on these or others would also be appreciated.
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