You're right. It was more a forced situation. For the negative-three people that might be curious, I got as far as being allowed to watch standard def channels after I manually installed Play Ready. But HD and guides, of course, had to be connected to the internet.
I was shocked how ****** the SD channels' quality is on an old analog computer monitor (my viewing source). Watching on a TV with more distance between you and the screen seems to help significantly to "hide" all the artifacts, etc. I'm also pretty disenchanted with HDTV image quality. For some reason, I assumed a raw recording would look very clean (I've only casually seen any HDTV over the years on large TVs where I assumed any compression and other artifacts were exaggerated, due to it being such a large screen).
Then I do some Googling to find HD artifacts are the bane of many an image quality-enthusiast's existence. When Youtube videos of something look far cleaner than what you're capturing through your HD cable, it's a sad day. But I wasn't on top of this and just found out. I imagine the folks' whom HDTV downloads I've acquired over the years may have been overseas or had a better signal than my supplier. Or maybe I'm more critical now that it's right in front of me and a disappointment.
Are you watching a video collection from YouTube?? What then is the Ceton card being used for??
If you're truly watching live TV via the Ceton, the quality of any picture source (SD or HD) is going to be questionable at best, subject to the capability of your video card and drivers and that monitor. Remember that all of the digital images in the HTPC must be converted to analog for delivery and presentation on your analog monitor.
If you want to see true HD on your HTPC monitor, you really do want to upgrade to a digital 16:9 or 16:10 flat panel monitor, spending as much money as you want depending on the quality you want. You can get a very nice 16:10 24" Dell Ultrasharp U2412M for about $290, although you should also have a modern video card, with either HDMI or DVI or Displayport digital outputs. This setup would be HDCP-compliant through any of these digital cable connections with supporting driver support and would thus allow you to view original source 720p/1080i HDTV untouched and presented true digital directly on your new monitor. Typically 1080i is also deinterlaced to 1080p so that it looks terrific.
You can also spend less money or more money on a flat panel monitor (or possibly just add it as a second monitor to your HTPC, if your video card supports it), depending on your desire.
But watching an SD 480i channel today is generally not going to make anyone happy, no matter what the equipment... compared to 720p/1080i. And watching downconverted and digital-to-analog 720p/1080i on an old analog 4:3 CRT monitor is never going to be pretty either.