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Is there an easy-to-set-up & use tv tuner card?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm slowly building my HTPC and am struggling enough learning routers, RAID's, CPUs, etc. Now I'm at the point of buying a tuner card. I've 2 PCIe X1 slots open, 3 PCI slots open, some USB 3.0's available, eSATAs, new hard drives for storage, etc.

Comcast, OTA HD antenna, XBMC w/ Media Center, Hulu+, Netflix, yadda yadda. I want the usual watch one & record other channels, programmable, and easy to configure and use. I have ioGears' small KB for MSMC as well as a couple of hand-held remotes. Now, the last piece of my puzzle is the tuner and I don't understand the QAMs, digital, analog, and the rest.

HVRs seem to be recommended highly and if that's the brand, which model? Thanks for your time and advice.

Brain-drained.
post #2 of 10
The type of tuner you use depends entirely on what your TV source is. If you record from an antenna you'll need an ATSC tuner. The most popular models are the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250, SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual, and the AverMedia A188 Duet. All three models are dual tuner designs. These are all HD digital tuners since you can no longer receive analog broadcasts over the air. You may, however, be able to get them as unencrypted channels from your cable provider, in which case you can use a NTSC tuner.

If you have digital cable and just want to record channels that aren't encrypted, you'll need a QAM tuner. Note that some ATSC tuners also work with QAM so check the specs if you need this capability. These days, most unencrypted QAM channels are limited to your local stations, which can usually be received via an OTA antenna unless you're in a fringe area.

For encrypted digital cable channels, you'll need a cablecard tuner. There are models from Ceton (quad-tuner InfiniTV4 in PCI-e and USB versions), SiliconDust (3-tuner HDHomeRun Prime), and Hauppauge (dual tuner WinTV-DCR-2650). All of these models require a single multi-stream (i.e., M-card) cablecard which is available from your cable provider.

The SiliconDust tuners are networked tuners that require an input from an antenna, digital cable, or FIOS to receive TV channels. They connect to your home network and are available to any TV that has the SiliconDust HDHomeRun software installed.

Most versions of Windows 7 and Vista come with Windows Media Center included. Media Center is an add-on for Windows 8 but is essentially the same as the program in Vista and Windows 7. Install your tuner in your PC or connect it to your network and then install the drivers. You'll then need to run Media Center setup to get it to recognize your tuners and acquire guide data for your zip code. Note that installing a cablecard tuner requires that you also run the Digital Cable Advisor prior to running Media Center setup. When you're done, you can watch live TV and set up recordings much the same way that you do with any DVR.
Edited by captain_video - 2/23/13 at 11:07am
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Cpt.Video- Thanks a ton! You've saved me time and probably money by my not having to add to my "New, Unneeded Parts Purchases" box. I seem to spend hours sifting through advice, arguments, and bravado when just trying to find answers from the ol' hardware store. Might you know of a site that's THE place to go for advice? I've tried Tom's Hardware, a few M-S sites. I just waste so much time learning all the wrong things before I get to an answer. What about paid sites? Anyway, thanks again and I wish I could reciprocate. Best.
post #4 of 10
There used to be a site that listed the latest TV tuner cards and rated them according to performance, but I haven't been able to access it for a while so I don't know if it's still viable. There are sticky threads at the top of this forum with info on building a HTPC and should contain info on tuner cards as well. For comprehensive guides, check out Assassin's HTPC Blog. It will cost $25 to join, but it's the best site I've found for anyone just starting out with HTPCs. There are some free guides posted on the site so you can see what you're buying into.
post #5 of 10
From what i see in the original post, HDHR Prime is your box.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by RebelwoaCloo View Post

I'm slowly building my HTPC and am struggling enough learning routers, RAID's, CPUs, etc. Now I'm at the point of buying a tuner card. I've 2 PCIe X1 slots open, 3 PCI slots open, some USB 3.0's available, eSATAs, new hard drives for storage, etc.

Comcast, OTA HD antenna, XBMC w/ Media Center, Hulu+, Netflix, yadda yadda. I want the usual watch one & record other channels, programmable, and easy to configure and use. I have ioGears' small KB for MSMC as well as a couple of hand-held remotes. Now, the last piece of my puzzle is the tuner and I don't understand the QAMs, digital, analog, and the rest.

HVRs seem to be recommended highly and if that's the brand, which model? Thanks for your time and advice.

Brain-drained.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TornadoTJ View Post

From what i see in the original post, HDHR Prime is your box.
Not if he wants OTA. Also depending on where you live there could still be analog OTA signals (LPTV):
Quote:
Originally Posted by FCC 
LPTV Digital Transition

Although Congress established a hard deadline of June 12, 2009 for full-power TV stations to cease analog broadcasts and begin operating only in digital, the statutory deadline did not apply to low power television stations, TV translator and Class A television stations (referred to herein as "LPTV stations"). Therefore, while all full-power television stations have ceased over-the-air analog broadcasting, many LPTV stations are continuing to transmit analog signals.
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by olyteddy View Post


Not if he wants OTA. Also depending on where you live there could still be analog OTA signals (LPTV):
I got the impression that he wants both OTA and digital cable, which is why I tried to cover all types of tuners.
post #8 of 10
That's what I read too so I mentioned that the prime was cable only. I do agree the Prime is a real nice Cable TV tuner, especially in a multi-TV household.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by RebelwoaCloo View Post

You've saved me time and probably money by my not having to add to my "New, Unneeded Parts Purchases" box.

Ha! I have one (or two) of those as well!
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Following up on y'alls' input I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to help me out. I really appreciate it. David
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