Originally Posted by BrittShickhouse
I should have mentioned I tried the HTPC route already. It works but I never use it - too inconvenient.
What exactly was inconvenient? Having to have the PC next to the TV? Having to use a mouse, or fight setting up a remote? Remapping the QAM channels?
I think you should try SageTV V7 with any number of HD300 media extenders & a Silicon Dust HDHR for QAM reception. Total cost (assuming you've got any reasonable PC laying around running Windows or Linux) would be about $390 for a "just works" HD-DVR with automatic commercial skipping. If you have more than one TV, it can be expanded to multi-room by adding as many $150 HD300s as you have TVs:
- $200: HD300 + SageTV license
- $120: Silicon Dust HDHR dual-tuner QAM/OTA
- $70: 1TB hard drive
- $0: SageTV commercial skipping plugin (3rd party)
The nice thing about SageTV + extenders is that you can leave your PC in the office (or basement, closet, etc). The HD300 is tiny (smaller than most wireless routers, roughly AppleTV size, can be velcro'ed to the back of a TV), and handles displaying the HD. It is purpose built for displaying HD, so there is no messing with drivers, etc. It will send "Wake on Lan" packets to wake the server from sleep (and Sage will schedule wakeups for recording), so you don't even need to leave your PC on 24/7. It will even playback ripped DVD and Blu Ray ISOs. My kid has never seen a physical DVD or BD in our house.
There are cheaper tuners, but the HDHR QAM setup is really slick for SageTV on Windows. The mapping between the TWC channel number and the physical QAM channels are handled automatically for you by the HDHR software. You can have the channels setup in about 90 seconds. You can use cheaper QAM tuners, but they are harder to use, since you have to remap things yourself.
If you're interested in analog, you'd need to get an analog capable tuner. Since you've played with HTPCs before, perhaps you already have one you could recycle.
I've been using SageTV (with a Linux server) for years & am quite happy with it.