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Option to Rid Myself of a Cable Box Fee but Still get HDTV etc.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have been searching for hours and it seems like I cannot find useful information for what I want to do and maybe that is because it can't be done or people do not do it very often. Below is my scenario:

I currently have four TV's. I primarily use two of them on a regular basis (living room, bedroom). Both of these have Comcast HD cable boxes and the living room has the DVR functionality. The third TV is in a spare bedroom with a digital converter box that does not offer HD programming and the fourth (new TV) has nothing hooked up yet as I just renovated my downstairs and put the TV down there. Occasionally I will want to watch TV down there and I am trying to figure out if I just need to buy an extra power cord and just physically move the STB when I want to watch TV down there or if there is another option. I know if I have to unplug the box every time I want to watch TV I will never watch TV down there.

I do not want to drop another $10 month for an HD box from Comcast and I have a cablecard that they gave me for free so I am trying to figure out what options I have without subscribing to another service, without going OTA since I will want to watch ESPN and other channels not available OTA, and without setting up an HTPC.

I am sorry if this has been asked a million times so if someone could point me in the right direction that would be great.
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikedahammer View Post

I have been searching for hours and it seems like I cannot find useful information for what I want to do and maybe that is because it can't be done or people do not do it very often. Below is my scenario:

I currently have four TV's. I primarily use two of them on a regular basis (living room, bedroom). Both of these have Comcast HD cable boxes and the living room has the DVR functionality. The third TV is in a spare bedroom with a digital converter box that does not offer HD programming and the fourth (new TV) has nothing hooked up yet as I just renovated my downstairs and put the TV down there. Occasionally I will want to watch TV down there and I am trying to figure out if I just need to buy an extra power cord and just physically move the STB when I want to watch TV down there or if there is another option. I know if I have to unplug the box every time I want to watch TV I will never watch TV down there.

I do not want to drop another $10 month for an HD box from Comcast and I have a cablecard that they gave me for free so I am trying to figure out what options I have without subscribing to another service, without going OTA since I will want to watch ESPN and other channels not available OTA, and without setting up an HTPC.

I am sorry if this has been asked a million times so if someone could point me in the right direction that would be great.

If a HTPC is out, then a Tivo is your only option. If your not looking for any extra monthly fees, then you can buy one with a lifetime subscription. The upfront costs won't be cheap though. Go to the Tivo threads and do some research to see if that is what you want to do.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info that is what I narrowed down. I am thinking I can buy a tivo without any subscription and just use it as a STB with a comcast provided cablecard? That is really what I am after. Paying $100-200 for a box, get a free cablecard, and as long as I have it for more than a year or so I breakeven. I was looking at the tivo forums but couldn't find the same specific questions. I guess I can always buy and try myself and return if it does not do what I want (WITHOUT SUBSCRIPTION).
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikedahammer View Post

Thanks for the info that is what I narrowed down. I am thinking I can buy a tivo without any subscription and just use it as a STB with a comcast provided cablecard? That is really what I am after. Paying $100-200 for a box, get a free cablecard, and as long as I have it for more than a year or so I breakeven. I was looking at the tivo forums but couldn't find the same specific questions. I guess I can always buy and try myself and return if it does not do what I want (WITHOUT SUBSCRIPTION).
If the TiVo has been updated with the latest firmware it probably won't work that way. TiVo sells the hardware at a loss. The lifetime subscription cost is supposed to make up the balance of the complete device. They lose money if people could buy the hardware and use it without a subscription.

Calculate the cost of a TiVo and the payback period you will get by not renting their DVR. You can always buy a cheaper TiVo mini for use on your other TV's that would play the main TiVo's recordings and use its tuners. But face the facts that if you stick with cable you have to pay to play.
post #5 of 11
HTPC is really your best option. I'm not sure why you won't consider it. I think you're really missing out on a great system. You can use a PC you already have and it doesn't have to be anywhere near your TV or even connected to it at all. Before you make up your mind, check out links below.
http://cetoncorp.com/products/infinitv/
http://cetoncorp.com/products/echo/

Hauppauge and Silicon Dust make great cable card tuners as well.

EDIT: Turns out Tivo can be used as a guideless, DVR-less cable box without a subscription after all. But I still don't see the point when you can have the whole enchilada with HTPC.
Edited by mdavej - 9/18/13 at 10:59am
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

HTPC is really your best option. I'm not sure why you won't consider it. I think you're really missing out on a great system. You can use a PC you already have and it doesn't have to be anywhere near your TV or even connected to it at all. Before you make up your mind, check out links below.
http://cetoncorp.com/products/infinitv/
http://cetoncorp.com/products/echo/
I curious if the Ceton Echo system can be used for OTA?
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

I curious if the Ceton Echo system can be used for OTA?
Of course. Any tuner connected to your WMC PC (OTA or otherwise) can be viewed on any extender (Echo or otherwise). But if you're only interested in live TV, then it's kind of an expensive solution. The main benefit of extenders is whole home DVR and media library access. For live OTA only, it's cheaper to simply connect your antenna to all your TVs directly, assuming the all have tuners.

And don't be too put off by the price. Echos routinely go on sale for $100-$130. Alternately, used Xboxes can often be found for $50-$80 and function the same a an Echo. You can save even more by getting a blacklisted Xbox or one with a broken DVD drive since none of those things matter when using it just as an extender (well there is one type of blacklisted Xbox you need to avoid).

When I got started with cable card on HTPC, it was very low cost to get started. I used a PC, Xbox and remote I already had. All I had to do was get a second hand tuner for $100 and I was in business. Later, I added more Xboxes and Echos, and eventually built a dedicated HTPC from other cheap, second hand PCs, spare parts and some new parts (like a 3TB hard drive for my media library and recordings). All in all, it's still much cheaper than Tivo. And by saving at least $40/month in DVR and equipment fees, my other costs are recouped in a matter of months.
Edited by mdavej - 9/18/13 at 8:50am
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
I need to reevaluate the HTPC. I build my own PC's so I have tons of part lying around. I need to do some research as I was thinking I would have to have the PC by the TV to go through HDMI so I can get HD quality and I just don;t have the room for an HTPC where my tv is at. I guess I could also build a small form factor m-atx mobo and go from there.

I will have to google to see how it works without the pc being next to the tv and wondering how you flip channels and what the quality is like. I am not too concerned with DVR. I really want the convenience/quality of a cable box without the price. Like i said before I can always go the route of buying an extra cable cord and just hooking up everytime which takes about 20 seconds to do but 5 minutes for the program guide to load.
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

Of course. Any tuner connected to your WMC PC (OTA or otherwise) can be viewed on any extender (Echo or otherwise).
That's pretty much what I was after. The Echo can be used as a WMC extender in place of an XBox.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikedahammer View Post

Thanks for the info that is what I narrowed down. I am thinking I can buy a tivo without any subscription and just use it as a STB with a comcast provided cablecard? That is really what I am after. Paying $100-200 for a box, get a free cablecard, and as long as I have it for more than a year or so I breakeven. I was looking at the tivo forums but couldn't find the same specific questions. I guess I can always buy and try myself and return if it does not do what I want (WITHOUT SUBSCRIPTION).

The box works fine as an STB without a sub even with latest FW, don't know why people keep saying it won't but it will. All you can do is watch live TV (with no program guide) but you get all the channels your cablecard authorizes, and if you set the channel banner to go away quickly (in settings) you won't see the Tivo sub nag for very long. And you can get a Tivo Premiere for cheap on fleabay, probably less than $50.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
thanks for the insight......50 bucks sounds good. All i want to do is flip channels and get an HD signal for channels I already pay for. An extra 10 a month for this is absurd.
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