That depends on how many shows you like to record at the same time as well as viewing live TV. I have six ATSC tuners in my HTPC, but then I also have access to 14 OTA HD channels in my area. Six tuners allow me to be able to record simultaneous programs from all of the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) as well as the CW and PBS. Granted, this scenario may never happen but I have the means to do so should it ever be feasible.
There are instances where I may have 4 or 5 tuners in use simultaneously. I pad the beginning and end of each show I record to make sure I don't miss anything due to a local scheduling glitch (it happens more than you might think). NBC is notorious for adding one or two minutes to some of their primetime shows (e.g., ER) so if I have something else scheduled to record during the overlap I always have a tuner available.
I get duplicate network feeds from two different markets (Baltimore and DC) where I live and there are occasions when I like to record the same show from both markets just to make sure I don't miss it due to local station problame. Again, this doesn't happen often, if ever, but I'm prepared for it should it occur.
The simplest way to think about it is. How many shows do I want to record at the same time. Don't worry about playback, just record. Once the show has been recorded, you can watch it at will, whether that is the next day, an hour after it starts or 1 second after it has been recorded (basically live TV).
If you are going to be watching a show as it is broadcast, you are still recording it so count that as one recording. If you want to watch a show and record another show at the same time, that is two recordings. If you want to record three shows, start one a half hour in and watch the other two after dinner, that is three recordings. Record four at the same time and watch them next weekend - four recordings. Etc. etc.
All of the above is true of pretty much any software based setup (SageTV, BeyondTV, MCE, etc.) and the software based tuners that work with them. It is not correct for the MyHD card, if you have one of those or are thinking of getting one of those to add in with other tuners.
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