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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have Comcast and their HD box and wish to record movies that I've saved to my PC.


I need a capture card no doubt and was wondering if I could get some recomendations? An internal card would have to be PCI and what about anything USB? (any good ones?)


Also, any software suggestions as well.


DO NOT want a TV card -- just want to record the video I saved on the Cable receiver. Up to now of course, been recording to standard DVD but would like to make the move to HD and the PC. THANKS !
 

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You need a Hauppauge HD-PVR. They have a newer model called the Colosus that you might want to look into. I think they run about $150-200. It captures the component output from your cable box in resolutions up to 1080i and transfers them to your PC via a USB interface. You can use WMC to control the cable box and schedule recordings just like a standalone DVR.


To be honest, you'd be better off ditching the cable box and getting one of the new cablecard tuners. Hauppauge has a dual tuner model for $129, but it hasn't hit the shelves yet. SiliconDust has their networked HD HomeRun Prime with three tuners for $250 that's supposed to be out by Labor Day weekend and a six tuner model that's scheduled to be out slightly sooner at a cost of $500. Ceton has their internal 4-tuner InfiniTV4 for $299 and a USB version that's just received CableLabs approval so it should be shipping sometime in the near future.


The main advantage for using any of the above tuners is that you save money on renting a cable box since you only need a single cablecard. The one exception is the six-tuner SD HDHR Prime as it's basically two of their 3-tuner boxes in one channsis and requires two cablecards. You'd need multiple HD-PVRs and cable boxes to record more than one channel simultaneously, which not only gets messy having all of the boxes sitting about but it can also get to be quite costly paying for the cable box rentals and the additional hardware.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphcramdon
I have Comcast and their HD box and wish to record movies that I've saved to my PC.


I need a capture card no doubt and was wondering if I could get some recomendations? An internal card would have to be PCI and what about anything USB? (any good ones?)


Also, any software suggestions as well.


DO NOT want a TV card -- just want to record the video I saved on the Cable receiver. Up to now of course, been recording to standard DVD but would like to make the move to HD and the PC. THANKS !
Since you have a comcast box you have the option of using firewire and special software to bitstream perfect copies from a comcast DVR to your PC.

There are a couple caveats.

1. You need to make sure your Comcast box has firewire ports, and if it doesnt, go into the office and tell them you want a box with enabled firewire ports for your DVHS recorder. They are obligated by the FCC to provide you with one.

2. On windows you need 32 bit OS. 64 bit drivers dont exist for Win64. You will need the exdues driver package and capdvhs from videohelp which is free or tsreader which costs money. Both capdvhs and tsreader allow you to save the mpeg2 transport stream from your comcast box.

On OSX you can use 64 bit no problem and just need to download the apple firewire SDK. Any questions PM me.

3. Some channels may be set to not allow you to capture them. They are flagged as copy one, copy never and therefore your PC wont be able to save a useable file as it will be encrypted and noboby knows how to decrypt it except the cable companies.


There is an entire thread devoted to firewire capture in the recorder forum.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video
You need a Hauppauge HD-PVR. They have a newer model called the Colosus that you might want to look into. I think they run about $150-200. It captures the component output from your cable box in resolutions up to 1080i and transfers them to your PC via a USB interface. You can use WMC to control the cable box and schedule recordings just like a standalone DVR.


To be honest, you'd be better off ditching the cable box and getting one of the new cablecard tuners. Hauppauge has a dual tuner model for $129, but it hasn't hit the shelves yet. SiliconDust has their networked HD HomeRun Prime with three tuners for $250 that's supposed to be out by Labor Day weekend and a six tuner model that's scheduled to be out slightly sooner at a cost of $500. Ceton has their internal 4-tuner InfiniTV4 for $299 and a USB version that's just received CableLabs approval so it should be shipping sometime in the near future.


The main advantage for using any of the above tuners is that you save money on renting a cable box since you only need a single cablecard. The one exception is the six-tuner SD HDHR Prime as it's basically two of their 3-tuner boxes in one channsis and requires two cablecards. You'd need multiple HD-PVRs and cable boxes to record more than one channel simultaneously, which not only gets messy having all of the boxes sitting about but it can also get to be quite costly paying for the cable box rentals and the additional hardware.
Yes-but he said he doesnt want a TV tuner card.


BTW-my HD Homerun Prime 6 tuner is out for delivery at this moment by UPS!
 

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qz3fwd: That solution sounds really hackish...


You might as well return the cable box and switch it up for a cable card from Comcast. If you send back the box, the first card is supposed to be free with no monthly rental. Don't let them tell stupid crap about what you can or cannot do with the card, they are almost always very dumb, especially over the phone.


Take that CableCard and stick it in here:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815345006

Or if you're a total couch potato and need to record 6 simultaneous shows (instead of a measly 3):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815345009
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks so much -- you just saved me a lot of goolgling.


Some questions:


-- There are 2 things I only record, movies on TCM and HDNET concerts and that's it. Do you know off hand if the firewire capture will allow these channels?



-- What is WMC? software I assume but what's the spell out?



-- Will there be or is there now a combination tuner and dvr box in one? The HD homerun prime will do that maybe? Does it have it's own internal DVR or do you record to your PC?



-- I see on my Comcast bill 2 charges, (one for dvr service and another for "hd technology fee") -- I can eliminate these? any other charges as well?



-- Any comments on USB performace vs motherboard cards? I have seen on my graphics card for example, faster and better performance from a PCI card vs a USB adapter I tried.



-- What are the chance of these devices becoming dated? Any bitching from Comcast to get these products off the market?



So, to summarize --


(1) Firewire capture (2) Colosus DVR card (3) HD Homerun


good, better, best?



THANKS.
 

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-- There are 2 things I only record, movies on TCM and HDNET concerts and that's it. Do you know off hand if the firewire capture will allow these channels?

Firewire is used typically to change channels, not to capture. capture is done by component inputs. you can capture those with component input device like the HD-PVR. I've heard of some boxes using the firewire port as a video out but that has to be less common.


-- What is WMC? software I assume but what's the spell out?

Windows Media Center is included with most versions of Windows 7. It is the only software than can use a cablecard to tune and record premium digital channels. Other software packages will work with a capture device like an HD-PVR


-- Will there be or is there now a combination tuner and dvr box in one? The HD homerun prime will do that maybe? Does it have it's own internal DVR or do you record to your PC?

The only kind of combination box where there is a tuner and dvr in one box is a Tivo or Moxi. The cablecard tv tuners like the HDHR Prime and Ceton Infinitv4 are used by Windows Media Center (and WMC only) to tune encrypted digital cable channels and record them to the pc's hard drive. Depending on DRM in the cable signal (and in my area on Comcast that only includes HBO) you can cut out commericals, convert to a portable friendly format, or burn to dvd.



-- I see on my Comcast bill 2 charges, (one for dvr service and another for "hd technology fee") -- I can eliminate these? any other charges as well?


I pay no fees. In fact I am given a $2.95 credit for using a cablecard. I pay nothing additonal for HD service, do not pay for DVR service, and do not pay equipment rental. Depending on promotions you may have to pay extra for HD, I have no idea.


-- Any comments on USB performace vs motherboard cards? I have seen on my graphics card for example, faster and better performance from a PCI card vs a USB adapter I tried.

I use a discontinued cablecard tuner that was made by ATI a few years ago. It uses USB. It works fine for me. Hauppauge is releasing a two tuner USB device later this month. Which tuner form factor you chose will be depending on your computer case, network needs (will more than one pc access it) and how many tuners you want. You need a tuner for every channel you want to watch and/or record at a given time.



-- What are the chance of these devices becoming dated? Any bitching from Comcast to get these products off the market?

The ATI tuner was released with Vista and was horribly supported. You couldn't just go buy one, you had to have an approved PC from an approved manufacturer. Windows 7 removed that requirement, but there was nobody making the hardware when W7 was released. The Ceton card started shipping about a year ago, and in the time two varients from Silicon Dust, one from Hauppauge, and soon to be another from Ceton have been produced. Support looks to be picking up.


Comcast will tell you you cant do a bunch of things with one. They told me I could not do 3D tv with a cablecard and thats simply not true. You DO lose your ability to do on demand, but with HBO Go and Xfinity on Demand thru the internet you can gain a lot of that back. Cable companies would rather you pay them for their dvr service and box rental, plus movie rental fees thru on demand, and many technical support people don't know much about cablecards.


Cablecard is a standard developed by the cable industry based on specifications by the FCC. In time it will be replaced. A successor to it that will provide two way communication (ondemand/switched digital video) has been in development practically since the first cablecards were issued, and so far the two new technologies (Tru2Way and Allvid) have not gotten very far. It seems cablecard support will continue to be mandated for the foreeseable future (every cablebox actually has one inside of it)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphcramdon /forum/post/20832281



So, to summarize --


(1) Firewire capture (2) Colosus DVR card (3) HD Homerun


good, better, best?

It depends on your situation. Colossus is better than firewire capture in terms of quality. A cablecard in theory should give you the best quality because it is simply saving the incoming mpeg transport signal. It hasn't been converted to an analog output via component, and then back to a digital signal by the capture device.


You said you want to back up recordings you already have. A cablecard device will not help you there.


Going forward, do you just want to occasionally back up things on your Comcast DVR or do you really want an htpc to act as your cable box? If thats something you decide you want, a cablecard probably offers the most advantages. Changing channels is easier - you don't have to screw around with ir blasters or firewire to change the channel on the cablebox so your pc can display the correct channel. you can also record several things at once - something you would need several capture devices and several cable boxes to do. You also won't run into the problem of Windows Media Center being confused by what channel is on - if WMC tunes ESPN, but you push the channel up button on your cable box, WMC still thinks ESPN is on. Confusing it can cause problems and missed recordings.


The downside is that on many cable systems all channels outside of locals are encrypted in a way that you cannot alter the recordings, burn them to disc, or watch them on another computer or mobile device. The channels coded that way (called Copy Once) can change from provider to provider and even from market to market. Like I said in my last post, only HBO networks for me are always Copy Once. A few movies from Encore have been that way too. That could change by the time I get home from work tonight and theres nothing I could do about it. You will never have that problem with a capture device, as there is no copy protection on the analog signal the box sends out via component.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Going to build an HTPC then -- to save the monthly charges for one. I may to start with a new video PC and work my way up, I have a 2.8ghz single core P4 with 2g memory right now which may be alright? (with Windows 7 ?)


Nothing fancy, certainly no 3D etc.


Thanks for all the info -- printing all this out for my reference -- you guys are great.


Will "copy once" allow ONE copy to a Bluray DVD burner? Or just to a hard drive?


I'm sure I'll be back with more questions in the future.
 

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Windows 7 comes in both 32 and 64-bit versions. You generally get both versions when you buy a particular retail distribution of Windows 7 on DVD (i.e., Home Premium, Professional, Ultra, etc.), although I think the OEM versions only come in one or the other.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Apparently, also, I just talke to Comcast and I would still pay 8.95 a month just for HD "service" -- regardless of what box I use.


So really, I'm just saving the 8 bucks a month they charge for the DVR?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphcramdon /forum/post/20833203


Going to build an HTPC then -- to save the monthly charges for one. I may to start with a new video PC and work my way up, I have a 2.8ghz single core P4 with 2g memory right now which may be alright? (with Windows 7 ?)


Nothing fancy, certainly no 3D etc.


Thanks for all the info -- printing all this out for my reference -- you guys are great.


Will "copy once" allow ONE copy to a Bluray DVD burner? Or just to a hard drive?


I'm sure I'll be back with more questions in the future.

I had a 2.4ghz single core P4 and I couldnt watch HD OTA via Vista with it. That was the main reason I jumped head first into htpc - I had that computer for about 6 years and it was still fine for everything I did except hdtv/hd-dvd. Since I needed new parts I decided to build and htpc.


Assassin seems to be the resident expert on htpc system building. Look into his sticky'd thread for some suggestions. An htpc does not need to be very powerful at all but a dual core processor is really going to be needed to give you a good experience. Beyond that if you get into streaming video there are some things that cannot be hardware accelerated by a video card, and so it falls on the processor to handle video decoding, and that won't fly on a single core P4.


Copy Once will allow you to record it onto your hard drive. No dvds, no recompressing it save space, no converting it to a different file type, not channel editing.


The other downside to copy once is that should you have to replace any major system parts (motherboard for instance) or reinstall Windows that recording will look like it was done on another pc and will not play.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphcramdon /forum/post/20833289


Apparently, also, I just talke to Comcast and I would still pay 8.95 a month just for HD "service" -- regardless of what box I use.


So really, I'm just saving the 8 bucks a month they charge for the DVR?

Don't look at this as a way to save money. You very well might end up doing that, but most people who use WMC think of it as a neat hobby and toy.


For me, I have tv in two rooms, so think of it as two hd boxes and whole home dvr. One with an htpc, and one with an Xbox 360 acting as an extender. So I'm saving on box rentals and the dvr service. To get this privilege? I had to take my current pc, buy more hard drives, buy a tv tuner, buy a newer video card, buy a better network switch, buy more memory, wire my house with cat6, and probably something I'm not remembering.


So it cost me around $400 (on top of what I'd already invested in my personal computer) to save money on my cable bill, which in Pittsburgh would have been 15.95 per month for each of two boxes, and 19.95 for the whole home dvr. Looking over my price list it shows an HD Technology fee of $7 but I've never been charged it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You know what?


I'm just going to highlight my real intentions here, because keeping the Comcast box may be what I'll do.


Record TCM movies (many of the old B&W classics are now in HD and what would be great is to --


(A) burn to bluray DVD or

(B) record to a USB hard drive


Record HDnet concerts also, hopefully with 5.1 surround.


Honestly, that's all I want to do -- of course, I can go to DVD now in standard definition and the comcast box but seeing all of these great movies and concerts in HD inspires me to upgrade.


I haven't seen any standalone bluray DVD recorders or I'd just do that. (Did see one for 1000 bucks + but that's too rich for me. (Am I missing some other more inexpensive models?)



So, does anyone know if I'm good to go with TCM and HDNET as far as copy protection? Probably not?


Do those channels have copy once?
 

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The Copy Freely, Copy Once, Copy Never, etc flags are part of the cablecard spec. They apply to recordings made by cablecard devices like Tivo and HTPC.


Outputting an hd video signal via component and a 5.1 audio signal via optical from your cable box will allow you to capture those with an HD-PVR or Colossus. You can capture from any video source over component - bluray discs, cable box, video game console etc. There is nothing in that signal to stop it (and which is why component is no longer offered on bluray players).
 

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The copy flags are sent per show, so there's no hard-and-fast rule about which channels will set them.


HTPCs are not a good way to save money, but they will let you do a lot of things with one device. We use ours primarily for Netflix, DVR, music, photo slideshows, and blu-rays.
 
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