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Card choice for comcast HD recording

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January 11, 2008 5:48:45 PM

I have Comcast hi-def cable and am about to build a system that I'm hoping can act as a multimedia platform. What type of card do I need to get to use my computer as a recording device? My understanding is that I do not technically want a tuner card since I have to get the signal from the cable box, not over the air, and that is leaving me a little confused about where to look next.

Thanks!
January 11, 2008 6:48:14 PM

No, you still need an HDTV tuner card to decode/capture the HD QAM signals from your cable. If you're within reception distance of OTA HD signals I would capture them with the ATSC tuner as OTA signals are of higher quality than the compressed QAM signals (my understanding).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QAM_tuner
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January 11, 2008 6:49:35 PM

I think thats the trick... I don't think theres a device where you can go from your HD box to your computer. I guess that would require an HD capture card. I know you can get a standard definition feed with Direct TV and get it to sync with media center. But I haven't checked in awhile so my knowledge could be a bit outdated.

Second option may be a Slingbox but technically it would be streaming video so I'm sure HD signals would be compressed.

I think the best solution would be a CABLEcard but remember with a CABLEcard you can't get ondemand programing. Only issue with CABLEcards is that only prebuilt systems at the moment have this capability, such as Dell and a few others. Aside from that, last I heard they were having major compatibility issues.

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As the above user has said you could go with a Tuner card. Know that they only support unencrypted HD channels. Meaning Discovery HD, ESPN HD, Universal HD, and ETC. Some cards support ATSC (over-the-air) and QAM (unencrypted signals from your existing line). Also know that MCE and Vista MCE do not support QAM. Rumors and speculations, state that Vista MCE will get QAM support in the new service pack.

In the end sense your already an HD customer its probably cheaper and easier just to get a DVR box (if yours isn't already) and have it hooked up to an HDTV than trying to get your hands on a CABLEcard ready PC.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060131-6081.html - This article was from two years ago and I don't believe that anythings changed. It's ironic because CABLEcards were designed to make the industry more competitive and yet its only added to the frustration, as mention in the article.

Quote:
Turning your box into a high definition DVR now means that you need both a new monitor and a new, brand-name PC—an expensive proposition when you consider that most cable companies lease such boxes for US$10 or US$15 a month.
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January 11, 2008 7:17:56 PM

Squidmaster said:
I have Comcast hi-def cable and am about to build a system that I'm hoping can act as a multimedia platform. What type of card do I need to get to use my computer as a recording device? My understanding is that I do not technically want a tuner card since I have to get the signal from the cable box, not over the air, and that is leaving me a little confused about where to look next.

Thanks!

Due to Comblast's cable box containing a proprietary analog/HD tuner, there is no way you can just take the coax from Comcast and just plug it into a tuner card to record HD signals.

The best you can do is use the A/V out on the cable box to the A/V in on a video card. You can, thru the use of splitters and 3rd party apps, record HD content to your computer but then you can't watch one show and record another.

If Comblast sold a pci tuner card with their proprietary analog and HD tuner built onto it, it would do exactly what you are looking for, but don't expect that to happen. CABLEcard computers are only something that Comblast supports on paper, so don't rush out and try to buy one anytime soon.

Another option is buy a TiVo or get the Comblast DVR box, hack it, and then re-code/transfer your recordings to your computer.

Long story short and the easiest but most costly solution, and if recording HD signals from Comblast is something that you really want to do, get a 2nd cable box and dedicate it to recording content using the A/V outs to the computer's A/V ins.

I'm also a Comblast customer and this is something that I've tooled around with over the years.
January 11, 2008 7:21:33 PM

One of the best clear QAM tuners out there is the HDHomerun. Check it out. It sends the video over the lan so its not locked down to one machine. It also has a digital standard definition and a digital high definition tuner so with your existing analog tuner you can record/watch three things at once. This also actually works with Windows Media Center, unlike the majority if HD tuners out there which have to use 3rd party software. It also supports MythTV and a few others. Check it out. The main drawback is probably the cost of around 160 bucks.

http://www.silicondust.com/wiki/products/hdhomerun
January 11, 2008 8:16:12 PM

chunkymonster said:
Due to Comblast's cable box containing a proprietary analog/HD tuner, there is no way you can just take the coax from Comcast and just plug it into a tuner card to record HD signals.


It's not very proprietary since my friend's Samsung OTA tuner (which has built in QAM tuner) he used to use in Toronto for OTA works just fine at getting him channels on Comcast's cable, be they 720P on FOX, or 1080i on PBS, or even some free pay-per-view (unfortunately those were standard 480i Def).

My personal recommendation would be what I got (but didn't have to test when I was visitng the US) , the ATi 650 , I got the USB version, but the PCI version should be fine for the OP's needs. The Hauppauge and AverMedia ones should also offer similar features, so look for the ones you want and then the best price.
January 26, 2008 1:27:59 AM

Wow, I didn't expect such different answers. Would anyone else care to weigh in, particularly someone who uses comcast and does this sort of thing?
January 26, 2008 2:26:22 AM

I'm interested too. The guy in Toronto - can he get ALL the HD Comcast carries, or just the local stuff re-broadcast by Comcast, i.e. major networks? If that's all he gets you could get the same thing OTA with no cable/sat provider needed, at least that's the case in the US.

The 'proprietary' part may not apply to the locals but does I thought apply to all the others, which must be paid for.
We tried capturing the HD and it did record but it didn't come over in HD.
May 8, 2009 3:55:26 PM

chunkymonster said:
Due to Comblast's cable box containing a proprietary analog/HD tuner, there is no way you can just take the coax from Comcast and just plug it into a tuner card to record HD signals.

The best you can do is use the A/V out on the cable box to the A/V in on a video card. You can, thru the use of splitters and 3rd party apps, record HD content to your computer but then you can't watch one show and record another.

If Comblast sold a pci tuner card with their proprietary analog and HD tuner built onto it, it would do exactly what you are looking for, but don't expect that to happen. CABLEcard computers are only something that Comblast supports on paper, so don't rush out and try to buy one anytime soon.

Another option is buy a TiVo or get the Comblast DVR box, hack it, and then re-code/transfer your recordings to your computer.

Long story short and the easiest but most costly solution, and if recording HD signals from Comblast is something that you really want to do, get a 2nd cable box and dedicate it to recording content using the A/V outs to the computer's A/V ins.

I'm also a Comblast customer and this is something that I've tooled around with over the years.

TGC
The problem with the COMCAST DVR is that the hard drive is small and cannot hold a lot of shows, and it is not possible to add an external hard drive. The output from the DVR includes component signals, and audio.. Is there any way to recombine this (hopefullly Hi DEf information) to a recordable content?
December 6, 2009 1:49:21 PM

I know this thread is a year old but regardless it might help if I put in my 2¢.

First: If you have basic cable getting a digital capture card and running the coax directly into your computer will give you everything the cable box will unencrypted required by law in the US. However, if you do not want to get a tuner card plugging a firewire cable from your cable box to the computer will allow you to capture the same channels. Personally, I find this silly. Why rent a cable box for $X a month when none is required?

Second: If you have extended cable or better (premium) aka a service that requires you to get a cable box to watch all of the channels you're paying for then there are currently two ways to get those channels on to your computer in regards to LIVE TV.
1) A cable card tuner. ATM ATI is the only company on the market that has a cable card tuner for sale outside of OEM. CAUTION: You will have to have a specialized motherboard if you go this route. It probably would be easier to buy a pre made Dell (or other brand) with the cable card option available than making your own white box. Also, this will only work in Windows Media Center and your content will be encrypted. If you're curious here is a list of computers with cable card compatibility: http://ati.amd.com/products/tvwonderdigital/partners.ht...
2) An HD-PVR + IRblaster. Currently the only one on the market is: http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hdpvr.html Basically, it will capture full HD (up to 1080i) and output it to USB in the h264 format. This is not a digital 1 to 1 capture, and you still have to have a cable box from your cable company but if you're paying for HBO HD you can fully capture that channel. Heck, if you pay for ppv porn you could even capture it with this. You can't do that with the cable card method.

There are a couple of other solutions like buying a TiVO and streaming your captures to your computer over the network, but I believe this does not support live TV. (I could be wrong.)



So, of the two ways to do this the pricing is:
CableCARD: $200 for each input (aka watch one show, record another would be $400) + $2.05 a month for each cable card + remote + cost for computer HW. This is extremely restrictive to specific computer hardware ($$) and only works on wmc.
HD-PVR: $250 for each input + a monthly cost of usually $6 for each cable box (or a one time payment to buy a cable box with $2 a month for the cable card) + IRblaster + any computer hardware that can handle USB. bonus: less restrictive.

And the third option: Buy a dedicated DVR like a TiVO. Usually every fathers day they have a 1 day sale and a dual channel HD TiVO with lifetime subscription is usually around $500.




Hopefully this helps.
December 6, 2009 7:30:46 PM

ASUS My Cinema-PE9400
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250
Compro E900F

With those cards and XP Media Center Edition, Vista, or Win7 you can not only watch but also record like a DVR with Windows Media Center. Most of the reviews I've read say that it is better then the bundled software but I wont know personally until I get the computer I plan to use for this together.

As for splitting it after it goes though the cable box you should get an amplified splitter to improve the signal. You should be able to find those at a local RadioShack, Best Buy, or other electronics store.

Another feature to look for is a "IR Blaster" that lets your computer send the same commands as your remote to do things like turn on/off or change channel at a specific time even when your not home.
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