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Media Center and Digital Cable

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
September 9, 2008 9:30:56 PM

Alright, here's the deal. I've been tinkering around with Media Center and now I have some extra cash to start working on getting a tuner and setting up my PC as a DVR. I would like to record from my HD cable box. I'm figuring the best way to do this would be to get a capture card that has component in and use an IR blaster to change the channels through Media Center. Is this feasible? If so, what would I need to get this done?
September 9, 2008 9:43:30 PM

I would look for an HD cablecard tuner.. solve all the problems right there.

it should be able to tune all the non-scrambled signals, and with the cablecard feature, pick up the scrambled your subscribed for too (as long as your company supports cablecard).
September 9, 2008 9:54:09 PM

EDIT: Where is the CableCARD PCI card available for purchase?

EDIT 2: I've also read that Premium channels are not available when using a CableCARD. I'm thinking that hooking up component through a capture card and using an IR blaster to control the TV seems like the best way to go about this.
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September 9, 2008 10:58:21 PM

As far as I know you can only get a CableCard tuner in systems.
With a CableCard you can get premium channels just cant get ppv channels (the CableCard is a one way only and you need a two way communication with the cable co to get PPV ).

The only thing about using a capture card from your cable box is I don't know of any that will allow you to get HD content (I heard there is supposed to be one coming but haven't seen any yet ). I would guess the best would be from the s-video which is far from HD.
September 10, 2008 12:21:22 AM

If you can find a component in capture card, that would be your best bet so far.
September 10, 2008 1:16:27 AM

Yeah that's what I was thinking. Since Component is Analog, it doesn't have any encryption. So the cable box wouldn't be able to tell that it's being hooked up to a capture card at all. The only problem is I'm not sure which card and IR blaster to get.

Does anyone have any info on either of these?
September 10, 2008 11:13:30 PM

Hauppage 1800 video card includes an IR transmeter. It is designed to transmite command to cable-box or satelite box. Using hauppage 1800 media-center remote you can change the channel on your cable-box or satelite box. It connects to the PC through USB.

The software that goes with Hauppage 1800 HD tunercard is one of the goods ones that works with media center.

The analog-tv of 1800 is far inferior from other tuner card... The analog video image is pretty bad.

September 10, 2008 11:49:03 PM

QAM is available on many cards like the 1600, 1800, ATi 650 and is the equivalent of most 'cable cards' in North America where premium service decryption has not be offered by cable companies TMK. It also depends on the provider, in Canada almost all of the HD cable channels are encrypted with the rare exceptions, for me it's just Discovery HD and CBC HD that are free for Toronto it's like 6-10 (but they have OTA channels as well), and a bunch of SD channels.

That is the best way to record HD content, it avoids alot of the issues and offers pretty good direct recording without the compression artifacts of most analogue capture cards. But it does depends on what channels you're trying to record and the cable company.

With the resolutions you're talking about most capture cards involve very heavy compression to record the 720P/1080i content.

Black Magic makes some nice cards I've seen in action for low compression via component and HDMI, but none of the quality HD component recorders are cheap, and many still look blocky after running compression ontop of the decompressed to analogue output of the cable box.

For you I'd say this is likely your best bet, using slightly higher compression of H.264;

It's a pain, but it's cheaper than the truely good solutions, and it'll at least let you record what you're still looking to record.

BTW don't think the cable box can't figure out if an analogue connection is connected or not if the cable company wanted to they could've had that feature added, just like Macrovision protection on VCRs which was all analogue connections.
September 11, 2008 2:08:11 AM

I was actually taking a look at the HD PVR, recommended by the Systm podcast It's actually exactly what I'm looking for, but unfortunately a bit out of my price range.

I think I might have figured out another way anyways. I have a HD DVR in the other room, and it does have two IEEE 1394 jacks on it. Here in the States, terrestrial cable providers must provide access through those ports (though they can encrypt premium content). I'm going to go and get a firewire cable this weekend and see what happens. Hopefully, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to use Firewire, which would be amazingly cheap and affective.
September 11, 2008 4:32:42 PM

I can't tell you where, but I can tell you that there are hacks to allow some of the boxes to give you access to external contant. I know some of the models for my local provider in Canada will do it, but never was worth the effort for me to track down the hack.