I am looking to convert my old PC to be a DVR I can hook to my TV. I pretty much want to make it a Tivo system. I don't care about HD capabilities, I just want it to be able to record and play shows back to my TV.
What do I need to do to get this to machine to do the following:
Display to my TV
Record TV Programs with basic cable
I know the specs are low, but the computer will be dedicated to TV watching and recording only. Can I even do this with my old computer and what hardware do you suggest for getting this done on a budget. It is an older computer, so no PCI express hardware suggestions, please.
First you need a TV tuner card. You have to make sure it's PCI and also that it does hardware encoding. If you get one without hardware encoding, your CPU will have to do all the work and it may be too slow, and you'll lose frames and get choppy recordings. I'm using this PVR-150 model with great success: http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_pvr150.html
It was working well even on my old PC with a Pentium 3, so I'm sure it would do fine in your PC.
Second, you need software. If you have XP Media Center or Vista you're all set. Even then, you may want to invest in a better program like BeyondTV. It's got better features and it creates portable files without DRM that can actually be reused on a different PC.
Third, you should have a large and fast hard disk (or several). I recommend the WD6400AAKS.
There are also (more expensive) dual-tuners that can record two channels at the same time.