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PC DVR

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February 16, 2009 10:27:12 PM

Hi, can anyone give me information on how I would go about building a PC, hooking it up to my TV, and using it as a DVR? I am well versed in building PC's, but I'm pretty clueless on how to set it up as a DVR. I know I would need a TV Tuner, but can I just use Vista Media Center to record shows+schedule recordings like Tivo? Also, is there such a thing as an HD TV Tuner? I would appreciate any help anyone has to offer. Thanks!

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a b x TV
February 17, 2009 12:07:32 AM

Yes, you can use Vista Media Center to set up recordings of TV Shows.
There are HD TV Tuner cards available. I just recently got an HD Cable box from Comcast and I was rather surprised when viewing HD channels, that the picture actually came through.

My set up has a coax cable from the wall to the cable box input. A coax cable from the cable box output connects to the ATSC Input on my TV Tuner card in my HTPC. My graphics card (ATI HD2600Pro) has a DVI output. I run a DVI-HDMI converter cable (one piece) to my HDTV's HDMI Input. Audio output goes from my PC's S/PDIF output to a digital input in my receiver.

This set up still requires the cable box to act as the tuner, but I get all the channels I'm paying Comcast for. Without the cable box in the loop, you won't get any channels that are scrambled by your cable company. These would include your premium channels as well as other popular channels like ESPN and MTV.

Hope this helps,

-Wolf sends
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February 19, 2009 1:32:42 AM

Okay, but do I still need an HDTV Tuner if I get the HD cable box? And would it still be efficient to use the TV like a monitor? What about the TV Tuner already in the TV?

What I'm planning on is buying a desktop PC for around 1000, using fairly silent parts and a great graphics card and hook it up over LAN for gaming. The main focus is that I don't want to buy another monitor for the PC, so I'll use it on the HDTV instead. I also figure that a nice bonus would be to use it as a DVR so I can have more space than stupid Tivo and not pay a subscription. I also don't have to worry about buying a Blu Ray player as I plan on buying a blu ray disc drive with the PC.

One last time. From my understanding, I run a cable from the wall to the HD box (unless this isnt needed with an HDTV Tuner), from that to the Tuner, then an HDMI cable from the graphics card to the TV. The TV would be turned to the HDMI source, and function as a regular (albeit huge) computer monitor. The PC can run normally. Then, when I want to record something, I would just use Vista Media Center just like Tivo to schedule recordings and fast forward/rewind (live TV also right?) Because of the HD Box or Tuner, I would be able to order HD channels from Comcast and record those onto the PC's hard drive. If I want to watch a Blu-Ray movie, I can watch one using the Blu-Ray drive just like I would with a Blu-Ray player. If I want to watch a normal DVD, then I just insert that into the DVD burner and watch that, fullscreen/widescreen, just like I would with a normal DVD player. IF I want to burn something onto a DVD, I can do that using the burner too.Does anyone with experience know of any problems with this?

Can anyone recommend any particular brands of Tuners for what I have in mind? Preferably, I would like to be able to record and watch a different channel at the same time. Do they all do this? I'm sorry I'm asking so many questions, but any goggle site I visit is 4-6 years old.
February 21, 2009 2:17:56 PM

Can anyone offer any more help?
February 25, 2009 1:06:52 AM

I really need help with this...
February 27, 2009 12:06:41 AM

I need help, and I'm not quitting until somebody can give me some advice. I'm sure there are people who have experience with this sort of thing.
a b x TV
February 27, 2009 3:07:37 PM

Quote:
Okay, but do I still need an HDTV Tuner if I get the HD cable box? And would it still be efficient to use the TV like a monitor? What about the TV Tuner already in the TV?


Technically, no, you would not still need a TV Tuner card. Instead, you would need a video capture card.
I've not had any problems using my HDTV (Olevia 32" 720p) as a monitor, but I don't do a lot of browsing or gaming on that system. It's primarily a media center PC.
The TV's Tuner (or TV Tuner card) will not pick up any scrambled channels from your cable provider like premium channels (HBO, Showtime) or others like MTv or ESPN. Your TV Tuner will only pick up channels that your cable company sends "in the clear".

From everything else you mentioned, the only things I'm not sure you can do is the fast-forward/Rewind of live TV and the recording of HD channels (I just haven't tried it).

Everything else should be doable.

-Wolf sends
February 28, 2009 3:08:12 PM

Okay, thanks
December 22, 2009 3:16:05 AM

I know this i an old thread - but just curious - when the cable box in the loop - can you change the channel thru the PC - or do you have to do it thru the tuner?

Wolfshadw said:
Yes, you can use Vista Media Center to set up recordings of TV Shows.
There are HD TV Tuner cards available. I just recently got an HD Cable box from Comcast and I was rather surprised when viewing HD channels, that the picture actually came through.

My set up has a coax cable from the wall to the cable box input. A coax cable from the cable box output connects to the ATSC Input on my TV Tuner card in my HTPC. My graphics card (ATI HD2600Pro) has a DVI output. I run a DVI-HDMI converter cable (one piece) to my HDTV's HDMI Input. Audio output goes from my PC's S/PDIF output to a digital input in my receiver.

This set up still requires the cable box to act as the tuner, but I get all the channels I'm paying Comcast for. Without the cable box in the loop, you won't get any channels that are scrambled by your cable company. These would include your premium channels as well as other popular channels like ESPN and MTV.

Hope this helps,

-Wolf sends


December 23, 2009 12:50:13 AM

Just bumping this up. I am looking at a similar setup and would be interested to know if the cable box is just a pass thru (but is required in order to change channels)? What about On Demand and searching guides etc?
a b x TV
December 23, 2009 2:02:16 PM

Quote:
I know this i an old thread - but just curious - when the cable box in the loop - can you change the channel thru the PC - or do you have to do it thru the tuner?


With the STB in the loop, it acts as your TV Tuner. Your PC's TV Tuner card becomes a glorified video capture card.

Quote:
Just bumping this up. I am looking at a similar setup and would be interested to know if the cable box is just a pass thru (but is required in order to change channels)? What about On Demand and searching guides etc?


The cable box is only required if you want/need your encrypted channels. If you want to watch/record On-Demand or premium channels, you will need the cable box to do the decryption and (as stated above) act as your TV Tuner. I'm pretty sure the searching/programming guides are just RSS feeds from a particular web site your cable company provides.

One other thing to note is that early next year, a company named CETON has stated they will be shipping CableCard slot PC cards. This card with a Cablecard from your cable company would replace the set-top box as well as the TV Tuner card in your PC; allowing DVR capabilities of all channels your subscribe to.

http://www.cetoncorp.com/ProductsWMC.php

-Wolf sends



December 23, 2009 6:17:54 PM

Great info, thanks Wolfshadw,

The Ceton card looks like just the thing I am after - hopefully they get it out soon. At first I thought this would mean I could do away with renting my DVR/STB from the cable company (as per the Ceton brochure), but the cable company must supply a card too. The product description is a little vague as I would expect the cable company card also requires a PCI slot. It states only one PCIe required for the setup so I wonder if I am missing something?

No doubt the cost of the cable company card will be around the same as the DVR...
a b x TV
December 23, 2009 7:24:51 PM

As I understand it, the Ceton card is a PCI-E card that has a slot for the CableCard. Install the Ceton card into your system and then insert the CableCard into the Ceton card slot. In the image shown on the web site, the red card is the Ceton card. The silver portion is actually your cable company's CableCard.

And yes. In checking data from Comcast's web site, the cable card did cost as much as renting a set top box.

-Wolf sends
December 24, 2009 12:59:14 AM

The only thing w/ the cablecard is that the channels that you get will depend on your cable company. Ie - the cablecard thru TWC will not support "switched" channels. Ie which for most people will kill about 50% of their programming.
There is a blog that I found that spells it out pretty well.
Its on my machine at work. Ill try to post it later.
But ATI offers a new "cable box" video card - I may try to look at that to see if that would help.

!