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Spare Parts PC to replace Comcast DVR?

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November 3, 2009 4:59:30 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: flexible - but not this week - I need to get an idea of what can be done and then I'll begin bargain hunting and research

BUDGET RANGE: trying to use old parts if feasible to keep < $500, otherwise I will reassess

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: DVR for Comcast cable, Music, Hulu

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor, (maybe not mobo and RAM)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg 1st choice, tigerdirect 2nd choice

PARTS PREFERENCES: no junk

OVERCLOCKING: NO
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: NO

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1080p 40" TV

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
I am wondering if I can use the mobo I have laying around to build a sort of HTPC for recording TV shows off of Comcast cable (in HD if possible) and get rid of my Comcast DVR box that they charge monthly for and replace it with a non DVR cable box. I would probably also use the PC for playing music and would like to use it for watching Hulu. I already have a blue ray player so don't need it to do that. A DVD recorder might be nice but is not necessary.

I have built a few computers and upgraded several components over the past few years so I'm not afraid to dive in, pick out parts and put the thing together but I am kind of otherwise technically challenged regarding home theater things and what minimum parts (CPU speed, RAM etc) are required to do this sort of thing or if its even feasible with the old board I have laying around. (I imagine there is some type of software I need to put on the DVR PC to make it act like a "Tivo" type thing like my current Comcast box does?.

Anyway, I ramble. My main question is can I make PC to record off of Comcast cable, play music through our receiver and watch Hulu with these old parts (see below) and what sort of software would I need? I know i need hard drive, video card, probably sound card, CPU, case etc etc. I mostly want to know how fast (CPU) and how much (RAM) and what OS/added software and added hardware is needed. If it is not feasible with the parts I have laying around, I'm still interested but would then need to reassess my budget.

GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ SLI-Ready Edition 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2N1066SR2GK - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
*** I probably need 4 GB? If so I would need different RAM b/c this board doesn't support more of this type

Thanks in advance for any assistance. If someone could point me in the right direction I'd be very grateful.



November 3, 2009 5:44:34 PM

You need a TV tuner card, Hauppage seems to be the manufacturer to look at. They come with software and some even with a remote.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

RAM doesnt seem to be a problem, people are doing it with below 1GB on Pentium 3s. Harddrive space and the video card seem to be the issues. I know the new 5750 is an awesome HTPC graphics card, but it probably alot more than you want to spend. There are lots of people doing it with older graphics cards.

I have an old P3 with an old Haupage card (crappy sound, only analog cable) I set up to do it and it is very easy. Basically plug it in and install the software.
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November 3, 2009 5:46:09 PM

Welcome to the HTPC world.

To start, since your prime goal is to record Comcast HD programming, you may want to wait a bit for the Ceton CableCard tuners to come out in 1Q 2010:

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

These will allow you to install a cable card and basically use your PC as a full DVR. Previously, you had to buy a pre-built HTPC to get a CableCard tuner. See here for details.


At this time, the tuner cards available are able to tune in over-the-air (OTA) digital television, analog standard cable, and clear-QAM digital cable. What is QAM? See here. Even with clear-QAM you will only get local channels in HD and you will not get any premium channels (HBO, etc.). As with most things, there are workarounds like the 1212 HD PVR, but you would still need your set-top box. This problem will go away with the CableCard tuners I mentioned above.

For software, Windows 7 Home Premium is all you need. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, I highly recommend you install iTunes on the PC and use the free "Remote" app to play all of your music through your receiver using your iPod.
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November 3, 2009 5:58:13 PM

rwpritchett said:
Welcome to the HTPC world.

To start, since your prime goal is to record Comcast HD programming, you may want to wait a bit for the Ceton CableCard tuners to come out in 1Q 2010:


Very interesting, thank you.

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