I would pretty much only use it to record shows on a one-off basis, such as:
1) when the movie I've wanted to see and keep missing finally comes on again - even if I'm home I'd like to schedule it because I'd probably forget
2) when said movie overlaps with another show I watch
3) when I will be out for the night and missing a show
4) the occasional pay per view event.
I don't plan on using it to record weekly, so no House marathons - since there are few shows that I miss weekly that I enjoy - though having the option wouldn't be bad in case I take on an activity and will be missing shows.
When I used my last one, it pretty much just connected to my set top box (Comcast Digital Starter package) through IR and I could control the TV through there. But it was quirky and sometimes didn't change the channel when set to record (if I forgot), and wouldn't let me watch another show if it was recording.
The last one I had was this one: http://www.amazon.com/HP-ExpressCa [...] B000R9E8C0 I only got it because it was cheap, and I was just starting to use Windows Media Center, and wasn't sure how much I'd actually use it.
Off the top of my head, the only device that can do all that you're asking is a dual-tuner set top box DVR. The Hauppauge card is good for what it does, but it's limited by the cable companies who encrypt their channel lineups (requiring the use of a set top box or cablecard). For instance:
From the wall --> Set top box --> Hauppauge Card --> HDTV
This set up allows you to record only the channel that the set top box is currently set to since the set top box only outputs one channel. There is no need for the TV tuner capabilities of the card. An HD Video Capture card would work best. Unfortunately, you won't be able to watch one show while recording another and you're still reliant on the set top box the change channels when a program you want to record is scheduled to start.
From the wall --> splitter --> Set top box --> Hauppauge Card --> HDTV From the wall --> splitter --> Hauppauge Card --> HDTV
This set up allows you to record the unencrypted channels in your cable subscription while still allowing you to watch a show via the set top box. You will not be able to record PPVs or encrypted channels that you subscribe to. If Comcast in your area does not encrypt any of the channels you subscribe to, this is the way to go. The easiest way to find out if any of the channels you subscribe to are encrypted, connect the cable directly from the wall to your HDTV and let it scan for channels. If your HDTV finds all the same channels that your set top box does, then none of the channels you subscribe to are encrypted.
From the wall --> dual-tri-quad tuner cablecard ready device --> HDTV
This set up allows you to watch one channel while recording another (encrypted or not), watch and record the same channel, and record two or more channels (depending on how many tuners your device has) showing at the same time. The down side to this is the loss of PPVs.
Thanks Wolf. I looked at the Ceton and HDHomeRun Prime before, and they were too expensive for my taste. The 2650 may not be so bad, it's only slightly more expensive than the 2250 I linked, but has more of the functionality I seek.
So there would be no way to record pay per views? Would it work if I were to manual record while watching?