I know there are a few cards out there that support digital cable, but are very specific to the provider. What solution would be most flexible? The point here is to capture HDTV for viewing later.
If no cards are suitable yet, are there any that can control an external digital cable box?
<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
if no cards are suitable yet, are there any that can control an external digital cable box?
I know there's something called an "IR Blaster" that's usually connected to the computer via serial or USB port. You connect it to the computer then place the end over the IR receiver on the cable box.
Then to control it, there's some freeware software out there, such as Girder (it used to be freeware). I know Girder has some plugins to work with TV tuner software, so it'll automatically change the channel for timed recordings, change the channel with your TV tuner's remote, et cetera.
For standard DVB-C with a Common Interface smartcard, there are really only two designs - the Tecnotrend/Hauppauge/Siemens design (Philips SAA7146 + Philips "Vista" front end, also has a TI DSP for hardware MPEG-2 decoding), and the TwinHan design (BT878, not sure what front end they use). Neither can recieve analogue hyperband cable and both are pretty expensive cards. There are "budget" versions of these cards available which don't have a CI card reader and can only capture unencrypted DVB-C.
External digital cable set-top boxes tend to be totally closed. Some of them have RS-232 or RS-422 interfaces, but those are normally only used for firmware upgrades. Most people I know who run a PC based PVR with them used a IR transmitter on the PC to channel switch and program the STB via standard RC5-remote control commands. It works but it is a little clunky - your PC transmitter has to have a clean line of sight to the STB.