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CableCARD, TV Tuners... Need clarification!!!


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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Eric Thomson

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Posted June 03 2011 - 09:16 AM

I am looking at either upgrading the HTPC I have now (recycled full ATX tower: needs coax input, HDMI output, Blu Ray) or buying new.  Beforehand, I need clarification on how this will work with my digital cable box. What I am looking to do (without spending $400 on a Ceton CableCARD Tuner) is to use my HTPC as a DVR where I completely rely on the WMC guide and recorded TV and never have to switch inputs to the cable box.  I am finding it very difficult to find any clarification on how a regular tuner card works as far as bringing the content over from the cable box.  Does it simply bring over the video from the channel the box is set to?  And does a regular tuner card have the ability to watch one channel and record another like a standard DVR?

#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Eric Thomson

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Posted June 03 2011 - 09:21 AM

As I am sure it will come up, I am not concerned about losing on demand content.  I also do not have any of the premier channels now (HBO, etc) but I would LIKE to have that ability as well, but it's not a deal breaker.  I have dual PCIe video cards (DVI only) and I can use those ports or several other ports for expansion (HDMI video/TV Tuner Card). Not sure on the exact specs but it should all support whatever scenario I go with.

#3 of 12 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted June 03 2011 - 09:50 AM

Ok: You don't need a cable card tuner at all to make good use of WMC.   WMC will work just fine with a standard tuner card, allowing you 2-6 tuners that receive HD signal from a cable provider (QAM) and Analog signal from them (first 77) OR you can use. These tuners work fine, functionally.  You can also receive signal OTA (Over the Air) which would allow you, using a single antenna, to get most of your local stations in HD, etc. Using standard tuners, you'll find that you can record 1 station, watch another, or with multiple tuners, you can record up to 5 stations and watch another.. or beyond.   You can also share your content out to any XBOX which will be abble to use your TV Tuners, etc. to watch live TV. This depends on what your goal is.  You'll find life is a lot simpler with a single card that does correct HDMI.   So, I'd recommend something like an ATI 5450/64xx type card, or an Nvidia 430, something "basic"  You do not need a high end gaming card.  You want one with low heat output and less noise!   That's the goal. I can try and get a FAQ going here, but yes, MOST standard tuning cards work fine in WMC!
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#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Eric Thomson

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Posted June 03 2011 - 09:59 AM

Thanks for your response. Do those video cards transmit audio via HDMI as well? Or is a separate output required? Do you recommend a good tuner card? Is there anything special required to use multiple cards (apart from extra slots)? Or would I just buy 3 cards, put them in and get 6 channels at once? Going this route, would I hook up the cable box to the card for decryption or do I just bypass the box altogether?  I have had the TV hooked straight to the wall with no box and was missing quite a few channels.  Will I have the same issue here or will the HTPC take care of that?  Basically I want to confirm that I will not lose channels and will be able to completely control recordings and viewing through Win7 Media Center.

#5 of 12 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted June 03 2011 - 11:32 AM

Thanks for your response.

Do those video cards transmit audio via HDMI as well? Or is a separate output required?



Do you recommend a good tuner card? Is there anything special required to use multiple cards (apart from extra slots)? Or would I just buy 3 cards, put them in and get 6 channels at once?



Going this route, would I hook up the cable box to the card for decryption or do I just bypass the box altogether? I have had the TV hooked straight to the wall with no box and was missing quite a few channels. Will I have the same issue here or will the HTPC take care of that? Basically I want to confirm that I will not lose channels and will be able to completely control recordings and viewing through Win7 Media Center.

Yes. The ati5xxx and 6xxx plus the nvidia 430 etc all support 8 channel lpcm plus bitstream audio over hdmi. No. You would not need a cable box at all for qam
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#6 of 12 OFFLINE   joeydrunk

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Posted June 05 2011 - 03:10 PM

I am looking at either upgrading the HTPC I have now (recycled full ATX tower: needs coax input, HDMI output, Blu Ray) or buying new.  Beforehand, I need clarification on how this will work with my digital cable box.


What I am looking to do (without spending $400 on a Ceton CableCARD Tuner) is to use my HTPC as a DVR where I completely rely on the WMC guide and recorded TV and never have to switch inputs to the cable box.  I am finding it very difficult to find any clarification on how a regular tuner card works as far as bringing the content over from the cable box.  Does it simply bring over the video from the channel the box is set to?  And does a regular tuner card have the ability to watch one channel and record another like a standard DVR?

Your cablebox wont have anything to do with this. You can either get a ceton wich you don't want or get a clear QAM tuner wich will only support ota channels and unencrypted cable channels wich are few to none these days. You'll probably get channels between 1-13 you might get channels 1-30. It depends on your cable providers so check and see wich channels in your area are encrypted. You most likely won't get most of the good channels even with extended basic. cable. You only have a couple choices to get all hd, encrypted, or premium channels. That's the ceton infinitv4, the new homerun digital hd tuner that's not out until next month and the discontinued ATI digital wonder wich you can find on eBay and the likes, it only has one tuner though.

#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Eric Thomson

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Posted June 05 2011 - 03:23 PM

Well I will have to check with my provider to see what all I have that is encrypted or unencrypted.  If I go that route what are some good QAM tuners?  What is the cheapest anybody has seen the Ceton card?  I can't get the wife's approval on the $350 I found.  Is the homerun tuner as good as the Ceton?

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted June 05 2011 - 03:29 PM

Well I will have to check with my provider to see what all I have that is encrypted or unencrypted. If I go that route what are some good QAM tuners? What is the cheapest anybody has seen the Ceton card? I can't get the wife's approval on the $350 I found. Is the homerun tuner as good as the Ceton?

The cheapest you'll find the ceton for is 265 at amazon. Clear qam is enough for most. The silicon dust hdhomerun can be found with two tuners everywhere for around $99. I'd also recommend he hauppauge 2250
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#9 of 12 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted June 05 2011 - 04:02 PM

Most cable networks are required to carry some QAM.   Though they minimize it and definitely don't publicize it.   If you want to find out what is available on ClearQAM in your area through your cable provider, check here: http://www.silicondu...pport/channels/
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#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Eric Thomson

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Posted June 06 2011 - 04:04 AM

I've tried that site before but they only have Comcast and Digital Antenna.  I called my provider (Suddenlink) and it looks like I will not lose much.  We have the most basic package now.  I am hoping that will be enough with the Media Computer.  I think I am leaning towards the hd homerun tuner.

#11 of 12 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted June 06 2011 - 09:23 AM

I've tried that site before but they only have Comcast and Digital Antenna.  I called my provider (Suddenlink) and it looks like I will not lose much.  We have the most basic package now.  I am hoping that will be enough with the Media Computer.  I think I am leaning towards the hd homerun tuner.

If you don't know what your provider has on QAM, definitely get the SiliconDust. It's inbuilt scanner utility will scan your QAM content and give you a feedout on what it is, so you can quickly view the channels even if they don't have callsigns and sort it out. It's a handy tool and it can save you a boatload of time if you aren't sure.
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#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Eric Thomson

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Posted June 07 2011 - 01:12 AM

Well I think what I am going to do now since we just moved and are on a tight budget so we can get "important" things, I'm going to probably go with a non-cablecard tuner for now.  When I replace this box later I will go with a cablecard tuner, as I'm sure they will be cheaper and more abundant then. Thanks for everybody's help. This is a great forum.




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