I live in the USA and have basic cable (i.e. no cable box, unencrypted and straight off the coax cable). I get a bunch of channels, some analog, some digital and some of the digital channels are HD. I am interested in finding a TV tuner card that can record off of my HD channels. I have an old ATI "HDTV Wonder" card which worked great for recording HDTV off an antenna years ago, but could not see any channels on my cable. So there must be a newer HD format that my old card cannot read, and now I have to upgrade.
I would like to buy a new card to record off of my cable, and I am looking for advice to find a card to buy. I would prefer the card to work in windows media center but I am also interested in hearing any alternatives.
Any and all suggestions are welcome.
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Thread: Advice for buying TV Tuner card
Look for a TV card with an ATSC/QAM tuner and an NTSC tuner. Good signal strength is essential for success. The tuners in these devices are sometimes not as good as those in a newer TV. You will also need Windows 7's version of Media Center or Windows 8's version of Media Center for access to any unencrypted digital cable channels (clear QAM channels) available from your provider.
I currently have a Hauppauge HVR 2250 with two tuners. I use it for recording from an antenna, but it is capable of recording both analog and clear QAM digital cable channels. It works very well with Windows Media Center.
Analog cable channels are not difficult to set up in Media Center. Setting up digital cable channels is more work. The procedure for setting up clear QAM cable channels is outlined here http://www.hack7mc.com/2009/01/manually-adding-clearqam-channels-to.html.
Be aware that the FCC has dropped the requirement for clear QAM and analog broadcast. As a result cable companies are starting to go all encrypted QAM. So whatever you get may not work for long...
If boxless service is discontinued, then the only option that allows the PC to tune channels is a CableCARD tuner, such as a HD Homerun Prime, Ceton InfiniTV 4, or Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650. An M-Card CableCARD must be rented from the service provider to make these work. The cost of the M-Card varies according to the provider's policies and the number of cards installed, from free to almost as much as an HD cable box. Windows 7's Media Center or Windows 8's Media Center are also required. Nothing else works with these devices for tuning encrypted channels.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 24th Feb 2013 at 09:56.
I forgot to mention that MediaPortal is free PVR software that is also supposed to be able to record analog and clear QAM cable channels if one uses Windows XP SP3. I tried it for recording over-the-air broadcasts using an antenna. I got it to work, but it is definitely less beginner-friendly than Windows Media Center.
I use WMC (Win7 and Win8 versions) and a HDHR Prime here and it's a real easy to use solution. I'm working on another HTPC for the bedroom and will probably just add another Prime. Don't count on the analog channels sticking around much longer. Ours (Olympia, WA) are going away in April. The Prime has three tuners and can be used as a clear QAM tuner or with a CableCard. SiliconDust has recently developed DLNA service for copy freely channels and is soon coming out with a 4 tuner version ( http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/08/silicondust-announces-two-new-hdhomerun-network-tuners-with-tr/ ) that features an AVC encoder to reduce bandwidth.
We have an HD Homerun Prime too. We use it in conjunction with a Windows 7 Pro HTPC, instead of renting the cable companies DVR. Since it's an ethernet device any computer (with Windows Media Center) in the house can access it to watch clear and encrypted QAM. I'm on the beta list for their DLNA server but I haven't yet gotten it to work. I'd like to use it to watch recorded shows on another TV (with a DLNA client) in the house.
Getting a second Prime, http://www.amazon.com/SiliconDust-HDHomeRun-CableCard-3-Tuner-HDHR3-CC/dp/B004HKIB6E/r...ds=silicondust because the missus wants the 'good looking channels' in the bedroom too...