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  1. Member
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    Hey, these questions might seem dumb, but I've tried my best to search this forum for the solution myself and am very confused. I would appreciate any help I can get, thanks =D.

    What I am trying to do is find the kind card that I need (Preferably PCI at this point, although I might have room for a 1x pci-e card... I forget how big the GFX card is in that computer) to get digital cable channels into my computer without a top box (plug the coaxial right in). It would also be nice to find one that does dual tuning.

    Do such cards exist? If so, do I have to "authorize" them with my cable provider (Rogers Canada)? Do they care if I don't use their top box and use this capture card? Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you in advance for your reply,
    Carter Williams
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  2. Member yoda313's Avatar
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    Any capture card would work with digital cable.

    However you may run into encrypted channels. Those would be premium ones like HBO and showtime. But the other channels like the FOOD network and HGTV and SCIFI and such should not be a problem.

    You can also do high def cable but only the clear qam ones that are unencrypted.




    By the way WELCOME TO THE FORUM
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  3. Member
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    what about stuff like the military channel and mystery channel. These are channels that you can't get on a normal tv without the top box. Do these fall under the "encrypted" category? Is there any way to get encrypted channels into the PC without a top box?
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  4. There are such things as "cable-card tuners". Unfortunately, they apparently don't work. Perhaps sometime in the near future.
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  5. Member yoda313's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by simoyd
    what about stuff like the military channel and mystery channel. These are channels that you can't get on a normal tv without the top box. Do these fall under the "encrypted" category?
    Unfortunately I don't have experience with those since i only have the "preffered" basic plan not the higher level with the specialty channels. However the G4 video game channel was recently taken off the regular analog list and moved into the cable box only mode. Meaning I can only watch it through my cable dvr and not on other sources. I am suspicious that similar means would be in work in these "plus" stations that are not higher end ones like HBO or Showtime.

    What you can do of course is try outputting the signal from the cable box to the capture card - ie using the composite or svideo cable off the box to the capture card. The only downside is you won't be able to change the channel with the capture card. You would just be able to record what is currently playing. However you may still run into encryption on certain channels even using analog methods like an svideo cable.
    Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
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    they make IR devices that will change the channel on the set top box for you at the appropriate time for scheduled recordings..I first learned about them in the gbpvr forums.
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    Originally Posted by Simoyd
    what about stuff like the military channel and mystery channel. These are channels that you can't get on a normal tv without the top box. Do these fall under the "encrypted" category? Is there any way to get encrypted channels into the PC without a top box?
    The odds are very high that these channels will not be encrypted, but due to incompetence, insanity or some pointless reason we can't think of there might be some providers that might encrypt any channel, either by design or accident.
    I can tell you only that with my provider, Comcast, I take everything they have except for movie channels like HBO and I have yet to find anything encrypted. There are very few channels I ever record outside of local channels, but the few times I have recorded channels similar to what you list, it always worked.

    I have seen P2P networks offering various HBO, Showtime, etc. shows shortly after broadcast, but I have no idea how those are recorded and whether or not a set top box is necessary. Perhaps a Google search could provide some details. I honestly don't know how these particular encrypted channels are captured, I only know that they are.
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    With Comcast cable, what's available available as clear QAM varies. In my area, Comcast appears to be using either switched digital video (SDV) or encryption for most digital channels. Local channels (but not Fox or MyNetwork), GSN, Daystar, QVC, Comcast's promotional/informational channels, and some random on-demand stuff are clear QAM. There are additional digital channels that are listed in the basic or standard/extended analog packages, but an STB is needed to watch them.

    I'd say some other providers could vary as well.
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  9. In my experience, in the USA, almost all digital cable channels are encrypted. The only digital channels you can count on getting un-encrypted are the local broadcast channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, etc.) and a few others like your local community access channel. If you have a TV with a QAM tuner try it and see what you can get.

    Analog cable is much simpler. Usually only the premium subscription channels like HBO and Cinemax, are encrypted. All the channels your TV with cable tuner can display can be captured by a capture card with analog cable tuner.

    There are CableCard recording devices which should be able to access all analog and digital cable channels. But support for them is very spotty:

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2959&p=5
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080922-is-cablecard-a-dud-only-2000-requested-o...er-summer.html
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  10. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Comcast's proposal is to get a cable box and change channels with IR Blaster. The MCE folk have been pushing for a PCI/PCIe tuner with Cablecard but with very limited beta success. Google cablecard + MCE.
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  11. If you've gone through those articles and gotten all depressed, there IS some good news.

    Using the cable company box, anything you can view can also be output thru S-Video to a standard capture card. While it is not HD, it IS very hi-quality on all digital channels. HD broadcasts offer increased resolution over standard SD. True anamorphic widescreen is possible. 5.1 audio capture is possible. File size and encoding parameters are under your control. DRM is eliminated. Video is telecined rather than completely interlaced, progressive 24fps capture is possible.

    The remote issue is one I have never understood. Cable box is tunable and can be scheduled, Pc recording is scheduled to match. Volume and/or other TV controls usually require a seperate remote anyway.

    I have used multiple ATI cards for many years, also got a Hauppage 1600 about a year ago. While the 1600 can do true HD recordings, there is no control over bitrate or any parameters of the file, giving obnoxiously large file sizes for a minimal quality improvement. I never thought a software would make me happy with the ATI MMC and its quirks, but the Hauppage software succeedded in doing that. Haven't used the 1600 at all for a few months now.

    Having downgraded from cable to OTA reception, the situation is pretty much the same although with fewer channels to choose from. Quality is a bit more variable, though the best examples surpass most broadcasts available on either cable or satellite.
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  12. Originally Posted by Nelson37
    Using the cable company box, anything you can view can also be output thru S-Video to a standard capture card. While it is not HD, it IS very hi-quality on all digital channels. HD broadcasts offer increased resolution over standard SD. True anamorphic widescreen is possible.
    Only if your cable box can output this way.

    Originally Posted by Nelson37
    5.1 audio capture is possible.
    Only if you capture the digital audio output from the cable box. If you capture via stereo RCA cables you will get matrixed surround sound at best.

    Originally Posted by Nelson37
    Video is telecined rather than completely interlaced,
    Only for film based material. And this would be telecined via any analog delivery.

    Originally Posted by Nelson37
    progressive 24fps capture is possible.
    I don't know of any capture devices that will automatically IVTC while capturing.

    Originally Posted by Nelson37
    While the (Hauppauge) 1600 can do true HD recordings, there is no control over bitrate or any parameters of the file, giving obnoxiously large file sizes for a minimal quality improvement.
    This is because the 1600 is simply saving the MPEG transport stream that is being broadcast. It does not decode the MPEG video and recompress it. So there's no choice of codecs or bitrates.
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  13. Member
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    Thank you everyone for all your help. I'll just pick up a cheap analog video in card because I'm not concerned about HD right now. I've already got a media center remote (that has an IR sender that I can tape to the top box) so I think I'm set =D.

    Thanks again =D
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