I'm another cost-thinking TV viewer, and am considering dumping my cable (with DVR) for OTA broadcasts. To make the switch, I need a method to record 2 OTA HD TV channels simultaneously - hopefully while watching a prerecorded show. I've seen this question asked before on various boards, but nothing recent - that would include somewhat current hardware options, costs, etc. I'm looking for a hardware solution without monthly subscription fees. $20/year is fine for on-line programming guides - just trying to avoid the $12.95/month that Tivo charges.
I'll be outputting straight to my 1080P LCD. VGA or HDMI inputs available.
I've found these standalone device options:
EchoStar DTVPal DVR
I've seen a few still available for $299...
or, more easily available, it looks like the DTVPal has been rebranded as:
Channel Master CM-7000PAL
I couldn't find any other devices that did dual-tuner OTA HD for a comparable price, but maybe there are others around?
Or... could I build a comparable HTPC for the same price? I have some older systems that won't quite cut it, so I'd be buying everything new.
Instead of the stand alone device, I'd much rather have the flexibility of a HTPC - the choices of OS, software, and 'Media Hub' like possibilites would be great as well - playing Divx, MKV, etc. thru the HTPC instead of my Philips 5990. But cost is definitely the factor here. If I end up shelling out a years worth of cable fees upfront to build the device, it'll be a harder sell with the boss. So.... HTPC for $300-$400? Possible?
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Last edited by edDV; 22nd Mar 2010 at 16:36.
Cool. Software seems like it won't be a problem. And building a linux machine would be fine too (and probably more stable!). The primary concern now is how much the hardware will cost.
It looks like I'll need at least a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner:
$115 or ($130 with remote!)
But would some cheaper off brand be worth it? Digital is digital after all.
like this? (only $69)
Buying or building a PC for close to the same price as one of those PVRs would be a challenge, but if you go that route, add Windows 7's Media Center to the list of good PVR programs for OTA recording. I have been using it for two weeks now and I like it a lot.
[Edit] edDV is right about the proprietary format, though conversion to something else is possible, if the recording is not copy protected.
I think you are underestimating the setup and maintenance issues involved. Also you need a reasonably fast Core2 machine plus an AVIVO HD or Purevideo HD display card and ample disk space on a second capture drive. Anything less and you are asking for trouble.
Video will come in as ATSC MPeg2 TS (4.5-9 GB/hr) Re-encoding will take a fast CPU.
Also a PC makes a lot of noise unless you get a quiet case. Then there is sorting out the audio issues.
The Avermedia Duet has 2 digital tuners, the same number that the Hauppauge HVR 2250 has. Even though the Hauppauge HVR 2250 has 2 analog tuners and 2 S-Video ports as well, those are of limited usefulness for recording over-the-air broadcasts. There are some low-powered analog stations left, but in a lot of markets, many viewers can't receive them, and unless things change, by law they will have to convert to digital within the next few years or go dark.
Both cards have some bothersome issues if you read the user reviews or forum posts regarding them, but that can probably be said about all TV tuner cards. I have noticed Hauppauge has a larger following, and better support from its user community, but I seriously considered buying the Avermedia Duet for myself. I don't think it's a bad card even if it is a lesser brand.
The SiliconDust HDHomeRun is a network device with dual digital tuners. It is widely considered to be an excellent product, and has Linux drivers available, in addition to Windows drivers. The DViCO FusionHDTV7 Dual Express DUAL HDTV/Analog TV Tuner Card may have the best digital tuners of all, but I am not sure about driver availability for Windows 7 let alone Linux.
The advice to look carefully at hardware compatibility, driver availability and software support is very sound.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 22nd Mar 2010 at 19:58. Reason: grammar