best way to record TV show?

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by DesiPower, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. DesiPower

    DesiPower Lifer

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    So I want to record live TV on my HTPC. how do I do it? Here's what I have.

    Sandy Bridge Celeron based PC
    TV connected through HDMI port of Radeon HD 4350.
    Currently cable box is connected to TV's HDMI port #1
    PC is connected to TV's HDMI's port #2

    I have never done TV tuner/capture before and I have no idea how this thing works... a few question -

    1. Do I have to route the cable box through the PC's TV tuner card? and if yes do I have to keep PC on all the time when I want to watch TV?

    2. Is it possible to get a HDMI splitter and send one signal to TV and other to PC and record on PC while keep watching TV? If I use splitter, will the quality deteriorate?

    If both are possible which is a easier, more practical option?

    Need recommendation on capture/tuner card. budget is not a big issue, want to do it right and want good (not necessarily the best) quality.

    Please excuse my ignorance, if I am totally wrong and need to start all over, please tell me so, I am totally open to all kind of suggestions... I am not necessarily looking to schedule recording and all that good stuff, just want to record live TV and want to keep the setup as uncomplicated as possible.
     
  2. TastesLikeChicken

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    Assuming you have cable with encrypted channels you will need a cable card tuner. Ceton, Silicon Dust, and Hauppauge all make such beasts. You can also choose an internal card for your HTPC (Ceton InfiniTV4), or external devices that connect either via USB or ethernet.

    1. With a cable card tuner you no longer need a cable box. Instead you would use a cable card (which looks very much like a PCMCIA card) inserted in the tuner. This card is provided by your cable co upon request. The coax cable also connects directly to the tuner. When you watch TV the PC must be on. For recording shows the PC doesn't have to be on but it must be in sleep mode. Media Center will wake the PC from sleep to record the program.

    2. With a cable card tuner there would be no need for a splitter, unless I'm not understanding what you are saying. You can record a program and watch live TV at the same time with a cable card tuner. In fact, with the InfinTV4 you can watch live TV and record 3 other programs at the same time. If you want to watch live TV on your HTPC, want to record a program on another PC, and watch live TV or record a program on another PC then you want the HD Homerun Prime from Silicon Dust.

    One other nice thing about a cable card tuner is that renting a cable card from your cableco is cheap. If your cableco has a monthly rental fee for its HD DVR box in the $10 - $15 range you can make up the cost of a cable card tuner in 1-1/2 to 2 years.

    Something else that is nice is using the Media Center TV guide vs. what you get from a cable box. Once you start using it cable box guides seem barbaric in comparison.

    Then there are extenders so multiple TVs can connect...
     
  3. SaurusX

    SaurusX Senior member

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    Another thing to consider is that the HD4350 is insufficient for vector adpative deinterlacing, which to me is crucial for watching 1080i material on a 1080p display. Without VA you'll notice a lot of deinterlacing artifacts that really compromise the picture quality. The very minimum Radeon card you'll need is a 4550 and with that you'll need to turn off the Aero theme and go with basic.
     
  4. thestrangebrew1

    thestrangebrew1 Platinum Member

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    Can you use a cable card to record tv from directtv? Or is cable card literal?
     
  5. DesiPower

    DesiPower Lifer

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    well... thanks for the input but it all seems too much work and also involves replacing cable box with PC... not comfortable doing so...
    Let me ask you guys a simple question. Is there some kind of card available that can accept incoming transmission through a HDMI port and record whatever its receiving?
     
  6. TastesLikeChicken

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    It's literal. Only works with cable systems and FIOS. Doesn't work with Uverse, Dish, or DirecTV.

    Yes, there is a card that can record through an HDMI port. Hauppauge makes it. Will it allow you to record cable channels? Not sure. That probably depends on the copy protection flag settings for your cable co. Hauppauge also makes the Colossus which connects via component cables and can record any channel. For people using Dish or DirecTV it's basically their only method of recroding to their PC.

    However, for both of the above you have to set up an IR blaster on your cable box and you will still need a PC to use it. It's more work than a cable card tuner and can be less reliable as well.
     
  7. DesiPower

    DesiPower Lifer

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    So I am looking at this Hauppauge 01414, apparently it can record HDMI inputs, although, it can do much more, but it can also do what I want it to do. Most of the poeple complaining on egg are using it to do stuff that I wont be doing, and for what I would be doing, it seems, from the reviews, that this card will work.

    Important question is will the "copyright" thing ruin the plans.

    I am planning to split the HDMI output from my cable box using this baby, one will go into my TV and everything will keep working as usual, other to the card in my PC. Now lets say the program that I want to record, (mostly on PBS or Disney) is airing, and kids watching it on TV, at that point I simply turn the PC on and start recording it too...
    They only point of concern is the "copyright" or "encrypted" part, but if the TV can play it, why can't the card capture it? I am sure the TV is not "decoding" anything... is it?
     
  8. Dirigible

    Dirigible Diamond Member

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    You don't need to replace the cable box.

    Recording the video feed from hdmi seems like almost no cost savings, and gives you a lot less flexibility and capability compared to a cablecard tuner.

    Get cablecard tuner.
    Get cablecard from cable company.
    Set up tuner with cablecard (can be a pain, depending on your cable company).
    Set up windows media center with cablecard tuner.
    Use windows media center to record and watch whatever channel you'd like.

    Done. All while leaving your cable box exactly as it was.
     
  9. TastesLikeChicken

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    From what I've read on the Colossus it might do what you want it to do, but it can be a bit flaky. It was reviewed on AT a while back and the review wasn't all that encouraging. No doubt things have improved by then. I know there is a thread over at AVSForum on it so it might be worthwhile to check that out first before making a decision.

    Personally I think there are better alternatives for you. With an HD Homerun Prime cable card tuner you could do anything that Colossus could do, and much more. Your kids are watching a show and you want to record it? No problem. And with the HDHR Prime if the kids suddenly decide to change the channel they are watching the recording is not affected. You could record 2 shows at once while watching a live channel. You could watch a different show on another WMC-enabled PC on the network while your kids watch a show and another is recording. You could also use it alongside your cable box up until the time you decide that you no longer need or want a cable box. I can pretty much assure you that once you get used to a cable card tuner and WMC it won't be long before you dump your cable box.
     
  10. Fallen Kell

    Fallen Kell Diamond Member

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    Except record shows flagged with "Copy Never", or force DRM on "Copy Once" flagged shows preventing you from putting them on something like your iPad/iPod/tablet/laptop/smartphone/etc., or burning to DVD/Blu-ray for use in stand-alone players.

    The Colossus does have its issues, but most of those are related to specific versions of drivers and firmware. You have to do some digging, but there are threads out there that show which versions of the drivers/firmware work properly (and/or list the issues related to them, which in some cases might not be an issue for you).

    And add in the fact that the HD Homerun Prime cable card tuner is not compatible with all satellite providers or systems....
     
  11. TastesLikeChicken

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    For watching shows on iPads, laptops, etc. that is up to the tuner OEM. TIVO can do it. If TIVO can provide the functionality others can as well. When the demand for things like that becomes high enough they will.

    As far as the HDHR Prime not being compatible with sat systems, that's not really relevant to this thread since the OP has cable and I was addressing his needs.

    Regarding the Colossus, it's fine for what it does but when the OP has cable why restrict him to a device that would only allow him to watch and record a single channel when a cable card tuner doesn't have that restriction?
     
  12. DesiPower

    DesiPower Lifer

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    My main concern is the increase in the monthly bill... need to call up Time Warner and find out by how much it will jump... I don't mind paying one time fee but this monthly fees have cascading effect on the bills. I will call them over the weekend and find out about the cable card, lets see what they say...
     
  13. TastesLikeChicken

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    If you currently pay a box rental fee to TW your monthly bill will likely drop. Nor does a cable card require a contract extension.
     
  14. DesiPower

    DesiPower Lifer

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    No I do not pay the box rental, do not have DVR, I do not want to replace my box, want to add cablecard, I looked up on their website, the fees is $2.99/month but I if they consider it as having a 2nd box, it will be expensive...
     
  15. guachi

    guachi Senior member

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    A Cable Card is just a Cable Card. It will only cost you $2.99. You can thank government regulations for allowing us to buy a separate Card at a not-insane price and use whatever device we choose.

    I have FiOS (awesome!) and a Ceton InfiniTV4. I bought it when it was the only game in town and was $400. Totally worth the price combined with FiOS not copy protecting anything is a great deal.
     
  16. DesiPower

    DesiPower Lifer

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    SO besides InfiniTV4 what are the other good options available out there?

    Also I am finding many non-PCIx external tuners, are they any good? and how do they work? they are connected through USB to the computer and rest everything is just like internal? is there any performance difference or bandwidth limitation because of the USB's speed?

    I am looking at this SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME, looks interesting, it goes back into the home router and then TV can be watched on all PCs!!
     
    #16 DesiPower, Dec 8, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  17. TastesLikeChicken

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    Hauppauge makes a 2-tuner USB-based device. Silicon Dust makes the Prime which is a 3-tuner ethernet device. Ceton makes a 4-tuner external version of the InfiniTV4 that uses USB.

    The Prime definitely has it's advantages, particularly that any MCE PC on the local network can access live TV. For recorded TV the same is not applicable. It depends on the copy protection flags for each show. Any show tagged Copy Once can only be viewed on the PC it was recorded on, or via an extender like the 360 or Ceton Echo. Copy Freely shows can be viewed by any PC on the local network.

    Another advantage of the Prime is that Silicon Dust is now making it possible so DLNA-enabled devices can access it. For those with the right DLNA capable TVs it means their TV will be able to function like an MCE extender and access live and recorded programs from local network cable card tuners.

    Please note that all of these devices have their quirks. Getting things to run flawlessly can be a bit of a minor learning curve, but it is easily done. There's a reason so many in here speak fondly of their cable card tuner HTPCs. Join the club and find out why.