Have you met the CableCARD yet?

Subject: Systems | September 9, 2011 - 10:54 AM |
Tagged: htpc, cablecard

One of the HTPC builders best friends is the CableCARD, something that was supposed to be available a long time ago and is finally hitting the market.  It is a replacement or addition to the set top box or cable box that subscribers to cable TV are familiar with and once you install it and register a CableCARD with your cable provider it will receive the proper signal from them and allow you to view your cable channels.  Some CARDSs now support multiple streams, allowing you to record a program while watching a different one or recording multiple streams simultaneously.  Missing Remote breaks down the current market, describing the features and limitations of the various models available today as well as offering guidance on setting up your CableCARD.

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"At a higher level, the technology was developed to protect consumers from being forced into having to rent set top boxes (STB) at increasing fees from cable companies (or MSOs) without an alternative. From a home theater PC (HTPC) perspective, it meant the ability to natively tune high definition programming from a cable provider (previously the options were only analog cable, or digital over the air broadcasts)."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

HTPC

September 9, 2011 | 12:50 PM - Posted by Griffinhart (not verified)

I'm a cableCARD user! I have a homebuilt Media Center with the Ceton card. The single cable card allows me to record/watch 4 channels at once. Mine has been installed and working for a year (Next Month) and has been simply awesome.

Actually, in my case, the Media Center PC is the household computer and kept in the kitchen for general surfing, e-mailing, and TV watching. I use my 360S as an extender and watch TV on my HD-TV.

September 10, 2011 | 07:20 AM - Posted by Adam (not verified)

cable card is expensive as are the tuners that use them.

September 10, 2011 | 08:16 AM - Posted by Audiliakade (not verified)

In my opinion you are not right. Let's discuss. Write to me in PM, we will talk.

September 10, 2011 | 09:41 AM - Posted by Griffinhart (not verified)

CableCARD is not expensive, though the tuners that use them can be. The Ceton InfiniTV 4 is currently $300 which is pricey, but not when you consider the relative cost of Over The Air HD tuners. OTA tuners are currently running $50 to $125 for a single tuner. So, the Ceton card is pretty competitive when you factor in the fact that it uses a single PCI slot, handles 4 simultaneous channels and can handle scrambled content from your cable provider.

The CableCARD itself is provided to me from Comcast free of charge.

September 12, 2011 | 07:38 AM - Posted by movedor (not verified)

Cablecard itself is supposed to be free with your cable subscription. At least that is what FCC dictates. If your cable company is charging for the cablecard you probably want to drop a note by the FCC.

I was one of the early adopters of Ceton InfiniTV (yes, I paid $400 + shippping) and have been using it for more than one year already. I just could tolerate the DVR provided by Comcast anymore (slow, complex UI, very limited storage, 24/7 hard drive and fan noise, no way to disable channels I don't subscribe to, etc. The switch to InfiniTV was worth the price even with its high price - not to mention the cost of a new PC dedicated to the entertainment center. Also worth mentioning is how reliable is the hardware and drivers that Ceton provides. I have yet to see any issue with it.

The one thing I regret, however, was invest in making the HTPC to actually be the "media hub", that is, DVR, TV tuner, play videos, dvd, bluray, youtube, netflix, etc. OK, DVD playback is nicely integrated in media center, but there is no good, reliable bluray software that integrates with media center. They all have problems and in general end up being more expensive than standalone player.
Also media center doesn't have any integration with youtube and the only plugin available for that is no longer maintained by its developer and you have to run after tweaks over the forums to make it run.

September 12, 2011 | 09:40 AM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

I've been using the pass through on my cable box to connect to a Hauppauge card, I have a cable card slot but Shaw Cable does not to my knowledge provide cable cards. They might on the HD PVR except of course they don't actually sell those, you have to get them at Best Buy or Future Shop etc.

Sounds like Comcast actually has one thing going for it.

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