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DVR v2.0: Best DVR Option Available Today,
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This review is from: Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe - 4-channel Internal Cable TV Tuner Card for CableCARD (Personal Computers)I was an early adopter of HTPC technology. Windows Media Center and I go all the way back to the original version in Windows XP. Since then, Windows Media Center has matured nicely in Windows 7 and is finally ready for Prime Time. Even if you're not a techy, I strongly suggest looking at this technology, especially if you're fed up with the substandard DVRs the CableCo's charge too much buck for too little bang.
DVR v1.0 used an ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner. Since there are multiple people in my house, and the ATI tuner can handle only one channel at a time, the Ceton card was a welcome upgrade for DVR v2.0. The installation and configuration is straightforward and will take about 1 hour depending on your level of expertise. Here's a rough outline of the steps you'll need to follow.
1. Pickup a CableCard from your CableCo. (They may tell you a home visit is mandatory, violating an FCC directive. Read on below.)
2. Open up the PC and insert the Ceton InfiniTV card in an empty PCIx slot.
3. Insert the CableCard into the Ceton InfiniTV slot.
4. Visit the Ceton website to install the latest drivers and firmware.
5. Connect your coax cable and reboot.
6. Start Windows Media Center and follow the setup wizards. The first wizard certifies your PC as Cable Ready. The second establishes your channel lineup. Typical configuration time is about 30 minutes.
During your journey to build the perfect HTPC, there are three possible hurdles you may encounter, which are surmountable given some time, patience, and tenacity.
1. Faulty card
2. Poor signal strength
3. Reluctance from CableCo to support CableCard technology
I experienced two of these hurdles, which I'll share with you in the hopes it will bring you to a speedier resolution.
The first card I received from Ceton had a faulty OOB (Out of Band) tuner, which has been documented on several websites devoted to Windows HTPC enthusiasts. To make matters worse, when I initially explained the issue to their tech support department, they ignored my detailed analysis of the issue and sent a canned reply requesting that I jump though a bunch of time-consuming hoops that they would have realized were unnecessary had they actually read my email. After I became more assertive regarding the situation, they apologized, and overnighted a replacement card, which has been running without issue for a month. Since Ceton is a new company, I expect missteps such as these. In the end, they did the right thing and made me a happy customer. I can now record up to 4 programs simultaneously and stream those programs to any XBOX 360 in the house or any Windows 7 PC in the world. (Try doing that with the CableCo DVR!) The recorded programs look and sound great and so does live TV. The diagnostic software is useful and well organized.
As people here and elsewhere have pointed out, the CableCo's are very reluctant to support this technology, even though the FCC has directed them to. Since they will lose substantial income from your DVR rental cancellation, the sales staff will do everything in their power to talk you out of using a CableCard. Then the technician who visits your home will most likely not understand CableCard technology and know even less about Windows Media Center. In other words... they are going to make the whole process as frustrating as humanly possible and you're pretty much on your own. For example, Comcast/xFinity insisted that they had to send out a technician (even though the FCC rules say that they must allow customer self-installs). Once the technician arrived, he had no idea how to set anything up. And to add insult to injury, they wanted to charge me for the visit!
Bottom line is: Why am I paying for an untrained technician to make a home visit that according to the FCC shouldn't be necessary in the first place?
So if your CableCo tries to bully you into submission, ask to speak with a supervisor and refer the supervisor to the rules listed below:
* CableCARD fees have to be the same for everyone, no matter which package you have.
* If your cable company allows any self installs, they must allow CableCARD self-installs.
* Cable companies must support SDV for CableCARD users -- this was implied before, now it is black and white.
* By default, all new deployments must be M-Cards (unless you actually request a S-Card).
* Cable companies can include an IP interface in set-top-boxes lieu of a 1394 port.
* One way HD boxes without CableCARDs are no longer forbidden and they don't require IP interfaces.
The irony of course is that DVRs will be obsolete in 5-10 years thanks to advances in on-demand services (Internet TV in Windows Media Center, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, etc) combined with faster broadband and cellular data speeds. But for now, despite the hurdles I described, this is truly the best DVR option out there. Yes, it's a little pricey, but the money you save in DVR rental fees will pay for the card. If you can get past possible equipment failure and your CableCo's frustrating reluctance to support technology the FCC directed them to, it's all worth it in the end.
My HTPC Specs: goo.gl/dHBKr
I give the InfiniTV 4/5 since the first card was faulty and because the repair process wasn't as smooth as it could have been.
Tracked by 9 customers
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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 25, 2011 7:04:36 PM PDT
Gary Sheldon says:
Cable companies will not be required to allow a consumer to self-install a cableCARD until November 1st, 2011. Check the FCC site if you disagree.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2011 1:52:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 6, 2011 1:52:44 AM PDT
I was unable to verify your claim. Can you provide a link to the verbiage you're referring to?
Regardless of the time frame, there's no justifiable reason for the CableCo's to require a truck roll on CableCard installs. There's nothing technical involved. It's just another way for the CableCo to charge the customer for unnecessary services.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2011 11:29:41 AM PDT
Mark Williams says:
Found a page with the information.
I will be buying two of these cards in a few weeks.
Posted on Jun 9, 2011 1:00:06 AM PDT
Does your cable provider charge you for the cable card monthly? If so how much?
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2011 7:28:24 AM PDT
Mark Williams says:
Most Cable operators only charge 2-4 dollars for it, 99% of the time its cheaper than a Cable Box rental.
Some operators even let you buy the cards from them.
Posted on Jun 9, 2011 7:56:56 AM PDT
Hi, thank you for the in-depth review, can you offer more details on this statement?
"to any XBOX 360 in the house or any Windows 7 PC in the world."
Any Windows 7 PC in the world part - don't you have to be within the local network to connect to the networked tuner? Or is there a feature to connect over internet and stream at reduced quality? If yes, does that connection allow you full control like changing channels, watching live and recorded shows, etc?
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2011 10:48:35 PM PDT
J. Simpson says:
In short, yes. Windows Media Player allows remote streaming. If you haven't already, you need to(1) set up a user account for the PC where your media is locally accessed, (2) create a Windows Live account, (3) link the user account with the live account, and (4) authorize remote access.
Here's some info: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/window
It works well for photos and music. I've had mixed results with media center recordings.
Posted on Jun 14, 2011 1:50:07 PM PDT
>* Cable companies must support SDV for CableCARD users -- this was implied before, now it is black and white.
What does this mean? Unless by "support" you mean the separate SDV tuner boxes, that e.g. Tivos can use.
SDV and CableCard are essentially different things -- with SDV, the channels can "jump around" and the existing CableCard technology doesn't have the two-way functionality to support that -- hence the extra box.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2011 11:01:55 AM PDT
An9ry N00b says:
Somewhat true....November 1st for company's that dont usually allow self installs of any of there equipment....August 1st for company's that usually allow self-installs, which include the big three, Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox