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What would be a good solution for hooking up the satellite TV box (Dish network) in my room to be able to watch it on my PC and possibly record video from it?

Please share with me the best cards, cables, software, anything else needed to do this in the most efficient way?

I am looking at the WinTV-HVR from Hauppauge. I am not sure, for performance, what would be the best to go with, PCI, PCI express, USB2.0?

Also on the Hauppauge website I saw this note: "WinTV-PVR products will not work in PC systems with 4GB or more of memory." The new PC I am building will be 12-24gb of DDR3 RAM, does that mean their products will not work at all with my memory? So confused now!

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I always liked hauppauge cards even tho their software was very weak. Odd they won't work with more then 4g of ram. –  MrStatic Mar 27 '10 at 0:03
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that Hauppauge note probably means they don't have drivers for a 64-bit OS, which means you need a 32-bit OS to use them (which is why the 4gb limit). –  quack quixote Mar 27 '10 at 4:03

3 Answers 3

up vote 0 down vote accepted

(assumption: the STB and PC are in different rooms, and you're trying to solve both the problem of getting the STB's output from one end of the house to the other, and getting it into your PC for viewing/capture once it's there)

If you have a Dish STB in one room, and want to watch TV from it on your PC, you have very few options... none of which are particularly good.

  1. At the cheap end of the spectrum, you could get a NTSC video modulator. Ugly, non-HD, and just about the worst possible way to get TV from the box to the PC... but also likely to be the cheapest. Assuming you have a 75-ohm coax cable already running between the rooms, you'll basically be looking at a $15-25 video modulator, plus any run of the mill video capture solution at the PC end.

  2. Taking a step up, but still non-HD, if you have a spare cat5 cable running between the rooms, you could get a s-video + analog stereo audio balun. This will probably cost about $50, but will give you MUCH better video quality than the modulator will. As a practical matter, a HD satellite box outputs DVD-quality s-video. If you're planning to watch TV in a small window, the only real downside of this approach is the fact that the 640x360 16:9 letterboxed video will also be interlaced. Yuck.

  3. The next step up involves a cat5 cable and component video balun. Audio is tricky. With a single cat5 cable, you can cheaply send SPDIF, or spend more for analog stereo (I'm not entirely sure how they send analog stereo over a single twisted pair, since the other 3 pairs are taken for Y, Pb, and Pr... I suspect it involves a single-chip FM modulator and tuner at opposite ends). At the computer end, you'll need a component video capture card. Officially, these don't exist in cheap form. Unofficially, I've seen some from China that are about $100-200. I believe Hauppauge has a solution, too. Thanks to Hollywood, you can probably forget about seeing any mainstream consumer-grade products in America anytime soon.

  4. If you can deal with throwing down a few hundred bucks, your easiest option is probably a Slingbox. Put the Slingbox at the satellite tuner, run the software viewer on your PC, and watch TV. In another year or two, it will probably be cost-sane (around a hundred bucks per TV) to buy dedicated boxes that get Slingbox video from your LAN and output it to a TV's component video or HDMI inputs. Right now, this is a pretty expensive option.

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Do you want HD?

If yes, the single best option would be the Happauge HD-PVR. It is an external box that turns component video up to 1080i into a H.264 file on the fly with little to no CPU usage. You can use the HD-PVR with software such as SageTV, or even use it with Windows Media Center through unofficial workarounds. Best part? The recordings won't be DRM'd in any way.

If you want to use HDMI, there is no option whatsoever as there are no capture cards that handle encrypted HDCP-infected HDMI feeds.

If you want just SD, any tuner card with a video input will do it...but I think you want HD so I won't get into that.

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You will need a card that can support Encrypted Clear-QAM. Most OTA signals are Unencrypted Clear-QAM which the Hauppauge would be great. however, if you want the high def channels from a Cable, Dish, etc signal, you will have to purchase a M-CableCard from them (usually $2-5 per month). Right now there is really only one vendor selling PCI-E CableCard Tuners and that is Ceton. ATI use to make one, but it was only distributed with new machines.

http://www.cetoncorp.com/products.php

You should definitely get the 'M' CableCard as it will allow multiple streaming where as the Standard one does not. This CableCard will allow up to 4 recordings at one time.

Don't waste your time trying different cards unless if it has the CableCard. I went down that road for 3 months before I realized the truth behind encrypted and unencrypted Clear-QAM256 signals.

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