My Media Center/CableCARD PC after six months

For the past six months, my main Media Center PC has been a Dell XPS 410 with a pair of CableCARD tuners. How’s this fully digital, cable-compatible, high-definition configuration working out? Let’s just say you’d have to pry the Media Center remote from my cold dead fingers. In this new post at ZDNet (with accompanying image gallery), I give you a peek under the hood. I also tackle the question of whether this type of system is right for you.

See the full Media Center CableCARD gallery

Windows Media Center meets Cable TV in HD

See the full Media Center/CableCARD image gallery

Questions? Ask in the comments here or over there.

10 thoughts on “My Media Center/CableCARD PC after six months

  1. I have a Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1800 that I currently have set up for FM radio and analog cable. But I live across the river from Detroit, where several stations broadcast in HD OTA, so I would like know more about your OTA HD setup.

  2. I just can’t bring myself to buy one until the CableCARD tuning devices are built into the chasis. I could get over the bulky CPU tower, but have one (or a pair) of those ATI boxes is just too much. Instead of extending into the livingroom, I’d like to extend from the living room to say the bedroom. With so much good web content these days (Hulu, Netflix), I may just get a slim CPU (no digital tuner) for the living room running VMC (using ATSC OTA, and analog cable in a pinch) and keep the TiVo with CableCARDs in the bedroom. Or maybe the other way around. Hmmm….

  3. This is great except now that the cable companies are using switched networks cable cards are becoming useless.

    I have a nice TiVo Series3 with dual cable cards and only 12 out of the 30+ HD channels are available because Time Warner is deploying all new channels on switched networks that aren’t supported by cable cards.


  4. Ed,

    I’m considering building a setup like this – as it suits my needs perfectly. I’m a tech savy home user with access to hardware and software through various companies – my limiting factor is time and frustration.

    I’d wonder if you could explain a few things.
    1.) Do you have a step by step available, or would you be interested in doing one?
    2.) Would you be interested in providing an update 2 date hardware list, or your “verified working” hardware list as you use it?
    3.) I’m a little confused as to why you’ve chosen to implement 2 cable card tuners. Is this for PiP or for Analog vs Digital setups, or possibly for muli-room? I’m unclear as to the impact of implementing a single cable card tuner rather than 2. Do you possibly need a seperate cable card for each TV requesting encrypted content?

    I’m a little concerned with the implementation of such a system if Bill’s comments above are correct as well. Do you have any information on the accuracy of switched networks eliminating the cablecard feasability?

    Thanks for any feedback.

  5. Ed,

    Missing Remote has a post on the issues with these machines and the change to SDV (switched digital video). Is it really even worth going to cablecard with MCE if the cable companies are basically just going to kill it?


  6. Aaron, I have talked to my local cable office and they have no plans to move to SDV anytime soon. So I suspect this stuff is on a per-market basis. Also, I read that a device will be available in summer that is designed to re-enable compatibility between CableCARD and SDV systems. There’s always risk in being on the leading edge of any technology; this is just one of them, and I don’t know whether it’s being overblown.

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