Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby DelPen on Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:35 am

There's also Apple TV with iPad mirroring for a lot of content if you know someone who can make you a comcast or fios email account. We can stram the WatchDisney and ESPN apps with no problem along with Xfinity and then also pick up HBO Go too.

Apple TV just added Hulu+ and already had Netflix, NBA, MLB and NHL.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:50 am

Since the OP is interested in a DVR, XBMC is out. It does feature some support for local broadcasts but was not designed around it. WMC is a DVR first of all and a 10ft interface for music/movies/pictures second. And if you decide you want to start recording Comedy Central and CNN, XBMC is definitely out.

If I wanted a front end for only a movie library I'd probably use XBMC. It natively does many of the cool menu things that Windows Media Center is unable to out of the box. I am also starting to get into some advanced features such as MadVR (an upscaling program) and Reclock (a solution for 24p) and these are the kinds of things XBMC lends itself well too.

I began using WMC mostly as a single program that could do everything without changing the tv and stereo inputs. It was all right there inside WMC - live tv, Netflix, the movie library, bluray/hdvd playback, recorded tv, FM radio, Pandora, HBO Go, etc.

Since May I have been using another program inside WMC called Media Browser. It basically mimics some of the fancy movie library options of XBMC. It has an emulator launcher as well. My Movies is another really good library viewer that I know Shmenguin is very happy with.

JRiver is another program that is really coming around. It started as audiophile music software and is the most actively developed media center program. They are aggressively looking into adding full bluray support and also cable card for encrypted digital cable.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:59 am

ulf wrote:i aspire to be like pittsoccer33 when i get my own house


Thanks man - but it really is easy to get into this stuff yourself and it does not have to cost a lot of money. I started with it in college by having an S-Video out on my video card. Then I learned I could record tv shows onto my computer (no more need for Morpheus/Kazaa).

A PC as cheap as this would make a great HTPC - just add a tv tuner card ($100 will let you record two premium cable channels at once).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6883113219. It can bitstream HD audio and can have a bluray drive added in the future as money permits.

If you have an Xbox 360 you can either use that PC on your main tv or you can simply keep it in your home office area and use the 360 as your DVR box. To do my set up from scratch would be slightly over $1000, but I've done it over time and many people have the majority of the parts they need already.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby mac5155 on Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:02 am

http://www.woot.com/plus/putting-your-tv-to-work

Woot may have some things that are beneficial to this thread today for decent deals.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:09 am

In case anyone is curious, I completely reinstalled Windows last night for the first time in several years.

The TV tuner set up portion of it only took about 45 minutes:
1) 10 minutes to run the initial Windows Media Center set up and Digital Cable Advisor (the tool that proves your PC can handle being a DVR between power and DRM requirements)
2) 15 minutes to set up my cable signal (input that I am a Comcast subscriber in Pittsburgh, and then scanned for unprotected local channels that I can get on my second tuner)
3) 20 minutes to customize my guide - not even necessary. I added logos to each channel, hid the SD versions of channels, and hid anything I don't receive or don't care about.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby eddysnake on Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:33 am

no, i would like to
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby Digitalgypsy66 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:10 am

pittsoccer33: My office is where my PC(s), modem, and router live. This is where the cable coax is "live" with a signal. I would split the signal in this room, and run one coax to the TV tuner card and the other to the modem, right? I don't have a cable TV package; but I am able to get 25 or so SD/HD channels on my LCD TV.

Will a tuner card discover more channels than what I can see on my TV? Are there ways to uh unscramble channels? I remember I had ESPN briefly on some outrageously high channel, but it suddenly disappeared.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:24 am

You have the right idea - this is exactly what I was doing in 2010.

The funny thing with tuners is their sensitivity - some will find more channels than others when they do automatic scans. For instance, my offbrand Element tv found more channels than my Panasonic tv which found more than my pc tuner. I was able to manually add the extra ones my PC didn't pick up inside the DVR software.

At one point we were getting MTV via clear qam - no clue how that happened since it's not really possible to notch filter something like that.

http://www.silicondust.com/support/channels/

That is a pretty well updated listing of what unencrypted channels you can expect to receive in your area whether via OTA or through your cable company. Just make sure you select the correct source at the top of the list.

The only way to unscramble them is to subscribe - with digital there really is no way around it.

Since you have several PCs and your router is right there a Silicon Dust HD Home Run Dual would be a great tuner for you. You don't plug it into your pc - you attach coax from the wall to get the cable signal into it, and you attach an ethernet cord from it to your router. That tuner is now available on any of your PCs and it can do two channels at once.

You pair that with an Xbox 360, the upcoming Ceton Echo, or a discontinued DMA2100 in your living room and you can access those recorded or live programs on your big screen.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby AlexPKeaton on Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:47 am

I realized that my 2 year old fairly expensive TV does not have a cable card slot. I think I'm going to wait until I move to setup a Windows Media Center system. I looked, but there doesn't appear to be anything simple that takes a cable card and converts it to HDMI or something for the TV. Cable cards seem like a dead technology killed off by the cable companies.

So for $30/year I can purchase a VPN and buy NHL Gamecenter and then watch the home games in my basement.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:57 am

AlexPKeaton wrote:I realized that my 2 year old fairly expensive TV does not have a cable card slot. I think I'm going to wait until I move to setup a Windows Media Center system. I looked, but there doesn't appear to be anything simple that takes a cable card and converts it to HDMI or something for the TV. Cable cards seem like a dead technology killed off by the cable companies..


They quit putting cable card slots on TVs about five years ago, which is why I questioned whether or not you had one.

The cable companies hate them and will flat out lie to you about them - they will say you can't get HBO, can't get 3D, etc. I don't know if its lying or they just dont know any better. What they do know is that you can't buy on demand programming with one so they do everything they can to make the experience as awful as possible.

Adding to that is a technology called Switched Digital Video in use by companies like Cox and Time Warner. Instead of sending every single cable channel to you at all times like Comcast and Verizon do, they only send the most popular. If you want to watch EWTN you have to "phone home" and ask them to switch it on. Its a way to offer more channels and not increase bandwidth.

The problem with that and cable card is that they are only one way devices - they have no ability to phone home and ask Time Warner to add that channel. Tivo fought for a device called a Tuning Adapter to solve this problem. For the longest time they were terrible and needed to be power cycled constantly. More recent firmware seems to be helping. I would probably unsubscribe from cable if I moved to an area where I was forced to use SDV and tuning adapters.

For the longest time Tivo was the only real advocate of them. Once Ceton started selling a PC cablecard tuner in 2010 they have become a strong champion and have worked with every cable provider in the company to get their support people up to snuff on them.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby AlexPKeaton on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:03 pm

pittsoccer33 wrote:
AlexPKeaton wrote:I realized that my 2 year old fairly expensive TV does not have a cable card slot. I think I'm going to wait until I move to setup a Windows Media Center system. I looked, but there doesn't appear to be anything simple that takes a cable card and converts it to HDMI or something for the TV. Cable cards seem like a dead technology killed off by the cable companies..


They quit putting cable card slots on TVs about five years ago, which is why I questioned whether or not you had one.

The cable companies hate them and will flat out lie to you about them - they will say you can't get HBO, can't get 3D, etc. I don't know if its lying or they just dont know any better. What they do know is that you can't buy on demand programming with one so they do everything they can to make the experience as awful as possible.

Adding to that is a technology called Switched Digital Video in use by companies like Cox and Time Warner. Instead of sending every single cable channel to you at all times like Comcast and Verizon do, they only send the most popular. If you want to watch EWTN you have to "phone home" and ask them to switch it on. Its a way to offer more channels and not increase bandwidth.

The problem with that and cable card is that they are only one way devices - they have no ability to phone home and ask Time Warner to add that channel. Tivo fought for a device called a Tuning Adapter to solve this problem. For the longest time they were terrible and needed to be power cycled constantly. More recent firmware seems to be helping. I would probably unsubscribe from cable if I moved to an area where I was forced to use SDV and tuning adapters.

For the longest time Tivo was the only real advocate of them. Once Ceton started selling a PC cablecard tuner in 2010 they have become a strong champion and have worked with every cable provider in the company to get their support people up to snuff on them.


It is really annoying that you cannot buy a Tivo like box for the TV with a cable card to HDMI conversion, and no guide so therefore no subscription.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:19 pm

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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby AlexPKeaton on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:41 pm

pittsoccer33 wrote:http://cetoncorp.com/products/ceton_q/


Whelp that is perfect. Wonder how much it will be?
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby Hockeynut! on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:50 pm

I've been interested in the Ceton Q since pittsoccer33 first mentioned it. It sounds awesome but I wonder if the cost will be prohibitive.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby AlexPKeaton on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:56 pm

Hockeynut! wrote:I've been interested in the Ceton Q since pittsoccer33 first mentioned it. It sounds awesome but I wonder if the cost will be prohibitive.


Yeah I wonder what kind of money these cable companies throw at Samsung and Panasonic for them to not just stick a cable card slot in one of their BluRay players and charge $20 more. I shouldn't have to buy an elaborate $300 device for this. Ideally I would want a simple $30 box that does nothing but convert the cable card for TVs without cable card slots. Hmmm, this is a good idea for a startup company lol.

Spoiler:
Create the box, start to advertise, then rake in the millions from the cable companies when they buy you out to stop you. Retire to Aruba to smoke cubans and drink cerevezas.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:27 pm

The two things prohibiting anyone from jumping head first into it are consumer apathy and the ridiculous process of guiding the device certified by Cable Labs.

1) people are by and large too dumb to seek out such a product. everybody has heard of Tivo but I bet few people who pay $10-$30 a month for their DVR have ever even researched it.

2) the process to get certification takes forever and costs a fortune.

Even in the high end custom installation market there are no real whole home DVR solutions. Tivo has just finally began showing off a system with this capability, and Dish Network unveiled theres this year. WMC has had the capability but Microsoft has never backed the system builders the way they needed. The Ceton Q is built around Windows Media Center but it is fully customized - you can't leave it to go to the desktop or run a spreadsheet - that doesn't exist. It is far too easy to "break" a WMC set up with codec tweaks, Windows Updates, firewalls, etc.

Price estimates for the Q have been from $300 to $1000 dollars. If it can support 6 streams of cable it would theoretically be able to support six (or seven) extenders at once - that is a lot of RAM and a decent bit of CPU power. My 2.59ghz Core 2 Duo (albeit obsolete) and 4gb of RAM is maxed out running my two extenders at once.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby JS© on Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:55 pm

Pitt, what is your opinion on Slingbox as a viable option for OP? As long as he finds a friend/family member with a good connection and a good channel selection, this should be more than adequate. I let a friend in Charlotte stream the game last night and she was impressed with the quality. I'm running fios (getting 28 up) and running an older box (think its the Pro HD), but I'm only using S-video. Once it leveled out, she said she was streaming at 6500 kbps and it looked like an SD broadcast.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:12 pm

i have a slingbox and a pretty low opinion of it - though i do have a cheaper one. my friend in va beach logged into it during the steelers eagles preseason game and said any time the bitrate of the feed spiked (any fast moving action) that it looked like a mess.

perhaps the higher end model would suit better.

keep in mind bandwidth restrictions. most cable companies shut you off after so much usage. the standard comcast upload speed is only 3000kbps
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby bhaw on Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:27 am

pittsoccer... I'm looking into doing all this when I move in December.

I don't have an xbox 360, but I have a PS3. I have a laptop, and I'm trying to fix my desktop that was having issues before (Acer Aspire x3200). I just reformatted the whole thing so all viruses and issues were wiped. The only issue now is the fan/heatsink. Apparently they gave it a pretty crappy one for how compact the tower is. Going to buy that soon so hopefully I have that as my main computer to run all this off of.

Where do I start? I'm going to say we pay $120 per month, maybe more, for phone, internet, and cable.

We watch mostly network stuff anyways along with Food Network. My wife watches Bravo. I would want sports stuff, but really all I care about is NFL and NHL. We also need kids stuff for the toddler and newborn (disney, nickelodeon, pbs are really it).

If I gave you a blank canvas with that to go from, what do you suggest, knowing I'd like to cut that bill down as much as possible :)

Thanks for all your input. If you lived here, I'd pay you do figure this out and do it for me :lol:
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:11 am

Assuming that PC is powerful enough to act as a DVR (you'd have to run the digital cable adviser program inside WMC first to be sure) your main savings will be in the form of DVR/cable box rental fees.

Image

Image

The city of Pittsburgh makes Comcast publish prices for customers. Those are the prices valid to me. So personally, I save:
Cablecard Credit: $2.95
HD Technology fee: $7.00 (this is if you have their HD equipment in your home)
Anyroom DVR Service: $19.95
two extra Anyroom boxes: $9.25 x 2 = $18.50
So I save about $50 per month not renting their equipment

You will have the PC as your main DVR, but what about other tvs? You have a few options
1) buy more computers for the other tvs
2) buy media center extenders (which the Xbox 360 is and PS3 is NOT)
3) rent additional boxes from Comcast

The 360 has DVR playback capabilities built into by Microsoft to work with Windows Media Center. A PS3 or Wii is irrelevant.

It may or may not be a good solution for you. I guarantee you that if you're at all like me it will become a money sucking hobby, not a way to save money. You will want a solid state drive so the machine loads artwork faster. You will want to backup your movie collection, so a 2 terabyte external hard drive becomes a 12 terabyte server. Eventually perhaps the ability to play 3D movies or launch console emulators from the media center software. Now I can control my lighting and security camera with the software as well. If I had a newer thermostat, sump pump, or alarm system I could control those things too

I suggested it to the OP because it can be an extremely cost effective way to create an OTA DVR system, especially since he said he already had a 360. Somebody with powerful enough desktop pc and a 360 already in their living room only needs a $50-$100 tv tuner to record all the major broadcast networks.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby bhaw on Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:17 pm

Well, I'm in AZ, so I don't have Comcast. I use Cox.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby steelhammer on Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:24 pm

Cox = Comcast west. My family there all switched to Direct TV.
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:27 pm

The same things would apply - the money you save will be tied to your equipment rentals. There is no way to get more channels for free or anything of that sort.

Cox is Arizona will force you to use a tuning adapter, which I already mentioned a few posts ago are horrible. It would make me think twice about using my system as my DVR.

http://experts.windows.com/frms/windows ... 97476.aspx
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby bhaw on Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:29 pm

thx
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Re: Cutting Cable, Has anyone done this?

Postby mac5155 on Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:22 am

Question for DirecTV subscribers - since the NHL is the only real reason I have DirecTV, can I downgrade my package from the Choice Ultimate to the Entertainment level and save $20 a month, then switch back? Or does it affect my contract terms/length?
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