To HTPC or not?

19 11 2007

I’ve got a dilemma, I love my HTPC (Home Theater PC) but I’m being tempted to replace it with a cable HD DVR.  My HTPC is excellent, it records television in HD, plays games and browses the web in beautiful 1080p.  The problem is that my HTPC only receives OTA (Over The Air) broadcast HD channels. I’ve never hooked up the analog cable channels because a cable converter box would still be necessary.  Now my cable company is offering me HD channels and an HD DVR (Digital Video Recorder) for $10 more than I pay them for services now.

I’m currently paying $80 a month for 6MB cable internet, cable telephone with unlimited long distance and basic cable channels.  For $90 they will throw in cable channels in HD and an HD DVR.  I’m not sure which DVR but whichever it is I’m sure it will work fine.  The idea of being able to record my favorite cable channels  is very tempting.  The only thing making me think twice about this deal is the time, effort and money I’ve put into my computer.
As I’ve recounted in prior posts, my HTPC is made up of the following:

ATI TV Wonder HD tuner card

VBOX Cat’s Eye DTA-150 tuner card

HIS RADEON 1800GTO graphics card

2GB of RAM

70GB 10,000 RPM SATA hard drive for the system

400GB  SATA hard drive internal for recording

500GB SATA hard drive external for storage (I manually move shows to the external to free space for recording)

AMD Athlon X2 3800+ processor

DVD Read/Write

Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005

Terrestrial Digital DB2 Multi-Directional HDTV Antenna

Eagle Tech Silver Aluminum HTPC Desktop Computer Case

This is a nice computer and I’ll still use it for games / browsing / burning DVDs but it just doesn’t feel right to give up on Media Center.  Yes, I’ll be getting a lot more channels on the cable DVR but my beloved HTPC will be underutilized.  Maybe all I’m feeling is the fondness that one feels when he/she sells a beloved car to buy a new one.  Part of the loss is the sense of pride I have when I show off my HTPC, the sense of community that I have when dealing with others in the HTPC universe.

The HTPC gives me abilities that a DVR never will.  I can burn recordings to DVD, change them to other formats, share them, the DVR won’t let me do these things.

I’ll try the DVR for a while and see how it goes.  I’ll miss playing with my HTPC, now there is no reason to but the HDHomeRun tuner that I’ve been drooling over.   If the DVR doesn’t work out or if the cable company jumps the price my HTPC will be sitting there waiting to pick up the slack.

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