The DVR is gone, we are now 100% on HTPC for television viewing

24 07 2012

The DVR was returned to TimeWarner about a month ago and all viewing is now on HTPC.  The problems with the Hauppauge 2650 cablecard tuner went away when I stopped using sleep mode between viewings/recordings.  With the computer online 24X7 operation has become very smooth and virtually hiccup free.

The switch from the AMD X2 processor to the Intel Pentium G620 has lowered our power useage from ~120 watts idle to ~14 watts idle which makes running the computer continuously reasonable cost wise.
The main issue I am facing with the HTPC DVR is the issue with encrypted content from the cable card tuner.  Several channels encrypt all of their shows, these channels include Disney, Food Network and many others.  When you try to play this content on a PC other than the one that recorded it you get a message saying the content is protected and cannot be played.  This issue also comes up if you have to rebuild your HTPC, it can no longer play back protected content that it had previously recorded.

Low Power HTPC

12 06 2012

My HTPC that was connected to my cablecard tuner started acting up.  This was an AMD Athlon 2 Dual Core system.  I have the system on a UPS and am able to monitor it’s power usage through the UPS.  The AMD system was pulling about 120 watts on average.  The system started acting up (it turned out to have a memory problem) so I pulled it and replaced it with another system I had running an Intel Celeron G530 processor.

The G530 is the baby brother to the i3 family of processors.  The G530 is rated at 65 watts TDP, I was surprised to see my UPS indicate about 10 watts of power while idling.  This is with windows up, Media Center running but no shows recording or being watched.  With this low of power usage I’m going to dump  the MCE Standby Tool and stop putting the PC to sleep in between shows.  I think keeping the computer up all the time will make it more reliable and user friendly.

Clear QAM is not looking good in my area

13 02 2008

I used SiliconDust’s Channel List by location to determine which channels TimeWarner is broadcasting unencrypted in my area.  The channels I was looking for are not to be found.  No HGTV, SciFi or Discovery for me, looks like I’ll have to keep paying for TimeWarner’s DVR if I want to record those channels.

I really want a Clear QAM tuner for my HTPC

11 02 2008

I’ve been running the cable DVR (Digital Video Recorder) for about a month now and I love it.  Being able to record Mythbusters, Dr Who and Torchwood makes it worth the $14 a month.  Damn, $14 a month works out to $168 a year, for that amount I should be able to add a tuner to my HTPC that can pick up these stations.

The question is are my favorite stations broadcast in Clear QAM?  Clear QAM is the format that television is broadcast over cable, it is different than the way television is broadcast over the air.  Clear QAM will not allow you to pick up encrypted channels like pay channels so I need to determine if my favorites are encrypted or not.

I’ve been reading about Clear QAM tuners for months and the absolute best/easiest solutions seams to be  Silicon Dust’s HDHomeRun dual tuner network device.  The HDHomeRun has two tuners, each can be ATSC (over the air HD) or Clear QAM.  The device costs $169 just about everywhere, funny that price seems familiar.

If I determine that most of the channels I want are available unencrypted over cable I think I will buy the HDHomeRun and return the cable box.  I’ll let you know what I decide.