HD TV tivo-features Comcast cable cards Windows 7

We've gone through about 6 DirecTV and Comcast Tivo SD boxes in as many years, the boxes slowly degrade with freezes, etc.  At least with Comcast, the box is rented and they have to replace them.
We're ready to upgrade (finally) to an HD monitor, and might as well consider building our own Windows-7 based DVR - i'm okay to rent the comcast cable cards.
My understanding is that it should be possible to get the opensource equivalent of
Tivo including Netflix and internet TV/movies (WMC & Netflix).
And then all i'd need is an HDMI monitor and audio, and could get additional features like additional monitors in other rooms to play the same DVR repository (with additional video cards).
THere's no use in getting a TV tuner card as i understand it, because our comcast is digital, and we cannot get anything over the air since stations went digital.

I must be searching ineffectively, i can only find years-old discussions of this subject.

Does anyone have suggestions?  I've very comfortable building PCs from bare components.


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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
A few general thoughts ...

=>  Yes, if you "roll your own" DVR using a Windows 7 based PC, you can have substantially more flexibiliity than with a standard DVR.    In addition to the ability to stream the recordings anywhere on your computer network, you can have (a) more tuners than a commercial DVR; and (b) as much storage as you care to add.    For example, my HTPC has 8 tuners and 6TB of storage.

=>  Tuner cards aren't dead ... they simply need to support QAM stations (digital).    But without a cable card, you'll only receive those stations that are unencrypted (this is called ClearQAM).     If you buy an HDTV, you can easily tell which stations you could receive with a tuner card -- just connect your cable directly to the TV (no cable box) and scan for channels.    If the TV can receive it, so can a modern tuner card.    I use the Hauppauge 2250 dual-tuner cards, which actually have 4 tuners (2 analog and 2 digital) ... any 2 of which can be active at once.    So with 4 cards, we can receive 8 channels at a time.

=>  For encrypted and/or premium channels, you'll need a cable card tuner.   The best currently available is the Ceton card:  http://www.cetoncorp.com/buy.php     "Available" should be in quotes, as these are in VERY high demand ... it takes months after ordering to get your card.    But with one of these and an M-series cable card (your cable company will have this) you can recieve 4 channels at a time of encrypted QAM.

=>  If I was building a new system today, I'd put a Ceton card and 1 or 2 2250's in it (depending on how many stations you receive "in the clear").     Then add as many 2TB drives are you want for storage of recordings, and your main "server" box is done.    You can watch TV from this box;  or any other PC in the house can stream the recordings from it.

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willsherwoodAuthor Commented:
excellent information!   appreciated
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