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How do you turn your PC into a DVR?

Discussion in 'BYTE ME: Technology discussion' started by Nick Kaufman, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. Nick Kaufman

    Nick Kaufman protector of human kind from spoilers Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    My current cable provider is Verizon FIOS. I do not have a DVR. I am interested in recording shows from my TV to my computer. Ideally, I would be able to channel surf or do something else while I do so.

    Can I do this? How? Is there a capture card you would suggest? How about software? I then need to compress it into a more common PC format with a program like handbreak?
  2. Red Sox Physicist

    Red Sox Physicist Member SoSH Member

    To record digital cable, you need a device that can take a CableCARD. You also need to rent a CableCARD from Verizon. They charge ~ $5/month. The are a couple options for CableCARD tuners. The HDHomerun Prime is pretty well supported: https://www.silicondust.com/product/hdhomerun-prime/ . It can tune 3 streams from one CableCARD, and connects over ethernet. Ceton also makes some CableCARD tuners.

    HDHomerun now has their own DVR software that you can use. They charge $35/year and it includes guide data.

    There are also plenty of free programs out there, like MythTV. It has some nice features like automated commercial flagging. I use this, but I run it on Linux. I know it works on Linux and Mac OS X. Windows support is a bit experimental. Guide data is $25/year from Schedules Direct: http://www.schedulesdirect.org/ . There are others that will run on Windows: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_DVR_software_packages

    Some caveats: some channels (such as HBO) get flagged with DRM bits. Some providers flag all channels with the DRM bits, others only some. When I had Verizon FIOS, only a few channels were flagged (HBO, and a few cable channels I didn't watch). They only software that could record these protected channels was Windows 7 Media Center. Microsoft has discontinued this software, and didn't release it for Windows 10. They don't sell it for Windows 7 anymore either. The protected recordings could not be copied between machines. Channels that aren't flagged can be recorded and copied.

    The HDHomerun software is supposed to gain support for recording protected channels, but that still hasn't happened. Their current state for protected channels is "Currently W10 [pc and xbox one] and iOS are the only platforms that supports DRM content for live playback. Live time shifting of DRM content currently can hold up to 60 minutes of a show with 5 minutes back." ( https://forum.silicondust.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=126&t=65204 )
  3. Rudi Fingers

    Rudi Fingers Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    What do you plan to do with your shows after you record them? If you're just planning to watch your shows on computers, tablets or phones around the house or on the road after you record them, you could just get a CableCARD and stick it in a Tivo (I have a Tivo Bolt and do just that).

    (note: I used to use an old, spare minitower server running Windows 7 Media Center... it was awesome, yet I don't miss it *at all*)

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