[mythtv-users] What dual/triple-tuner setup is recommended for the switch to digital?

Joe Votour vulturej at vulturesnest.net
Mon Jun 2 19:32:08 UTC 2008

Quoting Mark Knecht <markknecht at gmail.com>:

> Hi,
>    So far I've managed to totally ignore the switch to digital next
> year but I figured that sometime this summer I was going to have to
> start learning more about what people are doing so this is a first
> step. Thanks in advance.
>    We are currently using two PVR cards and probably could use 3 if I
> had access to them so I figure next year I cannot go backward in terms
> of recording capability. We probably watch 90% of the recorded media
> on different PC's around the house and only about 10% on our TVs. With
> two TVs in the house only 1 is HD capable and we don't even use it for
> HD today. I have no current plans to buy new TVs. It's a simple, old
> style analog setup and no one is yet asking for anything better. With
> the new Roku Netflix box it seems even more unlikely that we'll turn
> into live HD watchers.
>    What do I do when the switch to digital comes?
>    It seems to me that most folks in the past have been using digital
> with their Myth boxes talking over Firewire to 1394-enabled STBs. Is
> this actually true? If it is true does that suggest I have to have
> rent 3 STBs to record 3 channels?
>    I've barely checked out hardware like the HD Homerun. My
> understanding is that this device gets me to parity with 2 recordings
> at a time but doesn't get me to 3. Correct? And if I got something now
> - like the HDHR - if it works today does it stay compatible after the
> switch or does Comcast start doing things differently and the hardware
> becomes useless again?
>    Anyway, I'm looking for ideas on how I might start preceding.
> Thanks in advance,
> Mark
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First of all, keep in mind that the switch to digital is required by  
law only for OTA (Over the Air) broadcasts - those that you pick up  
with an antenna.  There is no requirement that I'm aware of for cable  
companies to drop analog.

However, that said, many cable companies are taking advantage of this  
to drop analog channels and switch to digital themselves. The  
advantages of this are numerous:
1. They can fit six SD or two HD channels in the space that one analog  
channel previously occupied.
2. They can use SDV (Switched Digital Video) to only stream out what  
people are watching.  (Nobody is watching CSPAN?  Don't send it down  
the wire.)
3. They can get more money in cable box rentals.

Firewire works for some people, but not all.  Many STBs don't even  
have Firewire enabled, and those that do might make the stream  
unusable with 5C content protection.  And, yes, you'd need one STB per  
channel to record.

A lot of people doing digital, in addition to Firewire, are using the  
HDHomeRun.  This will get you any QAM channel that is not encrypted,  
which per the FCC, is any channel that is available OTA - this means  
generally, local channels.  Some providers also have some other  
channels in the clear (I get Discovery SD, some shopping channels and  
a movie channel or two).  It has two tuners, and will do either two  
QAM, two ATSC, or one of each.  Great piece of hardware.

ClearQAM (unencrypted QAM) also suffers the problem of channels being  
removed, or being moved around the frequencies.  How often you'll be  
bitten by this depends on your local Comcast office.  For the most  
part, things don't seem to move around too much here.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of the digital hardware being made obsolete  
(or at least new hardware being needed) once SDV comes out in  
full-force.  You won't be able to tune to a ClearQAM channel unless  
it's actually being broadcast...  Time will tell what happens.

-- Joe

D O T E A S Y - "Join the web hosting revolution!"

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