Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Is this going to be a dud or a home run?

Is this going to be a dud or a home run?

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As you know, we are on a mission.  The mission is to come up with an affordable HDTV recording solution.  Most of the solutions on the market are not affordable and therefore aren't used by us mere mortals.  Sitting on the fence and waiting is boring. 

My first attempts at quenching the HDTV thirst proved pretty successful.  Since the Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD set top DVR can be expanded via the external SATA port, adding a 300GB drive was able to get us by for a year.  But I knew those days were numbered because the cable provider I had was a poor business decision maker.  They made their own bed.  They are history.

hdhomerun Now that I have the fancy schmancy Verizon FIOS TV in all of it's high def glory, time to get off the fence.  There's only one problem...  all of the solutions suck.  Or more accurately, the solutions are too expensive.  Look at the base TIVO Series 3 or its modified brothers and sisters.  Or, look at the Windows Vista based OCUR solutions that have been announced.  People just don't have an extra $2000-$10,000 to blow on this stuff unless you are in the big M or B club.

A Winner Emerges ???

So during the testing for Windows Vista and some of it's high def recording capabilities, I start hearing about HDHomeRun.  I try to ignore it at first but now I'm starting to realize my current Verizon HDTV DVR sucks so badly due to puny hard drive size, I need to do something.  So I take a gander at http://www.hdhomerun.com which redirects to the http://www.silicondust.com website.  I must admit, I like the product name and company name.  If the product does what everyone says, it's certainly going to dust us.  A home run for sure.

If you look closely at the picture, you notice the device is a dual QAM HD tuner.  Apparently the Windows software tricks Windows XP Media Center 2005 or Windows Vista Ultimate that you've hooked up an over-the-air antenna when in fact you are tuning and recording QAM unencrypted HDTV from your cable or fiber video provider.  That's the key.  You must have the unencrypted channels.  This is easily tested if your HDTV set has a built in QAM tuner.  Scan and view.

It doesn't seem like the product has a broad resale channel yet, but if you look at the information at http://www.silicondust.com/wiki/products/hdhomerun, you'll notice a couple of online buying sites.  Since I've done business with http://www.pcalchemy.com/ before, I know I can buy with confidence from them.  Hit this link to go directly to their HDHomeRun shopping page.  I've had to return gear to them in the past so I know it's relatively hassle free.  I placed my order the other day and I expect my HDHomeRun tuner late next week.

With any luck, I'll have another post on this subject reporting a grand slam from HDHomeRun.  If it works, I'll get more life out of my MCE 2005 machine and finally rid myself of over-the-air recording, and the trouble associated with antenna signal quality.

To be continued...

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