Attack of the External CableCARD TV Tuners for Windows 7 Media Center

Media streamers like the Apple TV, Boxee Box, and Roku are all the rage these days, however, I have a feeling HTPCs and PVR software usage is going to be making a comeback soon (or at least see an uptick from current levels). Hauppauge and SiliconDust are both set to launch their CableCARD (M-Card) TV tuners this month that will allow PC users to access and record their TV cable service provider’s content, including premium channels — no two way communication, though, for pay-per-view. Cable providers typically rent individual CableCARDs to subscribers for around $5/mo. That comes out to about $10-$20 less than a standard set-top box fee. Both models look similar as you can see from these unboxing photos at Engadget and Missing Remote, but there are key differences you should be aware of besides price.

UPDATE: Missed one… Ceton is launching their InfiniTV 4 USB product this September. 

HDHomeRun PRIME ($249 – NETWORK TUNER — accessible by multiple PCs)

  • Is compatible with Windows 7 Media Center and MythTV on Linux (update:  SageTV, too)
  • Supports 3 tuner feeds (a $499 two M-card, 6 feed model will also be available)
  • 1080i max resolution
  • Gigabit Ethernet

Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 ($149 – USB TUNER — attaches to one PC)

  • Compatible only with Windows 7 Media Center (update:  SageTV, too)
  • Support 2 tuner feeds + ClearQAM
  • USB 2.0

Ceton InifiniTV 4 USB ($299 – USB TUNER — attaches to one PC)
  • Compatible only with Windows 7 Media Center (this may also work with MythTV on Linux)
  • Supports 4 tuner feeds (works just like the PCIe version, which is now priced at $299)
  • USB 2.0
  • Kirkland-based, Ceton, is a family run business
* Available for pre-order now. ETA: September 19, 2011

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Filed in: Home Networking Gear, Peripherals

5 Reactions to “Attack of the External CableCARD TV Tuners for Windows 7 Media Center”

  1. broadwing says:

    It’s worth noting that these are essentially the same device, but the USB one is crippled a bit. Also Ceton says they’re coming out with a 4-tuner USB next month.

    • Thanks. Added Ceton’s InfiniTV 4 USB product.

    • craig pattison says:

      how is the usb one crippled? which usb one? hauppauge, or cetons?

      • He was talking about the Hauppauge tuner at the time. How it’s “crippled”? I’m not sure — though it does only support Windows Media Center and offers 2 tuner feeds instead of 3 like the HDHomeRun PRIME.

        • broadwing says:

          Replying to ancient thread. :) One less tuner, no Ethernet. Though it swaps that for USB, which might be handy for some. I consider that very mild feature crippling, although you trade some money for it, so maybe it’s just a tradeoff. Just got my Prime running under MythTV and it’s *quite* impressive so far.