CableCARD Tuner Comparison

Dec 3, 2011 by

2011 has been a great year for CableCARD tuners. We’ve seen Ceton slash the price of their quad-tuner InfiniTV 4, and expand  their offerings to an external USB tuner. SiliconDust and Hauppauge also released devices of their own. While the new products have helped to bring the costs down, it has also made picking the right option a little more complicated. To help we’ve put together the following to help you make the best decision for your CableCARD equipped home theater PC. All of these tuners will give your home theater PC access to every channel your cable provider offers! If your provider uses Switched Digital Video these tuners will all support that too. While our comparison chart displays the MSRP, you can see from the Amazon prices below that most of these devices are now selling below their list price, making this an ever better time to grab one!

Ceton InfiniTV 4 Digital Cable Quad-tuner Card PCIe Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe (Review)The InfiniTV 4 was the first multi-tuner CableCARD tuner on the market, and because of that it is regarded as the most stable option. Ceton’s tuners offer rock-solid performance. While this card is an internal expansion card, they now offer software that enables the tuners to be shared across the network with other computers.

 

Ceton InfiniTV 4 USB Ceton InfiniTV 4 USB (Review)The InfiniTV 4 USB was released this year, and it offers all of the same reliability and features of its PCIe cousin. This device is a great option for small-form-factor (SFF) PCs that don’t have an internal expansion slot. It can also share its tuners across the network utilizing a Windows Media Center plugin like the PCIe version.

 

SiliconDust HDHR3-CC HDHomeRun PRIME CableCARD Premium Digital Cable Television with 3 Digital Tuners, Black SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime (3) (Announcement)SiliconDust earned a great reputation with their original HDHomeRun. This year they released their first CableCARD tuner. This is a 3-tuner version that, like the original HDHomeRun, connects to PCs through the network by plugging an Ethernet cable into the device.

 

SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime Premium Digital Cable Television with Six Digital Tuners - HDHR3-6CC-3x2 (Black) SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime (6) (Announcement)The 6-tuner HDHomeRun Prime is essentially two of teh 3-tuner model in one case. Unfortunately that means that you’ll need two CableCARDs, two Ethernet cables, two coax cables, and two separate Switched Digital Video tuning adapters (if required by your cable provider).

 

Hauppauge WinTV DCR-2650 Dual Tuner Cable Card TV Tuner Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 (Review)Hauppauge is another company that has been selling TV tuners forever, but the initial release of their CableCARD tuner didn’t offer the same features and reliability of the company’s previous offerings. There have been multiple firmware/driver releases since it’s original release though, so it’s reliability should be improved. It does have the advantage of being the cheapest option available.

 

Interface Tuners CableCARDs
Required
Network
Sharing
Price Price PerTuner
Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe PCIe 4 1 Yes $299 $74.75
Ceton InfiniTV 4 USB USB 4 1 Yes $299 $74.75
SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime (3) Ethernet 3 1 Yes $249 $83.00
SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime (6) Ethernet 6 2 Yes $499 $83.17
Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 USB 2 1 No $149 $74.50

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Matthews/100000117338436 Marc Matthews

    I own a Ceton InfiniTV 4 and it’s worked perfectly from day 1.. I was an early pre-order.

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  • Anonymous

    At $199, the HD Homerun Prime is of course now $66.33 per tuner.  The feature that makes the Silicone Dust unit the only choice for me, is that it operates on the network independent of any particular computer.  That means that if the primary Home Theater PC is in sleep mode between recordings, my kids (and any house guests) can still access Fios 24-7 through their PC and even make independent recordings on their PC’s harddrive if they want to.  I’d never give up that feature to switch to Josh’s favorite:)

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  • Anonymous

    All these solutions are hampered by Vendor Lock-in to Microsoft Windows 7. This is a licensing issue with Cable Card and Microsoft (who dictate the terms). Vote with your wallet and DON’T by any of these products as long as they have such a restriction.

  • Anonymous

    That’s actually not true. Ceton has enabled support for their tuner within MythTV. It won’t be usable with copy-protected content, but that is a DRM restriction imposed by the cable companies with support from the FCC. There is technically nothing preventing the MythTV developers from licensing the DRM technology to be able to support copy-protected content though. They simply choose not to.

  • Anonymous

    They don’t make that claim on their site. They still have Windows 7 as a requirement on their own site. This is probably because they don’t support it otherwise, only allow it.

    The other problem is in the cable company’s definition of what should be considered copy protected content. From what I understand directly from from our local Comcast support (the ONLY cable company in our city), that means anything that comes over their cable, including the local OTA stations that come over their cable. That effectively means you get no content from them without Windows 7.

  • Anonymous

    obviously I can’t speak with authority about your particular branch of comcast, but most comcast customers only find the premium channels (like HBO, Showtime, etc) to be copy protected. The person you spoke with may have been confused and might have actually been referring to the fact that everything they push is digital.

  • Anonymous

    You may be entirely correct. When I was told was when I tried to get digital content before they required the cable boxes on EVERY tv. I would occasionally get a digital HD channel, but not always. Then they stopped completely. So I called and I was told that all digital content was being encrypted now, and that soon all the content would be protected (which I had assumed would be when they required their cable boxes on all computers – or the cable card capable devices). So you could be right.

    But Comcast has no competition in our city, so they could be more restrictive. What is interesting is that they used to (they don’t seem to have such a disparity now) charge $12 more per month than they did in other cities I checked that had other cable companies available, and they provided twice as many channels in the other markets. When they have no competition, they stick it to the consumers.