With the death of the old Dell Demenion 4700 (P4, Windows XP Pro) that was being used to stream video (Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, etc) to the TV in the living room and the arrival of the Dell Vostro 420 (Core 2 Duo, Windows 7 Home Premium), my family has been enjoying Windows Media Center. WMC has really grown up! With the addition of Internet TV channels and Netflix, we find most of our online content right within WMC. Now it is time to add live TV.
In the past, I have used BeyondTV with Hauppauge PVR-150 tuners. These were PCI cards and only recorded analog signals. Now that analog TV is dead I needed a HDTV solution. I could purchase newer Hauppauge cards or try something new!
And that something new is the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual ATSC/QAM Digital TV Tuner. I have known about the HDHomeRun for a couple of years because of my involvement on the BeyondTV forums, but what got me interested this time was a discussion on the The Home Server Show podcast #63, the HDHomeRun was brought up in a discussion and I liked what I heard. So I decided to give it a try.
So what is the HDHomeRun? It is a digital tuner that allows one to take either a OTA HDTV signal or a clear QAM cable signal and watch/record on your computer using WMC, BeyondTV, MythTV, etc. The cool things about this tuner is that it is a network device and does not need to be installed nor connected directly to a computer to work. The model I purchased has 2 tuners in it. Now any computer on my network can stream live OTA HDTV without any additional hardware. With the 2 tuners, 2 different computers can use the tuner at the same time watching / recording different channels.
Setup was quite easy. I had the device out of the box, connected to my OTA HDTV antenna, connected to my network and plugged in within 10 minutes. Installing the necessary software on my Windows 7 box and configuring WMC took another 15 minutes (this includes scanning for channels and downloading the 14-day channel guide). I was watching live TV minutes later and scheduled The Biggest Loser to be recorded that night.
After coming back from the gym and an hour into the 2-hour show, the family sat down to watch The Biggest Loser – fast-forwarding through the commercials! A cool WMC feature is that clicking the FF button once plays the recorded video at almost 2x WITH SOUND! Nice!
I purchased the HDHomeRun from NewEgg.com for $128.99. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a HDTV tuner solution.