Cable Odyssey

So I got a new apartment (yay!), and I'm looking into different combinations of cable service. Now, first of all, I have a pretty nice computer. It has a 19″ LCD monitor, lots of hard drive space, and a DVD burner. And my local provider, gives you an HDTV box for no additional charge. So my original feeling was that I should be able use my computer as a hi-def PVR, using the DVI output from the HDTV cable box, without too many problems. Yeah, right. As far as I can see, nothing out there supports DVI input or component input into a PC. Or if it is there, it's not meant for consumer use (i.e. we're talking hundreds of dollars in hardware). So that's out.

The next idea was to put the DVI from the cable box directly into my monitor, which might look good, but (a) might be a little risky, (b) wouldn't give me PVR or DVD burning, and (c) would require the $100 purchase of a DVI splitter, plus another $20+ DVI cable. No thanks. I could just pay the cable company an extra $9/month and get a DVR box from them, but not a DVD burner, (a) and (c) are still dealbreakers.

Then I stumbled upon something interesting – CableCards. This is a special card that plugs into new HDTV models so that you can use the HDTV to do the channel flipping, but the decoding is done by the card. I.e. no cable box (which would save a bunch of money on box rental, which is about $8/month). Unfortunately, no HDTV for PC cards support CableCards (yet).

Which means, by the way, that the only channels you can get on any HDTV for PC cards are those that you can get over the airwaves. Which means going back to the bad old days of banging your crappy TV antenna. Again, no thanks…

So most likely, HDTV is out. I think I'm going to go with good old fashioned cable for now, and keep an eye out for CableCard technology that actually works with a PC.

Fun fun – any suggestions?



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