Rick Glos Life in Portland, Oregon.

Using Windows Media Center to watch TV

11. September 2012 12:39 by Rick Glos in

We cut the cable cord but we still would like to watch TV.  I’ve been a cable user for the last 15 years or more and haven’t touched an antenna since.

I ordered an Indoor TV Antenna and TV Tuner off of Amazon for around $150 bucks.

AntennaTV Tuner

The installation into our media center pc went pretty smoothly. 

Remove the cover.

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Unbox the TV Tuner

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Install it in an open PCI Express slot.

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There’s four ports on the back of the card.  A Cable TV / TV Antenna in, FM Radio in, an Audio/Video in and a IR input.  The IR input I think will be important later when we want to control Media Center with a remote control in addition to the keyboard.

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I mounted the TV antenna behind the TV on the wall so it cannot be seen.  The cord coming out of the antenna, which is a coaxial cable, plugs right into the back of the tuner card just like cable would, which brings the total to 4 cords into the media box – power, antenna, cat-5 and HDMI (for outputting video and sound back out to the receiver).

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When I started the PC, Device Manager did not automatically load drivers to I went Hauppage’s website to get the drivers directly for the WinTV-HVR-2250 and installed them.  Fired up Windows Media Center and it detected the new TV Tuner card and began a setup wizard process starting with a zip code.

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It downloads program information off the web and ends up with a finish screen.

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Looking at the TV Guide showed all the new channels available.  I thought it looked nice and was an upgrade from the UI in the Comcast DVR.  While browsing the guide, the background is transparent and you can still hear the current channel.

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The picture came in High Definition very nicely and you  get all the controls you would expect with a DVR (stop, pause, record, etc).

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We recorded a couple shows to get a feel for how that works and I’ll add some notes about that in another post.

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Overall we are both very pleased so far with the experience and the wife acceptance factor is very high with these.  I find her experimenting with options and doing things without me showing her a thing.

Cutting the cord with cable

9. September 2012 09:30 by Rick Glos in

Last week we canceled cable.  Too expensive with prices at $250 a month.  Sure we started off like most people with a special offer package around $99 bucks a month with all the channels.  Eventually the special offer expires.  You call to cancel and they extend the offer another 6 months.  This continues over the course of a few years.  Eventually you call and they aren’t extending the offer.  Like an addict, you have become hooked on some shows on premium channels (like Inside the NFL on Showtime, Game of Thrones on HBO, etc) and channels in the sports lineup like NFL RedZone – NFL with zero commercials.

Stepping back and looking back I can see how it happens but it has gone too far and even if they did extend the offer again, I am growing tired of calling back each 6 months when the offer falls away and having this large cable bill.

I do wonder if they really need to charge that much.  While I might feel taken advantage of, its still my choice.  So voting with our dollar and cancelling is all we can do.

On the positive side we have been greatly enjoying the Windows Media Center PC I built driving the TV in the living room.  Watching movies from the file server, listening to music, looking at pictures and home video, etc, and the wife acceptance factor is very high with this.

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The case makes it look just like a component in a home theater system.

I’ve ordered a TV Tuner card and HD antenna so we can watch and record TV over the air.  This will be an interesting next project.