I’ve been experimenting this week with my new HDHomeRun Prime, which is a 3-tuner external device that hooks to my cable service and to my network. It uses a M-type CableCard to unlock and tune the digital signals. Then, any PC on my network can access any channel to which I subscribe. Cool.
Why was I looking at a new device for my Home Theater PC?
Before the Homerun Prime, the tuner cards I have would only handle the standard analog channels. This wasn’t really a problem, as there weren’t too many shows I really wanted to watch that were available in digital format only.
That sounded like it might change. On one of the home theater PC forums that I visited, someone wrote that their local cable company had announced that it was dropping the analog stations and that it would be changing to all-digital. Since I knew that this would probably happen with ours, at least some day, I needed to figure out how to get the digital signals.
I had frustration with the installation and the amount of time I spent on the phone with tech support (which I initially had to call to activate the CableCard after it was installed in the HDHomerun Prime). Swapping the CableCard and "Tuner Switching Adapter" didn’t solve the problem. Even a visit and some another changeout plus some cable wiring changes didn’t solve it completely…
Once I figured out why I couldn’t get some channels but could others (I figured it out, not the cable company!), I realized what I needed to do.
I finally saw a software display in the HDHomerun Prime that showed me "Protected–CopyOnce" when I had tuned in the SyFy Channel HD. Upon checking the other problem channels, I found the same thing.
I could get all the "Unrestricted" channels, but the Protected-CopyOnce channels were apparently not supported by the simple software that came with the unit.
The HDHomerun Prime came with instructions for setting up Windows Media Center, which had the necessary copy-protection programming (they call it Digital Rights Management (DRM)) to display those channels.
Once I set up Windows Media Center on my Windows 7 Professional desktop computer (my main computer now), I could get all the channels to which I was subscribed. Yea! I immediately set the WMC program to record Doctor Who on BBC America, which was the number one.
As you can see below, it works!
Now, I need to work on the Home Theater PC itself. I’m hoping I can get SageTV to work with the digital signals, as others have and there’s a specific add-on program sageDCT that’s designed to make it work. But, I’m not sure that will handle the Protected-CopyOnce channels, too.
We’ll see…meanwhile, I’m operational with Windows Media Center on my desktop computer.