This has been my first full week with my new CableCARD ATI Digital Cable Tuner and I will explain how the unit is working with Windows Media Center 7. In addition, I will attempt to briefly explain how Copy Protection works and my next step in addressing Switched Digital Video.
Now that Windows 7 has the Digital Cable Advisor, anyone who passes the test can get a CableCARD and Digital Cable Tuner for their PC and start watching and recording HD TV. You of course need a cable provider that supports CableCARD but most of you have that anyway. This is not as complicated as I make it sound. I promise looking back 4 months from now that you will see we were heading in the right direction!
Last week I walked through the installation process of an ATI Digital Cable Tuner (DCT) in Windows Media Center 7. My cable company (Charter) installed the CableCARD and I was up and running. The article can be found at:
The set up and installation of the CableCARD is actually quite easy. The challenge of the system is in understanding what you get with a CableCARD and the DCT.
- Windows Media Center 7 PC
- Windows Home Server with Power Pack 3
- DCT on a qualified WMC7 system
- Two Beers (Optional as always)
I am still going to use screen shots in other articles but it seems only fitting that I start using videos for Windows Media Center articles. This short video shows how the Copy Protected feature was shown on CableCARD recorded TV shows through WMC. With the Windows Update for the ATI DCT the Copy Protected feature is removed from programming classified as Copy Freely.
Copy Freely versus Copy Protected (Once)
So what is going on with this Copy Protected issue? Well I figured it all out thanks to an engadgetHD article. Let me explain and summarize what is going on with the DCT and WMC. After I installed the ATI DCT last week, and got the system working, the shows that recorded were locked as Copy Protected. I was not sure why they were Copy Protected but assumed it was due to the CableCARD. Then, as of Thursday night, all of a sudden the shows that recorded were NOT Copy Protected? What the hell? I could not figure it out until writing this article. It was on Thursday afternoon that I installed some Windows Updates. One of the updates was an update for the ATI DCT. This update changed the DCT to release the Copy Protected lock on any show that is listed as Copy Freely.
I cannot explain it as well as engadgetHD so more information can be found at:
Once the ATI DCT update was installed, the Copy Freely shows recorded after the update were then able to be viewed by other WMC PCs on the network. WHS and the TV Archive process loads the recorded TV programs to the WHS. Very cool.
Switched Digital Video – SDV
Although I get all of the basic cable channels on the DCT, and all of the local HD channels, there are still some channels I am missing. On the ATI DCT I do not get channels like Discovery HD, HDNet and Universal HD among others. Charter recently changed to switched digital video (SDV) and I need an additional component called a tuning adapter to get these special channels.
What the hell am I talking about? Ok, here is SDV in basic terms. It used to be that cable companies transmitted all of the channels through your RF cable. You and all of your neighbors received ALL of the channels all the time. This process takes up a lot of bandwidth so some cable companies decided to start switching to SDV. With SDV only channels that people are watching need to be sent. The basic channels (usually 02-99) are “always on”, or sent, but the rest of the channels are only sent when requested. This is basically what SDV is. Your cable box, DVR or DCT needs to “send a request” for the SDV channels. This is where the tuner adapter comes in to play. These are layman terms so Wiki it if you need detailed information!
Gilbert, my technician from Charter, said during his visit this Saturday that the Charter tuning adapter is only currently supported for TIVO systems. He said he talked with his supervisor and that Charter in my area only installs tuner adapters under those circumstances. He did however say he would help me and would talk to his supervisor this week to see what we can do. Microsoft says that WMC supports SDV with a USB connection so I should be good to go. Since I have to convince his supervisor I took screenshots of the CableCARD data screens in WMC and printed them for him. In addition, I gave him some shots of WMC version screens and channel data. He said he was looking forward to helping me with this installation. Thank you Gilbert!
Follow Up for Next Week
I will call Gilbert and Charter on Monday to set up a third appointment for next Friday. I am excited to be the first one in my area to set up this type of system. I hope in the coming months with the release of the Ceton equipment that I will be laying the ground work for some clear and defined processes. I would suggest to anyone reading this that you run the Digital Cable Advisor on your system ahead of time to verify your eligibility for future DCTs!
See you next Friday night,