Over the past week or so there has been a lot of talk about how to install a CableCard tuner into a DIY (Non-OEM) PC for use with Media Center. Progress on that front came about thanks to a few recent developments:
- Some DIY MediaCenter users have worked out a way to build their own CableCARD-ready HTPC despite the restriction CableLabs and Microsoft have that CableCARDS are to only work with OEM PC builders. Read more about this outlined in detail on the GreenButton Forums
- Next, a GreenButton forum member "DanITman" posted some directions on making any Vista or Windows 7 computer have CableCARD support. And to top it off, Ben Drawbaugh of EngadgetHD posted the Dell OEM Windows PC key (PID key) that allows it all to work - probably not a good thing for the OEMs and could cause problems for those using Dell OEM computers but....
- Then, this week, Ben took it a step farther and wrote in detail "How to install a CableCARD tuner in your DIY Media Center" on EngadgetHD. All of this same information is available around the web, but Ben did a great job wrapping it up as a one-stop source for how to do it.
So now that it's pretty much out in the open, its going to be pretty tough to find an ATI Digital Cable Tuner - especially the external variety. Still, I expect to see many MediaCenter users to try this out. There is definitely a risk (I really think it's very likely) that Microsoft will find a way to block this hack so be aware.
For those of you who use other, non-Media Center HTPC programs such as SageTV, BeyondTV or GBPVR this solution still doesn't give you much. Why? because Microsoft MediaCenter is the only HTPC program with the ability to use CableCard as a tuner (thus far) and the DRM restrictions wrapped up into CableCard make it even less likely we'll ever see it work with the competition. I'm not saying it isn't possible, but it's pretty unlikely at the moment.
For those of you MediaCenter users, the instructions are very detailed, include lots of good screenshots and information you'll need through the process. No CableCARD OEM bios is required with the hack because of the PID that was posted - just know that might not last forever. Read more at EngadgetHD and let me know how it goes if you give it a try.