As reported on GeekTonic before CES began, SiliconDust has their own dual-tuner CableCard in the works and it will be a networked tuner device just like their other HDHomerun tuners! We’ve since learned several other details about this exciting device including pricing and ETA.
SiliconDust plans for the tuner to sell for $249 when first available. They plan a public beta sometime in March 2010 with the device slated to go on sale sometime in 2010. I know that's pretty unspecific, but I expect the timing uncertainty has a lot to do with the CableLabs certification process and the unique nature of SiliconDust’s implementation of this CableCard product.
According to SiliconDust, the dual tuner will connect to your home network via Ethernet cable just like the companies other HDHomeRun products. This is different than other CableCard tuners because it doesn’t take up a slot on your HTPC server. It also means you can share a tuner with different PCs (with MediaCenter) and extenders (XBox360) in the home albeit only one tuner to one PC at a time. The caveat to that I see is the dreaded DRM that CableCard has built in. If the TV content is marked as “Copy Once” by the Cable Company or station, you only get to watch that content on the PC. I trust SiliconDust will work all of this out in the long run.
I’m intrigued by the way this tuner will work as it just might open up the opportunity for 3rd party solutions. I’m thinking programs like SageTV and possibly even other operating systems might find this implementation useful because it appears that the video comes out of the HDHomeRun CableCard across the network in the clear as long as those channels don’t have the CCI flags marked. Many cable companies do not flag most of their channels except for the premiums so it might just open up the possibility for non Windows 7 MediaCenter users at some point without needing an add-on like is being implement for SageTV.
GreenButton has a nice interview of Jason Ludka of SiliconDust about the new HDHomeRun CableCard tuner:
More info on SiliconDust HDHomeRun CableCard tuner and a good explanation of the implementation of this tuner at Engadget