December 28, 2014

Build Your own DVR for ~$200

The normal price for our HD DVR from Comcast is $20 a month.   Thats  pretty pricey.   You could buy a TiVo Roamio for $150 and buy lifetime service for $500 but thats $650 total and pretty pricey too.  

Another solution is to use a CableCard tuner with your computer and make your own DVR.   You can get a setup working to replace a DVR for $100-$200.    This does require that you already have a computer and internet connection at home but I'm guessing thats a safe assumption.

One such CableCard tuner is the SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME    Currently those run about $100 on Amazon or Newegg, but you can watch for sales and discounts and probably get one a bit cheaper.

Here is a YouTube video about setting up the HDHomeRun Prime to work as a cable TV decoder and a DVR.   He also has a follow up updated video
If you want you can connect your TV directly to your computer and watch the programming like that but that may not be convenient or work well if your TV and computer aren't usually in the same rooms. The video recommends using media extenders like either a Ceton Echo ($100) or a Xbox 360 4GB ($176) to watch the programs on individual TVs.    You can also pick up a refurbished Xbox 360 from Gamestop for $90-$120.

Between a HDHomeRun PRIME and a Ceton Echo you're in for about $200 total to make your own DVR setup on one TV.   You can cover more TVs with more Echos for $100 each.

Note the video also recommends using wired ethernet connections instead of wireless.   So that  means you would have to have physical wired network cables connecting the HDHomeRun and the media extenders.   Depending on your setup that may be more cumbersome.   You can try wireless to see how well it works of course  but note their recommendation is for wired connection.

This kind of solution takes a little bit of technical savvy but its not nearly as complex as building a Linux based PC DVR.   The boxes are designed to be more user friendly and are compatible with typical Windows OS systems that more of us are familiar with.  


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