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My previous PC was a Sony RX590G. It was state of the art when I got it. RDRAM, P4 processor, top-of-the-line DVD burner, etc. What was unique is that it was designed to be a video studio. You could plug in a camcorder, it would detect it and start software to download the content. And then it had the basic versions of software to process it into a DVD. It also had a TV capture card in it. You could run either coax or RCA from the cable box, and it had an early form of DVR (using software called "GigaPocket"). It was a little clunky, but it worked. Better than just about anything else at the time.

When I finally decided to upgrade** I went looking for a box with the same capabilities. I ended up with an HP. It also has the TV card allowing me to plug in my satellite box, and WMC (which appears to be standard on Windows7) has all the functionality of a DVR (and more...a lot more).

No, the TV card is not wi-fi. It simply allows the signal from the box to be decoded and the information displayed (just like your TV).

If you wanted to convert an older box to become a DVR there are a few ways to do it. If one of those boxes has Win7 that would be my first choice because WMC is very good for this purpose. Win XP didn't have any equivalent. You would need to get a TV tuner card (compatible with whatever bus is in the PC). The only one I can think of by name is Hauppauge. But your local electronics store (where people who build PCs from scratch would go) likely has a selection. It should include an infrared emitter so you can control the cable box from the computer. I believe it also needs hardware encoding so that it isn't dumping all the signal processing work onto the main CPU (could result in choppy playback).

(They also have external modules, but I prefer enough stuff hanging around my desk already.)

And near as I can tell they all want WMC on the computer. Without WMC (e.g. if you had XP), you would need to have software to talk to the Hauppauge card and give you the DVR function.

It's been a while, but I could try to look again if you need me to. Once upon a time I had the idea of doing this and found various websites that detailed how to make my own DVR from scratch (well, "scratch" including a computer with hard drive). I ended up going the route I did because the cost wasn't much more to buy it "already done". That may not be the case now.

There are also "hacks" out there to convert your XBOX to a DVR. That looked interesting, but I feared having a game console as I know myself well enough to know I would never get any sleep, except maybe in the office. Which would be bad.


**Had to...couldn't upgrade RAM, and some software like Photoshop required more RAM than I had.
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