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Pros: The device does everything it says it does. The downloadable software suite (GUI, config, QuickTV) is straightforward and the Silicondust website has adequate instructions provided you don't go too far off the reservation. I downloaded the suite to Vista and 7 machines. It works everywhere. See other thoughts for WMC compatibility. I can't fault Silicondust for not strongly supporting Vista: Vista does not natively support QAM like 7 does. If you stick to a 7 machine, things go smoothly...after the cable company steps up and does their job. By the way, my HDHomerun must have shipped from Bolingbrook IL, because I ordered it on the weekend and it was here Monday...wow!
I did send Silicondust a tech support e-mail. They responded the following day - with a good answer about S- versus M-Cards. And it was funny and snarky to boot. I think Silicondust wants to do a good job, but the cable companies are making their product look bad. In all cases, the HDHomerun was not the problem.
Cons: This device is not quite ready for Joe average It's not really the fault of the HDHomeRun. I was talking with the tech. This is the first one he's seen. He said how cool the concept is, though. Not a fault of HDHomerun, but Vista support is not great. I've been chasing all the downloads and patches, etc. for days, and still don't have it working in WMC in Vista. The Silicondust website doesn't have great documentation for all the crazy Vista messages I've received.
Other Thoughts: My story: First, my local Charter cable office is Beloit WI. When you go to yours to get a CableCard, make sure you get an M-Card, not an S-Card. It's got to say M-Card on it (and be red in color if it's a Motorola M-Card). Make sure that if you need a tech, he bring along several M-Cards. The quality control on those cards must be non-existent.
I tried for several nights to activate the card via phone support. Monday night, we got to the end of the road because I could not find the "DATA ID" in the card information posted in WMC. That was because the S-Card does not display it - see above. Tuesday and Wednesday, I started to see non-encrypted stations as now I had an M-card. All encrypted digital stations were not present. Friday, Charter rolled a tech. He did 3 things: First, get rid of any additional splitters you may have - my signal was weak, partially because both the Charter line and my house had too many (apparently digital is more touchy than analog). A weak signal seems to fake out the pairing process - the M-card will appear ready to go back at home base when it's not. Second, make sure there are extra M-cards. I figured out the HDHomerun was probably good when I first got an M-card, and was able to see the 3 (Cablecard ID, Host ID, Data ID) numbers phone support said I should see. Third, the tech had a signal strength-o-meter (don't know the exact name). He used it to measure the signal after he spliced several cables and removed splitters. With adequate signal strength, pairing the card went like it was supposed to. I now have digital TV and Windows 7/WMC works like a champ.
Using a wired and/or wireless network for TV signals is really cool. I don't have to have 2 sets of wires running through the house anymore. I've actually started removing some of the coax that's run behind furniture, etc. I was using a wireless USB N600 adapter and streaming TV earlier today. There were no lags or pauses. My router is a Dlink 655, and both in the wired and wireless stuff, it has handled the bandwidth just fine.
I dislike the idea of having to move to 7 just to have WMC support. But I guess there were reasons to upgrade from all the previous releases, too. My Vista/WMC/Analog cards/analog cable infrastructure worked great for 6+ years, but it's time to upgrade.
The whole HDMI thing is a little sketchy to me. I have a PC where I'm using a VGA cable and on-the-mobo sound jack (it says digital audio in the control panel). It shows picture and sound great (thought I'd need an HDMI cable and some sort of crazy arrangement for analog powered speakers - not so!). For the big TV, the HDMI cable from the HTPC is the way to go.
My HTPC solutions include a AMD A3300, some old Wolfdale Core-2-Duo stuff, with either onboard HDMI or HDMI through a 5450 card. Don't know if true 1080 being pumped through my network would send it crying to mama or not.
Pros: This is quieter than the stock Intel cooler. The design is the same as the much bigger coolers that I have used on an old quad core years ago, just the kid brother version.
I played around with the PWM settings in the BIOS until I got this at the lowest speed I could (HTPC - minimize noise), and it is just a whisper. The Intel cooler was close, but had a sound quality that did not fade into the background as easily. Now the loudest thing in the case is the mechanical hard drive.
Cons: Zalman tried to one-up the push-pin design of the stock intel cooler, but has failed. I've never had issues with the Intel push-pin design, either removing or installing with the board in the case.
I had to remove the mobo to even try to get the heat sink 4-poster plastic base to go. I tried and tried to get the expanding pins to seat in the thru-holes in the motherboard. The idea is they use a sort of snap-lock that expands and holds onto the back side of the board. Well, the little plastic push-pins were just too short to go through the mobo. This is a G31/775 Foxconn board, nothing special. It would be even worse it this was an enthusiast class board that is thicker. I used a little 400 sandpaper so see if I could shorten the posts just a bit. Nothing doing...probably a good .020" short.
Other Thoughts: I ended up using 2 cable ties per post, one that got threaded from the back side of the board, and the other to ratchet down on the heat sink base. The remaining part of the mechanism is a piece of springy metal that anyone familiar with how AMD coolers mount (or other Zalman products) will instantly recognize. This snapped on just fine, and the cooler is sitting flat on the CPU.
The cooler is good because it is quiet and does its job, bad because the design just does not account for board thicknesses beyond a certain range.
This review is from: DIAMOND ATI Theater HD 750 Tuner Card TVW750PCIE PCI-Express x1 Interface
Pros: It does everything it says it does. I purchased this to go with a Charter Digital cable box on the chance that Charter would have unencrypted QAM digital TV, and this would be a cheap solution. Charter requires the whole CableCARD and a more expensive solution, unfortunately.
I ran the coax directly into this unit, no channels except the standard NTSC. So my hopes on getting the digital cable directly without the cable box are dashed.
So, I put this card through its paces, just to see what it's got. FM radio tuner, check - works fine. I went from the cable box both via coax and RCA. Both worked fine in WMC, except that I had to use the Charter remote to change channels. WMC recognizes only one channel - channel 4 - but that is because the cable box does all the signal conversion, blah blah.
I tried out the included ArcSoft software. It is actually better than WMC as WMC in Vista doesn't seem to allow you to look for both OTA HD (ATSC), and a cable box simultaneously. The ArcSoft package allows you to look for both and essentially you get your 5-10 (or whatever) OTA channels plus one 'dummy' channel that comes through the cable box.
I just used the drivers from the included disc and did not go to the website to look for updated drivers.
I replaced an ATI 650 tuner which does not do Clear QAM to try this 750 out.
Cons: None really. Card was a snap to install and set up. I'm just running Vista home premium on an FM1 A3300 AMD setup. Everything this card should do it does. I can't deduct an egg due to Charter cable not doing Clear QAM.
Other Thoughts: The next step in the Digital cable TV saga is probably something that requires a CableCARD. Thinking about just getting an internet only subscription from my cable company. My quest is to eliminate a monthly cable box rental fee for several box. Also, the Charter rep I spoke to was claiming a sort of Channel-geddon where most channels would become digital only. This hasn't happened. Frankly, I like the functionality of this 750 card and the 650 card in regular analog cable, and will probably just return the cable box. The next step will be a cablecard solution if I ever care enough to want to watch digital TV.READ FULL REVIEW