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Cisco Tuning Adapter Firmware Updated

Sometime in the last 24 hours my Cisco STA1520 Tuning Adapter was updated to the latest firmware. We knew the firmware existed and was out in the wild thanks to Ben Drawbaugh over at Engadget HD but there was no specific release date. Well I finally got my update. For those that do not know I live near Charlotte, NC and I have Time Warner Cable.

It definitely was not an elegant notification on the update though. I read that Ceton had updated the InfiniTV-4 firmware and drivers so I did the update. Everything seemed to be working fine until I woke up this morning. I had an SDV issue with one of my recordings. I checked the Ceton diagnostic web page for my tuners and saw that my tuning adapters were not working properly. I then checked the firmware of the SDV adapters through the CETON diagnostic screens and sure enough the tuning adapters had been updated.

HDHomeRun Prime – My Future Cable Card Tuner

I was originally on the Ceton cable card tuner bandwagon but I have since jumped off.  I am waiting patiently for the HDHomerun cable card tuner and now it is one step closer with an official name:  HDHomeRun Prime!

hd_prime

I chose to get the HDHomeRun Prime tuner after they announced that it would support 3 cable card stream off of one card at a price point of $250.  That is $150 less than the ceton tuner for only one less stream but I also get the capability to put the tuner anywhere on my network and not have to put it in my HTPC.  I may end up putting it right next to my HTPC but I at least have options.

I am hoping that this tuner will work better with my SDV tuning adapters because my SDV situation is about to get a lot worse.  More on that later.

Time Warner Officially Supports Windows 7 with Cable Card

As some of you may know, I am a Time Warner customer that has to live with a lot of Switch Digital Video (SDV).  I get letters all the time from Time Warner informing me of the next batch of channels that they are going to put behind the dread veil of SDV.

Well as I opened the latest letter I noticed something different.  Instead of just talking about Tivo’s and “other” cable card devices, they were now calling out by name Tivo, Moxi, and Windows 7 Media Center.

Could the days of calling Time Warner and saying “Yes I have a Tivo.  Please bring out a cable card.” now be over??  It looks like Media Center is no longer the illegitimate cable card child anymore.

Check out the scans of the letter below.

Time Warner Officially Supports ATI DCT

Thanks to a comment by reader Jason it has come to my attention that Time Warner Cable is officially supporting the ATI Digital Cable Tuner on their website.  Jason posted this link (HERE) to his local Time Warner Cable SDV website page where it clearly list the following  devices as being compatible with the SDV Tuning Adapter:

  • TiVo Series 3 DVR
  • TiVo HD DVR
  • TiVo HD XL DVR
  • Moxi HD DVR
  • ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner

I checked my local Time Warner Cable website to find the same change had been made on the SDV page.  This is a huge change from before when I would have to say that I had a Tivo just to get a truck roll to bring me some cable cards.  I personally have been working with a great Field Operations manager with Time Warner here in Charlotte and it seems that they are very interested in learning more about Media Center and being better prepared to support Media Center customers.  This change looks like it supports that attitude shift so lets hope it continues after the Ceton card hits the market and their Cable Card request double from 4 to 8.

Clubhouse Tags: clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, cable-tv,news, dvr

My Tuning Adapter Got Mad and Left Me

I have had two tuning adapters working perfectly for about a month now and in the past few days one of my tuning adapters decided to call it quits.  I am not sure what is going on since almost all of the appropriate status indicators are correct in the diagnostics screen.  Unfortunately it will still not go through final authorization and become operational.  This is what I see on one of my tuning adapters now:

TA Error

It used to say: Tuning Resolver is operational.  Not sure what happened at all.  The TA is on a splitter with the other adapter and it’s still working fine. 

The TA’s usually either work or do not work so I went to my local Time Warner office and switched it out today to see if I could get one working.  I came home and hooked it up only to see the same result.  I’ll keep working on this as I know that some others are having the same issue.  As soon as I get a repeatable resolution I will post it for everyone.

Cable Card and SDV Support for All!!!

The Digital Cable Advisor tool is now available to the public.  For the full rundown click HERE.  In addition, the ATI 1.19 driver/firmware update is now available via Windows Update.  If you have any questions just let me know.

Please post feedback with your Cable Company and what kind of DRM you are seeing after the update.  Hopefully for most of you the DRM is relaxed almost 100%.

Testing the ATI 1.19 Firmware with Cox Cable

Note:  This is a guest post by James from the Media Center Blog.

Now this is how the CableCARD tuners should have been working from the start! After having my CableCARD ready PC for over a year and a half I can finally archive most digital and HD content that I record with the tuners. In a joint testing effort with Andres from My Network Project we wanted to test the firmware update with my Cox Communications cable here in Kansas.  I set out to give it a really good test over night. I installed the firmware on both of my tuners and proceeded to record a large variety of programs on various channels to properly test to see if the protection actually was removed.

Pay Channel Content

I was fully expecting pay channel content (HBO, Showtime, etc) to still be protected and I wasn’t wrong about that. While I would love to be able to burn some of my large recorded HD movie collection to a Blu-Ray disk, I can see why they would not allow me to do so. I recorded Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay first and noticed it was protected so I went ahead and recorded a non-movie and as you can see below, it’s still protected.

hbostillprotected

Analog Channel Content

I recorded a couple of programs in the analog channel range (1-70ish) and as expected, they were not protected. This didn’t surprise but as with most people with CableCARD PCs, I rarely record anything on these channels if I also have the HD channel (which I do for most of the channels I watch). Furthermore, I have an analog tuner in my PC in addition to my CableCARD tuners so I hadn’t really had a problem with it in the past.

Digital and HD Content

I was expecting these channels to NOT be protected and lucky for me they are not. Apparently Cox only protects the programming they are required to. I was able to record a number of programs on my upper digital and HD channels and none of them were protected. I decided to go ahead and test some of these files with some other programs that I use frequently.

First, I decided to see if I could easily convert one of the .wtv files to .dvrms so that I could use DVRMSEditor to easily edit commercials and such. Sure enough, it worked flawlessly and I was able to convert a recording of Golf Central to .dvrms and subsequently open it in DVRMSEditor.

golfhddvrms

Next I decided to see if I could open a file in Windows DVD Maker and burn one of the shows to DVD. I was able to open the recording and see menu previews (which I was not able to previously do with digital content) and it started encoding just fine and prior to that the program would crash. So it appears that Windows DVD Maker will finally work with most programs recorded on the CableCARD tuners…FINALLY!

I was also interested to see if I could put any of these recorded programs on my Zune HD and had no luck with either digital content or HD content. I knew HD content would show up but I was hoping at least the upper digital channel recordings would but the only ones showing up were the programs that were recorded on the analog channels.

In conclusion, the new firmware is working as I had hoped and expected. I had a feeling the pay channels would be copy protected since they always had before and I was hoping all the other digital and HD channels would be unprotected and they were. I was also expecting to have issues transferring videos over to my Zune but that’s a problem that needs to be fixed with the Zune. Hopefully that will get taken care of soon. As it stands now, I’m pretty pleased with the firmware upgrade.

clubhouse,how-to, media center, media center-windows 7, dvr