This is an update of a deal I wrote about last year.
Regular readers know of my deep fondness for Windows Media Center, which served as the hub of my entertainment center for many years. It's vastly underrated as a DVR; indeed, in many respects it's better than TiVo.
For a long while, the only available CableCard adapter (the vital component for watching and recording cable TV) was Ceton's InfiniTV 4--a great product, but expensive and compatible only with desktop PCs that had an available PCI slot.
Now there's an affordable, external solution. The Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 is a dual-tuner CableCard adapter that plugs into a USB port. Pair it with a Windows 7-powered desktop or laptop and a Multi-Stream CableCard from your cable company, and you've got the makings of a mighty sweet HD DVR.
I reviewed one of these last year, and I'm happy to report it worked like a charm. Using a Comcast CableCard and a reasonably powerful laptop, I was able to record two HD shows at the same time (even premium channels) while watching an already recorded show--just like with a TiVo.
Like a TiVo without the monthly fees, that is. Microsoft levies no additional charge for using Windows Media Center's excellent program guide. Trust me: you will not be disappointed.
At a hundred bucks, this thing is a steal. If you're looking for an inexpensive way to bring digital cable TV viewing/recording to your PC, there's never been a better option.
Bonus deal: Looking for a Wi-Fi upgrade? Today only, 1SaleADay has the Netgear WNDR3400 dual-band Wireless N router for $29.99, plus $4.99 for shipping. It's refurbished, with a scant 30-day warranty. Even so, it's fairly rare to find a dual-band router at this price point.