Cut the Cord on Cable TV - Make your Own OTA HDTV DVR With Windows Media Center.

Not too long ago I got my bill from my cable provider and it was so high I just could not take it anymore. I decided I am not going to keep paying for cable. I thought for a minute and all the shows I really like all come on ABC, Fox, NBC or CBS and are available in full uncompressed HD over the air. I just need a good HDTV antenna and a DVR that will schedule and record all my favorite shows over the air in HD.

Well here is what I did and it works great. I took a small form factor desktop computer with an HDMI output on it and connected it to my network. I installed Windows 7 and a TV tuner card and connected the PC to my 52" Sharp HDTV. I used a USB TV tuner which is real easy to install. I then connected the tuner card to my antenna and scanned for all the local digital channels in my area using Windows Media Center. I was surprised to find more channels than I knew existed, 19 in my area. All the channels then populated my program guide in WMC. I then setup the shows to record as entire series, so all my favorite shows get recorded.

 This worked so well I decided to setup another computer in my bedroom as a DVR using WMC and the two computers share recorded content so I can watch my shows in either location. I can also watch live TV while recording two other shows at once. I have these systems connected to the internet and WMC has a Netflix application that integrates into the program guide. So if you have a Netflix account all your favorite movies and shows are integrated into the guide.

One key element to making all this work well is getting the right antenna. I bought several and none of them worked well. I finally made one based on plans I saw on this web site that works GREAT! I mean it worked  better than anything I tried and I think it cost me about $11.00 total to make. I mounted it in my attic and ran RG6 coax to a HDTV splitter then to 3 different TV's in different rooms in the house, works great. 

This setup has saved me hundreds per month. The signal is solid just like cable but the picture quality is better because it's uncompressed. Cable companies have to compress the signal some to save on bandwidth but OTA signal is uncompressed. Football looks great, better that I ever have seen it on TV. So try it out yourself and let me know what you think...