Being tested today is the Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650…. I love when tech companies name stuff – it’s so much fun. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? The Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650. Of course, from the name you know exactly what it is, right? A device that allows you to connect your cable to your Windows 7 PC with dual CableCARDs, basically turning your computer into a DVR. But, you knew that since it is so obvious from the name. And just to either clarify things, or make them more confusing, I’m not sure which – the DCR in the name stands for Digital Cable Ready – not Digital Cable Recorder or something like that – even though it looks very similar to DVR – DCR is not directly related.
I’m going to refer to the device as the WinTV from here on out, if you don’t mind.
The WinTV is a small black box, about the size of a desktop external hard drive, and plugs into your computer via USB. It has two slots for CableCARDs – which means you can record two shows at once, or watch one show while recording another. You have to get the CableCARDs from your cable provider, and – of course – you have to have a cable TV subscription. Power Cord slot, coax cable nub, USB cord slot, and the dual CableCARD slots are the connections on the back.
What you would need:
- A Windows 7 PC
- A Cable subscription
- A CableCARD or two
- The WinTV
- Enough Hard Drive space on your PC to save your recordings
Some may ask – why get this when most cable companies give you a DVR either free or for a small monthly fee – which may or may not be more than the rental cost of the CableCARD. Well, there are advantages.
The main one for me is expandability. The DVRs you get from your cable provider have whatever space they have – and that’s it. If you want to record more shows than you have room to store – you can’t. You have to start deleting stuff. With the WinTV – you can save as many shows as you’d like – and if you run out of room, just get an external hard drive and keep recording. You can also have and use this device if you already have a DVR – but say your cable-provided DVR only lets you record four shows at once – with a WinTV – you can record up to two more shows. Want to record even more – buy another WinTV, (and probably another computer – I haven’t tested to see if two WinTVs can run on the same computer or not – but I wouldn’t think so unless it was a very very powerful PC.)
Another advantage is exportability. The only way you can watch shows on your Cable-provided DVR is on a TV connected to that DVR (some companies are expanding it to any TV in your home, but you are still limited). Once the shows are on your PC from the WInTV, however, they are files on your computer – they can be exported to a different format and taken anywhere, on your phone, your tablet, your laptop, a DVD, whatever.
Now, for the downside – CableCARDs cannot do PayPerView or Video On Demand – so you won’t be able to watch or record those on your PC through the WinTV. Premium channels like HBO or Showtime work fine (as long as you are subscribed to those channels) – which some cable DVRs won’t even let you record.