I am using an old laptop as an HTPC with windows media center and an xbox I already had as an extender. I also use the Silicondust Homerun Prime HD. It is a network based cablecard tuner. It has three tuners. Its an easy setup and the only thing I had to buy was the Homerun Prime itself, since I already had everything else. Ceton also has a similar tuner. Also if you don't have any comcast equipment you get a small discount ($2.50 per month for me).
It takes a little time to set it up but its pretty awesome having my own DVR with pretty much unlimited storage for no montly fee. If I were to get a DVR with comcast, I would spend the same amount of money in less than one year.
The payback on owning a Tivo is only a couple of years. My older Tivo HD has long since paid for itself, and my XL4 will cross the line soon. Plus the technology is far ahead of what Comcast can offer.
I have been thinking along the same lines and did some looking into Home Theatre P.C. (HTPC). This will replace the comcast set top box but they look like they are pricey unless you have lots of spare PC equipment laying around. THey claim you can build one for $500 but then you need the 4 tuner cable card for another $200 so the minimum price is $700 to save the rent on the Comcast DVR. From there the sky is the limit with fancy cases and Blu-Ray player/burners.
I priced a good HTPC for around $2000 with the Intel I3 chip. I also saw a super unit for $5000 with 30 Tb of HDD storage that said you could save over 3000 Blu-Ray movies to watch.
The payback for owning your own equipment may be a long time coming.
Thanks. The reason I don't want TIVO is that I am trying to get away from the monthly service fee for the equipment attached to each TV. I have 4 TVs and this cost adds up. Do I have any alternatives besides TIVO that would work? I'll still be subscribing to Comcast Internet and TV Service I just don't want to pay monthly fees for the equipment. Help???
How do I find out what customer owned equipment I can use with COMCAST? I want to buy my own CableCard ready tuner and not lease something from COMCAST.
Some examples include:
Panasonic DVR, TiVo Series 3 and Series 4, TiVo HD, Sony DVR, Moxi DVR, ATI (All in Wonder HD, ATI TV Wonder™ Digital Cable Tuner). As others have already posted, you would still need to lease a CableCard from Comcast to get your service authorized.