Maybe this is an FAQ. If so, feel free to direct me to a decent how-to guide. I have Comcast digital cable with HD and Comcast Internet. I want to set up an entertainment center using a PC to control things as much as possible.
It is easy to set up the LCD TV to act as a second monitor connected to the PC for Internet video, and this will use the more powerful speakers connected to the PC rather than the weak TV speakers. It is also easy to connect the Comcast box to the TV with the 5 component wires, but this means that the cable channels use the weak TV speakers, and I need to switch inputs with the TV remote to switch between cable TV and Internet video.
At the very least, I would like to have the cable channels use the PC sound system, but even better would be to route the cable box output to the PC first, then to the TV so that everything uses the PC sound and only one of the TV's inputs is needed, presumably HDMI.
There are a variety of PC-like inputs/outputs on the back of the cable box (model DCT6200) such as Ethernet, USB and FireWire. But what little information I found on them just said to contact the provider before using them. So what is everybody using to connect everything in a situation like mine? There must be a million people doing it.
Most people stream video using their xbox or ps3 that is connected to the tv, they use the cable box for their cable channels and switch the inputs. If you want to hook your cable box to your tv you need a tv tuner card for it, most if not all the outputs on the box you describe are disabled so they are not useable. YOu can also use a cable card in your pc and get rid of the box all together, again you need to get the cable card tuner.
There is no easy way to do what you ask in my opinion.
First thing, is the USB, ethernet ports are disabled on the cable box, and most of the time the firewire is unless and difficult to get working.
Most users these days would skip using the cable box, and instead go with using a Windows 7 Media Center PC. Add a cable card pc tuner like from Ceton, Silicondust or Hauppauge, and add a Comcast supplied cable card to decrypt & map the channels. Many of these units have 4 tuners. That is the best way to get your digital encrypted channels into the pc, and watch or record with the Media Center PC. A XBox can also be used to watch programs and recordings from the Media Center PC or directly from the internet. Connect the HDMI output from the PC to the HDMI input on a HDCP compliant HDTV.
A setup like this gets you internet video, streaming video, Xfinity online TV and linear cable channels along with surround sound if the PC's sound card has the right capabilities.
There are plenty on the forum using a setup similar to this, and some will chip in with their stories to share.
Trying to connect the cable box digital audio output to the pc's input will be difficult if you want surround sound. Analog stereo audio would be less of a problem.
Thanks for the replies. The TV tuner + cable card combo looks cool for some things, but unless I misunderstood, I would sacrifice some basic functionality by giving up the set box, like On Demand. It looks like I can just route the TV sound to the PC with a $2.99 RCA to 3.5mm Y-adapter for stereo sound. It isn't sexy or high tech, but I should be able to get all the basic functionality I want.
Anyone have any experience with remote controlling Windows Media Center? I don't have an X-box and don't want one.
I have my PC running TightVNC and then on my ipod touch I have a couple freeware apps named HippoRemote Lite and mocha VNC Lite. Hippo gives you pretty good control over the mouse on the PC while Mocha is not so much mouse control as a view of the PC desktop with limited mouse control. Both apps have some keyboard functionality although there's no Windows 'Start' button. You could also install TightVNC on a laptop and use it to control the Home theater PC.