For christmas this year, my wife and I were thinking of buying our daughter a new flatscreen tv for her room, finally replacing the old hand me down tube tv she currently has.
As a possible cheaper alternative, I was thinking of installing a video tuner card in her pc instead so she could watch tv through it to her current 22" LCD monitor, freeing up some extra space in her room by eliminating the television all together.
Currently she has the cable running to her old TV through a digital converter box. If I went with the tv tuner pc route, will the digital converter box still be required, or will I be able to simply plug the coax cable, directly from the wall, into the back of the pc? Will I require any special or addition hardware to achieve this? She does not need dvr or on-demand capabilities.
Get an old analog (ntsc) input tuner card. Use either a standard comcast set top box with analog output (RF cable) or a comcast DTA to feed the PC analog card. This works particularly well if the PC is running windows 7 but can be made to work using other software. If DTAs are free in your area this a very inexpensive solution.
For a simple cheap clearQAM pc tuner that comes in many Media Center PC's it depends on the Comcast system. Many systems have the local network channels still in clearQAM and a clearQAM tuner will tune in those channels that are mostly local network channels, shopp and and PEG's. There is no guarantee these channels will stay in the clear.
There are some Comcast systems that are 100% encrypted, you can't get any channels with a clearQAM tuner.
For those systems, and for receiving the encypted channels on your digital programming package you need a new cable card pc tuner. There are 3 Mfr's of these tuners, one goes into the PCI express slot on a desktop pc, another uses a USB connection to the PC, and the 3rd connects to the home network and will come into the pc over the ethernet port.
All these cable card PC tuners need a cable card supplied from Comcast, and the monthy fee for this card will replace the set top box. These PC tuners will not do On Demand and PPV. Installation of a cable card can be challenging and can take multiple calls to Comcast to get it working. If you don't keep the digital set top box, then when there are issues there can be finger pointing on who's problem it ls. Because of that, cable card tuners are better left for "techies" that know about pc hardware and how to troubleshoot when things don't work right. These cable card PC tuners are not cheap by any means to purchase. You should get a small credit on your monthly statement for using a cable card with your own equipment.
This combination of hardware does not ending up saving any money by the time you get done, but does give a improved TV watching experience using Windows 7 with Media Center.
For information on these tuners check the Mfr's sites.