For home theater PC (HTPC) users, getting TV into their chosen DVR has always been a challenge. While tuners have always been available, getting high definition, premium content into a PC was, for the longest time, the holy grail of custom PC and HTPC folks.
That changed several years ago a small company announced a new product that would allow PC users to not only record premium HD content, but would also provide four tuners on a single card. Ceton now sells the InfiniTV4 and as of this writing it is the only TV tuner available that offers the features needed to have a great TV watching experience using a PC.
The InfiniTV4 is a solidly built piece of gear. The weight of the device suggests quality when you hold it. Once it's installed, you'll most likely never see the actual hardware again but I know that while installing the card in my PC I felt that it would perform its assigned tasks for a good long time.
The card is simple in design. The tuner itself is red in color and requires a single PCIe slot on your motherboard. When installed, you'll have access to the CableCARD slot at the rear of your PC. The InfiniTV4 accepts M-card CableCARDs so a single card will power all four of the tuners.
The card also ships with a coax adapter that will allow you to connect it to your cable system. It's a simple connection and is easy to get put together.
It should be known that depending on your cable provider, you may need at least one and possibly two SDV adapters connected to your PC via USB. For more information on using SDV adapters and how many you'll need, see our full write-up here.
Ceton provides a full software suite that allows you to know exactly what's going on with not only your tuner but also provides information on CableCARD pairing as well as Tuning Adapter status. All critical pieces of information needed to ensure that everything runs properly.
Part of the software is installed with the drivers and will provide information in an easy to read check list format that will let you know if everything is working properly. You can also send diagnostics to Ceton using one of the tabs in the UI.
The other part of the software is accessed through your web browser by pointing it at the InfiniTV4's IP address. These pages will allow you to see tuner, CableCARD pairing and Tuning Adapter status. You can view these pages in our related gallery.
Being able to easily see all of this information is a compliment to how Ceton has taken users into consideration when writing their software. Between the check list style interface of the software UI as well as the ability to view any and all important information right on a webpage, you'll always know what's going on with your tuners right down to which channel and frequency each one is tuned to.
Since installing the Ceton InfiniTV4, I have yet to miss a recording. While Media Center does require a good bit of setup, it's nothing that most people can't handle and once done, you have four tuners at your disposal that will allow you to record all of the premium HD content that your hard drive can store.
The only issue that I have yet to find with the InfiniTV4 is the inability to share protected recordings with other PCs in your home. It should be noted that this isn't something that Ceton (or any other company for that matter) can control as those rules are laid down by Cable Labs, the organization that certifies devices for use with cable content. Ceton is required to follow copy protection flags and they can't be blamed for doing so. They wouldn't be in business if they didn't.
Beyond that, the card has performed every task assigned to it. Setup is as easy as it gets. The combination of the Ceton software along with Media Center's tuner setup makes it quick and easy to get things rolling. As long as your cable provider can get your CableCARD paired up you shouldn't have any issues. In fact, you don't have to be a computer wizard to install the card and once that's done, the CableCARD pairing will be your biggest hurdle.
While the Ceton InfiniTV4 is currently the only CableCARD solution on the market for HTPC users, that doesn't mean the company has slouched on the job. They've designed and built a solid product that does what it's advertised to do and does it well.
With Silicon Dust opening up pre-orders for the HDHomeRun Prime, there's soon to be competition in the market but with a product that operates like the InfiniTV4, HTPC users don't need another solution. If you want to view and record premium HD content in Windows Media Center you don't have to look any further.