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Cablecard PCs are a Bargain!

March 18, 2007

Iv’e adapted this post from a comment I was inspired to add to a thread over at AVS Forum. There has been much complaining there about the high cost of Vista PCs with Cablecard tuners. I don’t find the cost to be as exorbitant as many and this is why:

I’ve ordered one of the Velocity Micro boxes for about $2400: dual core AMD processor: 2GB RAM; and dual Cablecard tuners.

I have rationalized the cost by subtracting out the value of the PC it will be replacing (about $800) and then dividing the extra $1600 among the four Xbox 360’s that we have in place as extenders.

So, it’s really only about $400 per location for a nice upgrade to what I still consider to be the best (and most flexible) multiroom system out there– even with some of the disadvantages of the restrictions on Cablecard recorded content!

That $400 per location dramatically expands the content I have easy access to and is a relatively small part of the investment in equipment for each location by the time you add up the cost of TV, receiver, speakers, wiring and cabinets.

I am under no illusions that this investment will last for 10 years, but I figure that by buying on the leading edge of Vista, this is a system that I’ll keep around for about four more years. So the cost per year is about $400 (assuming minimal resale value at the end of that period). There is a net savings of $10/month from not renting the Motorola HD PVR ($15/month – $5/month for a second cablecard). That brings the net cost of this upgrade down to $280/year or $22.50/month.

This is $22.50/month isn’t insignificant by any means, but when compared to the $300 we spend for communication and media services (2 lines of telephone, Internet, cable TV, 2 cell phones with data plans) in our household every month, it doesn’t seem quite as big. It’s also about the cost of a family meal at McDonald’s!

I put it this way because I’ve made the draw that I would be willing to cut back on other expenses, to dramatically expand the quality and scope of video content available to me through my Media Center at home.

I suspect that many of the people writing off Cablecard Media Center PCs as being too expensive aren’t considering the expense in this fashion.


  1. Ted permalink

    What’s the delivery for the Velocity Micro – I never even heard of these guys until you mentioned it in your blog.

  2. Doug permalink

    I understand that Velocity Micro should be shipping some systems this week.

  3. Unknown permalink

    It appears that the cable industry is rapidly implementing SDV (Switched Digital Video),  TWC in Austin were I live is moving all they can as fast as they can.  Since moving HD channels over to SDV saves the most bandwidth – they are moving all the HD channels over first.
    Do you know your cable company’s plans for SDV?  Will the OCUR be upgradable to be bi-directional in the future?
    That is the main reason I’m not considering MCE cablecards right now.  I think a lot of people are going to get blind sided by this.
    If you want to know more about the SDV and Cablecard problem, there are a bunch of posts by Tivo 3 (has cablecards) owners and thier problems.

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