I’m interested to know if anyone that has cable tv, has there own equipment or you just use it from the cable company. Seems like it’s a lot cheaper if you have your own equipment, but I honestly don’t know what you would need and how much it is to buy the equipment and how often you would have to upgrade it. Any help is appreciated!!’
I don’t currently have a cable TV subscription so my info might be out of date. But I believe a TiVO would be a good option for you - https://www.tivo.com/. While you won’t need to rent the cable co’s set-top box, you’ll still need a device called a cable card which is inserted to your TiVO (sort of like a SIM card in a mobile phone) to receive the cable co’s signal. I think there’s still a fee for the cable card.
Another option is to build your own HTPC with a cable card tuner device like the Ceton Infinitv - http://cetoncorp.com/products/infinitv-6-pcie/. That option is a bit more involved though.
The easiest option I think is Silicon Dust which makes some good hardware for recording and can record to a NAS. And there are apps for it on Roku and Amazon, and I think Apple as well.
Depending on your cable co, they may not encrypt the basic cable channels so you just need a USB tuner to start recording. Cable card tuners can be a hassle to get working since you need the cable co to help authorize it to decode the signal.
The fun way:
I used to have a MythTV server to record shows. I had a digital set-top box, and used a Hauppauge box to record using the analog 1080i output from the digital box. The Hauppage recorder connected to the MythTV server.
I had a small computer in the living room running MythTV Frontend connected to the TV, and another computer in the bedroom connected to that TV. Needed USB IR receiver for the computers so I could use a standard universal remote.
The upfront cost of the computers and such was a bit much, as well as the Huappauge capture and encoder, but over the years I used it probably paid off in not renting the crappy DVR from the cable co. I upgraded the storage drive, was able to archive off recordings to the NAS, and did not have to pay extra for the bedroom.
With the Hauppage device doing the encoding to mpeg2, the server did not use much CPU except when flagging commercials for the auto skip.
If you want to go the MythTV route, I would recommend the LinHES distro. Easy to setup and configure.