Hauppauge pitches Pay TV add-on for PCs
CAM cards at the ready
Want to watch Pay TV on your PC? If so, Hauppauge's new WinTV-CI is here to help. It's an add-on for the company's range of WinTV tuners that allows you to plug in a Common Access Module (CAM) and signal-uncscrambling smartcard.
The WinTV-CI links the WinTV tuner to a range of third-party CAM modules, such as AlphaCrypt, Conax, Irdeto, Mediaguard, AstonCrypt, CryptoWorks and Viaccess. The CAMs are essentially PC Card adaptors for the smartcards Pay TV providers sell. Most of the follow the Common Interface (CI) standard.
Hauppauge's WinTV-CI: CAM card at the ready...
Hauppauge said the add-on works with Pay TV channels on Freeview and on satellite services - but not Sky, the company admitted. That includes Top-up TV and Setanta Sports, both broadcast over the Freeview network.
Broadcasters will sell you a CAM with your subscription. The WinTV-CI plugs into a spare USB port on your computer.
The WinTV-CI is available now for £80. Details of campatible WinTV products and CAMs can be found here.
Linux support hopefully coming
James Le Cuirot: people were certainly talking about it on the linuxtv mailing list. Supposedly, docs will hopefully be released soonish.
Sky? Actually yes you can...
You can use Cams with Sky under Linux although in all the official forums/chatrooms for the various media center suites (such as MythTV) it is frowned upon to talk about it.
There is FOSS available which sets up virtual tv card devices, the Cam is linked directly to them (with your viewing card in) and then using software the stream is decrypted before sending it to MythTV. This method also allows you to have the equivalent of Sky+ on your computer since 1 Cam and Viewing card can be used for upto 4 tv cards (possibly more) giving you 4 independent channels available at any one time. Of course you need to run the lines from your LNB (the hardware on the front of your minidish) but that is just a case of buying cable and plugging it into the spare ports on the LNB, each one of these lines will be an independent stream. Most people who have had Sky installed in the past 5 years or so will normally have 4 ports on their LNB (some older systems only have 2 and some newer systems as many as 8 since SkyHD and Sky+ came onto the scene).
Ordinarily with Sky Multiroom you would need as many boxes+viewing cards as you want to have independent feeds, so if you have 4 feeds from your LNB you need either 2x 2 Sky+ boxes (which take 2 feeds each), 4x regular Sky boxes or any combination thereof. This is inefficient for a number of reasons;
1. You have to spend a lot of money on set top boxes (even on ebay they can get pretty expensive if you want 4 of them).
2. You need upto 4 viewing cards which until recently meant paying Sky and extra 10 quid for each "multiroom" card per month; although I just found out yesterday that this has been reduced to a £10 per month flat charge for any number of multiroom subscriptions, which I have to say is about bloody time but still expensive.
3. It is totally non carbon friendly. Running up to 4 set top boxes consumes considerably more power than running a single Cam and zero set top boxes.
So yes, you can get free multiroom and free Sky+ (no Sky+ box required). Granted, you lose the Sky+ software (which is crap anyway compared to MythTV) and if Sky change their encryption key (which does happen every now and again) you need to wait a couple of days for the new key to be cracked.
I should add I have never used this system myself as I am a poor student and can't justify the cost of the Cam and multiple TV Cards. However, I have been a MythTV user for several years now and have spoken to many other users in the UK who are using this system with no problems.
It's about time Sky were forced to release their keys to licensed Cam vendors simply on the energy issue alone.
@ Anonymous Skyer...
The trouble is, Sky won't divulge their decryption information to anyone - that way Sky reduce the risk of having it reverse engineered to allow 'freebies'. Anyone remember a few years ago, Sky sent out new subscriber cards because whatever they originally used had been cracked. Not exactly cheap to do (say, 6million subscribers @ 25p a shot (issuing new cards, writing a letter, postage e.t.c.) but far less than they could lose from 'lost' subscribers.
Until they're forced to use something along the lines of CableCard in the US, we ain't gonna be seeing any way of viewing/recording sky services, except with a sky box.
I have tried using a CAM and card with a pc tv adapter before, and it's not straightforward. Firstly, such an arrangement is NOT supported by TopUp TV, and so when you phone them to get them to activate the card, you have to lie and say you have one of the approved set top boxes. Unfortunately, there aren't any approved boxes anymore as they (TopUp TV) have moved the system to TopUp TV Anytime, whereby you buy one of their boxes, which downloads certain programs from a list of channels you can select, it does this overnight, supposedly when you aren't using the box. I have experience of this too, and it doesn't work satisfactorily at all, either the downloading or the set top box. The box has a hard disk for recording and is prone to the usual problems when a disk goes bad, which happened within 6 months in my case.
Also, when I say download, this is from the normal dvb signal, not from the internet.
But in any case, unless you can get channel 5 clear as a bell, in any weather or conditions, steer clear, because ALL the encrypted channels are broadcast over the channel 5 multiplex, and the activation won't happen unless you can tune to channel 5 and leave it that way overnight.
In other news, does anybody want to buy a 2nd hand TopUp TV compatible CAM ? It's a Mediaguard CAM and doesn't include the viewing card (I returned that for a refund after the system wouldn't work)
If you want to know more about CAMS and dvb go to :
(You can get a usb cam for about £16)
AFAIK, CAM access is working in linux, but I haven't tried it. See
http://www.ethics-gradient.net/myth/mythdvb3.html for an old howto.
I have 2 Nebula dvb-t pci cards which work fine under linux with MythTV (installed using the MythDora iso found at http://g-ding.tv/?q=MythDora )
Finally, nothing works with sky other than sky equipment. This is by design to prevent fraud, and even the free to view channels require a sky card to decrypt them. I have a totally free sat system (free to air) that requires no card, but as you say does not have some of the normal (free) channels you get with sky. But 30 + channels is usually enough I find. All BBC, all ITV, various film channels, Film 4, Men & Motors etc etc.
Back to the drawing board...
You may sell something when its compatible with the major pay TV services.. cough cough SKY cough!