SiliconDust HD Digital Tuner

I don’t get it…what does it play? All the HD channels?

Can this work on your computer? I would assume you need some kind of card in your machine. Im not technical; sorry. Thank you.

Aw shucks! From the thumbnail, I thought these would be some kind of handcuffs.

Does the three tuner version need a cable card, in order to simultaneously access three channels? I mean, can I use it to access three over the air channels at once, or is it just for 1 cable and 2 over the air channels at once? I’m definitely going to buy one of these, but I don’t have cable, so if the three channel one isn’t going to be of any use to me…

Amazon: - $88.85 - 4.3 stars (2 tuner version) - $160.22 - 4.6 stars (3 tuner version)

Under stats the Prime states that it requires a cable card, so can it not function solely using an antenna for OTA channels?

No, it will just pick up basic cable channels that are broadcast in HD. Many new TV’s already have one built it so check yours to be sure. My TV does have one built in an I get 7 HD channels. Woo!

Ok, for the confused…
The dual tuner version plays Clear QAM (aka, unencrypted) and ATSC channels. Basically, these are all the local, free channels that you can probably get over the air via antenna, and also tend to be carried by cable provider’s lines.
The three tuner version allows you to plug in what’s called a CableCard. This allows it to decrypt cable channels. You get a cable card from your cable provider.

So how does it work? You plug in an antenna or your cable into the box, and plug the ethernet into your network. Now any computer on the network can watch TV.
I personally use Windows Media Center on multiple computers around my house. This allows me to watch TV wherever I want, and also doubles as a DVR on my primary computer.
I do not have the cable card version, but basically, the advantage of this is that you are not paying the cable company to rent their cable box. This can save you around $15/month. There is generally a small fee for the cable card, but in the end, it’s considerably cheaper, and you have a customizable, upgradable DVR (via your computer).

Anyways, overall, it’s a pretty awesome product.

Yes, it will work with your computer. No, you don’t need a card in your machine. The HDHomerun tunes to channels available via your cable connection (clear QAM if no cablecard, all in the cablecard version), and makes them available on your home network. To access them on your computer, all you need is the software SiliconDust provides, or any number of desktop media center applications that support it (My HDHomeRun - SiliconDust).

To end my debate, I figure it doesn’t make sense to get the three tuner, since I don’t have cable, because I can use two of the dual tuners together for the same price.

Will this enable my 11 year old non digital signal capable tv to receive digital signal? I never bought the box when the switchover happened because I had cable. I’ve since cancelled cable. I have an antenna but no box for the signal. If this meets my needs I’ll be stoked.

Honestly not sure about this one, as I do not own one. However, SiliconDust does not say anything on their webpage regarding the use of it WITHOUT a cable card, so I’d venture to guess it needs one. However, at this price, picking up two dual tuners for OTA broadcasts is quite cheap!

Unfortunately, not really. Unless you have a computer plugged into your 11 year old computer. What you need is a DTV converter box. It’d be around $40 from Walmart. Note: I didn’t do any price searching, so there might be a better deal than that one. However, my girlfriend’s version of that box seems to work well enough…


  1. HD HomeRun is connected to the raw TV signal (antenna or cable)

  2. HD HomeRun puts the digital video into your home network via Ethernet.

  3. Some device on your home network (a computer or certain other devices) receives the digital video and does whatever with it (save it to a hard drive and/or output it to a monitor).

This is NOT a device for TVs! Now, if you have a TV that is hooked up to a HTPC (home theater PC), then that PC can receive the video and output it onto your TV…

I’ve had the dual-tuner version for a few months, and I love it. I have two Windows 7 machines (one wired, one wireless) with WMC pulling HD channels off of a single unit simultaneously, with no lag or freezing.

The dual-tuner model, for those asking, turns any ClearQAM channels on your cable system into accessible data streams on your home network. That means that you can view these channels on any computer on your network by using either the included HDHomeRun software, Windows Media Center, or other compatible third-party software. No additional hardware is needed!

ClearQAM channels are the ones that are unencrypted by your cable provider. You can check to see which channels are in the clear by attaching your cable directly to your HDTV (bypassing the cable box entirely), scanning, and seeing what you come up with. For instance, I get all broadcast networks and a handful of international news channels.

I don’t own the triple tuner model, but since it has a CableCard slot, I imagine it’s capable of tuning all channels, ClearQAM and encrypted alike. Call your cable company to make sure they offer CableCards!

Also, a quick note about the number of tuners. Each tuner allows a single data stream at a time. So, with two tuners, you can have two computers watching two different channels, or one computer watching one channel and recording another channel. The three tuner model can either stream to three computers, two computers with one recording, one computer recording two shows and showing one, etc etc etc.

EDIT: I should add that the device itself isn’t wireless. Once you connect the tuner to your router, any device that connects to that router can access the tuners. Even on WiFi.

Since this gets asked a lot, there are four kinds of TV signals.

  1. Analog (no longer available via antenna, still available in some places over cable) - This will NOT work here.

  2. Digital antenna (ATSC) - You must use the $50 dual-tuner.

  3. Unencrypted digital cable (basic tier / ClearQAM) - You can use EITHER tuner for this. WARNING: The FCC is revoking the rules that prevent cable companies from encrypting basic-tier cable (the FCC is in the pocket of the cable cos, unfortunately). So ClearQAM, sadly, does not have a bright future.

  4. Premium cable - You need the Prime tuner, and you need to get a Cable Card from your cable company.

I have the three tuner version (HD Homerun Prime), and I like it.

Either of these only work with DIGITAL signals. The DUAL will work with a digital antenna or unencrypted (clear QAM) digital cable. The HD Homerun Prime only works with digital cable.

My cable provider doesn’t offer much in the way of Clear QAM (unencrypted) digital channels, so I got a cable card from my provider. The setup was not smooth, because mine was the first of these devices ever to be hooked up to my provider.

Operation is pretty good. I can watch cable TV on my computer, and use it as a DVR. I’m using Microsoft Media Center, which works okay, but it will occasionally “lose” the signal, or tell me I’m not authorized to receive it. That could be a device problem, but it’s probably a problem with MS Media Center.

I haven’t hooked up any of the other computers in the house, but now that the cable card is set up, it should be pretty easy.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 stars. It lets me watch TV on my computer. Digital channels only, including all of the digital music channels, plus a couple of clear QAM channels that the regular cable box doesn’t see. If I had extra channels (HBO, etc), I’m sure that I could watch those as well.

Three tuners means I can watch one show and record two others, or that three separate computers can watch something, or any combination of those.

I’ve previously owned PCI and PCIe tuner cards for Windows Media Center. They have complicatd drivers, and only work on that PC.

I now use a HD prime (3 tuner), and I love it! I am considering buying another one so that I have six tuners available.

You can browse the built-in web server and see which computers are using which tuners.

You download a small 5MB download, then the tuners appear to be locally installed tuners in your PC. Windows Media Center sees/uses the tuners perfectly.

I’ll never use a PCI or USB tuner card again!

A few notes:

  • If two seperate PCs are watching the same channel, two tuners will be in use. It would be nice if the device was smart enough to share a tuner, but it doesn’t.

  • The specs indicate that the HD Prime only works with a cableCARD. However, when you set it up, you specify clearQAM or cableCARD for each tuner. I was successfully using the clearQAM tuner to watch TV until the cable guy showed up with the cableCARD.

  • Federal Law requires all cable companies to provide cablecards (from what I researched), so that shouldn’t be a problem. You may have to fight with the cable company though before they acknowledge that cablecard exists. Once I was transferred to the “cable card” department of my cable company, it went very smoothly. The installer had done many cablecard installs, and was very knowledgeable. But, he had never seen the homerun device, and he was impressed by the versatility of it.

  • Windows media center and the homerun device respect the “do-no-copy” flag. So, for me, the video files created by windows only play on that computer (and extenders), for most channels. Local stations are not protected, but most other stations are.

  • Silicon Dust tech support is knowledgeable and fast. they respond to email usually within 1 hour. no phone support though.

  • most cable companies require a SDV device that connects to the USB port on the homerun. it should be provided at no extra cost by the cable company.

Looking at using this for an HTPC and have a question:
1: Is it possible to split a cable line coming from my satellite (Dish Network) just before it goes into my whole house DVR in order to send the signal to the silicondust device without any issue?

While getting rid of the DVR is optimal, for me, it’s quite impossible. However, this would add a significant amount of versatility to my media pc and resolve the few recording conflicts our house tends to have.