The HTPC I built was built for entertainment purposes Live TV, streaming movies and Digital content on HDD and some light gaming.
Adding up the cost for our 4 cable boxes from Verizon came to over $60+ a month. 1-HD/DVR-3-HD Cable boxes. Decided to go with the HD Homerun Prime due to having 3-Tuners. Would be using it in Living room and our bedroom. My son will be using the 360 for cablebox and will be keeping 1 cable box in my daughters bedroom.
There are some pluses and minuses for using a cable card. Plus side you can record more than 2 shows at 1x,Verizon has a pretty laxed copy protection policy in place only HBO & Cinemax are copy once flagged all other premiums Encore, Showtime, The Movie channel, Epix are copy freely flagged meaning XBMC can be used as your main application on HTPC. To watch HBO & Cinemax only Windows Media Center will allow copy once flagged channels to play. BIG savings on cablebox fees. The unit saves us almost $50 off a month on bill. Negative side No HBO, Cinemax watchable on a XBMC HTPC. Takes a bit of work to really get your system fully fuctional. Most customer service agents have no clue about cable cards therefore are little help when issues arise with activation and blacked out channels.
While XBMC isn’t to stable with the HD Homerun it does have a great picture because you can control the quality. Notice sometime lockups occur during multiple recordings and sometimes requires a PC reboot. Windows Media Center on the other hand is quite stable no issues with lockups or recording and can be implemented into XBMC to have a somewhat streamlined feel.
If you are interested in having WMC launch from within XBMC click on this link= http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=131464 It will give you the stuff needed for setup and works quite well. I made Netflix within WMC integrated into XBMC awhile back he also includes that info as well. As far as controls go you must have a Windows Media Center remote for a smooth experience.
Went and visited Amazon last night after shooting to Best Buy, Walmart, HH-Gregg for a WMC remote local stores just don’t carry them. Found what seems to be a good HTPC/WMC/XBMC remote plug n play no key mapping needed for basic controls like Play, Pause, Stop, Record.
The WMC remote I picked normally sells new for $39.99 Plus $4-$5 s&H. Found a seller on Amazon that sells them new for $14.00 + $4.69 s&h. Located here= http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B008EQ6QI2/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new
The HD Homerun is small in size so takes up little space.
The Windows Media Center remote works on Win7, Vista, XP MCE and pretty sure will work on Windows 8.