Windows Vista Media Center Now Records DRM-free Cable TV

Users of Windows Vista (and Windows 7) Media Center and Cablecard TV tuners (specifically the ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner) will be thrilled to hear that we can now record TV shows without DRM encryption preventing us from playing them back on other computers.

To do so, you’ll need the latest firmware, and the TV shows must be broadcast with the Copy Freely tag. My hasty testing showed that I could record and copy Standard Definition (SD) programs from Comedy Central and High Definition (HD) programs from HDT. I could not copy programs recorded from ShowTime, which was as expected from a premium channel. To record, I used a computer running Windows Vista Home Premium and all of the latest updates, along with an ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner and a Cablecard provided by Comcast. To play back, I used a laptop running Windows 7 Enterprise, though I expect the results should be similar on other computers running Windows Vista.

I’m sure that we’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the coming days as other users get a chance to play with this cool new feature. For more information, check out The Green Button.

Firmware Version:, May 1 2009, downloaded from Windows Update on 11/10/2009 (it’s an optional update).

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2 Responses to Windows Vista Media Center Now Records DRM-free Cable TV

  1. Anders says:

    Hey Jason, I just want to clear up a couple questions. I’m very close to taking the next step and signing up for Comcast, purchasing the ATI TV wonder cable tuner, and upgrading from XP to windows 7.

    1st question:

    ATI’s website nor Windows 7 website list the cable tuner TV wonder as “compatible” with windows 7. Further, I wanted to finally go to 64-bit, is this any different?

    2nd question:

    I’ve read that the cable provider ultimately decides which channels are labeled as copy freely, copy once and copy never. Since you have Comcast, can you let me know which are listed as copy freely? I have no intention of purchasing HBO, cinemax, showtime, ect. I do care however about discovery channel HD, all the major networks, pretty much the “non premium” HD channels.



  2. Anders says:

    Jason, I thought of one more question, and I can’t seem to find it anywhere on the web, or the owners manual online.

    What format is the recorded file, and if the source is “aired” in Dolby digital, is it also recorded in Dolby Digital, or dumbed down to 2 channel stereo?



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