Got this last month for what I thought was a great price -- Until Now... the prime was going for upwards of $200 a month ago. But not waiting for it to show up on Woot was my only mistake -- if you want a cable card tuner this is it. Read the user reviews & other brands have a history of crapping out after you've used them awhile.
Now, what is a cable card tuner, how do you set it up & use it?
The Prime lets you receive all your digital cable channels on your PCs [& some other devices] via your home network. You get the same streams as your cable box, so 1) quality doesn't suffer, 2) you get switchable CC, 3) the streams can easily be saved to your hard drive(s), almost without your PC/laptop noticing -- it takes very little CPU, doesn't take over your drive so you can't do anything else etc. As a DVR this is great, since many other setups, including many cable boxes, save a reduced resolution picture. The downside is DRM -- you need to use win7 Media Center, & many [most?] shows/movies have DRM flags set so they can *Only* be played on the PC/laptop where they were saved.
To make the Prime work you get a cable card from your provider [it looks like a PCMCIA card] + optionally a Tuning Adapter [the one I got is just a tad bigger than a portable CD player] -- your cable provider **should** be able to tell you if you need a Tuning Adapter, but not every local office is up to speed when it comes to cable cards. Once you have everything hooked up both have to be activated by the cable provider sending a signal over the coax -- if you research on-line, this is the part that can go [very] badly... it took us a few weeks, more than a few arguments, 2 trips to the local office, & one service call to get the cable card & TA activated.
To hook it up you run a regular network cable from the Prime to your router, or use a separate switch if you don't want the video streams cutting into your overall network traffic. Then you connect the coax & the power adapter - done. If you need/use a TA, that gets a coax cable, power adapter, & a USB cable that connects to the Prime. To get win7's Media Center working with the Prime I suggest you read/browse the SiliconDust forums & Google/Bing beforehand. We set it up on a few PCs, not once did setup work without glitches, & every time was different, took a different method or work-around to fix. Having done the research beforehand we were prepared & it actually went pretty smoothly. TO set the prime up with our DLink router I reserved an IP address, then gave that IP full access in the McAfee running on our PCs -- the Prime does need 2 way communications with your PCs over your network.
Notes: Be careful where you put the Prime -- the LEDs are bright enough to bother you if you place it beneath your (HD)TV. Get a cable amp/splitter rather than add coax splitters to your existing setup [Amazon has several high quality cheap]. Run separate coax from that amp to the Prime & the TA.