So, this past Thursday I finally installed my Ceton TV card and got it up and running. It took about an hour and a half with a Verizon technician who had never seen that kind of thing before. Since then I've been tweaking the system and am now pretty much satisfied.
One of the first things I was concerned with in switching over to a TV card from the cable box was how to deal with the old remote no longer being available. One option was to get an IR sensor and use a remote designed for Windows Media Center. The other one was to find apps that would achieve the same results. After some digging and a few false starts I've settled on two apps, MyRemote for Android and Remote Kitten for iOS. Both of these apps use a separate server installed on the PC to connect up and have fairly comprehensive functionality.
I had previously installed remote apps for XBMC, the official XBMC remote app for Android and iXBMC for iOS. I haven't had any problem with either of these apps.
I also installed Remote Potato, which lets an Android or iOS device control which shows to record and even streams directly from the PC although live TV isn't functional yet. In the process of researching I also came across Play On, which streams internet media such as Hulu and Netflix and offers a two week trial to check out the software. Still haven't had a chance to test it out but it certainly looks interesting.
With the remote situation all set it was time to move onto media center software.
Windows Media Center Addons and Tweaks
In setting up WMC there are two sites that are worth checking out first, The Green Button, the official resource for WMC and www.hack7mc.com . Windows Media Center unfortunately doesn't have as large or active a developer community as other media center programs but there are still quite a few useful addons to be found. A good starting point for finding addons is here.
Because I'm primarily only using WMC for watching and recording live TV I skipped most of the media management stuff. In fact, my primary goal was to be able to convert recorded shows into a format where they could be easily added to my XBMC library. This proved harder than I expected. The two features that are needed for conversion are commercial skipping and file renaming to meet XBMC's file conventions. WMC doesn't automatically do either. Its a hassle to get both to work together and I'm still not positive that the setup I have now is working right. Luckily, most of the shows I'm archiving are for my daughter and a pretty much commercial free.
The last thing left to do is to figure out how to let the other computers in my apartment access the cable tuner on my HTPC. So far the best I've managed is to temporarily kill my internet connection. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get it to work soon, but it might be that the software just isn't there yet.