I'm planning on building a HTPC for my parents.
Are your parents comfortable using a computer? I ask because even though people like my wife can use Windows Media Center for DVR purposes, there can still be issues over time.
My main question (and why I'm posting here) is will the tv tuner card be able to record standard definition cable that a tv hooked directly to the cable (no cable box in between) can receive.
Are they able to tune in channels now without the need for a STB between the outlet and TV?
If the CableCo goes all digital, then you would more than likely need a CableCard tuner as the channels will be encrypted.
If right now they just go from the wall outlet to the TV, then that card will work just fine. That is the model I use for my HTPC in the bedroom.
In addition, I'm planning on using Windows Media Center; how good is it/are there better alternatives (ease of use is primary).
If you had asked me that question prior to Windows 7 I would have told you to look at Sage or Myth. The Media Center included with Windows 7 changed all that for me. It's very easy to use with no real guesswork on what to do. That is to say once you set it all up. Setting it up the first time can be daunting, especially with QAM remapping, but once you're done, it's normally smooth sailing.
Also, will you offer comments on the rest of the hardware (cost is a factor; they plan to burn the recordings to dvd, hence the small hd).
Save $10 and buy this board
instead of the board and videocard you have listed. The video decoding will be equal to that of the 8400 GS. What is your parents TV setup like? Is it just a HDTV, or do they have an audio setup as well.RAMOS
Now that $57 has been shaved off buy a bigger drive
That 1 TB drive will give them plenty of recording space, and they can still burn shows they want to archive to DVD.