Before I mentioned that I’ll be trying to build an Astro set-top box replacement via a HTPC. Due to limited availability and functionality of the necessary hardware, it’s going to cost a bomb.
But sympathizers of people who can’t afford most things like myself have developed a method to allow softCAMs (i.e. software-based Conditional Access Modules) with Media-Portal (MP), which is my HTPC software of choice.
This new filter or plugin will allow MP to gain access to what is called MDAPI, which is something that handles the decryption of signals (I haven’t quite looked into yet). But this new development looks promising.
And… it’ll lower my hardware costs tremendously. Instead of spending perhaps RM800 on a DVB-S card with CI support and a hardware CAM module, I’ll only need a normal DVB-S card (RM250) and perhaps a smartcard reader (RM200).
You can get the info, and the filter, here. You’ll need to register to enter the forums, but for me it was worth it.
Also note that softCAMs can be used to access pay channels illegally. This is rampant in regions full of satellite TV, like Europe, but for us here in SEA, the possibilities and gains are quite limited.