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You are correct that you would need a second STB to record one channel while watching a second. The cableco PVRs have two tuner/decoders built in so only one box is needed.

Based on a search for "Cogeco Clear QAM", it looks like your father may be very lucky - Cogeco provides clear QAM (in Hamilton at least). However, it doesn't appear that HD channels are sent in the clear. To get Clear QAM you will need an HD capture card which supports QAM256 (most ATSC cards do) and is supported by your PVR software.

AFAIK in Canada almost all digital cable is encrypted - no clear QAM. Furthermore, there are only a few Canadian cablecos who support CableCard. So the only way to decrypt digital cable is using a cableco STB. Therefore the only way to record digital cable is via the STB analog outputs. For HD channels this means using something like the Hauppauge HD PVR. For SD channels you'd need a capture card supported by your PVR software.
 
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