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post #1 of 41 Old 08-13-2011, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey there, new question on an old tuner for all ya'all...

Back in early June, we fixed up a Mitsubishi CRT Rear projection HDTV (all documented in Mr. Bob's "Don't Dump your CRT RPTV" thread, here on AVSForum) and finally noticed that we were being billed $5 per month for our mediocre Motorola Standard def tuner (who wants to watch digital standard def on an HDTV anyway?), so we went to eBay to look for something that could tune QAM cable (I have a Mygica USB QAM tuner that works great and pulls every channel you could imagine), and learned two things right away: 1, there are very few of these on eBay (mixed in with the crappy $40 standard def boxes) and 2, the ones that are there are very expensive. After shopping around in the low of the season for about a month, we finally settled on a Samsung SIR-T451 despite the bad reviews. We figured if it could tune QAM, we'd be good to go.

We finally got it today and it looks really nice. It must've been pretty incredible back in 2004. We plugged it up right away and did the channel scan with the sluggish (but still quite usable) menus. The channel scan finished quickly, and after a reboot, we finally got our bearings on "what was what". The first problem with this machine lies in the way it scans for channels. It checks the channel, and if there is any subchannels with content, it'll mark it as good, so for example, if channel 100-10 was the only subchannel in 100 with content, it would just mark "100" as "saved". When you go to use it, navigating to "100-10" requires that you first type "100" with the remote, then hit "channel up" through the empty channels 100-1, 100-2, etc. (you can't go directly to subchannels with the remote, you have to use "channel up").

All that I could easily live with, but the biggest problem is that the channels it finds do not line up at all with my solid Mygica tuner. The mygica found FOX in HD and I believe it found some of the other local channels (HD as well, if I remember correctly) as well as a bunch of other stuff (music channels and random other miscellaneous channels). The Samsung was "hit n miss" as it found most of the local networks in standard def, none of the music channels, hardly any HD channels (more on that in a second), and everything it did find was numbered completely differently than on the mygica. To save time, I eventually went through and made a list of all the channels that did come in so I knew where they were. In my cycle through, I later found 2, maybe 3 HD channels (which looked unusably "scrambled", the same effect as when you try to watch OTA channels and the signal is too weak) on a lower number (one of which was FOX), but not as many as before on the mygica.

Is this just because the tuner is too old? Is it only QAM64 and not QAM256? could anything else be causing me not to find quite all the channels?

Thanks.

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post #2 of 41 Old 08-14-2011, 08:47 AM
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Perhaps your cableco is not using standard PSIP, causing your different tuners to ID the channels differently.
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post #3 of 41 Old 08-14-2011, 12:01 PM
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Their newer box, the DTB-H260 has a better tuner and works better, despite having some of its own issues. And the SIR-T451 is rather old now, and has a weaker tuner. Both of these boxes have now been around awhile. If you want a very good tuner that receives both analog and digital TV, including OTA and qam, I would go ahead and spend a little money and get the PrimeDTV PHD-8VX. Contact epVision and request a coupon code for discount. Despite some of their early boxes having technical issues, mine has worked very well with no problems. And the tuner works very well for ATSC, NTSC, and qam. And video processing is very good.
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post #4 of 41 Old 08-14-2011, 01:20 PM
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As you have learned, older QAM tuners do not always work properly. You may have to live with the channels showing up where you wouldn't normally expect to find them, or missing some channels altogether.

You could always try an antenna, but otherwise you're looking at a new QAM tuner to get better results.

The interesting thing is that in another location, with a different cableco, the unit you have may work fine. Unfortunately it's impossible to know until you try.

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post #5 of 41 Old 08-14-2011, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

As you have learned, older QAM tuners do not always work properly. You may have to live with the channels showing up where you wouldn't normally expect to find them, or missing some channels altogether.

You could always try an antenna, but otherwise you're looking at a new QAM tuner to get better results.

The interesting thing is that in another location, with a different cableco, the unit you have may work fine. Unfortunately it's impossible to know until you try.

So I'd really be best off buying a modest computer on eBay and then getting a media center remote, VGA breakout cable, and maybe a wireless mouse and keyboard in addition to using my existing $20 USB QAM tuner that works correctly?

This would be the only way to know for sure that I can find hardware that'll work for me.

As for OTA, it would be a great way to go, but our antenna is too weak to pick up most everything (just a 6' tall indoor antenna that you power on), and we weren't wanting to put a 50' tower outside our house.


I thank the rest of all ya'all for your help though. Any additional suggestions or comments are certainly welcome.

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post #6 of 41 Old 08-14-2011, 03:14 PM
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The QAM tuner in the SIR-T451 only goes up to 750 MHz (channel 125).

I believe all the Samsung's before the DTB-260F were that way.
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post #7 of 41 Old 08-14-2011, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2 Bunny View Post

So I'd really be best off buying a modest computer on eBay and then getting a media center remote, VGA breakout cable, and maybe a wireless mouse and keyboard in addition to using my existing $20 USB QAM tuner that works correctly?

In addition, your PC can act as an HD DVR. so that approach makes sense.

But, the part about the 'VGA breakout' may not be not clear. If the Mitsu has VGA input for HD, then yes, you need VGA out of the PC. If the Mitsu has component video input for HD, you'll need to get that out of the PC. The two are not interchangeable without electronics to convert the formats between source and display.

VGA is a computer video format and uses 5 cables - Red, Green, Blue, Horizontal Sync, Vertical Sync (no audio).

Component Video is a video format and uses 3 cables - although the names vary the color of the three cables are Red, Green, Blue (no audio).

Typically PC graphic cards have VGA for analog video out. It seems to me that some older Mitsu projection sets do have VGA inputs, but I'm not 100% on that.

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post #8 of 41 Old 08-15-2011, 05:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

The QAM tuner in the ... only goes up to 750 MHz (channel 125).

I'm puzzled ... TSReader shows RF116 at 747 MHz.

And while I know you know, for 2 Bunny, remember that the displayed channel number comes from PSIP data on many (most) sets; I'll note that here in upstate SC on Charter that CSPAN2 is displayed as 131.1 but is on the 5th subchannel of RF114. Univision is displayed as 200.1 but is on the 6th subchannel of RF115.
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post #9 of 41 Old 08-15-2011, 06:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

In addition, your PC can act as an HD DVR. so that approach makes sense.

But, the part about the 'VGA breakout' may not be not clear. If the Mitsu has VGA input for HD, then yes, you need VGA out of the PC. If the Mitsu has component video input for HD, you'll need to get that out of the PC. The two are not interchangeable without electronics to convert the formats between source and display.

VGA is a computer video format and uses 5 cables - Red, Green, Blue, Horizontal Sync, Vertical Sync (no audio).

Component Video is a video format and uses 3 cables - although the names vary the color of the three cables are Red, Green, Blue (no audio).

Typically PC graphic cards have VGA for analog video out. It seems to me that some older Mitsu projection sets do have VGA inputs, but I'm not 100% on that.

Our set actually has an incredible feature where the third component input can be converted into an RGBHV input - it's a simple set, but that is by far the most incredible thing it can do (I feel kind of bad not using it because there are other people stuck with Sony or other brand sets and would love to plug up their computers and media centers to it).

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Originally Posted by gbynum View Post

I'm puzzled ... TSReader shows RF116 at 747 MHz.

And while I know you know, for 2 Bunny, remember that the displayed channel number comes from PSIP data on many (most) sets; I'll note that here in upstate SC on Charter that CSPAN2 is displayed as 131.1 but is on the 5th subchannel of RF114. Univision is displayed as 200.1 but is on the 6th subchannel of RF115.

I guess QAM sure is a funny thing. With tuners, "your mileage may vary", apparently.

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post #10 of 41 Old 01-02-2012, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Been looking into the computer thing a bit more, and I might not be able to do that as cost effectively as I was hoping, so I was wondering if anyone knew of any good set top standalone QAM tuners that actually work and don't leave channels out.

Thanks in advance.

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post #11 of 41 Old 01-02-2012, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey there, I don't know if I'm posting this in the right spot, but we'll try here anyway.

Last may, we picked up a 48" HDTV that was only an HD monitor with no QAM or ATSC tuner inside of it. During that time, I had also bought a USB QAM tuner and discovered that a set top version of that could be very beneficial to us, but sadly the Samsung SIR-T451 proved to not work correctly as a QAM tuner, a problem later confirmed here on AVSForum. We returned our standard def charter box that we were renting for $5 per month and inquired about the cost of an HD model and were told it would be a $10 per month rental charge which is simply out of the question. For now, we're just watching standard def with the Mitt's onboard NTSC tuner, but we'd really like to see some live HDTV (just the local channels are fine), and I narrowed down to what I think are the only three options although I am completely open to better suggestions.

We could a), buy a set top QAM tuner, but our experience with the very old Samsung has caused us to seriously shy away from that route because we risk getting one that we don't know can actually tune QAM right.

Another option b) that we tossed around was that we could use our existing USB QAM tuner that we know works and just plug in a computer. We've run into problems with that as well in that we can't nail down any minimum specifications and we're having trouble just getting my laptop to work with it to test it (if you would like, your contributions in my other threads on that topic are readily welcomed here and here).

OR option C), which is what I'm primarily asking about: What if we just bought a used "CableCompany digital" type box (as opposed to a ClearQAM tuner) and get Charter to activate that? We used to lease a cable modem from them, but we were able to install a different one and return the old one. The new one was simple to set up, and all you had to do was try to view any webpage, and it would just redirect you to its setup wizard. Can you do the same thing with television viewing boxes?

Thanks for your helps!

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post #12 of 41 Old 01-02-2012, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2 Bunny View Post

Been looking into the computer thing a bit more, and I might not be able to do that as cost effectively as I was hoping, so I was wondering if anyone knew of any good set top standalone QAM tuners that actually work and don't leave channels out.

Thanks in advance.

- 2B

Here's the list: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=179095

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post #13 of 41 Old 01-02-2012, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 2 Bunny View Post

Hey there, I don't know if I'm posting this in the right spot, but we'll try here anyway.

No, it's not. Topic merged with your previous one in the HDTV Technical forum.

Quote:


We could a), buy a set top QAM tuner, but our experience with the very old Samsung has caused us to seriously shy away from that route because we risk getting one that we don't know can actually tune QAM right.

Other than the old Samsung, there are very other few units (if any?) that would not tune all the QAM channels. Now, they may not place the channels on the channel number you'd like, but that is a function of your cableco, not the tuner itself. Again, see the list I posted a link to, for your options. Note that in the list is the Samsung 451 and it specifically says QAM only works to ch 125. Sorry you didn't see this before getting the 451.

Quote:


Another option b) that we tossed around was that we could use our existing USB QAM tuner that we know works and just plug in a computer. We've run into problems with that as well in that we can't nail down any minimum specifications and we're having trouble just getting my laptop to work with it to test it (if you would like, your contributions in my other threads on that topic are readily welcomed here and here).

See my comment in your other topic, but note that since you have a laptop the component video card is no longer an option.

Quote:


OR option C), which is what I'm primarily asking about: What if we just bought a used "CableCompany digital" type box (as opposed to a ClearQAM tuner) and get Charter to activate that?

They won't do it. All cableco boxes are owned by the company that issued them. No US cableco will activate a cable box they didn't supply, unless it's a CableCARD device like a PC with CableCARD or TiVo. Both of these options are more expensive than simply getting a current QAM tuner, if what you are looking for is local HD channels.

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post #14 of 41 Old 01-02-2012, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2 Bunny View Post

Our set actually has an incredible feature where the third component input can be converted into an RGBHV input - it's a simple set, but that is by far the most incredible thing it can do (I feel kind of bad not using it because there are other people stuck with Sony or other brand sets and would love to plug up their computers and media centers to it).

Yes, but unfortunately it will not work the way you think it should.

Older HDTV's with RGBHV input are not usually compatible with computers that have RGBHV output. Computer video formats and HDTV video formats are different. The only way this will work is by setting the computer graphics card output to a format that is HDTV = 1920x1080 interlaced scan or 1280x720 progressive scan. Of course this is fully dependent on the graphic card having this capability, which not all graphics card do. As a matter of fact, most don't.

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post #15 of 41 Old 01-03-2012, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

No, it's not. Topic merged with your previous one in the HDTV Technical forum.

That won't cause any confusion at all .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

Other than the old Samsung, there are very other few units (if any?) that would not tune all the QAM channels. Now, they may not place the channels on the channel number you'd like, but that is a function of your cableco, not the tuner itself. Again, see the list I posted a link to, for your options. Note that in the list is the Samsung 451 and it specifically says QAM only works to ch 125. Sorry you didn't see this before getting the 451.

Great, yeah, I mean I don't really care how it numbers them just as long as they're there. Thanks for clearing that up because I actually feel a lot better about solving the problem now, so I may bank some expensive buying decisions on your word - I hope you're sure of yourself.

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They won't do it. All cableco boxes are owned by the company that issued them. No US cableco will activate a cable box they didn't supply, unless it's a CableCARD device like a PC with CableCARD or TiVo. Both of these options are more expensive than simply getting a current QAM tuner, if what you are looking for is local HD channels.

Okay. Thanks for clearing that up, I will not shop for one of those then.

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post #16 of 41 Old 01-03-2012, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by 2 Bunny View Post

Great, yeah, I mean I don't really care how it numbers them just as long as they're there. Thanks for clearing that up because I actually feel a lot better about solving the problem now, so I may bank some expensive buying decisions on your word - I hope you're sure of yourself.

Let us know what you're considering before pulling the trigger; current units will not be a problem.

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Let us know what you're considering before pulling the trigger.

Will do. Thank you.

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post #18 of 41 Old 01-09-2012, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Let us know what you're considering before pulling the trigger; current units will not be a problem.

What about a computer with a NVidia GForce 7300GT graphic card?

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post #19 of 41 Old 01-09-2012, 10:41 PM
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What about a computer with a NVidia GForce 7300GT graphic card?

- 2B

Pretty much any current computer would work for OTA & HD DVR. You'll need the ATSC tuner card and graphics card that will do HDTV formats, as already noted, but the problem with using a PC is the usual upkeep any computer requires.

It takes a certain kind of individual to not mind the effort associated with a home theater PC. Are you the kind of person who like to tinker with PC's? If so, full speed ahead. If not, spend less and get a set-top-box.

Another advantage of a HTPC, is adding a BD drive/recorder for a complete home theater solution.

For specific PC hardware recommendations, I defer to the HTPC forum, as it's not an area of my expertise.

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Pretty much any current computer would work for OTA & HD DVR. You'll need the ATSC tuner card and graphics card that will do HDTV formats, as already noted, but the problem with using a PC is the usual upkeep any computer requires.

It takes a certain kind of individual to not mind the effort associated with a home theater PC. Are you the kind of person who like to tinker with PC's? If so, full speed ahead. If not, spend less and get a set-top-box.

Another advantage of a HTPC, is adding a BD drive/recorder for a complete home theater solution.

For specific PC hardware recommendations, I defer to the HTPC forum, as it's not an area of my expertise.

As a matter of fact, I would kinda consider myself a tweaker and would benefit from the reduced cost of ownership of a computer instead of a dedicated QAM tuner. I just need to find out what the minimum desktop requirements are so that I can reduce cost.

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post #21 of 41 Old 01-11-2012, 01:15 PM
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As Ken said, head on over to the HTPC forum and get started. I think a lot of guys are building Intel i3 based Win-7 32-bit boxes with 4 - 8G ram, dedicated 1gb video cards and boatloads of storage. That's the low end. You can amp it all up if you're a gamer. There are QAM and CableCard solutions for tuners. Built mine (mid-level) and never looked back.

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As Ken said, head on over to the HTPC forum and get started. I think a lot of guys are building Intel i3 based Win-7 32-bit boxes with 4 - 8G ram, dedicated 1gb video cards and boatloads of storage. That's the low end. You can amp it all up if you're a gamer. There are QAM and CableCard solutions for tuners. Built mine (mid-level) and never looked back.

The problem here is that we are trying to do two other things that you missed: economical and affordable.

Core i3 would be massive overkill and way too expensive. Just because you have boatloads of disposable income doesn't mean that everyone else does.

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post #23 of 41 Old 01-11-2012, 05:22 PM
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Honestly, I don't consider 6-700 dollars as "boatloads of disposable income." I built my Core i7 W7 x86 with 8GB ram, a 1gb video card with 4 QAM tuners and 4TB of storage for right around a grand using information from our HTPC forum. Now, if you're looking for something sub-$500, then you might as well rent the cableco's DVR.

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post #24 of 41 Old 01-11-2012, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2 Bunny View Post

As a matter of fact, I would kinda consider myself a tweaker and would benefit from the reduced cost of ownership of a computer instead of a dedicated QAM tuner. I just need to find out what the minimum desktop requirements are so that I can reduce cost.

- 2B

You seem to be confused. The cost of a PC equipped for QAM reception and HDTV output will be higher than a dedicated QAM STB. The benefit of a PC is that you can record HDTV.

If you already have a PC in mind, list the specs in a new topic in the HTPC forum, and see what the pros from Dover say. It will still cost you a few hundred to get the QAM tuner and HDTV output graphics card.

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post #25 of 41 Old 01-12-2012, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Honestly, I don't consider 6-700 dollars as "boatloads of disposable income." I built my Core i7 W7 x86 with 8GB ram, a 1gb video card with 4 QAM tuners and 4TB of storage for right around a grand using information from our HTPC forum. Now, if you're looking for something sub-$500, then you might as well rent the cableco's DVR.

I'm talking $50. I just need to get the live HDTV on the HDTV.

I don't feel like renting crap because one innocent sounding ten dollar month turns into a $120 year. I could've bought and paid for a lower end computer already. We're talking used and budget market. High P4s (3Ghz +) or low dual core machines.

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You seem to be confused. The cost of a PC equipped for QAM reception and HDTV output will be higher than a dedicated QAM STB

Unless you know something that I don't, then I think you're confused. The last halfway decent QAM STBs that I saw for sale on eBay was in excess of $120. I've got two computers possibly in limbo right now for either $35 or $50.



Quote:
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The benefit of a PC is that you can record HDTV.

This is undoubtedly a nice perk.



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If you already have a PC in mind, list the specs in a new topic in the HTPC forum, and see what the pros from Dover say

I've already had two topics going that I've been bumping for a few solid months without much luck. I could try and post another one though.



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It will still cost you a few hundred to get the QAM tuner and HDTV output graphics card.

I've already got a QAM tuner from eBay for twenty bucks that works great and a person here is willing to give me a graphic card with component output for free with only the cost of shipping.

$20 + $5 = $25

Thanks.

- 2B
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post #26 of 41 Old 01-12-2012, 09:35 PM
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Unless you know something that I don't, then I think you're confused. The last halfway decent QAM STBs that I saw for sale on eBay was in excess of $120. I've got two computers possibly in limbo right now for either $35 or $50.

You should have given your budget constraints up front. That would have prevented wasted time and effort.

A new QAM tuner can be had now for $120. Used ones on ebay usually go for ~$50; I've seen them go for as little as $10.

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I've already had two topics going that I've been bumping for a few solid months without much luck.

Yes, and just like this one the title is not going to get the replies you want. Start a new topic with the title 'Will this budget PC work as an HD DVR for clear QAM cable?' Post in the topic a list of the specific hardware you're trying to make work: Processor specs, memory amount & speed, graphics card, QAM tuner, mother board, etc. If the PC came from a major manufacturer, post the model number and a link to the support web page for it. Maybe someone will have experience, maybe not. It's worth a try.

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I've already got a QAM tuner from eBay for twenty bucks that works great and a person here is willing to give me a graphic card with component output for free with only the cost of shipping.

It should be simple then. What do the tuner & graphics card specs say it needs for the PC? They have minimum requirements. If the tuner works now, then check the graphics card specs as to the HD format component video output; again you need 1920x1080 interlaced.

This is where the tweaking comes in; when your trying to cobble together something you may have to try it before you know if it works. If it doesn't work you can always sell the few parts on ebay and start over.

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post #27 of 41 Old 01-12-2012, 09:36 PM
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Topic title changed.

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post #28 of 41 Old 01-13-2012, 05:42 AM
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Won't a non-subscribed Tivo Premiere without a cable card pick-up all of the clear QAM channels? I thought I read that somewhere here on the forums. The basic model can be found for under $100 nearly everywhere now. I would think that would be the cheapest way to do it if starting from scratch.
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post #29 of 41 Old 01-13-2012, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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~$50; I've seen them go for as little as $10.

I usually see them go for around $70 in auction (the good ones anyway). I'd really be interested to see the ten dollar ones though. You're looking under the "HDTV Receivers and Tuners" category on eBay, right?

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Yes, and just like this one the title is not going to get the replies you want. Start a new topic with the title 'Will this budget PC work as an HD DVR for clear QAM cable?' Post in the topic a list of the specific hardware you're trying to make work: Processor specs, memory amount & speed, graphics card, QAM tuner, mother board, etc. If the PC came from a major manufacturer, post the model number and a link to the support web page for it. Maybe someone will have experience, maybe not. It's worth a try.

Sounds like a plan. Thanks for the hints.

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It should be simple then. What do the tuner & graphics card specs say it needs for the PC? They have minimum requirements. If the tuner works now, then check the graphics card specs as to the HD format component video output; again you need 1920x1080 interlaced.

Good thinking. The A680b's instructions say they need (for HD) 2.8Ghz, 512MB of RAM (minimum, or 1Gb, recommended), a USB2 Port, and a 256MB Video card. The card I was looking at was a 256MB, but the Radeon 9200 I was trying to use it with was not (and I was experiencing choppy video). I can't figure out what my GMA X3100 has, but it plays the HDTV (miraculously) flawlessly.

As for the candidate video card, from what I read, it has a control panel that lets you pick 1080i right from its list without the need for custom resolutions or extra software of any type.

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This is where the tweaking comes in; when your trying to cobble together something you may have to try it before you know if it works. If it doesn't work you can always sell the few parts on ebay and start over.

Exactly.



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Originally Posted by mhufnagel View Post

Won't a non-subscribed Tivo Premiere without a cable card pick-up all of the clear QAM channels? I thought I read that somewhere here on the forums. The basic model can be found for under $100 nearly everywhere now. I would think that would be the cheapest way to do it if starting from scratch.

If someone can back this up, I'd be interested to know, 'cuz the threads I saw online were inconclusive. I know those stupid Tivo things want a subscription just for you to be able to use your own hardware (which by itself is stupid. What if Lenovo charged you periodically to use your own computer?), but if it can be used this way and had cost effectively, that would be the way to go.

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Topic title changed.

LOL! I don't even remember what it originally was

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post #30 of 41 Old 01-13-2012, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhufnagel View Post

Won't a non-subscribed Tivo Premiere without a cable card pick-up all of the clear QAM channels? I thought I read that somewhere here on the forums. The basic model can be found for under $100 nearly everywhere now. I would think that would be the cheapest way to do it if starting from scratch.

My guess:

I don't think the DVR works without a subscription. Only the tuner is functional, and with QAM who knows where the channels end up.

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