My HDTV has no tuner, what should I buy so I can watch SD and local HDTV channels? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 08-20-2007, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I bought a Westinghouse LVM37-w3 HDTV monitor several months ago as a "do-all" display; I wanted it to act as a computer monitor, HDTV for video games and HD DVD's, and normal TV for my dormroom. It has done all these things flawlessly, except the normal TV part. I knew it had no tuner when I bought it, and I have been watching TV through a Happauge TV tuner card that I had from before I bought the display. That has worked well enough, but the picture is pretty poor, and I want something better.

My campus offers free cable TV to all dorms, and they also offer networks such as NBC, CBS, and ABC in HDTV through the cable coax hookup. I want to buy an external tuner that can take advantage of these HD channels as well as the normal SD channels. I've done some research on my own, but I really don't know what I should be looking for. I do know that I am not interested in buying an OTA HD tuner; it would be way too hard to try to get reception in a dorm like mine.

Can someone point me in the right direction? Thank you very much for reading!
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post #2 of 21 Old 08-20-2007, 07:16 PM
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If you don't mind continuing to use your PC, a tuner such as the Fusion 5 or MyHD 130 will allow you watch and record local HD channels and analog cable.
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post #3 of 21 Old 08-20-2007, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
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I'd prefer to not use my PC anymore, but I will if I have to.

Do they even make anything like what I'm after? I just want to plug my cable in and have some HD access, OTA is way too involved for a dorm setting. Can't be climbing up on the roof to install antennas
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post #4 of 21 Old 08-20-2007, 07:47 PM
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It would help greatly if you had some details on how your campus is sending signals through it's cable plant.

The "usual" way is to have analog cable for most of the "basic stuff" / "cable channels". For this, something like a cable ready VCR / DVD recorder with an NTSC tuner(cable ready) would work well.

The HDTV channels are the more interesting problem. It is possible (but not likely) that they are sending them through in their ATSC format. The more usual method is to use QAM modulation. While you said you didn't need an OTA device - it is possible that one such can serve your purposes - the Samsung DTB-H260F. Yes, it is primarily intended as an ATSC OTA tuner, but it also has a QAM tuner that can receive unencrypted signals (typically - your local broadcast channels).

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #5 of 21 Old 08-20-2007, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Scooper. I'll try to call the campus cable people tomorrow and get the details.
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post #6 of 21 Old 08-21-2007, 01:43 AM
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There are also universities that take the easy way out and just contract their cable service out to the local provider. This way, students can optionally pay to upgrade their service, and the school doesn't have to spend extra money on expensive QAM modulators or channel converters.

There are boxes out there that will tune QAM signals, but I would still recommend a PC tuner since the software can be easily upgraded to add new features, and with one like the MyHD 130, you can customize your channel lineup fairly easily without having to rely on weird or nonexistant mappings from whoever is providing your cable.
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post #7 of 21 Old 08-21-2007, 06:11 AM
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Happauge now has the 1600 tuner card, the newer 1600 cards support QAM even though it not listed.

DRB

I WANT MY HDTV
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post #8 of 21 Old 08-21-2007, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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DRB,

I had a Hauppauge 1600, but sold it. I bought it before I really knew much about OTA and stuff; I thought ATSC was ATSC was ATSC, and it all worked the same way. I sold it on eBay once I installed it and realized that it wouldn't work for what I wanted. I'd prefer to stay away from Hauppauge now anyway, because in my experience with the tuner card I still own and the 1600, their driver and app support is absolutely horrible.



I'm looking into that MyHD 130 now. I do like that I could just buy one thing to watch both HDTV and SDTV channels, but I'm really leery about continuing to use my PC. From my experience, it's a really big hassle. How is the MyHD's driver and app support? Can I just plug it in, install drivers, and go? Or will I likely have to slog through a bunch of driver and settings issues. If it's a well-made and supported product, I'll give it a shot. If it's going to be a headache like my Hauppauge experiences, I don't want any part of it. I'd like to get something that just works for once, so I don't have to worry about this any more

I sent an email to the support center asking about the HD channels and if they are broadcast in QAM. Hopefully I'll get a reply soon.
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post #9 of 21 Old 08-21-2007, 09:56 AM
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For digital cable channels: a Samsung DTB-H260F set top box.
For analog cable channels: an old analog VCR from a yard sale.

This usually covers the type of modulation most cablecos use.
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post #10 of 21 Old 08-21-2007, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arxaw View Post

For digital cable channels: a Samsung DTB-H260F set top box.
For analog cable channels: an old analog VCR from a yard sale.

This usually covers the type of modulation most cablecos use.


So the Samsung box is still pretty much the only game in town for standalone ATSC tuners? I'm putting together a front projection system, and would like to have the option of pulling in HD channels over the air... so I'll need some sort of ATSC tuner, but I was hoping to get by maybe a little cheaper than $150-ish...
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post #11 of 21 Old 08-21-2007, 10:56 AM
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Since the majority of new HDTVs have built in tuners, the market for standalone ATSC HD tuners is tiny. There will be cheap standalones in a few months, but they will likely only output SDTV, to retrofit old analog TVs to digital OTA reception.

Prices stay high, due to little mass production.

You may be able to find a DVD/VCR with built in ATSC/QAM tuner for around $169 (walmart), but I'm not sure if they output HD or SD only...
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post #12 of 21 Old 08-21-2007, 01:08 PM
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The TivoHD is a strong candidate now (buy it for the ATSC/QAM tuners, get a DVR thrown in), but it's $300 + monthly fee.

57 channels and nothing on
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post #13 of 21 Old 08-21-2007, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcbrine View Post

The TivoHD is a strong candidate now (buy it for the ATSC/QAM tuners, get a DVR thrown in), but it's $300 + monthly fee.

Or $600.00, with 3 year's service pre-paid. They also have 1 or 2 years pre-pay option, but 3 years is the best deal - it comes to something like $8.31/month.

As far as the ATSC/QAM/NTSC-tunered DVD recorders, all current models will only output SD. But many will upscale all video sources over HDMI. Should look pretty good, but won't be HD. My Panasonic EH75V does an excellent job of upscaling my 480i Dish signals - even better than my display does.

Still, if you have access to an old VCR, the easiest, readiest solution (if you want HD) would be the Samsung tuner/VCR setup - if you're really trying to avoid using the computer. The Samsung allows a pass-through of the NTSC signals to an analog tuner, just for this very kind of solution.

It's not usually too hard to get ahold of an old VCR somewhere free or cheap, even if the tape mechanism doesn't work on it anymore.
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post #14 of 21 Old 08-22-2007, 05:56 AM
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Though it only has one RF input, it does do 8VSB & QAM, you just have to do a re-scan when you switch;
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=638769

Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way.
The Internet is no place for streaming video.
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post #15 of 21 Old 08-22-2007, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Finally got a response to my question about the campus HD content:

"The University is in the process of changing the way we distribute
digital content on the cable system. By the time school begins this Autumn,
you'll need a CATV QAM tuner to receiver digital programming.

Currently the local channels, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc will be transmitted in
clear QAM. Which means there won't be an additional fee to receive these
channels if you have a CATV QAM tuner.

However, in the future, those channels could become encrypted and a fee at
that time could be incurred."

So it looks like I'll need QAM for now. That future fee sort of makes me wonder if I'll need to buy yet another box down the road though... Oh well.
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post #16 of 21 Old 08-22-2007, 02:20 PM
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Follow-up question... if I decide to do a phased approach (i.e. try out cable rebroadcast local HD channels, and go OTA later), is there a significant risk of the Samsung unit being discontinued in the next several months (and no suitable replacement released)?
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post #17 of 21 Old 08-22-2007, 02:49 PM
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No guarantees.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

Being A Beacon of Knowledge in the darkness of FUD
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post #18 of 21 Old 08-22-2007, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlniec View Post

Follow-up question... if I decide to do a phased approach (i.e. try out cable rebroadcast local HD channels, and go OTA later), is there a significant risk of the Samsung unit being discontinued in the next several months (and no suitable replacement released)?

The talk around here is that they will be releasing a new box with the 6th gen. chip in the next few months or so.

But like Scooper said - "no guarantees".

I think the present models are either done being manufactured, or are at least on the very verge.

It does both ATSC (OTA) and QAM, so what's the issue? They are now pretty easy to find at both CC and BB, and you can always return it if it doesn't measure up. It is an excellent OTA tuner - that I can attest to.
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post #19 of 21 Old 08-23-2007, 06:33 AM
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Main issue is me trying to penny-pinch, to avoid going even FURTHER over-budget! I am relieved to know that if I decide to wait a few months on buying an OTA tuner, I might not be totally SOL. Thanks!
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post #20 of 21 Old 08-23-2007, 06:46 AM
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There's always eBay. AYOR, of course.
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post #21 of 21 Old 08-24-2007, 08:49 AM
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Get a used and activated VOOM off EBay...~$50

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Come on Plasma and LCD guys!...you know that the DLP format is better!...& You can be format neutral if you want but the war is over...BluRay won!
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