Can someone give me some suggestions? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 10-04-2008, 03:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so I've decided to turn my old desktop computer into an HTPC. I'm doing this mainly because I want DVR functionality and I don't want to rent a box from the cable company or pay for Tivo. I'm pretty sure I have everything I need except for a TV Tuner. I've been trying to do some research on what tuner I should get, but am finding myself very confused. I'm going to list my PC specs and hopefully someone cal help me out.

I have a Shuttle SN25P box with a AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor. I've got 2gb of RAM and a nvidia 7800GT video card. With those specs, should I be looking for a card with a hardware decoder or a software decoder? It seems to me that there is no disadvantage to getting one with a hardware deocder, am I right?

My box has a spare PCIe slot, so I think whatever tuner I get should either be PCIe or USB. I'm assuming PCIe would be better, but feel free to tell me I'm wrong.

Finally, I'd like one that can decode QAM as well as have an analog tuner. Right now I have basic cable from my cable company but no set top box. The cable company sends the network channels in HD and also the basic cable channels in analog. I'd like to be able to view all of them.

The only other question I had was what software to use. I'm going to be running Vista so had kind of just planned on using their build in Media Center, though I have no idea if that's a good idea or not. What I'm looking for in software is the ability to record high def video and have a channel guide. Other than that I don't really know.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me out.
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post #2 of 7 Old 10-04-2008, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fndngemo View Post

Ok, so I've decided to turn my old desktop computer into an HTPC. I'm doing this mainly because I want DVR functionality and I don't want to rent a box from the cable company or pay for Tivo. I'm pretty sure I have everything I need except for a TV Tuner. I've been trying to do some research on what tuner I should get, but am finding myself very confused. I'm going to list my PC specs and hopefully someone cal help me out.

I have a Shuttle SN25P box with a AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor. I've got 2gb of RAM and a nvidia 7800GT video card. With those specs, should I be looking for a card with a hardware decoder or a software decoder?

If you're talking analog, you want a hardware encoder, they're far more reliable and robust than tuners that rely on software to encode.

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It seems to me that there is no disadvantage to getting one with a hardware deocder, am I right?

Two huge disadvantages of getting a hardware decoder
  1. Very, very few tuner options
  2. Very, very limited application support

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My box has a spare PCIe slot, so I think whatever tuner I get should either be PCIe or USB. I'm assuming PCIe would be better, but feel free to tell me I'm wrong.

Doesn't really matter, either will work fine.

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Finally, I'd like one that can decode QAM as well as have an analog tuner. Right now I have basic cable from my cable company but no set top box. The cable company sends the network channels in HD and also the basic cable channels in analog. I'd like to be able to view all of them.

Then you're probably looking at something like one of the Hauppague Hybrid (HVR) tuners. I seem to remember hearing good things about the Hauppauge HVR-2250. Dual tuner analog/digital hybrid with hardware analog video encoder.

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The only other question I had was what software to use. I'm going to be running Vista so had kind of just planned on using their build in Media Center, though I have no idea if that's a good idea or not. What I'm looking for in software is the ability to record high def video and have a channel guide. Other than that I don't really know.

If you've got VMC, might as well try it. Though I'd try SageTV, BeyondTV and maybe some of the other options if you're not sure what you like yet.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #3 of 7 Old 10-04-2008, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I meant hardware encoder when I said decoder. The card I've been looking at is the AverTV Combo PCIe M780 card. The reason I want a card that supports QAM with VMC is because I'll be using my Xbox 360 as a media extender and want to be able to watch QAM channels over that.
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post #4 of 7 Old 10-04-2008, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fndngemo View Post

I think I meant hardware encoder when I said decoder.

No prob, happens a lot So I like to be really precise when I answer questions like that

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The card I've been looking at is the AverTV Combo PCIe M780 card. The reason I want a card that supports QAM with VMC is because I'll be using my Xbox 360 as a media extender and want to be able to watch QAM channels over that.

If you want to use VMC, then here or The Green Button would be good places to check for which hybrid cards work best with VMC.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #5 of 7 Old 10-04-2008, 02:54 PM
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I've had the AVerMedia M780 for almost a year, and it's been flawless in my Vista x64 Media Center box. I mostly use it for ATSC and the picture quality and reception is perfect. I've switched to QAM a few times, and the experience is always painful. The main reason is that mapping QAM to real channels is tedious, even tough AVerMedia provides software to help with that. The Fiji TV Pack 2008 helps a LOT, but my cable company still likes to move QAM stations around, and one particular channel (CBS) never seems to map correctly. I just gave up and moved back to ATSC. Plus, it's nice to have a backup in case I lose cable. It helps that I'm in a very good location for ATSC and can get by with a small, cheap, indoor antenna. YMMV.
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post #6 of 7 Old 10-05-2008, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
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So is the general consensus that the AverTV M780 would be the best bet if I need QAM with Vista Media Center?
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post #7 of 7 Old 10-05-2008, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fndngemo View Post

So is the general consensus that the AverTV M780 would be the best bet if I need QAM with Vista Media Center?

I doubt you get a consensus, but you should be able to get a "good-enough". A lot of folks also like the Homerun for QAM. It's a tuner with an Ethernet port. I've never used one.
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