TV Tuner Suggestions / HTPC for the UK - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 05-20-2009, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
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I live in the US and have experience building HTPCs. This time, I would like to help someone in the UK build one.

Can someone suggest tuners? Also, what is the broadcasting situation / transmission format in the UK? I mean in the US, we have ATSC and QAM. What types of signals are available in the UK?

Thank you in advance for your help.
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post #2 of 24 Old 05-21-2009, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonstar View Post

I live in the US and have experience building HTPCs. This time, I would like to help someone in the UK build one.

Can someone suggest tuners? Also, what is the broadcasting situation / transmission format in the UK? I mean in the US, we have ATSC and QAM. What types of signals are available in the UK?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Pretty much the same as the rest of
Europe (I'm in Sweden). I believe they
still have analog PAL although that is
being phased out, replaced by DVB-T.
Then there is satellite (DVB-S, DVB-S2)
both free and encrypted. Not sure about
cable (probably DVB-C).
I am subscribing to Sky via satellite
(Astra 2) they use DVB-S/S2 and
Videoguard encryption.
digital-everywhere.com have great 1394
based tuners which can handle all these
standards.
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post #3 of 24 Old 05-21-2009, 02:32 AM
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I'm a UK resident who has built a number of Media Centers.

In the UK we have :

Analogue PAL I OTA with NICAM digital stereo sound and World Systems Teletext - being phased out region by region, due to be completely switched off during 2012. This is 4:3 only and probably best ignored.

"Freeview" Digital DVB-T OTA - used to currently carry 6 multiplexes of mainly FTA (free-to-air - i.e. non-pay TV, non-encrypted) services. This is a popular service, and has a 7 day OTA EPG broadcast on all channels, as well as Freeview+ PVR support (for series link metadata, broadcaster signalled record start/stop, overrun protection etc.) It also carries MHEG5 interactive digital text. All Freeview SD content is MPEG2. There are a couple of encrypted Pay-TV channels on this platform - but not many. Most broadcasts are 16:9 SD widescreen.

"Freeview HD" Digital DVB-T2 OTA. Launching later this year, Freeview HD will see one of the six DVB-T muxes converted to DVB-T2 (a new modulation system) allowing 36Mbs (compared to 18-24Mbs with DVB-T) to be carried in a single channel. BBC HD, ITV HD, C4 HD and possibly a.n.other channel should be launching on this platform, using H264 for HD broadcasts. (No announcement if 720/50p or 1080/50i - and ITV have started questioning if they can afford it). Currently no PC or set top boxes on the market support this standard. The UK will be the first country to use DVB-T2. Test broadcasts are underway though.

"Freesat" Digital DVB-S Satellite on Astra 2 28.2/Eurobird 28.5 - carrying a few more channels, and a slightly different line-up, than Freeview, and uses a proprietary EPG, and MHEG5 interactive digital text. Some HD services are carried on Freesat (BBC HD, ITV HD, Luxe TV HD) - and they use H264 for 1080/50i HD broadcast (using DVB-S). They are all currently DVB-S - though all Freesat HD receivers have to be DVB-S2 compatible as the Freesat HD broadcasts may switch to DVB-S2 in the future. There is no encryption on the Freesat platform.

Sky SD Digital DVB-S Satellite on Astra 2 28.2/Eurobird 28.5 - the main UK Pay-TV platform, SD MPEG2. This uses Videoguard/NDS encryption, a different proprietary EPG, and OpenTV middleware for digital text and interactive TV. Official Conditional Access Modules (that allow third party receivers and PC tuner cards to decrypt with a valid viewing card) for the NDS/Videoguard encryption system are not available - though there are some reverse-engineered CAMs that will allow you to do this with a suitable DVB-S receiver system with a CI (Common Interface) slot - such as the Digital Everywhere Firewire receivers. However you still need an official Sky receiver to do this, as the card needs to be authorised (which means putting it back into a receiver once a week overnight) and married (which requires a unique valid receiver serial number for the card to be married to) Most major channels are 16:9 SD, though there are a lot of cheaper 4:3 SD channels out there.

Sky HD Digital DVB-S2. As above but using DVB-S2 and H264 1080/50i for most of the HD channels.

Virgin Media Cable. DVB-C, not sure of the encryption scheme. Mainly SD with some MPEG2 HD. Not as popular as Sky SD/HD.

NB : A couple of channels that are non-subscription, non-Pay TV, are still only available on the Sky platform, and not-Freesat, as they are encrypted using VideoGuard/NDS as "Free-to-View" and require a viewing card. Channel Four HD is the most obvious example - it is not available on Freesat HD, only on Sky HD. At one point all the main channels were FTV only - but slowly they have moved to Astra 2D (which is a tight beam on the UK) and have been able to ditch the encryption and go FTA - allowing Freesat to launch.

For a Media Center you have a choice of a couple of options :

DVB-T Freeview. Loads of choices - and quite a lot of dual-tuner cards. The Nova-T 500 PCI card is quite popular in XP MCE and Vista MC installations, though has a few issues with Win 7. There are lots of options though - including dual-tuner USB, single-tuner USB, PCI card, Firewire etc. Vista TV Pack / Win 7 added proper support for DVB subtitles (we don't used closed captions in the UK for broadcast) and MHEG5 "Press Red" interactive digital text. (There are two full-screen and 4 quarter screen interactive video services on Freeview)

DVB-S Freesat (only officially supported in Vista TV Pack and Win 7). Quite a few choices - the Nova-S2 HD (which is DVB-S2 compatible) is popular with Vista TV Pack / Win 7 owners. Only Win 7 officially supports H264 HD broadcasts though TV Pack can be hacked to add it. This will also support DVB-S2 if Freesat HD broadcasters switch from S to S2. Other Firewire, USB and PCI/PCI-E cards are available. MHEG5 support isn't currently enabled in Win 7 / TV Pack for DVB-S - but it can be persuaded to work with a registry hack (and allows ITV HD to work) - though it is buggy (hence it not being enabled I guess!)

DVB-T/S combined. Vista TV Pack and Win 7 both allow multiple tuner cards on different platforms to be deployed. I have a quad PCI-E Pinnacle 7010ix (£30 on eBay - bargain!) tuner card in a Win7 RC box which has 2 x DVB-T and 2 x DVB-S tuners on a single card. You feed it one OTA aerial/antenna feed and 2 LNB feeds from your dish. This will get you all the Freeview SD and all the Freesat SD (and all current Freesat HD - though if they switch to DVB-S2 you won't get them)

DVB-S/S2 Sky. Digital Everywhere FireDTV S2 (external) or Floppy DTV S2 (internal) with a suitable CAM. The SD MPEG2 stuff can be used in XP MCE and Vista - as D.E. have produced drivers that pretend to be DVB-T even though they are actually DVB-S. With other software, or with Win 7 RC (and Vista TV Pack hacked with H264 support) you can also get Sky HD channels. This will get you all the encrypted pay-TV services you subscribe to - using your Sky viewing card.

HOWEVER the reverse engineered CAMs are not guaranteed, and certainly not supported by Sky. They could stop working if Sky tweak their encryption - there is a card swap (the second in the Sky digital platform's 10 years of operation) currently taking place...

The other way of getting Sky SD is to use an analogue capture card, and an IR blaster to control a conventional Sky SD reciever. However this has poor picture quality (S-video at best) and is a bit klunky...

There are lots of other ways of doing TV in the UK - MythTV, SageTV, GBPVR, DVBViewer etc. - however Media Center has a thriving community. Media Portal is also proving popular.

www.avforums.com has a strong HTPC section that is tailored to the UK market.
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post #4 of 24 Old 05-21-2009, 05:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks guys! I just woke up and am getting ready for work, but I'll surely read it a lil later. I really appreciate it, the UK situation has been difficult for me to understand as I am not familiar with it at all.

I do remember him mentioning a Skybox!! Yes!!!
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post #5 of 24 Old 05-21-2009, 06:28 AM
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If he just wants the non-subscription satellite channels - which is Freesat plus quite a few satellite channels that are free but only in the Sky EPG (you pay Sky and Freesat separately to be in their EPG - and some smaller channels are only paying Sky at the moment - as it is the dominant satellite platform still) then a DVB-S (or DVB-S/S2 for future HD-proofing) would be a neat solution.

If you want the Sky SD or HD subscription or encrypted FTV channels you need a DVB-S (S2 for HD) tuner with a "CI" slot and a Videoguard/NDS "CAM" which plugs into this (it's a bit like a US-cablecard but for satellite). However there isn't an official Videoguard/NDS CAM - they're all reverse engineered - and thus DEFINITELY not supported by Sky. They work, usually quite reliably, but whether it is strictly legal is another matter. You still need a Sky subscription and card for them to work - so you aren't obtaining service without payment.

I'd go with a Nova-S2 HD for FTA only, or a Digital Everywhere Fire DTV S2 or Floppy DTV S2 with a suitable CAM for Sky. (You need a Firewire connection for the DE stuff, or a PCI slot fo the Nova-S2 HD)

There are plenty of other PCI solutions - but the Nova-S2 has excellent driver support.

(I have a Nova-S2 in one HTPC Vista TV Pack 32 bit, with a dual DVB-T Nova-T 500. In the other, running Win 7 RC 32 bit, I have a Pinnacle 7010ix dual DVB-S, dual DVB-T PCI-E card. I also have a dual DVB-T Nova DT Stick - which runs as two tuners, or can use two antennae/aerials in diversity mode to improve portable reception, and a Fire DTVS2 with a CAM - both of which I use with my Macbook Pro when out and about - in both OSX and Vista Home Premium - currently non-TV Pack - 32 bit. I used DVBViewer Pro with the Fire DTVS2 - not Media Center.)
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post #6 of 24 Old 05-21-2009, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
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First of all, thank you soo very much for all the information! It was very informative. This is something that I researched about for a while and I have never seen anything more comprehensive than this.


He's OS is either Vista (non-TV pack) or XP. Though I myself did clean install Vista to add TV Pack to my computer, at this point, I cannot exapect him to go that length or install Win 7 as he's a 'regular' PC user. But it does make sense to think and make a tuner decision with the possibility of future Win 7 upgrade in mind.


His HTPC needs are not regular home entertainment. The focus is on 'recording' for permanent storage. I should say the only reason for him to consider a computer TV tuner is the fact that currently regular DVD recorders are limited to SD. Also, since he travels a lot, I think it's best for him to add a tuner and recording soft (if Media Center doesn't work) to his laptop (hopefully with a small/portable antenna/satellite dish???). What is your suggestion for people who travel a lot but want to catch a TV show in the middle of a park or hotel room? Satellite? Over the air free to air? I think 'cable' channels have to be recorded mostly via video capture from his skybox at home after returning home (unless the skybox' HDD is something that you can directly access from your computer to take out files). So, ideally, the tuner will have a video capture capability as well. With that said, can you maybe narrow down your suggestions (both the tuner/reception type and tuner products)??

I am not sure if this is relevant to the UK, but in America, when I record shows on Vista TV pakc or Win 7, all recordings are .WTV. The thing about that is that there's no popular or mass market video editing software that takes that format. Though I believe Pinnacle, Adobe etc will start adding that feature in the future, I fear that that can be problematic for him, as his objective is recording for permanent storage (therefore editting may be required ) as opposed to simple viewing of TV shows. Any thoughts on this??

p.s. thanks for the link to the AVForums. I will read it to better my understanding of the situation there. i'm checking digital-everywhere.com as well.
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post #7 of 24 Old 05-22-2009, 01:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonstar View Post

He's OS is either Vista (non-TV pack) or XP. Though I myself did clean install Vista to add TV Pack to my computer, at this point, I cannot exapect him to go that length or install Win 7 as he's a 'regular' PC user. But it does make sense to think and make a tuner decision with the possibility of future Win 7 upgrade in mind.

If a re-install isn't an option - then TV Pack / Win 7 are out - so no native DVB-S support. That means if he wants to record satellite then he needs to use a satellite card with fake-DVB-T drivers (as XP MCE and Vista non-TV Pack only support analogue and DVB-T OTA)

If you don't use Media Center (the main benefit is the EPG and ease of use) then there are loads of DVB-S / DVB-T / DVB-C solutions.

Quote:



His HTPC needs are not regular home entertainment. The focus is on 'recording' for permanent storage. I should say the only reason for him to consider a computer TV tuner is the fact that currently regular DVD recorders are limited to SD. Also, since he travels a lot, I think it's best for him to add a tuner and recording soft (if Media Center doesn't work) to his laptop (hopefully with a small/portable antenna/satellite dish???).

What is your suggestion for people who travel a lot but want to catch a TV show in the middle of a park or hotel room? Satellite? Over the air free to air?

OTA DVB-T is really the only option - probably a diversity dual-aerial/antenna solution that massively improves signal quality by combining two tuners - for hotel room recording with small aerials/antennae.

I've used my Macbook Pro and a Hauppauge Nova-T DT stick with the two short whip aerials - and had OK results in a couple of European countries. (Sweden was great - all the OTA FTA stuff including 720/50p H264 SVT HD)

Satellite might be an option for caravans / motor homes - but won't be for hotels...

HOWEVER - DVB-T is SD only in the UK - so not a solution for HD. The only HD sources are Sky HD, Freesat HD or Virgin Media. Sky HD has by far the biggest HD line-up - but is pay-TV. Freesat HD only has BBC HD, ITV HD (which has very little HD content) and Luxe HD (which is probably safe to ignore)

Quote:


I think 'cable' channels have to be recorded mostly via video capture from his skybox at home after returning home (unless the skybox' HDD is something that you can directly access from your computer to take out files).

Sky is satellite not cable! (Though some of the Sky branded channels are carried on Virgin Media cable)

FTA recordings - i.e. those with no encryption - can be removed from a Sky+ (the Sky DVR is branded Sky+) box hard drive. Some people remove their hard drives and put them in external enclosures permanently to make this easy. However you can't extract FTV or Pay-TV recordings as these are encrypted.

The only way of recording content from a Sky+ box externally is to use an analogue capture card.

HOWEVER there are very few RGB SCART capture solutions - whereas most DVD Recorders sold in the UK WILL accept RGB. This means an external DVD Recorder usually offers higher recording quality than a PC capture card. I used to use a DVD Recorder with DVD+RWs to record Sky content at full quality, then import the recordings into my PC, remove any ad breaks, add some better menus and then either keep them on my PC as ISOs or burn them to DVD+R / DVD-R in my PC, and re-use the +RW disc. Using TMPGEnc DVD Author this worked really well for me.

If your friend has a Sky HD PVR then the Hauppauge HD PVR would be the best quality back-up device for existing Sky HD recordings, though not a portable solution. However you need an early Sky HD Thomson box with component outputs, the current boxes only have HDMI...

Quote:


So, ideally, the tuner will have a video capture capability as well. With that said, can you maybe narrow down your suggestions (both the tuner/reception type and tuner products)??

Not sure there are any hybrid PAL analogue (for capture) and dual-diversity DVB-T solutions. There are hybrid PAL / DVB-T single non-diversity solutions - but diversity is probably a requirement for on-the-road use...

Quote:


I am not sure if this is relevant to the UK, but in America, when I record shows on Vista TV pakc or Win 7, all recordings are .WTV. The thing about that is that there's no popular or mass market video editing software that takes that format. Though I believe Pinnacle, Adobe etc will start adding that feature in the future, I fear that that can be problematic for him, as his objective is recording for permanent storage (therefore editting may be required ) as opposed to simple viewing of TV shows. Any thoughts on this??

p.s. thanks for the link to the AVForums. I will read it to better my understanding of the situation there. i'm checking digital-everywhere.com as well.

Win 7 includes a right-click "Convert to DVR-MS" which works for some MPEG2 stuff (though AIUI it sometimes grabs the mono audio description add-on stream for the visually impaired, rather than the stereo programme sound) and allows .wtv files to be converted for use where DVR-MS is a requirement.

(DVR-MS is a limited recording format not suited to recording subtitles, dual audios, and H264 - which is a European requirement)

Sounds to me like a USB DVB-T Diversity stick (which will use the 7 day EPG broadcast OTA) from Hauppauge might be a good solution - using the built in Hauppauge TV app or Media Center - for on the move stuff.

For capture of stuff from a Sky +, then either a cheap DVD Recorder (for best quality RGB recording - equivalent to component SD and better than S-video or composite) or a separate analogue capture card, using a non-Media Center recording app? Extraction could be an option if your friend only wants FTA recordings to archive.

(In the UK all our SD set top boxes and TVs have RGB analogue connections for the best picture quality from component sources - like DVDs, OTA/Cable/Satellite set top boxes, Games consoles etc. The quality from this route is significantly better than S-video or Composite, particularly on SD 16:9 sources on larger displays, where the chroma quality reduction of S-video/composite becomes more noticable. Sadly there are no RGB analogue capture cards that are really suitable for recording - though there is one sold more for upscaling from Sweet Spot - but it isn't cheap. However if quality isn't a major issue then there are loads of composite/S-video capture solutions that would work for off-loading Sky+ recordings)
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post #8 of 24 Old 05-22-2009, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again! So your recommendations are:

1) USB DVB-T Diversity stick for OTA capture
- combined with an included appo (or Media Center in the future when his computer gets upgraded to Win 7 down the line)
- For SD ONLY because no UK channels are currently transmitted OTA in HD though that can change in the future

2) Hauppauge HD-PVR (if it HAS to be HD) or stand-alone DVD recorder for (SD) SCART RGB capture from the skybox for encrypted satellite channel (though there are computer video capture devices).

3) For FTA satellite, extract files from the sky +.

I hope my understanding is correct....

On a side note, we seem to like the same things: TMPG, Media Center (YES the most reliable FREE recording soft EVER!) and Hauppauge HD-PVR (a brilliant solution for encrypted HD channels!).

A few questions.

How do you extract files from the sky +? Via Firewire?? or it involves a tactic that the non-enthusiasts in general may be reluctant to do? (including unscrewing pannels and taking out its HDD to void its warranty?)

Just to give it a shot.... is there any DVB-T laptop tuner from ex-Pinnacle (now Hauppauge) made for the UK market? I have two Pinnacle tuners (besides Hauppauge) , and their tuners came with (in addition to an appo) a video editting soft (Pinnacle Studio), AV adapters for video capture (though it's S video, no RGB), and a small antenna for the same price I paid for my Hauppauge tuner plus appo. I'm not sure if smilar stuff exists in the UK for "an economic solution" until he can buy an HD-PVR as a video editing soft alone could cost more than the tuner itself (provided that you do not like Movie Maker) and just as much for a simple "SD" / S-video capture device.

Do you expect the availability of firmware upgrade for the current DVB-T tuners to enable DVB-T2 tuning come the end of 2009?


P.s. I need to ask him if he has RGB on his sky though!!!! if he does not, he may or may not prefer DVB-S giving up watching/recording while traveling or with a fake DVB-T driver and Media Center..
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post #9 of 24 Old 05-23-2009, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonstar View Post

Thanks again! So your recommendations are:

1) USB DVB-T Diversity stick for OTA capture
- combined with an included appo (or Media Center in the future when his computer gets upgraded to Win 7 down the line)
- For SD ONLY because no UK channels are currently transmitted OTA in HD though that can change in the future

Yep - diversity could be useful if you are travelling and don't have access to a decent aerial/antenna feed.

Freeview is SD 16:9 only (all the main UK networks are fully widescreen - not widescreen letterbox in a 4:3 raster)

Freeview HD is coming later this year - but will require new PC interfaces that as yet don't exist on the market. (This is because the UK is using DVB-T2 - whereas other European countries have adopted DVB-T for HD and SD)

Quote:


2) Hauppauge HD-PVR (if it HAS to be HD) or stand-alone DVD recorder for (SD) SCART RGB capture from the skybox for encrypted satellite channel (though there are computer video capture devices).

Yep - the HD PVR is currently the only real solution for Sky + HD archiving - BUT your receiver has to be one with component outputs for this to be an option. (You can archive by recording the original Sky HD broadcasts on a PC using an enthusiast solution - but it isn't a simple solution)

For SD RGB capture then a DVD recorder with RGB inputs is the easiest solution for capture in quality, otherwise an analogue PAL capture solution for the PC.

Quote:


3) For FTA satellite, extract files from the sky +.

If you want to use the (SD) Sky+ for timeshifting yes. However if you can dedicate a PC for this at home, and have a spare LNB feed (Sky + installations come with Quad LNBs, and only 2 outputs are used for the Sky+ dual-tuners), then a PC with a DVB-S card might be a better solution AND it would give you BBC HD and ITV HD.

Quote:


I hope my understanding is correct....

On a side note, we seem to like the same things: TMPG, Media Center (YES the most reliable FREE recording soft EVER!) and Hauppauge HD-PVR (a brilliant solution for encrypted HD channels!).

I don't actually have an HD PVR - but it seems a great solution. I don't really feel the need to archive Sky HD stuff - and if I do need to record something specific from a Pay TV channel I have the option of using my Sky card with a PC tuner and CAM. Most of the HD stuff I want to archive is on BBC HD - and that is dead easy to archive.

TMPGEnc is great though. Both the Express encoding software and the DVD Authoring stuff has been a staple for me for years now.

Quote:


A few questions.

How do you extract files from the sky +? Via Firewire??

No - UK STBs don't have firewire connections. The way to get recordings out of a Sky + (and only un-encrypted FTA recordings) is to physicalluy remove the hard drive and use the Extract + software with the drive connected to a PC. A bit easier on a Sky HD as they use SATA, whereas Sky+SDs use IDE.

Not for the faint-hearted the first time.

Quote:



or it involves a tactic that the non-enthusiasts in general may be reluctant to do? (including unscrewing pannels and taking out its HDD to void its warranty?)

Yep - details here : http://www.skycopyplus.co.uk/

I waited until my Sky+ HD was out of warranty until I replaced the hard drive (from 300GB to 1TB) - which requires the same processes as extraction.

Quite a few people don't bother replacing the hard-drive on their SkyHD boxes and use an external Sata enclosure - allowing them to just unplug the external drive from their Sky+ HD and plug it into their PC for extraction.

Quote:


Just to give it a shot.... is there any DVB-T laptop tuner from ex-Pinnacle (now Hauppauge) made for the UK market? I have two Pinnacle tuners (besides Hauppauge) , and their tuners came with (in addition to an appo) a video editting soft (Pinnacle Studio), AV adapters for video capture (though it's S video, no RGB), and a small antenna for the same price I paid for my Hauppauge tuner plus appo.

Not sure about Pinnacle stuff at the moment. The Hauppauge rebrand of Pinnacle stuff doesn't seem to have taken full effect. I bought a Pinnacle PCI-E dual DVB-T, dual DVB-S (and it has analogue RF and base-band as well) capture card - but ignored the software that came with it - I wanted to use it with 7MC.

There isn't a real RGB solution (the Sweetspot Card that has RGB input is more for upscaling applications than recording AIUI - and it isn't cheap)

Quote:


I'm not sure if smilar stuff exists in the UK for "an economic solution" until he can buy an HD-PVR as a video editing soft alone could cost more than the tuner itself (provided that you do not like Movie Maker) and just as much for a simple "SD" / S-video capture device.

Yep - I've not really looked at editing applications as I only want to top and tail stuff - and TMPGEnc DVD Author does that for me.

Quote:


Do you expect the availability of firmware upgrade for the current DVB-T tuners to enable DVB-T2 tuning come the end of 2009?

Won't be a firmware upgrade - it will require new hardware i.e. a new purchase. DVB-T2 uses 32k carriers and 256QAM (to carry 36Mbs per mux), whereas DVB-T uses 2k or 8k with 16 or 64QAM (to carry 18-24Mbs) - the current DVB-T silicon won't work with DVB-T2.

Quote:


P.s. I need to ask him if he has RGB on his sky though!!!! if he does not, he may or may not prefer DVB-S giving up watching/recording while traveling or with a fake DVB-T driver and Media Center..

All Sky boxes apart from the low-end Javelin that Pace did (popular with campers as it is the only one with a 12V input) have RGB outputs. If he's running a fully-wired SCART from a Sky or Sky+ SD box into a standard SCART TV and has SCART control enabled, he'll be watching RGB. If he isn't he should be! (SCART control also enables the automatic 4:3/16:9 switching via SCART Pin 8)
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post #10 of 24 Old 05-25-2009, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you very much! I will talk to him and see if he wants to go with DVB-T diversity route, if he's willling to file extraction, or he would rather go wtih the DVB-S/S2 solution, I am not sure how much traveling he'll be doing this year and next year. I think I can talk to him in 3 or 4 weeks with the information you gave me, so, I will post again after that. Thank you again for all of your help!
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post #11 of 24 Old 05-26-2009, 03:45 AM
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Can anyone recommend any DVB-C tuners? I'll be using a low profile case so my space is limited for cards internally. Are usb tuners any good or would i be better getting a pci\\pci-e tuner?
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post #12 of 24 Old 05-26-2009, 07:13 AM
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Can anyone recommend any DVB-C tuners? I'll be using a low profile case so my space is limited for cards internally. Are usb tuners any good or would i be better getting a pci\\pci-e tuner?

I think a lot of people go for the Fire DTVC or Floppy DTVC from Digital Everywhere - though they require Firewire. (Fire are external, Floppy are internal)

Because all the UK digital cable is Virgin Media in the UK, and they supply set top boxes - you can't officially use a 3rd party solution, it isn't an area I know much about. I believe that Sweden works on the "buy your own" box for Kom Hem cable, so you can buy a set top box in a general electronics shop (though I think Kom Hem provide either a CAM or a viewing card?), so DVB-C info may be forthcoming from that territory?
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post #13 of 24 Old 05-27-2009, 01:30 AM
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I think a lot of people go for the Fire DTVC or Floppy DTVC from Digital Everywhere - though they require Firewire. (Fire are external, Floppy are internal)

Because all the UK digital cable is Virgin Media in the UK, and they supply set top boxes - you can't officially use a 3rd party solution, it isn't an area I know much about. I believe that Sweden works on the "buy your own" box for Kom Hem cable, so you can buy a set top box in a general electronics shop (though I think Kom Hem provide either a CAM or a viewing card?), so DVB-C info may be forthcoming from that territory?

I'm not a Com Hem customer but I have some friends who are and as I understand it the current situation is that Com Hem uses card pairing for their HD channels - meaning the chipset on the card is paired to the STB supplied by Com Hem, so their HD channels can only be accessed with their STB - but not currently for SD.

Card pairing is becoming more and more common because of pressure from the content providers on the operators. In the long run, this is likely to severely limit, if not eliminate altogether, the possibility to receive pay TV in Europe on HTPCs.

There is, however, an investigation going on on the EU political level about the legality of card pairing.

If card pairing is not an issue, I understand the Floppy/FireDTV-C tuners work very well.
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post #14 of 24 Old 05-27-2009, 01:51 AM
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I'm not a Com Hem customer but I have some friends who are and as I understand it the current situation is that Com Hem uses card pairing for their HD channels - meaning the chipset on the card is paired to the STB supplied by Com Hem, so their HD channels can only be accessed with their STB - but not currently for SD.

Card pairing is becoming more and more common because of pressure from the content providers on the operators. In the long run, this is likely to severely limit, if not eliminate altogether, the possibility to receive pay TV in Europe on HTPCs.

There is, however, an investigation going on on the EU political level about the legality of card pairing.

If card pairing is not an issue, I understand the Floppy/FireDTV-C tuners work very well.

Yes - AIUI Canal Digital have introduced card pairing for their Conax satellite services haven't they? It has always been used by Sky Digital for their premium services in the UK, though not their lower tier stuff. I guess it is also used by Viasat in Sweden as a result.

AIUI there is, in theory, European legislation that shouldn't allow "sealed box" receivers to be the only way of watching satellite TV services in Europe (as IS the case in the UK with Sky Digital), with CAM support supposedly required. However in the 10+ years of Sky Digital in the UK this hasn't been enforced? (Wasn't it part of the Open Skies legislation?)

I notice that there IS a CAM for Viasat in Sweden (though rare) which uses the same encryption as Sky Digital (though the CAMs aren't compatible)

I'm not talking here about obtaining service without a subscription, just the freedom to use your receiver of choice to watch a service on rather than the receiver that your provider provides. That said, the Sky EPG (though now reverse engineered - it isn't encrypted, just compressed) and Sky OpenTV Interactive services are proprietary as well...
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post #15 of 24 Old 05-27-2009, 05:30 AM
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Yes - AIUI Canal Digital have introduced card pairing for their Conax satellite services haven't they? It has always been used by Sky Digital for their premium services in the UK, though not their lower tier stuff. I guess it is also used by Viasat in Sweden as a result.

AIUI there is, in theory, European legislation that shouldn't allow "sealed box" receivers to be the only way of watching satellite TV services in Europe (as IS the case in the UK with Sky Digital), with CAM support supposedly required. However in the 10+ years of Sky Digital in the UK this hasn't been enforced? (Wasn't it part of the Open Skies legislation?)

I notice that there IS a CAM for Viasat in Sweden (though rare) which uses the same encryption as Sky Digital (though the CAMs aren't compatible)

I'm not talking here about obtaining service without a subscription, just the freedom to use your receiver of choice to watch a service on rather than the receiver that your provider provides. That said, the Sky EPG (though now reverse engineered - it isn't encrypted, just compressed) and Sky OpenTV Interactive services are proprietary as well...

Canal Digital has been threatening to implement pairing for a long time but never really rolled it out. However, now it seems that they are really going to do it; they have recently replaced all smart cards and they are officially stating that Conax pairing will be implemented.

But they have a lot of old boxes (of their own) out there which may not support pairing, and lots of customers who have boxes which certainly do not, so my guess is that it will be implemented on their new HD boxes only (I do not know if they can turn on or off pairing for an individual smart card, though).
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I think a lot of people go for the Fire DTVC or Floppy DTVC from Digital Everywhere - though they require Firewire. (Fire are external, Floppy are internal)

Because all the UK digital cable is Virgin Media in the UK, and they supply set top boxes - you can't officially use a 3rd party solution, it isn't an area I know much about. I believe that Sweden works on the "buy your own" box for Kom Hem cable, so you can buy a set top box in a general electronics shop (though I think Kom Hem provide either a CAM or a viewing card?), so DVB-C info may be forthcoming from that territory?

Cheers for that. I have ntl\\upc digital cable here in Ireland which seems to be DVB-C. They dont do any specific harware pairing yet but they do use Nagra3 encryption on the premium channels. I'm not sure on the legality of HTPCs here if the tuner can decode it but it is illegal here to use a dogybox (non ntl\\upc STB like a eurovox, dreambox etc) to get all the channels without paying for them. So if a tuner card can do it they probably would be illegal to use with the ntl\\upc signal. meh
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post #17 of 24 Old 06-07-2009, 11:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Sneals200,

Thanks for all the information. I will probably able to talk to him next weekend about this.

Just to get a whole picture, if he were to isntall Win 7 and or reinstall Vista (and TV pack), he'd be able to watch/record/edit both FTA and encrypted channels with a DVB-S tuner when he hooks it up to the current satellite dish that his skybox is getting feed from? You mentioned Freesat DVB-S not being encrypted whereas Sky DVB-S has Videoguard encryption. I am wondering if he would have to get subscription with Freebsat to get editable recording through a DVB-S tuner. Hope I'm making sense.

Lastly, what is the best place to look for tuners etc in the UK? Is there any online retailer (like NewEgg for Americans, lol) or physical store near London for stuff like this? or you can purchase from digital-everywhere.com that politby mentined though he's in Sweden?? I am not sure how shopping in general works in your region, but I am sure he would like to know how much stuff costs.
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post #18 of 24 Old 06-08-2009, 01:48 AM
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Just to get a whole picture, if he were to isntall Win 7 and or reinstall Vista (and TV pack), he'd be able to watch/record/edit both FTA and encrypted channels with a DVB-S tuner when he hooks it up to the current satellite dish that his skybox is getting feed from?

Not quite.

FTA (i.e. Freesat) DVB-S channels would be supported out of the box with almost all DVB-S tuner cards (PCI, USB or Firewire).

To get the encrypted subscription channels without using a Sky Digibox and an analogue capture card or HD-PVR (for the HD channels) would require a DVB-S tuner AND a CAM and a Sky card. This is non-trivial, and not formally supported, with no guarantee for continued operation. Sky are currently swapping out all their subscription cards, and AIUI the new cards are not currently supported - so don't work (though they do in some other solutions so may well work in the future)

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You mentioned Freesat DVB-S not being encrypted whereas Sky DVB-S has Videoguard encryption. I am wondering if he would have to get subscription with Freebsat to get editable recording through a DVB-S tuner.

Freesat is a NON-subscription service. You can't subscribe to it. Like Freeview it is FREE. (Well once you've paid your UK TV License and bought the products advertised on the commercial channels)

Editing WTV recordings is still a bit tricky - though Win 7 allows them to be converted to DVR-MS - and SD content is MPEG2.

If your friend wants Sky subscription channels - that will require a subscription, a card AND a valid Sky receiver to update the card once a week.

Both Freesat AND Sky tuners will require a dish LNB feed per tuner. If your friend only has one feed from his dish, he will need to unplug his SKy box to connect his PC. If he has a Sky+ PVR (which has two feeds as it has two tuners) his dish will probably have a Quad LNB with two spare outputs (unless he has multiroom feeding other receivers)

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Hope I'm making sense.

Lastly, what is the best place to look for tuners etc in the UK? Is there any online retailer (like NewEgg for Americans, lol) or physical store near London for stuff like this? or you can purchase from digital-everywhere.com that politby mentined though he's in Sweden?? I am not sure how shopping in general works in your region, but I am sure he would like to know how much stuff costs.

http://www.ebuyer.com/
http://www.dabs.com/
http://www.scan.co.uk/

are all reliable general PC on-line retailers

http://kustompcs.co.uk/

is a good HTPC site - and includes Digital Everywhere and guidance on implementing Sky (albeit with the XP / Vista DVB-T spoofed drivers last time I checked)

http://www.dvbshop.net/

is a great European DVB-card seller on-line. They're German but have some English stuff. I've had no problems with them in the past - though the /£ exchange rate isn't what it was (i.e. the Euro is now worth more against Sterling)
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post #19 of 24 Old 06-10-2009, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Great! Thank you very much for the clarifications!!!

I just managed to get hold of him very briefly and found out that shows he wants to keep (record and edit) are on both subscription and free channels.

Given that, is it probably best to drop DVB-T and DVB-S and pursue the video capture route with an HD-PVR (or SD capture USB stick or DVD recorder if he dosn't mind SD)? He will not be albe to get subscription channels even with a DVB-T tuner (in addition to no HD shows being on it), and the Sky + PVR (with 2 tuners) plus a CAM and a Sky card set up is a bit shaky and can also interfere with editting (because H264 based .WTV from HD channels may not be convertable to .DVR-MS)? Hope I got it correctly.

A quick question. Are all HD shows on satellite also broadcasted in SD, or there are some HD only channels / networks?

Thanks for the links. I'll take a look.
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post #20 of 24 Old 06-11-2009, 02:41 AM
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Great! Thank you very much for the clarifications!!!

I just managed to get hold of him very briefly and found out that shows he wants to keep (record and edit) are on both subscription and free channels.

Sounds like he wants a Sky satellite recording system - though if he gets a good OTA signal then a Freeview tuner or two as well will allow more non-subscription shows to be recorded at very low cost. (It can always be added later)

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Given that, is it probably best to drop DVB-T and DVB-S and pursue the video capture route with an HD-PVR (or SD capture USB stick or DVD recorder if he dosn't mind SD)?

Yep - if he wants SD only then a Sky + SD PVR and Sky subscription with an RGB DVD recorder would be the best quality SD solution, or you could replace the DVD recorder with a composite/S-video capture stick for reduced quality. You would be recording on the Sky+ dual-tuner PVR, and then playing out to your DVD recorder or PC for archiving.

For HD then a Sky HD Thomson first generation receiver (NOT available from Sky anymore - you'd need to find one on eBay or elsewhere) with component analogue outputs and an HD-PVR. Again you'd record on your Sky HD receiver, and just archive to the HD-PVR.

BE WARNED - current Sky HD boxes (now branded Sky+ HD) only have HDMI outputs. Your friend will need a Sky HD (not branded Sky+) Thomson first gen box with component AND HDMI. The HD-PVR needs component outputs to work.

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He will not be albe to get subscription channels even with a DVB-T tuner (in addition to no HD shows being on it),

DVB-T is SD only. There are a couple of subscription services - but they are very limited in number and programming quality.

DVB-T2 (aka Freeview HD) will be HD later this year - but there are no commercial receivers or PC capture cards yet on the market for T2.

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and the Sky + PVR (with 2 tuners) plus a CAM and a Sky card set up is a bit shaky and can also interfere with editting (because H264 based .WTV from HD channels may not be convertable to .DVR-MS)? Hope I got it correctly.

The H264 format is only an issue for HD recordings - WTV files of SD channels are in MPEG2 within WTV, and can be converted to DVR-MS. However the CAM + Sky Card + DVB-S/S2 CAM compatible tuner solution is only for the enthusiast, and you need a Sky card and CAM per tuner, whereas with Sky+ or Sky HD you get two tuners.

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A quick question. Are all HD shows on satellite also broadcasted in SD, or there are some HD only channels / networks?

BBC HD runs a separate schedule but doesn't always simulcast. The shows on BBC HD will have run or will run on the SD BBC One-Four, CBBC, CBeebies etc. outlets. BBC HD is all HD.

Channel Four HD is a straight simulcast of Channel Four (SD shows upconverted)

ITV HD (only partially available on Sky HD receivers - it's not in the EPG and you can't record it to the PVR disk) is a part-time stream that simulcasts HD content in sync with ITV1 SD, but the rest of the time shows a holding caption. (It is accessed by interactive TV functions - not via the EPG - on Freesat HD receivers)

Many of the other channels run separate schedules to their SD counterparts - so shows may be on at different times or days in SD and HD (this is because many channels are "all HD" but still have SD shows to run on their SD outlets)

I don't think there are any outlets that don't have an SD outlet for their HD shows.
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post #21 of 24 Old 06-21-2009, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot again!!!!

I was finnally able to talk to him again in some length, not as much as I had to though...

He said that his skybox is a DVR (which I knew) but it did NOT have RBG output!!!

He also said that he called sky and they apparently told him that he needed to UPGRADE his service to take out files from his DVR. Do you have any clue what the heck that is about? LOL!

I'm soo confused!!! I asked him some importnat questions such as, "Do you get EDITABLE files if you upgrade?" "Can you take out even subscription channels (not just BBC) after upgrading?" as I had no clue what type of a package / deal / setup the rep had suggested to him.

But he has no clue either, so, he said he would show me the instructions after getting the upgrade package or something. Oh he also mentioned something about being able to stream? On demand channels to his computer after the update.

I am not sure if he's ordered it already (I should've asked!) or just inquired and decided to thikn about it. But I would be pissed if he already ordered!!!

Do you have any clue what this UPGRADE is about?


He also said his current Sky had a SCART, yellow (composite) and Red and white (audio). So, is it possible he has an old SD Sky DVR? And upgrade it to what, Sky+ HD DVR?!??! I hope not.

If he has already ordered and is getting a Sky+ HD DVR does it at least have s-video and RCA audio? for video capture? If I understood correctly, the new Sky+ HD DVR only has HDMI and SCART which means he cannot even video capture SD and that subscription channels cannot be taken out so he's doomed correct?
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post #22 of 24 Old 06-22-2009, 02:13 AM
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Thanks a lot again!!!!

I was finnally able to talk to him again in some length, not as much as I had to though...

He said that his skybox is a DVR (which I knew) but it did NOT have RBG output!!!

Does he have Sky+ SD or Sky+ HD?

ALL Sky+ SD DVR models have RGB output - it is on the TV SCART (and enabled in the PICTURE bit of the SERVICES menu - you need SCART Control and RGB enabled probably) Sky have never had an SD Sky+ box that doesn't have RGB SCART.

Only first gen SkyHD boxes (not then branded Sky+ HD but DVRs) had HD component alongside HDMI outputs - but all SkyHD boxes have RGB SCARTS (though this is SD)

SCART is an "SD connector" though - so you don't get HD RGB output when you watch an HD channel, you get an SD RGB downconversion.

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He also said that he called sky and they apparently told him that he needed to UPGRADE his service to take out files from his DVR. Do you have any clue what the heck that is about? LOL!

Rubbish - the CS rep he was talking to doesn't know what he/she is talking about. Sky have no official support for file transfer of video under any plan.

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I'm soo confused!!! I asked him some importnat questions such as, "Do you get EDITABLE files if you upgrade?" "Can you take out even subscription channels (not just BBC) after upgrading?" as I had no clue what type of a package / deal / setup the rep had suggested to him.

No point asking those questions. No such service exists.

The only way of getting files from a Sky+/Sky HD hard drive are to remove the drive and use the extraction software I mentioned. This will only work on FTA - not encrypted FTV or Pay-TV recordings.

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But he has no clue either, so, he said he would show me the instructions after getting the upgrade package or something. Oh he also mentioned something about being able to stream? On demand channels to his computer after the update.

Aaah - the rep has got confused. Sky have a system called "SkyPlayer" which allows you to watch the channels you subscribe to via satellite as IPTV streams on your PC - like Hulu or the BBC iPlayer. This is nothing to do with your satellite reciever. I suspect the rep was talking about this - NOT extraction from the hard drive. Though they may have got confused as well. It should be free to watch the same channels as you subscribe to, but if you don't subscribe then you pay for PC streaming I think?

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I am not sure if he's ordered it already (I should've asked!) or just inquired and decided to thikn about it. But I would be pissed if he already ordered!!!

Do you have any clue what this UPGRADE is about?

There is NO upgrade to allow files to be removed from a Sky+ receiver. I think they are talking about PC streaming from Sky using SkyPlayer.

Quote:


He also said his current Sky had a SCART, yellow (composite) and Red and white (audio). So, is it possible he has an old SD Sky DVR? And upgrade it to what, Sky+ HD DVR?!??! I hope not.

The SCART IS the RGB output - SCART carries Composite, Stereo audio and RGB video in SD. Connect that to an RGB compatible DVD recorder (with loop through ideally) - you must use the TV SCART, the VCR SCART is composite only, and you will get RGB quality recordings. The Yellow, White and Red connectors are composite video and audio. The RGB feed present on the TV SCART is higher quality video (same as component SD effectively).

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If he has already ordered and is getting a Sky+ HD DVR does it at least have s-video and RCA audio? for video capture? If I understood correctly, the new Sky+ HD DVR only has HDMI and SCART which means he cannot even video capture SD and that subscription channels cannot be taken out so he's doomed correct?

TV SCART will be RGB SD + Composite. VCR SCART will be Composite only. Can't remember if the Sky+HD boxes have S-video or not (the Sky+ SD boxes do). Whether you use a Composite PC capture card or an RGB DVD Recorder you will be fine with any Sky+ or Sky+HD DVR.

Whatever Sky receiver he has (apart from the very shortlived single-SCART composite only Javelin mini-box which had an external PSU to feed it 12V and is thus popular with caravan/RV/boat owners) - whether it is SD, HD, a DVR or not - will have an RGB SCART TV output. He will be able to connect this to a DVD recorder with RGB recording no problem at all. This will give SD recordings of SD and HD content. The TV and VCR SCARTs both carry composite as well - you can convert from SCART to composite with a cheap converter cable or adaptor from Maplin (our nearest equivalent to Radio Shack)

For recording HD content natively he would need a first gen Sky HD box with Component outputs and a Hauppauge HD-PVR.

Technically you own, not rent, your Sky receiver - so you can swap boxes (you have to tell Sky the new serial number) so he could buy and sell boxes on eBay to get an old one with a component output if the one Sky supply is HDMI only for HD output.
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post #23 of 24 Old 06-23-2009, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey! Thanks a lot! Regarding the "upgrade" that's exactly what I suspected from what you had been telling me all along! including no file extraction of encrypted channels, and the rest being just 'streaming' to watch on PC, you don't end up with an editable or storable (on pc) recording for encrypted channels. And file extraction of BBC is an 'enhusiast' option that though legal it is not made easy by Sky for regular people.

I had no clue about SCART (that doesn't exist in the US), so, if he ended up with the current non-Tompson box, his stuck with capture with a DVD recorder instead of a SD computer video capture device (which is cheaper), correct? And of course, no chance of HD capturing.

For myself, I actually meant by RBG, Red Blue Green componenent, but i realize caz you have SCART, RBG ain't same as component there. So, SCART is basically analoge that is as good as whatever else the device has? For instance, if you only have yellow composite with SCART (that seems to be his case, he said he did not see any red-blue-green, except the red for audio), then you get VCR equivalent analogue pic on TV, and if it has S video plus SCART, then that's like DVD at best, and you get HD if you have SCART combined with red-blue-green component?

I didn't ask specifically if he had a Sky+ SD or Sky+ HD, but from what he said, it sounds like the rep suggested an upgrade from his SD DVR to HD DVR, no? Well, I don't know if the Skiy + SD has the option to stream TV picture to a PC...

Alright I need to see if he has ordered this box. I think I can talk to him again this weekend. Good to know that he can swap if he wants to!!! WHOA!



Again, thank you SOO much for all the follow ups on this despite that this has been draggin for weeks, LOL! Much appreciated. Hope you can help me again! He mentioned soemthing about cable too actually, which I have NO freggin clue if / how he's using it at this point. I will dig it this weekend, and bring up if that's important!
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post #24 of 24 Old 06-24-2009, 01:53 AM
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[quote=moonstar;16709960]Hey! Thanks a lot! Regarding the "upgrade" that's exactly what I suspected from what you had been telling me all along! including no file extraction of encrypted channels, and the rest being just 'streaming' to watch on PC, you don't end up with an editable or storable (on pc) recording for encrypted channels. And file extraction of BBC is an 'enhusiast' option that though legal it is not made easy by Sky for regular people.
[/quuote]

Yep - and removal of your hard drive would void your 12 month warranty on the Sky+/Sky+HD.

Quote:


I had no clue about SCART (that doesn't exist in the US), so, if he ended up with the current non-Tompson box, his stuck with capture with a DVD recorder instead of a SD computer video capture device (which is cheaper), correct? And of course, no chance of HD capturing.

Nope. SCART is RGB and Composite. If he has a Sky+SD then he will also have a separate S-video outut. The RGB TV SCART can be used to feed an SD RGB DVD Recorder, but the VCR SCART or the TV SCART could feed SD composite capture devices, and the S-video output could feed an SD S-video capture device.

IF he has a Sky+HD (some labelled just SkyHD) with no Component (YPrPb) outputs then he would be stuck with SD capture - he'd need an original Thomson box with component output to capture in HD using an HD-PVR capture box from Hauppauge. (NB not all Thomson boxes have component - just the original ones)

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For myself, I actually meant by RBG, Red Blue Green componenent, but i realize caz you have SCART, RBG ain't same as component there.

We have both Component YPrPb (i.e. brightness and colour difference signals) - on HD devices over here (though it is disappearing quickly). It uses 3 x RCA phonos - coloured Green, Red and Blue respectively - but as it doesn't carry Green, Red and Blue signals we wouldn't describe it as RGB...

Our 21 pin SCART connector carries composite video and analogue stereo audio in two directions (so a single cable can connect a VCR to a TV and route video both to and from the VCR), and S-video or RGB analogue SD in one direction. There are also two data lines to signal aspect ratio - so a set top box or DVD player can signal whether it is 4:3 SD or 16:9 SD, whether the output is RGB or composite, and whether the source is active or not. (So that when you play a DVD the TV will automatically switch to the DVD Player SCART and correctly display the video depending on its aspect ratio)

So a single RGB SCART can carry composite, analogue stereo and RGB video. It's a horrid connector design - but makes hookup of components REALLY easy - as you only have a single connector not 3 or 5 RCAs. You also get RGB quality on almost every digital TV set top box (cable, satellite, OTA, DVD player etc.)

Having RGB SCART and 16:9 576/50i is one reason that HD has been a bit longer coming to Europe. We've had component quality widescreen TV since the early 90s via analogue MAC cable and satellite broadcasts and then DVD. Because we weren't using PAL (or worse NTSC) for interconnects we had high quality 16:9 content earlier than the US - which was still using S-video until HD content came along. (I had RGB SCART TVs in the early 80s - they were originally added for us to connect our 8 bit home micros and external teletext and videotext decoders in quality)

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So, SCART is basically analoge that is as good as whatever else the device has? For instance, if you only have yellow composite with SCART (that seems to be his case, he said he did not see any red-blue-green, except the red for audio), then you get VCR equivalent analogue pic on TV, and if it has S video plus SCART, then that's like DVD at best, and you get HD if you have SCART combined with red-blue-green component?

The SCART connector is usually black or blue. You can't tell whether it is composite only or composite + RGB, or S-video, by looking at it. It is entirely independent of the RCA phono and mini-DIN connectors on a box. SCART is the only way of getting RGB out of most UK SD devices - though having a SCART doesn't mean the box has RGB output... It is confusing. However all Sky receivers (apart from the Javelin Pace mini-box with a 12V external PSU) will have RGB SCARTs - whether SD non-DVR, Sky+ SD DVR, Sky HD original DVR or Sky+HD current DVR - they all have RGB TV SCARTs.

You're right that SCART is analogue and usually the best quality output that a device has - though RGB SCART pretty much matches SD YPrPb Component output for quality - EXCEPT that the SD 576i component output on Sky HD boxes is compromised...

I can tell you for certain that if he has a Sky+ box of any flavour - the TV SCART can output RGB if enabled in the Services->Picture menu, along with SCART control. The VCR SCART is composite only.

SCART is SD only - but can carry RGB+Composite, S-video, or Composite only.

It doesn't carry HD.

For HD you have to use HDMI or HD Component YPrPb. However all Sky HD receivers will have RGB SCART SD output on their TV SCART. This will be 576i native when watching SD channels, and a downconversion to 576i when watching 1080i channels (There are no Sky HD 720/50p channels in the UK)

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I didn't ask specifically if he had a Sky+ SD or Sky+ HD, but from what he said, it sounds like the rep suggested an upgrade from his SD DVR to HD DVR, no? Well, I don't know if the Skiy + SD has the option to stream TV picture to a PC...

Could be - the Sky+ HD receiver will have "Anytime" which is a sort of VOD - but is purely the Sky receiver recording broadcasts during Standby - as dictated by Sky. It isn't a download service.

Neither the Sky+HD nor Sky+SD boxes have any network streaming - either from Sky or from your box to a PC. The HD boxes have an unused Ethernet and eSATA connector - but the main connectivity is a phone connector for a Modem. This is used to verify your phone number using CLI with Sky (to ensure that all receivers on a single subscription are on the same phone line)

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Alright I need to see if he has ordered this box. I think I can talk to him again this weekend. Good to know that he can swap if he wants to!!! WHOA!



Again, thank you SOO much for all the follow ups on this despite that this has been draggin for weeks, LOL! Much appreciated. Hope you can help me again! He mentioned soemthing about cable too actually, which I have NO freggin clue if / how he's using it at this point. I will dig it this weekend, and bring up if that's important!

If he has ordered a Sky HD box AND has a good HDTV then he'll appreciate the high quality of the content. If he wants to archive in SD then an RGB DVD Recorder connected to the TV SCART will be fine - and he'll be using the HDMI output to connect to his HDTV so won't have to loop the TV SCART feed through the DVD recorder. If he's very lucky he'll get an old Thomson receiver with component outputs - but I doubt it. However he could buy an old receiver on eBay and sell his current one (you always own your Sky box) and use an HD-PVR if HD archival is important to him.
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