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post #1 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 07:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Here is my current setup:
1.6Ghz Athlon
1024 megs of ram
ATI Radeon 9600 with component out
M-Audio Revolution 7.1

I am looking into replacing my PVR with this computer, and I'd like to recieve OTA HDTV broadcasts. What would be a good match for under 150 dollars?

What is a good card to do this? Is the ATI HDTV Wonder a good choice?
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post #2 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 07:54 AM
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Your only options for under $150 are the Avermedia A180, and Fusion 5, maybe the V-Box cards. Personally I wouldn't bother with the HDTV Blunder as it's much more expensive than the competition while offering less features (eg no QAM).

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #3 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 09:06 AM
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While this is by no means an endorsement for the ATI card, I think it is fair to point out:

- The ATI card can easily be found ~130US, from reputable dealers, on most weeks.
- It comes with a very decent indoor anntenna (silver sensor or direct clone at the very least)
- it is one of only a few that has dual RF inputs
- QAM support is but a driver update away ... i.e. same as the A180
- it apparently works flawlessly inside MCE (if that floats your boat)
- it apparently works very well outside of MMC with WatchHDTV
- it has superior analog decoder than the other low cost cards (with the exception of the now cheap F3 Gold, with which it shares the same IC) if you have need for analog input and capture
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post #4 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 09:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Is there anything under 150 that has onbard encoding? It appears the Fusion 5 does, is this correct?

Anyone have a source for it that's reputable?
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post #5 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 09:59 AM
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Is there anything under 150 that has onbard encoding? It appears the Fusion 5 does, is this correct?
No, that's incorrect.

Digital cards DO NOT require encoders --> The RF signal received by the card is demodulated into a Mpeg Transport Stream (TS) i.e. no encoding needed.

The cards can, on the otherhand, have a dedicated mpeg decoder -- as the MPEG bit stream still has to be decoded into something that can be natively displayed by the computer.

A few cards do indeed have onboard decoders (MyHD's, AccessDTV, ,...) but many others don't and rely upon the host CPU instead (eg. Fusions, ATI, Aver....) to perform the decoding. This later group is referred to as "software" cards because the mpeg signal is decoded by the system's processor based upon the algorthims defined by a software decoder.

Note that software cards like the Fusion do have decoder chips on board, but for entirely different purposes. Specifically, the decoder chips on these cards handle the ADC for analog sources. They also have a secondary role as a bridge chip between the card and the PCI bus ... and note again, that hardware cards will also have similar analog decoders in addition to their mpeg decoder.
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post #6 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Oops, that was a stupid thing to ask, LOL. I knew that, but I just was not thinking.
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post #7 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK
No, that's incorrect.

Digital cards DO NOT require encoders --> The RF signal received by the card is demodulated into a Mpeg Transport Stream (TS) i.e. no encoding needed.

The cards can, on the otherhand, still have to decode the MPEG into something that can be natively displayed by the computer. A few cards do have onboard decoders (MyHD's, AccessOne,...) but many rely upon the host CPU instead (eg. Fusions, ATI, Aver....). This later group is referred to as "software" cards because the mpeg signal is decoded by the system's processor based upon the algorthims defined by a software decoder.

Note that software cards like the Fusion do have decoder chips on board, but for entirely different purposes. Specifically, the decoder chips on these cards handle the ADC for analog sources. They also have a secondary role as a bridge chip between the card and the PCI bus ... and note again, that hardware cards will also have similare analog decoders in addition to their mpeg decoder.
So, what does that does that mean in terms of CPU usage? Can an older PC (pre P4 or even pre P3) view hdtv using a "hardware" based card?
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post #8 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 72ScoutNGa
So, what does that does that mean in terms of CPU usage? Can an older PC (pre P4 or even pre P3) view hdtv using a "hardware" based card?
Yes, if you have a hardware decoding card then the CPU requirements are very low. For my MyHD cards I think the minimum requirement is a 1ghz processor.

I have just switched to a server based recording system and I am about to ebay a MyHD 100 & 120 so if anyone is interested please PM me.

Clay
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post #9 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clayfree
Yes, if you have a hardware decoding card then the CPU requirements are very low. For my MyHD cards I think the minimum requirement is a 1ghz processor.

I have just switched to a server based recording system and I am about to ebay a MyHD 100 & 120 so if anyone is interested please PM me.

Clay
Server based? How is your setup; ummmm "setup" :) ? Just curious why you went and how you went server based?

Thanks
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post #10 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 10:36 AM
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So, what does that does that mean in terms of CPU usage? Can an older PC (pre P4 or even pre P3) view hdtv using a "hardware" based card?
Yes, this is actually an ideal use for such cards -- CPU usage will be low. I would check with the card manufacturers what the min. system requirements.

I will note that (like most things) there are many tradeoffs between choosing between software and hardware cards.

Also, an additional note about software cards - as many software decoders are able to offload many of the decoding functions from your CPU to (modern) video cards, relatively low CPU utilization during decoding of a live stream or archieved capture can be obtained.
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post #11 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK
A few cards do have onboard decoders (MyHD's, AccessOne,...)
That's accessDTV - not AccessOne :).
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post #12 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 10:59 AM
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Oooops :D Quite right. Thanks Geoffrey. (I'll edit the above)
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post #13 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 11:14 AM
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I would personally look for a used MyHD card from MIT. Your CPU is IMHO slightly underpowered for PVR use while also doing software MPEG2 decoding.

I have used an original MDP-100 from MIT for three years now, first with my prior PC which was an 800Mhz Celeron, and lately with a 1.4Ghz Celeron. The earlier machine did perfect HD recording/playback, the present one does that plus HD-PVR of the current program (up to -30 minutes from realtime based on my configured disk buffer space).

Used MyHD cards are often sold for $150 or less. If you could stretch your budget to $200 you could get a brand new MDP-130 which will support both ATSC broadcast and QAM (cable), and have a new product warranty.

The MDP-100 is the original MyHD, and has a slightly less sensitive tuner and a larger size. The MDP-120 has the improved-sensitivity ATSC tuner, a smaller size, and an optional DVI daughter card still available new if you upgrade your display. The MDP-130 adds QAM and also has a DVI option.

All these cards can support "passthrough" operation in which the VGA output is passed through the tuner which then substitutes it's own video signal from a dedicated frame buffer. The 120/130 can do this with DVI, and any of the three can utilize an outboard transcoder to transform the VGA signal to drive a component video HD monitor.

To my eyes, any software card has never had quite the crisp beauty of the HD image from a hardware decoder (I've seen several MyHD and HiPix cards). The same application and driver software is in use with all the various MDP models, and that means they have outstanding stability due to 3 years of software debug. (Credit for that last to the late Cliff Watson, who is sorely missed around here - and a longtime MyHD advocate.)

Gary

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post #14 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK
While this is by no means an endorsement for the ATI card, I think it is fair to point out:

- The ATI card can easily be found ~130US, from reputable dealers, on most weeks.
- It comes with a very decent indoor anntenna (silver sensor or direct clone at the very least)
- it is one of only a few that has dual RF inputs
- QAM support is but a driver update away ... i.e. same as the A180
- it apparently works flawlessly inside MCE (if that floats your boat)
- it apparently works very well outside of MMC with WatchHDTV
- it has superior analog decoder than the other low cost cards (with the exception of the now cheap F3 Gold, with which it shares the same IC) if you have need for analog input and capture

What do you mean that QAM support is only a driver update away? I am looking for a HDTV Card that is supported within Windows Media Center and that does QAM. I was under the assumption that the ATI Wonder will not support QAM?
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post #15 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 12:04 PM
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I am looking for a HDTV Card that is supported within Windows Media Center and that does QAM.
Then, unfortunately, you're currently out of luck as the BDA drivers required for MCE do not yet implement QAM. Look for this to change in the future.

Quote:
What do you mean that QAM support is only a driver update away....I was under the assumption that the ATI Wonder will not support QAM?
No, the hardware is very capable of QAM. Its just the current driver set and/or viewing app (and third party apps) which are unable to make use of it. There is absolutely no knowing if ATI will ever resolve this (although I suspect they will eventually) ..... but the fact remains, lurking on the card is *gasp* QAM capable hardware. :)
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post #16 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 12:10 PM
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Glad I found this thread, maybe you guys can help so as not to have to start a new one.

I Just got a PC, Athlon 64 X2 4200 with the works. Now I got it at best buy so I think it's going back as it does not seem to do what I want most. HD CAPTURE.

What "tuner" or capture card and software do I need to get to capture HD content on my PC? I want to use my PC as an HD PVR but we don't get any over the air HD in Montreal so I need to capture it on my PC from the component outputs on the set top box.

What do I need?

Here is what I am looking for:

Capture HD show playing on TV over component so I can record it and watch it later. Oh and capturing the Digital sound as well. I guess that would be a must as well. so it would need an optical in for the DD stream.

AND

a video card that can output to my PC monitor AND my TV at the same. But not with S-Video to the TV, I need component or HDMI to the TV. I know there are VGA to component adapters but the card that came with the set up only has one VGA out (ATI X300). I want to get a pic on my monitor and be able to send an HD feed to the TV.

what's out there?

Rolando
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post #17 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolando A
What do I need?
Well, for starters you need to use the wonderful search feature that AVS has, as this question has been run into the ground soooooooooo many times its gone well beyond annoying.

Second, even in absence of searching for this well documented question, I would want you to consider that your post is in the grey area of hijacking a thread. I don't personally mind, but others might -- especially the OP, who is looking for a OTA solution. Anyways, just something to keep in mind for the future - ie. sometimes its better to start a new thread.

Now, given you've just seen my grumpy side, here's my friendly side:

Quote:
it does not seem to do what I want most. HD CAPTURE. What "tuner" or capture card and software do I need to get to capture HD content on my PC? I want to use my PC as an HD PVR but we don't get any over the air HD in Montreal so I need to capture it on my PC from the component outputs on the set top box.

Here is what I am looking for:

Capture HD show playing on TV over component so I can record it and watch it later. Oh and capturing the Digital sound as well. I guess that would be a must as well. so it would need an optical in for the DD stream.

AND

a video card that can output to my PC monitor AND my TV at the same....what's out there?
There are no consumer level cards that will let you capture component, DVI, SDI, HDMI, ASI etc etc etc. If you have ~$3K you can get a very nice card that will work with component. This of course doesn't even take into account the storage arrary, motherboard, and processor(s) (your fine in the CPU dept. though) you're also going to need. Software wise, from what I've seen, plain ol Huffy codec and Virtual dub will work around 60fps with 720p with a few frames lost. Lousy codecs will NOT be able to keep up.

Once the stb decodes the TS, the resultant stream is hugeassmongous. You cannot fit this undecoded stream over a normal PCI bus. This is why the hardware cards discussed above have a video out ... as they simple can't send the decoded stream across the bus to the systems video card to handle.

Playback of this captured stream -- I highly doubt it would be real time. :) You would have to recompress to another storage format. Time to put your X2 to work with h.264

Next time, no prisoners. The insanity has got to stop .... this and the "MCE and QAM" stuff .... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh :)
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post #18 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary McCoy
The MDP-120 has the improved-sensitivity ATSC tuner, a smaller size, and an optional DVI daughter card still available new if you upgrade your display. The MDP-130 adds QAM and also has a DVI option.
The MDP-120 should be capable of QAM too (as it uses the Nxt2002). Not sure why MIT has never implemented it. Perhaps the tuner in the NIM wasn't up to par.
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post #19 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 01:53 PM
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I was under the impression that there currently were no Windows based HD capture cards that could capture HD through cable, at least in the US. Is this no longer true?

Also, using "a brand new MDP-130", would my video card not matter, as far as displaying on my HDTV? Will the 130 display the desktop as well (not sure if I'm reading these replies correctly)?

In "partial" defense of Rolando, this stuff changes so rapidly it would be great if there were a sticky or faq about it.
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post #20 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 02:05 PM
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QAM = Quadature Amplitude Modulation

This is different from the ATSC modulation scheme called 8VSB, aka "eight way vestigial sideband".

I'm afraid that the difference is in the analog tuner hardware circuits, not in any application software. Either a tuner is designed from end to end to support both QAM and 8VSB, or it's not. Just because the same demodulator chip is used in the MDP-120 as the MDP-130 does not mean that the "glue chips" to reconfigure from one demodulation scheme to the other are present. This means that MDP-100 and MDP-120 will not support QAM. It also means that you should not speculate about any other tuner design unless the manufacturer stated from the beginning that they supported QAM and 8VSB both. That would mean that the extra demodulation circuitry is on the board and only needs to be activated by the software. It does not mean that QAM support can be added with driver software or application code - not if the hardware bits are not built in.

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post #21 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebo
I was under the impression that there currently were no Windows based HD capture cards that could capture HD through cable, at least in the US. Is this no longer true?
The MDP-130 and any other card capable of QAM demodulation should be able to capture a QAM cable signal of an unencrypted local channel....certainly not any premium HD channel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leebo
Also, using "a brand new MDP-130", would my video card not matter, as far as displaying on my HDTV? Will the 130 display the desktop as well (not sure if I'm reading these replies correctly)?
The hardware cards can be used in multiple modes. A picture is worth 1000 words, here is the invaluable explanation from Cliff Watson:

http://www.digitalconnection.com/Support/cn_myhd8.asp

The other mode not mentioned in the page above is when you click the HD video down to a window on your desktop, to tweek the setup screens. If you have not memorized each key on your remote you still have to do that - at least I still do after 3 years. Likewise you need to interact with TitanTV to schedule recordings.

Gary

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post #22 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 02:35 PM
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Sorry for the hi-jacking dudes.

I actually did a search since I got a "do a goodh search before starting a thread" slap on the wrist last time I started a thread with a similar subject to another.

I found this thread and figured it would be better to ask a parallel question. Sorry about that.

also my apologies if it was asked so many times. I am shocked that it is still not possible to get your PC to be your HD PVR if you are using a STB. What gives?

Rolando
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post #23 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolando A
I am shocked that it is still not possible to get your PC to be your HD PVR if you are using a STB. What gives?
Blame the content providers. They don't want their digital streams copied on the PC to be distributed to users worldwide. How would they cash in on DVD (or hd-dvd/blu-ray) sales later?

"ANYONE who pc games that doesn't have a 360 controller for pc use, well frankly isn't a gamer at all."
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post #24 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary McCoy
Just because the same demodulator chip is used in the MDP-120 as the MDP-130
They don't. The MDP-120 uses the Nxt2002 and the MDP-130 uses the Nxt2004....MDP-100 used the Nxt2000

Quote:
I'm afraid that the difference is in the analog tuner hardware circuits, not in any application software. Either a tuner is designed from end to end to support both QAM and 8VSB, or it's not. Just because the same demodulator chip is used ... does not mean that the "glue chips" to reconfigure from one demodulation scheme to the other are present.
I entirely agree that the frontend must be capable. I am, however, entirely uncertain what you mean by "glue chips". If you have further information, please elborate.

Quote:
This means that MDP-100 and MDP-120 will not support QAM
I'm not overly familiar with the NIMs used for both the MDP-100 and MDP-120 -- they look to be earlier Philips models....if that is the case, I rather suspect these frontends are indeed capable of handling QAM.

Quote:
It also means that you should not speculate about any other tuner design unless the manufacturer stated from the beginning that they supported QAM and 8VSB both. That would mean that the extra demodulation circuitry is on the board and only needs to be activated by the software. It does not mean that QAM support can be added with driver software or application code - not if the hardware bits are not built in.
Totally disagree here. We are talking about standardized designs and components. There are only so many manufactures of tuners, demodulators, decoders, mpeg decoders etc. Do you honestly think that ATI had Philips castrate the tuner on the HDTV Wonder? I don't. Not only that, just because they don't advertise the HDTV wonder to perform QAM, they certainly advertise its componentry of being capable.

Fact of the matter is that the ATI HDTV Wonder, the Fujiplus FD-3250, and the MDP-130 (and we all know what thats capable of performing) all use the exact same NIM --> the Philips TUV1236D/U. This NIM was designed from the get go to work provide QAM functionality.

Therefore, while I freely admit that I could be wrong, it is my strong belief that it is currently only the software which is not exposing this added function....time will tell shortly enough.
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post #25 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 03:44 PM
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Rolando,

please except my appologie. I don't like coming down hard on anyone nor personally wish too. So don't take it personally. :)

Its just something has got to be done about the repeatitive questions. leebo's point about a sticky or FAQ is noted, but I'm uncertain whether that would do much good. There is already a MCE sticky, and I rather imagine that it points out the whole current BDA - QAM incompatibility (I don't know this for sure as I don't give a rat's @@@ about MCE...but I would hope it does!), but questions like this just keep on coming up all the time. :(

As and example of the component/DVI etc questions -- have a look here. I'm not certain of Daredevil's motivation, whether it be frustration or what with the issue, but its certainly kind of comical. Note, his catching people was just the tip of the iceberg so to speak with what was going on.

I note that on many boards, like Doom9 for example, a fairly strict set of rules is enforced and an almost belegerent attitude towards violations. It may not be perfect, but it certainly increases the SNR in the forums
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post #26 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 04:08 PM
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The answer we received from the MIT engineers regarding the MDP-120/QAM was that there was not enough memory on the card to implement that feature.
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post #27 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 05:43 PM
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Ahh. Very interesting. Thanks Kei. And now that you've mentioned it, I think I seem to recall Cliff relating this before too.
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post #28 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kei Clark
The answer we received from the MIT engineers regarding the MDP-120/QAM was that there was not enough memory on the card to implement that feature.
Which is the same (or similar) limitation the accessDTV card has. When we first got the application and driver source code, one of the team members took a stab at adding QAM support. If only for a little more memory on board, it probably could have been done - he was able to get it to work with (in the clear) QAM64 channels, but not QAM256 due to the limited memory. There were also issues with recording QAM stations as it's more data to send over the PCI bus than 8VSB, but I suspect there may have been ways to deal with that if more memory had been present.

The MDP-100 would probably be able to support QAM with more RAM too - it and the accessDTV both use the NXT2000, IIRC.
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post #29 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 06:54 PM
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I have a older fusion2 that still working great and records OTA just fine. The recorded files are in the tp format. Easily playable w/ zoom player and WMP.
I'm thinking of upgrading the HD tuner but I need one that records to a tp/ts format. I don't want to hassle w/ converting and all my files are in the tp format.
I know the HDTV wonder doesn't do this so that's out. What about the avermedia?
I'm not sure if upgrading to the fusion 5 will benefit me since they use the same software. Maybe faster channel switching.
What I really want is a MYHD card. But I read things like it records 1 minute files so you have to use its player to play it back seamlessly. Is this true?

HDTV or BUST
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post #30 of 39 Old 10-25-2005, 07:56 PM
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You can change the recorded filesize on the MyHD, I set mine to 16GB. Of course the downside of the MyHD (or any of the HW encoder cards) is that you're stuck with the app they give you.

Ah, I'll hit this one too while I'm at it :)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolando A
I am shocked that it is still not possible to get your PC to be your HD PVR if you are using a STB. What gives?
Well technically it's possible, it's just that all the raw-HD capture cards are professional products (Look at Decklink, AJA, LSI HDTVXpress). As to why, well there are a few reasons:
1) Capturing raw HD is not trivial, as noted it requires a bus wider/faster than 33/32 PCI, eg PCI-X. And even then it requires a massive amount of storage, on more than 0.5TB/hour.
2) Compressing HD in realtime (like SD cards do, to get around the buss/storage requirements) is not trivial either. With a modern processor (3GHz class or better) you're doing good if you can encode HD at several frames/sec, we'd need about an order of magnitude increase in CPU power to make realtime software encoding of HD practical.
3) A hardware HD compression chip is just not cheap, the HDTVXpress can do it, but it costs 5 figures AFIAK.
4) There's no "legitimate purpose" for a consumer-level raw-HD capture card. As consumers all HD we have access to is in an already compressed form, generally as an MPEG-2 transport stream, but also via WM9 or H.264 files. Cable and Sat both provide HD as a bitstream, and they also provide HD DVRs. The only reason a consumer to use a raw HD capture card is to bypass the protections in place for HD content.

Now don't come yelling at me about 4, I don't like it any more than the rest of you, but that's the way it is, at least from a business perspective. As such I don't hold out much hope for a PVR-250 like HD capture card.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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