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HELP: PVR-150 Picture quality problem...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I've seeked and searched and have not found a definitive answer to this, so I'll just ask:

Using standard NTSC analog cable as the source, is it possible to get a Live TV image quality from a tv tuner that at least equals that of the 'straigth to tv' cable image quality?

(by 'straight to tv', I mean the analog cable is plugged directly to the TV, using the TV's built-in tuner, no tuner box, sat box or anything)

Some details:
I just built a HTPC (see specs below), and connected it to my 32" Samsung 32a450 (max 1366x768) using a HDMI cable and the live TV picture quality from the HTPC is noticeably inferior than that of the TV's internal tuner. The source for both TV and HTPC is regular analog NTSC cable, going through a splitter (only one in the house) - I've swapped the cables and it doesn't change anything.

HTPC specs:
- Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-US2H AMD780G w. AMD 4850e + 2Gb DDR2 800
- integrated ATI HD3200 video, connected by HDMI to 32" Samsung 32a450
- Hauppauge PVR 150 MCE w. remote (tried the 1800, it was baaaad)
- 320gb HDD, DVD
- USB Wifi
- Vista Home Premium, Media Center, latest drivers, etc.
- desktop resolution is 1366x768

The image quality of the Windows desktop or DVD/video content going through WMP is fine, vivid and sharp - only the live TV and recorded live TV is affected: it's softer, a little blurry, less crisp, colors are a bit washed out and there is sometimes a little ghosting.

I've tried a few registry tweaks, but I don't think they work on Vista; I've searched for the famed 'Hauppauge Tweak Tool', but it's nowhere to be found - all links point to the same dead page.

Call me stupid, stubborn, naive, or whatever, but I figure if I shell out some $500+ for a HTPC, it should offer at least the same image quality as the built-in tv tuner, no? If not, what's the point?

Is there a better card than the PVR 150 for analog cable picture quality? (I tried the HVR 1800, it was horrid, fugly, eeek!!!)

Do the saa713x based tuners offer better image quality than the cx23415/6 tuners?

I'd really like to stop tinkering with the thing and just be able to use it!!!

post #2 of 5
If you use the Info button on your Samsung remote what resolution does it say it is receiving from your PC?
If you play a recorded program using WMP instead MC is the quality the same?
If you use the Hauppauge WinTV application instead of MC to watch LiveTV do you get better quality? If you do not have the Hauppauge WinTV program you can get free from their Website. I believe that you will as long as you do not put winTV it in time shift mode by pausing it.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Good questions.

The reported resolution from the Samsung's info is 1366x768 - but I'll double check while using the live TV tonight.

I'll report on on the results for the other questions once tested also!
post #4 of 5
My best answer would be the twek tool you mentioned earlier. I too am having trouble finding an active link.

You can try: http://www.chris-pc.com/tweak/

It's shareware, but maybe you can uninstall it after you find some optimal settings.

You will probably want to play with your temporal and spatial filtering settings, and then adjust your contrast. I would always have a horrible picture on my pvr-150 until I played with these. (I can't remember my old settings).
post #5 of 5
The 150 tuner encodes the analog tv signal to mpeg2 using a hardware encoding chip that is on the card. The mpeg file is written to the hard drive and when you watch Depending on what software you are using for TV capture the should be settings to adjust the quality (resolution and bit rate) of the mpeg recording. For instance, I use BTV and it tells my 150 to encode to DVD Best quality 720x480, with VBR (variable bit rate) and results in a file size of 2 GB/hr. To therese old eyes, the quality is at least as good as my analog cable and/or a DVD. I can choose any quality from sub VCR (about 500 MB per hr) to uber (6 GB/hr) but I don't see any improvement over the sweet spot of 2 GB/hr. What size are your recordings? That will give you a clue as to the quality.

If you google "tweak Hauppauge 150 video quality" or similar you should get some tips.

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