Originally Posted by Midwayman
The Ceton should have improved PQ even on your SDTV digital signals. It won't be re-encoding the signal like you are now. It simply records what the cable co is sending. It will look like going direct from your cable box now. I'm not sure how it will handle going from 4:3 content to 16:9 relative to the cable box. That sort of stuff is somewhat dependent on your TV and video card settings. Ideally you'll probably want to leave your tv in normal mode and let your HTPC handle the scaling.
As for hardware, your processor is just below the recommended one. You'll probably be fine. 4gb of ram is good. The 8800gts- which version is it? 640m? 512m? 256m? The g80 based 8800 cards apparently don't support hardware decoding of some of the formats you'll probably want. Fortunately a new $30 graphic card will.
Ok good. I figured my picture quality was sucking because it was going through multiple boxes and cards and then to the Xbox so who knows what all happened to it. As far as 4:3 goes, It's not a big deal, but an example would be when you're watching a show in 16:9 and it cuts to a commercial that's shot in 4:3. The TV just automatically puts black on the sides. Hopefully the Ceton card and going to the Xbox would do the same.
As far as PC specs go, the video card is the 8800gts with 320-bit 320m GDDR3. I should have also specified that I'm overclocked and running at 3GHz on my E6750. So it sounds like I should be good to go? As far as decoding, does that matter since I'll hardly ever watch TV on the PC, 99.9% of the time I'd stream to the Xbox. I guess if I'm not happy with it I can always sell the Ceton for little loss.
Also, unrelated, but maybe someone knows... If I decide against the Ceton for whatever reason... and I go back to the cable box/tuner card and IR blaster... can the smaller digital boxes that they put at secondary TV's that has no menu or on-demand go higher than channel 99? I was told by someone that they don't but my buddy says his does. If so that helps since I don't have to cram the bigger STB near my PC somewhere.