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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Background knowledge:

I might either put the TV Tuner in my older but still new computer, or I might consider buying a new Intel Core i7 computer to put it in. The older computer has a Biostar N61PB-M2S if that helps with TV tuner compatability at all. It has a Nvidia MCP61 chipset. The GPU is an ATI Radeon 4670. I think I would probably go with a cheaper ATI Radeon 4350 on the newer computer if I even get it that is. I probably won't get the new computer so I can splurge on an LCD TV though.


The problem with using my computer as the recording device is that it will tempt me to plug the TV in as a monitor. The TV is a Sharp Aquos 32" I think, but I don't know the model number off the top of my head. The reason I don't want to use it as a monitor is that it doesn't display text well at any resolution other than a highly zoomed in one that doesn't stretch to the full screen. It is very hard to read anything with it. Is there any way to fix this, so that I will feel better about bringing my computer over there? I really don't want to buy a new television.



I would like a TV Tuner that can record entire seasons of shows. It would be nice to be able to record in HD. Also, one that is easy to install, though I'm guessing they all require the same skill level. The lower the price the better, as long as it doesn't take away too much quality or necessary stuff.


The TV Tuners that I am considering so far are:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815100044

$80

Compatible with Windows 7 in case I put it in the new computer

$6 shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815116015

$106

Hauppauge

Don't know if I need it but: remote

$7.56 shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815100014

$110

Probably don't need the remote that comes with it, unless there is something I'm missing

$7.56 shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815116037

$113

supports Windows 7 in case I put it in the new computer

free shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815100015

$85

$7 shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815116007

remote included

$80

$10 shipping


Sorry if I didn't give enough info.

There may be some better ones out there but this is the best I could find. I don't really understand what is required in a TV tuner. I don't really understand why some TV tuners are about $30 more than others.


Can someone please help pick the right one for me?

Thanks in advance
 

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You need to provide some critical information bofore any advice can be given:


1. TV source (cable, satellite, antenna)

2. Digital or analog or both

3. is HD a must, if so, what channels (Networks, cable channels, Premium channels etc)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
1. TV source (cable, satellite, antenna)

I have cable (from Time Warner). It uses a set-top box.



2. Digital or analog or both

I think it is just digital. I don't really understand what that means. There is a place that the set-top box is plugged into the wall to receive the signal I think. I don't know if it is analog or not, and I don't really understand what it means even if I did know.


3. is HD a must, if so, what channels (Networks, cable channels, Premium channels etc)

I get 504 channels total I think.

I get some HD channels, except on my 32" LCD they look the same as normal channels. Does this mean I should get a bigger, 1080p TV? There are On-Demand HD channels, but I can't seem to find them (too many channels to look through).

I get WBE, TNT, TBS, TLC, SPIKE, NICK, VH1, USA, USAHD, and many other channels.

I guess HD would be nice, except on my 32" I can't see a difference. I should probably get a 42".



I might put the TV Tuner in a computer with Windows 7 eventually, so it should probably be compatible.
 

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The difference in HD depends of a couple of factor. One is screen size, for which your 32" isn't up to the task, The other is distance, if you are sitting 20' from your 32 or 42 inch TV everything will look the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am sitting very close to my TV and it still looks the same. Maybe my TV is just old, even though it is a Sharp Aquos. It is fairly new. I would never dream of sitting 20 feet from my TV unless I was having a party; and even then I would get a bigger TV.


"If you want more than your local channels in HD, there is only one option, the Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212."

I don't understand what local channels are. Is that news and that kind of stuff, because where I live local TV is never HD. How would getting that TV tuner help? Sorry, but I am confused. Aren't there any cheaper options?



Do I have to have an open TV plug in the wall (I don't know what it's called) or do the tuners come with a splitter?
 

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Local channels are your local affiliates. Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS... etc. They all broadcast in over-the-air HD. You can pick up these signals with an HD TV and an HD antenna. A normal ATSC TV tuner for a PC can pick these up for free. These cards are relatively cheap.


However, for extended cable HD: HBO, Discovery, ESPN... etc. You need a set top box (the box your cable or satellite company provides). To record these channels in HD, you need the Happauge 1212, which can record from component sources.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 /forum/post/17021356


The Duet has had some price creep, it used to only be $60.


Never mind it's still $60 in the "white box" version.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815100041

Do you think that would be the best option for me, then? It does look nice, and it does support Windows XP and Windows 7 which means I could put it on the computer I have now. I have Windows XP right now, so I would like one certified for XP, which makes this one good.



"Local channels are your local affiliates. Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS... etc. They all broadcast in over-the-air HD. You can pick up these signals with an HD TV and an HD antenna. A normal ATSC TV tuner for a PC can pick these up for free. These cards are relatively cheap.


However, for extended cable HD: HBO, Discovery, ESPN... etc. You need a set top box (the box your cable or satellite company provides). To record these channels in HD, you need the Happauge 1212, which can record from component sources."


Are USA Network and Comedy Central concidered to be Local Channels? I know USA Network has an HD channel version, but there is also a Non-HD version. If it is not HD and below channel 80 is it probably local?



Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 /forum/post/17022041


How is your cable box connected to your TV? What cable/cables are used?

There is a Red, a blue, and a green cable for video; and a red and a white RCA for audio on the cable-box. I forget most of my cable names, but I think it is a composite or component cable. I see a coaxial in and another for out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 /forum/post/17023435


That's component, so at least it's hooked up right, or at least in a way that can get you HD. You might want to check that the box is set to 1080i or 720p.

It is set to 1080i. It's been like that since we got it.


I was looking at some of the tuners and now I have another question: What is the NTSC standard for? I have heard about it being used for DVDs, but what does it have to do with tuners?
 

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No offense, but it's apparent you are rather ignorant to television technologies. You may want to research these things a bit further before you delve into a very hobbyist activity.


USA and Comedy Central are cable networks. Think of an old TV set that has channel 2, 3, 4, 5, ... 13, 30. Those are all your over the air, local channels. These are the stations you can receive in HD for free with a simple antenna. Any other channel requires a cable box to watch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Where would I research this type of topic?


I just really don't want to buy a TV tuner from Newegg and have to return it. Sorry for all the questions.


I think this one looks good, but it doesn't have NTSC. Is NTSC something I would want?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815100041
 

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I have to agree with therealbiglou, you lack the necessary basic knowledge of this hobby. It will only lead you to frustrations until you become a bit more knowledgeable. You are not ready to make a purchase until you understand how the different TV technologies work and what compromises you are willing to live with, and there will be compromises.


The card you linked is a good card but it only works with Over The Air (OTA ATSC) digital signals using an antenna to pickup your locally broadcast channels or you can use it with cable but it will only pickup clearQAM channels. QAM is the technology used by cable companies to send their digital signal to your home where your cable box can tune it, decrypt it and send it to your tv. Because the QAM signal is usually encrypted you must use the cable box to view TV. Some QAM channels are not encrypted by the cable company (thus the name clearQAM) and a cable box is not needed to view these channels (this is where a clearQAM tuner card, like the one you linked, comes in). The problem is that depending on your cable company there could be just a few channels that are clearQAM (as few as 4 or 5 channels) or as many as the entire standard cable package (don't bet on getting more then a few with time warner, they are notorious for encrypting just about everything). NTSC is the analog signal that us here in the US used for over the air broadcasts (now replaced by ATSC) but is also still used by some cable companies so that you can connect the coax cable coming out of the wall straight to the back of the tv, no cable box needed. The problem is that only channels below 78 and therefore no digital tier channels or HD channels can be tuned this way. I know you probably don't understand these terms but do a google search on QAM, clearQAM, ATSC, NTSC and so on.


In addition, this is just the hardware side. You will then have to decide what software front end to use to manage your tv viewing, EPG, schedule recording etc..
 

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+1 ^


Until you have a grasp of the technical aspects and how things work in relation to your application, it's all pointless, you have some reading to do.
 

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Sanman, please don't feel offended or anything...we're just trying to help. We've all been in this position and all felt the frustration and we are trying to save you from it.


You kind of have to realize that the cable companies really don't want you to build your own DVR...they want you to rent their box and pay extra for their DVR. Getting around that is time-consuming, but very rewarding when you get it right...it's like "sticking it to the man" in a way!


As for NTSC...it is being phased out. Cable companies still use it for basic/expanded lineups, but I would expect over time you will start seeing them move more channels to encrypted QAM as analog channels use lots of spectrum and the cable companies want to make more money renting boxes. Plus, NTSC looks aweful. I find it totally unacceptable in picture quality.


If you want to start with something...I'd get my feet wet with either the Avermedia Combo (NTSC+ATSC/QAM) or the Avermedia Duet (dual ATSC/QAM). Win7 is highly recommended as their Media Center is "fully cooked". The release candidate is still available for free...and it's good through March.


What I did was built my PC and did strictly ClearQAM and recorded my ABC/NBC/FOX/CBS shows in HD and used it all last season. The bulk of my recordings were on these channels so it worked great. Plus, the shows can be edited/compressed/backed up without issue....you can't do that with the cable company's box!


I was still using my cable DVR for the other channels that are not ClearQAM, but I recently installed a CableCARD tuner to allow me to record these channels (HBO, Showtime, Discovery...all in HD). Note that this is about as advanced as a PC DVR gets, so I wouldn't jump into that just yet. A $60 Avermedia HD Duet plus the Win7 release candidate will get your feet wet without a big financial risk. Just note that HD recordings are 6-7GB/hr. I have 4 Terabytes and it's not enough! The Happauge HD-PVR is a good option too, but it still requires a box rental...and the PC controlling the cable box via infrared blaster isn't a perfect solution as it is error-prone.


One GREAT thing about Windows Media Center...you can watch the recordings in any room of your home on a Xbox360. MS really got it right, and this is one of the reasons Media Center is highly recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm just 15, so it's a little hard for me to understand all of this.


I noticed that the Duet only says ATSC/ClearQAM. Are you guys saying it does have QAM also? Because, I think I would like this card if it had QAM. If I understand correctly, QAM will allow me to have more channels. My requirement is about the first 80. I don't understand if ClearQAM gets the first 80 channels either.



If it is true that it really doesn't have QAM:

4) Encrypted digital cable - “Digital Cable" is typically encrypted, or encoded so that you need a cable box (or CableCARD) to view it. If you have 500 digital cable channels that you receive with a cable box, then the majority of these channels will be encrypted. A Clear QAM tuner can’t receive encrypted digital cable; it can’t receive the majority of your digital cable channels.




The Avermedia Combo says ATSC/NTSC/QAM, but down below it replaces the QAM with ClearQAM, which as stated above can't receive the majority of the channels. By "majority of your channels" does it mean it can only receive local broadcast? Or does that most likely mean about the first 80 channels?

I don't want my parents to have to pay a restocking fee at Newegg if it doesn't get 80 channels.


Edit: I just read up on it a bit more, and NTSC is the video standard. I think I read that on this topic here too. I'm trying to figure out if I should be going after NTSC, ClearQAM, or QAM and what each one means. Down below is an example of a paragraph I am trying to decipher to understand what channels each TV standard will allow me to record to my computer.


"As the QAM tuner in this case is an adaptation of existing ATSC-compatible hardware, the television set's channel numbering will follow ATSC-like conventions. If what appears as "channel 300" on the cable company's package receivers is physically on frequencies corresponding to an analog cable converter's "channel 77", an ATSC-compatible digital-cable ready TV will most likely display this as "channel 77-300." Some digital cable channels may also carry ATSC virtual channel number meta data (using the Program and System Information Protocol or PSIP). For Example, "channel 77-300" may actually be a channel which over the air appears as "10-1". The identifying PSIP information "10-1" may be picked up by the tv's QAM tuner, and the channel is moved "inline" to "channel 10-1" between channel 10 and channel 11. Some older TVs with QAM tuners do not identify this PSIP meta data and will only display the channel as "77-300". Sometimes, the numbering is completely random, such as 68-56, with neither 68 nor 56 corresponding to any actual channel or like 134-1 and 135-1."

It's so confusing. My head hurts.
 

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You really need the understand the difference between QAM and clearQAM. QAM is the modulation used by the cable company. A QAM tuner is capable of tuning such a modulation (kind like a FM radio can tune FM radio stations). The problem comes up when the cable companies ENCRYPT the QAM signal. The QAM tuner card cannot decrypt the signal and thus is of no use (only the cable box or a properly configured cablecard can decrypt an encrypted QAM signal). Since the QAM signal is send to your house in different frequencies (called channels), the cable company has the option to encrypt each individual channel. If they decide to not encrypt a particular QAM channel it is said that the unencrypted channel is in the clear, thus the term clearQAM. A QAM tuner card can tune a clearQAM channel.


Going back to the Radio analogy, radio stations broadcast a different frequencies (like 99.5 or 101.9 or 104.5) your radio can pick up these frequencies and you can hear what is being broacasts on each of the stations. Now lets say that 99.5 and 101.9 start encryping their signal. Your radio still works fine but it will only be able to tune 104.5 (because it is still in the clear) the other two channels are now encrypted and your radio can't decrypt them so you don't get to listen to them.


I am also in a Time Warner market (San Antonio, TX) and here their QAM is all encrypted except for 10 channels (our local san antonio stations). So my QAM tuner card can only pickup the 10 stations in the clear. For the rest of the channel line up I have to use their cable box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zagor /forum/post/17025887


You really need the understand the difference between QAM and clearQAM. QAM is the modulation used by the cable company. A QAM tuner is capable of tuning such a modulation (kind like a FM radio can tune FM radio stations). The problem comes up when the cable companies ENCRYPT the QAM signal. The QAM tuner card cannot decrypt the signal and thus is of no use (only the cable box or a properly configured cablecard can decrypt an encrypted QAM signal). Since the QAM signal is send to your house in different frequencies (called channels), the cable company has the option to encrypt each individual channel. If they decide to not encrypt a particular QAM channel it is said that the unencrypted channel is in the clear, thus the term clearQAM. A QAM tuner card can tune a clearQAM channel.


Going back to the Radio analogy, radio stations broadcast a different frequencies (like 99.5 or 101.9 or 104.5) your radio can pick up these frequencies and you can hear what is being broacasts on each of the stations. Now lets say that 99.5 and 101.9 start encryping their signal. Your radio still works fine but it will only be able to tune 104.5 (because it is still in the clear) the other two channels are now encrypted and your radio can't decrypt them so you don't get to listen to them.


I am also in a Time Warner market (San Antonio, TX) and here their QAM is all encrypted except for 10 channels (our local san antonio stations). So my QAM tuner card can only pickup the 10 stations in the clear. For the rest of the channel line up I have to use their cable box.

You are saying I need NTSC then?


If so, these would be my top choices:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815116037
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815100015


and not the Avermedia Duet



Also, the cable box Time Warner sent has a coaxial out that goes to the TV. Could this possibly be decrypted? If so, I might be able to use a splitter.
 
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