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They use a M-Audio 410 and talk about transcoders...while it isn't perfect as was shown in the first thread, its the first time I've read an article about building an HTPC or something like an HTPC where they get moderately close.
 

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Here is a copy of a reply I gave to some questions placed on the extremetech forums. If anyone has corrections or additional comments, I can relay them.


Andrew




A couple of issues from recent posts...


Resolutions and Scaling:


GerryG asked whether DVD players switch resolutions when they go to full screen video. In general, no they don't. DVD video is scaled by the DVD codec to whatever screen resolution you have set. If you are viewing the DVD on a standard CRT monitor, you can set the resolution for anything that your monitor and video card supports. However, if you are outputting video to a fixed-resolution display such as a plasma screen or a LCD or DLP projector you may need to set your resolution to a non-standard setting. This is especially true if you have a widescreen display. There is a utility called Powerstrip that allows custom control both of screen resolution and timings. If, as GerryG asks, you want multiple settings (i.e. for different monitors/projectors or for widescreen/normal screen use) Powerstrip allows you to easily switch between settings.


Dscaler is slightly different from DVD software players. Dscaler is a utility that deinterlaces and scales video from a tv tuner card, and is useful for attaching cable/satellite tv, video game consoles, stand-alone DVD or laserdisc players, etc. It is not used to play or scale DVDs from the DVD-ROM drive of the computer. Dscaler is considered by many to be the equal of standalone deinterlacers/scalers from companies such as Faroudja that can cost many thousands of dollars. In addition to deinterlacing and scaling, Dscaler also features 3:2 pulldown detection (for proper handling of both video and film-based sources) and filters for noise removal. It has some timeshifting features that are in beta (which I have not been able to use succesfully) but no electronic program guide features.


Dscaler only works with tuner cards containing the Connexant bt848, bt849 or bt878 chipsets (it will work with any reasonably modern video card, including all ATI cards). Therefore it doesn't work with the tuner present in the ATI AIW 7500 or 8500 cards (but it does work with the ATI TV Wonder PCI card). ATI handles deinterlacing/scaling with their own software. I can't tell any practical difference in video quality between my Studio PCTV Pro card with Dscaler compared to my ATI 7500 AIW. I watch video from analog cable on my large CRT monitor, so large screen or projector owners may see more of a difference.


Personally, I prefer the ATI software as it has a reasonably functional guide program, a remote control, and time-shifting capabilities.


On-Screen Guides:


There are several sources for software with on-screen guides. The most well-integrated is the Gemstar guide that comes free with ATI AIW products. TV listings are downloaded to your computer once a week, and you can either select a tv program to watch or set recordings from the Gemstar program. Several other programs use the TitanTV listing service, including the latest version of Showshifter. Because TitanTV is web-based, you have to have an active internet connection to use the guide. This seems to work well if you have a broadband connection, but is kind of a pain if you have to dial in. Check TitanTV.com to see a list of supported software.


Andrew


EDIT: I just saw that part 2 of the series is up. LLoyd mentions the use of Dscaler, but falls on the side of the ATI AIW series for much the same reasons that I do. He also points out the fundamental limitation of the on-screen guide included with the ATI software, namely the inability to handle a digital cable or satellite tuner. As mentioned by a previous poster, Showshifter claims to be able to control an external box through a serial cable or an IR repeater, and may be a good option if this is important to you. I believe that Snapstream also has this option, although I'm not so sure about that.
 
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