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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in the middle of building an HTPC with Asus TUSL2 motherboard, 1.2g PIII and probably an Nvidia graphics card with DVI out for a plasma screen.


I want to get OTA HD, but I'm confused as to which card is best. There appear to be only three real contenders - Hauppauge WinTV-HD, AccessDTV and the HiPix. I've ruled the HiPix out based on the comments on this forum to date.


Are there any good reviews on these two cards?


Why does the AccessDTV have a VGA port on it? I want to use the Nvidia graphics card to display the output, not the AccessDTV card. How will that interact with my requirement for DVI output only? The Hauppauge doesn't appear to have this requirement.


Also, both the Hauppauge and AccessDTV have onboard SPDIF audio. Can I use the M-Audio card I am planning to use for DVD's or do I have to use the audio output they supply? What is the quality like of the onboard audio?


The encrypted PVR files issue on the AccessDTV also looks like a negative. Does the Hauppauge have this issue?


Thanks for any input.
 

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I only have the accessDTV card so I can't comment on the HiPix or Hauppauge cards.

Why does the AccessDTV have a VGA port on it? For full-screen HDTV. Unless you are planning to always want to watch HDTV in a window on your Windows desktop, you have to use the accessDTV card's VGA output.

I want to use the Nvidia graphics card to display the output, not the AccessDTV card. Then you will never be able to take advantage of the best output capabilities of the accessDTV card. accessDTV's resizable desktop window could be maximized to fill the screen, but the picture would be very blurry and low-rez.

How will that interact with my requirement for DVI output only? The accessDTV card doesn't have DVI output. If you must have this, look elsewhere.

Also, both the Hauppauge and AccessDTV have onboard SPDIF audio. Can I use the M-Audio card I am planning to use for DVD's or do I have to use the audio output they supply? I don't know about M-Audio; I use a Soundblaster Live! 5.1 card with SPDIF optical output to my Sony receiver. accessDTV does have a coaxial (RCA-style) AC-3 output, but I have never been able to get this to work. I don't know whether the card is at fault or the AC-3 coaxial input on my receiver... can any other accessDTV owners answer this one?

The encrypted PVR files issue on the AccessDTV also looks like a negative. Eh. Depends on what you are going to do with the files. Since I use my accessDTV card as an "HDTiVo", I don't really care that the files it makes aren't playable on other computers (I don't have any other accessDTV-equipped computers so it doesn't matter to me).


A few unsolicited comments:
  • The accessDTV card is prone to lock up or "freeze" if the signal strength on a channel falls below an acceptable level for too long. This is a huge problem when making unattended recordings, because a bug in the current software causes the recorder to stay "on" after a recording is completed. If you are away from your HTPC for several days in a row and aren't there to manually turn the recorder software off, accessDTV tends to hang and you wind up missing recordings. GRR.
  • accessDTV is very sensitive to the chipset on your HTPC's motherboard. I had nothing but grief on a 1 GHz Compaq Presario 7000 because the friggin' VIA chips on its motherboard caused accessDTV to barf whenever I tried to use the fast-forward or rewind functions. The same card on a four-year-old 450 MHz Pentium II computer works just fine in FFWD and REV because the older, slower computer has an Intel chipset.
  • The recorder software leaves much to be desired. There is no way to manually program a recurring recording, for starters, so you have to manually enter your programs week after week. You could subscribe to their PPG service for $10 a month, but you still have to remember each week to select the shows to record (that's why I cancelled my subscription; if I could tell the recorder to always record The West Wing each week, maybe I would have kept the subscription).


Overall I am moderately satisfied with the accessDTV card, but only because there doesn't seem to be anything out there that's much better (HiPix and WinTV-HD owners will have to speak for themselves). Personally I will be the first in line if TiVo ever comes out with a high-definition version of their product that can record DISH, DirecTV and OTA HDTV.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by analog8
I've ruled the HiPix out based on the comments on this forum to date.
Gee, comments on this forum were the reason I bought the HiPix card. I have not been dissappointed.
 

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Quote:
I want to get OTA HD, but I'm confused as to which card is best. There appear to be only three real contenders - Hauppauge WinTV-HD, AccessDTV and the HiPix. I've ruled the HiPix out based on the comments on this forum to date.
I have no idea how you could come to such a conclusion.


If there is any unanimity on this forum, it would be that the Hauppauge is waaaay at the bottom of the list.


I only have direct experience with the HiPix and I heartily recommend it.
 

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If your goal is to use only the DVI output of your video card, none of these 3 cards will do that. They all directly output a full-screen HDTV signal to your display, because the PCI bus can't handle the bandwidth of trying to display a full-resolution HDTV picture on your video's card's overlay surface.


All three cards also have their own coax digital output for AC-3; if you want the sound to go through your soundcard I believe you're going to be limited to 2-channel analog only.


Basically, what it boils down to is that the WinTV-HD is junk due to the lousy software, particularly for recording. The HiPix and the accessDTV both work fairly well, but both have their quirks and neither is 100% reliable for everybody. The HiPix and accessDTV also both have their own advantages and disadvantages. The HiPix doesn't encrypt its files, but it doesn't have the live TV pause that the accessDTV has. The HiPix requires a compatible VIP port to get windowed video, while the accessDTV uses a regular video overlay for windowed video. Both cards only support low-res video in windowed mode. One advantage of the HiPix is that Telemann seems more interested in supporting the HiPix software than iTech does for ADTV.


It's a shame there isn't some 4th alternative besides these three cards, because there's definitely room for improvement. Unfortunately I think the market for this type of device is just too small. The cost of the hardware is going to have to drop considerably before these cards will sell in any volume.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the informed replies.


I guess I may have to modify my strategy. I could use my DVI output for DVD's only and use the S-Video or VGA output on the HDTV card for HDTV only.


The sound output isn't really a problem either as my AV receiver has plenty of spare inputs.


I formed the opinion on Hipix because I thought I read that the vendor had dropped support for it or somesuch. My mistake! I will have to go back and look at Hipix again.


I agree that it is a small market and very early for these products. Neither the Hauppauge or AccessDTV web sites have a lot of info on them. The Hauppauge one page PDF brochure on their card is especially insulting!


Thanks again.
 

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Originally posted by JKohn

If your goal is to use only the DVI output of your video card, none of these 3 cards will do that. They all directly output a full-screen HDTV signal to your display, because the PCI bus can't handle the bandwidth of trying to display a full-resolution HDTV picture on your video's card's overlay surface.


All three cards also have their own coax digital output for AC-3; if you want the sound to go through your soundcard I believe you're going to be limited to 2-channel analog only.



Is that why when I bought my HTPC with Hipix, it came with two audio cards and when I whant to use the Hipix I have to switch from DVI(when using DVD playback) to analog to watch HD?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Another little quirk - it seems like the Hauppauge, Hipix and AccessDTV only support PVR functions for HD signals. You can't record boring old NTSC SD broadcasts. I need to use one card for both regular cable and OTA HD.


Have any of these vendors announced plans to address this?
 

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I'm also interested in the HiPix vs AccessDTV cards. I have my Pioneer plasma on order and want to know how you rate the plain old analog TV quality, say from my cable provider? How would it compare to say a WinTV card and Dscaler which I've heard so many good things about? There are 100 cable channels and only 3 or 4 HDTV channels - so I guess my priority right now is how the plain old analog will look on the plasma. People who have an All-In-Wonder ATI card (like I currently have) have noted how bad the NTSC looks on their plasma.... Thanks, PlasMAN
 

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I was at COMDEX (the COMputer Dealers EXhibition) 11/15-16/01 and saw the Hauppauge WinTV-HD card in use (as well the card itself) at the Hauppauge booth. In fact, I received a free 1.5 hour demo at Hauppauge's booth by one of its attending engineers. It was great and it performed great!


Basically, after knowing the AccessTV encrypts its shows so they can't be shared, played on certain TVs or to a TV through certain receivers, or sent to an S-VHS VCR (the analog shows, anyway), I ruled it out. Also, it was a no-show at COMDEX, so info is too limited for me because, while I love this forum, I prefer my own hands-on view of a potential buy!


The HiPix card could have been an option for me, but other than manual recording, it can only use the EPG on an HDTV signal for pre-recording set-up. I know from my STB that the five HDTV signals (and stations) in Phoenix, AZ HAVE NO EPG INFO EMBEDDED IN THEM!. It too, was a no-show at COMDEX.


The WinTV-HD can record manually, the new software is great (and you see the new at COMDEX), and it can be set-up to record HD and analog manually or right off the free guide at titanTV.com (this is so cool - you just click on a tape-shaped icon), or off an EPG if your station(s) have them (even though mine don't). Also, supplies pre-COMDEX was limited - After 12/27, the flood gates will open with the new unit and its new software. I am expecting one at the COMDEX attendee price, and hope to have it working the weekend after CES (the Consumer Electronic Show - where I hope to gain even more info on this or these cards). This, of course, is unless I see something better at CES!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jmmesch
...The WinTV-HD can record manually, the new software is great (and you see the new at COMDEX), and it can be set-up to record HD and analog manually or right off the free guide at titanTV.com (this is so cool - you just click on a tape-shaped icon), or off an EPG if your station(s) have them (even though mine don't). Also, supplies pre-COMDEX was limited - After 12/27, the flood gates will open with the new unit and its new software. I am expecting one at the COMDEX attendee price, and hope to have it working the weekend after CES (the Consumer Electronic Show - where I hope to gain even more info on this or these cards). This, of course, is unless I see something better at CES!...
Did you came accross by any chance which driver & software version Hauppauge used at the Comdex booth or demo you attended ?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jmmesch
I was at COMDEX (the COMputer Dealers EXhibition) 11/15-16/01 and saw the Hauppauge WinTV-HD card in use (as well the card itself) at the Hauppauge booth. In fact, I received a free 1.5 hour demo at Hauppauge's booth by one of its attending engineers. It was great and it performed great!


Basically, after knowing the AccessTV encrypts its shows so they can't be shared, played on certain TVs or to a TV through certain receivers, or sent to an S-VHS VCR (the analog shows, anyway), I ruled it out. Also, it was a no-show at COMDEX, so info is too limited for me because, while I love this forum, I prefer my own hands-on view of a potential buy!


The HiPix card could have been an option for me, but other than manual recording, it can only use the EPG on an HDTV signal for pre-recording set-up. I know from my STB that the five HDTV signals (and stations) in Phoenix, AZ HAVE NO EPG INFO EMBEDDED IN THEM!. It too, was a no-show at COMDEX.


The WinTV-HD can record manually, the new software is great (and you see the new at COMDEX), and it can be set-up to record HD and analog manually or right off the free guide at titanTV.com (this is so cool - you just click on a tape-shaped icon), or off an EPG if your station(s) have them (even though mine don't). Also, supplies pre-COMDEX was limited - After 12/27, the flood gates will open with the new unit and its new software. I am expecting one at the COMDEX attendee price, and hope to have it working the weekend after CES (the Consumer Electronic Show - where I hope to gain even more info on this or these cards). This, of course, is unless I see something better at CES!


Why did you double post the exact same message in this thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=100764 ???


I thought for moment ( :confused: ) someone deleted my reply to your original message, till I figured out that I was in the wrong thread !


I think this is pretty lame and you confuse people by doing that.
 
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