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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone know if I can get an HDTV card for my laptop? I know there are several PCI based solutions, but I am anxious to get my hands on one for my laptop.


This would be the ultimate mobile HDTV solution. Think of it, you could access local HDTV while travelling. Or if you are just out of range, you could get in the car and move to a better location.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Any updates on this? Will this ever be a reality? With Toshiba, HP, Sony and others including TV tuner cards with their latest laptops, it would seem only a matter of time b4 HDTV tuner cards ship. But I have not heard any evidence that anyone has made such a card.


If this is the case, are there technical reasons that this cannot be done in a laptop?
 

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I doubt it's a major concern for the manufacturers. The HDTV tuner card is a pretty niche market still, and laptop components are fairly rigid in their design specs. Will we see one someday? Sure. But I wouldn't look for it soon.


-MP
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good point. I suppose the only possibility then is a non PCI based HDTV card. Does this exist?


My P4 2.2 Ghz laptop has firewire and USB2.0 ports. And WXGA (1365x768) resolution screen. Do I need 1280x1024 for HDTV?


If anyone makes a firewire or USB 2 HDTV card, I could use that.
 

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Hrm... I haven't personally ever seen any that weren't PCI based, but I've never looked.
 

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Your best bet is probably a component HDTV tuner with a Firewire port, or maybe a DVHS unit with a HDTV tuner. Samsung or JVC are pretty well supported. I don't think you will find anything smaller.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by kkrull
Your best bet is probably a component HDTV tuner with a Firewire port, or maybe a DVHS unit with a HDTV tuner. Samsung or JVC are pretty well supported. I don't think you will find anything smaller.
OK, let's go with that for a moment. Once I have it connected to the laptop, how do I route the signal to the screen? Will this happen automatically or will I need some third party software app to associate the firewire port with the device and send the signal to the laptop's display?


Also, the laptop's screen is one of the new "widescreen" models with wxga resolution (1365x768, I believe). Will that be OK for HDTV?
 

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After digging for a minute, I would get this unit over a simple tuner, just because the tuners were pretty early adopter types...

http://www.lgusa.com/dav/digital_rcv/lst3410a.html


The LG has firewire and DVI. You will use the firewire cable to hook into your notebook (you may need a PCMCIA adapter) and then you need some software that recognizes it so that either A) you can transfer the files to your hard drive to play; B) you can just play them from the external box like an external hard drive; or C) worst case, you have to capture the playback of the MPEG getting streamed across the Firewire connection. For this last option maybe you even have to push play on your external box and then push record on your notebook software. That would be a bummer.


For software, many of the newest DVD codecs will play the HD quality MPEG on a new notebook. DVHSTool is probably the best at using these codecs. http://www.kgbird.com/DVHSTool/ Check the google cache for this site if the site is not up.


Too bad your notebook wasn't 1280x720 or it would be a better fit for HD. But yea, most software and codecs will scale up/down to your resolution.


Probably what you need to do most importantly is to check in with the DVHSTool folks and see what hardware they will be supporting.


Keep in mind that an MPEG file is a subset of an HDTV stream. An HDTV stream can have multiple MPEG files inside it.
 

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Cool... that's a pretty nice unit. It even has a built-in 120gb PVR functionality. As for recording off firewire, I know programs like Ulead Movie Studio will recognize a firewire device as a capture from unit. You essentially would record on the PVR function of the box, then transfer off with Firewire and something like Ulead or another tool. Not exactly what you are looking for though I know.


-MP
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by madpoet
programs like Ulead Movie Studio will recognize a firewire device as a capture from unit.
Didn't think about that. DV camcorders have standards for forward and rewind and such over firewire but those connections don't understand files systems per se. I wonder if their exists a command for next or previous file? Also the HD MPEG bandwith would be about the same size as DV, at least if it were only one stream.


I wonder if the HDTV tuner firewire specs and the HD DV camcorder firewire specs are similar? http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content...c-07-04-03.htm shows how recent the camcorder specs are.


Here is a little more about the DVHS way of doing this. http://www.webtc.com/DVHS/default.htm The section "Getting tools to record and playback files." has some more software. Notice the link to 169Time DTC100. The 169 guys wan't you to not get a unit like the LG of course, but if you were trying to instead record from HD cable that may be one of the few options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK, looks like the $999 LG is an option short of a non PCI based (and cheaper) alternative.


Perhaps someone knows of a software application that will allow the LG's firewire stream to be displayed and/or controlled on the PC - without first having to record it.


In a perfect world, I could get a $150 PCMCIA HDTV tuner card and nirvana would transpire at all levels recursively.
 

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In order to play a live HDTV signal you will need some sort of antenna. You might be able to get good results with a "bow tie" UHF set top antenna but it will still be about as bulky as your laptop computer. There is considerable controversy on details of the issue, but I think it would be safe to say that 8-VSB, the modulation standard for ATSC, was not chosen with mobile applications in mind. There have been some recent announcements of improved multi-path correction (needed for true mobility), but I don't think anyone envisions yet a "cellphone" size antenna for HDTV reception.


However, if you are traveling and want to view recorded HDTV that certainly would be feasible. All the existing PCI card receivers have the capability to capture the transport stream to your hard drive (about 9 gigabytes per hour). Transfer that to your laptop's hard drive and there are several ways to play the transport stream (VLC may be the simplest).


Just thinking out loud here but using 802.11g or 802.11a you might be able to stream an HDTV signal locally to a laptop without an antenna issue. You do need a minimum of 20 Mbps for the signal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by SBryan
In order to play a live HDTV signal you will need some sort of antenna. You might be able to get good results with a "bow tie" UHF set top antenna but it will still be about as bulky as your laptop computer.
Right, I anticipate that I will need an antenna of that size. That's fine by me, I don't require a cellular class antenna. I expect to view HDTV broadcasts from home and office mostly, so I can have an antenna arrangement at both locations. As for travelling, it would be nice to be able to pick up local HDTV from the hotel room without the antenna, but I realize that's not likely, so my main concern is for home and office.
 

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Depending on your laptop, a PCI based HDTV card might end up being your simplest? solution.


I have a Gateway laptop with the docking station (not just the port replicator). The station contains 1 pci slot. It does need to be powered (it won't operate off the battery).


You could have an invertor power the docking station; the HDTV card plugged into the station and connect the antenna and you have a mobile solution!


Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by SBryan
In order to play a live HDTV signal you will need some sort of antenna. You might be able to get good results with a "bow tie" UHF set top antenna but it will still be about as bulky as your laptop computer.
Right, I anticipate that I will need an antenna of that size. That's fine by me, I don't require a cellular class antenna. I expect to view HDTV broadcasts from home and office mostly, so I can have an antenna arrangement at both locations. As for travelling, it would be nice to be able to pick up local HDTV from the hotel room without the antenna, but I realize that's not likely, so my main concern is for home and office.
 

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This company here

http://www.magma.com/pci/index.html


makes various hardware boxes that can "host" a standard PCI card and then interface thorugh a laptop's PCMCIA (cardbus) slot.


Audio engineers like myself use these products to utilize PCI only audio intrefaces (like Digidesign's Pro Tools HD system) with laptops. They install the PCI cards into the "expansion chassis", and then connect the expansion chassis to the laptop through a cable that plugs into the laptop's PCMCIA slot. Wham Bam, you now have the use of the PCI card with a laptop computer.


This solution has drivers for PC (not just Mac) so it will work with PC laptops and you can use any of the HDTV PCI tuner cards out there. The expansion chassis are for Pro Audio, not consumer use, so they are expensive (I think the smallest one is still around $1000 bucks, could be less, maybe check Ebay) and it won't be battery powered, but it will work.


So, there is a way to do what you want to accomplish, it just costs some money and will need an electrical outlet.


Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by jasoraso

I have a Gateway laptop with the docking station (not just the port replicator).

That sounds like a terrific solution, I have a Dell inspiron 8500 laptop. I will check on the availability/cost of a docking station with PCI slot for this PC.


BTW, how much did your's cost?


I'm sure this solution must be cheaper than the magma box that Dan uses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Dell does NOT have a docking station for the 8500, only a port replicator. They do have a docking station that has one PCI slot, however, it does not work (as is) with the 8500. I think you have to flash the bios of the 8500 to make it think it is an 8200 or something like that. This of course voids the warranty and is not garanteed to work.


So the options all look very expensive or very messy:


1) firewire enabled set top box $500-$1500. But there is no solution known to me yet that will allow me to view the live stream in the PC without first capturing it to the HD.


2) Magma PCI expansion chassis - $1000. Best solution of the available options, but too expensive.


3) Docking Station $199. Requires a bios hack and invalidates a $300 3yr at home service warranty


4) PCMCIA HDTV tuner card - DOES NOT EXIST YET, but the perfect pie in the sky solution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Not really, but I'm just curious how many of you would purchase one if it ever became available. Is there a demand for HDTV on laptops?
 

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Nice try Spin :). Honestly... probably not.


-MP
 
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