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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a newbie (There, I admitted it), looking to build a Tivo-esque machine. There are a few reasons why I don't want to just go buy a tivo (Not having a landline chief among them), to get that question out of the way.


Anyways, I have an already-built computer (Geforce2, no tv out, Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card, Athlon 1800+, 256 meg of ram, 80 gig harddrive, WindowsXP). I'm looking to turn it into a PVR machine for my living room. I don't have the snazzy HT setup that most here have, though, just a simple non HDTV 32" Sony Wega and an amp for the sound.

Currently, I have digital cable, but am thinking about moving to satellite, so whatever I build I would rather have be source-independant. But by the same token, I'd like it to control the external box, so it's more than a dumbed-down VCR.


From what I've read, my first purchase would need to be a video capture card of some sort (I threw out the idea of a TV Tuner card, because it's extra complexity I don't need since I can't do regular-cable). This video capture card would need svideo in. Along the same lines, I think I've read about external devices for video capture, so they might work as well.


The next thing to buy would most likely need to invest in a new video card, one that has svideo out as well. The likely candidate here is an ATI card, though certainly there are others that would work as well. Possibly even the All In Wonder, though I'm not 100% sure it has an SVideo in. If it did, it would solve both problems.


Anyways, the thorn that I've not been able to find concrete "Here's how you do it, for a newbie" answers to is the part about controlling the external box. I've seen plenty of people say to get a RedRat or Actisys IR Transceiver and use Girder with it. What I don't see is a review of the various PVR software packages and how to use them with Girder, how well an integration works, etc. Possibly this becomes obvious if you use the software, but I'd rather not lay out the money and get the wrong thing (It steams me when I buy useless things :)).


I'm also not opposed to moving to Linux, as some people have touted MythTV as a good solution for what I'm looking for (Though complex to set up). It has the added benefit of being free and you can get the sourcecode. However, the other packages I might want to run for video editing and the like are unknown to me on Linux. They might exist, as I'm not up on Linux as far as this type of thing is concerned.


If you have any input on various software/hardward packages and combinations (Those that are free, those that come bundled with various cards, and those that are independantly sold) and integration with Girder or some other IR program, feel free to post. Linux or Windows, it doesn't matter to me.
 

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Since you don't seem to care about HDTV you probably should go the Linux route if you're up to it. It's way more stable and you can leave it on 24 hours a day without ever rebooting it. If you're not up for it I recommend myhtpc. It's available at myhtpc.net. I downloaded and had it working within 10 minutes with all the plugins I wanted. It is absolutely fantastic. I recommend getting the USB-UIRT if you're going to use Windows. I have that and the Actisys and the Actisys doesn't work well unless you buy Showshifter or Snapstream. The USB-UIRT works great as a transmitter and receiver. The Actisys model does not work with Girder as far as I know but the USB-UIRT does. Good luck.


Tom
 

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I would recommend that you take a look at SageTV . Sounds like it will do everything you want to be able to do in a software package, and they just announced a new price structure with a Hauppauge PVR-250 capture card that is pretty competitive. Then, all you'd need is a video card with svideo out, which can be had pretty inexpensively.
 

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SageTV looks like a good solution, but it costs $50 to buy and $5 a month. It will do what you want right out of the box when paired with a Wintv PVR 250.


Tom
 

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One possible solution is a Creative Labs D-VCR card, especially if Compu USA goes back to selling them for $100 minus frequent $50 rebates. The card has software included and has an IR-blaster to control external boxes. You'll also need a new video card - a cheap generic ATI card should do the trick. If the CL card isn't available, there are a number of cheap TV-tuner cards for
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I looked at SageTV, but the things that turned me off are the monthly fee, and the package deal with the Hauppauge didn't mention anything about an IR Blaster included, which would mean yet another purchase ($35.00 from them, for instance, for an Actisys).


Salmoneus, I've seen the Creative Labs card you mentioned, and in fact am leaning somewhat towards it. I've looked at the add-in EPG's that are going around for it, and they seem to be able to do the job. But, there always seems to be an air of ... hacked togtherness that doesn't float my boat. However, for 50 bucks all together (Assuming CompUSA does that again at some point), you can't argue too much. I've talked with people, as well, that use MythTV with it, so that's another possibility of a way to go, if the Creative Labs software + Hacked EPG don't work out.


In any event, I thank everyone for the responses they've given.
 

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One other solution not mentioned is ut em Microsoft Media Center. I had the Leadtek Winfast and that card was working out well when i had regular cable, but i upgraded to digital and now i have a STB to deal with. To be quite honest after searching, MCE seemed to be the only thing i could find that would control a STB easily and have it integrated with the EPG. I might have given the Creative LAbs card a shot had i read about it earlier. I JUST got my MCE box setup after receiving the PVR 350 and the TIVO-aspect works pretty well so far. Although all my shows are off the air right now so i don't use it that much. But anyway all you would need is a compatible card (PVR 250, 350 and i think a version of the avermedia) a Philips remote via newegg.com and somehow? obtain a copy of MCE.


JAmes
 

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I second the suggestion for myhtpc. It is a very nice interface and can handle music files, video, DVD, web browsing, games, etc. I currently use it to control the ATI MMC software.


I haven't set up myHTPC to control an external cable box, but this should be possible through Girder and a USB-UIRT.


You may also look at Showshifter, which will control a cable box through the Actisys device or through Girder. The interface, in my opinion anyway, pales next to myHTPC.


The beta version of Snapstream look very promising. I've used several of the most recent releases and feel that the interface is the best out there for pure PVR use. It will also control an external cable box. The two downsides however are the lack of support for DVDs and Music Files and the relatively poor quality of Live Video quality. The latter is due to the algorithms that first record and then replay all "live" video.


As far as hardware, an ATI AIW will handle svideo in and out, so may be a good option. I have an AIW 7500 and especially like the remote wonder that comes with it. MyHTPC has a plugin that allows control via the remote wonder, which is nice.


The downside of an AIW card is that you can't independantly upgrade the video card and capture card in the future, should you so desire. Also, Dscaler support for the AIW card is minimal. In my mind, this is insignificant and Dscaler is only useful currently for watching video, not as a PVR.


Andrew
 
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