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TheEmrys 16-Sep-2011 9:15 PM

As for output resolution, it will depend on your video card. However, and video card made in the last couple of years will do anything, and carry signal over either HDMI or DVI. The motherboard I linked has HDMI. Sound can be another issue, but it will do up to Dolby TrueHD (for Blu-Rays).

GroundUrMast 16-Sep-2011 9:16 PM

@ MisterMe, Your caution is valid. There are plenty of pitfalls available when building a high performance PC such as a HTPC. However, there is a considerable pool of experience with HTPC technology available. I'm not inclined to discourage people from venturing into HTPC technology. I held back for quite a while and then on adopting a bit, discovered that it works, and offers options you can't get any other way.

I don't claim 'expertise' in HTPC technology. The bulk of my personal experience is with the SiliconDust HDHR dual tuner and several versions of software including Windows 7 Media Center, XP Media Player and open source Video LAN.

Microsoft tends to complicate things by imposing some artificial limits on what the user can and can't do. MS is generally inclined to make things proprietary. That said, the quality of the video from the laptop running Win-7 MC displayed on the 1080p capable TV screen via HDMI link is identical to the tuner sourced data. Live or recorded, the material is not compressed.

Using the basic software that comes with the HDHR tuner, I also can record the MPEG-2 steam directly to hard disk, straight from the HDHR tuner. I can then play back using Video LAN VLC at the same data rate that was broadcast. Again, no compression or reduction of data rate. If the program was broadcast in 1080i at 15 Mb/s, that's what I record and replay.

MPEG-2 is not the easiest format to edit, but there are several video editors that handle it well. The most common problem I have encountered has been loss of synchronization of audio vs. video.

I lean heavily toward the open source software solutions.

TheEmrys 17-Sep-2011 3:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundUrMast (Post 11855)
I lean heavily toward the open source software solutions.

These tend definately have some advantages in cost and customization abilities. However, my only hesitation recommended them is the level experience that may be needed.

Stumbled across this neat wikipedia article a year or so ago comparing the PVR (Personal Video Recorder) software that is available out there:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compari...tware_packages

MisterMe 17-Sep-2011 6:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheEmrys (Post 11851)
If you click on the details tab within the page I linked, you can scroll down and see this:

Technically speaking:
For ATSC and QAM digital TV, all 18 ATSC formats including 1080i can be watched or recorded to disk as a MPEG-2 Program Stream. The NXP 7164 contains two highly integrated MPEG-1/2 hardware encoders for recording analog cable TV to disk. The playback of the recorded ATSC and QAM digital TV and MPEG-2 encoded analog programs are done through a software MPEG-2 player.

What are you looking for specifically? If it hits all 18 formats, that includes their native resolutions, up to and including 1080i.

Seen this, read this. What you have are a couple of paragraphs that go into the inputs that the tuner can accept. This is silent on the outputs. MPEG-2 is a video compression format. It supports a wide variety of resolutions from less than standard resolution to high-definition.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GroundUrMast (Post 11855)
@ MisterMe, Your caution is valid. There are plenty of pitfalls available when building a high performance PC such as a HTPC. However, there is a considerable pool of experience with HTPC technology available. I'm not inclined to discourage people from venturing into HTPC technology. ...

Thank you very much for your input. Understand that I am not trying to discourage anyone from venturing into anything. However, I am a firm believer that you should research and understand what you are buying before you buy it. I also firmly believe that primary sources are the most important sources. This is not to discount other information, however.

I frequent several computer-oriented forums. Far too many of the posters come to ask about this product or that after they have already made their purchase. Others come to get help with a product that cannot satisfy their needs or otherwise does not meet their expectations. These examples all betray a lack of research prior to purchase.

In the case of this thread, Rich expressed an interest in a DVR. TheEmrys suggested the Hauppage card as a less expensive alternative to a $300 DVR set top box. He gave a link to a retailer's website rather than to the primary source of information about the card. I took it upon myself to see what Hauppage had to say. Hauppage was the source of the retailer's information. Even the reviews on seemingly disinterested websites were regurgitations of Hauppage's limited information. Hauppage's downloadable owner's manuals were no more illuminating.

Let me be clear. There are competing products that support all 18 ATSC formats and Clear QAM but do not permit digital streaming of recorded digital content. Nothing in Hauppage's documentation assured me that it is different than these competitors in this respect.

What do you do? If I were considering the Hauppage card, then I would phone a technical person at Hauppage, NewEgg, or some other retailer and ask him about this issue. NewEgg and Hauppage are both reputable companies. I am perfectly willing to accept the word of one of their employees. However, I am unwilling to assume that its merchandize satisfies my needs without doing my own research first.

Rich 17-Sep-2011 7:35 AM

Wow, you guys are really into this. WHile building my own box is intriguing, it will not be happening. First, I do not have an old/spare computer lying around. Second, even if I did, I do not have the time to build such a unit, and my experience in this area is seriously outdated. Finally, I need something simple. Something my wife can point a remote at and watch and/or reocrd shows. One of my goals in all of this was to make the transition from satellite as seamless as possible; thus it needs to be simple. My wife is not interested at all in the interesting technical aspects of what is possible. She simply wants to watch a few shows.

I have done some quick searching and it appears that DVRs having OTA capability are at least $200, more likely $300. And it is not at all clear that they can do internet. I realize that this is an unlikely combo to request, but a guy can drream.

I think the best solution for us is to stick with my cheap Zinwell box and antenna, and add a Roku box for $60. If we really want to record stuff, we can get a cheap recorder (of what kind I have no idea) and put it in the line.

This TV is about 12 years old. It is on its way out (remote does not work, volume only goes so high, on/off buttonbarely works) I should probably just go with it fr now and when it finally dies (or our debt is reduced enough and I can't stand the TV any longer) buy a new digital TV; probably without internet built in, and get a DVR with internet.

MisterMe 17-Sep-2011 8:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rich (Post 11879)
...

I have done some quick searching and it appears that DVRs having OTA capability are at least $200, more likely $300. And it is not at all clear that they can do internet. I realize that this is an unlikely combo to request, but a guy can drream.

...

This TV is about 12 years old. It is on its way out (remote does not work, volume only goes so high, on/off buttonbarely works) I should probably just go with it fr now and when it finally dies (or our debt is reduced enough and I can't stand the TV any longer) buy a new digital TV; probably without internet built in, and get a DVR with internet.

A 12-year-old TV set today will not feed the bulldog. This forum is dedicated to OTA TV. To receive OTA on a TV today, you need a digital-to-analog converter or a digital tuner. DVRs come largely in two flavors--DVD recorders with ATSC[/Clear QAM] tuners and HDD-based recorders. You may find several models of the former from various manufacturers. Of the latter, the best is probably the Channel Master CM-7000PAL. It features dual ATSC tuners that can record two programs simultaneously. It has an inactive Ethernet port that is reserved for future use.

That said, you should seriously reconsider your expectations of an Internet connection for a DVR. Internet connections for home entertainment devices are now used primarily for viewing streaming content, not time-shifting content. Many TVs now have Internet connections along with built-in support for content sources such as Vudu, Pandora, and NetFlix. Apple removed the hard drive from its AppleTV. Similar boxes from competitors like Roku also concentrate on viewing streaming content rather than playing back recorded content.

If your primary interest is in viewing content that you downloaded, then you had been make your purchase soon. The required equipment is fading into the sunset.

TheEmrys 17-Sep-2011 9:11 PM

Wow. Just wow. Too much to go into without hijacking the thread.

GroundUrMast 17-Sep-2011 9:21 PM

@ Rich, An analog VCR can record the output of your Zinwell STB. The challenge will be setting both the VCR and the STB correctly. If the STB is not on or is on the wrong channel, the VCR will not be able to configure the STB for you. The STB will be unavailable to watch another program simultaneously. As MisterMe has already observed, VCRs and other 'vintage' technology are becoming quite scarce.

You're describing 'needs/wants' that HTPC technology addresses very well. I also understand that the solution won't work if it intimidates one or more users.

My personal inclination is toward separate components. Rather than a TV with integrated internet capability, a basic HD screen. Independent audio system. Independent tuners. Stand-alone PC... etc. That clearly is not a one size fits all solution.

I'm inclined to agree with MM (at least in part I think), that a new TV with integrated internet functions to support Roku and a CM-7000PAL will fit your family better than what you have at the moment or the complex stack of components I might choose.

Rich 18-Sep-2011 3:23 AM

Thanks all, this has been quite en education.

I need to remind my self that the purpose of this was to get rid of our satellite bill and thus save some money in order to get rid of debt. For now, the simplest thing to do is to keep the TV we have, use the Zinwell box, add Roku and that's it. Down the road when we have reduced our debt situation, we can then consider a new TV.

Rich 19-Sep-2011 4:50 AM

Antenna for Denver Channels - Update
 
Hi all. Just thought I'd provide a little update. Almost ready to ditch DirectTv. The last piece was a second antenna for our other TV. Since the Leaf antenna worked so well (31 channels from Denver, 45 mile away), I thought I would give one of those HDTV, combo flat/rabbit ear style antennas they sell at Walmart a try. They had a $10 antenna, and a $20 one. They were completely sold out of the more expensive ($30)/boosted flat antennas. I bought $20 Philips HDTV passive, foldable antenna. Bottom line: it picked up 22 channels but did not get the main ones I wanted. Also, the reception was sketchy. Lots of pixilation (correct term?) and on a clear day.

I placed an order for another Leaf; the Philips is going back. As for the Roku box I was planning on gettting, it dawned on me today that we are already using the Wii to get Netflix. We could just stick with that, even though the Wii cannot do Hulu plus, which I read is better for TV shows. So, no Roku for now. If we decide the Netflix TV library is not sufficient, we will get a Roku and Hulu plus.

txanm 22-Jan-2012 9:13 PM

Rich, did you dump the satellite? How is it going?


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