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is a tv card required to create a media center pc


cumminbk
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i would like to turn my pc into a media center where i can basically use the hard drive as a dvr. is a tv card required? strong recommendation? what are the best steps taken. programs recommended to do this. i am running windows xp.

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A Tv Tuner card is Must, You can get them fairly cheap, depending on the features you want.

You want to do a PVR (personal video recorder) You could get one of these http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Se...&CatId=1427

ATi TV Wonders are pretty good.

As for the software, theres a lot out there that are like Media center. I think Nero makes one. I'm not 100 percent sure but that PVR device I gave to you in a link above could have something like that. You will have to do a google search. I would find one for you but I am about ready to fall asleep.

Well I hope I helped any.

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alright how does something like that compare to using slingbox or something of that nature? Also with PRV is this only necessary if i want to capture satellite tv? if i just want to record basic cable stations in hi-def is this the only product that does this?

Edited by cumminbk
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Well, Slingbox isnt really for recording. Its just to show media thats on you're computer on you're TV or If you are in another country you can watch you're tv from the USA, So if you're in France and all the tv shows there are in another language you could hook up your computer to the internet and watch the tv shows right from you're home in USA. Thats really all what that is.

Yes there are other ones that do that, but this company is really good if you want good quality. There are other ones that do that but it wont record it in near HD. I have used this one before: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Se...&CatId=1427 and it does work quite good but it wont record in HD, It will record, just will be in Analog. And the video kind of seemed a little choppy, but it works.

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thank you very much for the replies. i have some more questions i hope you guys could answer. I am looking at this item.

http://www.amazon.com/Hauppauge-1192-HVR-1...6797&sr=1-7

Would i would ideally like is to have a situation where i would have "tivo" like ability using a designated hard drive on my computer as the storage location. Would using something like this or other PRV device allow me to record and fast forward and pause live tv. I would like to have it setup for my wife to where when she uses the tv she would have no idea that the computer is actually doing the "tivo" stuff and that it would function just like cable DVR, ect.

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I'll actually swing the other way. A TV card isn't required for an HTPC, but can be a nice addon. I've got my computer setup just to play digital media on my TV, but I let the TV's own TV tuner do the rest of the work.

If you want to record TV content to your hard drive, then yes, a TV tuner card is required. I wouldn't recommend an external USB tuner, since USB has a very limited bandwidth for the signal. The ATI 650 series of tuners have been getting very high praise lately.

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@Zxian thank you for the additional information. i did not know that about usb cards.

There are so many tv tuner cards i am having a hard time finding a very good high quality one. i would like to pay under $100 but i would pay up to $200 if i knew it was a great quality card.

Here is an additional twist. My ultimate goal is to have the computer and tv in different rooms, maybe even different floors. i know i would have to run the wires or whatever but that is not a problem. Does any one have any good ideas of how to do this?

Also do all tv tuners require over the air broadcasts? I want to record straight from cable

Edited by cumminbk
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if i just want to record basic cable stations in hi-def

That might actually sound like a simple problem... Unfortunately it's anything but that!

~99% of PVR solutions don't do high def, and in a lot of cases where it does, it's quite limited.

You're going to have to call your cable company, and ask them if they send the signal unencrypted (i.e. clear QAM), or if they use CableCard, or switched digital video (SDV) or the like. Without knowing this, we can't know if it's even possible for you to record anything in he first place (so it's kind of useless discussing specific tuners)

If they use clear QAM (somewhat unlikely), then there's plenty of tuners that will do this. If they use CableCard, then you'll have to purchase a new media center PC (won't be $100 to $200) that has the card reader (you can't buy the reader yourself -- yes, I know...) and get a card for it from your cable company (and it's known to not always work exactly perfect). And in other cases like SDV, you're plain SOL, as you can't really capture it in any way. In a lot of places (like here for instance), you just can't record cable in HD (besides the CableCo's own crappy & overpriced DVR). Over the air ATSC feeds are easy to record using an inexpensive tuner, much like clear QAM.

Anyhow. If you're going to have a HTPC and also using MCE on it, then I'd have a look at Vista MCE which has been improved quite a bit, especially if you also have the Media Center TV Pack 2008. Personally, I very much dislike MCE/prefer MythTV, but it has no CableCard support (in case that's your only option).

As for your TV being in a different location, sometimes you can manage using a fairly long cable (check monoprice's cables for decent prices on good stuff). But sometimes (e.g. different floors), that just won't work. In that case, you might want a 2nd HTPC (again, not a particularly cheap option) just as a front end, to play your movies (i.e. a small PC with passive cooling). MythTV is great for those kinds of setups. A media center extender would work for MCE setups too (no idea how well they integrate/work though).

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@crahak thanks for the reply you gave me some great info. stuff i really did not what to hear... :(

I guess i miss assumed that there would be a pci card you could buy could put in your pc which would basically do the identical functionality as a tivo or other dvr setup. you would think with technology as quickly growing as it is and how every home has a computer that ATI or Hauppauge or another company would have created such a device by now.

I am very disappointed. I guess i will have to wait for such a device to hit the market in years to come.

Edited by cumminbk
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@crahak thanks for the reply you gave me some great info. stuff i really did not what to hear... :(

Yeah, it's not a great list of options :(

I guess i miss assumed that there would be a pci card you could buy could put in your pc which would basically do the identical functionality as a tivo or other dvr setup.

For 480i junk (not high def), there are tons. Capturing 480i NTSC/PAL material is easy using cheap commodity ADCs (mind you even then the quality blows -- there's always a big loss when doing analog capture). But when it comes to capturing high def from analog sources (from component outputs), you'd need very specialized and very expensive hardware. 60 images/sec @ 1920x1080 is unsurprisingly harder to capture than 30 or less @ 720x480. And the amount of data you'd get from such ADCs would be unreal. You'd either need some sort of specialized storage device for it (takes too much bandwidth), or a real-time hardware encoder onboard (again, serious $). The "analog hole" just isn't worth making use of anymore. Too expensive and too low quality. Besides, less and less devices even come with component outputs these days.

The only real solution that has been developed so far is CableCARD. And again, that's a pretty poor option. It's only used in the USA (you just ruled out most of the planet right there), and even then, only by some of the CableCo's there (i.e. a small subset of a single country). And I've seen numerous posts about them not working so great on a LOT of places... It might work for some people, but it's hardly what I'd call a solution (it's clearly no help for ~99% of the world's population)

Even Tivo and other DVR makers don't really offer such setups. Tivo has one model which can record HD, using CableCARD and that's about it. Then of course there's your cableco's or satellite provider's own boxes, which are locked down & quite limited. There's a tiny number of people who happen to have firewire ports on their cable box, which they can use for capturing HD shows, but it's not exactly what I'd call a "DVR setup" (most of the time the boxes are only available on special request, and you need to record manually using D-VHS emulation software and such).

I'm sorry, but I don't think you're going to see a great device to do this anytime soon :( All the companies are happy that they effectively killed the analog hole. We can't record analog HD stuff from component outputs. And HDMI and such (DVI with HDCP) are all encrypted so there's no way to record them. And the signal they send to us (mpeg2 or H.264, modulated in whatever form) can't be recorded either as it's also encrypted (save for some clear QAM channels sometimes). They get to chose what devices you can use (their overpriced DVRs) and how those are locked down/what you can't do with them...

HD looks great. It's a HUGE improvement in quality, but the content providers are laughing at us. We just locked ourselves in extreme DRM: encrypted cable/satellite stuff, encrypted/DRM'ed Blu-Ray titles and everything else. The only real option (no encryption/DRM) is with over the air ATSC feeds, but where I live, there's only a single OTA ATSC feed (in HD) -- yep, only one [boring] channel. And it's not even in english, and over 90% of what they show is upscaled... :(

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