I need help w/ TV Tuner

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I've recently gone up to college and am dying without my precious Tivo. I have somewhere close to a terabyte in my PC now(thanks to multiple black friday's) and need to start filling it up with TV episodes. I'm really not sure on how any of this works, all I really want to do is to be able to watch and record TV on my computer... but i really want to be able to see the scheduling and times as well. What kind of TV Tuner card should I buy... and does anyone have any good TV Tuner software suggestions. I was looking to spend somewhere in the $100 or less range. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Google search: Build your own DVR

It would be best for you to read on your own, and learn what's available. I know I've seen decent capture cards for $50ish at newegg. May even get built in FM Radio capture as part of the deal. You can record radio, just like TV.

I bought a ultra-cheap DVR card about 5 years ago from CompUSSR, and got it for the grand sum of $5 after MIR. It's met my needs quite well. It integrates with TitanTV for recording on a schedule.

I know for a fact that better things are available now, but the good news is that most of the DVR software nowadays have fully-functional trials available. So make sure you experiment with different software. You don't HAVE to go with whatever's included with the TV capture card.

Here's Newegg's TV Capture section

P.S. I've never used one, but I've always heard fantastic reviews for the Hauppauge cards. I see newegg has a few of them, roughly in your price range.

I have the Leadtek Winfast 2000 XP Deluxe PCI card and it came with a PVR application and links to the TitanTV guide. Very easy to install and set up.Rarely uses it any more since I have standalone DVRs but it does the job and was worth the price (about $50 at newegg) even though it is a software encoding based card. If you have at least a 2 Ghz CPU, it should be fine. If you want better quality, look for hardware based encoding.

I got the Hauppauge PVR-150 on sale for like $50 and then I use this free software called GB-PVR. GB-PVR website It's worked for me plus there are a lot of cool add-ons to the program like commercial detection, TV Guide, Weather, Music Player etc..

Wow! That software is sweet!

dyslexicsquirrel said: [Q]I've recently gone up to college and am dying without my precious Tivo. I have somewhere close to a terabyte in my PC now(thanks to multiple black friday's) and need to start filling it up with TV episodes. I'm really not sure on how any of this works, all I really want to do is to be able to watch and record TV on my computer... but i really want to be able to see the scheduling and times as well. What kind of TV Tuner card should I buy... and does anyone have any good TV Tuner software suggestions. I was looking to spend somewhere in the $100 or less range. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

You basically have non-hardware compression TV tuner/capture cards and hardware compression cards. These dont get HDTV obviously - another question that comes up once in a while. You need a HDTV card for that.

The hardware compression cards used to be really expensive but with the 150 hauppauge they used some new chip that drastically lowered the price, they range from 50-100+. There was a killer deal at CC a week or so ago for less than 50 on the Hauppauge. The Hauppauge 150 you can buy usually at a 65 price at Buy.com or Amazon OEM barebones MCE version. That just means in a whitebox with only the card and drivers no remote or software. Many use the FREE GB PVR software. GB PVR looks great and works fine and gets its scheduling info from the free server ZAP2IT which you have to create an account. Last time I tried it they had some warning about commercial software and hardware makers taking advantage of the free server etc and that they didnt allow it. I think GB pvr is free so its OK though I havent used it recently.

If you want to buy software Beyond TV is the most hyped one and SAGE gets decent reviews too. I think Beyond TV was 50 bucks though and they have their own server I think. They have a trial version you can try for a limited time.

You can buy non-hardware encoding cards for a bit cheaper anywher from 20-40 bucks. If you cant get a really cheap deal on it and you cant return it easily, some of the cards are crappy ---- I would just get the 150 hauppauge or their big rival, a card based on the ATI 550 chip.

Bascially the cheapos tend to be simple cards based on a conexant chip with no hardware encoding. They can work surprisingly well mainly because TV generally has such poor quality pictures that even the most hyped advanced cards based on the 550 theater ATI chip ---- many say they dont notice a big difference. Some cards can be crappy though. For instance Ive bought about 6 different older and newer cheapo non-hardware encoding cards and they all worked fine. Several noname I0 magic cards were as little as 6-15 bucks a few years ago at a CompUSA sale. It was claimed they were really made by pinnacle ---- low end pinnacle cards. I had a high end older pinnacle card too with no HW encoding. The main drawback is your PC does all the work encoding so if your PC is wimpy you might have problems or if you are doing something else on your PC while recording you might have problems. The HW encoding cards take the load off your PC. However Im using a cheapo Norwood from CompUSA I got for 20 bucks and as usual it works fine on my AMD 3200 64. Even captures OK. The main beef with the norwood is NO SCHEDULING INFO ! On the older non HW cards there were universal drivers for conexant/btxxxx chip based cards that worked with most of the older software out there so you could get scheduling info using Power VCR and other software. There are no such drivers for the newer cheapo cards which have started to use newer non-HW encoding conexant chips, so stuff like the Norwood you HAVE to use their drivers and their supplied software which doesnt have any scheduling info. This may be a fatal flaw with many of the newer cheapo cards.

Also many of these cheapo non-HW encoding cards wont work with various newer software aimed at only HW encoding cards like MCE and I think GB PVR didnt support many non HW encoding cards too though it may support a few I cant remember.

So hardware encoding cards may have several advantages like wider support with newer progs , less load on your PC though they may cost a bit more.

None of these single tuner cards allow you to watch one channel and record another. You record what you are watching or not watching if its on auto mode and you dont want to watch anything. However you cant watch one channel and record another unless you have TWO tuners. There are dual tuner cards like the 500 hauppauge but they cost over 100 bucks.

If you want to use MCE windows instead of some separate prog like Beyond TV, Sage , GB PVR ---- I think most or all of the remote controls that come with the packages wont work or have limited functionality with MCE. In fact Ive seem some reviews where they say the remote that came with it had limited functions with Beyond TV. Thats why some like to buy the barebones 150 hauppauge for 65 and get the remote separately like FIrefly etc thats supposed to work well with MCE etc.

If you get the software with it and remote --- retail pack the 150 hauppauge can be around $99.
And Im not sure what software comes with it and the remote I dont think its MCE compatible.
If you want to use the software that came with it then its OK.

The barebones card is 65 or so and then you use the free GB PVR and buy a remote. You dont need a remote to
control it in most software, there are onscreeen controls.

The other popular alternative is the ATI 550 theater chip cards made by ATI $150 or so and cheaper versions
which seem identical except maybe the remotes and software as low as 72 bucks. MSI, Power Color, Sapphire make versions. Ive read the other makes have IR remotes while the ATI has RF remotes. All of these are retail packs come with software and remote. They come with various software mainly Power Cinema which gets really bad reviews and some say DOESNT HAVE scheduling INFO! The same software firm used to make POWER VCR. You can use the free GB PVR with these cards. I also think most or all of the remotes dont work again with MCE as I mentioned. Im wondering about the MSI though, consumer reviews dont say it doesnt work with MCE and yet some claim to be using MCE. Youd think they would have mentioned it if it didnt like the other card reviewers.

On paper the ATI 550 chip based card seems the most advanced in many ways. In real life at first I read really mixed reviews. On paper it has a 16 meg buffer that and other things may contribute to the lack of some ghosting effects SOME claimed they saw with Hauppauge cards with sports, fast action. Ive read mixed things that this was fixed on the hauppauge now but Im not sure. I had the Hauppauge and captured Power Rangers which has super fast action scenes and didnt notice any severe ghosting effects. The ATI also claims to have lots of pic cleaning features and features that prevent de-synchronization of sound and video etc. Sounds great but initially the reviews were really mixed about the cards. Some say the drivers have been improved with the ATI cards so its better now. However some continuing beefs Ive read. The cards run really hot. Some say they put a fan on it or heatsink.

Also it has a chip tuner, another advanced feature I would think. Others use the usual Philips, a huge tuner stuck on the card.This one uses a small chip. However in reviews people have complained theres a slight annoying lag when changing channels with the ATIs vs the older Philips tuner based cards.

I got rid of my 150 hauppauge which was fine , used GB pvr with it and have so far had frustrating experiences with ordering TWO 550 based cards. Amazon sent me a defective one - capacitor was broken off the card in the baggy. I then decided to buy a Power color 550 pci express card and found out it was too long to fit on my motherboard ! Im debating right now what card to get and where to buy the card from.

One other thing ----- Visiontek has a version of the 550 ATI chip TV tuner card bundled with beyond TV the most hyped software for tv tuners. I dont know if its the FULL thing or not. Sometimes they have LITE version of limited trial version which is lame cause you can download that anytime for free if it is.

Remember you can buy Hauppauge 150 barebones from Buy.com usually free shipping for 65 and buy beyond for 50 if you want it or use the free GB PVR though no remote. I think the visiontek went for 90-100 though but if you want Beyond and a remote it might be the best deal.

GB PVR works great and is completely free. I only had ONE beef. I like to record shows from my digital cable box. The digital cable box channels can be cleaner and many channels dont come in at all unless you bypass the onboard analog tuner on the TV tuner card and use the cable digital box. So you need to turn on the INPUT from the Svideo IN via the software.

You have two sets of INPUTS then. You have the usual coax in which uses the tuner on your TV card but it only gets the 125 analog cable channels. You also have a Svideo/composite in on the Card which plays anything hooked up to it --- DVD player, VCR or cable box but you have to change channels via the cable box. You also need separate sound in rca cables too for that. Most software has a SVIDEO IN channel etc easy to use. GB PVR didnt have one and you had to do some convoluted setup to make it work which I never got working. If theyve fixed that by now I wouldnt have any beefs whatsoever with GB PVR. Last time I used it was last year so the guy may have hopefully added an easy fix for it.

Wow, what an impressive post! I learned a lot from that! I've been thinking about upgrading to something newer myself. Thanks, man! <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif" border=0>

Great info here

I'm evaluating a couple of Hauppauge USB tuners:

1. Hauppauge WinTV USB 2.0 TV Tuner (1020) $70 after $30 rebate at Circuit City
2. Hauppauge WinTV® Personal Video Recorder (941)for $120

Any input on these models?

maddiebeagle said: [Q]Wow, what an impressive post! I learned a lot from that! I've been thinking about upgrading to something newer myself. Thanks, man! <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif" border=0>I second that.

Radford - Care to turn all of that into the official helpguide for TV tuners?

OMG!!! I just read that post. Amazing! Thank you so much!!!

bobby95630 said: [Q]Great info here

I'm evaluating a couple of Hauppauge USB tuners:

1. Hauppauge WinTV USB 2.0 TV Tuner (1020) $70 after $30 rebate at Circuit City
2. Hauppauge WinTV® Personal Video Recorder (941)for $120

Any input on these models?

www.htpcnews.com has reviews for most of the major TV Tuners and also has some compatibility guides.

ellory said: [Q]maddiebeagle said: [Q]Wow, what an impressive post! I learned a lot from that! I've been thinking about upgrading to something newer myself. Thanks, man! <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif" border=0>I second that.

Radford - Care to turn all of that into the official helpguide for TV tuners?The funny thing is Radford probably didn't even think much about his post... All of his posts are long and detailed and very complete. He always goes above and beyond when answering questions. Kudos to you, Radford!

bobby95630 said: [Q]Great info here

I'm evaluating a couple of Hauppauge USB tuners:

1. Hauppauge WinTV USB 2.0 TV Tuner (1020) $70 after $30 rebate at Circuit City
2. Hauppauge WinTV® Personal Video Recorder (941)for $120

Any input on these models?
I bought the first one, which I will return soon. It's fine if you just want to watch live TV, but the recording is horrible because there is no hardware encoder.

Just don't buy these, after being photographed on a CARPET these will crash your system at best, be DOA at worst. Haven't they heard of ESD? <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif" border=0>

Link 1

Link 2 - Straight on the rug!

That one picture looks like it's on a granite countertop. Electrically inert. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif" border=0>



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