Any opinions on PC cards for receiving digital TV?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by MichaelG, Jan 9, 2002.

  1. MichaelG

    MichaelG Second Unit

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    I started looking into using something like WinTV-D or WinTV-HD or PC-HDTV, which allow you to receive over the air digital broadcasts (with a digital antenna) on your PC and record/view on the PC as well as down convert to NTSC (S-Video) for viewing on current NTSC TV's.

    I have an older Toshiba widescreen TV (TW56F80) that only displays 480i, and I am interested in a card like one mentioned above to use as a digital TV receive and watch or record widescreen material on my TV. Of course being able to record (preferrable in MPEG-2) is a given. I believe that I read that the WinTV-D will down-convert all incoming signals to 480i through S-Video which would work for me very well. Currently I am not too concerned about fancy playback software (but PAUSE/FF/RR would be nice). I am not totally sure that the WinTV-D will decode all digital formats (ie, 1080i, or other HD formats), is that why they have a WinTV-HD card?

    Anyway, if anyone has any information about these types of cards please let me know. I am just getting started on this and could find much info in the archives except that some people have decided to try them. So please post your experiences or knowledge about this. If I can spend $300 and get a good HD receiver/decoder that will output a widescreen image downconverted to 480i (through S-Video just like an Anamorphic DVD would look on my TV) then I would be very interested.

    Thanks
     
  2. TyC

    TyC Stunt Coordinator

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    AccessDTV is a good card that will do most of the features that you described:
     
  3. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    The WinTV-HD is way behind software-wise. There are several annoying bugs and features missing. Go to Google and search for "HiPix Telemann" and "AccessDTV". Those two cards are current. The main problem with the AccessDTV is that they encrypt the recorded HDTV transport stream so that it only works on that particular card.

    The cards do not have S-Video outputs, but you may be able to get VGA-to-component or VGA-to-RGB converters, or the TV might accept a VGA signal. They generally offer a few 16:9 and 4:3 output sizes, but I don't believe they go all the way down to 480i, which is not a HD resolution.

    I would not recommend a non-HD DTV card -- it seems kinda beside the point.

    //Ken
     
  4. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    There's a new card by a company whose name escapes me (starts with a T) that is both an HD decoder box AND an HD TiVO
     
  5. Peter McDonald

    Peter McDonald Stunt Coordinator

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  6. Hugh M

    Hugh M Second Unit

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    terralogic maybe?

    or telemann?

    at this time I think the telemann Hipix card is the best option.. and there is some development going on specifically geared towards the HTPC enthusaist. One of the mods form AVSforum HTPC has taken a position at Telemann and is in charge of getting this in gear...hopefully it will work out.

    I don't get hidef in the desert...so I am left out of this one for now.
     
  7. MichaelG

    MichaelG Second Unit

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    Thanks for the information. the HiPix card does look like the best option right now. They do have an ouput for analog TV's, but it's only a composite output. I am planning on getting an HD capably set sometime, but maybe not for another year.

    My current PC is a Pentium 3 500mhz, so from what I can tell that should be fine for use as a HTPC, at least for something like this. I can get a large HD for storage and basically have a Tivo type video recorder for HD source. Since I will probably be getting a new PC sometime in the next year this seems like the next life for the PC I have now.

    Here are some other questions.

    -I do have digital cable with Warner here in Houston, and they do offer an HD receiver for the HD channels (but of course there is a several month wait). Does anyone know if the HiPix card will be able to decode the channels from my digital cable connection? HD channels included?

    I believe the answer to this one is NO, I just read something recently.

    -Does anyone know the format of the recorded files? Meaning, can your record then burn your own VCDs or DVDs from the recorded files?

    -Has anyone used the scaler to upconvert DVD to 1080i and display on an HD compatible TV? I would be very interested in how this looks.

    -What about the antenna for this thing? What kind of antenna is needed to receive a good HDTV signal? How much would one cost, ect...

    Thanks again
     
  8. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Yes, Telemann, thank you

    I believe it stores the files in AVI format, no it's not an ACTUAL TiVO, but you can program it like a VCR. Since these cards aren't out yet, no one has tried them. If you want OTA HDTV, yes you need an antenna, or use Dish Network's HD Service, or if you're lucky, your cable company has it. Go to Radio shack and do a search in Home Theater Hardware for "antenna"
     
  9. Matt DeVillier

    Matt DeVillier Supporting Actor

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    your best option would be a WinTV-D card. It can only display the downconverted 480i signal, which is the main difference between the -D and the -HD. I picked one of these up at a firesale on JandR for $50, but they can be found now in the 120-150 range pretty easily I think.
     
  10. MichaelG

    MichaelG Second Unit

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    Matt, have you been connecting the S-Video output to your TV from the WinTV-D card? Since I have a widescreen (NTSC only) TV I would like to connect to my TV for widescreen psuedo DVD quality TV. If you have been doing this how big is your TV and what is you opinion on the quality of downconverted 1080i and 480p signals?

    Also, I have done some searching, but can only find the WinTV-D for as low as about $280. I can find the HiPix DTV-200 for $399, that extra $100 can output HD which would make it less obsolete if I buy a new HDTV in a year. Does anyone have a suorce to get the WinTV-D card for less than $150?
     
  11. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    The data stream is an MPEG-2 transport stream, not an AVI. The recorders record the bits that are flying through the air (AccessDTV encrypts it)

    While it's MPEG-2, its not DVD-compatible at all: it's a transport stream, which has extra stuff in it; the HD ones are the wrong size, 1920x1080 or 1280x720 instead of 720x480; the pixels are square instead of rectangular; and it's the wrong profile/bitrate.

    You could probably re-encode an HD signal down to DVD size/bitrate and get very good results, though. Unfortunately, I have not found any good software to do this.

    The cable box might work. Satellite boxes generate a modulated signal that's intended to be demodulated by an HDTV tuner, like these cards or the ones for regular HDTVs (built-in or external). But if the cable box output is some component or VGA-type signal, then it won't, because the signal has already been decoded.

    A good UHF antenna works fine. If you're already using an antenna, you may not have to do anything.

    //Ken
     
  12. Hugh M

    Hugh M Second Unit

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    [email protected]
    is the contact at Telemann (HiPix). His name is Michael. Tell him me says Hi. I'm sure he would answer some of the questions that you can't find answers to.
     
  13. Matt DeVillier

    Matt DeVillier Supporting Actor

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  14. MichaelG

    MichaelG Second Unit

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    Matt, I wish I could get one of those WinTV-D cards for under $100 like some people did from J&R, but I can't find one close to that now.
    Thanks Hugh, I did contact someone from Telemann and got some good information. Since I can't fin a WinTV-D card for less than around $300 it looks like the Telemann HiPix DTV-200 card is probably the best way to go at about $400. I would love to find a deal on this card, if anyone knows where you could get this for around $300 I would get it in a second.
    HiPix DTV-200
    • Outputs HD signals through RGB or Component (through and RGB -> Component connector)
    • Records HD sources with no loss of PQ. Records the actual HD transport stream (.ts file). Also record DTV (480p) in a similar way. This can be converted to MPEG-2 video files and used by other software or converted to another format. Some cards encrypt the incoming HD stream so that you can ONLY play them back through the card.
    • HD output can be either 720p or 1080i for upconverted material
    • Will upconvert non HD sources that can then be recorded. Analog needs to be upconverted to 480p to record, but can then be upconverted to HD if you want.
    • All HD or DTV signals may be down converted for analog TV
    • Software support seems pretty good, check out AVSForum, under the HTPC section
    Mike
     

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