Need your advice on a TV tuner card


R

RoamDog

Need your input. I would like to install a TV tuner in my PC. Should I get a separate tuner card or a combo video/tuner card. My current video card is probably good enough to meet my needs but there do seem to be some good deals on AIW cards this week that would also upgrade my video.

I use my machine for
60% business apps (MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, MS Money and slightly more graphic-intensive stuff like MS Visio, Photosuite, Windows Media Player).
20% strategy games (Galactic Civilizations, Warcraft3, Alpha Centauri, Rise of Nations, RR Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon)
15% web surfing and newsgroup reading
03% first-person shooters
01% tools (Norton, Spybot, ZoneAlarm, etc.)
01% tinkering around with learning/using Linux
Obviously, I will be adding watching TV/DVDs to the list after I get the TV tuner card so the %s might change a bit.

So, as you can see I really do not *need* to have the absolutely top-of-the-line card. But I do want to get the TV tuner up and running and want to get the best bang for the buck in the video card department (which could mean keeping my existing video card, although the urge to upgrade, even just a little, is strong). :)


As-Is environment:
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 with AGP8X
ViewSonic E790 monitor
AMD Athlon XP 2000+
Mobo: ASUS A7V8X REV 1.xx (Bus Clock: 133 MHz)
BIOS: Award Revision 1006 09/13/2002
Windows 98 SE
2 X 256 PC2700 Installed Memory
One Memory Socket is Empty
194.15 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
162.93 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

To-Be environment:
Immediate: Windows XP (already purchased but not yet installed)
Immediate: New TV tuner card (???)
Immediate--Alternatively new video + tuner card (ATI 9600 AIW? or maybe even ATI 7500 AIW for the tuner and as a backup/second video card?)
Late January: New video card (ATI 9600 or 9700 or ?) if not already obtained with tuner or wait til next Summer and get the top-of-the-line -1 generation card then
Late January: Second monitor (probably a Samsung SyncMaster 192 or SyncMaster 213T)
Early Spring: New CPU P4 2.6C or AMD Athlon 64
Early Spring: New mobo (depends on CPU chosen)
Spring/Summer: 2 X 512 PC3200 memory
 
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M

Mark A

RoamDog said:
Need your input. I would like to install a TV tuner in my PC. Should I
get a separate tuner card or a combo video/tuner card. My current video
card is probably good enough to meet my needs but there do seem to be some
good deals on AIW cards this week that would also upgrade my video.
I use my machine for
60% business apps (MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, MS Money and slightly more
graphic-intensive stuff like MS Visio, Photosuite, Windows Media Player).
20% strategy games (Galactic Civilizations, Warcraft3, Alpha Centauri,
Rise of Nations, RR Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon)
15% web surfing and newsgroup reading
03% first-person shooters
01% tools (Norton, Spybot, ZoneAlarm, etc.)
01% tinkering around with learning/using Linux
Obviously, I will be adding watching TV/DVDs to the list after I get the
TV tuner card so the %s might change a bit.
So, as you can see I really do not *need* to have the absolutely
top-of-the-line card. But I do want to get the TV tuner up and running and
want to get the best bang for the buck in the video card department (which
could mean keeping my existing video card, although the urge to upgrade,
even just a little, is strong). :)
As-Is environment:
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 with AGP8X
ViewSonic E790 monitor
AMD Athlon XP 2000+
Mobo: ASUS A7V8X REV 1.xx (Bus Clock: 133 MHz)
BIOS: Award Revision 1006 09/13/2002
Windows 98 SE
2 X 256 PC2700 Installed Memory
One Memory Socket is Empty
194.15 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
162.93 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

To-Be environment:
Immediate: Windows XP (already purchased but not yet installed)
Immediate: New TV tuner card (???)
Immediate--Alternatively new video + tuner card (ATI 9600 AIW? or maybe
even ATI 7500 AIW for the tuner and as a backup/second video card?)
Late January: New video card (ATI 9600 or 9700 or ?) if not already
obtained with tuner or wait til next Summer and get the top-of-the-line -1
generation card then
Late January: Second monitor (probably a Samsung SyncMaster 192 or SyncMaster 213T)
Early Spring: New CPU P4 2.6C or AMD Athlon 64
Early Spring: New mobo (depends on CPU chosen)
Spring/Summer: 2 X 512 PC3200 memory

I you would like to watch TV full screen and switch back and forth between
TV and computer on your monitor, you might consider the
http://www.viewsonic.com/products/video_box_vb50hrtv.htm

It also works well if you have 2 computers (or just a spare monitor laying
around) that can be switched back and forth between computer use and TV use.
I have a 15"monitor set back about 2.5 feet from my eyes on one side of my
19" computer monitor and use it as a TV with the VB50HRTV. I also
occasionally use the 15" monitor for my second PC. Comes with remote
control.

I tried watching TV in a window on my main monitor and don't like it.
 
J

J.Clarke

Need your input. I would like to install a TV tuner in my PC. Should
I get a separate tuner card or a combo video/tuner card. My current
video card is probably good enough to meet my needs but there do seem
to be some good deals on AIW cards this week that would also upgrade
my video.

I use my machine for
60% business apps (MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, MS Money and slightly more
graphic-intensive stuff like MS Visio, Photosuite, Windows Media
Player). 20% strategy games (Galactic Civilizations, Warcraft3, Alpha
Centauri, Rise of Nations, RR Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon) 15% web
surfing and newsgroup reading 03% first-person shooters
01% tools (Norton, Spybot, ZoneAlarm, etc.)
01% tinkering around with learning/using Linux
Obviously, I will be adding watching TV/DVDs to the list after I get
the TV tuner card so the %s might change a bit.

So, as you can see I really do not *need* to have the absolutely
top-of-the-line card. But I do want to get the TV tuner up and
running and want to get the best bang for the buck in the video card
department (which could mean keeping my existing video card, although
the urge to upgrade, even just a little, is strong). :)

Hard question to answer with the information you've given. Do you need
to be able to pause live TV, will you be doing video capture for later
editing beyond possibly trimming out commercials, do you want to
receive HD broadcasts, how much are you looking to spend, do you
foresee a need for a DVI output, do you foresee a need for a second
monitor, do you want to have video in a transparent window, all of these
factor into the decision. There are a bunch of solutions out there,
which one is best depends on your needs.
 
R

RoamDog

Hard question to answer with the information you've given. Do you need
to be able to pause live TV,
Definitely want to be able to capture a video feed to my HD for eventual play back later.
will you be doing video capture for later editing beyond possibly trimming out commercials
Probably not. Would be nice to edit out commercials (especially if there is software to automate this) but I am not interested in altering the actual content.
do you want to receive HD broadcasts
Maybe. But definitely not willing to pay much extra for this yet as I do not currently have a HD feed.
how much are you looking to spend
If I am just getting a tuner, I would like to stay around $50. If I could find an unbelievably good deal on a video plus tuner (that had a solid tuner and a video card better than my current one) for $150 then I would be tempted.
do you foresee a need for a DVI output
Yes. I am planning to get a (probably) Samsung SyncMaster 192 or SyncMaster 213T soon.
do you foresee a need for a second monitor,
Yes. See above and my original message.

do you want to have video in a transparent window
Not sure what this is so I will go with "no" for now on this one.
all of these factor into the decision. There are a bunch of solutions out there, which one is best depends on your needs.
Which is why I am looking for some help from folks like you that know what the viable options are.

Thanks.
 
M

Mr. Grinch

I assume your current system and Ti4200 vid card meets all your current
needs, with the exception of the TV tuner.

You COULD get an 9600AIW or 9800 AIW, if you want to upgrade your video
card, but it sounds like your current video card is more than adequate.

You could get an ATI TV Wonder if you have a spare PCI slot. This would
allow you to watch TV in a window or as a full screen overlay.

ATI used to make a USB TV Tuner but it's listed as a discontinued product
now. If I were getting a TV Tuner, I'd want a USB 2.0 one that I could
move to any computer easily. That's just me.

Happague has been making TV tuners for a long time so I think they are
worth checking out too. http://www.hauppauge.com

I think the cheap way to go is get a PCI or USB tv tuner for now, then
when you are ready to buy your new PC,then decide on a video card based
on what's available then. It's bound to change. And you can just hook
up your usb or pci vid card in the mean time.
 
T

Tom Scales

I have the Hauppauge TV PVR2 (USB2 version). It's an outstanding tuner, but
a little more than you wanted to spend. Most importantly, to really be a
great DVR, I added Snapstream's Beyond3 software. Fantastic.

Tom
 
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H

Hugh Sutherland

MSI [email protected] master
its a good MPEG4 tv tuner and its always best to get sperate video card and
tv tuner incase 1 goes

Hugh

RoamDog said:
Need your input. I would like to install a TV tuner in my PC. Should I
get a separate tuner card or a combo video/tuner card. My current video
card is probably good enough to meet my needs but there do seem to be some
good deals on AIW cards this week that would also upgrade my video.
I use my machine for
60% business apps (MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, MS Money and slightly more
graphic-intensive stuff like MS Visio, Photosuite, Windows Media Player).
20% strategy games (Galactic Civilizations, Warcraft3, Alpha Centauri,
Rise of Nations, RR Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon)
15% web surfing and newsgroup reading
03% first-person shooters
01% tools (Norton, Spybot, ZoneAlarm, etc.)
01% tinkering around with learning/using Linux
Obviously, I will be adding watching TV/DVDs to the list after I get the
TV tuner card so the %s might change a bit.
So, as you can see I really do not *need* to have the absolutely
top-of-the-line card. But I do want to get the TV tuner up and running and
want to get the best bang for the buck in the video card department (which
could mean keeping my existing video card, although the urge to upgrade,
even just a little, is strong). :)
As-Is environment:
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 with AGP8X
ViewSonic E790 monitor
AMD Athlon XP 2000+
Mobo: ASUS A7V8X REV 1.xx (Bus Clock: 133 MHz)
BIOS: Award Revision 1006 09/13/2002
Windows 98 SE
2 X 256 PC2700 Installed Memory
One Memory Socket is Empty
194.15 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
162.93 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

To-Be environment:
Immediate: Windows XP (already purchased but not yet installed)
Immediate: New TV tuner card (???)
Immediate--Alternatively new video + tuner card (ATI 9600 AIW? or maybe
even ATI 7500 AIW for the tuner and as a backup/second video card?)
Late January: New video card (ATI 9600 or 9700 or ?) if not already
obtained with tuner or wait til next Summer and get the top-of-the-line -1
generation card then
Late January: Second monitor (probably a Samsung SyncMaster 192 or SyncMaster 213T)
Early Spring: New CPU P4 2.6C or AMD Athlon 64
Early Spring: New mobo (depends on CPU chosen)
Spring/Summer: 2 X 512 PC3200 memory
just the letters K-n-o-w-l-e-d-g-e-S-e-e-k-e-r (without the dashes).
 
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J

J.Clarke

Definitely want to be able to capture a video feed to my HD for
eventual play back later.

Any decent board should be able to do this.

Pausing means that you can stop the show to answer the phone or whatever
and then pick up right where it left off without having to do anything
but hit play. Many but not all boards can do this. The inexpensive HD
boards can't but some of the expensive ones can. Any AIW can.
Probably not. Would be nice to edit out commercials (especially if
there is software to automate this) but I am not interested in
altering the actual content.

That simplifies things in some ways.
Maybe. But definitely not willing to pay much extra for this yet as I
do not currently have a HD feed.

OK, that pretty much rules out any need for HD support.
If I am just getting a tuner, I would like to stay around $50. If I
could find an unbelievably good deal on a video plus tuner (that had a
solid tuner and a video card better than my current one) for $150 then
I would be tempted.

Honestly, for $150 you aren't going to find a board that is a
significant improvement over your current one. You'd have to go to a
Geforce FX5900 or a Radeon 9800 to see any significant improvement in
performance. The Ti4200 is a long way from outdated--all that a new
board has that it lacks is DirectX 9 acceleration, which you don't need
for anything you've described, and dual-head with DVI if your particular
board lacks that capability. If you need a new board to get dual head
with DVI, then a Radeon 9600 or a GeforceFX 5700 would be a good
bet--note--in either case remove the existing drivers before installing
the ones for the new board.
Yes. I am planning to get a (probably) Samsung SyncMaster 192 or
SyncMaster 213T soon.

That lets out the 9600 AIW then, it has dual VGA but no DVI.
Yes. See above and my original message.

I should have read more carefully. That pretty much rules out a
single-board solution. The only boards I know of that have a tuner and
dual-head are the 9600AIW and some older Matrox models--the 9600 AIW
doesn't support DVI and the older Matrox boards have much less
performance than your Ti4200.
Not sure what this is so I will go with "no" for now on this one.

It means that you can have the TV showing "through" whatever you're
working on--I find that it's convenient sometimes--lets you have a
little more desk space and still monitor the news or whatever. The only
board that gives you that that I know of is the ATI AIW or TV Wonder.
Which is why I am looking for some help from folks like you that know
what the viable options are.

OK, looking at what you've said, your best bet, IMO, would be a
dual-head video board with DVI with a separate tuner.

In the under $50 range there are numerous options for a tuner--the
Pinnacle PCTV Rave is well thought of and can be had from a number of
sources for under $40 (froogle "PCTV Rave") or off the shelf at CompUSA
for $49.95 and tax. It uses a well-known and popular BT8X8 series chip
that has a lot of third-party support, so you're not stuck with the
applications that come with it.

If you can go about $10 higher, the Compro Videomate TV Gold, $59 at
<http://www.newegg.com> seems to be the best of the currently
available boards based on the newer Phillips or Conextant chips, which
look to be the successors in the market to the BT8X8--it should give you
a bit better picture quality.

You're not going to get another increment of performance for SDTV until
you get to the level of the Hauppauge PVR-250 at $139--that has hardware
encoding and compression of the video stream and reduces the load on
your CPU drastically. Another $30 would get you to the PVR-350 that
also has hardware decoding and decompression.

$165 will get you an entry level, very bare-bones, HD board, the Dvico
Fusion HDTV II, which I have a love/hate relationship with. Next step
up would be one of the more full featured HD boards such as the MIT MyHD
120 at $300 or so.

As another alternative, the Hauppauge boards are always safe bets--they
do what they are advertised to do--but they tend to be a bit quirky with
third-party software and they're a bit pricey for what they are and for
the features they provide.
 

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