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Help with HDTV PCI Cards

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 18, 2007 7:41:39 AM

I searched on the board and really couldnt find an answer.. I'm confused. Do HDTV PCI Cards receive HD signals from cable line or from Over-The-Air only?

I'm looking for a HDTV Card for my MediaCenter PC.. I want to be able to plug from my cable line in my wall directly to my computer and bypass the cable box all together. Then from the computer it'll go into my plasma.. I tried it out with the tuner I have (HP ExpressCard TV tuner) but the HD channels didn't work.

What would I need to be able to do this or can it be done (or is it just OTA)? Is there something in particular I should be looking for?

More about : hdtv pci cards

October 18, 2007 8:53:06 AM

Well... There are essentially 2 types of HDTV tuners. QAM and ATSC.

First, QAM tuners allow you to pick up all your unencrypted HD channels through the cable line. To receive your unencrypted HD channels only requires basic cable.

The second option is to receive HD channels OTA but this requires an antenna. Now using an antenna is great if you can get a good connection but sometimes can be hit and miss and may have to try one or two antennas before you get it right.

Both options pretty much give you your local HD channels and none of the "premiums," which would include HD Discovery, HD ESPN, and etc.

An HDTV tuner that I recommend is DVICO. Works great on XP and slowly getting there on Vista (mostly software related issues). DVICO also supports Dual tuners on one machine. So in the case you want to watch one channel and record another show at the same time. Also the dual tuner setup is nice so that if you want to dedicate one tuner for ATSC and one tuner for QAM/NTSC you can do that.

DVICO is probably the most well known tuner that offers ATSC/QAM/NTSC tuners on there cards.

However... Something you should know is that Windows Media Center does not support HD while Vista Media Center does but unfortunately does not support QAM at this moment. People are speculating that with the SP1 update they will include QAM support but that is all speculation at the moment.

I personally use the DVICO Fusion 5 which is basically the USB version of there HDTV tuners and there awesome. Crisp clean picture without skipping a beat.

Also you might be aware of this already... But just remember about plasma burn in so dont leave anything on pause for to long and if its a brand new plasma make sure you read the instructions about the break in period. I always hurts to see a plasma with burn in on it.

Well... hope this helps. Also if you want to gain more insight on HTPCs I highly recommend visting the AVSforum.
October 18, 2007 8:56:37 AM

pchoi04 said:
Well... There are essentially 2 types of HDTV tuners. QAM and ATSC.

First, QAM tuners allow you to pick up all your unencrypted HD channels through the cable line. To receive your unencrypted HD channels only requires basic cable.

The second option is to receive HD channels OTA but this requires an antenna. Now using an antenna is great if you can get a good connection but sometimes can be hit and miss and may have to try one or two antennas before you get it right.

Both options pretty much give you your local HD channels and none of the "premiums," which would include HD Discovery, HD ESPN, and etc.

An HDTV tuner that I recommend is DVICO. Works great on XP and slowly getting there on Vista (mostly software related issues). DVICO also supports Dual tuners on one machine. So in the case you want to watch one channel and record another show at the same time. Also the dual tuner setup is nice so that if you want to dedicate one tuner for ATSC and one tuner for QAM/NTSC you can do that.

DVICO is probably the most well known tuner that offers ATSC/QAM/NTSC tuners on there cards.


So a there is no tuner available that will allow me to watch the extra HDTV channels I'm paying for (other than what I can get OTA)?
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October 18, 2007 9:00:59 AM

Well... If your already an HD subscriber and already getting your full HD lineup something I've just discover is the "HAVA." It seems to be similar to a Slingbox but with more options.

It appears that you can stream TV or HDTV content through your network or high speed connection. However I haven't done a whole lot of research on this product.

But otherwise the short answer would be no. Unless something new has come out that I'm not aware of. However I do know that some Prebuilt systems such as Dell are now selling a CABLEcard option but I'm not sure if the CABLEcard allows you to receive your premium HD. I know for sure you will not get any ondemand content.
October 18, 2007 9:07:16 AM

pchoi04 said:
Well... If your already an HD subscriber and already getting your full HD lineup something I've just discover is the "HAVA." It seems to be similar to a Slingbox but with more options.

It appears that you can stream TV or HDTV content through your network or high speed connection. However I haven't done a whole lot of research on this product.

But otherwise the short answer would be no. Unless something new has come out that I'm not aware of. However I do know that some Prebuilt systems such as Dell are now selling a CABLEcard option but I'm not sure if the CABLEcard allows you to receive your premium HD. I know for sure you will not get any ondemand content.


Well, thats absolutely sucks.. One of the main reasons I was building this system was for an HD DVR.. The only other option I could think of is maybe some type of PCI card that would input a component signal from the cable box.. Windows Media Center can change the channel on the cable box for me.. So, if I can just bypass using the computers TV tuner all together and use the components as the "video" signal into the media center, I could get the HD video signal.

Does that make any sense?
October 18, 2007 12:01:21 PM

I have this problem as well. My solution was to go through the cable box and then to the capture card. If you have an IR blaster (it was packaged with my capture card) you can change the channels with the remote that comes with your card. This isn't the ideal solution, but it allows me to capture HD content form all of my channels.
October 18, 2007 5:44:56 PM

prodystopian said:
I have this problem as well. My solution was to go through the cable box and then to the capture card. If you have an IR blaster (it was packaged with my capture card) you can change the channels with the remote that comes with your card. This isn't the ideal solution, but it allows me to capture HD content form all of my channels.


What kind of capture card are you using?? The capture card I have only has coax inputs so it downgrads the HD signal which makes it pretty useless..
October 18, 2007 6:35:56 PM

Hauppauge 1600. I use the coax inputs. The quality is less than straight from the box, but it is better than SD.

What do you mean coax downgrades the picture? Coax is how the HD picture comes in to begin with.
October 18, 2007 6:37:53 PM

prodystopian said:
Hauppauge 1600. I use the coax inputs. The quality is less than straight from the box, but it is better than SD.

What do you mean coax downgrades the picture? Coax is how the HD picture comes in to begin with.


Hmm.. Thats odd.. I was going from the wall to cable box with coax and then from the cable box to my TV tuner with coax.. By the time it got to my PC, it looked like it wasnt even HD anymore.. Looked like standard definition. It wasnt widescreen.. Looked like it was 4:3
November 2, 2007 12:52:27 AM

Be warned that the S-Video input on the Hauppauge 1600 only works with 480i. Their marketing material does not document this fact. They market the other inputs as supporting HDTV, so one would assume they all do.... but that's not the case. :( 
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