Hey guys I need some help. I'am building my first system and I want to be able to watch tv and record 2 shows at the same time like Tvo. Do I need two video cards or just one? Also if I need two, do they both have to be PCI-E x16? I'm asking this because the specs on the motherboard I'm getting says that is capable of two PCI-E x16 but one shows one slot x16 and the other x4. I'm very confuse can any one explain this.
If you are planning to go HD, things get more complex. There is quite a bit of DRM on the video it self. Over the air(antenna) should be fine, but it depends on where you live
Either way, Analog TV is going away in 2009 so if your card is analog(most are) you will need a cable/sat box for each tuner. So this would mean 2 cable/sat boxes just to record 2 things and watch one. With this you also need 2 IR blasters to tell the set top boxes to change channels. the standard MS remote(you have to buy this separately from windows if you buy OEM) comes with 2, so you would be in luck there.
Does you local cable/sat provider offer a PVR/DVR box? Those tend to work well(they just save the stream if its digital, this avoids unwanted video loss) and are near silent with none of the limits of 2009 and 2 boxes.
Thanks Nukemaster for you quick reply. I don't quite get that my TV capture does the recording can you explain this again. Yea I could get a Tivo or HD DVR but I'm building a PC to do some gaming, school work and other things so I don't think that a cable box would work.
A tv capture card(the is unrelated to your video card in most cases, some video cards to integrate this) takes the analog TV singal(or HD thats already digital for newer cards) and converts it to digital for the computer to view and record.
There are 2 kinds of cards, Software encoding and Hardware encoding.
Software encoding cards just convert the video and your cpu does all the compression(and in most cases your sound card has to handle the audio, this sucks since you cant use you mic in game while recoding or else the tv recoding will have you talking). There are not many software cards anymore, but watch out for them since they will decrease your gaming performance. The upside to this kind of card is you can compress in any format you want as long as you have the cpu power.
Hardware cards contain there own cpu that will do ALL the compression for you. the only performance hit you take is writing the file to the hard drive(I do not even know when a recoding starts if i am playing a game). The down side here is most cards just record Mpeg2(the same format as a DVD). The files are large and require compression if you plan to keep lots of video. Hardware cards also have a small delay(about 2 seconds) to buffer what they record, so they can not be used for console gaming
In my recorded folder now
45 Shows(a mix of 1 hour and 30min shows) takes about 106 gigs
1.77 gigs for one simpsons show, 135mb after compression + commercial removal.
So you should factor in the need for software the compress your video too.
Do I need software to compress the video if I'm running Vista ultimate media center?
What I meant by saying tha I don't think that a cable box would work is that I want to be able to watch tv on my computer, gamecrazychris suggested to get a Tivo or DVR from my cable company, but now I don't know if he meant the set top box or the service. Do Nvidia has tv tuner cards?
Thanks dude for all your help!
Part of the Microsoft Media Center requirements is the card be hardware based. So yes you need a hardware card.
The listed card does meet that requirement, however its dual tuners are one analog(can be connected to a set top box or just regular cable) and one digital for over the air tv(Antenna). In large cities there are lots of over the air digital channels available. Some cable providers do provide channels the digital tuner will pick up, but its rare. The HVR will only control one set top box, since they expect the digital tuner to be pulling from over the air channels.
You have not mentioned the source you want to record from. If its just SD TV, something like a PVR 500 will do it(but as said you need 2 set top boxes come 2009 or even now depending on you cable provider[if you satellite you need 2 boxes for sure]), but this card will never do HD.
The TMPGEnc or DivX Author software are just suggestions to compress your video to save space(A move takes about 7 gigs of space in Mpeg2 and only 1-1.4 in DivX), they are in no way needed to watch it. in fact Vista MCE will do the playback for you.
I have my set top box connected to the computer for recording(i do not watch while it records on the computer, i play games or just watch on the tv)
Nvidia used to have a line of TV cards called Nvidia Personal Cinema, but they are not made any more as far as i know.
I will try to clear up why the suggestion to use a DVR from your cable company.
to record TV I have
Set top box
Computer(with TV card and video card with TV out)
TV(you can use your computer screen, but its higher resolution will show every flaw in the tv picture)
Ir receiver(more the MCE remote)
Ir blaster(plus into the Ir receiver to allow the computer to change the channels on the set top box)
With it all setup its like this
imagine this 2 times even without the tv it can get messy
Its fairly messy when for 10$ a month or what ever they charge you can have a set top box with a hard drive built in for recording. The reason i use the computer is so i can keep things. on a set top box it has to stay on the box, but TiVo has a service to get your tv off the box(never used it tho.)
From the cable company you have
I hope this clears it up a bit. I will still use my computer because i have always had it setup that way, but depending on your needs a DVR may work just as well.
Your sound card only has to do something if you have a software card. Since that would not be Windows Media Center compliant, your sound card will not have to do anything but play back audio when you watch TV(if you are just recording you can close MCE and it will do its thing in the background)
2 Boxes would be only because you said you wanted to record 2 things at once(with just a cable you can split and use no boxes, but when you go DirecTV you will need 2 boxes as each box only tunes one channel at a time.). Each box only puts out one channel at a time. so 2 boxes and 2 tuners. Same thing you would need to record with 2 VCR's. Over the air needs no box, but after 2009 you will need a DTV converter
If you just want to record 1 show at a time, then any card will do. The HVR 1600 is a good option(as long as your windows vista is the 32bit one, the 64 bit one may have issues with more then 4 gigs of ram). It comes with 1 ir blaster, you will need it to control you DirecTV box later. But it will only record SD. the only way to get HD would be over the air(Antenna). HD has copy protection that prevents recording from your DirecTV box(when you get it) and i am not about to tell how to get past it(forum rules).