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Best Outright Tuner

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June 26, 2008 9:28:11 AM

So I will be building a new desktop fairly soon, and I was wondering what the best tuner under about $300 is. I will be using probably a 30 inch LCD monitor that can handle very high resolution, so I want the clearest picture I can get. I will be feeding it analog signal to begin with, but I want to get digital over the air channels and will be soon receiving HD over cable/satellite. Money is not really an issue with this computer build, and I will be using Intel CPUs with most likely ATI 4870(s, in Crossfire).

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June 26, 2008 10:32:21 AM

I have not much experience with tuners, but there are two advices I can give you. I have learned the hard way: No USB tuner. Go for an internal one because the USB tuners tend to lag madly. An never ever buy a product from pinnacle! You have to install their media center in order for a pinnacle card to work and this is one piece of computer clogging crap. It's HUGE and tries to take over all the media duties on your PC. I have had some good experiences with a low end terratech card though; but I don't think that is what you want.
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June 26, 2008 1:39:50 PM

I recently built an HTPC and the tuner was the one area I went in knowing nothing about. In depth reviews and comparisons are scarce.

After looking at what reviews are out there, newegg reviews and what high end HTPC system builders are using I went with the Hauppage WinTV-HVR-1800.
http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hvr1800.html.

It included the media remote, and I finally get to use a PCI express X1 slot.

June 26, 2008 1:44:25 PM

I did my shopping for a PCI-E card and i narrowed it down to like 3.

Hauppauge HVR-1800 - Card i got, analog/digital on separate tuners + radio, very good quality

VistaView Saber 2020 Dual Analog - comes with 2 independent tuners, can record two shows at once, analog only. quality very good

AVerMedia AVERTV Combo - similar to the Hauppauge one, also good quality from online reviews

Any of these will probably work. I ended up picking the hauppauge. All 3 work with windows media center for convenient show scheduling and play back.
June 26, 2008 1:52:15 PM

Ones that I have used:
ATI HDTV the one that came out a few years back, software not very good, card ok. No vista drivers, older drivers need to be mixed and matched to work well.

Compro SDTV works great the one I have does not include HDTV, hard to find in the US Market, software works well and if I could find a card for the USA I would buy one. SDTV does not work in vista.

Pinnicle PCI no longer sold, works well, best HDTV reception of any that I have owned, software a bit buggy, the newest drivers are supposed to work better in Vista.

Avermedia PCIe card this is the best I have found, includes windows remote. Works very well in Vista. Off the air HDTV is good, but it wants a high gain antenna. Cable box HDTV integration works well.

I have not used either card:
Hauppauge pci and pcie sometimes can be found at a good price.

With broadcast flags and windows mpg wrapper, I am looking for a good card that works with GNU/Linux and supports off the air and cable HDTV.
Yeah I know I am dreaming.

But if you are going to use windows vista ultimate' media center I would recommend the Avermedia AVerTV Combo PCIe (Media Center Upgrade Kit)
http://www.aver.com/mpd/combopcie_mce.html
June 26, 2008 2:23:46 PM

Hauppauge, hands down. Either the 1800 or 1600. I own the 1600 and it performs wonderfully in Vista Media Center. I am able to record an HD show and watch an SD show at the same time no problem. I will be buying a 1800 soon to be able to record two things and watch a third with both dual-tuner cards. I think the Hauppauge 2250 is also awesome, but I'm completely unable to find it.

Hauppauge recently released a QAM patch for Vista MC which you can download easily through a google search, or at www.thegreenbutton.com
June 26, 2008 5:57:56 PM

Sounds like Hauppauge may be the way to go. I was also wondering how these cards process audio though- do they support a 5.1 decoding? I suppose it does not matter for most things- video games and DVD/Blu-Ray are from other sources, but nevertheless it would be a nice feature...
July 1, 2008 2:26:24 PM

From looking at the links and suggestions you all have posted, it has filled me with knowledge thus far. But I want to watch HDTV over my PC. Don't I need something other than a coaxial cable running into the tuner card?

What I want to do is either get a HD cable box and run that into my PC or have a something so I can watch HDTV over my PC. Is it possible to watch HDTV this way?
July 1, 2008 3:17:58 PM

Any ATSC tuner card can receive OTA (over-the-air, read: antenna) HD stations (networks, like Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CW, etc). These include the Hauppauge 1600, 1800, 1250, and 2250 (and other external units, as well as other companies - ATI, AverMedia). They can also receive Clear QAM HD channels (HD channels that come unencrypted through a cable line, typically the same network channels as OTA except CBS, because they suck).

Hauppauge just released a driver to allow Clear QAM through Vista Media Center (before you had to use MythTV, WinTV and the like). As far as cable HD channels, it depends on provider. You can always allow Media Center to control your cable/HD box, or in some cases it could come through simply by being a subscriber and hooking up your cable to the tuner cards. ATI recently released an external tuner box specifically for Digital Cable tuning with CableCard capabilities.

That is all I know about TV tuner cards, I do not currently subscribe to digital or HD cable (just 'basic and expanded' as Charter Communications calls it) so I have no first-hand experience with setting up HD through my computer (but will in the coming months. I may make a guide within the forum if I believe I understand the system well enough when all is said and done.
July 1, 2008 6:43:41 PM

Ok, thanks for that. The over the air stuff is neat, but I don't really see that as being useful for me.

I have Comcast and I thought you had to have a digital box to decode the signal? Do they allow ATi or Hauppauge to decode their signal?

My other big thing was that I wanted to use the windows TV thing that is built into vista. I was looking at sling box, but you have to use their browser and they don’t "sling" 1080i, but downstream it. I know it is silly and all, but I really want to have a 1080i picture if I am going to get a HD box.

Will windows media center give you On Demand stuff?

I am sorry if I am asking too many questions or just off the wall questions, and I did not mean to hijack this thread. I just don't know who to ask this stuff and I know I can't ask the people at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Circuit City or any of those places because they don’t know either.
July 1, 2008 9:24:47 PM

First, you will certainly need to subscribe to digital or HD to even have a chance of getting it (I mean, c'mon it's not like a descrambler or something).
Quote:
Do they allow ATi or Hauppauge to decode their signal?

You'll have to call Comcast to answer that. But I know through Media Center you can control the digital/HD box (referred to as 'the windows TV thing that is built into vista' in your post).
Quote:
I can't ask the people at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Circuit City or any of those places because they don't know either.

Don't ever ask them anything, because they're inept. A couple weeks ago I went to get a $150 HD 4850 (which I later found was a pricing mistake by Best Buy) and the guy said "Yeah, if the cards are 25% off I'm gonna pick up an X2." I said, but the HD 4850 just came out today, and he said, "yeah, but the X2 is the most powerful card out there." Clearly he hadn't seen the benchmarks that shows the X2 and 4850 trading blows and had no idea what he was talking about (especially considering the X2 is 100's more, even after a 25% discount). Sorry, I thought it was a funny anecdote.
July 2, 2008 11:52:16 AM

KyleSTL said:
Don't ever ask them anything, because they're inept. A couple weeks ago I went to get a $150 HD 4850 (which I later found was a pricing mistake by Best Buy) and the guy said "Yeah, if the cards are 25% off I'm gonna pick up an X2." I said, but the HD 4850 just came out today, and he said, "yeah, but the X2 is the most powerful card out there." Clearly he hadn't seen the benchmarks that shows the X2 and 4850 trading blows and had no idea what he was talking about (especially considering the X2 is 100's more, even after a 25% discount). Sorry, I thought it was a funny anecdote.


I love it when I go to the one by me the cheapest card Best Buy has is the 4850 and they are selling it against the 7000, 8000, and 9000 line of Nividia cards. I wonder how many other cards they sell because the other cards are more expensive?
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