Need help with tv tuner and video card questions

I have an Emachines T5212 that I would like to be able to use as a TV tuner and then output to my old (non-HD) TV. I would like to use the tuner for over-the-air signal and be able to record 2 shows at a time to replace the directv as we hardly watch any cable anyway. I would also like to be able to watch video from the internet on my TV.

I would like to know the best way to set up my system so that I get to watch pretty good quality tv on my computer and my tv. Is this possible? If so, what do I need to do?

I have 1 PCI slot, 1 PCI x1 slot, and one PCI x16. I'd like to spend less than $200 if possible. I know I will need some type of tuner along with wires to hook it all up. I'm very confused about what cables I will need and if I will still need a digital converter box for the TV or if I can send the signal to the TV from the computer in old school TV format.

I'm willing to upgrade the integrated ATI Radeon exress 200 if that will improve the output.

The sound card is integrated and I'm not sure if I need to upgrade that at all, but would be willing.

I'd be willing to upgrade the power supply also. As you can see, I'm looking for a project, but I'd like for it to begin well and end with a finished inexpensive alternative to my $62 month payment for TV.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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  1. First thing you need to do is determine how strong of a digital (ATSC) signal you get at your location and whether or not it provides all the channels you want. If you can maybe borrow digital TV converter box and a set of rabbit ears to connect to your old TV, you could determine (roughly) if it provides you with the channels you want. This is just to test what channels you get and make sure you can get all that you want before you ditch your DirectTV. If you purchase an ATSC TV Tuner Card, you won't need a digital TV converter box.

    Then next thing you need is a way to view your PC on your old TV. Many discrete graphic cards come with a 7 pin S-Video TV-Out port. This, with the proper conversion cable (7 pin to 4 pin S-Video) would allow you to view your computer's desktop on your standard TV. If your integrated ATI Xpress 200 chipset has an S-Video TV-out port, I would try this before purchasing a discrete video card. If your TV does not have an S-Video input, there are converters you can purchase (I picked one up from Radio Shack for about $20) that will convert S-Video to coax.

    Once you have the PC to TV connection working, then you can start looking at TV Tuners. As far as I know, the only way to record multiple shows at the same time is to have multiple TV Tuners, but for now, let's just concentrate on a single signal.

    Since you're looking at ditching your DirectTV and only want Over-The-Air (OTA) digital, you just need a TV Tuner card that accepts an ATSC (digital) signal. This will accept the Digital signal from the station broadcast towers and process it for display via the graphics card/chipset. The graphics card/chipset will handle the display resolution output to your TV.

    The easiest solution would be to get an ATI HD All-In-Wonder card. It's a discrete graphics card (fits into your PCI-Ex16 slot) with an integrated TV Tuner. I used a similar card (the All-In-Wonder X1800XL) and an S-Video to coax converter to connect my PC to my old standard TV for DVD playback from my PC.

    So what you want to do is:

    1) Test Signal Input. Can you get the OTA Digital channels you want on your TV?
    2) Test PC to TV connections. Can you get your PC's desktop to display on your TV?

    If you can accomplish 1 & 2, then start looking at TV Tuner cards; either the HD All-in-Wonder or other separate tuners, but you must make sure of steps 1 and 2 first.

    If you have further questions, I'll be glad to help.

    -Wolf sends
  2. Thanks for the directions. I will get a digital converter box and check the signal.

    No S-video out from the computer, but s-video in is available on the TV along with RGB and A/V input.

    I'm confused about the all in wonder. Does it provide output to the monitor and tv?

    If so, I'd hate to buy video card with outputs that I didn't need.

    Thanks Wolf.
  3. What about this for video out? Keep in mind I'm not a gamer.
  4. The card you list should work, though I would probably go with something newer (something along the lines of an HD 4350)

    Upon second viewing of the ATI HD All-In-Wonder card, I'd rescind my recommendation. I don't think it's really what you want for your older TV. My original recommendation was based on my experience with my X1800XL with it's squid output connector which allowed me to connect to just about any TV. The new HD AIW doesn't appear to have that.

    -Wolf sends
  5. Ok, I got the Radeon ATI HD 2400 for my video card. The video out works for my computer to my TV with the cables I got.

    I was also able to verify that the TV tuner receives a few channels in the basement. However, I think we may keep the cable and just axe the dvr upstairs.

    I'd like to get a tuner that will provide two signals from one input. I may choose to go to just ATSC in the future, but I may just take the signal from the directtv box.

    I'm worried that my computer may not be fast enough to get one of these dual tuners. Any advice?
  6. The dual core processor in your system will be enough power to handle two TV Tuners, but if you still only have 1 GB of RAM, you should definitely upgrade that to you system's maximum of 2 GB.

    -Wolf sends
  7. I upped to 2GB a few weeks back for $20.

    The Hauppauge hvr 2250 is $110 at Newegg, is that the cheapest I'm going to find on this?
  8. Pretty much. appears to have the "White Box" version (no software or manual) for $108.01 and free shipping... I picked up a white box version of an AVerMediaTV tuner and just downloaded the software/manual from their web site.

    -Wolf sends
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