Considerations that you should add are whether you want a wide screen or standard screen.
The Hauppauge WinTV PVR 150 indicates that a standard resolution 4:3 aspect ratio is what you are seeking. If you included a HD tuner, then you're looking at a wide screen at 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio.
DVD movies and HD TV are almost all in wide screen resolutions. On a standard 4:3 aspect ratio LCD pc monitor, you're going to have significant black bars at the top and bottom of the viewsing screen. Moreover, you're talking about sitting at a desktop when watching movies and HD TV.
So, that may be the deciding factor. What do you want to do? Sit at the desktop or watch from the sofa or bed?
By the way, don't be misled by folks who claim that computing, pc gaming, and web surfing are poor on a wide screen LCD TV. I have an Olevia 30" LCD TV, and I do 95% of my stuff with it, even though I have a damn good SFF Shuttle box available.
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by BruxBox on 05/23/05 07:06 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
BruxBox, thanks for the helpful reply. Sofa vs desktop is a great way to break it down. I basically want it all from my sofa.
Now I've nearly decided to go ahead with the Olevia 32". However, I have heard that 32" displays may not look as good as 30" and 27" displays (from larger pixel size, worse interpolation, etc.). Also, I currently do not have HD cable setup, and may not get it. Will I suffer terribly when watching a regular cable signal on this 32"?
Also, how reasonable is word processing on an Olevia 32" setup? I expect my use to be 40% DVD/movie watching, 40% word processing/websurfing, and 20% gaming.
Finally, if I want to go with a TiVo-like setup, could you suggest how best to make this work? (have not bought Hauppauge PVR 150 yet).
You are correct that the images on a 32" may not look as good as on a 27".
As a general rule, go with a LCD TV panel up to 32" at 1280 x 768 native resolution. Up to 37" if the native resolution is 1388 x 768.
The reason for this is that you have the same number of pixels on a 27" screen as there on a 32", except that the pixels on the 32" are larger, which means that you will lose sharpness. The 27" unit will have smaller, denser, and closer pixels, which produces a sharper image.
All LCD panels have this characteristic. However, different brands handle this issue better than others. See Tom's recent review of 32" panels.
Beyond 32" screens, we should begin thinking plasma, because plasmas can do it better.
As for word processing, I suppose it depends on the ergonics of where you do your keyboarding. Doing it from your lap on the sofa will probably get tired after a prolonged period of time. Then, a desktop beats the sofa. But for answering Forum messages, the sofa and wireless keyboard will do just fine.
I would say that all the major TV tuner brands (Hauppauge, Pinnacle, ATI, Avermedia) should include software for Tivo like functions. That is, PVR, time shifting, and skipping.
But, for over-the-air TV signals, especially local HiDef, you need a good antenna setup. Antennaweb.org and CheckHD.com are good for this. The product manual should have instructions for using these tuner cards with cable TV and satelite set top boxes.
I use Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, and MS did an excellent job of integrating stuff. If you go the WMCE 2005 route, get the brands certified for WMCE. Other brand TV tuners may work if there are drivers and software for WMCE.
For a basic WMCE system with HiDef TV functionality, I'd recommend the Hauppauge WinTV PVR 150MCE and the Avermedia AverTVHD MCE A180. The AverTVHD works great and is reasonable (about $80). It is an OEM product, comes in a white box without a CD or user's manual. You must download the drivers.
You absolutely need an analogue TV tuner that does hardware MPEG encoding in order to get any HD TV tuner to work in WMCE.