Help me find the best TV tuner card for my setup!
October 3, 2007 12:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find a good PC TV tuner card. I'm currently running a 3GHz P4 processor with 1GB of RAM on WinXP sp2. I have digital cable (comcast - about 75 channels or so). So what is the best pci card I should get for my setup?

Obviously a clear picture is the most important thing. I don't care about hdtv as I don't watch many of those channels. It needs to have hardware encoding and should support *either* GBPVR or MediaPortal. I currently have a Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP card. The picture quality is not good and it is only analog.

As far as remotes, I will probably just get a Windows MCE remote, as it seems to work with either listed software setups, but if you have any other ideas, please tell me!
posted by pontouf to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been happy with a Hauppauge PVR-150 and GB-PVR. Search around and someone should have it for around $60.
posted by djb at 12:37 PM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yea, Echoing djb. Hauppauge seems the way to go for PC tuners. I would highly recommend checking out the NewEgg's Video Device section and read up on people's reviews. Coincidently, I actually bought this 150 model yesterday because a) I need a remote and b) I don't plan on doing any video capturing besides my cable TV. If you plan on doing capturing from other compenents, I'd probably go with this other model.

Some of the brands looked appealing, but the NewEgg Reviews spurned me away.
posted by jmd82 at 2:12 PM on October 3, 2007

I just built a mythtv box and the backend has a pcHDTV 5500 in it which works well. This might be that most peculiar of situations in which the linux drivers are better than the windows ones though, going by the penguin on their homepage.
posted by Skorgu at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2007

I've always been a fan of hauppauge. Hauppauge has excellent built in MPEG2 encoders that tax the system's processor less than other models. Thats what is in my old media PC (I don't have cable, so it doesn't PVR any more, but it does store a lot of compressed video).

I used a freeware PVR solution called GBPVR which had support for the tuner's bundled remote as well as lots of other neat stuff... However, I believe zap2it labs quit offering their service (it was the source of TV listings for all the free PVR programs), so you may have to purchase a good PVR app.

If I were you, I'd research PVR apps (both free and paid), then look at the tuner cards that are supported by the one you choose.
posted by ijoyner at 3:52 PM on October 3, 2007

Bear in mind that there are no video cards out there that will actually decode digital cable. There are cards out there that will decode QAM (unencrypted digital cable), but whether these are of any use to you depends on whether your cable company encrypts the cable channels you're interested in watching.

One option to consider is to use an external cable box and control it from a Windows MCE system. The MCE remote comes with transmitters for just that purpose. By using your existing cable box, you circumvent many encryption problems and can use any video/tv card that supports line in (composite or s-video).
posted by Capostrophe at 4:22 PM on October 3, 2007

Bear in mind that there are no video cards out there that will actually decode digital cable.

Probably the most important thing said in this entire thread. Comcast does do some HD on it's non-boxed lines but that's hit or miss and it's certainly not 75 channels. Go with Capostrophe and come up with a new setup that will control your cable box with an IR blaster and take HDMI/component/FW in.
posted by datacenter refugee at 5:50 PM on October 3, 2007

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