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Old September 20, 2008, 09:11 AM
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Default HTPC Noobie Seeks Advice

OK, so what I want to do is hook up one of my computers to my hi def TV and use it to record and play back shows instead of a VCR. Never done it before, and have some questions. I suppose I need to by a TV card - which one? I have open pci slots, so that might be the way to go. Another question: can a fellow get software that would allow him to set a time for the computer to start recording - say when he is out of the house but wants to record a show? What software works best? Of my three computers, one is Vista Premi, one is XP Pro, and one is XP home. The one with Premi has the best video card - the 8800GT, but the one with XP home has a decent 7950 nividia. How much of a factor is the video card?

Thank you for any and all replies,
Zilla
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Old September 21, 2008, 09:30 PM
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I'm running mine with a 7300 series video card from ATI and I did have an 8600 GTS in there for a while, for as low impact as videos are, I never noticed a difference really, just more heat from the 8600. Then again, I don't play Blu-ray on mine, I have a PS3 for that
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Old September 23, 2008, 08:29 AM
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The vid card won't factor into it much unless you are trying to view high def. If from a Blueray drive, then you will need the vid card and monitor to be HDCP compatible. The 8800GT should be fine for that.

One of the Hauppauge PVRs will be suitable for the TV card, the PVR150 is dirt cheap these days. The PVR350 has a better signal/chipset, and was recently on special at ncix for like $60. Going up from there will support HDTV to a limited extent (over air), but also (usually) means a better regular signal, and/or faster channel changes.

They come with schedualing software, but I have never been able to set that up with a Canadian TV listing service. I know there must be a way, I just haven't had the time or need to read up on it.

Using the Vista machine would be best, because it has MCE built into it. You can use MCE for all your schedualing, super easy and pretty slick. Never had a problem with that and Canadian channels, it seems to scan and pick things up well.

Burning captured TV shows to DVD is another problem I have run into. Without MCE, the software that comes with the units will not create or convert to DVD format. You end up with an MPG file, that will not play on most DVD players. It needs to be converted to some VOB crap that DVDs use. I have still not found a decent free software package that will do this. Everything I have looked at that seems good, only converts AVI to MPG/DivX/etc, or visa-versa. Since I am not using MCE on my HTPC, this has become quite frusterating. It is an enormous and complicated routine for me to burn a DVD that will play on my upstairs DVD/TV.

Another problem is trimming or editing the video, to cut out commercials or trim off 30 minutes of extra crap that got recorded after the show I wanted ended. The software that came with the PVR does not handle this, or is only a demo. I have yet to find a good free software package to do this, other than Windows Movie Maker -- bleh.

As you can see, while I am here to try and help answer your questions, I end up asking more of my own! It seems the more I learn, the less I know!

The good thing is, the TV tuner works great! No problems or complaints there, does what I need it to. The rest is mostly POST recording and eventually I will find software that will handle conversion, editing and burning.

.
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Old October 2, 2008, 03:32 PM
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Thanks for the detailed answers! Lithotec, I did "bite the bullet" and order a htpc case. Now it's just to make the choice of which tuner card. Boy there are so many and so many prices!
zilla
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