Tuesday, June 19, 2007

HDTV tuners

I think it would be worth having a separate post for the various HD-related items I'm researching to replace (or go in parallel with) my Comcast (now Time Warner) DCT2524/1612 cable box (reportedly has the same channel control signals as the DCT700). DCT-3416 (among others like SA 3250 HD (Version 2.1), SA8000HD (dual tuners?), DCT-5100 HD-Cable, etc) supposedly have working Firewire. Like always, AVS forum probably has others listed, and converter boxes. HDTVoice seems quite active as well. Might as well get one with digital (HDMI, display port, or DVI) output as well - plus dual tuners. What are the chances? Slim probably, the ones with dual tuners probably won't output dual to firewire or whatever.

Don't forget the small issue of cable card and other issues. Switched digital video is coming also. Supposedly "tuning resolvers" (or "tuning adapter") are on the way to help legacy and TIVO deal with that. Motorola has a MTR700 and Cisco/Scientific Atlanta STA1520.

This first section will be about HD tuners:
  • HDHomeRun appears to be an appealing option complete with MythTV support and QAM receiver... (i.e. dual?) typically $160 or $170.
  • The pcHD HD-5000 is also a good combo analog/digital HDTV receiver - and as a bonus, it doesn't support the broadcast flag. There are multiple people reporting poor receiver sensitivity though on this and the previous HD-3000.
  • DViCO Fusion HDTV5 USB (or PCI) has QAM and is inexpensive, well supported, and appears to work well. Reception/tuning might be better
  • Avermedia A180 / ATI HDTV Wonder / K-world 110 (or 115). Ebay for around $20.
The problem with the above, after finding a list of unencrypted digital channels, is that we'll be missing out on a BUNCH of channels if we don't go with a cable box, so it doesn't make sense to pay very many dollars for any of the above.

Semi-related: High def blog.

Until I get HD though, perhaps I want to stick with one of the Hauppauge PVR-x50 cards:
  • PVR-150 (super cheap and well supported)
  • PVR-500 (acts like two PVR-150's)
  • PVR-350 (has video out)
  • WinTV-PVR-USB2 (external tuner and conversion means less noise and slightly better pic quality). Drivers here.
  • I think I like the Plextor Convert X PX-TV402 since it has built in MPEG-4 encoding support
Compare the 150 and 350: here and here.

Update: I ended up getting the USB2 for now. Cheap and easy and works. Still need an additional cable tuner though, so that we can watch and record at the same time - and if I'm going to buy a tuner, it might as well have firewire output? Even better, I wonder if there are any dual-tuner cable boxes. AVSforum has a list of the various moto boxes. Here is another list. If I want to avoid firewire outputs, units to investigate include DCT2000 (designed to work with and external Motorola HDD-200 OR HDD-201 decoder), maybe DCT2244, DCT2524, DCP501, some 5200's, and some 6200 HD's. Supposedly the DCT2xxx series contain a 68k-based microcontroller. Time warner lists the manuals for the following DCT's: 2000, 2500, 5100, 6400, 6200, and 6208.

Super thread on DTCP/5C Firewire, and the CCI codes on the famous AVS forum.


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