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Anyone using SDI capture card?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by zAndy1, Jun 16, 2004.

  1. zAndy1

    zAndy1
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    Is anyone using an SDI capture card in their pc? I didn't know such a thing existed till yesterday to be honest. I presume having Sky+ SDI modded and using an SDI capture card and dscaler will yield just about the best possible results from Sky? Where's the best place to get a Sky+ box SDI mod done (i.e. cheapest!).

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  2. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Hi Andy,

    SDI cards have been around for quite a while, there are 2 basic options here, a simple SDI capture card and Dscaler or the Immersive H3D card which combines SDI capture with Faroudja deinterlacing/processing. SDI/DScaler is better IMO for film and the H3D has better video deinterlacing. I have both and I'm using SDI/DScaler for my Arcam DV27a and Sky+.
     
  3. zAndy1

    zAndy1
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    Must admit, the idea of an SDI output from Sky+ into my PC is appealing, it would seem it's a £300 mod though, can't see how that can be justified really. I'm considering a number of options, what's confusing matters is that I've got my Sanyo Z2 and a Panny HD plasma and want to get the best out of both of them. Unfortunately hooking my HTPC up to both doesn't look like it's possible, at least not using the native resolutions of both devices anyway. Options I guess are... Sky+ S-Video into PB TV100 and use Dscaler, Sky+ SDI Mod into PC SDI capture card using Dscaler or Sky+ RGB into Iscan HD and out through VGA or DVI (wonder if the Iscan HD can output both at the same time?). Oh and I guess there's sweetspot to consider as well. So out of all those options, which theoretically at least should be best? I currently have my HTPC hooked up to my Z2 over DVI at 1280 x 720. Problem is I'd also like to hook it up to my panny plasma at 1024 x 768 but from what I've gathered that's not possible so I'll either need another HTPC or something like the Iscan HD to get the best out of both displays.

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  4. philipb

    philipb
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    I posted this on another thread

    I called the guy at Frontniche about the mod to get quotes. He advised that unless the SDI from the box goes straight to an SDI input on a suitably modded plasma screen then don't bother. Feeding it into a PC with a SDI capture card then onto the plasma even via DVI (which was my plan and is what I do with my modded DVD player) was too little an improvement over a straight analogue out from the box to justify the cost (about £1350 for Sky+ including a V1 box). Fair play on his honesty.

    The plugged in TV guys will do a much cheaper mod but you have to find your own box.

    So comments from someone who has already done it would be most welcome


    Jeff - what are your feelings on the Sky+ mod?

    Andy

    I have used the H3DII card for component analogue capture of Sky and SDI capture from a modded Denon 2900. I now use the Sweetspot with Dscaler for RGB capture from Sky, and a PMS SDI card for the DVD.

    PQ into my Pio 433MXE is improved with the Sweetspot/dscaler, no change with the SDI from the 2900 (it was already great and still is). The perfomance of the SSpot/Dscaler combo is impressive, and bearing in mind the comments above from a guy who does Sky SDI mods, I wonder whether it is worth the cost of converting a Sky box.
     
  5. Mr.D

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    Well he might be right about those costs but he's wrong about their being no benefit when using a PC : he probably doesn't kow there is such a thing as HTPC.
     
  6. philipb

    philipb
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    Mr D
    He sounded like he knew.

    So you're a fan of SDI Sky+?
     
  7. Jeff

    Jeff
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    I'm very happy with the SKY + SDI mod, the main improvements are colour, black level and sharpness. In fact you see pretty much the same improvements that you see DVD players. The argument is that SKY is so compressed that it's not worth improving. I would say if it's worth watching, it's worth improving. At least it no longer costs £1500 for an SDI SKY box.
     
  8. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    I don't actually use sdi at home ( I am familiar with it through work though): I don't consider freeview or Sky as being of sufficient quality to really warrant it. I use RGB into a sweetspotb card intead.

    However SDI would be the cleanest way of getting the signal out of the digibox into a PC or standalone scaler or internally scaling device). So technically its the best way.

    I just don't agree that you would be better going direct to the display in preference over deinterlacing and scaling in a HTPC . There may be instances where this is the preferred path but 9 times out of 10 I'd say the performance of an HTPC will beat the onboard capabilities of the display device.
     
  9. Alex Simon

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    Yes, the SDI card into a HTPC is going to offer improvements over any direct connection you can make. It's the same argument as any scaler over a direct connection - the current £700+ scalers or HTPC are always going to win.

    What hasn't been mentioned here is that you could always save money by doing the mod yourself. It's not easy, but many people have had a go and been successful. Sometimes it's worth asking around to see if anyone has good soldering skills. It's getting hold of a V1 Sky+ box cheap that's the tricky part :)
     
  10. philipb

    philipb
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    Its getting hold of a V1 box at all that's tricky, at any price.

    Any suggestions gratefully received.
     
  11. Alex Simon

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  12. zAndy1

    zAndy1
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    I've already got a V1 Sky+ box so I guess I'm half way there!

    Andy
     
  13. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi Andy,

    in a weird duplication of the other thread, you can also use recording software on the SDI stream so you get lossless recording from our SDI card. Or you could keep your existing RGB output to your DVD recorder and just output SDI to an SDI scaler (Crystalio is nice :) and also takes RGBS as well so could drive your Sky+ and your DVD recorder)
    loads of different options to think about!
     
  14. zAndy1

    zAndy1
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    That's the problem, too many options! Thinking perhaps an SDI mod on Sky+ and an SDI capture card. I want to use my HTPC if I can as it seems daft not to, I'm sure it will give me pretty similar results to using one of the expensive scalers so to buy one of those would be a waste of money really. Mind you and SDI mod and capture card is gonna be getting on £500! And Sky HD is coming in a year and a half so is it really worth it? Grrrrr, I'll never make my mind up I swear! Maybe I should just go for the sweetspot, it can't be that much worse than the SDI surely?!

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  15. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi Andy
    As in all things the normal rules of diminishing returns applies. SDI is significantly more vibrant and noise free than RGB, but you need to budget for close to GBP500 to achieve that with the cost of a mod to your Sky box and the PC capture card. You have then got pure a pure digital path in to DScaler, but only on your Sky box.

    The SweetSpot RGB route is much cheaper, requires no mods to your box, and has more inputs. You can run RGB plus an SVideo in to the card and swap in software. Also, if your DVD recorder has RGB loopthrough then you could maybe feed Sky through it, and then the DVD recorder in to SweetSpot to also get the benefit of image processing on its playback as well. Also the card can do so many other things, such as VHS or Laserdisc archiving (those laserdiscs being your own personal recordings for which you own copyright :) )

    Dont think of RGB as a compromise though, it looks fantastic and is a great all round solution.
     

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