help with TV tuner card for HTPC build

oldgit9

Standard Member
hi all.
i am currently building my very first HTPC. its taken me a few months to get all the bits together due to me being away with work.

when i last done some research for the build, i was going to get a Hauppauge WinTV HVR-4000 TV Tuner card. i tried to order the card today and there were none in stoke anywhere. after looking around, i found out that the card has been superseded by the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 4400. after a bit of research on this card, the 4400 dose not have very favourable reviews. ive read that some people on here would not use 4400 and go for the BlackGold BGT3600 instead. after reading some posts, i have gatherered that the BlackGold BGT3600 is next best TV card get.

basically what i want, is to be able to view FreeSat HD through our old SKY mini dish and also receive Freeview HD. but what is more important, i want to be able to record one or more channels, whilst viewing another. is the BlackGold BGT3600 up for this job or should i go with the Hauppauge 4400?

my HTPC build so far:-
case - Silverstone LC16B-MR Black
motherboard - ASUS 1155 P8Z68-V PRO
CPU - Intel i3-2100 SandybridgeCore
PSU - Seasonic S12II-380 380W
RAM - InG-Skill 4GBXM Ripjaws X
HDD - Samsung F4 EcoGreen 2TB
SDD (for OS only) - OCZ Agility 3 Series 60GB SATA III
Optical drive - LiteOn IHES212-31

things to get :-
TV card
type N wireless router
cables (hdmi, ethernet etc)
software (which OS, which media player etc.)

thanks in advanced for any help :smashin:
 

robbo100

Well-known Member
i tried to order the card today and there were none in stoke anywhere
– Have you tried looking in other towns or online :)

From my experience, you can not go wrong with the BGT card. The only comment I can give for the BGT is that you must take care while tightening up the satellite connection to the card, I have once over tightened one (not using much force at all) and it snapped one of the mounting legs (This could happen with any card, so not specifically a problem with the BGT cards, it just happen to me with a BGT Card). Luckily there are more than one of the legs connected to ground so the card still worked. If you are going to repeatedly connect and disconnect satellite feeds for any reason recommend that a suitable nut be used to mechanically grip the threaded socket to the back-plate (look at the back of a sky box to see what I mean (a nut holds the socket to the back of the case).

There are many different views on which software to use. The fact that you are intending to use TV cards reduces your options a bit.

Using Linux you can use programmes like Myth TV

Using windows, you could just use Windows MCE

If you want to run a different front end (the bit you see and interact with) from windows MCE, you can use software like XBMC (which needs a hack to get it to use TV Cards), or MediaPortal, which is what I use. I can only really give advice on MediaPortal because it is the only one I have used. The main benefits of MediaPortal are as follows (note: some of these capabilities may also be available with other software, but it is the main driver for me using it):

- Very configurable
- Compatible with any (video/music/photo) format you can think of
- Has a BBC Iplayer plugin which works perfectly
- Software for TV Server allows recording of more than one channel from the same individual TV tuner (as long as the channels are on the same frequency) – very useful if you want to record / watch lots of different channels without having to install silly numbers of tuners.
- TV is supported natively out of the box
- Great plugins for viewing other media (movies / TV Series / games / emulators / etc)
- Very very active support forums and continually active development – great community.
- Will shortly support bluerays natively (as long as you are running an on-the-fly decrypter like AnyDVD HD)
- It runs in client/server mode, so I have all my TV cards in a server in one room, and my cut-down minimalist HTPC in the lounge. The TV Tuner resource from the server can be shared amoungst any number of clients, which can all command the server to tune to a channel to allow a multi-room system.

MEDIAPORTAL - a HTPC Media Center for free!
 
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oldgit9

Standard Member
thanks for the quick response and advice "robbo100".

as soon as i build this HTPC, i wont be dismantling it some time soon. but it's a "good to know" about the fragile mouthing legs and something to think about when putting it together.

i am torn as to which OS to go with. i've looked into MythTV and i liked the look of it. and i especially like the idea that its on Linux. as Linux doesnt (or has very little) known viruses etc. where as windows has so many. obviously, my HTPC will be connected to the internet. therefore, it will require some sort of internet security. and from my previous experiences with many different security products (paid and free versions), they slow down the PC/Laptop. some to a crawl on start up. and that is unacceptable a HTPC build. but to run anything windows based (remote sensors, case lcd display etc) on linux OS can be a nightmare.

i followed the link that you gave and i too like to the look of the Media Portal. looks much better than the windows version that i've seen. if i do go down the windows OS route, then i think i will be using it. i like the fact that you can change the theme, the plug-in's and it has a good forum. thanks for the link :smashin:
 

robbo100

Well-known Member
I am not sure what the "front end" is like with Myth, but I am told that it will work with XBMC with some fiddling.

I have never used an i3 processor, but the benchmark score for the 2100 is almost twice that of my AMD X2 265. I have no problems with speed and that is with a free virus checker running in the background.

In terms of boot up speed. MediaPortal has a powerscheduler plugin which takes over sleep control of the PC. When not in use, it goes to sleep and then wakes up automatically for recording, or manually using the remote. With Win7 my client will go from fully sleeping (S3) to MediaPortal working in about 4 seconds (much much faster than XP used to be).

Also, in server/client mode, when I wake up my lounge PC, it sends a magic packet to wake up the server, so even in this mode (if both PCs are running win 7), you can have a working system within about 6-8 second from pressing the power button on the remote.

Finally, if cost is an option, then assuming you have children (or grandchildren - or someone in your household is a teacher) as long as your HTPC is going to be used for educational purposes (ahem), then you get buy Windows 7 Premium upgrade from Software4Students for about £38.

Robbo100
 

oldgit9

Standard Member
***UPDATE***
i placed an order for the "BlackGold 3600" at the end of November. i was told via email, that the company i placed the order with, should have the unit in stock in the next couple of days.

well...over a week later, still no tv card. i got in contact with the online store, and they said that they are awaiting stock to arrive from the manufacturer. so i emailed "blackgold" and i had a reply from them today. stating, that they have been having problems with a parts manufacturer and have decided to go with another company. but unfortunately, there will be no 3600's until early next year.

so being a bit pee'd off, i done another search for a Hauppauge alternative. but from what i have seen, there is none. even the 4400 is out of date. it does not recieve DVB-T2. which freeview now broadcast over.

is there another alternative for the blackgold 3600? or would i have to wait until next year for one :(
 

DVD-Man

Well-known Member
What front end do you intend on using as the epg on 7mce is a pig on dvbs.
 

hektic

Novice Member
Hi,

Have you thought about going for a DVBS2 tuner? If you've got sky dish and cables all hooked in it might be worth looking at a similar setup to what i have...

TBS6981 (available from amazon) .. it's a dual DVB-S2 card so supports all HD channels. If money is no object and you prefer a Hauppauge card you could go for two WinTV-Nova-HDS2 cards (twice the price as the TBS6981)

TVSource (not required, but a great app if you want to get it up and running with Media Center and want more power over things like the EPG)
this also supports some "interesting plugins" :cool:

EPGcollector used in combination with TVsource this populates WMC with up to data XML EPG data.

Worth a look anyway.
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
***UPDATE***

so being a bit pee'd off, i done another search for a Hauppauge alternative. but from what i have seen, there is none. even the 4400 is out of date. it does not recieve DVB-T2. which freeview now broadcast over.

is there another alternative for the blackgold 3600? or would i have to wait until next year for one :(
AFAIK Only the HD channels need a T2 card. If you just want to be up and running then the cheap options are OK.
My system has a single Hauppauge DVB-S2 card and a cheap Peak dual DVB-T card. I haven't yet come across an HD clash that I can't resolve.
I plan on getting T2 cards when the price is a bit more reasonable and the drivers are a bit more stable.
 

oldgit9

Standard Member
thanks for the suggestions guys. it's much appreciated.

the Hauppauge DVB-S2 cards, works out a little bit too expensive in the long run. as i will have to get a T2 when they come more available.

i had a look at the TBS 6981 and according the amazon search page, it will cost £172.50. thats a bit out of my price range. after looking around a bit on amazon, i came across this dvb-s2 card (TBS 8920).

i was thinking, if i was to use this card for the time being and wait for the blackgold 3600 to arrive. i can wait for the dvb-t2 but i really do need to get a card to finish off the htpc build.

i plan on using MediaPortal as my media centre. i have been playing around with it the past few days and i like the look, feel and the ability to configure it how i want....not like WMC 7
 
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spacemanc

Active Member
i had a look at the TBS 6981 and according the amazon search page, it will cost £172.50. thats a bit out of my price range. after looking around a bit on amazon, i came across this dvb-s2 card (TBS 8920).
This is the listing for the TBS 6981:

TBS Dual DVB-S2 High Definition Digital Satellite Tuner: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

It has been £74.99 until very recently, but looks like they've put the price up for the new stock - of course it could just be a case of them bumping it up to announce a 'massive sale' in January.

I've got the TBS 6981 and its great. I would'nt waste your money on the 8920, or on any of the other far more expensive brands. Just buy a 6981 either now and take the hit, or in the new year when it will probably be even cheaper. You won't regret it.
 

oldgit9

Standard Member
thanks "spacemanc" for the reply.

i did consider the TBS 6981 and i like what it's got to offer. to cut a long story short, i decided to go for the TBS 6981 and followed the link that you gave. but unfortunately for me, they have no stock:mad:

so it looks like i will have to go for the 8920 and wait for the blackgold to arrive early next year. not the ideal set-up i was looking for...but if i want to try and get this HTPC up and running, then thats what i'll have to do.
 

spacemanc

Active Member
Yeah - when I replied to you, they were at £84.99 with a note saying new stock in a few days time. I feel lucky because I got mine a couple of weeks ago - but I only got it because I had an amazon credit. I was originally going to wait until the new year.

Maybe try ringing up Kubik? I imagine these were a pretty good seller, so I imagine that they'll be getting them back in. They may even offer you a customer return or something.
 

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