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Tv card recommendation

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by jmjm, Jun 16, 2003.

  1. jmjm

    jmjm
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    Hi

    Could anyone recommend a good TV card for my PC - I want to watch TV via aerial on my flatscreen monitor, Graphics Card is a Radeon 9700Pro.

    Thanks
     
  2. Underscore

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  3. gab2001uk

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    Seconded!

    If too expensive the Packard Bell effort from PC World is ok at about £30. See sticky DScaler post at the top of this forum.
     
  4. John_N

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    And thirded... This is definitely the best TV card available IMHO because your picture is digital all the way through the chain. No anologue conversion takes place.

    OK if you can receive digital terrestrial TV that is....
     
  5. SeaneyC

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    Definately has to be the Nebula all the way if you can recieve DTT, picture is light years ahead of any of the analogue cards, you get all of the freeview channels instead of standard 1-5, you get the radio channels thrown in for free too, which sound better than DAB, and the drivers are updated constantly by this British company, plus the support is excellent. If that wasn't enough, you can record at broadcast quality, which takes up around 2Gb per hour depending on the quality of the channel, pause live TV, get a 7 day program guide where you only have to double click the program to record it, no more missed recordings!

    Simply an excellent product, and being a cheap student i got it for just over £100, but would probably pay double that if i had to as it's just the best £100 i've spent on my HTPC so far.
     
  6. dgc

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    Any of you guys aware of a good PVR software for the Nebula?

    I use the Nova -t (despite poor software from Hauppage). Bought it before Neb came out and have stuck with it because there is a fabulous piece of PVR software that you can use to control it which even interacts with digiguide.

    http://www.btinternet.com/~globaldigital/dvrec/

    Is there anything similar/as good for the Neb ?


    Charlie
     
  7. Acteon

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    There is a plug-in for DigiGuide that puts a program into Nebula DigiTV queue. I've also changed "Video" marker in DigiGuide, so it's alert action would be to start DigiTV couple minutes before the program starts, and at last, I've set up DigiTV so it quits after a timed recording is over. This approach requires two mouse clicks however, instead of just setting a marker.

    Supposedly, on July 14th there will be ver. 3 of DigiTV with much improved EPG which could almost rival DigiGuide.
     
  8. dgc

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    After trying repeatedly to get the nova-t to work with the latest v2 software I decided it was time to put the motherboard slot to better use. Read those raving about the neb on digitalspy forum and ordered one. As for most it came the next day and was a breeze to install.

    Far better than the Nova - why didn't I change before !!

    Looking forward to that v3 upgrade in July. The sky style EPG looks great.
     
  9. MikeTV

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    I am finally ditching NTL digital in favour of freeview (hoorah!). Today, I've tried the Nova-t, and found the software flakey (v2.15a), and the picture quality wasn't that great, and it didn't work with my 16x9 resolution. So now, I am trying a digibox (labgear), connected to Dscaler (via a BT878 capture card). The results are good (comparable to my NTL setup). The question is, how does this compare to using the Nebula card? Is there any gain in using the Nebula card, compared to a freeview box and dscaler? Has anyone compared both approaches?

    Cheers.

    Mike.
     
  10. Jeff

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    Whats deinterlacing like on the Nebula?
     
  11. BBD

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    I have a Nebula card and Bt capture card (Pixel play) with Grundig Sky box source (S-video output) + DScaler. I not over impressed with either. Both have problems with jerky motion. The Nebula picture is grainy and the Bt picture noisy. My next step is to try the much raved about next generation capture cards to replace the Bt card. If it wasn't for the very visible line structure I would have given up by now and stuck with the RGB direct from Sky box. I also think the Nebula recording facility is great although ideally a twin tuner is needed to view one channel and record another.

    Kit AMD +2000, Radeon 9000 (non-pro), Sony VPH-G70 crt projector and 8' screen.
     
  12. MikeTV

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    BBD, I'm surprised the Nebula card is grainy - being an all-digital solution. I am thinking along the same lines - possibly a flyvideo capture card. I was hoping the Nebula overcame the need for an RGB to s-video convertor, and a new capture card (to replace my BT878). But the cost adds up, and it is still only analogue.

    I guess the ultimate solution would be SDI from a digibox to Dscaler, but that will probably never happen.
     
  13. Underscore

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    Pretty decent, I reckon. From the few times that I've watched TV on the PJ, it would seem to be a fairly standard motion-adaptive algorithm but well implemented so some jaggies when panning but good resistance to combing.

    _
     
  14. John_N

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    I don't find the nebula picture grainy and I'm viewing it on an 84" screen from 6 feet away.

    Any "graininess" on the picture is due to the MPEG compression used at the transmission end and there is nothing you can do about it - just like the same grain you see on a DVD when paused. An inherent limitation of the format.

    I have viewed sky digital boxes, freeview boxes, an ATI all-in-wonder card on my projector and the nebula card is the best picture out of all of them by a country mile.

    Just my 2p worth.
    J
     
  15. MikeTV

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    Cool. I ordered mine yesterday! I'll let you know if I concur. I was able to auto-calibrate my freeview (labgear) box using it's colour bar pattern from the service menus, and so that will take some beating. I wish they would broadcast test patterns.
     
  16. BBD

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    John_N I agree that the problem is caused by the limitations of terrestial digital transmissions and because of this I can't see it ever competing with Sky (which is far from perfect).

    I contacted Nebula re "grainy" picure and received a reply as follows:
    "The picture may appear grainy because you're viewing it on a high-resolution monitor. The TV broadcasts are designed to be only just good enough that a TV set (with its inferior resolution and bandwidth) will not show any artefacts, however ironically they do show themselves on superior equipment!"

    Does anyone have similar concerns with "jerky" motion although subtle I find this more distracting than the picture quality issues. Nebula suggested:
    "If you've got the ACPI Uniprocessor driver installed (Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> System -> Hardware -> Device Manager -> Computer), it should be replaced with the 'Advanced Configuration Power Interface (ACPI) PC' driver."

    This seemed to improve things a little.
     
  17. Underscore

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    Yes, this is my only reservation with it. Enabling frame smoothing with the ACPI PC driver gets rid of the worst of it but I would really like to get it working with reclock as I suspect that this may fix the problem - as it did with TheaterTek for DVD playback. In the meantime, I use WinDVD to play back any recordings that I make, which are then much smoother.

    _
     
  18. Pootle

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    For static picture quality, absolutely, a digital PC card will blow the sox off a set top box every time, BUT
    for moving pictures, the all PC solution is still far poorer than a set top box driving an interlaced scan device.

    Set top box through RGB -> s-video converter -> front projector gives MUCH smoother motion, but much less detailed picture than nebula card in PC -> front projector. And yes the artifacts are much more noticable on the all digital system, but it varies wildly depending on source material, intermediate processing and bandwidth actually used for DTT transmission.
     
  19. John_N

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    Not entirely correct.

    Any jerkiness in the picture from the PC is caused by the lack of sync between the video card refresh rate and the incoming sync of the TV picture. This will particularly obviated where the refresh rates are different ie if you are using 56hz on an HS10 for example.

    I believe it is possible although tricky to ensure that your TV playback is smooth using the PC. I personally do not find the motion jerky on my system and am leaving well alone for the time being.

    However, given the projector does not display interlaced sources in any case and has to use its internal circuitry, the usual benefits of interlacing are removed from the system and hence it is perfectly possible to notice jerky motion on a non-progressive source feeding the projector via component video or S video as I have demonstrated in the past. At the end of the day the jerkiness on slow pans is largely due to format limitations rather than faults in the system per-se IMHO. Refresh rate of 50hz is not high enough at the end of the day.

    J
     
  20. MikeTV

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    Well I am now in the Nebula club (boy, they deliver quickly!), and I like what I see. But I don't love it. The clarity is great, but I see graininess and jerkiness too.

    I guess I am prepared to accept this, because my understanding is that the mpg stream is simply received and decoded in software, and it is difficult to see how this process would introduce graininess itself. I would imagine that the decompressed image could be easily cleaned up in software (using a gradual noise filter like dscaler, for example). I find the graininess difficult to characterize, because it is not always apparent. It seems to appear more in darkish scenes, where the area is fairly uniform (like a wall or someone's grey suit). Maybe we should make a request to nebula for a noise filter.

    I find it annoying too. Horizontally scrolling text is often unreadable. On pans, it is like every other frame is being dropped. Maybe I am spoiled as a dscaler user.

    This can be a factor, but I'm not sure it is the entire cause. I can watch deinterlaced PAL sources (and DVD's) on a 60hz display, without noticeable jerkiness, but with the Nebula it is much more apparent.

    Tonight I plan to try the fixes above. Has anyone found a way to use Dscaler with the card yet (using the digital source, not the BT878)? I'd love to try some filtering!

    The only other thing I have noticed is that it seems more prone to digital "drop-out"/corruption, than my digibox.
     
  21. Underscore

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    Do make sure that the frame smoothing option is turned on and that you have the right ACPI driver enabled, as mentioned above. It doesn't make the jerkiness go away completely but it is an awaful lot better.

    HTH,

    _
     
  22. MikeTV

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    I will. Cheers.

    Another minor niggle I have is that the teletext seems a little flakey. For one thing, the fonts don't look right - with some of the text being cut off. But I'm not really interested in teletext.

    At one point, I managed to lose the digiTV window by trying to resize it - and I couldn't get it back, even after stopping and restarting the software. It had somehow resized/moved itself completely off the desktop. Eventually, I used the window size controls to bring it back, although I couldn't explain how - trial and error. I was thinking I might have to reinstall, just to get the window visible.

    Unsurprisingly, it doesn't much like resolutions with odd shaped pixels - the aspect ratio is wrong in windowed mode (but when maximised it is fine).

    On my 16:9 display, any 4:3 material was stretched. I haven't found an option for centering with black bars, yet. But I don't fully understand the aspect ratio settings yet.
     
  23. MikeTV

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    Re: the jerkiness - I checked my ACPI driver, and Windows XP reported that is was fully up to date. Nevertheless, I tried changing it from ACPI to "Standard PC", to see if it made a difference. After restarting, all hell broke loose. Windows forgot that it was registered, and needed to re-register itself. It also forgot my configured resolutions, and so the screen wouldn't sync, and I had to use another monitor. I then needed to reinstall the drivers for several devices, including the nebula. Anyway, eventually, it came back up (although it now takes an age to start up). The nebula was still jerky, although perhaps a little less so. Wimbledon seems to be particularly bad for some reason. Maybe bandwidth is a factor, and some of the other channels probably use less. But it is watchable. The clarity and the smooth PVR functionality more than compensate. I also have high hopes for v3.00 of the software which is scheduled for a july release.
     
  24. BBD

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    MikeTV have you got 'frame smoothing' enabled? I find that even with the correct ACPI driver setting checking this option actually makes the jerky motion worse?? I have a Sony VPH_G70 CRT projector (ie analogue display) with no deinterlacing circuitry and an interlaced direct feed from a Sky box provides very smooth motion pictures.
    I also have a standalone freeview box in another room at the weekend I'll compare its direct feed against the Sky box for a direct comparison of broadcast quality.
     
  25. Rob.Screene

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    The card doesn't have a bt656 or SDI video output connector does it????

    :)

    Rob.
     
  26. MikeTV

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    I did. You may be onto something, but for me the difference is too close to call. I need to watch some wimbledon and compare.

    :) Don't know. Not sure how to tell. But the DScaler filters are open source, so the nebula developers should just cut and paste the code into their software, and Bob's your auntie!
    :)
     
  27. Jeff

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    It's not quite that simple and even if it was, open source is still protected by license agreements and copyright laws, thank god.
     
  28. SeaneyC

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    I watch a fair bit of TV on my HTPC now, and find the picture to be very good, with extremely little jerk, and coping quite well with scrolling text, except the sort the scrolls too quickly to read anyway. However, I've found that watching wimbledon is a mixed experience, sometimes being very smooth, and at other times quite jerky. I'm not really sure what's causing this though, as the PC is on all the time, so i figure nothing should be changing software wise? The video on my IDTV is less jerky than the PC at all times, but still exhibits some grain, so i figure that aspect of PQ is down to the tight bandwidth of DTT.

    I also find that the "frame smoothing" option makes the video jerky, but with it off, the picture is near perfect. This is a great little card for £120, i'm just waiting for the V3 software now, which looks really good, and will easily let me tie the DigiTV software into my pronto/IRman setup.
     
  29. Underscore

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    I didn't realise that Paul Daniels still did TV shows!

    I'll get me coat...

    _
     
  30. MikeTV

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    I think wimbledon is a bit of torture test, because it combines constant camera panning, with rapid player movement.

    Yeah, but not a lot.

    I'll get me coat.
     

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