NVIDIA DualTV MCE TV Tuner

by Josh Venning on 5/19/2006 2:00 AM EST
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  • thehum - Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - link

    quote:

    One more thing to note about the AIW cards is that they don't have MPEG-2 encoding in hardware, which means they won't work with Windows MCE


    NOT TRUE. Since Spring 2005 ATI released a new MMC plus encoder which allowed AIW cards (9600 and newer) to be used as a tuner in Windows MCE. However, the enocoder they updated to was software based and caused a delay in the video in MCE as opposed to earlier versions of ATI MMC. Using the Analog tuner with the MMC software the channel change time was less than a second. However, using the card in Windows MCE Caused the channel change time to double to around 2 seconds. As others said, what a poorly written review.
    Reply
  • CapnBry - Friday, May 26, 2006 - link

    I'm much more than a HTPC enthusiast, having contributed to the PVR-150/500 driver for Linux as well as MythTV. For me quality is a big issue with these tuner cards and the main thing that can distinguish one card from the other. The review was more of a stating of the obvious-- it has 2 tuners, you can use MCE2005, it records video.

    I'd love to see more information such as:
    -- Framegrabs from videos taken from the exact same source at the same time. I've a couple on my 250/150 comparison page http://capnbry.net/~bmayland/fi/pvr150/">http://capnbry.net/~bmayland/fi/pvr150/
    -- Difficult content. The card touts its 3D comb filtering, show some content featuring high frequency luma to see how bad the rainbows are, show some content with sharp horizonatal edges to see if there is luma sparkles.
    -- How bad does the video get if your source is noisy?
    -- Compare the arguably most popular card on the market, the PVR-500.
    -- PureVideo: How many of the features listed are only available if you have a GeForce 7xxx card?
    -- MediaSqueeze: Real world quality/speed of the MPEG-4 encoding. Can you record directly to MPEG4 if you're only using one tuner?
    Reply
  • dettociao - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    Well, I won't be buying this card for awhile-- at least till I find a decent review. Reply
  • crim - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - link

    HTPCnews will be posting theirs in a week or so, I know the guy who's reviewing and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with the DualTV tuner, I'm going to have to get one. Reply
  • barnie - Monday, May 22, 2006 - link

    Please take this off the site, rewrite it and post it again.

    Not only is it incomplete, it is full of very questionable statements. The whole concept of the article is very flawed. Since you're not using Windows MCE for the AIW (since you say it does not work) and it would appear (nowhere stated!) that you do use MCE for the other two cards, how can you compare the cards, as you claim? For TV tuners the software and its configuration makes the biggest difference, so make sure you are using the same thing!

    For this article to make any sense whatsover, address the following points:
    -- remove the AIW and use a Hauppauge PVR500MCE instead
    -- stick to Windows MCE, or choose another piece of software that works with all cards
    -- rethink your channel switching time statement. It's meaningless under MCE (almost all delay is caused by MCE itself). You will need other software if you want to compare the delays caused by the cards (e.g. it is possible to play console games with Theatre 550 configured appropriately). Again, that other software needs to be the same for all cards.
    -- the useless screenshots (cannot compare an essentially blank screen to a room full of stuff, both compressed probably at the same bitrate). Install two of the cards in the same machine, give them the same signal (after an amplifier and splitter), and take screenshots of both together (something like this: http://tv-plugin.com/temporaries/haup_saph_mcm_com...">PVR-150 vs. Theatrix). If this is too difficult for you to perform, use two computers! The screenshots NEED to have text in them.
    Reply
  • modsci - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    Not much of a review I agree and to use some of the cards they did as well just seems foolish. ATI does NOT have a good reputation in many TV card forums due to software issues or just plain no support for some cards they put out. Hauppauge does well in Europe but falls short in the US when compared to Leadtek. WinTV 2000 is one of the most user UNfriendly apps out, shortcut keys are macros not single keys and their remote works when it wants to even with constant reinstallation of drivers. ATI's PQ has never been what I would want to watch for very long and their cards are constantly recording even with live tv.
    If you want easy to use hassle free tv on the comp then if you live in the US get Leadtek if you live in Europe seems Hauppauge works better. Windows MCE is just a very restrictive version of XP home that adds limitations on recordings and codecs sure it has a nice interface for those who prefer America Online to a regular ISP but it's disadvantages out weigh any of the very few advantages if any it has. HD TV is not going to happen anytime soon for a pc unless you live in a metro area say 30 miles or less from transmitter, yes there are QAM cards but you will only get the local OTA digital channels and perhaps 2 or 3 others, certainly not worth the $150-$300 or more for just the card.
    Now before you go off on me about this you should know I build computers, I put TV cards in just about all of them and I've installed the following, NVidia Personal Cinema, ATI AIW, Hauppuage PVR 150, Compro Videomate Gold +, Leadtek PVR2000, Leadtek TV2000XP Expert and Deluxe, Avermedia 878, Prolink Playtv pro ultra, Prolink TV box, MSI VOX usb, Dvico FusionHDTV 5 RT Gold. I've used the boys as test subjects and they always harp to get their Leadtek back, people who've had the leadtek outside the home don't seem to call back, those who have anything else call.
    Should you want info on TV cards how to solve issues and some reviews I'll give a sight here and hopefully since it's not directly competing with AT they will leave it up www.tv-cards.com, I've found answers there along with interesting 3rd party apps for TV, most of which look oddly alot like MCE but don't have the codec and recording restrictions imposed by MCE.
    Reply
  • Trisped - Monday, May 22, 2006 - link

    quote:

    ATI's PQ has never been what I would want to watch for very long and their cards are constantly recording even with live tv.
    My AIW constantly records, but that is so I can pause and rewind live TV. I use to not have this set up (back with Multi Media center 8) and have also set it up with out any space to save on the hard drive.

    I have had large problems with the ATI software, but 95% of them were because they don't support Hyper Threading, so I have to turn it (Hyper Threading) off or the TV player freezes. Does anyone know if this is a problem with dual core processors?
    Reply
  • Trisped - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    quote:

    An interesting side note is that MCE 2005 includes many of the performance enhancements of Windows Server 2003, so it can actually outperform XP Pro systems by a small margin.
    So how does it out perform Pro? Most OS performance is rated in the options available, since each new OS takes more RAM and processing power. So if MCE has more options, why don't the profession all apps run on MCE?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    As I understand it, there are optimizations that have been made to the memory subsystem and disk controller sections of Windows Server 2003. Patching those into windows XP is rather difficult at this point in time, but MCE 2005 wasn't released until after Server 2003, so for whatever reason it gets the optimizations.

    So why doesn't everyone run Windows MCE? Are you willing to spend another $100 for every computer just to get a slight optimization? Do you think any businesses are interested in running "Media Center Edition"? You can ask Gary Key if you'd like more information on this, as he's the one who pointed it out to me. I believe most of the improvements really only show up in theoretical benchmarks, or in heavy disk access benchmarks. Given that MCE is supposed to handle video files really well, it would make sense for Microsoft to spend more time optimizing that portion of the OS.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    I forgot to mention this, but I believe MCE still doesn't have the ability to connect to a domain controller. For businesses, that's often a critical consideration, which is why most businesses use XP Pro instead of XP Home. (I could be wrong on the domain controller support, but I'm pretty sure that's correct.) Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    That is correct, out of the box MCE cannot be joined to a domain although it can be modified to do so but at the cost of losing media extenders. Microsoft clearly wanted to keep businesses using Pro and MCE for home users.

    John
    Reply
  • XMan - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    "The PVR-500 requires two separate CATV inputs, however, rather than splitting the signal internally."

    Ehh . . . no, the PVR-500 splits internally. The second input jack is for FM radio, just like the NVTV.

    And the latest Hauppauge drivers have fixed a lot of the issues folks are having. I'm using two PVR-500's on MCE 2K5with the 23348 drivers and they work marvelously.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    Crud. That was my error. I'll fix it - thanks. Reply
  • justauser - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    I guess that people who come to Anadtech have a strong technical background.

    Is anybody still watching analog TV out of this group? I haven't seen an anaolog program for over two years - in fact I find it impossible to watch & listen to analog. Surely every tech person has their HDTV & surround sound set up, don't they?

    What's this nonsense about limited channels on OTA HD? We get about 40 in LA, of which about 15 have content I'm interested in. I don't bother with cable.

    More nonsense about trouble receiving OTA HD. If you can get an analog signal you can surely get an HD digital one - do you realize how much more power is used to broadcast HD? It can be over 1 MW! When setting up an HD set you can test the HD picture with a set top antenna. You get an HD signal even when you can't see any analog channels.

    So, dump reviews of analog tuners. People who buy them have limited tech knowledge and will probably never get them working anyway (like my neighbor who watches stretched analog on his HDTV and has got used to actors with fat heads, but nevermind HDTV is great!).
    Reply
  • Trisped - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    Most people don't live in a big metorpolitan area, so they will be lucky to have 1 or 2 HD channels broadcast in the area.
    HDTV cable is rather expensive compared to the analog or even digital, and the fact that most channels are a sick mix of high and low def makes the veiwing experince undesireable (at least that is what my local friends say).

    I don't own a DTV or HDTV tuner. Instead I own a high quality PC. I have been thinking of upgrading to an HDTV tuner, but the only one I have heard of is the ATI HDTV tuner which is PCI and has was reported to have some compatability problems. Since this is a first gen card that is to be expect, but I don't want to pay $100+ to be part of the beta testing. I will wait till there is a PCIe version that seems to work well with what I use, then I will upgrade.
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    Anandtech reviewed some other brands of HDTV tuners in their last roundup:

    http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2634&p...">http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2634&p...

    Unfortunately, there's nothing in that review that meets all your requirements.
    Reply
  • Schugy - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    Of course I use DVB-T with MythTV, xine or dvbtune+mplayer. DVB-S is no option because some people want to make money with encrypting free tv. That guys must be kidding. Reply
  • austonia - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    checked nvidia's store and was dissapointed to find out that the package that comes with an MCE remote costs $50 more! $219... ugh.

    http://store.nvidia.com/product.aspx?sku=2866288&a...">http://store.nvidia.com/product.aspx?sku=2866288&a...

    Reply
  • gman81 - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    this website's inability to take your comment or this nvidia tuner review. Both are lame. (the comment window wipes your text if you're not careful or when you click Post Comment, it has a "server error"). What junk. Reply
  • nullpointerus - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    I think when you wait to long to hit the "post comment" button, there is a server error. No idea why. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    One more reason to use Firefox. :) Seriously - on most sites and forums (including this one), you don't lose the typed text when stuff like that happens. My suggestion if you want to use IE is to always copy the entire post when you're done, just in case. If it's a short post, no problem, but if you just typed a couple long paragraphs you probably want to exercise a bit of caution.

    Honestly, I'm not sure why you get timeouts for stuff like that (OMG - he hasn't posted in 15 minutes! Better timeout...), but it happens on most/all other forums I've been to as well.
    Reply
  • Trisped - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    I get that error hitting reply and post comment about 50% of the time. 15 min time out seems posible, but it wouldn't make sense that I log in, open a bunch of windows, read for 15 min, try to post a reply, refresh, then post, read the nest new item, and have to refresh the browser again.

    For me it isn't such a big deal, as any important post is copied to the clip board first anyways.
    Reply
  • Justin Case - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    Anandtech's articles are worse than Tom's Hardware, these days. To compare the tuner quality they use completely different video sources! This is just too stupid to be true. It's like comparing two cars by driving one on a racing track and the other in a city, and then saying "the car driven in the city seems to be a bit slower". DUH!

    Anandtech's articles about RAID and storage have been bad for a long time, but at least the graphics / video articles used to have some vague credibility. This one really is just something to fill the space between the ads...

    Not worth the bandwidth.
    Reply
  • goinginstyle - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Anandtech's articles about RAID and storage have been bad for a long time, but at least the graphics / video articles used to have some vague credibility.


    A lot of us in the office thought the Seagate review yesterday was very good and a lot better than what was published in the past. It certainly was better than any review on web so far about the 750GB drive with most of the sites completely missing the sata150 jumper issue and not even describing perpendicular recording. It was nice to see benchmarks besides hdtach and then declaring how fast a drive is because of burst speeds. The RAID 0 could have been dropped but at least they tried to shut some of us up about not having it. The issue with the video cards has been the lack of reviews. The Oblivion video card article was actually one of the best around but we need more like it. The motherboard section has been steady and strong lately. I do not think Tom's is better in that case at all.


    As for this article-
    The lack of the same images for comparison was a definite error, probably the biggest one that was made or could be made.
    CPU utilization needed to be included along with a Happauge card.
    TV antenna was not tested nor display out to a monitor or HD capable set.
    FM tuner was not really mentioned or tested.
    I am probably way off base on this one but does PureVideo work with this card for playback from external sources?

    Was the article for beginners? It probably was and as such except for the error in image comparisons it was actually okay. Nobody has mentioned it yet but NVIDIA seems to have produced a nice card. It would be nice to see it put to more use and maybe they will come back and update this review.

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    In regards to the comments about the lack of depth on this review, we've had two reviews in the past that looked at the Theater 550 card, with http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2393">one of those reviews comparing it to a Hauppauge card. Our conclusion in that review, which was done almost a year ago, was that the Hauppauge and ATI cards are the best two analog tuner cards on the market. The conclusion is that they basically are equivalent in terms of quality. What that means is that any new review only needs to really compared to one of those cards, and if quality is pretty much equal, everything is good.

    The NVIDIA DualTV MCE is indeed equivalent to the ATI card. The advantage is that it has dual tuners, which is something you can't get from ATI, but of course the Hauppauge PVR-500 offers that feature as well. There are no high-quality analog TV tuners that will also do HDTV, so I personally find it difficult to do a lengthy article dwelling on the best analog tuners when at best all of them are vastly inferior to HDTV. As I mentioned in my http://www.anandtech.com/multimedia/showdoc.aspx?i...">HTPC – TV Tuner Reviews article, getting the best of both worlds (especially in areas that have poor OTA reception) is a difficult and frustrating task.

    If you only need one TV tuner, getting an ATI Theater 550 or a Hauppauge PVR-150/250/350 is a good idea. If you want to get a dual tuner setup, you can either purchased two of the above cards, or go with the NVIDIA DualTV or Hauppauge PVR-500. All of them are very similar in terms of performance and functionality. All of them are hardware-based encoders (as far as I'm aware), so CPU usage should stay below 10%, perhaps 25% if you were recording two channels at once.

    Hopefully that clarifies things a bit. I personally am still waiting for the ideal TV tuner card, but I'm really not sure such a thing exists. I want dual tuners, analog and HDTV support, high-quality analog encoding, support for QAM decoding, the option to get the card in either PCI or PCI express format, and CableCARD support as well. I'm quite sure that such a card does not exist, and in fact it may never exist. :-(
    Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    One thing I don't like seeing is that 99% of the time I can judge the quality I'm about to read by just looking at the author's name. I won't say who is good and who isn't, but it really suggest poor oversight and/or quality control. I know some authors will write better or have more vision for the article, but that would be true anywhere. At Gamespot.com they have reviews by like a dozen authors, but they almost all come out the same because they conform to a specific standard. At AT it seems obvious that different authors have widly varying levels of quality, and noone proof-reads the articles and tells the authors that they need to put in some more work.

    With other products (video cards) I can see the urge to have the review up fast so the readers don't rush to other sites, but this product isn't exactly the highest profile. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the image quality comparison shots were from DIFFERENT IMAGES.
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    Actually, I thought the article was quite good. IMO the problem is that the article was written for the wrong audience. There are the HTPC-nuts like myself who really research their buying decisions and tweak their software to make it work just so, and then there are the quickie-$29-tuner people who expect an all-in-one solution that just works. I think the article was written for the latter - hence the lack of in-depth comparisons and the confusion about lack of bundled software. Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    Don't you have that a little backwards? The people who buy the expensive cards are generally those who do not tweak much of anything, because they're accepting the default hardware encoding, hardware that is wasted if someone doesn't want to do one-pass straight to MPEG2. It is those who buy the expensive card that want to not think about it, to just "have it work".

    Those buying the other cards, some are just cheapskates, others have legitimate rationality that it's a bit silly to pay for mid-quality hardware encoding unless you ONLY want MPEG2. MPEG2 is becoming a bad choice, if you have a real HTPC. Quality:size worse than MPEG4 and loss too high for editing/re-encoding purposes. It's best if your old standalone DVD player is the playback device.
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    No, it's not backwards. I'll repeat it. There are people who are interested in spending as little as possible and just stick with whatever bundled TV/PVR app the manufacturer has thrown in, and then there are people who want the best possible experience and are willing to spend a little more time and money to pick out different PVR software, compare cards, swap decoders, and so on. Obviously, that doesn't cover the whole range of users, but it's not supposed to; the contrast is merely there to point out the decidedly different audiences for which this article might have been written.

    And if your logic were true in the general case, you couldn't explain why audiophiles - who are incessant tweakers - will pay upwards of $1,000 for a set of cables. But then again, I don't think anybody can explain that to my satisfaction. ;) In any case, it does happen, so your viewpoint isn't exactly all-encompassing, either.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    Ok, so I still disagree. Those who have no idea what they're doing will tend to buy a hardware based card, because they don't KNOW the differences or benefits, they don't realize that if they want a superior result then the $ for a hardware compressor card was wasted money.

    I AM an audiophile and we could go on and on for years about overpriced cables, and it just isn't applicable here (though personally as an audiophile, IF I were to go for premium cotton sleeved/silver cabling, I would make it myself).

    It is true that there are some casual users who don't know a lot about cards and only see the cost, or those that only watch TV for the most part. Then again there are also those with the most experience and will laugh at anyone recording to MPEG2 unless the sole goal was to record it straight to a DVD. BTW I have over a dozen capture cards, though not those in this review and I don't feel I'm missing out.
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    I think we're digressing. There are cards made and marketed to run cheapo bundled PVR apps, and there are people who buy and use those cheapo apps. And that's the audience I think this article was written for - in contrast to the more in-depth review Anandtech readers expected. That's as simple as I can make it. Reply
  • SaidiaDude - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    No ATSC support (HDTV over the air)? Mpeg4? Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    quote:

    A TV Tuner card is a nice addition to any multimedia PC, and the NVIDIA DualTV MCE is a cut above most tuners because of its ability to record two sources at once.


    Yes...IF you purchase MCE. That locks me into a solution I don't want. What if I want to use SageTV, BeyondTV, Meedio, or (my personal favorite as its closed-source-but-free) GB-PVR? I could do this with one Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500, or I could buy two WinTV PVR-150's. It appears I can't do it with one of these cards, meaning I'm possibly stuck facing Microsoft DRM, a limited choice.

    EDIT: I finally noticed at the end of your article that this can be used with other solutions. This is very unclear; do I still need Windows MCE even with SageTV/BeyondTV? Or can I get the drivers to work with XP Pro? You're running a site dedicated to enthusiasts, not novices; we want to know these things up front, not on the last page.

    Your screenshots for each tuner were of different images, making it hard to make a true analysis of quality. I know it makes the article look pretty, but it hurts the comparison. And while you posted the power draw of these cards, you said nothing of CPU usage. I know all the cards have hardware encoders, but it's certainly possible that one might do a better job than the other. When I had a HTPC, I built it on a low-temperature low-budget CPU (Celeron 1.3GHz) and relied on the card to do the work for me (Hauppauge WinTV PVR-150), and it worked. I'm sure many would like to do the same (though maybe slightly higher-end than mine).

    Side note: You may not know this by the way, but many people with TiVo have found hacks that let them do the things you say are not possible with a TiVo. I don't have one myself, but I can use my ReplayTV to transfer shows to a PC and archive them, and/or convert them to DVD with software. There are plenty of sites showing how to do this for serious DVR users, like the ones who read Anandtech. After all, you're talking about a part that someone can build a HTPC with; entry-level users will buy a pre-made Media Center PC, or a DVR, and leave it at that.
    Reply
  • jelifah - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    From the article:
    quote:

    You can also burn the completed content to a DVD if you so choose. This is something that is just not possible with a service like TiVo.


    That's an outright lie. If you install TiVO Desktop on your computer you can pull shows from your TiVO to your computer AND you can place mpeg videos from your computer on to your TiVO.

    Once you have the .tivo file on your computer you can watch them for free, or purchase Sonic DVD and burn them to DVD. Or just get a simple 'hack' that converts them to mpeg.

    I'm not trying to be harsh, but to say it's "just not possible" is utter fallacy. And to even act like it's complicated would still be stretching the truth.
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    Um...society seems to have forgotten this at the moment, but for something to be a lie, it has to be a falsehood AND known as such by the teller. That's offensive, so I would suggest that you just resign yourself to saying, "That's not true," instead of saying, "That's an outright lie."

    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=lie">http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=lie

    As much as we like them, AT's writers are not omniscient. ;)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    I've edited this to reflect the intended meaning. You can't edit/record/etc. your TiVo movies without a PC. The standard TiVo + subscription gets you a box that records movies, and that's it. It's nice enough, but given the cost and the added flexibility a PC gives - and you'll be using a PC anyway with TiVo if you want to do anythin extra, right? - if you're interested in editing recordings and saving them to DVDR, it's generally a lot easier to just skip TiVo and go straight to a TV Tuner card. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    Getting screenshots of the same image is rather difficult, unless you want to record a show using some other device (i.e. VCR) and capture that. I agree that different shots could have been used, though. Anyway, BeyondTV and SageTV do work, even though the card isn't advertised for such use. That's one of the odd things about the "DualTV MCE" - why is it MCE? Still, MCE is actually a pretty decent OS. Reply
  • GoatMonkey - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    quote:

    do I still need Windows MCE even with SageTV/BeyondTV? Or can I get the drivers to work with XP Pro?

    No. I use Beyond TV runs on XP Pro. I don't see any reason that using this card would make any difference. The MCE in the name of some of these cards is just a marketing thing.

    To test I suppose you would really need a recorded video playing back from another computer outputting to coaxial, or have all of the devices installed in different computers side by side and grab screenshots of the same moments in the shows. Plugging a S-video cable into the back and playing a DVD into it might be easier.

    I don't really know which method is best, but the article months ago about a different TV tuner card seemed to have some better comparison screenshots. I don't mean to put down the article's writer though, it was well written, but could have gone into some more details like that. I definitely appreciate coverage of the subject.

    Reply
  • Trisped - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    I think he was asking about the drivers for the card. I know I just built a system for a friend. The mother board came with a Gb lan, but the drivers on the CD wouldn't work for MCE. Called tech support and they said that MCE wasn't supported for most of their boards. I wounder if the reverse is true for this tuner, do they supply drivers that will work in Pro or Home? Reply
  • nullpointerus - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    Well, if you download the drivers, this is what the installer says:

    http://www.uploadfile.info/uploads/395879b307.png">http://www.uploadfile.info/uploads/395879b307.png

    I take it the "or compatible third party application" means that it'd work in plain XP SP2 with SageTV or BeyondTV for example.
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    First, it was my understanding that MCE cards are sold sans PVR software. Frankly, I prefer it this way because I'd rather not pay the hardware manufacturer for developing crappy PVR software that I'll throw away in favor of something more serious like Sage. So there are people who view the lack of bundled software as a plus.

    Second, it's hard to understand why companies would be developing new analog tuners right now (at least in the U.S.). When the government-mandated switch to digital TV occurs, each of these analog tuners will require a converter box AND either a serial cable or an IR blaster just to keep working, right?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've already said that CableCARD requires Vista, and as we know that OS won't be out until the holiday season or even later (depending on who you talk to). And without CableCARD, there simply aren't any digital tuners for the PC that can completely replace the analog tuners currently in use.
    Reply
  • GoatMonkey - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    quote:

    it's hard to understand why companies would be developing new analog tuners right now

    quote:

    there simply aren't any digital tuners for the PC that can completely replace the analog tuners currently in use.

    There you go.
    Reply
  • derekblankmccoy - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    For those of us that live here in the first world, we have several dvb-t and dvb-s cards. I have a Sweetspot MCE in my machine, works like a dream, recieves Freeview, and if i want to watch and record 2 differenct channels, I just have to add in another one, simple! Reply
  • nullpointerus - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    Nonsequitor. nVidia didn't have to enter the analog tuner market; what we're talking about is whether it makes sense to develop new products to enter a collapsing market. Your selective quoting didn't bother to address that.

    Look, would you buy a 3D card right now if i told you that in six months you'd need an expensive dongle, some luck, and a bit of spare time just to get it to work almost as well as it did when you bought it? It's insane.

    I can't wait to see the tech support calls:

    techrep: Hi! blah blah blah What can I help you with today?
    user: Yes, my TV tuner stopped working a week after I bought it. I can't get no signal on any of the stations. It's all staticy.
    techrep: Can you verify that you still have cable on your other TVs?
    user: Yes, they're all working fine.
    techrep: I'll give you a ticket number. It's 493027583.
    techrep: Have you tried reinstalling the drivers?
    user: I don't understand what would have changed.
    user: Oh, sorry, I'll try that now.
    *lost connection*

    techrep: Hi! blah blah blah What can I help you with today?
    user: Yes, my TV tuner stopped working a week after I bought it. I can't get no signal on any of the stations. It's all staticy.
    techrep: Can you verify that you still have cable on your other TVs?
    user: Yes, my ticket number is 493027583.
    techrep: Oh...wait a sec.
    techrep: OK, I'm reading your chat log.
    *several minutes pass by*
    user: Hello?
    techrep: Yes, I'm still here. What software are you using to watch TV on your PC?
    user: Windows XP MCE SP2
    techrep: Have you tried reinstalling it?
    user: No, but I don't think that's the problem. It records OK - they're just static.
    techrep: I think you need to reinstall MCE.
    user: Isn't there anything else we can try?
    techrep: Can you play the files back in Windows Media Player?
    user: Just a sec.
    techrep: OK.
    user: Yes, they play back, but the sound and video is just static.
    techrep: I think your system has been infected by a virus. At this point, the only thing you can do is to reinstall MCE.
    user: OK, whatever.
    *several hours pass by*

    techrep: Hi! blah blah blah What can I help you with today?
    user: ticket number is 493027583
    techrep: Oh...wait a sec.
    techrep: OK, I'm reading your chat log.
    user: Reinstalling MCE didn't work.
    techrep: OK, I think I know what your problem is. In compliance with new FCC rules, your cable provider has switched from an analog signal to a digital signal. The tuner card you purchased last week can't handle the new signal.
    user: You mean I didn't need to reinstall MCE? Darn.
    user: So how do I update the firmware?
    techrep: I apologize for the inconvenience of reinstalling MCE. We're updating our support department on these new cases as we speak.
    techrep: There is no new firmware. The tuner simply won't work with a digital signal.
    user: What the...? I just bought the damn thing last week!!
    techrep: I'm sorry, sir, but it just won't work.
    techrep: Some people have gotten it to work by purchasing a serial cable or IR blast.
    user: Where can I get one of those?
    techrep: We don't provide any support for that.
    user: What?! How the **** am I supposed to fix this stupid ****?
    techrep: I'm sorry, but we don't support third party products like those.
    techrep: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
    *lost connection*

    What fun.
    Reply
  • GoatMonkey - Monday, May 22, 2006 - link

    It's at least 3 years away.

    I would hope that I wouldn't be using any video card for that long.
    Reply
  • NegativeEntropy - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    The mandate in the US to switch from analog to digital is for Over The Air only. Oh, and it is currently set for Feb 17 2009. It has already been pushed back several times. I think the original date was 2002.

    Cable companies own their networks (line sharing not withstanding) and thus can do whatever they want. Hence your worries will be all based on your provider, unless you're a big user of OTA broadcasting. I don't know about you, but the only people I know that use an antenna are:
    1) People that only want 4-7 channels total
    2) People that use it for local channels that choose to not or cannot get via sattelite
    3) People getting OTA HD (which is analog?)
    Reply
  • Trisped - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    Of course the fact that my cable company has been tring for years to get us off analog and all onto digital doesn't do much for my desire to own another TV tuner. When they come out with one that does HDTV, DTV, and SDTV and uses a PCIe slot I will start looking into getting it, not before. Reply
  • nullpointerus - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    Really? Man, I was terribly confused. Thanks for clarifying that!

    From what I can tell, OTA HD is digital, not analog. I've read about the signal either being on or off - IOW not staticy - and then there's this site which I found this morning:

    http://www.dtv.gov/consumercorner.html#howdoiget">http://www.dtv.gov/consumercorner.html#howdoiget

    ...which gives advice on how to get OTA DTV.
    Reply
  • gplracer - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    I thought that I read somewhere that the cablecard tuners will only come with systems made by manufacturers. If one is building a computer he/she will not be able to purchase this tuner. I find it hard to believe this will happen but who knows. Reply
  • nullpointerus - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    Oh, one more thing: As for why there isn't a version bundled with MCE, think of the support issues. People expect software bundled with a piece of hardware to "just work" when it is installed, but having to replace your OS or install it on new hardware? It's just too much work - MS should handle the MCE problems. This would be different if MS figured out that MCE is just an application and should be sold as such. Application solutions such as Sage or BeyondTV often sell software+hardware bundles through their store especially with Hauppauge cards. Reply
  • SilkySmooth - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    That has to be one of the worst AT reviews I have ever read. It shows a total lack of understanding of what the HTPC audience looks for in a TV tuner card. As other posters have mentioned even a basic side by side image comparison is missing not to mention encoding, audio, cpu utilization. Reply
  • Woodchuck2000 - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    One completely different screenshot per tuner does not an IQ comparison make.

    What about the cards' de-interlacing quality? What about CPU utilisation? It looks sufficiently like someone at nVidia said "We've got this new card, can you knock up a quick article to publicise it?"

    Reply
  • Pandamonium - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    I didn't read the whole article, so I might have missed an explanation.

    Either way, how on earth could AT publish a review of an MCE-certified TV tuner without including anything from Hauppauge's product line? The PVR-150MCE and 500MCE's are pretty standard fare as far as the HTPC community is concerned. AT really ought to consider republishing this article with that in mind.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    See last page. PVR-350 is mentioned as one of the few other good dual-tuner cards. PVR-500 is about the same, AFAIK, though the drivers are at present apparently iffy. (The beta drivers are basically required.) Reply
  • GoatMonkey - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    I'm using a Hauppauge 500 MCE with Beyond TV, and have no need for any beta drivers. The thing works perfectly.
    Reply
  • Tegeril - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    It's clear that you have never used a MCE system with Hauppauge's cards and neither has anyone that was involved in the writing of this article. I've got a 350, yes it is a single tuner, the 500 is dual, and the system was constructed over a year ago and the drivers I'm using have not needed updating, I find it very difficult to believe that the drivers haven't changed in that time, and no, I'm not even using beta drivers now. Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    Umm, so unlike every other bit of hardware on earth, you are presuming that with your specific card, if one person on earth has a driver version working ok, then it is golden for everyone? I don't think so. Reply
  • GoatMonkey - Monday, May 22, 2006 - link

    Here's the latest driver...

    http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/support/support_mce...">http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/support/support_mce...

    The driver is not a beta.

    There is a beta of the radio software for windows media center edition. But media center edition sucks so, it doesn't matter.

    Why should we assume that because some random guy says you have to use beta drivers that it is correct?

    Reply
  • dstaaf - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    The http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_pvr35...">PVR-350 is a single-tuner card. Reply
  • fanbanlo - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    I expected a lot more from AnandTech on this review...

    no screenshot / side-by-side comparison?
    no CPU Utilization graph??
    no audio comparison?
    no MediaSqueeze review?

    Reply
  • hondaman - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    FIRST thing I thought. Pretty bad review by AT standards.

    How does live tv look compared to REAL live tv, i.e. tv plugged right into your sat/cable reciever?

    Where is the defacto standard for tv capture cards, the hauppauge? Why is this card not compared?

    Will it run in linux based pvrs, and what are the tradeoffs? Is there any windows-only software that makes this card better, and isnt available for linux users, thus making it a bad choice for us?

    Need WAY WAY WAY more info! Come on AT! You can do better than this!
    Reply
  • stmok - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    Knowing how Nvidia acts in regards to open-source in general, I seriously doubt this solution works in Linux. You're better off getting a Hauppauge card that is well known for Linux support.


    As for the article itself? (I'd have to agree with the others).

    (1) Where the heck is CPU usage graphs?
    (2) It would be wiser if you capture from the same show with the different cards, so we can compare quality.
    (3) How does it compare to those Haupauge products?
    (4) Support for other OSs? (We ain't all Windows users!)
    (5) I am curious of the power consumption of capture cards...How much power do they burn?
    Reply
  • micsaund - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    Also: "...all three of these cards use silicone tuners..."

    It's "silicon" -- silicone is used in completely different applications, some of which I'm sure I don't have to elaborate on ;)

    Reply
  • guste - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    I'm a bit disappointed as well, but not surprised. Anandtech has it's strong areas and weak areas and this is definitely one of the weaker areas. Not a big knock against the site though, as this kind of thing isn't it's bread and butter.

    Anyway, I was hoping to get some more data, since I currently run two Theatre 550 Pros in my MCE box and wanted to see what the CPU utilization characteristics of the nVidia dual tuner solution are. The 550 Pros are a flawless solution, other than the fact that they take two slots, so it would have helped to get a thorough review to see if it was worth it to upgrade.
    Reply
  • DukeTogo - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link

    Ditto, I wanted to like this article but...

    I thought it was over the top to jump on the 550 cards for only have one tuner.
    As noted, not a problem - install two. We run 2 x Sapphire Theatrix 550's and they are great. If you can get the "Lite version" (ie. no remote) it's extra savings over the one with the IR remote or the ATI Elite version with the RF remote. Then you just use your MCE remote, assuming you use MCE.

    I was interested in the power consumption. Subtracting off the 145W base, it seems that each config uses: (warning: validity?) I doubled the 550 solution for the case where one uses two cards.

    From the article (-145W)

    Idle Watch Record
    NVIDIA 17 34 44
    550 14 25 30
    550x2 28? 50? 60?

    I do own a PowerAngel so I could probably validate the 550 figures given the time on the weekend.

    I'd be interested in heat output as well. Does one Nvidia card produce less heat than 2 550's ? I would assume so, but...

    The channel change times was interesting, though not perhaps all that relevant if you use an IR blaster to an external set-top box. Probably only matters to those with a direct cable feed?

    I'd also be very interested in an analysis of MediaSqueeze.
    cpu? disk space? quality? interface/settings ? etc


    Hoping to see a Part II for this article with some of the info people want to see.

    Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    Something looks wrong with those numbers, a card that doesn't have MPEG2 encoding should cause a larger difference between idle (watching) and recording because it's taking the CPU out of HALT state quite a bit. Reply
  • Trisped - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    That would only be true if the card was compressing the data stream so it could be sent to the video card to be decompressed. With an AIW card the data is sent strait from the tuner to the GPU, and never has to leave the board. Otherwise they would have built in a converter so it wouldn't cripple your system bus when sending the data between cards. Reply
  • mindless1 - Sunday, May 21, 2006 - link

    No, it would be true.
    IF the card does not have hardware compression, AND the video is being recorded to a compressed format, THEN the CPU _MUST_ being encountering a higher load than it otherwise would. So it is with most AIW, software MPEG2 is the default isn't it? regardless of what the default is, I think wek can presume the majority of AIW users are using a compressed format.
    Reply

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