HDTV and Video Cards


Active Member
So the more I read, the more confused I get (I think).

I'm going to build my own PVR with a DVB Satellite card. But my big question is around getting HDTV MPG2 videos from my computer to my TV. Anyone got the easy scoop on this, if even it's possible?

I think I understand an ATI solution will allow me to use Component or RGB connections but not the DVI. Do I need DVI to HDTV?

Anyone else done something similar yet?

Which DVB card are you looking at?
What video card (for out to tv) are you thinking about?
What HDTV do you have? What connections are on the back?

One thing... I don't know anything about is DVB cards, as I'm in the States and we can't use them, but I wasn't aware of any DVB cards that would record in High-Definition (then again, that means nothing). In the States, we can only record OTA HD signals as of now.

Different ways to get HD to the tv...
ATI HDTV Dongle or the Crescendo Systems Transcoder or the new
Crescendo Systems TCP2200 PCI VGA to YPrPb Transcoder
Psssst... There's a giveaway going on for this...Crescendo Systems 2200 PCI Transcoder Giveaway

Other options:
If you video card has a dvi output AND the tv has a dvi input... a single cable will do. Alternatively, if the tv has a vga input, same goes.

Regardless of method, you will more than likely need to look into using Powerstrip to set the correct timings for your display.

Just throwing out some things off the top of my head...
some other links to look at...

How to connect your PC to your Digital/HDTV

Powerstrip 101

Edit: If you go the DVI route, be aware that there are different types of DVI cables
DVI - Digital Visual Interface

and just in case your card doesn't have a DVI port... DVI/VGA adapters

A DVI connection can be one of three types - DVI-I, DVI-D or DVI-A.
DVI-I contains both the digital and analog connections, (DVI-D + DVI-A) , it's essentially a combination of DVI-D and DVI-A cables within one cable.

DVI-D (like DFP or P&D-D (EVC)) is a digital only connection. If both devices being connected support a Digital DVI connection (DVI-I or DVI-D compatible) and are compatible in resolutions, refresh rates and sync, using a DVI-D cable will ensure that you are using a digital connection rather than an analog connection, without playing around with settings to assure this.

DVI-A is really rare. Why use a DVI connector when you can use a cheaper VGA connector? see DVI-I P&D-A (EVC) is more common with projectors, and you should go to your projector manufacturer for recommendations.
Dual Link: Dual T.D.M.S. (transition minimized differential signaling) "links". DVI can have up to two TMDS links. Each link has three data channels for RGB information with a maximum bandwidth of 165 MHz, which is equal to 165 million pixels per second. Dual-link connections provide bandwidth for resolutions up to 2048 x 1536p.
Single Link: Single T.D.M.S. link. Each link has three data channels for RGB information with a maximum bandwidth of 165 MHz, which is equal to 165 million pixels per second.
Bandwidth for a single-link connection supports resolutions of over 1920 x 1080 at 60 Hz (HDTV).

Dual link vs Single Link: Don't believe the "hype" some websites are using about dual link cables being superior to single link cables. A single link cable is 100% as good as a dual link cable for single link equipment which covers about 99.5% of current equipment, including HDTV's, Projectors, Plasma Screens, and High

Definition Set top Boxes. A better quality cable is a better quality cable, and single and dual link has nothing to do with quality. On the other hand, if both devices being connected support Dual links, then a dual link cable is the proper cable for the application, and you will have the capability of much greater resolutions and refresh rates. A properly designed Dual link cable should have no negative effects when used with single link equipment.

*Whether or not you need Dual Link or Single link will depend on your equipment.

This is a DVI-I "Dual Link" or "Single Link" female connector. This should work with DVI-I, DVI-A or DVI-D devices with "Dual Link" or "Single Link" connections. If both devices use this connector, use a "Dual Link" connector. DVI-D Connector
You must use a DVI-D cable.
DVI to VGA adapters (really DVI-A to VGA adapters) will connect a regular VGA/SVGA monitor to a DVI-I connection.
A DVI-I connection from a video card or monitor will connect to a digital signal (DVI-D) and an analog signal (VGA) as well. Connecting DVI-D or DFP or D&P-D connections to a VGA monitor requires a digital to analog converting adapter, which currently cost around $400.00, usually making a video card replacement a better choice.

There's also a connection known as HDMI DVI, but I havent seen anything that uses it.
Wow that's a lot of info. Let me read it all over and get back to you with my proposed setup and questions.


P.S. I just missed the giveaway by like 30 minutes....
I just ordered that ATI HDTV dongle too. MS Windows Media Center 2005 is supposed to support HDTV too, and rumor is that ATI will be one of the few HDTV cards supported by this platform, so that's a good sign. A few weeks ago, I posted an article on the front page about a new card, which does both HDTV and Digital Cable, you might want to take a look at that one too (don't remember the name, I am typing this in a hurry).
Well I think I'm starting to get the hang of some of this stuff. They don't make it easy though.

I think I'm going to settle into an ATI All in Wonder card and use the dongle to connect it to my Sony 57ws500 via Component cables. I've tried to read into the DVI but there is too much mis-information out there to decipher what's real. Maybe I'll try it when I have some time or find a "dummies guide for PC -> TV via DVI). Powerstrip seems to be a must since all tv manufacturers are doing something different and video cards are all different. Using the above combination I should be able to support 1080i without too much overscan.

No I plan to get a pretty fast motherboard (Athlon XP) as I'm not sure the 64 for the extra $$ is worth it (I'm trying to stay within reason). Sound reasonable?

What's the current scoop on hard drive model and bandwith. I understand SATA is a little more $$ but has higher bandwith. Is that right. Will a regular ATA133 drive still cut it for recording mpg2 streams?
ATA133 is fast enough, I have 2 PC based DVR/PVR's, and have no issues. You are right about powerstrip, it was the only way I could get things to display right on my TV, so it's worth the money (assuming it isn't expensive, I ran the trial for a while).
The only straightforward DVI connection is between computers and monitors. I find all of the discussions about DVI on TVs to be quite confusing. If you can find a TV that will accept normal computer DVI (such as an LCD TV designed to also be used as a monitor) and you are driving it from a computer, it should be very easy to connect. Otherwise, component is probably the easiest.

You don't need very fast hard drives for most PVR applications. Although I'm not recording particularly high quality (or digital) video (I record 1 hour = 2G), just about any hard drive should work. My PVR machine has a 40G 5400RPM (for temperature reasons) 2M buffer hard drive (I think it's ATA100) in it that works perfectly well. Note that this particular machine is only used to record. I don't use it to store, edit, or play back videos. I don't even use the TV out on it any more (it's connected to a 12" planar touchscreen for control purposes).

If you go with SATA, one thing to bear in mind is that most drive manufacturers are apparently just putting SATA adapters on their normal parallel drives. You will not see any speed improvements with these drives (the data still comes through the normal IDE interface on the drive first). You may want to check the drives first if you decide to go SATA.
DO NOT BUY a All-in-Wonder card. I'll expound on the reason when I get a bit of time later today. Real quick... it uses software to encode the stream, taxing the CPU; results with this card will be below expectations. Look into the Hauppauge PVR-250 as they are hardware encoders... (more to come)
Edit: you mentioned a DVB card... are you outside the USA?

In some of the reading I've been doing I've been reading about the argument on hardware vs software decoders. Where I think I am is that hardware decoders are great but software will be more flexible. Yes it requires more power but I'll be able to do more than mpeg2.

Question: Can I connect a PVR-250 via Component to my TV or will I need that transcoder?

I was also looking into the DVB-S card for here in Canada but as it turns out I can't really use it here. I was hoping I could use my exisitng subscription with it but I can't. I don't know why the service providers here don't offer that.

Anyways - Thanks for the advice.
PVR-250 is input only. It will record from RF (cable), composite, and s-video sources.

The PVR-350 has output as well, but it's somewhat limited.

I think you've hit the nail on the head with the argument for software recording. If you want to record uncompressed video, you can't use a hardware mpeg encoder like the PVR-250. Although I seem to remember that there was some way to get this to work using graphedit, maybe?

I use a PVR-250 and I'm really happy with it. However, I think that working with mpeg2 directly does complicate some editing processes. Hardware encoding is most important (to me, at least) if you are using a lower-end PC or have other things going on with the PC at the same time.

Also, if you are viewing live TV on the computer using a PVR250, remember that the computer will need to decode mpeg2 in order to show it (requiring the appropriate codecs, usually acquired with DVD player software). It can take more processor time to decode this signal that it does to display directly using overlays on something like an ATI AIW.
So smee are you still saying the AIW would be a good output? I mixed myself up again and I agree the PVR-250 would be a good input card (since my DVB-S is out). I would really like to try and drive my output to 1080i via component.
I have heard that the component output from ATI cards can be very good. I have not tested it - my card can do it but I don't have anything that takes component input.

All of my experience driving a TV has been with composite video (not even s-video) and I have not been overwhelmed by it. This is with ATI and other cards. I've gotten reasonably good pictures when viewing movies but not good Windows desktops or user interfaces. And, it's not always easy to get a good display on the TV and monitor at the same time.

I now use separate devices to record and play back. Recordings are usually made using a PVR250. This computer has a 12" 800x600 LCD connected for user interface only - I can play back video with it but I usually don't bother. Recorded programs are stored on a server and played back on another computer (with 20" LCD monitor) or on the TV using a Hauppauge MediaMVP or similar (with composite connection). The playback with the MediaMVP and composite connection is pretty good.

Don't think that any of my negative experience will affect your choice. I think you will get much better results using the component out of the ATI card.

I still like the DVI from my computer driving the DVI on the 20" LCD the best as far as picture quality goes (at least when playing DVDs - I don't record TV at high enough resolution).
I should be able to tell soon when I get my DVR back (had to send it back for some issues), but I did get my HDTV adapter today.
Total newbie here but why not simply get a DVD recorder? All this PC stuff, and hump-teen different graphic cards and codecs what does it offer over a DVD recorder.