HDTV – myth or reality?

Being a geek, it is no surprise that my monitor (an Acer X223W) is bigger than my (Teac analogue) television. It therefore made sense that rather than upgrading my TV with a set top box, to investigate what’s on the market to receive HDTV on the computer.

The weapon of choice was a Gadget Geek USB HDTV tuner, purchased from Dick Smith for under $AUD 100. Not bad. Under Windows XP, it installed quickly and easily. The unit came with a mobile antenna and Blaze HD TV software, and on the first scan for channels, it found absolutely, yep you guessed it, nothing. So, out came the coax cable, and I plugged the USB HDTV tuner into the outlet in the wall (straight from the antenna – it was previously hooked into my stereo to receive FM radio). The coax cable only fared slightly better – receiving only the digital SBS channels. Just to be absolutely sure, I repeated the process on the other two coax outlets (yep, small unit and three phone lines and three coax outlets. I <3 my house. It will be even better when it’s CAT 6 wired). At most, I could receive 10% signal strength for one other digital channel.

Not to be deterred, I booted into my other operating system (Fedora Core 9) to see whether MythTV would fare any better. MythTV was a nightmare to install – it is not for Linux newbies. After spending four hours resolving dependencies in yum, I finally got the software to install… only to find that there are no Linux drivers for the USB HDTV tuner. Bummer.

Conclusion: I need a new antenna that can pick up HDTV signals. Well, it beats socks as an Xmas pressie 🙂

5 thoughts on “HDTV – myth or reality?

  1. For digital reception, I had to get a booster for the antennae, works fine now.

    My family don’t want to turn on a computer to watch TV, so we have a Phillips LCD HDTV. But, it runs Linux (yes, really !) and came with a copy of the GPL 🙂 My TV is also an DLNA UPnP media client over Ethernet, but only for image and audio (not video … sigh … guess I’ll have to hack my TV kernel).

    The PlayStation 3 is also a DLNA UPnP media client, so it can display streamed video over the home network, to the LCD HDTV. Also, means no computer required in the lounge room (of course, the PS3 is a computer, but more like an appliance … and it runs Linux too).

    I run MythTV with 2 digital tuner cards in my home office (so, the noisy computer is not in the lounge room). MythTV has a nice web interface and also an iPhone remote control. The MythTV back-end is a DNLA UPnP media server, so it can stream live and recorded TV straight to the PS3.

    The MythTV front-end runs on Linux, Mac and Windoze … so, TV is available wirelessly where ever.

    I use TwonkyVision as a general UPnP media server for ripped CDs, photographs and recorded video (from mini-DV, etc).

    The PlayStation PSP also acts as a wireless client of the PS3, and can connect to the PS3 from anywhere on the Internet … and thus watch live or recorded TV from anywhere (it’s amazing that all these pieces actually hold together and work).

    Putting all this together means that I don’t have any time to watch TV 🙂

    If you want some assistance with getting MythTV going, please just email me. It really is much easier these days, compared to a few years back. But, I suspect that certain aspects are still tricky when doing it for the first time.

  2. Oh, regarding MythTV yum dependences on Fedora, the trick is to …

    Use the ATRPMs yum repository (for MythTV only, should use Livna for everything else). Then …

    yum install –disablerepo=livna –enablerepo=atrpms mythtv-suite

    For more details, see http://geekscape.org/daisy/geekscape/106.html

    It’s a little old, but still completely relevant for Fedora 9 and MythTV 0.21. I still use the same basic recipe.

    There currently some issues with obtaining an Australian EPG, due to commercial TV stations like channel 9 being stupid and trying to fix their threatened business model by suing others, like IceTV … sigh 🙁

  3. Curious, why choose a USB HDTV Tuner and not a PCI card? Does the USB slow your PC down while recording. Meaning does it increase the CPU usuage quite a bit?

  4. Thanks AndyG and HDTV Source.
    AndyG – I managed to get the repos all figured out, and dependencies are now sorted – with MythTV now working (backended on to MySQL as the database component). Sadly however FC9 doesn’t pick up the USB gadget. Not bad for a first attempt however.

    HDTV Source – My laptop doesn’t have any expansion slots left unfortunately and I also wanted the convenience of being able to use the HDTV tuner on more than one machine. I have a 2GHz processor, so it doesn’t get slowed down too much 🙂

  5. Are you in an urban area? Do you get decent analogue reception? How does your analogue reception compare to the digital tuner?

    Have you tried recording multiple channels at once? USB isn’t fast enough to transfer miniDV footage (which is why they usually use FireWire). I was wondering if it was possible to record two channels at a lower resolution/quality.

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