If you happen to be shopping for an HDTV and a TiVo HD, Amazon has a deal that could let you kill two birds with stone. Or you know, two digital media products with one credit card payment. Here's how it works. You order both a TiVo HD and a qualifying Samsung HDTV and when you get to checkout, the cost of the TiVo HD should disappear.
The offer's only good through June 9, and the deal is limited to three TiVo HDs per customer. So if you were planning on buying 4 flat screen televisions for $1000+ a pop, it looks like you'll have to pay for the TiVo box to go with that fourth unit.
Dvico has released the FusionHDTV7 PCI express card, which is a dual HD TV tuner. Dvico claims that this is the first PCIe card capable of recording two HDTV channels (either digital or QAM) at the same time, and I can't think of any others off the top of my head, so I'm going to agree that this is at least one of the first. Like most HDTV tuner cards these days, the FusionHDTV7 can tune into either digital ATSC broadcats or analog NTSC signals.
The card allows you to record two shows at once, record one show while watching a live program on anothr channel, or view Picture-in-picture videos. Of course, you can get all of the same features by buying two cards, but at about $140, the FusionHDTV is probably cheaper than picking up two other cards. And it takes up less space in your PC.
[via The Green Button]
EVGA, a company best known for its PC graphics cards, is joining the crowded field of companies producing USB TV tuners. The company's inDtube HDTV tuner (Get it? inDtube sounds like "in the tube." So clever. Wait, no.) looks like your basic TV tuner with support for ATSC and NTSC signals, and S-Video, RCA, and composite video.
The tuner also comes with a portable antenna, a remote control, and a USB extension cable, as well as an F-Connector to MCX adapter. There's also some basic PVR software if you don't already have an application for watching and recording TV programs. Without even knowing what software the inDTube ships with, I'm going to go ahead and recommend you find smething better like Media Portal, GBPVR, BeyondTV or SageTV.
The inDTube works with Windows XP, Windows XP MCE, and Windows Vista. No word on pricing or availability yet.
But there does appear to be at least one downside (aside from the fact that analog recordings are inherently lower quality than digital recordings). Chris Lanier points out that Hauppauge will not officially support dual tuner setups for now. That means, if you were hoping to pick up two boxes and record two HDTV shows as the same time, you may be out of luck.
Apparently the drivers for the HD-PVR do support multiple tuner setups. But Hauppauge has not yet tested this configuration, so the company won't officially support this option. That would seem to indicate that Hauppauge could add support when the product is a bit more mature and the company's had more time to kick the tires. On the other hand, it's wholly possible that third party software PVR applications like BeyondTV, SageTV, and GB-PVR could add multi-tuner support before Hauppauge gets around to it.
The Volar Max, which was first announced at CES in January is now available for $80. The tuner supports unencrypted HDTV signals in both Windows Vista Media Center and Windows XP Media Center edition.
Users can download a utility from AVermedia that will let them scan for unencrypted ClearQAM channels. There's a chance you'll find a couple of encrypted channels during the scan, which you can manually remove from your program guide. For the most part, premium channels are encrypted while broadcast network channels are not.
Here are some other interesting tidbits:
- Compresses video in real-time using the H.264 codec, with constant and variable bit-rates ranging from 1Mbps to 13.5Mbps
- Format recordings so they can be burned to Blu-ray discs
- Record at 1080i, 720p, or VGA resolutions
- Comes with IR remote control and IR Blaster for changing the TV channels on your set top box
- NTSC, PAL, and SECAM support
- Requires a PC with a dual core CPU and at least 256MB of graphics memory for playback of high definition H.264 videos
[via Brent Evans Geek Tonic]
What sets the PCTV HD Pro apart from the stick is an FM tuner and a dongle that lets you capture video from other sources with the nifty, but awkward looking dongle you can see in the image above. Oh yeah, and the Pro version costs $100, while you can pick up a stick for $70. Both versions should be available early next week.
The HD-PVR will be able to capture HD video from any component video output and compress it in real time to H.264. In other words, you can using your existing cable or satellite box to flip channels, and record HDTV without getting a CableCard tuner for your PC.
Evans has also learned that Windows Media Center will not support the new device at launch, but that you should be able to use the HD-PVR with a Windows Media Center machine by this summer. But we'd be surprised if the device isn't supported by third party media center software like SageTV, BeyondTV, and MythTV.
Of course, this is good news for the consumer who gets a larger selection as a result. That is assuming Dish Network doesn't justify an increase in price later as a result of this expansion.
Missing Remote has put together an excellent primer on choosing the right video source for your PVR. For example, if you want to record over-the-air HDTV using a digital antenna, you can use pretty much any modern TV tuner. But if you want to record the unencrypted HDTV signals your cable company sends out as well as standard definition digital cable channels, you're probably going to want something a bit more specialized, like Silcon Dust's HDHomeRun for the HDTV, and a second tuner with an S-Video port and an IR blaster to record and change the channels on your digital cable box.
Of course, there's a lot more to building a PVR than choosing the right TV tuner. You also need to choose the right software package, make sure you have enough hard drive space, and make sure your video card can support your display. But in end, your video quality is only going to be as good as your TV tuner.
Franky. I think FiOS has more problems than just bandwidth limitations. It also suffers from a limited market. I tried ordering the service from Verizon and discovered it didn't reach my apartment building yet. I live in a fairly populated area near New York City, so I found this surprising.
While adding more HD channels is a noble objective, I think Verizon should also work on trying to get their service out to more customers and be a better competitor to cable. Does anybody out there use Verizon FiOS? If so, what do you think of the service?
I am now one of you. No longer will I be shunned at social events, ignored by family, and laughed at by world leaders. That bleak and dark time of my life is now over. Why, you ask? Well, as of a few short months ago I became one of the 24 million households that owns a flat-screen HDTV. Utopia is now within my reach.
I had no interest in purchasing one at first. It was the re-carpeting of our family room that actually planted the seed.
If I could pick my dream television set, and it would appear magically in my living room, maybe delivered by Jeannie or Samantha Stevens or some other TV character that could wave her hand or twitch her nose, I would take one of those cool sets from the 50s, with the insides being modern, of course. I want the look of the 50s, but I don't want to be stuck with the four or so stations they had back then. (And yes I know there are companies that sell them, but they're out of my income bracket.)
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