[mythtv-users] Hardware for Best TV-Out?

Joe Votour joevph at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 24 21:37:33 UTC 2004

Hi all,

I know that this has been discussed half to death, but
I'm still trying to figure out what the best possible
setup for TV-Out is available.

First, the hardware I have in my backend/frontend:
* Athlon XP 2400+
* 512MB RAM
* nVidia GeForce 440MX (Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack!
Pro/600 TV)
* PVR-250
* PVR-350
* SoundBlaster! Live (onboard sound is available)
27" Panasonic TV with S-Video and composite inputs
(using S-Video)

The software is setup as per Jarod's Fedora Core 2
website, with the latest versions of everything
(MythTV 0.16).  Previously, I also tried compiling
MythTV itself from source to see if there's any
difference (I recall reading about a possible OpenGL
sync issue).  Recording on the PVR-x50's is done at
720x480, 4500-6000Mb/sec, sound is also the default

Now then, what I've tried, and the results:

1. Using the GeForce 440MX card (using nVidia driver
Everything in MythTV works on it, since it has 3D
acceleration and S-Video out is like a regular video

The picture quality is the worst of them all, but it's
still not that bad.  What really kills it though is
that there's an insane amount of jittering.  Sports
are pretty much unwatchable, a CNN ticker is jumping
like crazy.  I've tried all of the filters (as well as
none at all), the best results seem to be with Bob (on
the ticker, it doesn't jitter as much, but it's still
there), but Bob makes text on the screen look pretty
bad (both in the TV image, and the OSD), and even Bob
still has the jitters.

There's a good possibility that I'm not setting up the
options correctly, and if that's the case, then I'd
appreciate some guidance.

2. PVR-350
The picture quality is outstanding!  Just as good as
the TV.  No jitters on the CNN ticker, sports have no
problem at all.

The screen runs at 720x480, so the X screen is a bit
messed up (some portions aren't shown, due to
overscan(?)).  I can fix this by changing my window
manager and setting the GUI size options, but then the
OSD/program guide still don't really fit.  Also, at
random times during LiveTV (if I adjust the GUI size),
I'll get a big black box corresponding to my GUI size
settings on top of the TV image, which won't go away,
until I trigger something OSD related (say, hit the
Info button on my remote).

3. Scan converter (VGA to NTSC)
Easy connection/configuration

Same results as the nVidia.  Not worth the money,
unless I can get good results.

4. XBox as a frontend
This seems to have the best compromise.

The picture (even for stretched/scaled) looks pretty
good on the TV.  I get some pauses every now and then,
but that could be due to my router.  CNN ticker is
flawless, except for the odd pause (suspected issue
with my router).

The XBox is a bit noisy (but not that bad), and the
CPU being at 60-70% when watching TV is a bit
worrisome.  Also unknown whether or not the pausing
issue is related to my router (hopefully).

So, now that I've outlined what I've tried already,
can anybody suggest anything?  About the only thing I
haven't tried is a Via EPIA frontend, and if it were
to work, I'd certainly spend the money on it.  Only
thing is that reading the lists doesn't seem to give
any information to help me make up my mind.

Like I said earlier, I realize that this has been
hashed out to death, but can anybody give me some
suggestions on what I can do to improve the TV-Out
quality?  Cost (for hardware) is (within reason) not
an issue, but it has to work.

-- Joe

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