[mythtv-users] Thoughts on HDTV-capable frontend

Joseph Wilkicki jwilkicki at gmail.com
Sun Nov 13 13:26:45 EST 2005

Hi all!

I've finally got the budget to move on to the next phase of my MythTV plan.
At this point, I have an Opteron 146 with 1GB of RAM and a 1 TB RAID array
for my backend. My next steps are: putting in Tuner cards and creating a
frontend. At this point, I have non-digital cable, since that seems to be
the easiest to record without a fancy setup (IR blaster, firewire, etc).
Eventually, I think I would like to move to digital cable with HD. So my
first question is: should I be looking at a PVR-250 to start with or bump up
to a pchdtv3000? Any thoughts on the Air2PC HD card? I know I don't need the
PVR-350, since the backend will be headless.

For the frontend, I'm a little more confused. My plan is to rip a large
portion of my DVD library to the RAID array. I want MPEG4 with AC3 audio as
the encoding format. I want to display it with component video cables on my
widescreen. I also want to be able to display HD eventually. I see two basic
routes. The first is to go with the new EPIA with the on-board MPEG2 decoder
and MPEG4 accelerator, but I'm not sure if it does component out. It would
be quiet and small though.

The other option is: use a NVidia card with native component out support,
and a Micro-ATX footprint. If I go that route, what do people recommend for
processor and memory requirements for possible HD decoding, given that the
NVidia card will probably accelerate this? Is it worth it to put another
tuner card in the frontend for channel surfing? What about system and fan
noise? Can anyone recommend parts that are quiet? I'm especially concerned
about a decent case. I'm also going to be using 802.11G between the backend
and frontend, due to physical restrictions. Any thoughts on video over
wireless, especially MPEG2 and MPEG4? There is no wife factor, but a
borged-looking entertainment center will probably drive any potential
wife-factors away. :-)

I know it is a lot of questions; any thoughts on any part of the above would
be useful. I've been researching this off and on for about three years, and
my head is full of trade-offs at this point. Maybe someone can talk about
how they got started and what the upgrade path looked like.
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