[mythtv-users] Does anyone have this video card?

Ian Macdonald ian at caliban.org
Thu Sep 21 12:52:47 UTC 2006

On Thu 21 Sep 2006 at 13:05:28 +0100, Nick wrote:

> If you just want to watch recordings/LiveTV/DVD and don't wan't/need
> to take advantage of the new OpenGL menus etc (which the PVR-350
> output doesn't support) I'd recommend looking into using the PVR-350's
> X driver for output (as Mike notes), and not get a new video card at
> all (if you were wanting to use HDTV then it would be a different
> story, but for SDTV I don't think it's worth it, especially if you
> already have the PVR-350.)

There are many more issues with using a PVR-350's TV-Out, however:

1. Use of the hardware MPEG-2 decoder is now basically unmaintained in
   MythTV. Unless a new maintainer comes along, the day when the
   PVR-350's decoder stops working and no-one is able to fix it is only
   a matter of time.

2. Rewinding at any speed freezes the playback image.

3. Fast-forwarding at any speed beyond 3x freezes the playback image.

4. The early boot process can't be followed on-screen. If there's a
   problem, you're running blind.

5. OpenGL's not just for menus, but MythMusic visualisations, MythGame,

6. IvyTV driver decoder errors experienced with the PVR-350 can freeze
   playback (and spew lots of syslog entries), requiring a quick press
   of the Rewind button. This issue becomes more and more irritating
   over time.

7. MythTV itself will never look great through the PVR-350's TV Out. A
   real video card will let you set a higher resolution and use a higher
   quality output, such as DVI. Fonts will scale better and menus will
   be less likely to run off the screen. TV won't look any better, of
   course, unless you have hi-res input sources.

8. If you use the PVR-350's hardware MPEG-2 decoder, you have no choice
   but to also send audio through the TV-Out. If you have an external
   sound system attached to your sound card, it won't be used for TV
   playback (but you CAN use it for MythMusic, etc.).

I've had a MythTV set-up for a month now and the PVR-350 sounded like it
would be ideal when I started out. However, due to all 8 reasons listed
above, I installed an FX5200 yesterday afternoon and now consider it the
best €40 I've spent on the whole system.

Unless your CPU can't handle the burden of MPEG-2 decoding, I wouldn't
recommend the PVR-350 for its TV-Out. And, even if you're lacking in the
CPU department, XvMC will still offload some work to the GPU of the
video card.

> When I was using the PVR-350 decoder in this way, the quality of the
> output easily surpassed that of my ATI Radeon card's TV-Out via
> S-Video.

Yes, I have to agree that the actual picture quality from the PVR-350 is
very good.

Ian Macdonald               | The world needs more people like us and
ian at caliban.org             | fewer like them. 
http://www.caliban.org/     | 

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