[mythtv-users] TV tuner cards - low cost recommendations?

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Fri Feb 23 14:59:13 UTC 2007

On Friday 23 February 2007 06:48, Graeme Nelson wrote:
> Hi,
> I'm wanting to start playing around with PVR, etc. and am wanting to
> know if anyone has had any success with low cost tuner cards (e.g. the
> first 10-20 entries on http://www.pricespy.co.nz/pno_853.html).
> In particular, has anyone tried (or heard of someone trying) the InnoDV
> SmarTV LE TV Tuner/Video Capture Card?

I'm in the US, and I'm guessing you're in New Zealand, so I can't comment on 
the specific cards you mention. I can, however, suggest that you check the 
various hardware entries on the MythTV wiki 
(http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/index.php/Category:Video_capture_cards) and at 

I'll also add that most low-cost video capture cards are simple frame capture 
devices; they do no encoding, leaving that detail to the CPU. The result is 
that you need roughly 1GHz per card in CPU power, depending on your encoding 
format (MPEG-4 or RTJPEG), quality settings, etc. It's also more likely that 
bursts of CPU activity unrelated to video capture can interfere with the 
process, causing dropped frames. Many such cards also require a sound card to 
process their audio, so if you've got two such video capture cards, you also 
need two sound cards.

Some cards have hardware encoding circuitry, which feeds an encoded stream 
(typically MPEG-2, although I've heard of cards that deliver other formats) 
to the computer. This reduces the CPU load to almost nothing, which is 
particularly helpful if you've got a marginal CPU or multiple encoding cards. 
Such cards are usually more expensive than the software-encoding cards, but 
in the US, a few models are relatively inexpensive.

Rod Smith

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