[mythtv-users] Tuner opinions?

Brian Wood beww at beww.org
Sun Feb 21 22:04:02 UTC 2010

On Sunday 21 February 2010 02:46:54 pm Dan Armbrust wrote:
> I'm looking to build a MythTV box... and I'm looking at tuner
> choices... Sigh.  There are _way_ to many options out there.
> I need to be able to record ATSC from my antenna.
> I need to be able to record NTSC from my cable connection (I have no
> cable box, just analog cable - this is NTSC, right?)

Assuming you are in the USA, yes.

> One of my desires in the ATSC tuner is the best tuner possible.  My
> current (in TV) tuner isn't the greatest at picking up my channels
> (urban environment)

The question is *why* is your current TV "not the greatest" at picking up OTA? 
You could have multi-path problems, or other interfering signals that the 
tuner is not designed to cope with. In many, if not most, cases improving your 
antenna system will be a better approach than looking for a "better" tuner.

A tuner that seems "better" in one case might not seem so in another, with 
different reception conditions, there is no one "best" tuner for everyone in 
all cases.

>  - The WinTV-HVR-2250 looks to be a good option for picking up my
> digital signal.  It can record two digital signals at the same time -
> it appears that the only downside at the moment is that even though it
> has two NTSC tuners, the linux drivers don't yet support them?  Is
> this still true?

Last I heard, yes, but these things change fast.

> - The HDHomeRun also looks interesting - basically the same pricepoint
> for getting two digital tuners.

Many people here (including me) like the HDHRs a lot. They give you a lot of 
flexibility in where and how you mount them, require minimal drivers and can 
tune ATSC or clear QAM. No slots required means a lot of flexibility in 

> Votes between these two?
> Others that are great digital tuners - or better yet, can do digital
> and analog, with Linux driver support?
> If I go with either of those, I would also need an analog tuner to
> hook up to my cable connection.

The PVR-150 was the gold standard for analog capture for a long time, but they 
are no longer available new. I see some on E-Bay though.

> Suggestions?
> I'm looking at cards like:
> HD-5500 - only one connection, though....

Requires you to use software encoding for analog capture, this means a lot of 
CPU, and limited codecs available (RTjpeg and mpeg4). Can't do analog and 
digital at the same time.

> wintv-hvr-1600 - two connections - nice - and it appears that the
> linux drivers support digital and analog?

Maybe, but I'm not sure if they can both at the same time, or might require a 
reboot to change modes. I'm not familiar with the 1600 though.

You're doing the right thing, exploring all the alternatives. I agree, there 
are a LOT of choices, sometimes I think too many, but the best choice will 
depend on your individual situation, and budget.

Best advice: stay away from no-name units that are not known to be supported 
by Linux and Myth. The low prices can be tempting, but a good price on 
something that won't work is no bargain.

If it were me I'd probably go with an HDHR and try to find a PVR-150 for the 
analog box output, but that's just me.

You'll have to look into some way to control channels on your cable box, that 
can be more trouble than the rest of the system in some cases.

You might get extremely lucky and get a cable box with working Firewire, but 
even if you do there's no guarantee it will work forever, at least there's no 
hardware investment, except perhaps a F/W card for your backend.

Even if you can't get video out via firewire, you may be able to change 
channels using it.

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