Updated 25 May, 2013, 3:30 pm IST
Convert Your Home PC Into PC Sky Plus
| by Siddharth Bhatia
It's been all over the AV world for the past I-don't-know-how-many years, and names like Tivo and ReplayTV are common now. But recently Tata Sky launched its Tata Sky Plus, which is actually only a PVR (Personal Video Recorder), nothing else.
Now, I have a lot of respect for Tata and their products, being a user myself... though what's the point of being a geek if you cannot save a few bucks and build your own PVR, using your PC. It's quite a simple process. There is a little money to be spent, though in the end with the features available on the software and hardware that we will discuss, it's quite worth it.
First things first. You will need a TV tuner card, and not any ordinary one. If you are going to be recording and playing your cable's input, maybe simultaneously in certain circumstances, you surely need one that has its own hardware processor. Think PCI connection. Cheaper tuner cards shirk the work to your CPU. Encoding/decoding MPEG2 ( or any other format for that matter) is a tedious and CPU-heavy process.
But, of course sometimes it's better to let the CPU do the job if it's good at it. We can then go for a nice little USB dongle shaped tuner available nowadays.
You have to decide whether you need/want a PCI card or USB card. Both are popular though USB cards cost a bit more. There are numerous products out there and the ironic thing is that most of them use a decoding chip by Connexant, so quality might be similar on some level. It's the features and usability that matter. Below are just a few diverse suggestions out of the plethora. The prices might be a little different according to your area.
Leadtek WinFast TV2000 Global - Rs. 1850
Leadtek is what I personally use, and I think the picture quality is really good. They have a variety of USB models, PCI express and of course the regular PCI cards. The mentioned model falls under PCI category. It works with an analog cable, and has hardware encoding. Moreover it has a de-interlacing feature that really works with our cable reception, which is necessary if we want to avoid the dirty flicker and artifacts on the edge of motion objects. It comes with bundled software (all tuner cards do), called Winfast PVR, and a remote control, which is quite generic and boring to look at, yet is useful. This supports recording to MPEG-1/MPEG-2/WMV video and MP3/WMA audio. There's no DivX direct recording; you will need third party PVR software for that.
Page 1:Intro and The Hardware~ The Hardware (contd.)~ The Software and Conclusion
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