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Carson Reader
5/27/08 1:37 p.m.
stumpmj wrote:
Carson wrote: I read three of those four posts before I realized I had already read it. I'm tired. Cable is built into rent whether we want it or not. We don't watch anything other than what we DVR, which for me is Top Gear and The Soup.
Ooooh, someone else watches the Soup. I thought it was just my wife and I...

I figure, I would only watch other shows to make fun of them, The Soup allows me to cut to the chase and I can be wrenching or something else during the time all other television shows are on.

therex Dork
5/28/08 12:47 p.m.

I've been thinking about this also. The cable company has pissed me off, and if they don't give me what I want the next time I talk to them I'm afraid I'll have to make good on my threat to leave. The only problem is that they're the fastest internet around also. :( So while I'll save a ton of cash, I'll be saving it with slower internet, which is generally considered in Rextopia to be a Bad Thing.

Also, Vonnegut was a talentless hack.

fiat22turbo GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/29/08 12:19 p.m.

ATI Radeon 2400 or 2600HD in AGP. That will support HD decoding natively, so you can pull HD over the air (hey Indy, OPB, etc are still nice to watch in HD occasionally) or more easily watch downloaded/recorded HD shows. Just requires a DVI or HDMI capable screen (basically a decent HD TV or LCD monitor and appropriate cables) For non-HD content (most TV and movies) it has S-video out as well.

To turn it into a TV receiver you'll need a TV tuner card. Hauppauge and ATI both make good TV tuner cards, I would lean towards one that has HD capability and comes with a remote. If you're using Windows, get the MCE version of the tuner product as the generic remotes under Windows aren't as functional.

Operating systems:

Linux is a great solution but more time consuming to get working with some of the components, but can run on slightly lower end systems. If you're not comfy with Linux or have no interest in becoming so then stay with the Redmond bunch.

Windows XP Home/Professional: There is a limit to the number of DVB tuner cards that can be used at once. (I believe that it is limited to one DVB card with no limit on Analog tuners although the issue may have been fixed in SP3)

Windows XP Media Center Edition: Early version of Microsoft's Media Center, which works okay, but the real gain is the ability to run more than one DVB tuner card without issue.

Vista Premium/Ultimate has a Media Center front end which is much better than XP MCE's and doesn't have the DVB tuner limit. It does require higher end hardware (that is Vista certified, etc)


MythTV is an Open Source add-on for Linux. Seems to work well, constantly being upgraded, changed, updated, etc. It is Open Source after all.

Media Portal is a Open Source (free) add-on for Windows. Like any Open Source product there are tons of tweaks and changes available at any time. Works fairly well and has the capability to use a central Media Server with all of the tuner cards built into it and then you can install the Media Portal Client on whatever machines you want to connect to the media server to watch TV, view pictures, listen to music, watch movies, recorded shows, etc. The server piece uses a SQL back end and with a central server your hardware is limited to what you put in the server.

There are other Media Center products that can be pruchased, but I don't really have much experience with them as I've only played with Vista Media Center and Media Portal.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
5/29/08 1:34 p.m.

Thanks, Fiat. I don't think I'll need the digitizer as we only get a couple of channels on the air anyway. I'll look for the ATI board and Media Portal. Mmmmmm... SQL....

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
6/3/08 1:13 p.m.

The Dish TV bill came in yesterday. $710 for a year of comercials and 20 year old movies. I don't think so.

I got an ATI board from a friend of mine. I have it installed, but now I need to update the motherboard to disable the onboard video. Anyway, it's coming along. Who has S video to RCA cables cheap?

fiat22turbo GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/3/08 2:58 p.m.

Doc, I thought the SQL part would get your attention ;)

A co-worker bought a new machine recently that came with Vista and shortly afterwards he bought a Playstation 3. Apparently the PS3 has some Media Center capabilities as it found his Vista machine on the network and pulled lists of his music, movies, etc that were available to play. I think he recently added a TV card to the machine and records various series he likes to watch and watches them on his PS3.

Oh and for cheap cables:


Nashco Dork
6/3/08 7:07 p.m.

I second monoprice for cheap cables, pretty much impossible to beat their value without just outright stealing them from the store.


aeronca65t New Reader
6/3/08 7:25 p.m.

No TV here either. Cancelled cable when "basic" went to $52...and I wasn't watching much anyway.

I still have an antenna on the roof (which worked great until the Twin Towers got hit).

These days I only get a local Korean-language channel off the antenna.

I've been looking at the ~FTA~ stuff....maybe in the WInter.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
6/3/08 8:23 p.m.

I was thinking about that FTA stuff too, after we had a thread on it some months ago. The web sites posted at that time didn't really look like it was worth the trouble, channel wise. I'll fly the Jolly Roger if need be. Arrrr. Anyway, for now, I think I'll try to get this media machine working, improve my cell phone reception to boost my bandwidth, and get some amplified rabbit ears at crap shack.

Now, what's a S video to RCA cable called? I can't figger it out on monoprice.

oldopelguy HalfDork
6/3/08 8:48 p.m.

Comcast and Time Warner both used to offer a $5 a month local channel only cable plan that was meant to suppliment a sat dish owner who couldn't get the local channels. You had to really ask and plead to get it, but once you got someone to admit that it did indeed exist they would install a blocker on your main cable jack that blocked all but those channels.

Thing is, it still counted as a cable plan, so you could still get a cable modem hooked up and get the "bundle" price with it. Odly enough, the cable modem didn't work through the blocker, so the modem had to be wired in upstream....

fiat22turbo GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/3/08 11:53 p.m.

They've changed the blocker as my cable is set to the low channels (only up to 31) and I have a cable modem.

I'm interested in the FTA stuff as well, I'll do some reading and see if there is better information about it now.


Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
6/5/08 1:17 p.m.

OK, I've been making progress. I got the new video card in the Emachines box with a Gigabyte motherboard and actually got it working yesterday. It turns out that the BIOS has an easter egg. If you really, really want to adjust "things" that they are trying to keep you out of, you have to press Control-F1 while in the BIOS program and then an almost identical program shows up that will let you poke around more. I found this out from a single posting from 2 years ago on a forum somewhere where other people have been having the same problem. You still can't completely disable the onboard video, but you can assign a "first" status or something like that to the PCI board. Then you disable the video card in Windows XP, reboot a few dozen times and it will come up on the new board as default.

On the SVideo to RCA, I went to crap shack today. For only $25, they will sell me an adapter for that. Man, what a bargain. Then I found it on monoprice for $0.75 plus two bucks shipping. Gosh, I'll have to think about which one to get there.

billy3esq Dork
6/5/08 10:16 p.m.


Most of my EE buddies from undergrad refer to the place you visited as "Radio Shaft" for the reason you so aptly illustrated.

Brust New Reader
6/5/08 11:13 p.m.

Holy hell, I didn't expect to find a bunch of anti cable folks out there, but maybe should've expected you guys to fit that bill. I grew up without tv until 14, had cable for a few years and haven't since. I don't like the ridiculous bill to get the "basic" package when all I wanted was Speed, history, and the comedy channel. Now that I use netflix (I know, another "rental" service) I've been able to catch HBO, showtime, all the great shows without paying the super premium price.

I understand that the online netflix won't work on Macs?

Unfortunately, in the age of instant gratification, I do like hi speed internet, and the only option here in HI is cable. It's all we get though.

curtis73 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
6/6/08 12:07 a.m.

Ages ago I got rid of cable and switched to direcTV and never looked back. almost half the cost and almost 3 times the channels. No brainer, plus its easy to relocate or take with you in an RV.

but for the last year I have had NOTHING.. just netflix and a wad of DVDs. Glorious lack of propoganda. I listend to NPR in the car and I get all the REAL news without any of the crap they force-feed you on TV.

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