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tv tuners

I haven’t been able to sleep tonight, and one thing that’s been keeping me up tonight is that the AV on my myth recordings tonight are mysteriously out of sync. I’m not the one to blame this time, though, I really haven’t touched anything in a good while. I am curious what’s throwing it off, though.

Well, I started playing with my TV tuner card in my desktop (a Lifeview Flyvideo 3000), and recorded a few 30-second spots on the same channel to see if it was still doing it. Well, everything seemed fine, so I guess it was just a fluke or those shows.

Well, I was recording the TV using MEncoder instead of Myth because I’ve been having problems with my tuner card and MythTV not recording the audio. That idea lead me to start thinking why I don’t use my TV tuner card instead of my Plextor ConvertX. Now, I love my little USB MPEG4 hardware recorder, but it does have its drawbacks. The USB2 requirement is one, which really isn’t a big deal unless you want to stick it in an older computer. Even then, you’d buy a USB2 PCI card, which is easy enough to do, but if you’re running low on PCI slots it becomes a hassle. The second thing is that it *only* works with MythTv. That of course is noone’s fault, it’s just that myth is the only project that has written software that will interface with the device.

The problem is that it gets frustrating sometimes with myth being my *only* option. If I was using a TV tuner card I could easily switch between mythtv and freevo and mencoder plus a cron job and tweak and play around with it much easier and have far more options when something is going wrong.

So now I’m starting to think about swapping out my TV tuner card to be my main recording device. I think the main reason I got the Plextor was to take the recording load off of the computer. Well, with an amd64 box, the CPU usage is not even noticable. It runs between 15 to 55 percent depending on how high a quality I’m recording to and the resolution. A thirty-second clip of using mencoder to record to MPEG4 at 2200 video bitrate, and MP3 VBR audio with 720×578 resolution (the highest my card supports) hovers at around 40 percent. That’s really good. Especially considering you can record this stuff at 320×240 for much lower CPU usage (about 13%) and that will still be really good quality for watching it on a standard TV display.

I gotta say, too, that the video quality on this card rocks. It’s the best I’ve ever seen. I daresay it’s even better than the Plextor, even though they both use the same Philips tuner … dunno why, just seems that way. Plus, my card records in stereo. And I don’t need a stupid audio cable from my TV tuner card to my audio input to record sound. Not to mention I bought this thing years ago, and it *still* runs like a champ.

Sometimes I wonder why I make things so complex.