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cx1836 2008-04-02 12:22 PM

Analog cable in Alberta with Vista MCE?
Hi folks,

I will be travelling from the UK to visit friends in May. While I am in Canada I am hoping to turn their 'free pc' (came with telus dsl) into a HTPC using vista home premium.

They have heard rumours or seen an advert (they can't remember which) that suggests that Shaw will be turning off analog cable sometime in the next year. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

I was planning on using a card (or maybe 2 of them) so the pc can watch and record the analog cable. Does anyone have any experience of using MCE with shaw's analog cable.

All help gratefully received,
Many Thanks.

57 2008-04-02 12:25 PM

Shaw will not be turning off Analogue cable any time soon. In the US OTA (over the air - broadcast) analogue will be switched off in early 2009. The same is scheduled to happen in Canada late in 2011, however, neither affects what happens to analogue cable.

In time, some of the analogue channels may be moved to the digital tier and eventually analogue cable may also disappear, but there is no timeframe or forecast for this.

cx1836 2008-04-04 05:44 PM

Vista MCE & analog cable
Can you recommend a good TV tuner card, I have seen a cheap one from gigabyte

Does it record ok, is the guide up to date etc. I'm hoping to set up a system for my friends when I'm over from the UK in May.

Thx in advance.

Wayne 2008-04-09 12:04 AM

I have used the Hauppauge PVR-150 and it works well with MCE - you can also get a version with a remote and IR receiver. There is also a 2 tuner version called the Hauppauge PVR-500 and there are versions that also combine an analog tuner with a digital ATSC (OTA) tuner. One thing to keep in mind is available expansion slots - many newer microATX cards may only have one PCI slot.

cx1836 2008-04-28 02:56 PM

Thanks Wayne,

The budget doesnt stretch to Hauppage cards I'm afraid. I've had to settle for 2 ATI TV wonder 550 cards, which I've bought bundled together for $86. ATI's own software has had poor reviews but it is said to be ok in MCE, which is what my friends will be using.

As far as I remember the mainboard has 2 pci slots (it is a long time since I saw it last October).

Do you find the electronic program guide is accurate and up to date for the channels on analog cable?

Hopefully I will be able to sort it all out when I arrive in Canada in 2 weeks time.

Wayne 2008-04-29 10:09 PM

The guide data seems to be quite good - I prefer it to the data in Rogers' STB as it has episode information which Rogers is often missing. So yes, the guide data is very good for all channels.

cx1836 2008-05-28 06:08 PM

Well I'm back in the UK after 16 great days in Canada. Some of them were less great because the computer kept crashing and I ended up having to reload vista after a BSOD in just 2 hours before leaving for my flight home.

In the end I settled for ATI TV Wonder 550 PCI cards, I got them on offer as a 2 pack for just over $100, there were some a few bucks cheaper but they didn't have hardware mpeg2 encoding. I have used a cheap nvidia 7300GS card I bought with me from the UK, it won't win any gaming prizes but it can handle hd content and came with the breakout cables to output in hd. The only drawback to this is you get no display from the component cables until the windows drivers load, meaning you still need a monitor available for when (not if) it crashes. But it's definitely better than the integrated graphics.

The MCE part works well and the guide is good, usually 14 days, infinitely better than the 4 or so days on the star choice hd dvr box they have elsewhere in the house. From the postcode it successfully offered me a choice of cable or digital cable and then downloaded all the data.

As a computer it looks good on the 50" flat panel with vista fonts set to 120dpi, when funds allow they are going to get a bluetooth keyboard so they can relax on the couch and use it.

On my last reinstall I have left it with automatic updates disabled as the crashing problems seemed to coincide with microsoft's updates and using system restore either caused other problems or completely wrecked it. Time will tell wether it is a more serious or hardware problem. I hope it lasts as I am not likely to be back in Canada for some months.

Thanks for the advice

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