A common question on the user list is "What hardware should I buy?". My goal is to stop these questions from occuring (or at least give a good link to send these people to read). This page will have three parts to it. First will be a rundown on some minimum's for specific tasks, basically a starting point to help users understand what is needed for varying MythTV setups. Next will be set of "Recommended" hardware for various typical system types. Finally, a list of other hardware options to help those looking to upgrade existing systems.
Along with this, I hope to share acquired knowledge on various topics in choosing hardware.
What Do I Need?
Such a loaded question! The answer to which is dependent on your needs. For most, modest hardware can handle the majority of their needs. HDTV has brought a whole new level of requirements, and headaches, but recent price drops in hardware have lowered the cost of entry.
Recording TV is the basis of MythTV, and as such will be the starting point of building a system.
Standard Definition Cable (SDC)
Mostly for U.S. users, standard definition cable has very low requirements as far as encoding, storage and playback. The recommended capture cards for SDC are the Hauppauge PVR line of cards, or any IVTV supported TV cards with on-board mpeg2 encoding. The PVR-150 card can be had for about $60US or a dual tuner version, the PVR-500, for $140. There are two versions of these cards, one being the MCE or "Media Center Edition" which is sold sans-remote.
Users can also use cards without on-board mpeg2 encoders but these systems will then require use of the CPU to perform the encoding. As such, if your buying a new tuner card it is recommended to go with one of the above PVR cards.
I'm not familiar with this area, hopefully someone can expand this area for me.
In the US HDTV can be recorded using an antenna and receiving the Over The Air (OTA) broadcasts, commonly referred to as ATSC, or via their cable providers line, commonly referred to as QAM. All the latest HDTV capable tuners are capable of working with both methods, though their sensitivity to the signals of either system vary, but are all more than capable with a strong clean signal.
With the introduction of the HDHomeRun two methods for recording HDTV are possible. The HDHomeRun is a network connected dual ATSC/QAM tuner. The other option is with single tuner ATSC/QAM PCI cards. For anyone looking to record two HDTV channels at the same time the HDHomeRun is a hard option to beat. It saves PCI slots and does not rely on the computer power supply which can introduce power issues that have plagued some users.
Some options for PCI tuners include the