Letting your PC watch TV

Reply Wed 30 Jul, 2003 08:15 am
Letting your PC watch TV
Posted: July 26, 2003 - US News & World Report
By David LaGesse

Why bother outfitting your TV with a digital video recorder when your PC already has what it takes: a big hard drive for storing video, and the processing power to manipulate it? Well, PCs seem ill-suited to the living room. For starters, programmers assume that users sit 18 inches from the screen and have a keyboard-and keyboards don't leave a hand free for the popcorn.

So PC folks are hustling to adapt the machines to the world of TVs and remotes. ATI, a company best known for graphics hardware, is taking direct aim at couch potatoes with a line of graphics cards called All-in-Wonder, which turn personal computers into tapeless video recorders. With the cards and the Eazylook software that comes with them, PC owners can easily record shows to play them back later, or pause or rewind a live show that's underway. That's much of what you can do with a hard-drive recorder from TiVo, the best-known brand, and without the $13 monthly subscription fee that TiVo charges on top of the $250 upfront cost for the box.

The All-in-Wonder cards come with remote controls, and the bold type and graphics of the Eazylook software menus are, well, easy to see on a TV, which can be connected directly to a computer in the living room. The software directs your PC to download program schedules from the Internet, a week's worth at a time, so you can easily flip through and mark shows for recording or search a schedule with keywords. That's pretty much the way TiVo works, although its subscription service does a better job of organizing the schedule into categories and can remember keywords as new programming gets downloaded. TiVo also monitors your viewing habits and records shows that you might like.

The All-in-Wonder I tried is based on ATI's Radeon 9800 graphics chip, which is one of the fastest available and won't compromise other graphics functions you might normally use on your PC, like gaming. It's also expensive, at about $450. Cheaper versions with Eazylook software can be had for under $200 and would work fine with many older PCs, perhaps a second one now getting little use around the house. The company says the chips can also capture video from analog video cameras, converting the footage into digital files for editing, and play MP3 files stored on the PC. I haven't tried those functions, however.

Still, it's a pain to replace the graphics card that already resides in your PC. I struggled to get the ATI working-first I had to exorcise software demons left by my old card and then download updated files from ATI's Web site.

A way around that torture comes from Adaptec, best known for cards that control hard drives. Adaptec's TiVo-like offering is the VideOh! DVD Media Center ($200). It doesn't require cracking your PC's case; instead, it plugs into a universal serial bus port. The latest Adaptec works with USB 2.0 ports, found on newer computers and much faster than earlier ports, which couldn't handle DVD-quality video.

Like ATI's card, the VideOh! box captures analog footage from a video cam and includes video-editing software. Unlike ATI's, Adaptec's device can't connect to a TV, and its menus are more like a computer's than a VCR's. So it's a good option for turning a den or dorm computer into a video recorder. But like most things in the PC world, VideOh! isn't ready for the living room.
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 869 • Replies: 2
No top replies

Reply Wed 30 Jul, 2003 08:26 am
I have an ATI "All-in-Wonder" card in my PC at home. It does work but mine is an older model and the video quality just doesn't match what you get with a $79 stand alone TV.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 12:57 am
i use a hauppauge wintv card. using the dscaler program, the video quality will outperform any standalone non-hdtv.
0 Replies

Related Topics

Clone of Micosoft Office - Question by Advocate
Do You Turn Off Your Computer at Night? - Discussion by Phoenix32890
The "Death" of the Computer Mouse - Discussion by Phoenix32890
Windows 10... - Discussion by Region Philbis
Surface Pro 3: What do you think? - Question by neologist
Windows 8 tips thread - Discussion by Wilso
GOOGLE CHROME - Question by Setanta
.Net and Firefox... - Discussion by gungasnake
Hacking a computer and remote access - Discussion by trying2learn
  1. Forums
  2. » Letting your PC watch TV
Copyright © 2023 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.06 seconds on 03/25/2023 at 07:48:11