donalson SuperDork
8/8/08 12:51 p.m.

so i've got a 2ghz p4 computer that was given to me... about 5 min and we deduced it had a bad HDD (reason it was free)... happen to have a few spares laying around, tossed it in and it's been running like a champ for the last few weeks (use it to run magicjack mostly haha)... anyway... due to $$$ we've gone to the super basic cable (gives what we need and costs all of $14 a month... which saves $20 a month for cable internet)... the cost to jump up to DVR is high... so i fugred i may as well check into turning this computer into a DVR... i'm sure some here have done it..

so whats needed?... seems a TV tunner card with the right program should do the trick?... the video card has an S-vid output already so we're good there...

so whats the deal GRM folk? :)

ignorant SuperDork
8/8/08 12:58 p.m. <-- Done!

Salanis Dork
8/8/08 1:01 p.m.

Find an old ATI "All-In-Wonder" video card on E-Bay or CL. Be sure it is compatible with your MoBo (you probably have an AGP slot, not PCI-x). ATI has a multimedia software package downloadable with the drivers for the card. Enjoy.

Be sure you have HDD space for everything you'll be recording.

What kind of video card are you using now?

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
8/8/08 1:14 p.m.

I have an ATI All-in-Wonder card in my Media Station. What does this other ATI software do? I don't record on what I have because I don't have a video card for it. I play divx on it, though. It goes: PC -> Flat Panel HDTV through HDMI on the ATI card. The DVD player goes to the VCR which goes to the regular video in line. I tried a switch, two of them actually, but the one I could get to work (crap shack) degraded the video noticeably. You probably wouldn't notice on an analog TV, but on the HDTV, it was annoying.

Getting the ATI card to work in this E Machine was challenging. The E Machine (also free from a bad PS) had onboard video that had to be disabled in the BIOS, otherwise Windoze (XP Home) would recognize it and not use the ATI card. Oh, you could get Windoze to see the ATI card, but it always booted to the onboard, even if you disabled the onboard in Windoze. The E machine BIOS turned out to have an easter egg menu in it that let you poke around and actually do stuff.

Salanis Dork
8/8/08 1:30 p.m.

I do not have an all-in-wonder (I never watch TV, don't need anything special for DVDs), but the point of them is that they do DVR. ATI has a software suite for them that's supposed to handle all the editing and input controls. Any vid card will let you play DivX. You can set up pretty much any vid card to output to TV (just need the right adaptor cables). The All-In-Wonder specifically allows you to input outside feeds so that your computer can act as a receiver.

As for the odd boot-ness on your E Machine, I have a machine with an E Machine MoBo and never had issues like that. They do like to hide the BIOS input, because most people buying an E Machine would probably screw things up if they poked around in there. Sounds more like a BIOS issue than a software issue.

fiat22turbo GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/8/08 2:36 p.m.

Just buy a PCI cheap tuner card. ATI All-in-Wonder's aren't needed, though if you can find a deal, go for it. Hauppauge, ATI and other have PCI tuner cards, some will even do HD. If you get a dual Tuner card with HD and a Video card/TV that is DVI/HDMI compliant you can watch and record over the air HD and ditch the cable box as the Electronic Programming guide built into many of the Media Center software packages.

If you're a Linux head, you can run MythTV. Which is free.

If you're a Microsofty, either pickup a copy of Vista Premium or better and use the built-in Media Center (which works very well out of the box, much better than Media Center XP did) or download Media Portal from and enjoy.

Media Portal is pretty cool, open source, like MEgaSquirt for your TV. I'm working on setting up a Server/Client solution so that I can watch shows/programs from our laptops without having to watch the TV. I like the ability to integrate Mame and PS ROM players into the interface, makes for a great single box Media solution.

With Vista Media Center you can use your XBox as a Media Extender for TV, etc in other rooms. The PS3 has some of these capabilities as well.

Plenty of options, lots of reading. Some frustration, but a lot of fun!

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