HDTV HTPC Notes - DVICO FusionHDTVII HDTV tuner card
Disclaimer - under construction...
For those of you interested in HDTV and Home Theater PC (HTPC) - beware
of opening the fortune cookie containing the curse, "May you live in interesting
times." If you haven't yet experienced HDTV, you'll probably discover
the phenomenon that you can't live without it once you have lived with it
for a while. But now that you can view HDTV, you may also want to have
recording, organizing, and editing capability. If so, you'll be interested
There are other HDTV recorders like D-VHS decks, HDTV Personal
Video Recorders (PVRs), and Firewire/1394 sources/tuners, but they are also
expensive and limited in capability.
There's a lot of activity in Home Theater PC, but it is still an immature
and rapidly changing market - definitely bleeding edge.
- a refined, easy to use appliance
- easy plug-n-play installation
While you will experience some labor and possibly some frustration, I think
that the results are worthwhile.
- PC related complexities for installation and use -- tinkering required
- web research to investigate various products, people's experiences,
and product improvements
- trying more than one product
Shuttle HTPC Notes
These notes are based on an HTPC based on a Shuttle SN41G2. Initially,
the ATI All-In-Wonder (AIW) Pro was the tuner card of choice, but this is
only for Standard Definition (SD) TV, not for HDTV. So the addition
of the DVICO FusionHDTV II puts two tuners in one box, which is overkill
especially since they have separate software. However it was the box
Shuttle SN41G2, FN41
1.4 mainboard, FN41S019 BIOS, Achme power supply
AMD Athlon XP 2700+ @ 2163MHz 333MHz FSB
2x512 MB PC3200 V-Data 333MHz CAS-2.5-7-2-2
DVICO FusionHDTVII HDTV tuner PCI card
Sony DVD writer DRU-510A
Maxtor MaxLine Plus II 7Y250P0 250GB 7200RPM 8MB
Q: What's the most important consideration when shopping for HTPC?
A: In my experience, noise is the top issue. Most of us don't have
the luxury of purpose-built home theater, so we can't build an easily accessible
closet to isolate the noise and yet provide easy access. The Shuttle
SN41G2 is noisy enough that it is turned off whenever possible. It's
possible to tune the fan speeds for various temperatures and loads, but I
haven't yet been able to take the time to do this. In previous experience
a year ago with a fan-less home theater appliance based on the Sigma Hollywood
line of PCI MPEG2 decoders, the disk was still loud enough to be an issue. Current disk drives are quieter. So you should carefully choose
the quietest hardware that you can find for your purpose. Here are
links to the latest quiet Shuttle XPC:
Shuttle ST61G4 XPC - http://us.shuttle.com/specs2.asp?pro_id=408
Shuttle ST61G4 XPC Review - http://www.sudhian.com/showdocs.cfm?aid=466
Note that the new Shuttle Zen ST61G4 is even quieter, but it doesn't have an
Q: How do I connect the HTPC to my TV?
A: I'd recommend DVI first -- note that both your graphics card and TV must support DVI.
After this, YPrPb component video is the most likely candidate -- note that both your graphics card and TV must support component video.
The current 9800/9700/9600/9500-series ATI products support component video via a DVI-I to YPrPb adapter.
You can also try a VGA to component HD adapter such as the RCA VHDC300 or Audio Authority 9A60.
VGA (RGB) is a less likely candidate -- note that all graphics cards support VGA, but relatively few TVs have VGA inputs.
If your TV has only S-Video and/or composite video, it cannot display HDTV, so it is time to start shopping for a new HD-capable TV with carefull attention to inputs.
Here's a link to my shopping notes circa Fall 2003.
Q: Where can I find more information on HTPC?
A: I recommend the AVS forums:
Video Processors and HTPC - AVS Forum - http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?forumid=11
Q: Where can I find more information on (Shuttle) XPCs?
A: I recommend the following:
SFF TECH - http://www.sfftech.com/index.cfm
SFF TECH forums - http://forums.sudhian.com/index.cfm?FTVAR_SUBCAT=68&nocookies=y&subcatname=SFF%20TECH
Q: Can I have more than one (HDTV) tuner in the same system?
A: Yes, but with several caveats. Most of the current HDTV tuner
products seem to be intended for single-tuner configurations. Typically,
you can't add another identical tuner because of one reason or the other.
Hardware reasons include: lack of PCI slots, e.g., there's only one
PCI slot in most Shuttle XPCs. Note that for two tuners, you need
to route audio for each card. Software support is usually lacking for
multiple tuners. Two different tuner products from different manufacturers
have a possibility of coexisting if there aren't any hardware conflicts,
but the software will typically be separate as well, so PIP/POP is cumbersome.
An exception may or may not be ATI, as they do advertize two (SD)
tuner support integrated into their apps, i.e., and All-In-Wonder plus a
Q: Can I use my HTPC for both HDTV and games?
A: Yes, but screen aspect ratio is an issue.
HDTV aspect ratio is 16:9, while most games expect an aspect ratio of 4:3.
So you probably have to switch display settings.
I currently have the ATI AIW 9800 Pro set in dual monitor mode for games on VGA 4:3 and HDTV on component 16:9 outputs.
Unfortunately, both games and HDTV apps start up on the default monitor, so you have to change this video display setting.
Fortunately, you can set up hot keys in PowerStrip to change display settings.
FusionHDTV II Notes
DVICO - http://www.dvico.com/index.html
DVICO FusionHDTV II is a PCI tuner card that tunes Over-The-Air (OTA)
HDTV broadcasts as well as Standard Definition (SD) TV broadcast from antenna
HDTV 2.12 Software - http://www.dvico.com/hdtv/productdownload.asp
TitanTV - http://www.titantv.com/ttv/Home/Home.aspx
HDTV and SD TV viewing works, with input selectable
between ANT(AIR) and CABLE.
DIGITAL and ANALOG recording works - recording works
on demand and also through Reservation, follow ETP - Manual REC.
You can view the program that is being recorded.
Not (yet) working:
TitanTV schedule sets the wrong channel because of
wrong PSIP information for both WatchNow and Scheduled recording.
TitanTV doesn't set the channel for ANALOG, CABLE,
and DIGITAL CABLE - missing PSIP information.
Manual REC CH list shows only one input, e.g., ANT/AIR
and not CABLE
Input selection is not saved or restored, effectively
forcing only one input for Reserved recording.
Reserved recording with the application off - this
is not expected to work.
Q: Will the integrated 9100 on the Shuttle ST61G4 work with the FusionHDTV
II for DxVA?
A: Most likely it will work, but I haven't tried it as I don't (yet) have
an ST61G4 for experiments. Be forwarned that Integrated Graphics Processors
(IGPs) share memory the system memory. I had stability problems with
the NVidia GeForce4 IGP in the Shuttle SN41G2. It is known to be sensitive
to memory speed and settings -- 2D applications worked fine for me, but crashes
increased with 3D GPU load.
Note that the video built into the Shuttle ST61G4 is VGA, which is fine only if your TV supports VGA.
To get DVI or YPrPb component video, you will need to add a graphics card anyway.
Also note that only one AGP device is active -- adding an AGP graphics card disables the built-in on-chip/on-board graphics.
To: CS <CS@DVICO.com>
Date: 12/24/2003 02:35
In my humble opinion, the reservations should be able to specify input
(ANT or CABLE) and then have the appropriate CH list to select the channel.
And of course I hope that fixes will come soon so that TitanTV reservations
will work correctly for both DIGITAL Broadcast and cable.
- In the Reservation List, digital channels are displayed confusingly. For example, Channel D56 shows up as "D5561", not as "D5-56-1", nor
"D56-1" -- there appears to be an extra "5". If this is significant, it should
probably be delimited somehow.
- For Manual REC in the Reserve Recording dialog , the CH list seems
to be the ANT/AIR list. How do you change to another input, ex., CABLE, and
its associated CH list?
- Reservations seem to lack the input (ANT/AIR or CABLE) . So when
the reservation is run, it tries to use the current input, it doesn't switch
to the input that I want.
- Reservations from TitanTV seem to get saved in the reservation list
only where there are PSIP numbers in the listing, e.g. for DIGITAL Broadcast,
but not for CABLE where no PSIP info is shown.
- The PSIP from TitanTV doesn't switch to the proper channel for WatchNow
or Reservation. For example, (5-1) switches to digital on channel 5-1, not
to D44 which is what I want. Note that when I manually select D44(-1), the
onscreen display shows: "CH D44", then it quickly changes to "D5-1" "WNYW-DT",
and then it quickly disappears. This is the correct local analog channel
number equivalent and call sign, but the input display still shows AIR DIGITAL
44-1. So the PSIP map appears to be wrong, at least it doesn't work correctly,
With combination of the Shuttle SN41G2, ATI AIW 9800 Pro, and DVICO FusionHDTV
II, I ran into resource problems when installing OS, display card, then tuner
card software. For real-time processing, the FusionHDTV card should
be on it's own hardware IRQ, otherwise the video will stutter. Here's
the order of installation that worked for me:
(more detail pending)
- OS base
- Mainboard drivers, from CD, then upgrade BIOS and drivers from web
- FusionHDTV, either from CD or web
- change to Standard PC - FusionHDTV should get a hardware IRQ
- change to back to Advanced PC - other hardware additions can use
- ATI AIW 9800 Pro, from installation CD since this is required for
all of the components, especially certain driver parts and DVD player copy
- upgrade WinXP/DirectX 9, ATI/Catalyst, etc. from web
My home gets poor Over-The-Air (OTA) HDTV reception since the Watchung
Mountains block line of sight to HDTV transmitters in New York City. At
present, I can receive only the following HDTV stations:
- CH56 - WCBS-DT (2-1) - CBS
- CH44 - WNYW-DT (5-1) - FOX
Antenna and amplifier
4248 Diamond Yagi UHF Antenna
Titan 2 Model 7777 Mast Mounted Preamplifier
NoBell Home - gjm
- last update 4/21/2004 - created 12/22/2003