Gray Flannel Dwarf

1/2/2008

Lo def, mos’def

One of my wife’s Christmas gifts was, admittedly, partially a toy for me. More accurately, i purchased it because I appears/appeared to fulfill a need of hers, while at the same time, hoping I could have some fun and learn a bit about it too.

The item in question is the Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick… or more specifically, the Woot.com-branded one that I purchased at a price significantly lower than list.

Now, everything I’d read said it was a good product, but that you should use a different software — something like the nifty (and GPLed) app, MediaPortal — because the proprietary app was dog-slow. Sure enough, when I got everything installed, the HD channels appeared reasonably well, albeit occasionally choppy, but amazingly clear. However, it wasn’t long before the app UI would be nearly downright unresponsive, except for the actual video display itself.

I then installed MediaPortal, and the UI worked better — but video seemed to suffer a slight bit more. Hmmph.

Perhaps I should, at this point, indicate that my wife’s system is about a three-year old Dell Inspiron. Not a workhorse by any means, but not quite ready to be put out to pasture yet, especially due to fine grooming and upkeep, resulting in a virus/spyware free system. Also, too many horse metaphors there.

Anyway, while it seemed to me that her system was certainly suitable for this usage, the thought also passed through my mind that I needed to try things on a more high-calibre system.

Half a day later, after poring through Em28xx docs and associated module compilations, figuring out which apps could handle DVB (since Media Portal is a Windows app), and then learning how to scan for said HD channels, I started picking up high-def channels on my Fedora box.

However, I am saddened to report that on my desktop — a dual AMD 3800+ with a slightly dated, but seemingly reasonable video card (NVIDIA GeForce 6600), video was still choppy — perhaps even more so than on my wife’s laptop.

And yet still haven’t found a lot of people complaining about the quality (or lack thereof) in this product.

Nonetheless, I’ve come to some conclusions.

  • You need a reasonably powerful and recent CPU/video card to do this newfangled HD stuff,
  • Even though it’s readily known that the Linux Em28xx work is still not ready for primetime, my experiences may well may be further evidence to such notions,
  • There is still a reasonable chance that there’s something I could do to improve/streamline my own user experience with this device

In any case, I am somewhat disappointed in my first forays into the world of HD — and computing in HD at that — but I’ve not yet given up the ghost that this stuff could work.


Tags: , , , , , , , — cswiii @ 12:15 am

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