I've been watching TV on a 450MHz Sony Vaio (x86) and a 400MHz PowerBook (PowerPC), both are able to decode fluent MPEG2 in software when a well-optimized driver and hardware accelerated graphics is used. We should really start to set up a table with hard numbers for minimum hardware requirements, otherwise we risk another endless thread about Philosophy and holy Wars.
What do you think?
I think this task is really difficult to do, because the systems and software vary extremly. Some people use 2.4 kernels, some 2.6, some people use highly optimized distris, some suse, debain or whatever. Some people prefer a streaming server solution, others simple want to watch tv with a noiseless STB. In my opinion the user itself should decide what is *really* the best for him. So we should simply collect advantages and disadvantages for the different solutions. Not everyone will have a suitable well-optimized driver with hardware acceleration for his graphics or -especially people using epia boards- raw cpu power. I think you're right that software decoding is the future, but for the present a hardware mpeg decoder card with s-video, rgb-out and digital audio link might be sometimes the better solution. The full-featured boards are not as bad as you describe it and might be not as expensive as an additional graphics board with tv-out and an additional sound card.
Especially the fanless EPIA board is a good example that you don't need a hardware decoder, please give the MythTV distribution for these boards a try.
May be. I don't actually know MythTV because I am using VDR only. But anyhow there are no budget cards having TV-out or digital S/PDIF audio. And there are no budget cards available which are able to get digital cable tv and analog cable tv with one card only. What about users having only one or two pci slots on their board? The next point is, that these card are *not* really outdated since there are new developed cards available like these card: 'Technotrend Premium DVB-C 1100'. Why do you don't like to inform people about all the possibilities? At which point do you see the big advantage NOT having an hardware decoder? --wirbel 10:00, 25 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Most modern mainboards have SPDIF in/out, a lot TV-Out - too. Using the USB or IEEE1394 busses of the system any number of devices can get attached. I want to inform people about what's best for them, which solution suites their needs and don't want them to spend more money than necessairy. It is just fair to inform them about the weaknesses of the so called "full-featured" cards. Funnily Klaus Schmidinger (one of the most addicted av711x-fans) reported just today one of them on the linux-dvb mailing list. it's not my fault! - ;)
The Premium DVB-C 1100 is no new design, just another reincarnation of the old AV711x boards with a new tuner module. The AV711x series are marked by Texas Instruments as discontinued. The dvbshop.net price quote of 210EUR is more than twice the price you pay for competitive devices with less limitations.
Maybe it makes sense to discuss the hard/software-decoder question in an extra wiki-section and collect some minimum hardware requirement experiences for both setups, then everybody is free to choose the solution that suits his needs best.