Friday, August 18, 2006

Feeding the beast (or reconfiguring Myth for a progressive display)

I decided to change my output method from the Hauppauge PVR350 TV-out (Svideo) to my onboard ATI 9100 IGP (RGB over VGA).
"No...." I hear you cry, "the 350s output is perfect!".
Well yes, the quality is very good but at the cost of some flexibility.

PVR350 pros:
  • Excellent quality hardware MPEG2 decoding at up to 720x576
  • Negligable CPU overhead
  • Supports Xv for DVD/MPEG4 playback
PVR350 cons:
  • Limited to interlaced Svideo and composite output
  • Analogue audio output only
  • Xv jumpy when performing simultaneous encoding
  • No DRI/DRM, OpenGL
Now, from the Shuttle my only other video output choice is to use the built-in ATI 9100 IGP - there are no spare slots to install any other card. The Shuttle supports TV-out via an svideo/composite breakout port and regular PC VGA. No DVI/HDMI.

My new plasma has both svideo and VGA inputs but I'd rather keep the svideo free for other purposes like hooking up my old SVHS deck or my PS2. Of course, I could buy a second svideo input module for the plasma but that's an expense I'm trying to avoid for now.

My main reasons for moving away from the PVR350 output are to:
  1. Avoid taking up the existing svideo input on the plasma
  2. Achieve a 1:1 resolution on the plasma, ie. output at 852x480
  3. Support MythTV time-stretch
  4. Better support playback of non-MPEG2 PS material
  5. Continue to utilise MythTV improvments (support for direct PVR350 output is waning)
However, I'm still in a position that I could use the 350 output if necessary, especially as the plasma performs high-quality de-interlacing. If Xv support on the 350 was stable (for me), I could achieve 3 & 4 above but would still lose on 1 & 2 and also the upcoming OpenGL UI enhancements.


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