Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T (909) Use & limitations

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Review for HAUPPAUGE WinTV NOVA-T (0909) Terrestial TV card

This card is one of the early generation of PCI TV cards, designed to receive the new digital TV services.

The reference number "909" seems to be a Hauppauge reference, as it appears nowhere except on the original
large retail carton. This card uses the Philips chips set (SAA7146A) and a separately mounted CODFM chip
on a small sub board extending from the screened tuner box.

I started my digital TV experience with one of these cards, which sadly was not a good experience, probably
due to the fact that, like a lot of people used to conventional TV, I thought that any old antenna would do
this is plainly WRONG, and it's wrong for some pretty fundamental reasons.

Digital TV will produce superb pictures with NO sparkles or interference: IF the signal is strong and direct
but try to receive it with an incorrect antenna, or any old indoor set-top coathanger thing, you can forget
about getting decent pictures, unless you are very close to the TV tower (5-10km), even then you will not
get a reliable signal at all times, radio signal propagation, reflects off metal objects, water towers, and
other tall structures, so the signal arriving at your antenna can be a mixture of direct and reflected signals
which arrive at different times and can cancel each other out.

With analogue TV, multiple path signals just showed up as ghost images behind or displaced from the main picture
with digital TV the quality of the received signal depends upon the accuracy and timing of the decoded signal,
if multiple signals arrive at your antenna, this timing is confused resulting in decode errors, that may be
outside the control range of the error correction, when this happens, the signal freezes, the picture locks
on the last good frame, or breaks up into square pixels.

The "909" card is far less sensitive than later similar cards and always requires an outside antenna designed
for digital TV. The best antenna's are ones that have passed the benchmarking tests from the "CAI-DTG" for
more info check out:-

http://www.dtg.org.uk/retailer/benchmarking.html

That deals with the general background information on digital TV, now to more specific details of my experiences
using "909" cards.

The "909" card uses the PCI interface to access the computer system and your video card to produce stunning
TV pictures, but it requires a late version of Microsofts "DirectX" for best results, also not all video
cards are fully compatible with the "909", many older ones need upgraded video drivers to perform well, but
this is probably a good idea anyway.

The "909" card gets its tuning information from a text (CSV) file that is named to coincide with the local
area TV transmitter or region, these files are provided with the installation, but do need upgrading from
time to time as new relays come on-air. There is a great advantage here, to using simple text files, that is
once you understand the format, you can manually edit the files to include only the "muxes" you wish to receive
(the term muxes is that used by the broadcasting industry for the multiplexing of a block of TV channels onto
one digital TV [radio] signal). So you can illiminate the unwanted selling channels for example.

The interface for this control function is via TCP/IP and the card when installed with all its drivers, appears
in the hardware panel under the network adaptor heading, a local IP number in the 169.x.x.x being allocated.
I gather as the installation requires Internet Explorer 5.0 Plus to be installed, that is uses some parts of
MicrosoftS I.E. to operate this TCP/IP feature.

The Software that comes with the card is somewhat crude and chunky, the display looks very "oldhat" almost
like one of the original ping-pong computer games, but it does function and has some nice features, it has
been progressively updated from my first version 1.3A up to 2.18 over the years to reduce problems, but
sadly not to improve the "clunky look".

I have been using the satellite version of this card (Nova-S 909) for many years with great success to
make pristine recordings of special shows to keep on DVD, both terrestial and satellite cards can record
in MPEG format which with modern editors can be processed as desired, (cut, paste, fade, effects etc).
The radio channels available on terrestial are recorded in MP2 format at 48 killoHertz sampling, which
are roughly the same quality as 192k MP3's when converted. Disc space used is approximately 1.8 gigabytes
for an hour of video and 75 megabytes for an hour of digital radio. The playback quality is as perfect as
the recording.

Please note!! The WinTV 2000 program as is often mentioned in eBay auctions with its much tidier display
DOES NOT WORK with the "909" card, you need the standard Hauppauge version, or that supplied directly by
the original writers "Budget TV" TechnoTrend.  Some sellers just copy the published information for the "90002"
 version card, this does work with WinTV 2000, the software comes bundled with the later card, but NOT
with the "909". If you are in doubt which card you have, most of the early ones have Version 1.20 on the label.
From September 2004. all Nova-T cards are the "90002" type with the Conexant chip set, some boxes STILL
showed the "909" logo, yet contained the "90002" cards, hence the confusion.

(The link to the TechnoTrend web site is:- http://technotrend.de/english/firm/aboutus1.html#)
( Sadly the above link no longer works, maybe the company is no longer trading under that name)
Updated information April 2008

Labourinvein

Credit acknowledgment goes to all manufacturers mentioned, and for the use of their propriatory names.
 
(To be added to I'm sure)

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