Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ATSC/DVB/NTSC Linux support

Linux has a number of drivers for various DVB/ATSC/NTSC cards in various states of usability. One thing that bugs me is the notion that if you have a USB card and want to get sound you should use something like sox to do it. Windows automatically pipes sound to the right place, why can't Linux? It is so completely ass-backwards to expect the average person to do something like that. Why do v4l/linux kernel writers not come up with a more elegant solution? I can't think of a good reason. They might say it should be done by the TV viewer program, but I feel that it should be done by the driver. At the very least it should create a mixer option and pipe it somehow through.

On Boxing day 2008 I purchased a WinTV-850 at Futureshop for around $35 or so. I didn't really play around with it for all that time, but after recently installing ubuntu netbook remix 9.04 I thought I'd plug it in and see how well it works. Well, it turns out that even though it says its a WinTV-850 on the box, it apparently has the guts of a WinTV-HVR950Q, which does QAM decoding too (unencrypted only of course) which is a bonus, but its a newer chip so the support is newer I presume. In any case, I needed to download and extract firmware, which is a right pain in the ass and not particularly user intuitive or friendly whatsoever. Sure we can blame Avermedia, but ffs if the average person doesn't do a google search for info, they're just going to get frustrated beyond belief. Second, the analog didn't work, haven't figured out why. No /dev/video1 (/dev/video0 is the AA1's camera) , but all the same, it did work with the digital. Of course, the only digital viewer I could see of any general quality was called me-tv, which I installed on ubuntu. And it wouldn't auto-search atsc channels, only dvb or something. Ridiculous. Tried w_scan, and the resulting file couldn't be read. Sigh.

Maybe one day there will be something worth using. TVTime is a good program for analog viewing, lets hope we eventually see something worth using with atsc/qam now that that is becoming the standard. Right now I've got nothing.

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