Those of you that run PVR backend software, such as TVHeadEnd or MediaPortal, may already be using one or more satellite tuner cards from TBS or some other manufacturer to bring your satellite signals into your backend. For quite some time TBS has also offered tuner cards capable of receiving over-the-air (OTA) signals in DVB-T format, which unfortunately is not used in the North American countries of Canada, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the U.S.A. (including its island territories). Instead, those countries (along with a couple of others, including South Korea) use ATSC for OTA signals, and in some cases QAM for cable channels.
The new TBS6704 ATSC/ Clear QAM Quad Tuner PCIe Card fills the void. This is the product description:
TBS6704 is an ATSC quad tuner PCIe card for receiving ATSC, 8VSB and Clear QAM cable TV on PC. This quad tuner card allows you to watch and record up to 4 over-the-air (OTA) digital terrestrial/ Clear QAM HD TV channels at the same time, which is ideal for enterprise IPTV streaming solution.
The main features are:
Receive digital ATSC, 8VSB and Clear QAM cable TV on PC
Quad tuner card for watching/ recording 4 channels at the same time
High sensitivity ATSC quad tuner for the best digital TV reception
MPEG-2 & H.264 HDTV support
Time shift & schedule recording support
Windows & Linux driver support
This product was just announced as I write this, so I don’t know of anyone who actually has one yet, and therefore can’t tell you how well it works. My experience is that the TVHeadEnd software does NOT natively support other ATSC solutions, such as the popular HDHomeRun devices from Silicon Dust. Apparently if you are really proficient in Linux, there is some way to recompile TVHeadEnd with HDHomeRun support, but for the rest of us who aren’t Linux gurus, that support might just as well not exist. However, TVheadEnd has always had no problem finding and using TBS satellite cards (provided you have installed the TBS drivers), so my suspicion is that it will also find and use the TBS6704 card with no problem.
Since this blog is specifically about Free-To-Air satellite, and not over-the-air reception, I won’t have much to say about OTA, but I just wanted to mention this card for those who have built a satellite backend system in one of the ATSC countries, and would like to add OTA reception. The fact that this card has four tuners (compared to two or three on equivalent HDhomeRun devices) may make it an attractive option for some users. The card can be purchased at BuyDVB.net; as I write this the price is $179.99 U.S. for a single unit, with quantity discounts available.