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HDTV vs. Linux vs. USB?

I’ve been researching TV video capture cards, especially before it becomes illegal to buy capture cards lacking the infamous broadcast flag.

Here are some handy things: How to Convert VHS tapes to DVD using a capture card. USB-based TV tuners, A USB/HDTV solution, a how-to on installing a linux-based PVR, Myth TV, linux TV laptop section on tuxmobile, a site that describes HDTV reception in your area, a review site of TV-cards and a DVDmaker forum site.

My basic conclusions (after a cursory look through the material). USB 2 TV cards are pretty commonplace, although there are only one or two HDTV cards that are USB-based. Linux supports a lot of TV cards, although it’s iffier for USB devices (and nonexistent for USB/HDTV devices). Even with a TV card, support can be iffy, so you better have access to good tech support (or buy it locally if you want to swap it out). Laptops can get HDTV, but it uses a lot of CPU and memory.

I want to upgrade, but I can’t decide whether to do it to laptop or desktop. My main requirement is for it to accomodate video editing and that it be totally linux friendly. (If you can feed a laptop a USB2 hard drive and TV card), then the main reason for staying with a laptop is no matter one of form factor but of required computing power.

I real question is whether I really need for my laptop/PC to have video capture/tuning capability. A computer is a computer, not a TV. It would be helpful to convert VHS to AVI’s or to watch HDTV, but would it be worth the trouble to get everything configured? This is a case where merely because a laptop can receive HDTV signals doesn’t imply that you should buy/make it.

Update: Today’s slashdot had a forum on the subject!

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