This review isn't just for those of you who have a TV Tuner, is for all Linux users. If you don't have a TV Tuner don't run away from this page, because this review might convince you to acquire one. Software for watching TV in Linux is becoming really good. I can easily say that is better than the one in Windows. On my desktop from home I use a bt878khf based TV Tuner and a legacy bt848 video capture card. In Windows XP I hardly managed to make the sound work for the TV Tuner and the capture card only came to live after my sister installed a strange driver that had nothing to do with it !!! Well, in Linux 2.6.12 everything worked better than I expected. Both cards where just waiting for a software to drive them. The legacy card has two RCA video inputs and another S-VIDEO input. They all worked perfectly in Linux, but with the strange driver, in Windows, one of the RCA "played dead".
Several good programs are available in Linux, for this purpose. In this category i would like to mention tvtime, KDETV, MythTV and Freevo. While the first two are dedicated to watching television, the last two are extremely full featured. The last two are designed for home cinema boxes. Because I don't have a dedicated system for home cinema I'll discuss about my favorite TV application, but because I have a remote control attached to my computer their time will come. When I just want to waste some valuable time, I watch some TV, using tvtime.
What I like about tvtime?
The first thing that draw my attention was the OSD. It's a transparent smooth looking OSD
, and all the function of the program can be setup
entirely from there. It can be controlled either with the mouse and the keyboard. tvtime can display various information, like time and channel, using closed caption text. Closed captions are rendered and composited with a high quality font for maximum readability. An ugly black background would have been disastrous for this beautiful application.
Second, the program resizes easily, withought slowing the system down. You can set tvtime to stay always on top, resized in a corner, and carry on with other stuff while still watching the news or favorite show. If your computer is slow, don't worry, because you have a lot of video processing options
, and some take more resources but give a better image quality and others, return the processing power in the deficit of quality. Even on fast machines you don't need quality when the program is kept in a small box, in a corner of the screen. If you don't know what some of the deinterlacing modes mean, you just have to read the description and you will figure out which one suits your needs. At this section, filters are also available, and with the use of a projector, the mirror filter could turn out to be useful.
Unfortunately I don't have a game console, but imagine GT3 on the PS2 in 16:9 mode or tune Mario64 for progressive output. tvtime can bing this experiences to life, and even more. I use 16:9 all the time when watching on my imaginary plasma.
Every field is deinterlaced to a unique frame for television quality and beyond. tvtime uses the best deinterlacers from DScaler. This is awesome because DScaler is an excellent deinterlacer. It has 2-3 pulldown detection and correction for full resolution film. For those of you who don't know what this means, I can tell you that it will greatly improve the image quality
. The biggest difference can be seen with scrolling text. If you want to know more about deinterlacing , check out scanline.ca .
tvtime also does overscan. This means that you can push some of the visible image outside the visible frame. This is helpful when you have a stripe with noisy signal. Some people also want to get rid of the black borders that some TV channels broadcast to keep the original aspect ratio of a movie. I wouldn't like to see "The Great Escape" in 4:3 . If you have a wide screen, tvtime can also apply a matte. It supports all the formats I know.The Good
When it comes to the quality of image, tvtime does the job perfectly. When it comes to fulfilling it's job as an application for viewing TV it's i the top of the list. The OSD is one of the best, both nice looking and practical.The Bad
When it comes to reading anything on the teletext, tvtime can't help you. I doesn't have teletext support. If you have any type of remote control, keep in mind that even if this type of devices are not supported in tvtime, the support isn't really necessary because the menu can be navigated with only 4 keys so lirc could definitely do the job.The Truth
If you just want an application just for TV, tvtime is definitely it. Accommodation with it last just a few minutes and the TV experience is great because of the high picture quality. If you want a media center application with DVR and lots of other stuff go for MythTV or Freevo.