TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD Dual Tuner Card Review
The TBS6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD dual tuner is a low / high profile PCIe x1 card that generates mpeg transport streams at hardware level to enable the playback and recording of free-to-air Freeview HD and standard definition channels. Driver support for Windows and Linux means that this card can be used with many of the popular, free-source, Home Theatre software packages such as MediaPortal, Argus TV, TVHeadEnd & MythTV. It’s an excellent piece of kit for any HTPC enthusiast.
What it does
Hardware Transport Stream Generation
The TBS 6280 DVB-T2 tuner card has two tuners to receive free-to-air, terrestrial digital television broadcasts and convert that data into a MPEG transport stream (MPEG-TS, MTS or TS files) for immediate playback or storage. Effectively, the transport stream is a format container for multichannel audio, video & subtitles. It uses error correction data to preserve continuity when the broadcast signal is weakened. And since all this is done in the hardware, there is negligible loss of your PC’s resources. The dual tuners have good sensitivity, which means better reception for those in poor reception areas.
Simultaneous Multichannel Recording
Terrestrial digital television services are transmitted on multiplexes (or Mux) and many stations can occupy a single broadcast frequency.
Since there are two tuners in the TBS 6280, it can receive the broadcasts from two multiplexes at once. This means that it is possible to watch and / or record more than two channels at once, provided that the chosen channels occupy the same two multiplexes.
I receive broadcasts from the Mendip transmitter where channels are assigned to the mulitplexes shown below:
So, for example: recording all the HD channels simultaneously would utilize just one of the tuners, leaving scope to watch or record channels from one other mux with the second tuner.
Since our favorite channels span just two multiplexes, there is rarely a time when a programme cannot be scheduled to record because there is no spare tuner.
What it does not do
The TBS 6280 tuner card plays no part in the final reproduction of the transport stream. If you experience micro-stutter, dropped frames or degraded picture quality the items responsible will be your choice of codecs and / or the hardware of your PC.
What’s in the box?
- TBS 6280 DVB-T2 dual tuner card PCIe x1
- Low profile bracket for conversion
- Remote control and infra red receiver
- A mini in-door aerial
TBS 6280 Physical Installation
- The card is packaged with a low profile bracket and swapping it with the supplied taller one is relatively straight forward.
- Fitting the card into an available PCIe x1 slot is a breeze. It couldn’t be easier.
- This card boasts a RF IN and RF OUT connector (aerial pass-through). Fantastic news for those people with just one aerial connection at the back of their TV sets. My aerial connects here, then I use a connector cable to supply the RF signal to my TV. There seems to be no apparent loss in signal strength at the television by connecting in this way.
- As my installation was part of an upgrade, I opted to continue using my more versatile, Windows Media Center remote instead of the one supplied. And as for the in-door aerial: it may work if you happen to live next door to the transmitter.
TBS 6280 Driver Installation
How to install the TBS 6280 driver – Windows
Visit the download section of tbstv.com by clicking here.
Download the Windows Driver set-up program; run it and install the appropriate driver for your operating system (XP/Vista or Win7).
Once installed, you have the option to install bundled software such as TBSViewer and TBSVHID Tool. Don’t bother with these unless you intend to use them.
There is no requirement to re-boot.
How to install the TBS 6280 driver – Linux
These directions are based upon the driver revision v130909. Visit the download site to ascertain the current revision and make that substitution if necessary.
You will need the unzip program installed. This can be obtained through the Software Centre application.
Launch a terminal window then type each line followed by ENTER:
mkdir driver cd driver wget http://www.tbsdtv.com/download/document/common/tbs-linux-drivers_v130909.zip unzip tbs-linux-drivers_v130909.zip tar xjvf linux-tbs-drivers.tar.bz2 cd linux-tbs-drivers
Depending on which version of Linux you have (x86 or x64), you will have to identify the correct driver to install from those just created from the above uncompression.
Then depending on the output, select the correct driver for your operating system.
- for x86 kernel 3.x (x86 32 bit installations of kernel 3.x): ./v4l/tbs-x86_r3.sh
- for x86 kernel 2.6.x (x86 32 bit installations of kernel 2.6.x): ./v4l/tbs-x86.sh
- for any x86_64 kernel (x86 64 bit installations of Linux): ./v4l/tbs-x86_64.sh
Then, type the following to install the correct driver for your system. This example shows the installation of the x64 bit driver. Substitute the highlighted file path and file name with the one appropriate for your system.
sudo ./v4l/tbs-x86_64.sh sudo make && sudo make install
When complete, reboot so the driver can take effect.
sudo shutdown -r now
TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Review
I have set TBS 6280 DBV-T2 tuner card up and had it working with various combinations of operating systems and HTPC software. And it has performed flawlessly; waking from the PC’s sleep state without problems and never missing a recording.
The Good Points:
- Dual tuners with good sensitivity
- Receives terrestrial, free-to-air, Freeview SD & HD channels
- Ability to watch and / or record multiple channels simultaneously, from two multiplexes
- Works in Windows and Linux
- The developers, TurboSight, seem committed to Linux as drivers are continually revised
- Low profile option for media center PCs
- Aerial pass-through
- Wakes from PC sleep state without problems
The Bad Points (And these are minor bad points):
- The Linux drivers are not open source
- There is no infra red remote driver available for Linux, so the supplied remote will not work. However, Windows Media Center remotes work as normal.
OVERALL SCORE 5/5
The Codecs I Use for Windows Playback
With the right selection of codecs, both SD and HD video are crisp and vibrant while playback is smooth and faultless. I use the LAV filters in Windows, available with the installation of MediaPortal or separately here, at Sourceforge.
Not only is the video codec the best, but the LAV audio codec resolves a lot of the problems associated with audio playback on the Freeview HD channels. If you’re having problems with your set up, try these codecs out.