Windows Media Center

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD Dual Tuner Card Review

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.

TBS 6280 Dual DVB-T2 Freeview HD PCIe x1 Tuner Card

TBS 6280 Dual DVB-T2 Freeview HD PCIe x1 Tuner Card

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:

Mendip Mulitplexes & Channels (17/09/13)

Mendip Mulitplexes & Channels (17/09/13)

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 DVB-T2 Dual Tuner Card: Box Contents

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Dual Tuner Card: Box Contents

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.

Type:

uname -a

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.

Google

HTPC Application Launcher

HTPC Launcher

LAUNCH YOUR FAVORITE HTPC APPLICATIONS WITH YOUR REMOTE

A neat, informative program that does the following:-

  • Allows the user to switch between popular HTPC applications such as MediaPortal, XBMC, Windows Media Center and many others, all from the comfort of your chair; with your remote control.
  • Displays the screen refresh rate.
  • Provides a summary of hard disk usage. Space remaining for recorded TV and the proportions of used space for movies, TV series and recorded programs.
  • Hides all desktop icons and restores them when the program is quit.
  • Configurable to run any application you choose.
  • Can be made to start when Windows boots.
  • Program window can be positioned by the remote, so it doesn’t spoil your desktop wallpaper.
  • MediaPortal SQL database repair with one remote key press.
Written and compiled with Autoit. Tested on Windows 7. Used 24/7.
Author: Tim Wolverson

INTRODUCTION

If, like me, you’re a HTPC enthusiast, the chances are that you will have tried a multitude of media center software in the pursuit of perfection. You will like some features in one product more than another. Your favorite product may lack a certain feature that you really can’t live without. So maybe now, you’re using at least two popular pieces of software to satiate your HTPC needs.

I am.

I use MediaPortal and XBMC. And I switch between the two of them often. Why?

MediaPortal is very good at delivering Live TV, scheduling and making recordings, indexing them, managing them. And most importantly, watching them.

Yes, XBMC can do this too if you use the relevant plugins, but I found it difficult to use and unintuitive. No good for the wife then.

XBMC has a great feature that MediaPortal does not; the ability to adjust audio/video sync. Something that is very important to me when watching encoded material. The slightest deviation in lip sync can annoy me and make something great, totally unwatchable.

Plus, XBMC starts up much quicker than MediPortal. And I like the wide ranging add-ons available for it.

So I use both.

And I wrote this simple, informative HTPC Launcher so that I wouldn’t have to get out of my chair and launch either product by resorting to the mouse every time I wanted to switch. A couple of remote control key presses and it’s done.

GETTING STARTED

Download the zipped HTPC Launcher file.

Uncompress the file and copy the program folder to your Program files directory or a folder of your choice.

Enter the program folder and right click the exe file. Select Create Shortcut and opt to have it on your desktop. If the shortcut is created inside your folder, drag the shortcut out of the folder onto your desktop.

Now you can start the HTPC Launcher by double clicking on your new desktop shortcut.

It is recommended to have this program start on its own, each time Windows boots. To do this open up the Startup folder and place a copy of your shortcut inside it. Go to Start > All Programs, and right click on the Startup folder to open it.

CONFIGURATION

This program can be configured with the config.txt file, situated in the program folder. Double click this file to open it in notepad. You will be presented with the default configuration.

It’s relatively straight forward to understand. The items in square brackets are variable names used by the program and should not be altered.

key=”what ever appears here” is assigned to that variable. So your configuration details go between the relevant quotation marks.

When you have completed your alterations, make sure that you save your changes in notepad.

### CONFIGURATION FILE FOR HTPC PROGRAM SELECTOR ###
####################################################
#HARD DISK DETAILS
##################
[HD1]
key="C:"
[HD2]
key="E:"
[HD3]
key="D:"
[HD4]
key=""

#MEDIA LOCATIONS | PATHS - MEDIA
################################
[RecTV]
key="C:\Users\Public\Recorded TV"
[Movies]
key="E:\Videos\Films"
[TVShows]
key="E:\Videos\TV Series"

#PROGRAMS - CONFIGURATION
#########################
[Program1]
key="C:\Program Files (x86)\Team MediaPortal\MediaPortal\MediaPortal.exe"
[Image1]
key="Mediaportalogo.gif"
[Description1]
key="MediaPortal"
##
[Program2]
key="C:\Windows\ehome\ehshell.exe"
[Image2]
key="WMClogo.gif"
[Description2]
key="Windows Media Center"
##
[Program3]
key="C:\Program Files (x86)\XBMC\XBMC.exe"

[Image3]
key="XBMClogo.gif"
[Description3]
key="XBMC"

SECTION: Hard Disk Details

Here, you can specify how many hard disk drives you have in your PC that contain your media (up to a maximum of 4).

In the above example, there are three drives labelled C: / D: / E:

The option for a fourth drive letter has been left blank “”

If you only have one hard drive then enter that under [HD1]. It should look something like this:

[HD1]
key="C:"
[HD2]
key=""
[HD3]
key=""
[HD4]
key=""

SECTION:  Media Locations

Copy and paste your media locations in this section. These paths are used to calculate disk usage.
The easiest way is to do this is to navigate to one of your folders in Windows and right click the address in the folder window.

Select Copy address as text from the context menu. Then go to your configuration file and locate the correct key= . Delete any information between the quotation marks and with the cursor inbetween both quotes, press Ctrl + V on the keyboard to paste the exact address into the file.

[TVShows]
key="E:\Videos\TV Series"

SECTION: Configuring Programs

A total of three programs can be configured for launch.

[Program1] contains the full path and executable for the software chosen.

[Image1]  is the full name of the logo you want displayed in the HTPC Launcher window. Download whatever you need and save it in the program folder.

[Description1] is the button name.

The following configuration leaves the central button blank:

#PROGRAMS - CONFIGURATION
#########################
 
[Program1]
key="C:\Program Files (x86)\Team MediaPortal\MediaPortal\MediaPortal.exe"

[Image1]
key="Mediaportalogo.gif"
 
[Description1]
key="MediaPortal"
 
##

[Program2]
key=""
 
[Image2]
key=""
 
[Description2]
key="---"
 
##
 
[Program3]
key="C:\Program Files (x86)\XBMC\XBMC.exe"

[Image3]
key="XBMClogo.gif"
 
[Description3]
key="XBMC"

HOW TO USE HTPC LAUNCHER

For best results, make this the platform from which you launch your HTPC software, especially after a fresh boot of Windows. Enabling software to start automatically when Windows starts could steal the focus away from this application and prevent it from working.

  • To select an application to launch, use the remote’s navigation and select buttons.
  • Exit your media center software in the usual way to return control to this window.
  • The remote’s number buttons will place the HTPC Launcher window in different positions around the desktop. 1 will place it top left, 2 top middle, 3 top right, 4 left, 6 right, 7 bottom left, 8 bottom middle and 9 bottom right.
  • Pressing 5 will run the batch script, located in the program folder. It is currently configured to issue a command to repair MediaPortal’s SQL database.