A key component for great HDTV using a PC tuner is the decoder. Microsoft Media Center video decoder and audio decoder compliant software is used by most HDTV PC tuner applications.
What are decoders and why do you need them? Currently, all HDTV/digital broadcasts are compressed in what is called the MPEG-2 format. That means what you receive via cable, satellite or over the air is not ready for your monitor/HDTV. The signal first needs to be decompressed to the original format and that’s where decoders come in.
HD TV Decoders come in two flavors, hardware and software. A hardware decoder is basically a computer chip whose sole purpose is to decompress MPEG-2 data. All cable and set-top box digital/HDTV tuners use hardware decoding. A software decoder is just a computer application that runs somewhere on your PC (we’ll get to that “where” in a second) and does the same thing as the hardware decoder, decompresses MPEG-2 data. (continue reading…)