giVo hardware

I have several goals for the hardware in giVo:

  • It must look good in a living room type environment next to other video and audio components
  • It must be able to be controlled remotely
  • It must have an LCD of some sort so it can be used without turning on the TV
  • It must be quiet enough so it is not noticeable when music or tv is playing low

capture card

The Capture Card I bought is an Asus TV FM capture card. This card supports regular Cable TV inputs. It uses the Philips SAA7134HL chip to tune TV and Cable channels.

The card comes with a nice remote, which means I don’t have to use the wireless keyboard to do simple things like scrolling through menus.

Right now I have regular cable, but in the future I might get digital cable or satellite, in which case I would need to do some more research into cards that support those. If anyone knows of any please send me information about them.

video card

For my video card, I got an ATI with a TV-out. I got an ATI instead of an nVidia because of ATI’s reputation for having better 2D cards. It has performed wonderfully so far.

sound card

For a sound card, I need something that supports optical output to my receiver (to reduce noise on the line between them). I got a card based on the Aureal Vortex 2 chip which is not made any more. This card was very cheap and works great. You can still get them on ebay sometimes.


I got my LCD from Crystalfontz. They sell all sizes and colors, so I picked out a backlit blue on gray model (model number 634). In retrospect, a non-backlit model might have been easier to read from a distance. This is a serial LCD and is programmable through the serial port.

Recently I have removed the use of the LCD since all the commands can be done using the TV-screen menu.


The case I decided on is the AOPEN H400A. This is a miniATX case, which I needed because ATX was too big and microATX was too small. I knew I would need a few slots in the back, and miniATX was the solution. The case is about the size of my stereo receiver, so it turned out well.

hard drive

A quiet hard drive is a must for this kind of system, and my old Maxtor whines really badly, so I did some research. I ended up with a Samsung SP1614N drive, which is a 160gig drive, 7200 RPM, and 8 megabytes of cache. This drive has been extremely quiet.


Another part of the PC that is typically very noisy are the fans. I replaced my P4 CPU fan with a Nexus PHT-3600 fan. This fan is barely audible when the CPU is not in heavy use, and is quiet enough under heavy load. I still have to replace my power supply, because it is now the noisiest part of the system and is audible across the room.

power supply

I recently replaced the power supply that came with the case with a QTechnology Ultra Quiet 350W Power Supply (model QT-02350G). This thing is so quiet I have to put my ear right up to the back of the case to hear it.


A remote control may not be flexible enough for certain tasks, especially when you need to type in something for searching. So early on, I bought a wireless keyboard. I don’t remember what brand it is, but the trackball stopped working well after a while so I wouldn’t recommend it. One nifty feature that I have discovered is being able to remotely turn on the computer from the keyboard. Check out the giVo Software section for more information about that.