At the most basic level, it makes little difference whether you use a USB tuner or an internal PCI or PCI Express add-in card. You're talking about roughly 1GB of video per tuner per hour, which is well within the bounds of USB 2's bandwidth. However, it's a safer bet to use an internal card, especially if you also use a number of USB peripherals. And if you plan to make the jump to HDTV, you'll need a faster interface than USB 2.0.
Windows Vista can use multiple TV tuners
Still, if you have a highly compact desktop PC, like you'll have little choice but to go for a USB tuner. You may well find that the tuner blocks one or more neighbouring ports, but USB tuners usually come with a USB extension lead.
This largely applies to laptops too. It's the work of a moment to unplug a USB tuner and aerial when you're off on your travels, but you're not limited to USB-connected devices. AVerMedia, for example, has a growing range of ExpressCard tuners such as the DVB-T Express X. Thanks to the bandwidth provided by the ExpressCard bus, it has headroom for HDTV.
AVerMedia's DVB-T Express X ExpressCard tuner
To the best of our knowledge there's no technical difference between PCI and PCIe add-in cards, although it's tempting to choose PCIe if only to make use of the PCIe x1 slots that you find on modern desktop motherboards. It's possible that the bandwidth and power of PCIe may have a beneficial effect as KWorld lists a dual hybrid card that has a PCIe x1 interface.
RE: Why all the mucking about?
Mmm..there are people who can't get SKY+ as they are on a communal feed, ie no personal dish
RE: Vista Media Center 64 Woes pt. 2
Well one thing to check when searching for Vista hardware is that it has the MS Vista Compatible Logo not the MS Vista Capable logo. What's the difference? Well only Vista Compatible hardware is guaranteed to work in 32 bit and 64 bit versions! Even with the logo present there is not guarantee that it works with Vista MCE. (thanks a bunch MS)
Last time I checked Hauppauge's Nova T-500 Dual Tuner card did not support Vista 64 bit and they had no plans to support Vista 64 bit either.
So to all the eye-sayers please tell me of a TV card that has dual tuners and with Vista 64 MCE supports DVB-T subtitles, MHEG-5 digital teletext and Freeview playback?
Why all the mucking around someone asked when you can just get Sky+ or a Humax PVR-9200TS? Well I'd like a one box does it all solution for CD, DVD, blu-ray, Photos, TV (Freeview), web surfing and the odd occasional letter to the rellies. Whether or not that's achievable at all is another matter entirely!
I suspect by Christmas I'll be buying a PVR-9200TS and consigning the Media PC to the back room.
Vista still has really stupid problems
I just spent the weekend trying to get Vista media center to play video files.
For some unfathomable reason, Microsoft have arranged it so the media player component of Media Center does not use the same codecs as the stand-alone Windows Media Player 11...
After many hours of searching & trying various 'solutions', Media Center still does not recognise any files beyond the built-in types.
Media player handles them all.