I tried hooking the cards up to the included antenna. Far worse than the bunny ears. Hooking the cards up to the house antenna made things a lot better. Channels nine and seven are 98% strength, two and ten are passable at ~80% strength, and SBS, with just 60%, is unwatchable.
My house antenna is a funny beast. I can’t find it. It doesn’t have a presence on my roofline. I have to go up into the roofspace this weekend to see if its one of those magical in-roofspace antennas, but I don’t think so. There used to be an antenna mount on the back of the house, which you can tell by the holes and lack of paint at that particular spot. I’m thinking a better antennna (or maybe even having an antenna) will improve the reception.
I’ve also got it doing output via the video card to the TV, but it’s not ideal as it stands. The TV software wants to put a grey boarder around the picture, which is fine if you’re watching a monitor, but bites arse if you’re watching a TV. And, not surprisingly, 16:9 doesn’t look that big on my 4:3 TV. Hopefully switching to PVR software like MythTV will help with this.
As for noise, the plan is to have the box in the next room and run cabling through the walls. Quieter. But it will make loading a DVD a pain in the butt.
So, more problem fixing, but given the hardware seems to work, I’m going to start fiddling with the OS next.