Updated: September 26, 2008 (Included all the TS files on a separate site)
Here's my experience thus far with the HD-PVR.
I've always had an on-and-off interest in capturing gaming footage. For the past few years, my main capture device was an ATI TV Wonder Pro capture card. I'd capture in DVD-standard MPEG2, then used MPEG-VCR to cut out any useless footage (A great product by the way!). Finally, I used Gordian Knot to convert the MPEG2 captures to DivX AVI. The results were okay for a while, but weren't exactly spectacular. After getting a new Desktop last December and rewatching some old captured footage from years earlier, I knew I needed to update my capture device/method. Plus the ATI card was discontinued and wasn't even fully compatible with Vista.
Basically I wanted to replace my aging setup and be able to capture HD video. Researching this on various sites and forums, I found a number of affordable products:
SKnet Monster X:
Like the HD-PVR, captures in 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i. But nearly impossible to obtain outside of Japan. I also didn't feel comfortable getting drivers/support from a Japanese language website. And there was the little extra hassle of finding a D-Terminal to Component adapter.
Similar issues as with the Monster X.
Leadtek Winfast PxDTV2300 H:
When I researched this, it was not readily available in North America (I think it still isn't). The price was pretty good, but none of the overseas retailers seemed to ship to Canada. As well, there was little information/user-reviews on the card. It only captures up to 480p.
BlackMagic Intensity Pro:
This was my choice before learning about the HD-PVR. Upon further research, my excitement turned into disappointment. According to the company support site, the Intensity Pro is apparently not certified for use with Dell Workstations (My current rig is a Dell Precision 390). It was also a bit pricey. While it apparently doesn't have 480p recoding, it does have HDMI recording (Provided the source doesn't have HDCP) as well as compressed or uncompressed capturing. The uncompressed picture quality is said to be quite nice (Though there are mixed opinions about the MJPEG compression). If I ever get a suitable machine with a RAID0 setup, I wouldn't mind purchasing an Intensity Pro.
In the end, I ended up with the Hauppauge HD-PVR (Model 1219, Revision C2). Easy to setup and lots of information/feedback in various forums. After making several test captures, I'm quite satisfied thus far with the capture results. I tend to wonder about the performance of USB 2.0 connected devices vs. internal devices, but the HD-PVR has been doing its job great so far. It was great to see captured footage running at 60fps. Once I get an HD STB, it will be a joy to archive sports and various shows. Setup was quite simple and the driver/program installation went off without an hitch.
Basic specs of my PC are:
Vista Business 32bit
Intel Quad Core Q6600 (2.4Ghz)
8800GT PCI-Express 512MB
My main purpose was to use this device to capture game footage. There is a 1+ second input/sound lag if you're going by the preview window. Luckily, the HD-PVR's Component out passthrough worked perfectly with my VGA Box.
My PS3 is still unavailable at the moment. So I've been capturing using a PS2 (480i.480p), Wii (480p) and an Xbox 360 (720p, 1080i). I'm now capturing using official Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony component cables (My older videos were captured using cheap third-party MadCatz/Gamestop ones. And they weren't half-bad, so if you're on a budget, pick some up) and standard stereo. The capture settings were 5Mbps (480i source), 6Mbps (480p source), 13.5Mbps (720p, 1080i sources). All Constant bitrate. I'm using the GraphEdit/rcTVCap command-line method of capturing, which uses very little PC processing power (I was getting random jitters and artifacts when I captured using the Arcsoft Capture Module). Personally, I found 720p yielded the best captured footage.
Here are some TS files outputted from the HD-PVR:http://16bityouth.com/pat/hd-pvr/
As been said by other users, the TS files produced are not easily editable. Whether it be doing simple cuts of commercials or importing them into your favourite video editing software. Apparently, the VideoReDo guys might be adding support for H.264 TS files, but nothing yet. One program that does work in some ways is H.264 TS Cutter (http://www.h264tscutter.de
). I've had mostly good results with it and CBR TS files.
For the time being, I'm pretty happy. I'm no HTPC or video expert, so the ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre and MPC are fine for my purposes (Viewing captured content on my PC). As said, the output H.264/MP4 file is highly uneditable and is a mother to convert. I'm by no means a videophile or video expert, so I'm not too sure if this product is suitable for hardcore video editors (Seeing as how it's so restrictive). For myself and my applications, I'm more than satisfied with this product.
And while I would recommend the HD-PVR for capturing HD footage, I would not suggest buying this product if you're looking to take amazing-looking screenshots. Since there is no access to the component-in signal (The blurry preview window doesn't count), any captured images will only look as good as the outputted TS file (Which, of course, has slightly lower quality than the original video input). Plus, at least with my Vista installation, the ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre doesn't even capture images (There's a command in the context menu, which when selected does...nothing).
Random problems that maybe others can help me with:
-With VBR TS files and MPC, if I seek using the progress bar, the video goes from 60fps to 1fps. The video has be re-opened and played back from the beginning to fix the issue.
-The preview window in H.264 TS Cutter doesn't seem to work with VBR TS files. I can still cut, but I have to rely purely on numeric values. If the video is paused once or if I seek within the progress bar, the preview window hangs.
- MP4 encoding using TMPGEnc Xpress has become a hassle, so I moved back to DivX 6.7 AVI files. Basically with VBR MP4 encoding, I was getting random intervals of artifacts regardless of the bitrate. With CBR MP4 encoding, I would get bad stuttering. And with both, 2-pass encoding would takes AGES. Which makes sense, but 20+ minutes for a 1 minute clip seemed a little off. So basically, while I love TMPGEnc, are there any tutorials for proper conversion to MP4 using the HD-PVR TS files? (In other words, not simply an all-in-one video conversion application that takes control of everything)
Thanks for those who've been suggesting ways to fix the above issues. Any other comments or general tips are welcomed!