Well, someone finally did it. A card that can do realtime hardware encoding of an HD signal over component analog video. At CES, Hauppauge is demoing a card that takes advantage of the analog hole using a hardware x264 encoder that looks quite good.
The hauppauge box was quite interesting. USB connected, it has an analog component encoder that can encode 720p, 1080i, and yes, 1080p content in an H.264 format at data rates of 5 to 25 Mbps. This allows for pretty good quality, though not as good as an R5000. The HD-DVD disk player output they were encoding looked very good at 9 mbps.
The h.264 profile they are using is blue ray compatible, so a codec that can playback BR content should be able to play this back too. They also can take in SPDIF for multichannel audio recording, which is synced in software to the video. It's fresh out of the engineering lab, but they claim it will be in production and distribution in a couple months for $250.
A friend of mine said a bunch of companies are working on this same type of product, some farther along actually, and so we will likely see a number of such products soon. The BOM for such a card is likely sub $50, so the $250 price is high and is likely to come down soon after there is more competition.
This is an ideal card to capture HD video from a cable or DBS STB over it's component analog outputs. It appears from comments made on the Sage forums by Sage staff that they have already been talking to Hauppauge about this card and will have support for it in Sage TV soon. Sage already supports x264 playback with a Cyberlink or other codec, and the HD extender handles x264 playback fine as well, so this is a great fit for SageTV.
While it's not as good as a R5000-HD which captures the raw digital bitstream, this will be a good mainstream product that should be very popular.