You said "yes, I've already altered the Hauppauge picture controls to reduce the softness...it still looks soft"
Could it be possible what you have done ?
I've messed around with tons of settings on the HD-PVR and Colossus (I own them both now), and the picture is still generally softer than the original. But I honestly don't care anymore. The picture looks more than good enough.
I would agree with the softer picture with my HD-PVR. If I record something I want to keep, then I capture at the highest constant bit rate and then re-encode to convert a film capture back to 1080P and add some subtle sharpening to the image. I usually use MEGui from the doom9.org forum. It uses AVISynth script language which has hundreds of filters to do all kinds of processing like removing pulldown flags and lots of different sharpening filters adding black boarders to remove logos ......... Takes some time to learn but it is all free software and the final mkv file looks very good. I do a 1 pass encode with x264 CQ setting of 18 on my older I7-930 overclocked to 4 GHz and it usually runs about 14-18 frames per second maxed out at 100%
Where in Silicon Valley? I think I helped name it in the 1970's and 80's, started 3 companies there.