For the HDPVR to be minimally useful to me operationally (that is, PQ aside) my requirements were
1. It must run continuously for weeks
2. I must be able to capture from it unattended, with my own software, since it tunes the cable box, coordinates other capture devices, and controls the waking/hibernated state of my HTPC as needed for my capture schedule
3. I must be able to trim the ends and chop the remainder into DVD5-sized chunks for burning
4. I must be able to play back on PS3 or PC
5. All of the above must be free of tedious interaction and long-running processes (e.g. re-encodes)
It's taken a fair amount of effort, but as of this week, a bit over a month after effective delivery, I can check off all five points without any serious qualifications. Whew! Some details for each:
1. Run all the time. My first unit, delivered June 2, was a fast-fryer, I returned it overnight and got another rev C1 unit on the morning of June 5. After verifying that it worked, I modified it for the heat problem - assuming that as so many failed, "working" ones were probably marginal and would probably be ruined by continuous use. I opened the box and stuck Thermaltake CL-C0025 heatsinks on the processor and ADC chips. I popped out the insert in the top and made a substitute lid, cutting the lid from a RS project box to fit and to hold a 40mm fan. I cut one end off a smaller 2" project box, lined it with sound absorber, and mounted it inverted over the fan to protect it and quiet it. I made a Y-cable to insert in front of the power cable input to the box, with the extra lead feeding the fan. The HDPVR is rated at 10W drawn and the powr supply at 15W supplied, so it should not be any issue to take off 1W for the fan. Except for one day when I was re-arranging it, and a few 5 to 10 minute intervals, my HDPVR has been on continuously since June 7, with no indication of any heat-related issues.
2. Capture. Although it presents as a DirectShow Video Capture source, the HDPVR does not behave as other such do - it requires a bunch of upstream setup to work. Using some clues from other posters here, I was able to understrand how to set up a capture graph to work with the HDPVR. Then it was only a few hours work to have an initial working mod to my capture sw, to use an externally defined graph as an alternative "capture strategy". Given that, all my scheduling and PC ops management worked with it. Every 10 days or so I build a schedule (that's another app, never mind!) and load it into my capture sw, and it runs the PC from there. So far I have captured just short of 500GB with my sw from the HDPVR, that is a bit more than 40 full-length features that I will be able to enjoy later on my schedule, not on a some network's. The capture process uses about 1% of the CPU, and a pretty low rate of IO for a modern disk drive, so the PC is generally available for anything I might want to do while capturing from HDPVR.
3. Trim, chop, burn. When I'm not ready to watch something right away, I may burn it to DVD5 to make space on hard disc, and I want to burn the original TS's, not a derived format, expecting that to be a better starting point for any processing I might decide to do later when I'm ready to watch it. I use DVD5 for that because it is still the most cost-effective, though the margin has fallen to the neighborhood of 2x cheaper than hard disk. I don't do commercial material with the HDPVR, so I don't have that problem to struggle with, but I almost always need to trim some junk from the start or end of a program. I found that (with, and only with, CoreAVC Pro installed) TS Packet Editor (TSPE) could locate trim points exactly, even though it would apply them inaccurately if you then asked it to cut the file. With some small changes to own trimmer/chopper sw I made it easier to use the data as it appears in TSPE. Now when I want to process some capture files, I select a bunch of them in my trimmer/chopper (grid display), then open each file in turn in TSPE, locate the start and end trim points, and paste that into my own GUI. When they are all set up, I click "Go" and go do something else while the files are processed. Then I can burn the chunks to DVD5 for longer-term timeshifting - selecting multiple "tail" chunks when needed to ~fill a disc. And, since the (non-working, so far) MP4 Creator won't accept any TSs that have been modified (e.g. trimmed) I also keep the parts trimmed off the front as part0 - against the possibility that MP4C may come to a working version and I might want to reconstruct the files for it. BTW, each of the chunks also each plays fine in Arscoft.
4. Playback. PC playback is fine for me on 3GHz E8400, Nvidia 8800GT; capture with Arcsoft used about 50% of CPU but playback is in single digits, and although PC playback always seems to have some extra jitter, I find it completely acceptable. But the PS3 is a better player and can be available when the PC is too busy with other chores. After a bit of flailing, I found that the only way I could get to the PS3 using the bundled sw was using Arcsoft "burn to avchd" (Total Media Studio, TMS). Either pre-chopped or whole files come out OK for me, and I can either burn to DVD or stage the files from the STREAM directory (renamed from 00000.m2ts to Whatever.m2t) for streaming by TVersity. But this was a tedious process, a dismal failure by requirement 5. More recently, following up from some clues posted by ScottTX, I have been able to work out a batchable remux process using a graph to extract the audio and convert it to AC3 and then TSMuxer to remux the video stream with the converted audio. I wrote a GUI to automate this. With this tool, which I call H1R (HDPVR V1 Reworker) I can select a list of files, press go, and come back later having them all refomatted, optionally trimmed, optionally chopped, staged in the media library folder on my server running TVersity, and ready to play back on the PS3. With these files played on the PS3, Pause/Play works fine, and frame advance, and at least brief FF/FR generally work OK.
5. No tedium. Whew! With H1R I can finally do all my essential steps with no tedious sit-in-front-of-it, come-back-and-answer-it, now-do-the-next-one aggravation. When they release 5.1, AC3 support a lot of this will change. But for me, HDPVR Rev 1 is now fully domesticated.
My requirements would not be met if I was limited to the bundled sw, nor, as far as I can tell from reading the experiences of other users here, would other commercial sw do it for me. But, I've been a professional sw developer for 30 years, and I'm now semi-retired (while still young enough to enjoy it!) So, both for fun and for filling the gaps, I routinely crank up the IDE and work on little (or sometimes not-so-little) homebrew software. I have done only a little stream-level work in AV; I did make some contributions to tsremuxer under a different nom, but those were mostly performance-technical in nature. So I'm really happy to be able to use tsmuxer (not! the tool I contributed to) in my process.
Tools by others:
TSPE - you can download that (from videohelp, I think) the developer is not working on it any more
TSMuxer - another free download, easily found
CoreAVC Pro - costs about $15, I am glad I bought it
Haali Media Splitter - included in CoreAVC, I think lot's of other ways to get it
My own tools
Capture sw - my main progam is too complex to release, but I made a simplified version (RoboCapLE) and got good feedback in a small, closed beta test. That went well enough that if there is interest I could release it as a "public beta". I expect it will never be anything other than "beta", but I like the simplified version enough that when I start some different processes with my second unit (e.g. recovering DVHS tapes) it's the tool I'm going to use.
Chopping sw - too complex to release - I can't afford the time to explain how it works. I've considered reworking/simplifying it for release, but that's not high on my (long) TODO list.
Reformat sw - H1R is pretty simple (well, the hard parts are component classes re-used from my other tools), and I could buff it up a little and make it available as an open beta if there is interest. It does require you to go get Haali Media Splitter and tsmuxer.
I just use the HDPVR driver, and the Arcsoft playback app. The rest is - not ready yet, IMO/IME.
Well, that's too long of a post. But I was just SO HAPPY to have checked off 4 & 5