NOTE: I do not have any subscription TV so my review of this tuner is strictly OTA. There is only 1 NTSC station near me and I merely verified that the FM receiver works, so my review is strictly oriented to ATSC.
I live east of the San Francisco Bay, smack dab in the middle of a cacaphony of strong OTA terrestrial signals.
San Francisco is to the north and San Jose is to the south. I had to remove the reflector screens from my bowtie antennas in order to receive from both directions.
My $40 Zenith digital-to-analog converter box got perfect reception with the 4-bay antenna.
My Hauppage WinTV-HVR 2250 receives all the expected channels, but only with an 8-bay antenna.
Compared to the Zenith, that Hauppage needs twice as much antenna. I consider this disparity in OTA reception between an expensive Hauppage tuner card and a cheap Zenith converter box to be a damning indictment of the Hauppage tuners.
Some of you questioned whether the internal splitter degrades the 2250. This is unlikely. The signal-to-noise ratio (s/n) of any system is almost always dominated by the first active gain stage in the signal path. The splitter only degrades the s/n if it has no amplifier in front of it. The Hauppage certainly has gain before the internal splitter. Something else must be wrong.
But wait, there's more!
For the Hauppage to RELIABLY receive San Jose to the south, I also had to block out the multipath reflections from the apartment buildings to the east. I used the reflector screens to block the multipath. I hung them from the overhang of the balcony, perpendicular to the bow ties.
Finally I obtained performance comparable to a $40 converter box that needed half the antenna and no multipath guard!
This need to double the signal and block out multipath reflections with a separate screen is sad indeed. This is not exactly a vote of confidence for Hauppage design practices. Or could it possibly be the marketing practices that are at fault?
The ATSC tuner in my Hauppage 2250 receives terrestrial signals exactly as poorly as my TIVO HR10-250 DirecTV HD satellite DVR and my RCA DTC100 DirecTV HD satellite receiver.
My DirecTV receivers are ancient, probably 2nd and 1st generation chipsets respectively.
This is not a great advertisement for the Hauppage receiver either. Put plainly, considering that it is allegedly one of the best internal tuner cards on the market, the OTA reception of the Hauppage stinks.
But wait, there's more!
I have Windows XP installed on my PC. I tried the bundled WinTV 7 application that came with the Hauppage 2250. Guess what I found?
Well OK it does tune in all the ATSC, NTSC, and FM channels, but it crashes continually. One tuner only records one program stream. The other tuner only handles one live TV. There is no picture-in-picture. The infrared remote is useless with WinTV 7.
The FM radio reception works but it only receives analog FM.
Oh yes, the composite/s-video capture works also, but apparently only on the main port. The secondary port appears to be completely dead.
So instead of capitulating to the plutocratic don't-you-dare-make-backup-copies-of-your-movies mentality, I decided to spare my CPU the useless burden of encrypting every internal bus with WinDoze 7 DRM madness and installed Mythbuntu instead.
For free, I actually have a working 2-tuner DVR that can record multiple program streams simultaneously. So far I have managed to record 6 different programs all at the same time using 2 tuners that are tuned to stations with 3 or more subchannels each. I also watched an additional subchannel simultaneously so I had 7 program streams being processed simultaneously with no perceptible problems. Those dual onboard MPEG hardware encoders really expand the capabilities of the card, and when the operating system allows taking advantage of them it also allows me to record 60% or more of the PBS television that hits my antenna all simultaneously using just 2 tuners.
I would like to see anyone running WinDoze accomplish this, much less add multiple tuner cards and control them all with frontend/backend modularity the way Myth does.
I am a little disappointed that the program guide crosses up the program descriptions nearly half the time, but so far it has not been much of a problem because the titles tell me most of what I need to know and if there is still a question I can look up on the internet.
I have only been using the OTA guide so far but I know that there is a subscription service for $20 per year. I might try that out once I am satisfied I am done fine-tuning the performance of the rest of the system.
Oh, did I mention the joy of working in a Posix environment again? I have missed it since I retired.
What a joy to have a kernel and a TCPIP socket that never crash. What a joy to kill a process without crashing the window manager. What a joy to restart the window manager without crashing the OS. What a joy to install and uninstall and re-initialize applications without a reboot.
What a joy to actually have some control over the OS as well as more choices than I know what to do with.
What a joy to wave goodbye to cryptic gummed up registry hives buzzing around like bees in my head.
Virus? What virus? It is Linux. You do not get root privileges, script kiddies! You will have to go to college and get a real job if you want to learn how to hack this machine, and by that time you will be too busy bailing your own children out of the slammer to bother me anyway.
My Mythbuntu installation has been running for weeks without a reboot, recording everything I want to watch (and more) the whole time. I am also doing all my web browsing and documentation and mail on the same machine. Without a reboot.
Both ATSC tuners work. That is all that is implemented in the current LinuxTV driver. It is necessary to compile and install the entire module using the links to the scripts that are on the LinuxTV web site.
The 'experimental' or bleeding edge driver apparently has the NTSC tuners working but I did not try it. Why bother? There is only one worthless NTSC station near me and the FM tuner is no better than the analog tuner in my stereo receiver.
The built-in IR receiver and blaster that came with the 2250 do not work at all under Linux (no driver), although there is apparently the option of using a generic or home brew remote control and there may even be a generic receiver card that works with the bundled remote.
I am simply using a wireless keyboard and mouse and that works fine plus it allows me to use my PC as well as MythTV simultaneously on my dual-monitor graphics.
I am satisfied with this solution but only because my signal strength is excellent, I put up an excellent antenna, and I am technically oriented but on a limited budget.
It is my suspicion that, in general, computer tuners have two major problems.
First they are subject to the constraints of size (if they are external USB or firewire dongles) and the constraints of system noise (if they are internal PC cards). These constraints would certainly tend toward poor s/n ratio, poor sensitivity, poor multipath rejection, etc.
Second they are subject to the pressures of the computing marketplace. Profit margins in the PC market are amazingly slim compared to televisions. Would that tempt a manufacturer to off-load all those first, second, and third generation ATSC/DVB chipsets with lousy multipath rejection onto the PC market -- even in the allegedly superior models?
Maybe it is necessary to independently evaluate the tuners before committing to a purchase, if performance is an issue.
Sorry for the lengthy tome. Hope there was something useful in here for you.