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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to put together an HTPC with PVR functionality so I was wondering what would be the best option regarding a tuner/capture card: (I noticed the Hauppauge is highly regarded)


1) Hauppauge 250 w/ built-in encoder?

2) Hauppauge 250 w/ software encoding?

3) Some other card w/ software encoding?


I have no need for HD capture at this time. My cable is pretty noisy but my VCR (JVC SVHS 9600U) cleans this up very well while my TV does not. I would like to get a tuner in the HTPC that is close to as good as my VCR.


Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Wow i had no idea this forum was so busy! Just to clarify I have seen the pvr250 in action and had no complaints, but that was a smaller TV and I want to know if there is anything even better. With the cost/speed of processors these days, you don't need hardware encoding so I want to consider other options.
 

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I don't think you want to do software encoding in a PVR application -- too much work for your CPU.
 

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Sal,


You might want to do a search. There have been a number of threads dealing with this question. The general consensus is that the Hauppage cards are good quality and require very little CPU. However, they are only 8-bit adc cards and you can get better 10 or 12bit adc cards with chips from conexant or the ATI theater chip. The drawback to these cards is that they require more cpu as they are software encoding.


Russ
 

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I don't know about the tuner section, but I thought that the best capture card was reported to be the Flyvideo 2000/3000 series from Lifeview. Can anyone comment on this?


I know that in the not too distant past, someone was comparing the flyvideo cards with the phillips chipset to the x-capture cards, and they were very close with the edge going to the flyvideo.


Here's a thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...light=flyvideo
 

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David,


the flyvideo is indeed a good card with the 9-bit Philips chip. I haven't actually seen the 3000 but I've also read its great reviews.


*Edit* I just noticed that the flyvideo card can do a max resolution of 720x576. Not so hot if your monitor resolution is 1024x768. My ATI card can capture at a number of different resolutions and display at almost any resolution.


Russ
 

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If this is NTSC television then wouldn't 640x480 be sufficient? Or does capturing at a resolution higher than the source actually provide a benefit?
 

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salsbst,


It's not so much a matter of capturing higher than 640x480 as much as it is playing back at a resolution higher than 640x480. The lifeview website states that it plays back TV at a resolution of 720x576 max. This means that you can't do full screen on the monitor (unless your resolution is 720x576).


Russ
 

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Ah, I didn't realize that you were using their software. Thanks.
 

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There is no limit that is imposed by a capture card on the resolution to which you can scale the MPEG2 streams that it produces. Therefore 720x576 for rendering is a limit of their software, not of the card. People using the card for Dscaler or BeyondTV or whatever won't experience that limitation.
 

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"720x576" isn't this a PAL resolution? NTSC should be 720 by 480 max.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by russ fulks
Sal,


You might want to do a search. There have been a number of threads dealing with this question. The general consensus is that the Hauppage cards are good quality and require very little CPU. However, they are only 8-bit adc cards and you can get better 10 or 12bit adc cards with chips from conexant or the ATI theater chip. The drawback to these cards is that they require more cpu as they are software encoding.


Russ
Correction, the WinTV PVR 250 uses a 9-bit Phillips chip like the Flyvideo cards, the PQ is much better than the original PVR-PCI (unavailable) that used the 8-bit BT878.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Sal K
I'm looking to put together an HTPC with PVR functionality so I was wondering what would be the best option regarding a tuner/capture card: (I noticed the Hauppauge is highly regarded)


1) Hauppauge 250 w/ built-in encoder?

2) Hauppauge 250 w/ software encoding?

3) Some other card w/ software encoding?


I have no need for HD capture at this time. My cable is pretty noisy but my VCR (JVC SVHS 9600U) cleans this up very well while my TV does not. I would like to get a tuner in the HTPC that is close to as good as my VCR.


Thanks!
1) is the only way to go IMO, software encoding has probably gotten better but it still causes more problems than it solves. And 2) is essentially impossible as none of the software that supports the 250 does so in any way without using the encoder. I think I already hit 3).


FWIW, my cable is also quite noisy and my 250 produces a much better picture than my TV is capable of directly from the cable. The 250 will blow away the VCR, at least for recording quality. For PVR software I use SageTV and it's been awesome, well worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks guys. Looks like the 250 is the way to go.


Russ: I did a search but I must not have used the right keywords because it didn't get me any decent hits. I will look into those 10 or 12-bit adc cards you mentioned.
 

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Although the non encoding cards are cheap, before you go out and buy both I'd just get the 250 setup and see how you like it. The main problem with two cards like you describe is that you can't use them both in a single interface and the non-encoder would be useless for timeshifted or recorded content which could easlily become 99% of what you watch.


You can always add a Dscaler compatible card later.
 

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You might look into using the 250 in its live mode. Any lack of quality in the 250s typical output is probably the result of the unavoidable MPEG2 encoding that is performed in PVR situations. If you are watching real live TV then you don't need to do MPEG2 encoding and the picture *will* look better. Whether it competes with MSI TV Anywhere or FlyVideo 3000 I cannot say. Perhaps when you have both you can compare them for us.


Note: using the 250 without MPEG2 encoding is rather tricky. Here's how stanger89 did it:

http://forums.sage.tv/forums/showthr...&threadid=1699
 
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