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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased a WinTV 250 from Hauppage for the main purpose of watching NHL hockey games and not missing a play. I finally decided to setup my htpc for PVR purposes. I read every bit of info on PVRs on this board I could find, and decided to settle for the WinTV-250. I was sure it was the card for me.


I don't yet have an HDTV capable TV, so my requirements for a PVR were quite simple. Standard NTSC Analog capabilities with an S-Video input and stereo audio processing. When I installed the 250, it worked very nicely. The programs I was testing the functionality on (pause/record) had good picture quality. I was able to pause and record perfectly. Infact, I was very very impressed.


That is until last night for the opening game of the NHL Playoffs (P.S. I'm a Canucks fan). Like I said, I wanted a PVR mostly for real-time pause and playback of hockey games. However, the WinTV-250 couldn't keep up to the speed of the game. When I ran the game through the PVR card and software, there was a very notisable, um.. lets call it a slow down affect. It's hard to describe. When the game is run directly to my TV from the Cable box, it's crystal clear, and there is no slow down affect. You can see the puck and players move very sharply and smooth. But through the PVR card there was almost a fuzzy feeling to the movement. It just seemed too fast.


I tried every setting on the card I could find. DVD-Standard, MPEG-1, MPEG-2..etc... Nothing seemed to help. I came to the conclusion that the MPEG-encoder on the card simply isn't up to the task of recording hockey games.


If anyone else out there has the WinTV-250, would you mind testing your setup on one of the NHL Games playing. I'm curious if it is perhaps something I've done wrong, or if it really is the card.


While I'm on this subject, perhaps I can get a couple of suggestions from people that know more about PVRs than I do. Like I said, I've been searching for the best setup for a few weeks now. What I need at this stage in the game is HI-QUALITY Video capture through standard Coax and S-Video analog signals. It needs to be capable of PVR functionality. And it would be really nice if it created MPEG files so I can burn SVCDs and DVDs. I've heard the XCapture seems to be popular, but can it be a PVR? And how does the Audio work? Through the sound card? When I finally upgrade to a nice big fat HDTV Windscreen TV, then I'll splurge for something like the Holo3d, But for now I only need NTSC. I just want it to be high quality.


Thanx for any help.

P.S. This is a great forum!!


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My Setup

CPU: Celeron 1.2G

MB: TUSL2

RAM: 512M Micron CAS2

Video: ATI Radeon 7500 output to TV via S-Video

SC: Zoltrix Nightengale SP/DIF to Yamaha Digital Processor/Amp.

HD: Barricuda
 

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I would suggest you take a look at SageTV ( www.sage.tv ). I find the Win2000 App has a lot of "issues". SageTV is a very solid PVR "front-end". Not only that, it supports multiple Tuners in the same HTPC! Win2000 can't do that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oop. I also wanted to throw the Prolink PixelView PlayTV PVR card into the suggestion?? Mix. It also seems to do what I want. I just wonder if the quality is up to my needs.


As for SageTV. I haven't tried it yet. Do you think that could be the reason for the poor performance on the hockey games? Hmmm. I'll download the demo and give it a shot.. That is if it works with the 250. It seems that most PVR software pacakges don't support the 250. D'Oh!
 

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SageTV and SageRecorder was build for Hardware MPEG encoder like in case of WinTV-PVR 250/350.

Just wondering what Bitrate was you using for the NHL hockey games?.

Are you Record then play back later or Pause Playback?.

what drv are you runing Skidd?.

The Prolink PixelView PlayTV PVR and ProLink XCapture it is Software encoder it not Hardware encoder.

Let me put to you this way if had reg TV before you couldn't capture higher 352x240 without frames drops thoses card above will not help being it real hard capture NTSC 2 fields.

It could be that poor performance on the hockey games could be the analog signel it self just because it look good TV dose mean anything.

I see this from time to time with DishNetwork like chroma noise affect which real piss me off but funny thing it not PVR doing this but it is DiskNetwork that causing the problem and yes I see TV set and yes it made no diff what output I use all 3 them where some.
 

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Perhaps you need to watch slower sports. Here are a few suggestions:


Baseball

Soccer

Bowling

Golf (you know, Mike Weir)

and, since I assume you are Canadian..

Curling!

:D


Seriously, I have been considering the SageTV/Win 250 combo. Interested in your experience with this. Do share what you learn.

Thanks,

Ralph
 

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Skid, I also recently purchased a PVR250 for live and recorded TV viewing. I also watched the Canucks game last night, and I am really grateful that I didn't bother recording it. (I am really hoping that game was just a bad dream and I will wake up and find out the Canucks really didn't suck that bad.)


I noticed when watching the game that it had a "film-like" quality to it. It didn't look like a regular live video feed. That is the best way to describe it. This was with the live feed and not recorded or using pause etc. so I am assuming that the TV signal would be bypassing the MPEG decoder entirely and just outputed straight to the TV app. But maybe all TV signals are encoded/decoded even if just watching normal TV?


Next game I will try recording it to see what recorded shows are like.


As far as other TV/PVR apps: I have tried SageTV and can't get it to work. Because the EPG is so integrated into the program, it won't tune into any channels unless it is listed in the EPG. Since SageTV doesn't support Canada, I couldn't get any tv channels to work. I was hoping that it would at least work as a generic TV program and I would be able to watch TV on it and do manual recording, but no dice. I will try out there SageRecorder and see if I have better luck.


You might also check out showshifter. Snapstream 3.0 sounds promising but doesn't support hardware-based cards like the 250.


BTW, the 250 replaced my Radeon AIW8500DV, and the TV picture quality is much improved, but the TV app for the Radeon is actually more flexible and useful than the WinTV 2000 program. Too bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
SHS:

The fact that the WinTV250 is a hardware encoder is the #1 reason I chose it. I like that idea. But, I am now wondering if that is it's downside with my "hockey game" issue. I'm on the road this weekend, but I'll be sure to download and try SageTV next week for sure.


As for the BitRates I was using. I tried them all. From DVD-Standard to MPEG-12Mbps. They all seemed to have the same "slow-down" problem.


I understand the other cards are software encoders... But it this actually a bad thing? If I have the PC Power (Is a 1G Celeron enough?), is it not possible to get better quality from a sofware encoder? (assumption from the high quality of Software DVD Decoder).


As for the quality of the Analog signal itself. How does that affect the MPEG performance (still learning this stuff). What I tried was directly un-plugging the s-video cable from the PVR250 and plugging it directly into the TV. The difference in quality was very obvious. As a result, I assumed it was a problem with the PVR250.


ralphjb:

haha!! There are 2 of us Canadians in this office, and we are both still hurting from laughing at that one!! I'll be sure to keep you informed of how I make out with this card. :p heheh. Curling!!! Nice one!


Thanx for you help guys. This is some great info so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey, If #1 most imporant feature is Time Shifting, and I have plenty of Hard Disk space.. Then will I get better video quality and performance from a non-mpeg TV-Capture card like the PixelView or XCapture? Lets assume I have over 100G of Hard Disk.
 

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Skidd have try playing back MPEG with a diff app like DVD player like PowerDVD dose it also show that affect?.

Skidd the affect you maybe seeing know as shutting give SageRecorder a try also you fine lots PVR 250/350 only tools on SHSPVR which may work better for you.
 

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If the EPG is not available/interesting to you, Sage also offers a very affordable SageRecorder. SageRecorder gives you all the features of Hauppauge's Win2000 application but supports multiple Tuner Cards (Win2000 does not). One difference, however, is that (either version of) Sage is always in "Pause" mode - i.e. it is always using the MPEG-2 Encoder on the PVR-250 and using S/W Decode to play it back. Sage also give you easy selection of various Decoders (both Audio & Video) rather than forcing you to use Hauppauge's.


As for record quality, I've found 1.5GB/hr to be just fine. But what really helped was putting a 10dB amplifier in the Cable plugged into the PVR-250. It's made an amazing difference! I was previously dividing my Cable between a Cable Modem, TV, ReplayTV, VCR, and a PVR-250. I was very dissatisfied with the picture captured by the PVR-250. When I added a 2nd PVR-250, I knew I'd be dividing this signal even further. So I bought the signal amplifier - incredible improvement....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by edmc
If the EPG is not available/interesting to you, Sage also offers a very affordable SageRecorder. SageRecorder gives you all the features of Hauppauge's Win2000 application but supports multiple Tuner Cards (Win2000 does not). One difference, however, is that (either version of) Sage is always in "Pause" mode - i.e. it is always using the MPEG-2 Encoder on the PVR-250 and using S/W Decode to play it back. Sage also give you easy selection of various Decoders (both Audio & Video) rather than forcing you to use Hauppauge's.


As for record quality, I've found 1.5GB/hr to be just fine. But what really helped was putting a 10dB amplifier in the Cable plugged into the PVR-250. It's made an amazing difference! I was previously dividing my Cable between a Cable Modem, TV, ReplayTV, VCR, and a PVR-250. I was very dissatisfied with the picture captured by the PVR-250. When I added a 2nd PVR-250, I knew I'd be dividing this signal even further. So I bought the signal amplifier - incredible improvement....
I tried playing the MPEG back using Windows Media Player 7.1 and it still looked the same. I didn't try PowerDVD, but I'll give it a go. Thanx. I'll give Sage a try too. It sounds like alot of people like it.


Correct me if I'm wrong.. But the PVR250 only works in encode/decode mode correct? That is, it's always encoding into mpeg and then using software to decode it for display. There is no way around that correct?
 

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> Correct me if I'm wrong.. But the PVR250 only works in encode/decode

> mode correct? That is, it's always encoding into mpeg and then using

> software to decode it for display. There is no way around that correct?


I believe you are quite correct. But I am sure there is a difference in the Win2000 App anyway. When you enter Pause Mode, the closest you can get to real time is a few seconds as I recall. Must be that doing LiveTV, one is buffering the MPEG-2 data in Memory only while the Pause Mode probably has some scheme to stage the data on the Disk as well.


But I do suggest you consider antenna amplification. I just think the MPEG-2 Encoder does a much better job when the signal is better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'll do as you suggest (signal ampification). I'm already splitting the cable twice (Cable Modem, VCR, Cable Box, PVR). I think a signal booster is a good idea even if it doesn't help the PVR. Thanx edmc. Hey.. YOu recomend a 10db amp.. Is there a reason pro/con against 20 or 25db boosters? Or is a 10 simply good enough? Thanx.
 

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The 10dB boost worked for me. Actually, I purchased a 20dB booster which had 1 Input and two Outputs. My thinking was more boost and I'd be able to cut out one of the "splitters". Upon closer inspection, however, my 20dB booster actually outputs a 10dB boosted signal on each of the two outputs. I'd call that creative labelling, but it turned out to be sufficient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, I've tried everything, and I can't seem to get the clarity from the PVR-250 that I need for Hockey Games. The only thing I can assume is that the on-board MPEG encoder is just not up to the task of encoding tv like a Hockey Game.


I tried:

- plug coax from wall directly to pvr250

- S-Video from Cable box to S-Video input.

- adding a 10db signal booster

- Every quality setting the PVR250 supports.

- Sage Recorder (no affect as I expected).


So, I'm afraid that I"m going to have to try something else. Like perhaps a FlyVideo3000 or a PixelView. Remember, that My #1 requirement is TimeShifting with high quality.
 

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Skidd do you have the latest drivers posted on shspvr? If not I recommend you try them. I don't remember which drivers caused me problems but one of them caused my video to have some strange artifacts on high-motion content.


Also, WinTV2k uses a proprietary version of the intervideo mpeg2 audio/video decoders. I wasn't impressed with the quality I got out of the wintv2k app with these decoders. They seem to do a weird job with deinterlacing.


I now use SageRecorder with the latest hardware drivers (I don't have the full wintv drivers or the wintv app installed at all now) and I use the Sonic Decoders. I'm much happier with the quality.


I've still got a little bit of jump in the video but I believe that it is due to the audio clock jitter. I haven't installed the reclock filter yet... that's on the to-do list.


That's one big plus with Sage... they allow you to select the audio/video decoders and the sound renderer.


Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hey BigAl...Yeah. I did try the latest drivers from Hauppage. And I also tried SageTV and told it to try a number of different MPEG-2 decoder codes I have installed. The picture quality was better, but still far below the quality I was looking for.


If your running a PVR250, try what I've been trying. Switch between the video feed from the pvr250, and a direct feed from the cable box. (I'm switching through my amp) . When I do this, I see a very noticable difference in the picture quality. Give it a try and see if I'm not crazy?
 

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Well, I'vre recorded a game, and it plays pretty well. Can't tell that much difference between the recorded and live feed. I am using the WinTV app. This is playing on a computer monitor, so I can't get a direct feed from the cable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Here is what I did for a side-by-side comparison.


Record about 30 minutes of hockey to a VCR.

Plug the Coax from the VCR output into the PVR250.

Plug the RCA video from the VCR output into my TV.

Plug the VGA output from my HTPC into a 17" monitor.

Setup the PVR250 with winTV to show the output from channel 3 from VCR.


Now. play from the VCR. The output shows direct to the TV, and through the PVR250 onto my monitor. They are side by side now. There is a 1 second delay as the PVR250 does it's thing.. but the result is pretty clear. The picture quality isn't enough for my needs. I can see a pretty obvious difference. It's very obvious when the camer is panned very quickly when a shot is taken on goal.


P.S. I tried taking up a slower sport as sugested above.. But I just can't seem to get into bowling. :p
 

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What amplifier model are you using?

I was never sure what to get, thee seem to be different models for different frequency ranges.


How does the 250 compare to the AIW 9700 (TV quality)?

Why would I get the 350 if I'm not interested in FM?
 
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