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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm looking to add some PVR functionality to my Shuttle SS40G. I'm down to two choices and I wondered if anyone had any advice as to which one may be the best to purchase. Your advice would be most appreciated.

Creative Labs Video Blaster Digital VCR

Pros

Hardware Encoding

Nice 'wife-friendly' user interface

IR blaster (BTW, has any one succesfully managed to control a Motorola DCT2000 cable box with this?)

Remote Control

Cons

Creavite Labs 'legendary' support & drivers

No integrated EPG

Strange MPEG2 recording format

or

ATI All-in-Wonder VE

Pros

Integrated Graphics Accelerator

EPG

All-in-one solution

Standard MPEG2 recordings

Cons

Less 'wife-friendly' GUI

No Remote

No IR blaster

ATI's drivers?
 

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cellerboy


Digital Video Blaster is on sale at CompUSA for 49.99 AR, it think through 12.5.

Also, I think it does hardware encoding where the ATI card does not. I do not own either one but have looked at the Digital Video Blaster and the software seems to be much more like a Tivo.


Clay


Clay
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply clayfree, unfortunately I live in Canada so the whole Compusa rebate is unfortunately out of the question. I'd have been there in a shot if I was though!! :D
 

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Just curious. Why did you decide against some of the other popular hardware choices like the Xcapture, Osprey, Zoltrix, AverMedia and coupling it with one of the popular software choices like snapstream, showshifter, powervcr.


I have no experience in this area, I just want to learn more myself
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I must admit to not being particularly fond of Snapstream. I've given the demo a go and disliked it a lot. Showshifter is good, but at about $75 Canadian plus hardware, it really doesn't make much sense to me when the Creative Card, with remote, hardware encoding, IR Blaster and what looks like a nice GUI (something my wife would use!) is only about $150.


I wouldn't even be hesitating if it wasn't for the Creative's bloody awful drivers and product support.


The ATI All-in-Wonder VE solves two problems for me - the PVR and giving my Shuttle SS40G some reasonably decent graphics performance. I would probably be forced into pairing the card with Showshifter because I don't think my wife could deal with ATI's multimedia centre software.


I'm not hardcore and don't want to pay a fortune for this. I simply want decent quality recording, a way to control my Digital Cable Box and a simple GUI so I don't keep hearing, "How do I get this bloody thing to work", from my wife!! :)
 

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I used the IO magic combo with PowerVCR for months with good results. It has a great wife factor and the tuner is decent. My card introduced a lil noise in the picture but it isn't noticable unless I blow it way up. This card is also compatible with Dscaler for the best picture quality. Also, PowerVCR II with any WDM capture card has very low CPU useage (less than 10%) enabling you to do other things while watching TV without worrying about crashes etc. The picture quality isn't quite as good as some programs but the stability is great.
 

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I am beginning to research these as well. I noticed that you stated that the pro to the Creative Labs is the IR Blaster. I have looked at the documentation for the Digital VCR, and do not see any references to it. Is it an aftermarket item that is compatible with it?


TIA
 

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I purchased the ATI Radeon 8500DV this morning. ATI claims that they cannot interact with a set top cable box. Are you aware of any programs to use this IR Blaster with the 8500? How does the Creative VCR program interact with the IR Blaster? Is it a USB connection?


Thanks for the help
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm wondering the same thing about the ATI products. If I could get an IR blaster that works with them then I might consider buying the AIW instead of the Creative card.


Both showshifter and snapstream pvs allow the use of the ACTiSYS IR-200L IR blaster with their software and ATI cards, but I'm not sure that the ATI software supports them directly.


FYI, the creative IR blaster actually attaches directly to the card itself.
 

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One thing to note that no one seems to have addressed about the all in wonder ve is its use of the rage theatre 200 chip. This seems to be one of the best chips for video input around. It feature set, like its 12 bit adcs, is even better than the conexant chip that has many buzzing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Reviews of the AIW 9700 (which uses the same Theatre 200 chip) have said that there's very little decernable difference in image quality between it and older models.


To me, the most important issues are the ability to control my cable box, the remote control and the user interface. Oh, and price of course!! :)
 

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I've used 3 different capture cards on my XP system. An ATI AIW Radeon, a Pinnacle PCTV Pro (a Conexant 878 chipset board), a Hauppauge WinTV PVR 250.


Note that my primary use of these cards is for video capture and lately for archving to DVD from a directv system.


AIW...

+Flexible card, only takes one agp slot for combo video and capture card

+DVD player, file player and TV app included

+Pretty stable drivers and app (now that it's matured)

+Fairly constant updates to drivers and MMC app

-The TV tuner picked up a lot of noise from the PC

-MPEG2 capture took 75% of my P4 1.7 cpu

-MPEG2 capture quality was around VHS quality, a bit more blurry and noisy than I had hoped

-EPG didn't work for Directv


PCTV

+Better Tuner picture quality than AIW, seemed to pick up less PC noise

+Since it's based on an 878 it Works with DScaler and most other tv/capture apps

-Tuner audio had a high frequency whine

-Product support was really poor, infrequent updates and little to no communication on issues

-Poor capture quality with supplied app but worked well with Showshifter... see below


WinTV 250

+Best realtime capture quality of the 3 cards

+Best tuner quality, least noise, best sensitivity (only by a little though)

+Low CPU usage (30-40% of a 1.3GHz duron) during capture

+Can be used with MCE if you can find a copy of the OS

-TV/video goes thru encoder before display so there is approx. a 1 sec lag from realtime

-Board only supports mpeg2 capture. No avi or wmv.

-Software bugs. Captures just fine but the video locks up at the end of the recording, also on occasion the video seems to display at a 5-10fps rate. There are work arounds for both of these but they are really annoying.


I've also used showshifter (with the PCTV)

+Unlike the apps that come with all three of these cards it has a UI that is very usable on a TV and with a remote

+Very stable, low cpu usage timeshifting function (using included mjpeg codec)

+Best EPG functions (if you choose to pay for the digiguide service)

-No realtime mpeg2 support


I am now using the PVR 250 since I am using the card as a DVD compliant mpeg2 capture device. It came down to capture quality.


Al
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by cellarboy
Reviews of the AIW 9700 (which uses the same Theatre 200 chip) have said that there's very little decernable difference in image quality between it and older models.
cellarboy,

Where have you seen such reviews. I am wondering because I just did a search for reviews. The reviews I found, mainly gaming sites, were very glowing over the chip and its use with the filters on the aiw 9700. Some said they could tell the difference between regular tv and the card input. I have a card with the old rage theatre and I can easily tell the difference between regular tv and card input. Thanks a lot.
 
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