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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What are the pros and cons of using:


(1) a basic TV tuner card (e.g. Hauppauge WinTV) + PVR software such as Showshifter or WinDVR which uses software MPEG2 encoding


versus


(2) a card specifically marketed as a "PVR card" such as WinTV PVR 250 which has hardware MPEG2 encoding?


Does anyone have any insight into the advantages of hardware MPEG2 encoding, i.e. is it worth the extra money? Better picture quality? Less demand on cpu? More features? Is there a compelling reason to pay more for hardware MPEG2 encoding?
 

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Hardware has the advantage of not needing a very powerful PC.

Has several disadvantages:

1. Can't use third-party software such as ShowShifter.

2. Can't choose another codec such as an MPEG-4.


MPEG-2 capturing is no better than MPEG-4 quality wise.
 

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How do you plan on implementing your PVR solution? If you're dedicating your PC to PVR duties alone and do not need other concurrent functionality (such as watching DVDs or playing mp3 files) then a software solution is fine. However software solutions do use a lot of CPU and even on the most powerful processors available today you would have difficulty running other software while the PVR was recording.


In my HTPC I employ both a hardware and software solution. I use the Creative Labs Digital VCR for most of my recordings as a strict VCR replacement. I can do whatever I want on my HTPC while it happily records all my scheduled TV shows. The Creative PVR only uses around 5% of my CPU for its recording needs since it is hardware based. This way I can watch a DVD or use my mp3 player or do most anything else while shows are being recorded.


When I want a higher quality recording for a specific show I go for a software based solution (in my case the ATI Multimedia Centre). The ATI MMC (and Showshifter for that matter) allow a lot more tweaking of recording parameters than the Creative PVR and thus for a particular instance can produce a higher quality picture conforming to the exact specs you require.


The dual solution approach also comes in handy when I need to record two shows at the same time. I have actually successfully had the Creative PVR and ATI's MMC both recording at the same time!!!


Cheers

Lester
 

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i am also preparing to build a PC w/ PVR as the most intensive function. I will rarely need to do much (if any) multitasking, so I certainly won't need a dedicated hardware solution (especially since it will be a new fairly robust setup in terms of chip/RAM etc). However, I will be using it to record a lot of soccer games, where image quality is important. Any advice on cards? I have been considering the ATI AIWonder 8500 ( http://www.ati.com/products/pc/aiwradeon8500/index.html ). Will the extra memory (128 MB DDR) be helpful or is it overkill? I have been reading a lot about framedropping. Has anyone seen any feedback on the 8500 GPU? Does the AIW allow the user to tweak the settings to maximize capture quality?


thx
 

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e vey

1. Can't use third-party software such as ShowShifter.

(Why you want do that when you Hardware that dose the same with out eat up all cpu usage plus you get high rez format).

2. Can't choose another codec such as an MPEG-4.

(And your point is?)

Oh care e vey about MPEG-2 capturing is no better than MPEG-4 sorry Divx dosen't count.


Lester Jacobs got a good point in most of it but the Creative Labs Digital VCR is a waste being you can't reocrd min 704 to 720x480/576 and 48KHz audio which what is need for building DVD disk you have to re-render the entire movie.


ATI AIWonder 8500 is Software Encode don't be fool by it'


Oh by the way I just psot the full spec on the WinTV-PVR 350 on my web site.
 

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Well, I recently went thru the same question and decided that software MPEG decoding is the way to go for my setup. There aren't a whole lot of MPEG2 encoding card out there (ProVideo and Hauppauge) and compatibility is a major issue.


For me, I'm still in the debugging stage for my setup: PowerVCR will just stop working after 30 minutes or so. Picture frozen w/ sound of recording program still going... It seems that the PowerVCR is simply very buggy... I would get the same thing if I'm purely watching TV using PowerVCR after a lot of channel flipping...


Does WinDVR work w/ Hauppauge card? The trial version would only allow me to record 5 minutes worth of programs so can't really test whether it's got the same bug as PowerVCR...
 

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You may need hardware assist if you want to encode

at higher resolutions.


Many things can do up to 320x240 capture/encoding

in realtime, but there are far fewer options is you

want to get 640x480+
 

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I have been using the IOMagic (with PowerVCR) to record programs and write to DVD for about a month now with some success. Picture quality is mostly good, but I get occasional stutters and digital artifacts (large square color flashes). Slow pans are always jerky. It would probably be OK for recording stuff to playback and watch once, but not good enough for stuff you want to save, watch over and over, share with friends, etc.


Since PowerVCR will not capture a DVD compatible file, I have been using TMPGenc to re-encode to VBR and 48 kHz audio, a slow and tedious process. If your end goal is to create VCDs or DVDs, you might be much happier with a PVR which records directly to the format you want to save.


I have decided give it up and buy the new WinTV PVR model 250 to see if hardware encoding will produce MPEGs with more consistent quality. It will supposedly record directly to DVD compatible VBR formats. The card is brand new and on 2 week backorder, so I probably won't get it until late May. I will post my results here once I get some experience with it.
 

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I get somewhat similar results with PowerVCR. I can watch in LIVE mode with no problems for hours on end while doing all sorts of tasks in the background such as web surfing and DIVX conversions.


BUT, in RECORD or TIMESHIFT mode the system will lock up in a few minutes. I've tried lowering the recording resolution and not doing any multitasking but the results are the same. I would also like to note that all the bugs seem to be associated while recording from the TUNER. I've done some recording from S-video with no problems. I may just use the S-video input and try some extended recording and see what happens. The upside to this would be stereo sound and possilby more reliable recording. The downside is that I can't change channels from within PowerVCR while watching from a S-video source and also the need for having two timers work in conjunction (VCR and PowerVCR). It's a compromise at best. I"m using WinME and I've wondered if XP would solve this issue as well.


Overall, I love the program but recording seems to be buggy.
 

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I was concerned that either you had broken your fingers or you were hitting too much of the sauce.


>may where in may rigth now jschefdog don't you mean you mean june hehe.1. Can't use third-party software such as ShowShifter.

(Why you want do that when you Hardware that dose the same with out eat up all cpu usage plus you get high rez format).

2. Can't choose another codec such as an MPEG-4.

(And your point is?)

Oh care e vey about MPEG-2 capturing is no better than MPEG-4 sorry Divx dosen't count
 

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I see what you mean sorry


>1. Can't use third-party software such as ShowShifter.

(Why would you want do that when you Hardware that dose the samething with out eat up all your cpu usage plus you get high dsiplay format).


> 2. Can't choose another codec such as an MPEG-4.

(The WinTV-PVR 880 can do this but it only in Soft mode it dosen't have hardware support for this)


> MPEG-2 capturing is no better than MPEG-4 quality wise

(And your point is what if the quality no diff then)
 

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> Flexablility

I see but min 3party apps could work but thoses 3party apps chosse not wirte plug-in how ever this have being to change take look at MyDVD 3.0 it now support a few Hardware MPEG card like Dazzle DVC2 and Dazzle Hollywood Bridge so as you see when there lot of support being it then somethink happing.

Your point is well noted but getting programs is not and eazy thing to do now days being 95% of them are out to make some kind money after all food not free know and not the eazy thing in the world to do hehe I know I all ready tried a few time.


Yes WMV is ok up to 320x240 what if you want high frame size Ops only a few hardware base card can due this at a higher frame size forget trying soft way it will drop frames all over place with fastest CPU you can buy Ekk come out really bad, but thoses HW cards cost a arm&leg, joe down the street dosen't own PC and want share your home movie with him but all he has Home DVD Player then what you going to do.
 

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Thanks for the belly laugh, e vey.

 

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Hmm.

If I had a camcorder and I wanted to send a picture of the tyke riding a bicycle for the first time to send to his Grandma, I would probably put it on VHS tape since it is unlikely she had anything else.


If I had the money for a digital camera, I would spend some money on some real editing software, like Premier, which has MPEG-2 built in.


But one thing I would not do is record it to MPEG-2 right off since editing compressed files is too hard.


Next?
 
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