AVS Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have owned both a TiVo and a ReplayTV and am now planning to put together an HTPC with PVR capability. I'd appreciate any feedback you might have on bundled or individual packages. I'm currently looking at WinXP MCE, PowerVCR, ShowShifter and SnapStream, Hauppauge, ATI, etc. In addition to any general feedback here are some specific questions:


- Hardware encoding recorded programs into MPEG-2 format is a must for me. How does this limit my options? I don't see outright claims of hw encoding on many sites so I suspect the omission means no.


- Is one EPG generally accepted to be superior and/or less likely to eventually shake us down for subscription fees?


- Is there any hardware and/or software combinations out there that could provide a dual output - like a TV-out tweaked for TV viewing (full screen viewing, on-screen menus, remote that only addresses the playback interface, etc.) and the other like a VGA-out for desktop computing (as well as back-end management of PVR config and recorded files). It appears to me that two networked computers are required to make this happen now.


- Are there any products that would allow installation of two capture cards (assuming the drive subsystem would handle it)?


- Sophisticated conflict resolution (between shows that overlap). One specific feature (assuming it exists anywhere), would be the ability to begin or preempt recording of a show in progress. For example, show A overlaps into show B's schedule. Since A starts first it will be recording before B begins. It would be nice: (1) if A has a higher priority than B to continue recording it and pick up recording B in progress when A completes, or (2) if A has a lower priority than B to stop recording A in progress and begin recording B when it starts.


Am I just dreaming? Again, any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
The Creative Video Blaster Digital VCR card and the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 250 card have hardware MPEG2 recording encoders. The new Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 350 card is suppose to be in the HP Media Center PCs. The Creative VB DVCR card has unofficial (user-created) support for using TitanTV as the EPG. The specs for the WinTV-PVR 250 says it also uses TitanTV for the EPG. There are users who are working on other EPG solutions.


As for two TV cards in the same system, some users say there is something in an .INI file for the Creative VB DVCR card that may possibly allow for putting two of that same exact card in the same PC. (I personally have three different TV cards including the Creative VB DVCR card in my system but have not tried two of the same exact card yet.) The new ATI AIW 9700 Pro allows for two TVs but you need to get the ATI TV Wonder (either the full version which I have or the "VE" value edition version) to provide the secondary TV source for doing what ATI calls "mulTView."


The scheduling conflict resolution may be something you could be dreaming about -- meaning you have to use your brain to resolve any sophisticated priority scheduling. I don't know if WinXP MCE handles that but I would guess maybe so since I would guess Microsoft may possibly be borrowing from its experience with its UltimateTV (satellite) and Microsoft TV (cable) stb middleware. Since WinXP MCE isn't sold off the shelf, people who got the new HP Media Center PC, or people who somehow figured out how to unofficially get the software out of the service pack to work, with real experience with WinXP MCE may be more able to tell you how the EPG works in WinXP MCE.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Also, on the dual-out concept, how about separating playback audio (5.1) from computer generated audio maybe via a separate output jack on the capture/playback card?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,393 Posts
Hardware mpeg2 PCI card encoding options include the Hauppauge PVR250/350, the Provideo PV-256CDV, the Creative Digital VCR. Showshifter, snapstream, powerVCR will not work with a hardware mpeg2 encoder. So if that is a requirement these apps will not work for you.


MCE does hardware mpeg2, it uses either a hauppauge PVR250 or Emuzed Maui mpeg2encoder card... but the only way to get this is to buy a machine. There are hacked versions of MCE around but your chances of getting it to work on a DIY machine are probably not that good.


There aren't any pc based pvr's with integrated epgs with the exception of MCE. The closest I've seen is the digiguide app used in conjunction with Showshifter. Still not as good as MCE or a STB PVR. Most PCI cards use the TitanTV or Gist internet based program listings... these are not usable with a remote and are not integrated with the recording app for managing conflicts, change of schedule for a program, etc.


SageTV by Frey Technologies is in Beta testing, this is a software app that will work with a provideo card and is described as having an integrated EPG. I'm not part of the beta so I can't speak to whether it actually hits the mark.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by BigAl
MCE does hardware mpeg2, it uses either a hauppauge PVR250 or Emuzed Maui mpeg2encoder card... but the only way to get this is to buy a machine. There are hacked versions of MCE around but your chances of getting it to work on a DIY machine are probably not that good.
The Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 250 is for sale at the Hauppauge website (there's a "Buy Now" button), but the WinTV-PVR 350 isn't available for sale as a standalone product at this time (there's "coming soon" remark at the site) -- you'll have to buy a new PC to get the 350 which is what I think you are referring to. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,393 Posts
ruel, That comment was in reference to MCE. i.e. to get MCE you need to buy a dedicated mce machine... $2000 or so (unless you can download MCE from some warez site and try to hack it into place on your PC).
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,303 Posts
I am part of the SageTV beta test team, and I can definitely say that it does hit the mark.

Quote:
- Hardware encoding recorded programs into MPEG-2 format is a must for me. How does this limit my options? I don't see outright claims of hw encoding on many sites so I suspect the omission means no.
SageTV uses the Provideo 256T mpeg2 card to do hardware encoding.

Quote:
- Is one EPG generally accepted to be superior and/or less likely to eventually shake us down for subscription fees?
The EPG used is the best I've seen in any product. It contains 14 days worth of data, can be set up for local OTA (antenna), cable, or either DBS satellite provider. Scheduling, event management, favorites setup, and the like are all handled from the EPG in a very intuituve, convenient way. Will there be subscription fees for the EPG service? I don't know for sure.

Quote:
- Is there any hardware and/or software combinations out there that could provide a dual output - like a TV-out tweaked for TV viewing (full screen viewing, on-screen menus, remote that only addresses the playback interface, etc.) and the other like a VGA-out for desktop computing (as well as back-end management of PVR config and recorded files). It appears to me that two networked computers are required to make this happen now.



I am using SageTV directly through my video card connected to my HDTV with a VGA-component transcoder. Video output is done via overlay or VMR (XP Only). Both Overlay and VMR are fully tweakable (brightness, contrast, color, hue, saturation, etc.). Full remote control functions in both video more and in desktop mode. PVR functions include a buffer that is always being recorded to so that if you jump from the video mode back to the guide or home screen, or wherever, the buffer is still recording and no information is lost. Buffer even keeps recording through channel changes, so you can skip back to buffered information after changing channels.

Quote:
- Are there any products that would allow installation of two capture cards (assuming the drive subsystem would handle it)?



SageTV 1.0 will only support one installation of the Provideo card. Future versions will (this has been promised by the developers) support multiple mpeg2 cards installed in the same machine for multiple tuner operation. And the cards will not need to be all of the same brand. We've been talking seriously about boxes with 4 or more mpeg2 cards in them running terabyte distribution servers running multiple televisions simutaneously.

The software isn't there yet, but it will be.

Quote:
- Sophisticated conflict resolution (between shows that overlap). One specific feature (assuming it exists anywhere), would be the ability to begin or preempt recording of a show in progress. For example, show A overlaps into show B's schedule. Since A starts first it will be recording before B begins. It would be nice: (1) if A has a higher priority than B to continue recording it and pick up recording B in progress when A completes, or (2) if A has a lower priority than B to stop recording A in progress and begin recording B when it starts.



I currently have more than 20 different favorites set up to record, and I haven't experienced a conflict yet - the program handles it, at least for me thus far, seemlessly in the background. I have found it to be pretty foolproof so far. I am using this with dish network, though, and a lot of my favorites are on different channels (superstations and the like).


The beta period is approaching the end. SaveTV 1.0 should be ready for release early next year, and priced competively with other PVR products. I am in no way affiliated with Frey Technologies - just have been beta testing the product for about 3 months now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,130 Posts
markdl,


Any idea if SageTV will support any cards other other than the 256T? I know you say "And the cards will not need to be all of the same brand." But that sounds like a future version. I've got a Hauppauge WinTV PVR PCI, the original, and the only thing I miss is a nice UI like Tivo/ReplayTV.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by BigAl
ruel, That comment was in reference to MCE. i.e. to get MCE you need to buy a dedicated mce machine... $2000 or so (unless you can download MCE from some warez site and try to hack it into place on your PC).
Thanks. :) The way I read the message I thought needed to clarify that one can buy the WinTV-PVR 250 for those who didn't differentiate between the 350, the 250, and MCE. :) Anyways, as for WinXP MCE, I've previously looked at the HP Media Center PC over at Best Buy and thought it was very nice with the eHome media center part of WinXP MCE although the total PC package was very pricey just as you mentioned -- I think $1700 without the monitor and then the $2000 as you mention with the monitor. The EPG on it looked interesting although it was only a demo on the demo PC at Best Buy. But if WinXP MCE is ever officially released as a standalone product that you can buy or can legitimately download without doing any hacking (I'll probably have to wait forever for either of those two options to happen) then I would want to build a new system around that. :) :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,393 Posts
I agree. I've got an Ultimate TV which has a similar UI to MCE and I really like it... I just don't like the $10/mo fee for the service. I do wish MS would release MCE as a standalone product (along with a utility/patch to create std mpeg2 files) and sell the necessary hardware parts as seperate add on items.


I am curious what SageTV is like... especially the epg portion of it. I'm wondering how they are getting the data since the big sticking point on EPG's has been the gemstar monopoly on the data.


Al
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
The EPG Data comes from Zap2it at Tribune Media Services. This is the same data you see from the new digiguide application and from most non-Gemstar guide systems. There is a cost associated with obtaining this data and therefore SageTV will carry a monthly fee for the integrated EPG data.


Dan Kardatzke

President & CEO

Frey Technologies, LLC
www.freytechnologies.com
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
228 Posts
Concerning your quote below, it was effortless to get MCE going on a p3-850 with a hauppauge pvr-250. The only hard part was the specific drivers that you needed. Luckily shspvr.com has them. I'm currently using this exclusively now and wouldn't go with any of these other solutions if this method is available to you.




"MCE does hardware mpeg2, it uses either a hauppauge PVR250 or Emuzed Maui mpeg2encoder card... but the only way to get this is to buy a machine. There are hacked versions of MCE around but your chances of getting it to work on a DIY machine are probably not that good. "
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,393 Posts
festivalman, good to hear. I hadn't heard too many people reply one way or another so I assumed it was a pain in the rear. Happy to be set straight on that one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,171 Posts
SageTV sounds great - hopefully I can get in on the beta. I assume that since it's using HW compression, that CPU utilization is sufficiently low to allow for error-free background PVR functionality while watching a DVD (or HDTV or whatever) in the foreground?


This has long been a caveat, and until hearing about SageTV, I was planning on building a separate PC to do PVR. If this means I don't have to, that would be fantastic!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,303 Posts
I haven't tried watching a dvd with sagetv going in the background, but I have it working nicely in the background with my hipix going on my celeron 1 ghz. Send email to [email protected] to get in on the beta test if you want.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
If you are interested in keeping up to date with the progress on SageTV, please join our mailing list. We will also keep you up to date on the efforts to support additional TV tuner cards as they are tested with the software.


The link to the mailing list is located on our homepage at www.freytechnologies.com.


Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
I read earlier that this may be priced competitively with standalone PVR's. Can some give a hint.

At a cost of $300 plus the monthly service fee many of us pay I hope it can come much lower than this.

My family has considered getting another PVR some time. I would like to wait until the product prices are announced before my purchase but if I had to choose between a proven product like Tivo for $300, or spend the same for the new software/hardware and have to upgrade my storage space also I would have a tough time justifying the purchase.

Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
I wish the comparison was that simple. I consider a TiVo and a custom built HTPC completely different products. I really can't do anything with my TiVo other than record programming that I want or it suggests. Once the video is recorded I can't remove it, edit it, archive it, transfer it or use the TiVo for anything else. That's why I have built my HTPC and we are developing SageTV. My HTPC is storage for all my music and PVR recordings through SageTV. I also have it networked throughout my house to access music at any PC and store video across multiple drives.


I'd be curious to other opinions on this and I've actually seen a number of HTPC owners using both TiVo/ReplayTV units and a HTPC setup. I guess it comes down to a personal desire for your home and your specific needs. Once you build a simple HTPC, the price already well surpasses the cost of TiVo. The cost of my video card and TV tuner card were as much as the entire TiVo STB.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Price and reliabilty those are my main concerns. Just inserting a new card into my HTPC and running some software would not be the end of the journey. Additional HD's or even upgrading the existing HD (which would require a reload) would be needed. Then there is the normal M$ updates, patches, driver issues, etc...

My HTPC already does music, DVD, file, application, web and more and I spent only a fraction more for all of this than my Tivo.

With Tivo I plug it in and it works, it has never failed (except for acts of God.)

That's important for $300.

Forgot to mention - Tivo owners can also archive programing to a PC using the outputs and save to VCR function.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
I'm surprised no one mentioned Guide+ which comes with the ATI AIW cards. I have a 7500 AIW and really like the Guide+ interface. Much better then the Haupauge scheduler.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top