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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having recently setup my htpc box for DVD playback, I'm hoping to duplicate my VCR function... I gather that software MPEG2 encoding is still lagging a bit in PQ compared to their HW based counterparts so I'm thinking abt. paying up for a TV Tuner/Capture card w/ HW MPEG2 but I'm suprised by the lack of variety out there, so far I've found:


PV256 made by ProVideo:
http://www.provideo.com.tw/PV256.htm


WinTV-PVR made by Hauppauge:
http://www.hauppauge.com/html/products.htm#pvr


I'm not too sure whether the following two do offer HW MPEG2 encoding or not, however, by the golden rule of 'if it wasn't explicitly mentioned, it's not there!', I doubt it...


WinFast TV2000XP by Leadtek:
http://www.leadtek.com.tw/www/Web_Le.../TV2000-XP.asp


PixelView Play TV Pro made by Prolink:
http://www.prolink.com.tw/new_web/pr...mmpak/ppro.htm


In any case, does anybody has experience w/ any of these packages? Better yet, would anybody has a better suggestions? Software used would most likely be PowerVCRII.


Thanks.
 

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I have owned a Hauppauge WinTV PVR (PAL PCI model) and got rid of it due to (amongst other reasons) picture quality problems. It had coloured bands in recorded MPEG 2 files which were quite pronounced under vivid colours eg recording cartoons/animated shows. I found that this card doesn't do all of the (de)compression through hardware - it does after all need a MUCH heftier PC than a "standard" tv card needs. When I bought it the specs stated it would do AVI captures with a Pentium 166 MMX - at the time, I had a Pentium Pro 200 so I thought it would be OK. There were problems with the software due to my CPU not supporting MMX. An upgraded CPU to a Pentium 2 Overdrive got this working but there were still probs with the picture. I previously also owned a Provideo TV Tuner card (model PV-951TF) and was considering the PV-256 to replace the Hauppauge card. After looking into the features on the PV-256, I decided not to get one for a number of reasons:

1) It's accompanying application software makes Frankenstein look good.

2) There are ZERO frills with this card - no universal PAL/SECAM support (you must buy the exact spec for your country which will work only with that broadcast format). No internal audio input/output connectors. No radio option.

3) It still needs a hefty CPU to do its thing - is ALL the compression/decompression done using the cards hardware?



In the end I sold my PC, built a more powerful one with an ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon card and bought a cheap USB radio. Although the compression/decompression is done fully in software, the picture quality is better than any other TV card I've had and the latest ATI Multimedia Centre software for it is brilliant. It performs TV recording and playback (including timeshifting), has a DVD Player, plays Audio CDs and various multimedia file formats. It has internal audio connectors and the software even looks great - what more could you want? No I dont work for ATI, I'm just very pleased with this product. There are some problems with it related to using the DVI output in Dos mode (or to view the BIOS Setup) but I hope to be getting a fix from ATI for this soon. This product lives up to its name!
 

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I'd be careful about using USB (1.0/1.1) devices because you could run into problems associated with the limited bandwidth (only 12 Mb/sec). Many USB TV Tuners can't offer the same capabilties as their PCI conterparts due to this bandwidth limitation. I know your post said you wanted hardware encoding but I felt it important you know about issues associated with some of the devices you mentioned - hence my recommendation of the All-In-Wonder, a software encoding device. I presume the need for TV tuner capability is non-negotiable.....
 

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flying kiwi then maybe you should go my web site and download my latest mpeg clip under the testing button at www.shspvr.com with the latest drv and Win2000 and WinTV-PVR is a hardware encoder not hardware decoder card in fact there only one low cost card I know of that can do both encode and decode to the PC monitor well you got $600US dallor and it can't even read above 2GB that just suck oh by the way it called Sigma Designs REALmagic DVR what it really is REALmagic Hollywood+ DVD decoder board with VisionTech Kfir MPEG encoder chip which is same MPEG encode chip found on the WinTV-PVR but cost a arm&leg.

As for coloured bands or is it really coloured strips in that case you should have read my FAQ which is saying.


Q: I'am getting colored strips on my PVR what can I do to fix ?, (PAL user only).

A: Call loacl hauppauge tech support for a new board.

The following revs incorporate the color fixes.

Any Rev B must be at least Rev B5xx

Any Rev C must be at least Rev C5xx

Any Rev D must be at least Rev D3xx


The specs do not say any where on the box nor the web site would do AVI captures with a Pentium 166 MMX when it come to WinTV-PVR


2: Is way wrong Yes there is internal audio output connectors why you want a internal audio input connectors unless you need connect CD to it?, Yes it come with a Radio both PAL/NTSC card do.

3: The WinTV-PVR is a RealTime Hardware MPEG2 capture encoder the decoding is done by Software in fact it done by InterVideo MPEG2 decode.


What you do did buy it Are sure you got WinTV-PVR being it sure dosen't sound like you bougth a WinTV-PVR by what your saying.

I glad you like the ATI All-In-Wonder I fine them to be joke.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
SHS & Flying Kiwi,


Tx for the reply. One question I do, however have for the WinTV PVR is that whether it's got a UNIVERSAL TV Tuner? i.e. Can it be used in US(NTSC)as well as Europe/Asia(PAL, SECAM). I would like to buy it now in US but I'll be moving to Asia in couple months so it would be great if WinTV PVR can be used in both location.


Tx.
 

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Well far I know I think you can, I can change my WinTV-PVR to all PAL, SECAM format but I don't have any device to test it for sure so the a iff question, but if you come back here in a day or so I find out for sure if this can be done.
 

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SHS, I actually contacted you (through your enthusiasts website - helpful website by the way) about some of these problems with my WinTV PVR (and it definitely was a Hauppauge WinTV PVR) when I had it. You suggested the colour banding/striping issue could be fixed by a replacement fixed version from Hauppauge. I returned my card under warranty to Hauppauge and it was replaced with a supposedly fixed one - only problem was even though the revision was a supposedly fixed one, the issue was still there and the second card also had another (more significant) problem with intermittant colour impurity (tinges of the wrong colours - I emailed screenshots of the problem to you at the time). I returned this to Hauppauge and they offered a refund - which I gladly accepted. You seemed to have misinterpreted my comments about the lack of internal audio input/output connectors - this referred only to the Provideo product, the Hauppauge has them (and they worked when I used them). The WinTV PVR would have been a good card if it did all it promised to, unfortunately for me there were to many problems with it and the decompression through software was a CPU hog. Whats the point of reducing MPEG2 compression CPU resources needed if it still needs a (comparatively) powerful CPU to do the software decompression?


Alecela, if you're wanting hardware MPEG encoding/decoding to improve picture quality over a software only solution, in my experience the Hauppauge product doesn't offer this. If you're wanting it to reduce the CPU requirements down to those of a conventional TV Tuner card, the Hauppauge doesn't do this either. Regarding your Universal Broadcast format question, I too looked into this one when I bought the card because, like you, I was intending to travel with it. There are seperate NTSC or PAL versions (so to answer your question - no - unless the Asian country is one of the very small number where they also have NTSC M - not sure if the US NTSC version also handles Japans different audio format though - see link at end). The PAL versions do support a multitude of PAL varieties ie PAL B,G,I,DK etc. Providing you don't want to use a PAL version in an NTSC country or vice-versa (which, my guess is, you were *probably* hoping to do) you should be OK. This is an improvement over the Provideo PV-256 which only supports limited formats ie only PAL I or only PAL BG etc depending on the tuner module fitted. The ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder is similar to the Hauppauge WinTV PVR in this respect ie NTSC or a multitude of PAL/SECAM formats but not both (I think ther is one exception for PAL M which is more similar to NTSC than it is to other forms of PAL). It's a pity about this because the US NTSC version costs alot less than the PAL version sold here in the UK. Maybe the manufacturers might make a truly global product in the future. Which Asian country are you intending to travel to? Broadcast formats by country
 

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Oh this is Paul I'am sorry but you did make your self sound like you didn't own one.

The 1st card you had did have the color striping issue from MPEG clip you sent me, The 2nd card look just like if you take a big spk and stick in front of TV and WinTV-PVR was pick up that the same kind sign where you live that why they must like lee offered you a refund beside that they are other user that own the WinTV-PVR that also live UK that don't have this problem check the PVR message board and you see.

Thing you need under stand flying kiwi is MPEG2 is some format that found on DVD disk.
 

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Ok Alecela the NTSC Tuner can be use in fellow other area beside US and they are Japan and Korea if your moving to a country that is PAL you will not be able to use the tuner you can how ever be able to use the S-Video and Compostie input all that need is PAL VCR to ack as the tuner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Tx again SHS & Flying Kiwi:


I did some research myself, the ProVideo PV256T got a Philips 7146 chipset so it's not compatible w/ PowerVCR nor Dscaler.


Bummer for the WinTV PVR. I would love to buy it here as it costs more than $300 in Hong Kong, which is where I'll move to shortly...


Funny enough I also came across a magazine article where they compared the PQ and it seems that HW MPEG2 is better than SW MPEG1, which in term is better than HW MPEG1... I was surprised by the fact that SW MPEG1 is better than HW MPEG1... If this is really the case, I'll probably just forego the HW MPEG solution all together and do software MPEG... I guess w/ P4 2G I should be alright yes?
 

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A P4 2 GHz you say, thats just begging for an All-In-Wonder card - you'd be able to run everything at max quality settings and get a top quality picture. The quality of picture issue is determined by the programming of the software (algorithms etc) or the Hardware chip used. With ATIs MMC 7.6 I find the picture to be great. The P4 CPU also has special instuctions which make it super-efficient at doing streaming media compression and decompression - another reason to go with a software solution.
 
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