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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Currently I record sporting events and tv programs with my Sony Digital 8 Camera via analog passthru on Digital8/Hi8 tapes in the D8 format.


I was wondering if there was any PVR under $400 that could record Cable TV at the same quality as my Digital8 camera does. My D8 camera recordings are WAY better than SP mode VHS recordings.


In fact my D8 recordings are about 85-90% close to the actual original cable signal that I view.


Are PVR recordings that good on there best modes?


IS there any PVR model under $400 right now that can record at this quality of my D8 but also give me the option to archive my tv programs onto Digital8 tapes or even DVD's (so I can watch them in the future and not worry about deleting programs I have not watched yet)?


Can anyone help me here?


thanks!
 

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You could hook a ReplayTV to your D8 and use the "Record to tape" function to make recordings onto your D8. High quality on RTV is pretty damn close to the original. Way better than VHS.
 

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Look around on E-bay for an old Showstopper ReplayTV. These babies are rock solid performance-wise and IMHO have the best picture quality of the entire Replay line. You should be able to score one for
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Could you elaborate a little more on ""Record to tape" function to make recordings onto your D8"


The thing is I want to record 2-3 hour programs without being around -- and my D8 tapes are only 1 hour long in SP mode. So its impractical to record my source on D8 unless I AM THERE.


When Im away i want to use a PVR so I can dump it later on the D8 (edit out some commercials or unwanted portions.


Which PVR is the best for this? Do I need a satalite dish or does Showstopper or ReplayTV units work for standard cable and record with almost no loss in quality?
 

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Record to tape is basically a playback mode that will show a recorded show, with a countdown at the start so you can time it with your VCR/D8 whatever. So you use the RTV to record unattended, then record to D8 when you are home. Tivo allows you to do the same thing.
 

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Unfortunately no PVR is going to come close to preserving the quality of the DV stream captured by your camera, the data rate is just way too high (3.8MB/s). So you will have to evaluate the quality of the PVR first, and if the current ReplayTVs meet your needs I would just recommend you use DVArchive to capture the streams straight from the PVR to your PC (no need to go thru the camera).


There are tools on the PC that will let you edit the mpeg-2 stream and then burn to disk.


Again there is no reason to go from digital (pvr), to analog (PVRoutput/camera input), to digital (camera's DV tape format) as it will just lessen the quality you started with on the PVR.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I dont want to use my computer at all.


How good is the best qualuy PVR recording? is it as good as my SP Digital 8 recording? How many hours of the highest quality can it hold?
 

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A 5040 (40GB) will give you about 13 hours of highest quality recording. Put a 200GB drive in and you will get around 68 hours of high quality.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Nikos20
When Im away i want to use a PVR so I can dump it later on the D8 (edit out some commercials or unwanted portions.
Quote:
Also posted by Nikos20
I dont want to use my computer at all.
I guess I am a little confused. How did you then plan to edit?

Quote:
How good is the best qualuy PVR recording? is it as good as my SP Digital 8 recording?
No... you will notice a much softer picture and lower chroma levels as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
By editing I mean taking out commericials or not recording halftime etc....


So you saying my D8 recordings from cable will look better than the highest quality recording on a PVR? Why is that? Should I just stick with my D8 recordings if I am considered with best quality at the cheapest price?


Should I just continue using my camera until i upgrade to HDTV etc....?
 

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As someone else already mentioned, the data rate recorded by your camera is much higher than what the replay records. That is why the quality should be better with your camera.


The trade-off is that you can only fit 1 hour on your tape, whereas a replay tv with a 200 GB hard drive can store 100 hours of recordings at medium quality. You don't have to sit around and babysit it while it records either.


Whether or not you will be happy with the quality of the replayTV recordings depends very much on the size of your tv, the quality of your cable signal, and your own pickiness. I have a small (22") TV, a good cable feed, and record everything at medium quality on my Showstopper. For the most part, I really can't tell the difference between a recorded show and watching cable live - the quality is very good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Is there any PVR that can record like 20 hours total on the HD but look as good as my D8 camera recordings?


Perhaps if there is I could transfer the PVR to D8 so I can have both convenience and quality of recording?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Also could someone tell me what they think the bitrate is for my D8 recordings in SP mode (1hr/tape)?


How good would you say those recordings are to the original source if I am going from Analog out into my camera (via passthru)?


I want to try to replicate that quality onto my PVR and then move my recordings to D8 tape (without losing much quality)..... if this is possible.


I dont need more than 15 hours or so as long as the highest PVR recording setting is as good as my SP mode recordings in D8 mode (so I can go from PVR to D8 if I want to archive a program and I am going to run out of space on my HD.


Can anyone help my here? Is this a possible goal?
 

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Here's the deal on recording quality differences between a PVR and D8 or miniDV.


Straight digital video is too much data to record uncompressed in real-time with reasonable equipment. The video and audio are thus compressed.


PVR's use mpeg-2 compression for the video. D8 and MiniDV use DV compression. Both are 'lossy', which means you can't uncompress the stream and get back exactly what was there before compression. The audio formats are different too but video is a much bigger part of the picture so I will ignore the audio here.


The DV data rate is 25 Mbit/sec. This translates into about 216 MB/min of audio+video. MPEG-2 varies, but when encoded for DVD it's typically 8000 kbit/sec, approximately a third of DV. DV is intended for tapes, where the sustainable data rate and capacity are higher. mpeg-2 was designed for when storage or bandwidth are more limited, such as satellite transmission, computer-stored video, or DVD.


So knowing this, it seems like theoretically, DV video should always be better than mpeg-2 in quality.


But, reality does not always follow theory. Would you say a DVD is excellent video quality? Would you say it's "good enough"? Most people (not all) would. Most people are perfectly satisfied with the slight decrease in quality they get by converting their DV tapes to DVD. Many people don't even notice a difference (it depends on the source material).


Well, ReplayTV's medium quality is basically the same as DVD format, high quality is an even higher bitrate. So, while recording directly to DV is definitely higher-quality, you will probably find that Replay's medium or high quality to be good enough for what you want. And you MAY even find that the standard quality is fine too, depending on the content. But since this is all subjective, you'll really have to see for yourself.


The best way for you to determine this for yourself, without buying a PVR or knowing someone who has one, is to take one of your DV files, get it onto your computer, and encode it into a DVD-compliant mpeg-2 file. Make sure you then view that ON THE TV, not on the computer, because the interlacing will make it look crappier on your pc than on tv. You can burn it to a DVD or record it back to tape or use video out on your computer. The actual mpeg-2 encoder used will make a difference, but you should be able to get a fairly decent comparison this way.


Of course, all that may not be practical depending on how your computer is equipped, so you can also buy a ReplayTV from someplace with a liberal return policy and TRY it. My personal opinion is that you will be satisfied with the video quality and pleased with the other features a PVR can bring you.


Now, to answer your other questions. You can record from the PVR to your D8 cam, but it'll be via analog (which means real-time recording). If you get a ReplayTV (4xxx or 5xxx) and hook up your computer, you can download the mpeg files to your computer and from there burn DVD's. That part's easy enough.


One other thing, I have to question the sanity of using a camcorder as a tape deck in the first place. But that's up to you :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well the thing is I found that my D8 camcorder was a much better source of recording quality off of cable tv. MUCH better than SP VCR mode.


And me personally I would rather have the best quality if I can have it. For example I like to record sports games. There is a lot of moving going on. Therefore when I record with my DVD in anything other than HQ mode it looks blocky and the quality is not so good with moving objects......

What is the data rate for HQ DVD Recording? Anyone know?


Also I didnt like the Sp recording on my Philips985 DVDR recorder but HQ looked almost exactly like my D8 recording. Are they the same data rate?


Anyway I have grown accustomed to SP mode in Digital8 Recordings and even HQ recordings on my DVDR look very nice. However as of now I dont have the DVD recorder with me, only my D8 camera.

Anyone have any suggestions as to if I could purchase ANY PVR that has anything close to my D8 recordings? Or are my TASTES just too good for now and I should wait for HDTV technology/recorders to come out before I consider buying any PVRs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Jeepgeek or anyone else,


I wanted to ask, if I like my HQ mode recording on my DVDR and find it close to my D8 SP recordings what does that say? Does that mean that with the ultimate PVR quality I get a recording similiar to HQ DVD recordings?
 

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The DVD recording is probably at 8000 kbits/sec. There is more to the video quality than bitrate though. Remember that you are talking about encoding an analog signal! There is just no way you can predict how you personally will like what the encoder does. I would say that you will be satisified. But you will have to try it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ok since I feel the HQ recording on my DVD recorder is EQUAL to my D8 recordings -- which PVR should I buy that will record in the highest quality possible? I would like a PVR that has a firewire out so I can archive games on my D8 tapes AND/OR my DVD recorder.


Which would be the best choice for me?


Or should I wait one year and get HDTV, a HD-PVR or a D-VHS recorder?


Which is the best for my tastes? Considering I like to record sports games that are 2-3 hours long and I want it to look clear and not have blocky MOVING picture like SP mode of DVD recorders are? HQ mode I like.


Any suggestions for how I should approach my recording in the future?
 

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I would say buy a Replay and try it out. You have the 3-day trial period. Get if Friday night, record stuff at medium and high quality during the weekend and see if you will be satisfied.


AFAIK, there are no PVR's with a Firewire out. But if you have a computer with Firewire, you could network with the Replay and pull the files to your HD then copy to your DVD-Recorder
 
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