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I'm looking PVR software that will let me record software with a decent interface (record and browse a tv guide) that I can control with a remote. I'm running windows XP with myHTPC as it's interface. Also I am using a Conexant 878 TV capture card. Let me know what you all think I can work with.
 

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I am relatively satisfied with using Snapstream's BeyondTV to do just what you describe, albeit with a branded card, but I suspect your card would work as well.
 

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The Tivo software in my DirectTivo works much better than any of the alternatives I explored for HTPC use. Also it records two channels at once and doesn't tie up my HTPC which I use to display the output of the Tivo....while its recording two other channels.
 

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I have recently installed a Hauppauge PVR250 card and have experimented with both Snapstream's BeyondTV and Frey Technologies' SageTV. I have to say that I am more impressed with the features and interface of the Sage product.


The Sage product utilizes the hardware decoder thus, eleviating much of the overhead that would otherwise be placed on the CPU with software decoder based software. I sit in front of the same computer while the card / software are recording programs in the background. There is no noticable speed degredation.


The Hauppauge / Sage combo will also support multiple tuners in the same HTPC.


David

Quote:
Originally posted by fuzzyuu
I'm looking PVR software that will let me record software with a decent interface (record and browse a tv guide) that I can control with a remote. I'm running windows XP with myHTPC as it's interface. Also I am using a Conexant 878 TV capture card. Let me know what you all think I can work with.
 

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I like the ease of use from Microsoft MCE for PVR. I use the guide and click to record the shows I want. I've never used TiVo so that may be better...ie MCE doesn't predict what shows you might like and record them w/o asking. I also haven't tried to record a weekly series.


I think I like the picture quality of a SD TV show w/o the PC connected--I'm not a big fan of regular TV ran though a PC and displayed on my RPTV...what can I do to fix that...other than watch it in the tiny window vs full screen.


I don't have an HDTV solution today and Comcast will have an HDTV PVR box soon so I will use the STB vs HTPC for TV in the future. My current issue is connecting both the Comcast/Moto box to the TV and my HTPC...both use the 1080i DTV component port. The other component ports are 480i/480p. I use the Karnis 540p timings w/PowerStrip....I have the same Mitsu RPTV. Any suggestions?
 

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Everyone will have a personal preference .. but here are some thoughts. Most of the tuner cards come with a program. Depending on your budget, you can always start there. Lot's of folks use the ATI product, for example.


As mentioned earlier, some of the tuner cards support hardware decoding. Sage actually requires a card with this capability, a limitation. I have heard good things about their new version. I do not have the required card, so I am not able to run Sage.


Do you want an integrated EPG? Not all programs have one. Showshifter does not, but it does support XMLTV well. Personally, that is good enough for me, but it requires some more work, especially if you live in Australia as I do. I like Showshifter's flexibility in the Codec area and the ease of use.


myHTPC is free, a very compelling point. It also has the best front end features. PVR features are from a plug in.


Snapstream Beyond TV is capable of pausing a show that you may be recording at the same time. This is a key thing for me. Showshifter does not do this easily, but it can be done.


Best thing to do in my opinion is download and try. They all have evaluation programs. If you have not bought the tuner card yet (assuming you need one), look at the supported list and try to find a common card to offer the most flexibility. The Hauppauge PVR cards and ATI AIW cards are very popular.


I actually don't need a tuner, though it took me a long time to realize this. My external cable box does all the tuning, so I can simply go into a VIVO graphics card. That makes things quite simple in one way. Channel changing is a bear however, but as I do not really have a choice where I live, it's an IR transmitter for me.


Good luck.
 

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"some of the tuner cards support hardware decoding."


Actually it is hardware encoding. Hardware decoding is on the 350.
 

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Fuzzy,


I started out with the Snapstream Personal Video Station software about 8 months ago or so. I used the application nearly daily and was relatively happy with it. Recently, Snapstream software renamed the product to 'BeyondTV'. This upgrade has significant improvements over the earlier product, while retaining the very-professional interface. I have not used SageTV, but would strongly recommend that you check out the demo of BeyondTV. It will easily do everything you are looking for.


By the way, the guy who mentioned the PVR250 failed to mention that you have to wait for the entire show being recorded to complete before watching the show. With BeyondTV and software decoding, you can being watching your show while the remainder still records. This is great when you want to watch a one hour show but skip the commercials and still end when the show ends. For instance, I watch West West every week. I start watching it around 9:15 or so. I start at the beginning, while the rest of the episode is recording in the background. By fast forwarding through commercials, I finish at 10:00 and can go to bed. With the PVR250, you would have to wait until 10:00 to watch your show. That limitation annoys me. Assuming you are using a dedicated HTPC, I wouldn't worry too much about hardware decoding by the capture card. The other point to make is that the PVR250 is an expensive card compared to the myriad of other options. And if you don't have that specific card, you can forget about SageTV.


BeyondTV offers much more hardware compatibility and allows great PVR functionality. I also own 2 ReplayTV units, a 3000 series and a 5000 series. Although they offer some benefits in terms of being a turn-key set-top-box solution, you have the monthly subscription to worry about. And the lifetime subscription is very expensive.


For those who don't know, BeyondTV has now included a feature called 'SmartSkip'. When you're watching a TV show and a commercial comes on, all you have to do is hit the channel-up button and you will automatically skip all the commercials and return to your show. Not quite as nice as the Replay 5040, which does this on-the-fly, but still better than manually forwarding or skipping 30 seconds at a time.


Do yourself a favor and at least try their demo.


HTBuilder
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by HTBuilder
Fuzzy,


By the way, the guy who mentioned the PVR250 failed to mention that you have to wait for the entire show being recorded to complete before watching the show. With BeyondTV and software decoding, you can being watching your show while the remainder still records. This is great when you want to watch a one hour show but skip the commercials and still end when the show ends. For instance, I watch West West every week. I start watching it around 9:15 or so. I start at the beginning, while the rest of the episode is recording in the background. By fast forwarding through commercials, I finish at 10:00 and can go to bed. With the PVR250, you would have to wait until 10:00 to watch your show. That limitation annoys me. Assuming you are using a dedicated HTPC, I wouldn't worry too much about hardware decoding by the capture card. The other point to make is that the PVR250 is an expensive card compared to the myriad of other options. And if you don't have that specific card, you can forget about SageTV.


HTBuilder
Not sure where you got this information, but it is completely wrong. I have no problem watching a show while it is being recorded.


Also, getting a card with hardware encoding is worth the money. Being able to record in the background and not have to worry about running out of clock cycles causing dropped frames makes the PVR experience all the more pleasant.
 

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I would not waste my time with any PVR package until you get a hardware encoder. Then try both demo's. I own and use both and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. Just be careful of the marketing and do a good feature investigation.


Specifically on SmartSkip which is mentioned above, in BTV it is pretty bad. It is not reliable enough to blindly use and by the time I check to see if it is available and accurate I would have already gone though the commercials with the 30 second skip. This is due to how they generate these chapters via scene detection. But that is just one minor feature that the whole package makes available.

Quote:
By the way, the guy who mentioned the PVR250 failed to mention that you have to wait for the entire show being recorded to complete before watching the show.
Not sure where this comes from, I have no problems watching a show that is currently recording with either BTV or Sage with my 250's.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Hoots
I think I like the picture quality of a SD TV show w/o the PC connected--I'm not a big fan of regular TV ran though a PC and displayed on my RPTV...what can I do to fix that...other than watch it in the tiny window vs full screen.
I'm using a new HTPC with Windows Media Center Edition, and so far have been pretty disappointed with the PVR functionality on three fronts 1) PQ coming out of the HTPC (p4 3.0 HT, ATI 9600 non-pro); 2) audio sync; and 3) inconvenience of making sure the cable STB is always on.


Has anyone had any experience splitting the cable signal pre-STB; sending one line directly into the PVR card and the other into the STB? I realize that I wouldn't be able to PVR premium/encoded channels, but most of the recording we're doing is network programs anyway. I'm thinking it would be much easier than having to worry about the STB being on/off, and could also potentially help on the PQ and audio sync issues (for watching premium cable channels and cable HD signals I would just view the direct signal from the STB to the HDTV - a Samsung DLP).


My biggest concern is the cable HD feed: by splitting the signal at the wall am I going to lose any HD quality going into the STB? In my view, its not worth sacrificing HD PQ for the sake of PVR PQ. Any thoughts??? Thanks.
 

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I do not have exactly the same setup, but I have split the cable in front of the STB and directed a line into the tuner card directly. This is most certainly feasible, though as you will lost some signal strength. Because your receiving an HD signal, which is digital, in theory you should not lose any quality however.


But I could be wrong, as I am certainly not an expert in this area.


Tom
 

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It's kind of weird. I went ahead and split the signal; the HD and other STB-direct signal seem fine, but I can't get a real picture from the line going into the tuner card. It's quasi-scrambled (not as much as you would expect when tuning in a premium channel w/o a STB, but still a rolling, static-y picture). It especially doesn't make any sense because I use no STB on a set in another part of the house (direct feed cable) with no problem.


This sounds crazy, but is it possible the tuner card isn't 'cable ready'? I'm using a Hauupage 250 card designed for Windows MCE.
 

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Could be a poor-quality splitter. Try feeding the PVR250 directly with the cable, bypassing the splitter and cable box.
 

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Definitially recomend a hardware encoder like the others have mentioned, makes a huge difference.


I prefer BTV's interface, although both BTV and Sage are great products.


I recomend downloading and trying both, since they both have trial versions.


BTV's defaults on picture quality aren't the best, as they default to some broad settings to be widely compatable, once you tweak the settings a bit the quality is great.


Also if you really want to get into it, goto the forums for each of the manufacturers web pages and read a bit about how others are fairing with those products and their impressions of it.

Quote:
Originally posted by SteinyD

The Sage product utilizes the hardware decoder thus, eleviating much of the overhead that would otherwise be placed on the CPU with software decoder based software. I sit in front of the same computer while the card / software are recording programs in the background. There is no noticable speed degredation.
BTV also utilizes hardware decoding on the PVR250
 

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SteinyD was referring to hardware decoders like the 350 or XCard. The 250 only does hardware encoding.


Though when either PVR app is in the background there is minimal CPU usage.
 
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