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Television Media

Hauppage PVR - A Reasonable Alternative? 62

Posted by Cliff
from the better-than-TiVo-and-Replay? dept.
mkrosky asks: "I purchased a new PC recently, and also got a Hauppage PVR USB (http://www.hauppage.com/). This seems much more desirable than Tivo or Replay TV, because I control the hardware (no subscription fees). If Hauppage went broke or chose to stop supporting it, I can still use it in its present form (not true with Tivo). However, the software and drivers that ship with the hardware are beta-quality. I was wondering if anyone reading this owns the hardware. Are there any alternative drivers?"

"I have the following problems with Hauppage's software:

- When I set the "pause buffer" to 5GB, it doesn't work properly after 1 hour (1GB per hour, set at coarsest resolution). It works fine at 1GB, the default setting.

- There is a +10 second button, but it is not configurable. I would also like a +30 second button and +2 minute button.

- Sometimes, when using the +10 second button, it freezes for awhile.

Does anyone else out there have this hardware, and have reproduced these problems? I'm using Windows XP and have the PVR USB version of the hardware. I tried contacting Hauppage technical support, and they said that they may someday attempt to reproduce and fix the bug, if they feel like it. Yes, I downloaded the latest driver and software from their website.

Except for those problems, I'm really satisfied with the hardware. I recommend it to anyone considering a Tivo. I just wish Hauppage tech support would fix the obvious reproducible bugs. They are obviously software flaws, and not hardware flaws, so I'm looking for alternate drivers."

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Hauppage PVR - A Reasonable Alternative?

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  • by .@. (21735) on Friday May 31, 2002 @09:31AM (#3616610) Homepage
    Where did you get the idea that a Tivo is useless if the company goes under? You "control the hardware" just as much with a Tivo as you would with a PC-based PVR. The only reason there's a subscription is to provide the box with accurate, regularly-updated program guide information.

    The box functions just fine without it. You just lose the ability to schedule recordings based on that program guide data.

    And just like you would with a PC-based PVR, you have the ability to roll your own aftermarket program data solution and feed it to the PVR for use, should Tivo go under. However, it's the program guide data that keeps Tivo in business. And as one of, if not the most successful embedded Linux product ever to make it to market, it's in the community's best interest to support Tivo. That includes paying for the subscription that keeps the company alive.
    • And as one of, if not the most successful embedded Linux product ever to make it to market, it's in the community's best interest to support Tivo. That includes paying for the subscription that keeps the company alive.

      I approve of embedded Linux as much as the next guy, but I can't see your logic here. As I understand it, you're saying that TiVo makes an embedded Linux device and sells it, so it's our duty to buy it?

      That makes no sense at all. I'll buy it if I want it (I do) and if the pricing is reasonable (it's not). Not tying up a phone with long-distance calls (if they cut off any toll-free numbers they have in my area) is also a huge factor.

      When TiVo has a lower subscription fee and/or they give the box away for free, and when it uses broadband access to download program listings and/or can get the listings from my digital cable box or satellite reciever, then maybe I'll consider it. At the moment, however, I'm not going to buy their product and pay their fees just because they used Linux when they made their product. When TiVo provides good hardware and good service for the price, then I'll buy into it. And before anyone brings up the idea of 'help and help alike', remember that they're not giving anything away, they're selling the boxes and the info. They're not sharing, and neither will I.

      --Dan
      • That makes no sense at all. I'll buy it if I want it (I do) and if the pricing is reasonable (it's not). Not tying up a phone with long-distance calls (if they cut off any toll-free numbers they have in my area) is also a huge factor.

        The price I paid for my Tivo, new with warranty:
        $170
        I don't tie up the phone with long distance calls, or even toll free calls (I don't subscribe).

        When TiVo has a lower subscription fee and/or they give the box away for free, and when it uses broadband access to download program listing and/or can get the listings from my digital cable box or satellite reciever

        The subscription price can't get any lower than the $0 I'm paying per month. Giving away the box for free, is well... ridiculous. You can download anything you want over your broadband link, including tv listings from tvguide.com. The DirecTivo actually does use the satellite signal.

        When TiVo provides good hardware and good service for the price, then I'll buy into it.

        The hardware is outstanding. And in circumstances like these, dedicated embedded hardware will always kick the ass of generic trying-to-do-everything PC hardware.

        • So if I understand correctly, you use a Tivo simply as an advanced VCR, without the program information? I live in Costa Rica, and I have wanted to bring one down with me, but everyone I asked said it's useless without the program guide, which of course doesn't function here. All I wanted it for was to manually schedule recordings, just a VCR, and also have the buffered live TV. I've always gotten the response "no, you really can't do that." Also, where did you get one for $170?
    • Where did you get the idea that a Tivo is useless if the company goes under? You "control the hardware" just as much with a Tivo as you would with a PC-based PVR.

      I beg to differ. What is to say they don't send along a kill command right before they go under, that renders the unit useless?

      • there would be a way to unkill it then. plus the fact that you own the hardware and they are effectivaly breaking it, that would be considered destruction of property.
      • ...and just waht would that accomplish?

        Why whould they send a kill signal? they would gain nothing from it. That's just ridiculous. It's not the same as if you were stealing satellite service. There the sat company has a lot to gain by killing illegal cards, but if tivo goes out of business then there is nothing for them to gain by sabotaging legitimate customer's devices. (except a class action lawsuit)
  • by tswinzig (210999) on Friday May 31, 2002 @09:40AM (#3616668) Journal
    This seems much more desirable than Tivo or Replay TV, because I control the hardware (no subscription fees).

    You're paying a subscription fee for the program guide data that is downloaded, and upgrades to the software running on the TiVo. Where are you going to get your program guide data, how hard will it be to get it into your system and use it, and how correct is it going to be? I never have a problem with TiVo's guide data.

    Besides, you may have control over the hardware, but my TiVo is incredibly cool and easy to use. I prefer that trade-off.

    If Hauppage went broke or chose to stop supporting it, I can still use it in its present form (not true with Tivo).

    Well I could still use TiVo, but it would be just a big VCR until someone comes along that can send guide data updates to it. Since so many other hacks have been done on TiVo already, I would be VERY surprised if a new hack wasn't released to allow this to happen somehow (scraping guide data from some other service). The main reason no one is working on this for TiVo now is because most of the hackers that mess with TiVo respect the company enough to leave things alone which would cause TiVo to lose money (and go out of business).

    And if TiVo ever does go out of business, you can bet your sweet bippy there will be companies lined up to take them over. Imagine being able to buy TiVo for pennies on the dollar at a bankruptcy sale, and have all their subscribers and technology, without any of their debt?
    • by Royster (16042)
      Right now, the TiVo hack community is not working on alternate guide data, but if TiVo went under you can bet that there would be options for us TiVo owners to continue to get value out of the box.

      Since I got my unit 2 years ago, I've broken even on my lifetime subscription compared to monthly charges. If TiVo goes under, I think I've got my value out of the purchase.
  • More anti-FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by jspayne (98716) <jeff@[ ]nesplace.com ['pay' in gap]> on Friday May 31, 2002 @09:55AM (#3616763) Homepage
    TiVo Inc. has made it clear that they would release some unknown (not yet public) backdoors that would allow you to set the time on TiVo and continue to use it as a digital VCR. In spite of that, TiVo made changes in the 2.5 software which made it easier to use the box without service. Beyond the call of duty, if you ask me. Check out the post by TiVoPony in this thread [tivocommunity.com] that confirms this policy is still intact. I wish people would do some research instead of guessing. Jeff
    • TiVo Inc. has made it clear that they would release some unknown (not yet public) backdoors . . .

      That's nice, but I can think of two problems:

      1. The people with the backdoors would probably be legally enjoined from releasing them if TiVo were to die, say, by a bankruptcy court. If you were a creditor that was going to own the remnants of TiVo, wouldn't you want control of the boxes? There's no revenue without that control.

      2. TiVo could be taken over by a more rapacious company, which could, say, triple the subscription fees. (The "lifetime" subscription isn't an option, since it's only for the lifetime of the box--deceptive advertising, IMHO.) There is no danger of this with a non subscription-based solution like the Hauppage PVR.

      I have been hesitant to buy a PVR because I don't watch much TV to begin with, and because I don't want to become a lifetime cash cow for one of these companies, only to have them remove features (30 second skip, for example) and force updates (like the one that removed the 30 second skip) at their whim. They have a right to use that business model, so long as they're honest about it--I'm just not interested myself.

      • Re:More anti-FUD (Score:3, Informative)

        by TTop (160446)
        Hey, you added a little FUD of your own here -- you said
        The "lifetime" subscription isn't an option, since it's only for the lifetime of the box--deceptive advertising, IMHO.
        Tivo is very up front about what "Lifetime Subscription" means. Go to their website, look at their FAQ under "Lifetime Subscription," check out the first sentence:
        What is product lifetime service? A product lifetime subscription to the TiVo service covers the life of the recorder or receiver you buy - not the life of the subscriber. The Product lifetime subscription accompanies the product in case of ownership transfer. The subscription remains in effect even if you upgrade your recorder, for example, to increase storage capacity (please contact an authorized dealer or the manufacturer) or if the recorder needs to be repaired or replaced due to a malfunction (see manufacturer warranty details). Because a Product lifetime subscription is linked to a particular recorder, it cannot be transferred to any other recorder (unless the recorder is replaced due to a malfunction covered by the manufacturer's warranty). Each recorder purchased requires its own service subscription and activation. Of course, hardware products don't last forever and their lifespan will vary. TiVo makes no representations or warranties as to the expected lifetime of the product aside from the manufacturer's warranty.
        • I don't care what fineprint they stash on their website or stuffed on a little piece of paper inside the box--the use of the word "lifetime" to describe that arrangement is deceptive on its face. That it takes a long paragraph of legalese to wiggle out of the actual meaning of the word "lifetime" only reinforces the fact.
          • Not only do they put it in the not so fine print, but when you call to subscribe (at least when I called), they made sure I understood clearly that lifetime meant life of the box. There's no conspiracy here. Move along.

            (BTW, I think this lifetime arrangement it better then most other 'lifetime' things, that don't transfer to a new owner. What 'lifetime' contract or guarantee have you ever heard of that continues on to something new you buy?)
            • They wouldn't have to explain it if the naming wasn't deceptive. For a subscription service, lifetime shouldn't mean anything other than the subscriber's lifetime.

              What TiVo's doing is directly analogous to a company offering a "lifetime warranty" on a washing machine, then saying out the other side of its mouth that "lifetime" means the lifetime of the washer--when it breaks, the warranty is over.

              They could have called it a "unit subscription" or similar if they had wanted to be forthright.

              And calling out a disingenuous marketing practice isn't being a conspiracy theorist, thank you very much.

              • Well, you get your wish. All their marketing material says "Product lifetime". Also, this is way different then a warranty. If a lifetime product waranty ended with the lifetime of the product, you would get nothing. With a service you use all the time, you get the benifit of the service for as long as you maintain your unit. I think that "Product lifetime" is a better name then "unit subscription". You can tell what "product lifetime" means without ambiguity.

                http://www.tivo.com/get/tivo_service.asp [tivo.com]
              • If the TIVO breaks then the subscription can be transferred to the replacement machine.

                Sorry to poke holes into your argument.......
                • How long after the product warranty expires can the customer do this? If the answer is that the subscription can only be transferred during he warranty, it would appear that my argument remains quite intact.
      • I don't know about anyone else, but I knew when I signed up for the lifetime subscription that it was for the life of the HARDWARE.

        I made the judgement that TiVo expected the life of the hardware to be at least long enough for the cost of the monthly subscription to intersect with the fixed cost for the lifetime subscription. I expected the hardware to last at least that long, so my only gamble, in my opinion, was betting that TiVo, as a corporation would survive beyond that cost intersection.

        I don't watch that much TV, but in the 16 months I've had it, I feel like I've already received my moneys worth. At least for me, a lifetime subscription was the right choice.

      • They may not have meant to mislead, but the use of the term lifetime for anything other than the life of the person paying for the lifetime "whatever" is a mistake because you make some people think that you're trying to scam them and have to go to a lot of extra trouble to make sure that everybody knows what your own particular definition of lifetime is. Also, if the hardware goes bad after the manufacturer's warranty has expired but you find a shop that can fix it, do you have to report that to them and buy another subscription? If you get it fixed and plug it back in without notifying them that it was down, can they get you for "theft of service"? It's just too big a can of worms.
    • > TiVo made changes in the 2.5 software which made it easier to use the box without service.

      Give some specific examples. From what I've heard, the opposite is true.
      • Give some specific examples. From what I've heard, the opposite is true.

        I don't know about Tivo, but with ReplayTV, you can set up a manual record with all the same options as a normal VCR - start time, end time, channel, record quality....

        Not to mention a real 30 second skip button. ;) Tivo reminds me of Microsoft in that respect - you know that when ReplayTV wins the lawsuit against them Tivo will just "innovate" the controversial features into it's product - nothing wagered, everything gained.... But as much as I wish they'd grow some balls, I don't think they'll come off that fence until ReplayTV's made it safe for them.
        • You can set a manual record with a TiVo also, that's always been a feature. However, unless you have up-to-date guide data, TiVo "nags" you with "warning" messages every time you try to do something.
          • "...TiVo "nags" you with "warning" messages every time you try to do something."

            Tell me again which brand Microsoft is associated with?


  • The thing about these products that concern me is that they are USB based-- I suspect that the MPEG2 image quality will not be that nice.

    I'm wondering if there's a market for a good quality computer based PVR. One that encodes in real time to an advanced format (say MPEG4) from a high quality image stream.

    This would result in a much better recording ratio-- more hours to a gigabyte and better video quality. (And it can be done in real time in software on good hardware)

    The problem with people making PVRs in the past has been lack of acces to hardware drivers for All In Wonder cards, etc. This seems to be the insurmountable problem so far. (Though I think I have a great solution.)

    So, what do you think? Know of any open source projects trying to do this?

    If my solution works, it will result in better video quality than you get from Tivo or the USB product in this article, both because its compressed in MPEG4 rather than MPEG2, and because the source signal is much better . (At least in the USB case, the advantages over TIVO would be codec choice and flexibility of being an open platform-- you can easily move video in and out, etc.)

    Would such a product be valuable to you? Woudl you buy it? You'd probably be spending about as much as to buy a TIVO for the hardware & software solution I'm thinking of-- but your capacity, ability to move the files around, ability to share the video to other TVs, etc, would be greatly improved.

    Or put another way, my hypothesis is that the TIVO solution is pretty good- decent quality, all in one box, fits like a VCR and controlled by remote. The PC solutions have not been so good- bad Windows software, or lack of access to drivers or poor shovelware to bundle with the cards. So, I think a solution that provides the advantages of using your PC to do the recording, with better format, and high quality imaging (As well as the other features of Tivo- speculative recording, IR control, etc.) is a market opportunity... Am I right?
    • What makes you assume that the video quality would suffer due to MPEG2 over USB? USB can easily stream DVD quality MPEG2 video with bandwidth to spare, and MPEG2 can encode to quite high quality. Where's your source video coming from if that quality isn't high enough?
      • That's not an assumption. The specs for the USB video devices tell the tale. They cut the resolution in half, and then do very quick realtime encoding. This is necessary to keep the price down. TIVO does a better job because they can afford better encoders, and they don't cut the resolution down.

        Most of these USB devices are for people dealing with VCR tapes or for web streaming, so 320x240 is fine for them.

        Back of the envelope, USB can- just barely- fit a DVD video stream in it, but I wouldn't try to ship a product that was trying to do it for an hour without dropping frames-- highly unlikely that would work reliably. USB is only 12 megabits (not Bytes) per second. I think its also not isochronous.

        Not that I'm knocking USB- its perfect for Modems, keyboards, joysticks and floppy drives-- what it was designed for.

        MPEG2 does not mean "DVD quality". MPEG2 can encode to high quality (not "quite high") but you certainly can't then get that stream thru a USB buss!

        At any rate, the USB video products that I've seen, including the one this thread is about, aren't even trying to do high quality video. That is my point.
        • A full DVD video feed with 5.1 audio only uses 80.4% of USBs available bandwidth. If you're going to blame the poor quality of existing devices on manufacturers trying to save a few cents per unit, then that's one thing, but there is no reason you can't reliably stream DVD quality content over USB. That is, in fact, what USB was designed for: streaming media.

          If you want to assume that a USB video device will be low quality based on available products, don't pin the blame on a perfectly capable technology. If you do that you'll just end up with the same crappy devices that plug into a more expensive bus.

          I dream that one day future PCs will be designed based on technological merits instead of marketing doublespeak. Unfortunatly that day will likely never come.


          • 80.4%? Really? Did you know that %100 of statistics such as this are made up on the spot?

            Seriously, though. USB has trouble streaming just audio thru hubs- that's why Griffin Technology made an "audio hub" so that their USB microphones would work.

            From what I know the standard doesn't even support time sychnronous communication... it was NOT designed for streaming. It was designed for keyboards and maybe modems.

            Please, if you're going to disagree with me, point to some evidence. Feel free to read Griffin's description of the audio hub issues on their website.

            You love USB? Great. From what I understand, USB 2.0 will fix most of the issues I have, though its bandwidth will only be 480Mbits/second. Certainly enough to run DV over it if its compressed (not D1 video).

            But the point remains-- there are NO decent quality USB video solutions. The evidence points to this being because USB wasn't designed for this, and you can argue about whether it can get "DVD" quality video or not-- the simple fact is that there are no devices that do this.

            Given that USB is far more prevalent on PCs than FireWire (which *does* do it, and far better than DVD quality, in fact) if USB could do this, market forces would make it a desirable thing to do.

            This isn't marketing, this is technology-- the protocol wasn't designed for streaming media. The new version apparently takes it into account, and maybe that will solve the problem. But there exists no good quality USB video encoders at this point.

            Which is unfortunate.
            • 80.4%? Really? Did you know that %100 of statistics such as this are made up on the spot?

              While that may be true, this is not a statistic, it's math. Maybe you should do some math before you shoot your mouth off.

              A 9.4GB (byte, not bit) DVD holds 133 minutes of full quality video with a 5.1 audio track.

              (((9.4*1024*1024*1024*8)/133)/60) = 10118469 bits/sec

              USB has a sustained bandwidth of 12Mb (bits, not bytes) per second.

              (12*1024*1024) = 12582912 bits/sec
              10118469/12582912 = .804 = 80.4%

              I agree that there are no quality solutions on the market at present, but I happen to work with USB all the time, like writing actual code, and creating actual devices. I'm not talking out of my ass. The bus technology is not to blame. There are issues, and they can be overcome.

              • USB does not do *sustained* 12Mb per second.

                The reports I've seen is that USB offers, at best, 6Mb per second, sustained.

                And, of course, USB is not isochronous. As I've pointed out twice now.

                Furthermore, I did do the math, and provided it in my post.

                I really don't think there's much point in continuing this debate. You are using marketing numbers to make a claim, rather than taking into account real world numbers and the real world experience of the companies providing USB solutions.

                And, while you continue to claim that it "can" do this, nobody is able to *show* it doing it, and I've repeately pointed out reasons why it probably *can't*.

                You really haven't addressed my point, actually.
    • Know of any open source projects trying to do this?

      There are several in various stages. Hit freshmeat and search for "PVR". Also check out the mjpegtools [sourceforge.net] for enough of the basic kit (recording, editing, etc) to get going (lacks only a nice integration with a scheduler).

      The last bit of kit I'm looking for is something to do the "pause live TV" thing. I suppose one could tweak lavrec (part of the aforementioned mjpegtools) to record to a circular buffer, and dump it as needed...

      -ZK-

    • Yeah, USB, Universal Silly Bus or Universal Stupid Bus. Now we have USB 2.0 - that will tap in bandwidth out and FireWire will continue on. I really wish Intel got their heads out of their arses and never did USB in the first place...

      • I disagree. USB is a great low-bandwidth protocol. I think they should just stop trying to compete with firewire and use firewire! Its not like its expensive or anything.

        That way we'd have USB and FireWire everywhere and both would be better supported.

        Instead we have USB bringing a knife to a gunfight. Its never going to beat firewire, without trying to become firewire (which its unsuited to) and the "comparison" only detracts from the standardization we need.

        FireWire is ready to go at 3.2Gbps over very long runs...
  • Another Comparison (Score:2, Informative)

    by ConeFish (216294)
    If you are happy with the hardware, keep bugging Hauppauge support for better software/drivers. But, I just wanted to throw a little techical detail into the mix for other people that might be deciding between the 2. The Tivo records at full D1 resolution (720x480, actually, which is cropped from "true" D1 of 720x486, but close enough). The Hauppauge product records at half that resolution. It is necessary because of the limited bandwidth of USB (Maybe they will do a USB2 product in the future). So, if you just want basic PVR features, and not stunning resolution, the USB PVR might be a good product for you. But, if you want to record things and watch things later at the best quality, you should save for a Tivo.
    • TiVO does not record at 720x480, but rather at 480x480 (SVCD Res).
    • There's always firewire. The Formac tuners [formac.com] are firewire, probably Apple-centric, but capture at 720x480. The higher end version even includes a 48gb HD. Both convert analog to DV and have radio tuners; The $399 version is what I'd end up getting if I were in the market for one. I don't know how well these would be supported in other platforms, but it's still nice hardware.


      • This solution does produce a high quality image-- "broadcast quality" in fact.

        However, DV, while compressed, is a very high bandwidth signal. With DV you can get -- wait for it-- 4 minutes of video stored. A tivo gets something like 1 hour per gigabyte.

        But this is really an unfair comparison- the TiVO "hours per unit" calculations are based on their lowest quality video, not highest, and that DV example is EXTREMELY high quality.

        The Formac site implies slightly better-- 4 hours in 48GB or 12GB/hour.

        Still, even at best quality - a fairer comparison- TiVo is a much better storage deal.

        So, encoding to some compression format is a good idea-- but as far as getting the signal into your computer in digital form- the DV format is a great one. And the one you quote at $399 has a tuner built in. If you don't need a tuner, you can get them for $299. (Dazzle and one from a company I can't remember the name of. Maybe Dazzle is $399, but the other one is $299 w/o tuner.)

        Is a tuner really necessary? Don't most people have composite video out, or cable systems that won't let you directly decode the signal (ie: you need a proprietary box.)???

    • I'll throw even more info into the mix. Hauppage has 4 PVR products [hauppauge.com], only one of which is the USB version. It's true it only records at 6Mbps compression (which is a half frame) but you can get one of the three PCI PVR cards from them which do full frame 12Mbps streams. (USB is rated at 12Mbps, but that's not guranteed bandwidth per device including overhead)

      I've been looking at the product without an FM radio for $145. I'm turning in my mileage report for the last seven months (2300 miles) so maybe I can convince my wife to let me splurge on one. I'll write a review here if it happens...

      BTW, anything has got to be better than the all-in-wonder software from ATI on XP.

      -Adam
    • If you are happy with the hardware, keep bugging Hauppauge support for better software/drivers.

      And good luck, too! I had a horrible time with their support staff. Very unresponsive and unhelpful. I eventually gave up on my WinTV-PVR (PCI card) and got a Matrox G400-TV. It runs nicely under Linux now. :)

      The Tivo records at full D1 resolution (720x480, actually, which is cropped from "true" D1 of 720x486, but close enough). The Hauppauge product records at half that resolution. It is necessary because of the limited bandwidth of USB

      Brzt. Thanks for playing! Oh, well, partial credit -- I don't know what the USB does I admit. But the PCI version recorded at full NTSC D1 (which tends to be 704x480 in actual use) in multiple bitrates.

      if you want to record things and watch things later at the best quality, you should save for a Tivo.

      Or get any of the cards supported by the Marvel drivers for linux [sf.net] and use the mjpegtools [sourceforge.net] to make your own PVR. That's what I did, and I'm quite pleased.

      -ZK-

      • Brzt. Thanks for playing! Oh, well, partial credit -- I don't know what the USB does I admit. But the PCI version recorded at full NTSC D1 (which tends to be 704x480 in actual use) in multiple bitrates.

        You guys are misusing the term "D1". D1 is an uncompressed video stream in digital format. What you mean to say is "SD" and the particular form of standard definition television. SD talks about resolution. D1 means no compression.

        For instance, on a hundred gigabyte drive, you can get 58 minutes of D1 signal. (At NTSC SD resolution and framerate)

        Your card is encoding into MPEG2 at some resolution and framerate-- might not even be 30fps. So, what you're talking about is an MPEG2 stream, not a "D1" stream.

        Not flaming- just trying to correct mischaracterizations- there's enough confusion out there already.
  • Clearly a software problem - the programmers didn't take the 2GB file size limit of most OSs/filesystems into account. Obviously they also never tested how 'pause' behaves over a long period of time.

    I've seen this same issue with video capturing software, or other software which might record large amounts of data. The solution would be that they would have to split the pause buffer into smaller files, each under 2GB. If their software is designed intelligently enough it shouldn't be a big deal to fix this.
  • pvr's (Score:3, Informative)

    by isorox (205688) on Friday May 31, 2002 @02:03PM (#3618480) Homepage Journal
    I looked at this card a few months back when I was looking for a video capture solution. I deided to go for a little external box that converted analog video (pal or ntsc) and audio to firewire, and back again. It was a little more expensive, but I figured the flexibility of a standard interface (looks like a firewire dv cam, without software controls (duh)), outweighed the extra £40 it cost. It'll also work with a mac should I get one in the future, is easily movable from one computer to another, hot pluggable etc.

    No fancy pvr software, but it shouldnt be hard to write a program that compresses dv to mpeg 2/divx, and writes to the hdd. Interface with an oline tv directory and you have no problems with your computer, architecture, os, company, service provider etc going bust, as long as you still have a firewire port somewhere.

    It works great too.
  • The audio/visual forum on arstechnica [infopop.net] is probably a better place to ask this.
  • the Hauppage 'PVR' is just a standard TV card bundled with additional encoding software for Windows. As long as you have a codec like DivX or VP3, 'vcr' for Linux can do the exact same thing with commodity hardware. I'm surprised noone has pointed this out yet.
    • the Hauppage 'PVR' is just a standard TV card bundled with additional encoding software for Windows. As long as you have a codec like DivX or VP3, 'vcr' for Linux can do the exact same thing with commodity hardware. I'm surprised noone has pointed this out yet.

      ??? The WinTV-PVR PCI has a hardware MPEG2 encoder on it... it's most definitely not the same... perhaps you're thinking of the ATI AIW? That *does* do software encoding.

      -ZK-

  • As anyone over at the unofficial Hauppauge PVR support forum [opcenter.de] will tell you, Hauppauge is notorious for releasing products before they get them working. The PCI version of the PVR has been out for nearly two years and STILL doesn't have fully-functional drivers! I've owned my PCI card for more or less exactly a year at this point, and it wasn't until about three months ago that I got the card mostly working.

    Now, as for the USB version, one of my friends has the USB version of the PVR, and apparently the drivers for that version are considerably less functional than the PCI version. This is likely due in part to the fact that Hauppauge has been focusing mainly on the PCI version drivers, since they are more widely used. Currently they are focusing on making the WDM drivers for the PCI (and possibly USB) version of the card, now that they've "finished" the VFW (Video for Windows) drivers. So, in short, I'd be wary of the USB version, as the driver support is lacking ever more than the PCI version.

    If I may, here are two additional notes that will save you some aggravation:

    1) If you end up getting the PCI version of the PVR, don't use it in a system with an SB Live! card, or you will have all sorts of problems (this is because the SB Live! is not a bus mastering card, and consumes so much bandwidth on the PCI bus that it starves the PVR card). A good majority of the people having problems with consistently corrupted PVR captures fixed the problem by replacing the SB Live with another card (such as the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz) -- Hauppauge even says on their support site now that they recommend replacing the SB Live if you have one!

    2) (This applies to both the PCI and USB versions) If you plan on capturing from non-perfect analog sources, namely a VCR playing a VHS tape, you will most likely have corrupted captures, as hardware-based capture cards tend to choke when the video signal is anything less than perfect in terms of synchronization. This goes especially if you're planning on capturing home videos, or videos of shows you taped off TV but paused the recording to edit out commercials, etc. I ended up buying a time base corrector (TBC) to solve this problem, but this is an expensive solution (the cheapest TBC I've found is $300). Just be aware that, even once you get the card working to its fullest potential in terms of drivers and such, the hardware itself isn't capable of capturing from sources with bad or broken video signals on its own.

    Now that I've gotten this card working, I'm very happy with it, as the capture quality is very nice (especially at, say, 12 MB/sec MPEG-2). But for the first seven months or so, it was HELL to get it working. The "Hauppauge community" has learned a lot since then, though, so it may not take you quite as long, but just don't expect any of the Hauppauge PVR cards to work right out of the box.

    Sorry for the long post.
  • Keep in mind that you can't record anything over 4 GB on a FAT32 partition (since the maximum file size in a FAT32 filesystem is 4 GB). You'll need to use an NTFS partition to do captures over 4 GB. The Hauppauge drivers used to automatically break up large captures into 4 GB pieces (which were somewhat unusable because it didn't write the MPEG headers on subsequent parts, meaning only the Hauppauge WinTV application could play them back).

    Incidentally, if you *are* using an NTFS partition for captures, there was at one point a bug in their drivers that would cause it to cut off after 4 GB even on NTFS partitions. They've since fixed it, but you might want to make sure you have the latest version of the WinTV application itself (as opposed to the drivers, which you said you already have downloaded the latest drivers for).
  • by weave (48069) on Sunday June 02, 2002 @09:55PM (#3628555) Journal
    I mainly wanted it to cap TV shows on schedule, edit out commercials, save to VCD and watch in living room in DVD player.

    I've had a few problems with it. First, when recording in mpeg-2 mode, if I play it in other mpeg viewers, the aspect ratio is opposite, like 480x640 instead of 640x480.

    If I cap to VCD (mpeg1) format, it's fine. But if I use any mpeg editing tools like Power Director, the audio and video get out of sync. Very annoying. Hauppauge has a "cuts only" mpeg editor on their site, but it's not the best. While the a/v stay in sync, for some reason, the frames where I make the cuts get off sometimes. So if I'm real careful to cut at the start and end of commercials, sometimes I'll get the first 5-10 seconds of a commercial and then miss the first 5-10 seconds of the show after it.

    Overall, not real happy. I'm kinda of wishing I got a standard WDM capable capture card and used software-based encoding...

    The other thing that ticked me off is I recently bought a dvd iMac and expected to be able to cap in mpeg2 on my PC, transfer to the mac and write out to the mac's DVD-R drive, but the damn iDVD software that comes with the iMac will only work with DV or quicktime movies (and qt pro won't import mpeg-2)

    I just can't win it seems...

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