Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250, PVR-350, and SnapStream Beyond TV?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Jay Chan, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. Jay Chan

    Jay Chan Guest

    I am trying to setup a PC-based video recorder (kind of a TiVo or
    ReplayTV kind of thing in my PC). That will be connected to my DirecTV
    decoder box. But I am not sure what should I get. Please help me with
    these questions:

    Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250 or PVR-350?
    -----------------------------------

    PC Magazine recommended using the combo of a SnapStream Beyond TV and
    a Hauppauge WinTV PVR-350 tuner card ($199+$59). But I see a combo of
    Beyond TV and PVR-250 in a very low price ($140) that SnapStream is
    offering as a package deal. I am wondering whether I should stick with
    the "tried and true" PVR-350 that PC Magazine has tested, or the
    PVR-250 that SnapStream is pushing.

    According to the specification in Hauppauge web site, the difference
    between PVR-250 and PVR-350 are:

    Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250 tuner card
    - Hardware encoder, but no hardware decoder
    - WinTV-Scheduler, but no TitanTV
    - No FM radio receiver
    (It is around $150 if not in a package deal)

    Hauppauge WinTV PVR-350 tuner card
    - Hardware encoder, and hardware decoder
    - dbx-TV stereo
    - WinTV-Scheduler plus TitanTV
    - FM radio receiver
    (It is around $199)

    I have the following questions:
    - The hardware decoder in PVR-350 is probably a very good feature.
    But I am wondering whether I really need it if my PC is a Pentium-4
    1.4 GHz.
    - What's TitanTV anyway? Do I need it for scheduling TV recording?
    - Why do we need a FM radio receiver in a TV tuner card anyway?
    - Does anyone have tried either card? How is it (especially in term
    of video quality)?

    Do I Really Need SnapStream Beyond TV?
    --------------------------------------

    The Hauppauge tuner card already comes with a WinTV-Scheduler with or
    without TitanTV. Do I need SnapStream Beyond TV any more? What do I
    miss if I don't use Beyond TV? Will I miss the TiVo-like user
    interface that is supposed to be good? I want the process of
    scheduling TV recording easy enough that my wife will be able to use
    it. At the same time, I want it to be powerful enough that I can
    schedule it to record many different TV programs.

    I believe Beyond TV can control DirecTV decoder box (using a serial
    cable). Can WinTV-Scheduler control the DirecTV decoder box without
    Beyond TV?

    PC Remote Control
    -----------------

    The Hauppauge tuner card already comes with infra-red remote control
    transmitter and receiver. But SnapStream Beyond TV is also selling
    their PC remote control. I am wondering whether the decision comes
    down to this: "If I am going to use SnapStream Beyond TV, I _need_ the
    remote control from SnapStream; on the other hand, if I don't use
    Beyond TV, I will be fine using the remote control that comes with the
    Hauppauge tuner card". Is my understanding correct? What do I miss if
    I use SnapStream Beyond TV but not their remote control?

    Serial Cable
    ------------

    My DirecTV RCA decoder box is in the list of serial box that Beyond TV
    supports. I believe Beyond TV controls it through the use of a serial
    cable. But when I look at the back of the DirecTV RCA decoder box, I
    don't see the standard 9-pin PC serial port. The only possible port
    that I can find is something look like a phone jack that is called
    "Low Speed Data Port". Is it the one? Do I need a special cable to
    connect my PC to this port? Does the cable-pack from SnapStream the
    right one?

    Thanks in advance for any info.

    Jay Chan
     
    Jay Chan, Apr 29, 2004
    #1
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  2. According to Snapstream, the PVR-350's decoder is not supported,
    therefore if you buy the combo it will be the same as buying the 250
    combo. You will not be able to play back to a TV through the PVR card.
    I'm running my PVR-350 with the lastest included software on a Duron
    1.6/256mb under XP pro and it works great. Even with copying 4 GB files
    over the network or running 4 or 5 users on the FTP server on the same
    machine while recording it does not choke. I don't know why they all
    come with FM receivers but I think it must just be an easy add on to a
    TV tuner so they include it. Runing my 350 in Long play mode which gets
    you almost 2 hours on a DVD, and using the S-Video output of my satelite
    receiver, the quality is actually better than what I see on the TV when
    I'm watching the program live through the RF out on the satelite
    receiver (my TV doesn't have S-Video in). I play back the recording to
    the TV through a composite connection and still that is visibly superior
    to the RF original.
     
    Chris Phillipo, Apr 29, 2004
    #2
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  3. Jay Chan

    Keith Clark Guest

    I agree with Chris about everything. I use a PVR-250 card.

    Using the Beyond TV to schedule recordings. I made a custom profile for
    recording : 7 mb/sec bitrate, CBR. Using CBR, there's no audio sync issues
    and commercials, can be edited out with single frame accuracy with no (or
    extremely minimal) re-encoding using "Mpeg-VCR" from www.womble.com

    The playback quality in almost all cases is better than "live" TV. It's just
    awesome.

    I took a different route than Chris for playback.

    The PC I'm doing the recordings on is in my "den" or spare room, and I don't
    really want to spend the money for a living room PC. The PC does have TV out
    and there's a TV in that room, so if push comes to shove then I can watch in
    there but of course I prefer to watch in the living room - who doesn't.

    I picked a Hauppauge MediaMVP and connected it via an 802.11g wireless
    bridge that's out of the way except for an antenna on a stand on top of the
    entertainment center. The MVP was only $99, far less than even the cost of a
    new CPU alone. The wireless bridge was another hundred bucks so I'm still
    well ahead of the cost of building a PC just for living room playback. The
    MVP will stream digital pictures, MP3s (our teenager likes that and I have
    to admit I do too), besides the video. Hauppauge publicly announced a couple
    of weeks ago that DivX support is being added.

    To stream high bit-rate mpeg-2 over a wireless network was really
    challenging considering the MVP has very little RAM to use for buffering. To
    make it work without an obstructed line-of-sight path between the router and
    bridge, I used a Hawking Hi-Gain 15dBi Corner Antenna to get more gain on
    the router end and to bounce the signal off a wall and out the door of the
    back room and that worked like a charm.

    Anyway, the MVP runs Linux and uses the same mpeg decoder and output chip
    that's in the PVR-350 card and the output on the living room TV is just
    awesome. I've never seen Futurama or Simpsons look better.

    Here's some links :

    http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?product_code=50347351&pfp=cat3
    (antenna)

    http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_mediamvp.html (MVP video
    client)

    http://www.shspvr.com/forum/ (a very good place to ask for help and discuss
    the PVR-250/350 cards and the MediaMVP)

    Keith
     
    Keith Clark, Apr 29, 2004
    #3
  4. Jay Chan

    Morrmar Guest

    Now Keith, I understand your enthusiasm but there's _no_ way a lossy
    compressed version of _anything_ is going to be _better_ than the
    original. It may be "as good" or, to the untrained eye,
    "indistinguishable" from the original but it can never be better. It's
    just not physically possible.
     
    Morrmar, Apr 29, 2004
    #4
  5. Jay Chan

    Keith Clark Guest

    Obviously you haven't seen it.
     
    Keith Clark, Apr 29, 2004
    #5
  6. Filters.
     
    Chris Phillipo, Apr 29, 2004
    #6
  7. Obviously you need to pay a visit to your local eye-doctor :)

    cheers

    -martin-
     
    Martin Heffels, Apr 29, 2004
    #7
  8. Jay Chan

    Morrmar Guest

    Now Keith, I understand your enthusiasm but there's _no_ way a lossy
    Don't have to, you can't take something away from the original signal
    and have it be better. You obviously don't understand what lossy
    compression is and what it does.
     
    Morrmar, Apr 29, 2004
    #8
  9. Jay Chan

    Keith Clark Guest

    Look, being confrontational can calling people ignorant and stupid solves
    nothing.

    Are you willing to listen, or am I going to have to kill-file you?

    To have a meaningful discussion about picture quality, yes, you do need to
    see the picture. Otherwise you don;t know what we're talking about and your
    ignorance only causes you to make uninformed statements that aren't based on
    objective facts such as : the picture quality being discussed.

    #1 - broadcast TV is NOT uncompressed, it's already mpeg 2, processed with
    Grass Valley boxes in the case of the major networks.

    #2 - because analog TV pictures are transmitted via amplitude modulation,
    they always contain noise

    #3 - what you see on your TV is NOT the "original signal" it's the original
    signal with noise riding on it.

    I agree with you that using compression removes data. In this case, the
    compression appears to be removing noise.

    The resulting pictures played back on analog TVs by the PVR-250 and MediaMVP
    are crystal clear, sharp, and virtually noiseless.

    So because the recordings appear free of noise - they look better than a
    live signal. Perhaps not from a technical perspective where every aspect of
    the picture has some metric, but purely from an aesthetic point of view, the
    end picture is a lot more pleasant.

    Got it now?

    Like I said, you have to see it to understand where we're coming from.

    ~Keith
     
    Keith Clark, Apr 29, 2004
    #9
  10. Jay Chan

    Keith Clark Guest

    Yep! Agreed.
     
    Keith Clark, Apr 29, 2004
    #10
  11. Jay Chan

    Keith Clark Guest

    Obviously you need to get a clue.

    See my response to "Morrmar".

    Remember this isn't about comparing uncompressed video from a *camera*.

    If it were then of course it wouldn't be as good. No shite, Sherlock.

    This is about cleaning up a noisy analog TV signal and compressing it.

    When you look at live TV and see noise on the picture as you almost
    always do, and then you look at your recording which is crystal clear
    and noise free, then you say "the recording looks better than live TV"
    and you're right, because it's aesthetically more pleasing because now
    you don't see the noise.

    Like I said, you simply have to see it to appreciate how nice it is.

    Look, I don't get paid for saying this. If the recordings weren't as
    good or better than live TV I'd have taken the stuff back a long time
    ago.

    By the way, I just had an eye exam, and my eyes are 20/20.

    ~Keith
     
    Keith Clark, Apr 29, 2004
    #11
  12. Jay Chan

    Morrmar Guest

    And just where did I do that?
    KF me or not, it makes no difference to me. And I'll listen all you want
    but until you can demonstrate with _facts_, not your subjective opinion,
    that _any_ card, mpeg or not, inside an electrically noisy PC is going
    to make a signal _better_, I'll remain unconvinced.
    I don't have to see any lossy compressed anything to _know_ that it is
    _not_ better than the original signal. You can't take something away
    from something and make it _better_ than the original. It may _appear_
    better to you but that doesn't mean it actually is.
    So lossy compressing it _again_ makes it better?
    So this card removes the noise produced by this process?
    And? BTW, I've got a C-band sat system so I'm real familiar with first
    generation broadcasts.

    Oh, so this inexpensive hardware codec distinguishes between the "clean"
    parts of the signal and "noise" and then removes only the noise but
    _none_ of the original signal and still manages a typical mpeg
    compression ratio? Please post a URL to an objective reference where
    this is described.
    Thus they appear "better", to you?
    I think your enthusiasm for a $150 USD capture card clouds your
    objectivity. Just because I like to hear music with a lot of bass
    doesn't mean that when I crank up the bass control on my receiver, it
    makes the original signal "better". I may _think_ it sounds better but
    let a professinal recording engineer hear it and he/she will no doubt
    cringe, just as I do when I pull up next to a teenger who has a
    subwoofer blasting in a car and thinks it's the best sound in the world.

    Sure, you think it looks better, so it _obviously_ is.
    Like so many other discussions on Usenet, this one will not change
    anyone's mind. You go on thinking the mpeg'd picture you're viewing is
    "better". Meanwhile, I'll _know_ it's not. Unless of course Hauppage has
    discovered something that Canopus, Matrox, et. al has somehow missed.
    Please post the URL, because if what you say is true, I'm gonna invest
    in this company's stock.
     
    Morrmar, Apr 29, 2004
    #12
  13. Jay Chan

    me6 Guest

    Im a bit confused still....

    Should one get the 350 over the 250?

    And does the 350 have video out ports so that one can fed the signal
    into a standard TV?
     
    me6, Apr 30, 2004
    #13
  14. Get the 250 if oyu want to run Beyond TV, get the 350 if not.
    Yes it has both audio and video out.
     
    Chris Phillipo, Apr 30, 2004
    #14
  15. Jay Chan

    me6 Guest

    Well I do wish to run Beyond TV.... but I also desire the option to
    watch it either on my PC monitor.....or a standard tube TV.

    Cant one run Beyond TV with the 350 if wanting the above options?

    Apparently the 250 card does not have any video outputs at all,
    correct? Whereas the 350 does?
     
    me6, Apr 30, 2004
    #15
  16. Jay Chan

    FLY135 Guest

    The 350 has a hardware decoder that outputs to a TV. It appears that some
    of the software you might want to use doesnt support the hardware decode.
    But you could surely use the supplied software to playback files to the TV.
     
    FLY135, Apr 30, 2004
    #16
  17. Jay Chan

    Jay Chan Guest

    I assume Chris's message was posted in a different message thread, and
    you have posted it here for my convenience (I said this because I
    cannot see Chris's message in this thread). Thanks.

    Thanks for pointing out that Beyond-TV doesn't use the hardware
    decoder in PVR-350. Seem like I may be better off using the combo that
    has PVR-250 and Beyond-TV.
    Glad to hear that you have a good result with PVR-250 card. I feel
    more confident in getting the combo that has PVR-250.
    This is exactly what I intend to do next after I have got the PC-DVR
    thing in place. Glad to hear that Hauppauge MediaMVP is cheap and
    good. Then, I can save the time in researching on which
    network-media-player to get.

    I likely will stick with using wired network connection instead of
    wireless. I think if you need the special antenna to overcome the
    distance between one room and another room in the same floor, I would
    have even more problem if I chose wireless because my TVs are spreaded
    in three different floors. Still, I am glad to hear that the wireless
    solution works great for you.
    Thanks for the many useful links that I can do research on!
    I highly appreciate your help.

    Jay Chan
     
    Jay Chan, Apr 30, 2004
    #17
  18. The video output of the 350 does not work with Beyond TV and they have
    said there's no near future plans to make it work so there's not much
    point in spending the extra money unless you want to play back with the
    included software but I don't know how well the two co-exist.
     
    Chris Phillipo, Apr 30, 2004
    #18
  19. Jay Chan

    me6 Guest

    Jay..... question for you..... are you wanting to playback any PVR
    video thur your PC monitor ONLY? Or do you desire to play it back
    thru a standard TV as well?

    Im asking cause Im wanting to make my own PVR as well.... just like
    you are thinking..... but curious as to HOW you want to play it
    back.... i.e. via PC monitor or standard TV or BOTH?
    I would like to do the above as well.

    Question.... couldn't one buy a low end server such as the one from
    Dell.....and make a PVR only "server" out of it? I mean.... wouldn't
    that possible be better or a very cheap good way of "centralizing" all
    TV recordings, etc....and then "distributing" them via wireless or
    wired ethernet system?

    Id prefer to only have a TV or "monitor" in the room.... whatever room
    it would be.... front room, bedroom, etc. And keep all the PVR and
    hardware hidden somewhere. That's why I ask above questions.

    It sounds like I should get the 350 card if I intend to play back
    video on standard tube TVs. Correct?
     
    me6, Apr 30, 2004
    #19
  20. With the 350 card you will need a small monitor in the room with the TV
    because the program controls are not on the TV screen and there is no
    way to use the remote control to call up previously recorded files in
    order to play them. I have a desktop system in my entertainment center
    and a 14" monitor on an end table with a mouse. You will not need a
    keyboard, if by chance you ever do need to type something you can use
    the on screen keyboard located in Accessories->accessability if you are
    running XP.
     
    Chris Phillipo, Apr 30, 2004
    #20
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