How do TV tuner cards compare to "regular" video capture cards? What should I get?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by sunpistorange, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. Hello,
    I currently have Pinnacle Studio 8 video capture internal card with
    firewire and all that. I'm in the market for a new capture
    solution. I don't have a lot of $ to spend, and have been looking at
    TV tuner cards. The problem is I don't fully understand how they
    work. They can be used to capture video, right? But they capture
    straight to a compressed format?
    I don't really have a need to capture to uncompressed avi, as all of
    the videos I capture I either convert to mpg1, or mpg2. I don't do
    much editing-just cutting sections of video out, deinterlacing,
    cropping edge noise, etc. Will a tuner card work just as well as what
    I currently have?
    sunpistorange, Jun 16, 2007
    1. Advertisements

  2. Oops, I left one important thing out-I need to capture from VHS tapes
    (converting to DVD) as well. Can a TV tuner grab video from a VCR?
    sunpistorange, Jun 16, 2007
    1. Advertisements

  3. sunpistorange

    Ken Maltby Guest

    Most have composite video and S-video inputs.

    You might like one of these:

    This one sounds like what you would need, and it
    uses the same reference design and chips as the
    capture card I use. The A/D chip is the highly
    regarded Philips SAA7114H and the MPEG Encoding
    chip is the Broadcom BCM7040 (KFir-II) [ The same
    encoding chip TiVo chose for its Series 2 boxes.]

    The Movie Mill capture software includes a "Custom"
    settings feature that gives you direct access to the property
    pages, so you have excellent control over the capture
    parameters. ( I have even captured "I-Frame Only" and
    up to about 12Mbps {using the 206 version of Movie Mill})

    If you still have a use for DV capture, they have cards that
    do both.

    Ken Maltby, Jun 16, 2007
  4. sunpistorange

    net Guest

    you don't say what you're capturing from...
    my experience has been:
    1) avoid pinnacle. Completely.
    2) TV capture cards are not much good.
    Most TV cards are all the same in that they use the same Phillips 713
    chipset and yes they all compress the capture. You'd be surprised at how
    many different brand name TV cards actually use this chipset. The plus side
    is that TV cards are cheap and plentiful, but they have lots of little flaws
    which you find out about after you've parted with your money. Long
    recordings tend to make them crash. The audio and video creeps out of sync
    as well. TV cards often conflict with your graphics drivers producing images
    with distortion and noise. And finally, I'd swear the technical support
    behind TV cards comes from monkeys.
    My 2c worth is stick with firewire. Yes I know it takes up acres of hard
    drive space but I've always found firewire to be best solution in the long
    run, even on an older PC. Firewire is reliable and gives you the highest
    quality. Get a massive hard drive, they're cheap. I've tried several TV
    cards and I always end up pulling them out going back to firewire.
    If you're capturing from a composite or s-video source I recommend a canopus
    ADVC110 and a 'pure' firewire card (again, forget your pinncacle- just get
    rid of it). The firewire card is important too, as there are crap firewire
    cards around. I've found the best firewire card uses the Via VT6306 chip -
    it gives nice smooth data transfer with no drops, jerks or glitches. Avoid
    USB cards that include a firewire port, I've found these to be junk.
    net, Jun 17, 2007
  5. sunpistorange

    Ken Maltby Guest

    Not all PC capture cards have TV tuners, and those that do, seem
    to be the least capable. So I might agree that "TV tuner" cards are
    a bad way to go, but PC capture cards without TV tuners are a totally
    different matter.

    Analog capture cards range from junk to professional HD broadcast
    quality and better.

    The digital Firewire interface just transfers a DV25 video signal from
    a camera or a device like your Analog to Digital Video Converter
    (ADVC). The original analog "TV" video signal is compressed ~5:1
    into DV25 and stored on the PC in an AVI file.

    For camcorder footage DV25 has an advantage, in that it can stand
    up to more extensive editing and that there are more editing tools
    available in that format. (Although even that has changed a great deal
    with the newer MPEG editing packages, brought out to support HDV.)

    For most consumer video, particularly analog video, converting to
    DV-AVI has several disadvantages. The main one being that, to make
    any effective use of the DV-AVI video, it must go through an additional
    lengthy encoding into some other more compressed format. For traditional
    DVDs that will be DVD compliant MPEG2. Many are now finding other
    even more compressed formats such as DivX, XviD, H.264, WMV and
    various forms of MPEG4; to be the formats they want for their video.

    A good PC capture card, with a quality hardware MPEG encoding chip;
    just like a standalone DVD Recorder, PVR, or TiVo unit, will do real-time
    capture directly to DVD compliant MPEG2. With the additional benefit
    that the video is immediately available on your PC, in DVD compliant
    ..mpg files.

    "TV" fare and most material available from VHS will have been
    professionally edited (unlike camcorder footage) and require little
    in the way of further editing. For the most part, it's just a matter of
    removing unwanted parts, like commercials, and joining parts together.
    Even the simplest MPEG editor can handle such tasks, quickly and

    I have also found that DVD compliant MPEG2 can be compressed
    using AVC/H.264, and provide excellent results. I routinely display
    such material at HD 720p, and it is comparable to commercial DVD

    A good PC capture card and capture software can allow you a
    great deal of control over the capture. Controlling the process amp,
    for Color, saturation and input filtering, as well as, controlling the
    encoding process, for bit rates, GOP structure, ect.. This level of
    control isn't available for DVD Recorders, for example.

    If you can afford ~$100 you can have a good PC capture card.

    Ken Maltby, Jun 17, 2007
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.