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Hardware Support Discussions related to using various hardware setups with SageTV products. Anything relating to capture cards, remotes, infrared receivers/transmitters, system compatibility or other hardware related problems or suggestions should be posted here.

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  #1  
Old 01-03-2009, 07:29 AM
valnar valnar is offline
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HD PVR alternative?

From reading the threads, it seems the HDPVR problems are still not ironed out. Is there any alternative device that works in the same way, using component inputs? It doesn't even have to be H.264. I'd settle for simple MPEG2, and would even prefer it. It makes commercial detection and editing easier - and I can recompress to H.264 offline later.

So, anything out there at all?
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Old 01-03-2009, 07:54 AM
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Not really. Theres the R5000's that several SageTV users have but imo they are expensive, less flexible etc.

fwiw, I'm happy with my Hauppauge HD-PVR. I'll admit they've had their issues though.
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2009, 08:20 AM
paulbeers paulbeers is offline
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For price and ease of setup, the HDPVR really is the only game in town. As Brent stated the R5000 for some users is an option and there was one card that works (can't remember the name), but it is more expensive and isn't natively supported by Sage.

So really, for the flexibility the HDPVR really is the only option.

And as Brent stated, I have not had a single problem with mine and have been using it for 6 months. These forums are filled with those who have problems looking for solutions, those of us who have no problems don't post as we aren't having problems and have no reason to start threads about our issues.
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2009, 10:12 AM
Chriscic Chriscic is offline
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Are you using the digital audio inputs though, or just analog?
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2009, 07:59 PM
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I have two HD PVR. One works near flawlessly <knock on wood> The other I hard reset once a week just to be on the safe side.

I am only using stereo for the audio because of an issue with HD PVR and FIOS Motorolla box. But beyond that, its working. I also use 2 HD Homeruns to be able to record 4 network stations at once.
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  #6  
Old 01-04-2009, 08:38 AM
bcjenkins bcjenkins is offline
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You can look at the HAVA systems, I don't know how they stack up to the HDPVR though.

B
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  #7  
Old 01-04-2009, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcjenkins View Post
You can look at the HAVA systems, I don't know how they stack up to the HDPVR though.

B
I looked into that a while back and my impression was that the HAVA would record in 480p/i.
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  #8  
Old 01-05-2009, 09:10 PM
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The only other HD component solution that records any component input that I know of is the Intensity Pro.
Here's the thread...
http://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30607

I'm using both the DH PVR and the Intensity with good results on both (stereo audio only though).
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  #9  
Old 01-05-2009, 09:58 PM
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There was a link to a PCI-e card on AVS last summer but it may have been pre-release vaporware and, in any case, I'm pretty sure it was not coming to the U.S. I remember it would record in either H.264 or MPEG2.

S
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  #10  
Old 01-05-2009, 10:05 PM
Brent Brent is offline
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Originally Posted by sleonard View Post
I remember it would record in either H.264 or MPEG2.
Had to have been something other than record to h.264. the HD-PVR has an exclusive (for TV capture) on the component that makes that happen...
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  #11  
Old 01-06-2009, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fidget View Post
I looked into that a while back and my impression was that the HAVA would record in 480p/i.
That is correct. Also the Hava has an annoying problem I couldn't resolve. If the communication between SageTV and the HAva were disrupted the only way I could get it working again was running through the hava setup wizard again. Perhaps there is another way, but it's a bummer to have some black recordings and go "oh yeah, the hava screwed up" My reason for having the hava was to have a networked S-Video capable 'tuner' .. and as far as I know, it's the only game in town for that purpose.
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  #12  
Old 01-06-2009, 07:29 AM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent View Post
Had to have been something other than record to h.264. the HD-PVR has an exclusive (for TV capture) on the component that makes that happen...
Surely there's more than one hardware H.264 encoder, isn't there?

In any case, I think sleonard was referring to a card that had a couple Cell processors on it that could (theoretically) transcode to any format, including mpeg2 and H.264. One big problem with the card is that it didn't seem to have any video inputs (not to mention, its been months since I've heard anything about it).
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  #13  
Old 01-06-2009, 07:34 AM
vividweb vividweb is offline
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I have been using Two HDPVR's for months now with SPDIF and have had zero recording failures. Watching live TV works great, there is just a couple second delay for a channel change that allows the HDPVR to pick up the audio stream correctly.
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  #14  
Old 01-06-2009, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reggie14 View Post
Surely there's more than one hardware H.264 encoder, isn't there?
Nope.

Gerry
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  #15  
Old 01-06-2009, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reggie14 View Post
Surely there's more than one hardware H.264 encoder, isn't there?
Quote:
Originally Posted by gplasky View Post
Nope.

Gerry
I remember looking up several different HD camcorders on the market and not all of them used the same chip that the HD-PVR does so I think you may be wrong here.



Quote:
Originally Posted by reggie14 View Post
In any case, I think sleonard was referring to a card that had a couple Cell processors on it that could (theoretically) transcode to any format, including mpeg2 and H.264. One big problem with the card is that it didn't seem to have any video inputs (not to mention, its been months since I've heard anything about it).
You are correct. Here is a link to the AVS thread. It is an HDMI capture card that has a connector for a breakout cable if you want to record from component.

Since it uses a cell processor to encode it can (theoretically) encode to any format and both H264 and MPEG2 were advertised.

It's all moot since it doesn't look like anything ever came of this card. At least not in the US and there is no Sage support.

S

Last edited by sleonard; 01-06-2009 at 08:54 AM.
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  #16  
Old 01-06-2009, 08:58 AM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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Originally Posted by gplasky View Post
Nope.
First, I should clarify I'm not saying there must be another device like the HD-PVR. I'm saying there must be other chips that do hardware H.264 encoding like the Ambarella chip inside the HD-PVR. This is in response to Brent's claim that since Hauppauge has an exclusive deal with Ambarella we won't see any HD-PVR competitors that do H.264 encoding.

I'm not a hardware guy, so I'm by no means an expert in this area, but I find it difficult to believe there aren't any other HD-capable hardware H.264 encoders. But, after doing a google search, it looks like the Mobilygen MG3500 can do real-time 1080/720 H.264 encoding, and the Zoran Coach 10 can do 720p H.264 encoding.

I think Ambarella's product is a bit different than the others in that it a single chipset that goes from analog video to H.264 video (and, presumably, they've patented it so its hard for another company to do something similar). You could probably do the same thing by piecing other chips together with the encoders from Mobilygen or Zoran, but I imagine it would end up being more expensive.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by reggie14 View Post
First, I should clarify I'm not saying there must be another device like the HD-PVR. I'm saying there must be other chips that do hardware H.264 encoding like the Ambarella chip inside the HD-PVR. This is in response to Brent's claim that since Hauppauge has an exclusive deal with Ambarella we won't see any HD-PVR competitors that do H.264 encoding.
I think he meant "exclusive" as in Hauppauge is the only game in town for PC hardware HD H.264 recording.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:29 AM
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Nope.

Gerry
Explanation: What I meant by this was there was not another solution in the home/hobbyist/TV Enthusiast price range. You can probably find something out there for $2-3,000 to over $5,000. And you won't find another solution that was made with the PVR market in mind.

Gerry
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:21 PM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
I think he meant "exclusive" as in Hauppauge is the only game in town for PC hardware HD H.264 recording.
Certainly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gplasky View Post
Explanation: What I meant by this was there was not another solution in the home/hobbyist/TV Enthusiast price range. You can probably find something out there for $2-3,000 to over $5,000. And you won't find another solution that was made with the PVR market in mind.
I think we're talking about different things here. I'm talking about the innards of the HD-PVR, not the HD-PVR itself. The Ambarella chipset was probably designed for camcorders, not the PVR market (although, I imagine they're using a slightly different version in the HD-PVR). I was mainly responding to a comment that suggested we wouldn't see competitors to the HD-PVR because Hauppauge has this deal with Ambarella. I'm saying, despite that deal, there seems to be other chips available that could be used to create a device similar to the HD-PVR. And, it looks like those are relatively inexpensive, except that you're going to need to piece together multiple chips. That would drive costs up, certainly not be an order of magnitude.

In any event, I don't actually think we'll see alternatives to the HD-PVR. This is mostly for two reasons. First, because I think it opens the door to potential litigation, and it isn't worth the risk to most companies (for reason #2). Second, it's such a niche market there isn't much to be gained. Hauppauge just makes TV tuners and capture cards. They either needed to find a way to continue in the era of copy protection and HD or they'd go under (and the company and its IP would probably be almost worthless). So, it was worth it to them to develop the HD-PVR. Its probably not worth it to Leadtek to release a similar product. They make video cards, and pissing off the MPAA, etc. might make it more difficult for them to get HDCP keys for the video cards.

Although, it looks like the WinFast PxVC1100 was released in Japan in November for about $300. Noticeably absent, however, seems to be any way of capturing video. Unlike the photos on AVSforum, the photos I found didn't have any inputs on the bracket, nor any headers on the card itself.
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  #20  
Old 01-06-2009, 12:22 PM
Brent Brent is offline
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Originally Posted by brent
Had to have been something other than record to h.264. the HD-PVR has an exclusive (for TV capture) on the component that makes that happen...
Quote:
Originally Posted by reggie14
First, I should clarify I'm not saying there must be another device like the HD-PVR. I'm saying there must be other chips that do hardware H.264 encoding like the Ambarella chip inside the HD-PVR. This is in response to Brent's claim that since Hauppauge has an exclusive deal with Ambarella we won't see any HD-PVR competitors that do H.264 encoding.

I'm not a hardware guy, so I'm by no means an expert in this area, but I find it difficult to believe there aren't any other HD-capable hardware H.264 encoders. But, after doing a google search, it looks like the Mobilygen MG3500 can do real-time 1080/720 H.264 encoding, and the Zoran Coach 10 can do 720p H.264 encoding.

I think Ambarella's product is a bit different than the others in that it a single chipset that goes from analog video to H.264 video (and, presumably, they've patented it so its hard for another company to do something similar). You could probably do the same thing by piecing other chips together with the encoders from Mobilygen or Zoran, but I imagine it would end up being more expensive.
Sorry, I was a little overly broad in my comment above. What I should have said is this:
Hauppauge has an exclusive with Ambarella on this particular chipset for PVR use. Yes, there are definitely other encoders out there that can accomplish the task - you'll find those in much more expensive HD camcorders and other high-end video equipment. But as you mentioned, the Ambarella chipset is unique and is what makes the lower cost of the HD-PVR possible. I was told that we would never see a analog-to-h.264 competitor in the PVR space and as Gerry said, thats what I really meant in that comment.

I'd like to see a analog to HD mpeg format device as that would be less hardware-intensive to play back and easier to transcode, but right now it seems these are our options for HD:
  • OTA (limited by whats available OTA and signal strength)
  • Firewire (limited by those channels unencrytped. Complicated, cable only)
  • QAM (unencrypted only)
  • CableCard (VMC-only & pre-configured only)
  • R5000 (expensive and limited cablebox/satellite box support)
  • Hauppauge HD-PVR (requires cable box or satelite box and IR blaster or firewire for channel changing)
  • Intensity Pro (looks complicated - not very familar with this one)

While I'll be the first to agree that the Hauppauge HD-PVR is far from perfect, I believe it is the best encrypted-content solution for HTPC's as it gives you the most flexibility at the lowest overall cost. Believe me, when Windows 7 comes out we'll see tons more Hauppauge HD-PVRs sold to Media Center users even though they have access to CableCard.

For the original poster and anyone else curious about using the HD-PVR with HTPCs:

My take on getting good results from the Hauppauge HD-PVR:
  • Prepare for some setup - it's not even close to plug-n-play
  • Have the proper equipment (USBUIRT or firewire for channel changing, Extenders and/or dual-core PCs, higher powered server PC if you ever plan to comskip or transcode the H.264)
  • Be prepared to return your HD-PVR at the first sign of lockup. Some units just lock up - others don't
  • Use SageTV - it's been the most stable with the HD-PVR for me at least
  • Comskip works with the HD-PVR files so I recommend that for commercial detection - just know it's the paid beta version of comskip at the moment at least
  • Video Editing of the h.264 files is possible but not many good options yet. Once VideoReDo releases their update with this support that will be even more of a must-have program.
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Last edited by Brent; 01-06-2009 at 12:57 PM. Reason: Added firewire as a good option for channel changing per wayner's comment below
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