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SageTV Software Discussion related to the SageTV application produced by SageTV. Questions, issues, problems, suggestions, etc. relating to the SageTV software application should be posted here. (Check the descriptions of the other forums; all hardware related questions go in the Hardware Support forum, etc. And, post in the customizations forum instead if any customizations are active.)

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  #1  
Old 08-26-2008, 09:23 AM
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webwalker webwalker is offline
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Jumping ship from MythTV, ergo, questions

Greets.

I last investigated SAGE about a year ago, and and I want to make the leap. I've got mainstream hardware, and I've had my arms in computers up to my elbows since I was 9. I've only got one thing against me:

I'm a professional Linux guy. And I am dead set on running SAGE on Windows XP.

I've spent the last 4 days reading over the forums, and have some questions before I start plopping down cash for software (something that I haven't done in more than a decade.)

1. Stability. I see a lot of bellyaching about misbehaving codecs, the SAGE application having to be nuked and reinstalled to 'fix' performance problems (in my business that's called 'surgery by shotgun') and dreadful HD display problems that are all over the map in terms of reliability. I know that SAGE is merely a framework that leverages many existing components of the windows architecture (like directshow) to manage its playback, and the SAGE developers can't control OS patches, codec patches, firmware patches, etc.,etc.,etc. But there has got to be a 'reference platform' for this software, right?!? Some stack of components that is 'blessed' for assured behavior?

2. Support. I'm always happy to pay for support. Always. As long as I actually get the support I pay for if I'm within the envelope of a supported configuration. (See point#1.) It appears that the SAGE user community handles the majority of the support. Who here is happy with the level of support and interaction that they are getting from the developers?

3. Usability. Jumping off of points 1 & 2: Is there a blessed 'procedure' for setting up a stock feature set? That is to say, if you want a recorder backend and a display front end, buy the licenses and follow these steps and a working system will fall out the other side? Which leads us to...

4. Setup. I've done a scratch setup of SAGE and was impressed. <GRUMP>Yes, even by the UI. I observed the discussion about 'ugly ui' recently. I think its foolishness. I've used Tivo for years, and run it in parallel with my MythTV box. I'm more concerned with the UI DESIGN (usability) rather than the bling. Myth can be made to do bling on a grand scale, but most of the themes look awful because, let's face it, they're designed by people trying to make bling and not necessarily to improve usability. </GRUMP>

But when I popped in a DVD, the interface gagged. Do I now have to go out and BUY yet more software to test out SAGE's ability to play back a DVD? Is there any way to automate (script?) the set up of directshow filters so that a Windows XP noob (like me) doesn't have to become a software codec configuration expert just to play back a DVD? I really think this question leads back to point #1, too.

I really am interested in everyone's input, and would also like to know if someone would be willing to mentor me while I bring this system on-line. (I'm only doing a single system for now, so that I can have a working configuration to replace my wife's Tivo before I get fancy with a frontend/backend configuration.

Thanks in Advance for everyone's comments and helpfulness.

My system spec follows:
Windows XP Pro SP3
ABIT AB9 PRO M/B
Core2Duo Allendale 2.4ghz stock
4GB RAM
1 160GB OS drive [WD Sata]
2 250GB data drives [Seagate EIDE]
Nvidia 7600GS Passive Cooled PCI-E
Optical SPDIF in/out (onboard)
NEC AD-7200A-0B DVD+-R x20 IDE
PCI-E 1x serial card
Paterson Technologies TVTranslator DB9 serial to USB (for SAT channel change)
DirecTV D11 mp4 Sat tuner, Svideo + 2 RCA out
PVR-150 capture card (using Svideo for sat cap of SD channels)
HDHR HDTV for OTA channels (both tuners sharing a YAGI antenna)
Dedicated CAT6 and subnet between HDHR and and second NIC
MediaGate GP-IR02BK MCE remote
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  #2  
Old 08-26-2008, 09:47 AM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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1) In general, I've found Sage is quite stable. High-definition playback is a little iffy. Some people have problems getting HD mpeg2 video to play back well, even using powerful hardware. Many more seem to have problems getting the HD-PVR's H.264 files to play bakc nicely. There is not reference platform though. At least, there's no reference PC. The HD extender is pretty much it, though- dedicated hardware for playing videos back. I'm sure that solid playback of TV recordings on the HD100 is a top priority. HD mpeg2 works great on it. I don't have a HD-PVR, so I'm not sure how great it works with that.

2) Sage support is pretty good. The difficult problems seem to get passed up to the developer. I've had good experiences with support. The only problem I have is that since there's no telephone support there are some latency problems. Sage is pretty good about responding to e-mail questions in a day or two, but if you need to do some back-and-forth it can take a while to nail a problem down. In general, though, I think the forum does a better job at providing support for dealing with simple questions about functionality. I usually look at Sage tech support as a last resort.

3) Not really, unless you count the HD extender.

DVDs) I'm not entirely sure about this, but I don't think the mpeg2 decoder that comes with Sage is able to play back DVDs. I think most of us on the forums use a different mpeg2 codec to play back TV recordings and DVDs. I use Cyberlink's decoder now, but I've used PureVideo in the last with good results. Before I added a HD tuner I used the Hauppage's Intervideo decoder that came with my SD tuner, but I don't know if that one can play back DVDs either.

The forum community is very active and quite helpful. I'm sure there's lots of people that would be willing to help you through the process of setting it up. It's not terribly complicated. Following the instructions will get you most of the way there. Setting up new decoders is a little more tricky though. When the time comes (maybe it's now) we can help you do some troubleshooting to try to get things working right.
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  #3  
Old 08-26-2008, 10:22 AM
bcjenkins bcjenkins is offline
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Any reason you don't run SageTV on Linux?

IMO - The best client experience is an extender. If you're thinking about HD-PVR, you should grab HD Extenders when they're back in stock. Otherwise, the MVP works great for SD and DVD and MPEG-2 HD playback.

What display device are you using?

B
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  #4  
Old 08-26-2008, 10:45 AM
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stuckless stuckless is offline
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Quote:
Any reason you don't run SageTV on Linux?
I concur... I run Sage on linux with the HD extender and MVP client. It works well.... I'm currently having some issues with the HDPVR... bot nothing more than others are having on windows.
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  #5  
Old 08-26-2008, 11:25 AM
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webwalker webwalker is offline
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Thanks for the quick replies so far.

The display device is a Mitsubishi WS-48313, capable of accepting either Component or DVI (HDCP compliant) High Definition. It was both the first CRT/RP display to support HDCP, as well as one of the LAST CRT/RP models that Mitsu made. (They discontinued CRT/RP after the next model year.)

RE the HD Extender: In many ways, I'm feeling burned by proprietary boxes to support a pieces of software. This is the model that Tivo went down with their HMO (Home Media Option). I'm not sure I want to put myself in that position again when HD playback should be with in easy reach of a DXVA capable video card. But if HD playback isn't something that SAGE can do on the robust hardware I described, I'll either need to be patient, look elsewhere, or fall back to SD for now.

Regarding SAGE on Linux: Licensing. Licensing. Licensing. (No, this is not an Open Source rant. )

I can't test it, I have to buy it blind, pray that it works, and not cry if it doesn't even launch without SEGfaulting because there is no support from SAGE for it unless I'm willing to pay...again.

I'm used to the 'have fun sucker, you're on your own' in dealing with MythTV, which cost me nothing but months of grief, $800 worth of hardware upgrades and a jumpstart on grey hair. But to pay up for something I can't even try out first and 'inspect that which I expect'.... There are many robust licensing schemas out there that work on Linux: I ought to know--I have to deal with them every day at work!

In short, I'd love to do SAGE on Linux. How should I make sure I'm not flushing another $80 down the toilet if it doesn't work?

My present Tivo, which has been an absolute godsend, is the Pioneer 810 model: 480p output, DVD player with Faroudja decoding on silicon, built in AC3/DTS support, SPDIF audio, AS WELL AS fully automated DVD burning of recorded programs (even generates a menu!), web based program scheduling and the ability to stream video or mp3 audio from a server backend, meaning that anything I can transcode to mpg2, I can watch via the tivo.

But it won't do HD. That is its SOLE down side. And no one makes a device that does all of the things I listed above and does HD, too. If they did, I'd buy it and happily pay through the nose.

This is the feature set I'm trying to replicate: what I've got now, *plus* HDHR MP2TS. I'd even reluctantly give up the automated DVD burning and web based program scheduling. But DVD playback (we rent some obscure stuff) is a must.

Anyway, that is the back story. Sorry for running on. :^)
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  #6  
Old 08-26-2008, 11:45 AM
agover agover is offline
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To address your comments I would say the following:

1) Sage is a commercial product - period. Myth is free for a reason - sorry but this is true (and actually free is somewhat deceptive since myth no longer has free guide data in NA). That said Linux is pretty well supported by Frey/Sage it just doesnt have a free trial.

2) If your hardware is all in the supported under linux hardware req's after you get it going the first time you should be fine. If all your hardware isnt listed go windows....

3) Much as I hate to say it Linux is not a great environment for HTPC's - before you bite my head off there is a reason for this comment. The issue is mainly regarding two separate things - both of which can be avoided provided you use a media extender.
* - Linux lacks support for a large amount of capture cards, this also holds true for OSX(even more so..)
** - Linux video drivers for ATI & Nvidia generally do not provide hardware assisted decoding of either mpeg2 or h264 both of which are very helpful if you are playing back without using an extender. h264 is very cpu intensive without the assist...

4) Everyone hates paying for software where there is a free equivalant. That said considering that guide data along with support and ongoing updates is included (and likely good for 2yrs or so prior to the next major update - pbly version 8) its not so bad.


With all that said I really wish Sage/Frey would give a general license so folks can buy one and try the linux install and if it doesnt work move back to Windows or OSX. Two people I know are interested in Sage (under linux) both are trying to make up their minds since there is no linux trial..
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  #7  
Old 08-26-2008, 12:13 PM
bcjenkins bcjenkins is offline
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When I started with Sage in 2K6, I used the Windows version. I made the jump to Linux some time ago (I am sure evidence of this is in the forums here somewhere) and I have appreciated the stability that it brings. I am not using the HD HR but it is "supposed" to work.

As far as support goes, any issue I have sent in via email has received the same response as if it were a windows issue.

B

PS - If it means anything their CTO outed himself as a linux server user at home.
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  #8  
Old 08-26-2008, 12:17 PM
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webwalker webwalker is offline
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agover,

Rather than bite your head off, I couldn't agree more concerning your comments about Linux's native ability as an HTPC platform. But I come to that conclusion not because of a basic design flaw in Linux, but because of a failure by third party software and hardware vendors (SAGE, ATI and NVidia included!) to produce a truly level playing field for the platform their product runs on.

I signed up for the schedules direct data: for all of the kah-kah I've put up with on Myth, I've never complained about the deal on the guide data: Compared to $13 monthly for the Tivo, its a freaking bargin. Nor do I begrudge Mythtv for being hacker centric. I just think that, if it gives someone who's been in the industry as long as have this much trouble (and the documentation is a disaster) I can only imagine the problems it would give a noob.

Of course, I'm a noob on Windows, so that puts me in a poor position to judge...

But when I consider that Sage, if stable, includes its guide data, then the purchase of the software pays for itself in a mere 6 months relative to the upcharge for Tivo gear. That's a good deal. But its only a good deal if it works.

M
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  #9  
Old 08-26-2008, 01:17 PM
agover agover is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webwalker View Post
agover,

Rather than bite your head off, I couldn't agree more concerning your comments about Linux's native ability as an HTPC platform. But I come to that conclusion not because of a basic design flaw in Linux, but because of a failure by third party software and hardware vendors (SAGE, ATI and NVidia included!) to produce a truly level playing field for the platform their product runs on.
Absolutely!!! The best you can hope for is change over time though...


Quote:
I signed up for the schedules direct data: for all of the kah-kah I've put up with on Myth, I've never complained about the deal on the guide data: Compared to $13 monthly for the Tivo, its a freaking bargin. Nor do I begrudge Mythtv for being hacker centric. I just think that, if it gives someone who's been in the industry as long as have this much trouble (and the documentation is a disaster) I can only imagine the problems it would give a noob.
Tell me about it - I started on Myth (about 3 1/2 years ago) and lasted about 2 months before I said enough is enough. If I want to tinker I have a Sun box and linux system for that - I like my media pc stable and consistant. (and easily updatable).

Quote:
Of course, I'm a noob on Windows, so that puts me in a poor position to judge...
BSOD is a feature...

Quote:
But when I consider that Sage, if stable, includes its guide data, then the purchase of the software pays for itself in a mere 6 months relative to the upcharge for Tivo gear. That's a good deal. But its only a good deal if it works.

M
True.. The good news is it generally does. But I think it does have kinks in the initial setup. That seems to be the hold up from everything Ive seen/experienced - once its installed its pretty hassle free.


Good luck though
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  #10  
Old 08-26-2008, 01:39 PM
bastafidli bastafidli is offline
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I started with Sage in december 2007. I have never heard of them before and purchased the HD Media Extender the 2nd day it was available which then let me to SageTV software. I have always run it on Linux (see my guide to set it up on CentOS) and I am no Linux Guru. I have to say two things
1. HD extender is the best $$$ I have ever spent on electronic gadget. Zero setup and it just works.
2. Sage has the best support of any company I have dealt with. I have submited multiple defects and improvements I have found and they always addressed them promptly. They never made any fuss with me running on Linux.
The stock features work out of the box (I am not using it to view TV) and even though the usability is sometimes rough around edges, the advantages of HD extender are worth it and we have no issues using it as our primary media center for all our movies, home videos, music and photos.
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  #11  
Old 08-26-2008, 02:21 PM
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webwalker webwalker is offline
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bastafidili,

Do you do DVD playback? I presently have enough storage to keep a goodly supply of recorded programming around, but not to rip my whole DVD collection. Is there a mechanism for playing DVDs in the Linux version? I know that Nvidia doesn't support the h2.64 portion of the card in their drivers, but that isn't sage's fault.that is an Nivida driver problem.

M
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  #12  
Old 08-26-2008, 04:02 PM
bastafidli bastafidli is offline
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No I don't to DVD playback, only mp4 and m2ts I used to backup my collection to, but it is possible both in Windows and in Linux. In both you can map the DVD as an import path for SageTV and then refresh when you put in the DVD. There is a separate thread about it on this forums. Of course in Windows you will neeed separate "not to be named on these forums" program that will do the decryption on the fly, while on Linux you just need one of those decss libraries floating around.

That is why I love the HD extender, no need to deal with graphics cards, drivers, decoders, etc. I have a headless server in my closet and extender in living room. That is it, it just works.
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  #13  
Old 08-26-2008, 05:18 PM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webwalker View Post
But when I popped in a DVD, the interface gagged. Do I now have to go out and BUY yet more software to test out SAGE's ability to play back a DVD?
Sage includes everything needed except the ability to handle CSS, for that, you need 3rd party decoders (PowerDVD, WinDVD, nVidia, etc).

Quote:
Is there any way to automate (script?) the set up of directshow filters so that a Windows XP noob (like me) doesn't have to become a software codec configuration expert just to play back a DVD? I really think this question leads back to point #1, too.
99.9% of the time, codec problems are caused by people having way too much stuff on their systems. It's the primary reason you'll find many of us hammering home the "codec packs are evil" mantra. There's really not much to configuring codecs for a dedicated system. Install Windows, install codec, select codec, that's about it.

It really only gets to be a problem when you've got 15 different DVD decoders on your system and you've got this and that other filter installed because they're supposed to do some super-cool thing.

Install only what you need, when you need it and 99 times out of 100, you'll be fine.

You could probably give the dscaler4 decoders a shot for DVD playback, they should let you experience the functionality though there's no guarantee the quality will be there, kind of depends on what sort of DVDs you watch (ie movies vs TV)

Quote:
I really am interested in everyone's input, and would also like to know if someone would be willing to mentor me while I bring this system on-line. (I'm only doing a single system for now, so that I can have a working configuration to replace my wife's Tivo before I get fancy with a frontend/backend configuration.
I think you'll find the community as a whole is willing to "mentor" you

FWIW, there really is no "frontend/backend" configuration. I'm not sure how Myth is setup but for Sage there's just SageTV Media Center. You install it, configure your tuners, your recording directories, and your import directories and the frontend and backend are set up. You just turn on the server feature and that's it. Now you can setup the UI differently on each client, but you don't have to.
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  #14  
Old 08-26-2008, 06:48 PM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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It's a little hard to avoid getting too many codecs on a system. You can install only what you need, but you still seem to end up with a bunch of different codecs on your system. First, some pieces of software install codecs you don't want (I'm looking at you, Nero). Second, it's hard to know what's going to work well on your system. I had things working great with a combination of ffdshow and hauppauge decoders until I moved to HD, at which point I went through Purevideo and WinDVD before deciding Cyberlink was the best. Then I had to switch to using the CoreAVC codec, because ffdshow didn't seem to like variable frame rate encoded files (the audio fell out of sync).

Also, I agree with your decision to use Windows. Hardware support is better, and there are more software applications to choose from (like ShowAnalyzer). Really, I don't think my Windows XP Sage server has ever crashed on me since I made it a dedicated box. As a geek I know I'm not suppose to like Microsoft, but really I think WinXP is quite stable.
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  #15  
Old 08-27-2008, 02:37 PM
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webwalker webwalker is offline
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Perhaps I didn't tell the whole story with Microsoft and I: I USED to be (long ago in a galaxy far far away...called Seattle) an employee of the mighty M. I was tier 2 phone support for the Windows 95 rollout. But after that gig I went 100% UNIX and only find myself reluctantly forced back in to the fold by the need to support hardware that is being built for Windows XP/Vista.

Regarding codecs: Its nice to hear that the system will 'just work' if you stay away from loading the OS up with codec packs. At least, that's what I THINK I hear.

So I'm going to start right now by documenting my installation so far:

Previously described hardware was installed with Win XP Pro and immediately updated to SP3.
Nvidia WHQL Certified driver 175.19 was loaded.
SWAP file was sized to 2048mb, (min+max, so windows doesn't waste cycles managing its size to save disk when I don't need the disk saved.)
Restore Point was disabled.
Visual properties were set to 'best performance.' Which means XP turned off all the bling.
Finally, the abit drivers were loaded for the multiplicity of SATA controllers on board, as well as the Intel chipset drivers and updated NIC drivers.

That's as far as I got last night. Tomorrow night, I'll install NVidia PureVideo Bronze (I"m taking the sound out the optical port, so I don't need to pass it over the DVI) and SAGE and then the real performance testing will start.

Thanks again to everyone for your comments and assistance.

M
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  #16  
Old 08-27-2008, 03:57 PM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webwalker View Post
Regarding codecs: Its nice to hear that the system will 'just work' if you stay away from loading the OS up with codec packs. At least, that's what I THINK I hear.
That's what you're hearing, but you probably know by now that there are no guarantees.

Quote:
So I'm going to start right now by documenting my installation so far:

Previously described hardware was installed with Win XP Pro and immediately updated to SP3.
Nvidia WHQL Certified driver 175.19 was loaded.
SWAP file was sized to 2048mb, (min+max, so windows doesn't waste cycles managing its size to save disk when I don't need the disk saved.)
Restore Point was disabled.
Visual properties were set to 'best performance.' Which means XP turned off all the bling.
Finally, the abit drivers were loaded for the multiplicity of SATA controllers on board, as well as the Intel chipset drivers and updated NIC drivers.

That's as far as I got last night. Tomorrow night, I'll install NVidia PureVideo Bronze (I"m taking the sound out the optical port, so I don't need to pass it over the DVI) and SAGE and then the real performance testing will start.
That should cover you good for recordings/DVDs/HDTV (except the HD PVR). I ran that basic setup for quite a while and it was very solid.
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:13 PM
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webwalker webwalker is offline
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How do you mean 'except for the HDPVR'. Surely all mpeg-ts passes through the ringbuffer of the PVR...?

Also, it is my understanding (from compulsive reading of docs) that only the nvidia 8x and 9x series of cards have hardware assisted h264 decoding. So if I want to do anything with h264, I'd better be willing to scale down the resolution when I transcode. Correct?

I'm starting to get excited about the possiblities of Sage. I look forward to loading it up tonight and beginning some testing of DVB playback/upsample, plus recording from our DirecTV D11 sat box.

I'd love to test my HDHomeRun tonight, but discovered that the P/S is dead. I'm betting its one of the failures that has been making the rounds recently. So I'll need to order a replacement from SiliconDust before I can test that.

M
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  #18  
Old 08-28-2008, 03:08 PM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webwalker View Post
How do you mean 'except for the HDPVR'. Surely all mpeg-ts passes through the ringbuffer of the PVR...?
Except that the HD PVR records in H.264 video, not the more usual MPEG-2. So being newer, it's can be a bit troublesome.

Quote:
Also, it is my understanding (from compulsive reading of docs) that only the nvidia 8x and 9x series of cards have hardware assisted h264 decoding. So if I want to do anything with h264, I'd better be willing to scale down the resolution when I transcode. Correct?
Transcode for what? Frankly I wouldn't bother transcoding HD PVR files, they're already about as small as they can get.
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:29 PM
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sorry. i'm still getting used to the new glossary of terms.

When I think PVR, I think the sagetv pvr, not the hauppage hdpvr.

What I meant about transcoding was that some sources for video for me are PAL based h264 sources. If I won't be able to watch those smoothly, using the 7xxx series Nvidia card I have, then I would presumably need to transcode to a format that does have hw acceleration, e.g. mpeg2

M
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:19 PM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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Quote:
What I meant about transcoding was that some sources for video for me are PAL based h264 sources.
So, how are you doing to get those onto your system? If you are going through a set-top box into your PVR-150? If that's the case then the recording it just going to be an mpeg2 recording in standard definition quality. I don't think the HDHR can be used to capture whatever source you're talking about. Presumably you want to record HDTV that's coming through your satellite box. If that's the case, your only option is to use the HD-PVR, which creates H.264 files.

You're not going to want to transcode the H.264 files into mpeg2. I think a Core2 Duo running at 2.4Ghz should be enough even without hardware acceleration, if you use a good decoder. I really like the CoreAVC decoder, but I don't have an HD-PVR so I don't know how well it works with those files. A lot of people are having problems playing back those files though. I don't think anyone can tell you a configuration that will definitely work.

Otherwise, 8600GT's and Radeon HD 38xx cards are pretty cheap right now. But, I don't think you'd get the full benefit of hardware acceleration out of them right now anyway. I think that requires using EVR instead of VMR9. Not only does WinXP not support EVR, but Sage doesn't even support it under Vista.
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