Blogger Brent Evans got his HD-PVR yesterday and posted the unboxing video you can see above. He says setup was easy and that the latest beta version of SageTV recognizes the tuner. The software that comes with the HD-PVR lets you record programs, but it does not let you watch live television.
Evans says while his computer seems to have done a decent job of recording HD video, he can't get it to play the video smoothly. The HD-PVR also locked up twice during his initial test, and he had to reboot it by turning it off and on again.
You can find some more first person accounts at the GB-PVR forums. It looks like Brent Evans isn't the only one having some problems. Several GB-PVR user says they've been having problems with recordings failing or the device locking up altogether. In other words, if you've been waiting patiently to get an HD-PVR, it looks like you might want to wait a little longer.
The quality might not be as high as the video quality you'll get from an ATSC, ClearQAM, or CableCard tuner. But the HD-PVR is extremely versatile since it works with a variety of devices. It includes S-Video and composite and component inputs. So if your video device supports any of those standards, you're all set.
The box can handle 1080i and 720p resolutions. Several major media center applications for Windows already support the HD-PVR, including BeyondTV, SageTV and GB-PVR. Windows Vista Media Center support is coming, and MythTV developers are working on adding support to the open source Linux media center application.
Hauppauge has released beta software that adds ClearQAM support to several of its HDTV television tuner cards. If you've got an HVR-1250, HVR-1600, HVR-1800, or HVR-2250, right now you can tune into analog NTSC broadcasts or over the air ATSC signals. But no matter how many times you plug in the cable that runs to your digital cable box, you're not going to pick anything up without the new beta driver.
Once the new drivers are installed on a Windows Vista computer (sorry, Windows XP and Mac OS X are not supported), you should be able to access Hauppauge's ClearQAM scanner in the programs section of Vista Media Center. Using this tool, you can find any unencrypted digital cable channels available in your area. Typically broadcast networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and the CW don't encrypt their signals while premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime do.
[via Chris Lanier]
But there does appear to be at least one downside (aside from the fact that analog recordings are inherently lower quality than digital recordings). Chris Lanier points out that Hauppauge will not officially support dual tuner setups for now. That means, if you were hoping to pick up two boxes and record two HDTV shows as the same time, you may be out of luck.
Apparently the drivers for the HD-PVR do support multiple tuner setups. But Hauppauge has not yet tested this configuration, so the company won't officially support this option. That would seem to indicate that Hauppauge could add support when the product is a bit more mature and the company's had more time to kick the tires. On the other hand, it's wholly possible that third party software PVR applications like BeyondTV, SageTV, and GB-PVR could add multi-tuner support before Hauppauge gets around to it.
GB-PVR is a free, but closed source media center application. The developer says he's had an HD-PVR sitting on his desk for a month and that support is already built into GB-PVR version 1.2.9, which was released a month ago. He hasn't been able to test the unit fully, since he doesn't have high definition cable or satellite service. But in theory, it should work as soon as the new recorder is available.
[via Project HTPC]
In other news, Snapstream Media CEO Rakesh Agrawal wrote in to let us know that his team has received a prototype unit for testing purposes. Snapstream makes the BeyondTV personal video recorder software for Windows, so it's safe to say that HD-PVR support will be added to BeyondTV in the not too distant future. Agrawal says he's not ready to make any official statement yet, since Hauppauge is still working on the hardware.
Blogger Dave Zatz has already confirmed that SageTV will support the HD-PVR, which means that it's possible the only major commercial PVR application for Windows that won't support the device when it's launched will be Windows Media Center. But Windows Media Center support is expected later this year.
Here are some other interesting tidbits:
- Compresses video in real-time using the H.264 codec, with constant and variable bit-rates ranging from 1Mbps to 13.5Mbps
- Format recordings so they can be burned to Blu-ray discs
- Record at 1080i, 720p, or VGA resolutions
- Comes with IR remote control and IR Blaster for changing the TV channels on your set top box
- NTSC, PAL, and SECAM support
- Requires a PC with a dual core CPU and at least 256MB of graphics memory for playback of high definition H.264 videos
[via Brent Evans Geek Tonic]
Now a moderator at the SageTV user forums has posted 2 images that show the front and back view of the HD-PVR. It appears to come with a standard Hauppauge infrared remote control, the same type the company bundles with many of its existing TV tuners.
The Hauppauge HD-PVR should be available in May or June for about $250. But if you believe the folks at the SageTV Forums, you should be able to preorder one from the Hauppauge web site later today.
[via Brent Evans Geek Tonic]
The HD-PVR will be able to capture HD video from any component video output and compress it in real time to H.264. In other words, you can using your existing cable or satellite box to flip channels, and record HDTV without getting a CableCard tuner for your PC.
Evans has also learned that Windows Media Center will not support the new device at launch, but that you should be able to use the HD-PVR with a Windows Media Center machine by this summer. But we'd be surprised if the device isn't supported by third party media center software like SageTV, BeyondTV, and MythTV.
At CeBIT Hauppauge announced several new products, including:
- A 149 Euro portable media player that can pick up live digital TV using the UK's Freeview standard
- The 199 Euro HD-PVR USB TV tuner that encodes 720p and 1080i video on the fly using the H.264 codec
- The HVR2200, a 129 Euro dual-tuner Freeview card
This $129 tuner can handle NTSC, ATSC, and ClearQAM signals. In layman's terms, that means you can plug in an analog cable, a digital antenna for over the air HDTV, or user the tuner to decode unencrypted HD cable channels.
The TubeStick hybrid comes with a portable antenna for watching over the air programs on the go, but we'd recommend spending a few bucks on a higher quality antenna if you plan to use this tuner at home. The tuner is also compatible with Windows.
The Hauppauge HD PVR connects to your set top box's component or "YPrPb" output, so what you're capturing is an analog signal. You'll need to use an IR blaster to let the USB TV tuner change channels.
When you combine the analog source with the fact that your video will be compressed, it's safe to say that you won't get the same kind of video quality with the HD PVR as you would with a true CableCard tuner. On the other hand, the HD PVR is going to be a lot cheaper than the competition. And while CableCard tuners only work with Windows Vista Media Center, Hauppauge has a good track record of putting out TV tuner cards that work with everything from BeyondTV and SageTV for Windows to MythTV for Linux.
[via Brent Evans]
But if you're looking for a PCI Express card that can handle standard NTSC and ATSC signals, Hauppauge has announced a new $49 TV tuner that should fit the bill. The WinTV-HVR-1250 can record standard analog TV or over the air HDTV. It can also handle ClearQAM, which is just a fancy word for unencrypted digital cable HDTV signals.
The TV tuner is certified for use with Windows Vista Media Center, but should also work with other PC-based PVR software. The WinTV-HVR-1250 should be available laster this month.
What that means, in a nutshell, is that you can use this little USB jobby to record over the air NTSC or HDTV signals, or you can plug your digital cable line into the tuner and record any unencrypted HDTV channels directly to your computer. Keep in mind, most cable providers scramble premium content, but you'll probably be able to pick up all of your local network affiliates in crystal clear high def with this TV tuner.
Oh yeah, you can also record standard definition programming by plugging in an analog cable (or bunny ears, if that's your kind of thing). The WinTV-HVR-950Q should be available later this month for $99.
There are a bunch of tweaks and bug fixes in SageTV 6.3.1. But probably the most exciting bits include hardware support. While SageTV has been supporting Mac OS X since this summer, the Mac client only supported two Hauppauge TV tuner cards. The update adds support for the popular ElGato EyeTV Hybrid and Hauppauge HVR-950 tuners. There's also Mac support for the HDHomeRun networked HDTV tuner.
It looks like SageTV has also built in support for the company's upcoming STX-HD100 Media Extender, which will do for SageTV what other media center extenders do for Windows Media Center. In other words, you'll be able to put the box next to television sets throughout your house, connect them to the home network and access live and recorded TV and all the other content stored on your main media center PC.
[via Brent Evans]
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