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TheMalcolmConnection 03-13-2005 10:43 PM

Video Capture Card Recommendations
I'm about to move into my new apartment and I'm looking at installing all my PCs with some video capture cards to be able to run WinDVR and take the games this season. Anyone have any recommendations? The ones we run in the labs that I'm in charge of at work use Hauppage but their drivers/software suck ass. I've been looking at these Asus/Kworld ones and they have good reviews from [url="http://www.newegg.com"]www.newegg.com[/url]. They run about 35-50 bucks. I want one that has the highest resolution. That's the most important thing. Anyone who has one, let me know what you think would be best...

That Guy 03-13-2005 11:25 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
ati has a hdtv capture card, but unless you're looking to spend 200-300$ on a hardware encoding card, any of the cheapo (50$ or less) cards tend to work pretty well... hauppages are actually generally considered the most reliable, i'm not sure what model or how old the ones at your school are...

joecrisp 03-14-2005 06:25 AM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
I've got the ATI TV Wonder Pro, and it worked pretty good this past season. As long as you have a matching ATI graphics card, you won't have any problems. I've run into a few minor glitches here and there, since I have an NVIDIA graphics card. But for the most part, I've really enjoyed the ATI TV card. I think it was about $70 at Best Buy, with a $20 mail-in rebate.

You'll want to make sure your sound card has good clock stability, otherwise you'll have some synch problems. I've had some problems with using the composite input on my card; it doesn't always work, with the video dropping out. I don't know much about the other cards. If I'd been motivated enough, I probably would have taken the ATI card back and traded it in for an NVIDIA card, so I could eliminate the glitches altogether. But I don't know if the NVIDIA card has all the features that the ATI one does.

TheMalcolmConnection 03-14-2005 08:33 AM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
Awesome.... thanks for the advice guys. I've been looking at both the cheaper cards AND the ATI. Glad you told me about the glitches because I also have an Nvidia card. HD capture eh? I MIGHT be willing to throw out that type of money to turn my computer into an HDTV... You heard anything about the quality of those??

That Guy 03-14-2005 05:02 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
last i heard HD wasn't really worth it... if you really want, you can get an all in wonder (ati gfx card + tv tuner in one), but i just use whatever crap i got for 30$ at best buy (pinnacle/hauppage) and download the latest drivers from the web... 6 capture cards, no problems yet (but i do a large amount of computer work)...

TheMalcolmConnection 03-14-2005 07:43 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
Sweet. Thanks for the advice. I was about to get that HDTV tuner card tonight. I guess I'll just have to save up and foot the bill for a REAL HDTV. I'm down with anything that will let me do TiVo stuff and get Cable TV. So how's the quality on those in general? TV quality or better? I have a high quality LCD monitor.

TheMalcolmConnection 03-14-2005 07:43 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
Right now, I'm pretty much sold on the 35 dollar KWorld one I found on Newegg.com.

That Guy 03-15-2005 02:05 AM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
its TV quality... the quality of the image veries a lot though, size the resizing is all done in software on the cheap cards (TV is like 352x240 pixels, most monitors default at around 1024x768 pixels, which is 9.3 times as much detail, so instead of the natural analog blend tv tubes produce between their "pixels", on computers an algorithim of some sort is used to filling in all that missing information... how good that equation works depends on cpu power and the types of filters the drivers or hardware employ...)

That said, i watch stuff on my 19" CRT monitors more than i use my actual TV and the image is about the same (ass it should be)... works real well for recording and taking screen captures (warning though, when recording if you start playing games and eating up cpu, you're recording will have skips etc because the encoding is done more or less in software and not on the capture cards hardware).

HDTV cardss i heard had trouble with regulations or some kind of issue (sorry for being vague) that made them not the best idea 7 months ago... i'd have to look into what that was though.

That Guy 03-15-2005 02:13 AM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
[quote=some slashdot guy] Yeah, the whole thing is rather confusing until you understand exactly what all is going on.

Regular analog TV, whether broadcast NTSC/PAL/SECAM, older analog cable (for me, channels under 100), or regular VHS tapes, is a signal that is essentially fed directly to the electron beam in your traditional TV. There is some funky electronics magic going on, but essentially, each dot in each frame corresponds to a specific fraction of a millisecond of the signal. (Some analog cable channels are scrambled, and decoder boxes will correct the mangled signal. There was a project, fscktv, to do this with a video card, but I never saw it actually work.)

To record an analog signal, you have two important steps. First, you need a TV tuner card that digitizes the signal. Second, you need to compress the video into something managable, such as MPEG-2. The PVR-250 cards are popular because they do both steps.

Digital broadcast TV is simpler. You just need to extract the digital information from the broadcast, much like a modem gets the digital information encoded on a voice phone line. With digital broadcasts, the process of compressing the data is done by the broadcaster, so you don't need any extra work to get a MPEG-2 stream.

Satellite and digital cable, whether HDTV or regular resolution, are sent as MPEG-2 streams, but the problem is that they are selling access to the channels, so they usually encrypt the streams. They assume you'll use their decoder boxes that do two things. First, they unencrypt the stream. Then they decode the stream. By "decode," I mean play the MPEG stream. That means you're back to an analog signal, whether you're using composite, s-video, or component outputs. Even if you use DVI or HDMI, which are digital, it's a decoded signal, not the MPEG stream.

So to record digital cable or satellite broadcasts, you have to either re-encode the signal, which simply isn't feasible right now for HDTV, or you have to somehow get the signal before it's decoded. If your PVR is integrated with your cable or satellite box, it can get the original MPEG stream (which is how DirectTiVo works). The only other option is that some digital cable and satellite boxes have a firewire port that you can connect to your computer, where they send the MPEG stream. MythTV doesn't support that yet, but someone was working on it a while ago.

In theory, you can get a smart card from your cable company that plugs into devices with digital tuners, which allows them to unencrypt channels that you are subscribed to. Some of the more expensive HDTVs accept them so you can use them without a cable box. There's nothing really stopping someone from building a card for your computer that uses the same card.[/quote]

so hdtv would work with over the air hdtv, but not with satellite or digital cable channels... so fox/nbc/cbs/abc should work, espn/comcast sportsnet/fsn would not...
beyond that it takes a lot more cpu power OR the hardware can cost a LOT ([b]LOT[/b]) of money... PVRs (TiVo etc) can work because they get the stream before HDCP as stated above... hope that answers my own vague warnings :P

Cush 03-15-2005 02:59 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
[QUOTE=That Guy]ati has a hdtv capture card, but unless you're looking to spend 200-300$ on a hardware encoding card, any of the cheapo (50$ or less) cards tend to work pretty well... hauppages are actually generally considered the most reliable, i'm not sure what model or how old the ones at your school are...[/QUOTE]


I use a Hauppage WinTV Radio/FM, it's an older one, but it still gets the job done. All the screen captures on my page were done with it, keep in mind though that these were off of DVD's. I don't have DVD software for my PC, so I just connected the card to the player.


TheMalcolmConnection 03-15-2005 03:06 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
Great... again thanks for the advice everyone. You all saved me about 150 bucks. So in the end you'd suggest the Hauppage?

That Guy 03-15-2005 06:42 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
honestly, i think the $36 kworld one off of newegg looks like the best bet without spending a significant amount more.

the cheapest hardware encoding card is the Hauppauge Win TV150 at 72$ but doesn't come with a remote and isnt in stock at newegg... Hauppauge has satellite and dual tuner cards to, which is cool, but not what you need. I'd just get the kworld, grab the latest drivers and if you thin its really-super-coolŪ, then you can make plans for completely overdoing it at a later date.

TheMalcolmConnection 03-15-2005 11:24 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
Most def. That's the plan. But say I waited til the Hauppage came IN stock, would that be worth it?

That Guy 03-15-2005 11:55 PM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
probably not...

TheMalcolmConnection 03-16-2005 08:30 AM

Re: Video Capture Card Recommendations
Excellent. Thanks to all for the advice. Ordering the KWorld one tonight... Once the season begins remind me to make a DVD for everyone of all the games. (I'll try and edit out all the commercials)

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