[mythtv-users] WinTV PVR-250 vs 350

Michael T. Dean mtdean at thirdcontact.com
Wed Aug 16 03:15:18 UTC 2006

On 08/15/2006 03:55 PM, David Schmidt wrote:

>The 350 has hardware MPEG2 decoding, meaning that it will place *very*
>little strain on your main CPU.  Also, most consider it the best
>looking of the standard-def TV outs available.  As a data point, my
>prototype combined frontend/backend with a puny P3/450 but a PVR-350
>can record while playing back (but not commercial flagging, of course)
>with only about 10% CPU usage.
>That said, although I love my 350 dearly, I wouldn't recommend it in
>any of the following cases:
>- You plan on going HD output (the 350 just can't do it).
>- You plan on doing any "modern" (3d accelerated) gaming on the box.
>-  You've got CPU to burn anyway and aren't a "perfect video" snob.
 - Your calendar shows a date past 2001.

>There's absolutely no reason to choose the higher priced 250 over the
>150, unless you can pick up a 250 cheaper used or on clearance.
>Hope that helped.

IMHO, there's no good reason to buy a PVR-350 with modern hardware.  
It's kind of like buying an SSL accelerator for a home PC.  While an SSL 
accelerator makes sense for a web server that's doing SSL for a lot of 
connections simultaneously, it makes very little sense to use one on a 
home PC whose processor can easily handle the load of doing SSL for a 
single connection at a time.  (Now, if you're building a single box that 
needs to output TV out to 4 TV's simultaneously, a PVR-350 would make 
sense.  Instead, though, Myth always uses a single box to output to a 
single TV, so 4 TV's require 4 boxes.)  The only other case when you 
might consider a PVR-350 is when your hardware is seriously 
underpowered--but I wouldn't build an underpowered frontend for any 
reason, so that wouldn't be an issue for me.

When I first set up my PVR-350, the TV-out was beautiful.  I decided to 
replace the PVR-350 as my output device with an NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX440 
to get better OpenGL support, better overscan support, allow for more 
choice in resolutions, and basically to avoid all the many weaknesses of 
the PVR-350.  The MX440 output quality was lower than that of the 
PVR-350.  /However/, unlike most people who say the PVR-350 is the best 
quality output, I kept working on improving my MX440 output quality and 
after a relatively short time improved the MX440 TV output quality to 
the point that I couldn't tell a difference between it and the PVR-350 
TV out.

Moral of the story: it's easy to set up the PVR-350 TV out for 
high-quality TV out (it either works or it doesn't).  It's easy to set 
up a video card to give poor-quality TV out (there are many incorrect 
configurations you can use and only one of the very few correct 
configurations will give you good quality output).

I say get a PVR-150 and spend the extra money a 350 would have cost on 
other hardware for the box (better video card, memory, etc.).


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