[mythtv-users] Firewire or capture card?

William william_munson at comcast.net
Thu Dec 24 21:00:49 UTC 2009

steve wrote:
> My existing MythTV setup has crapped out (capture hardware failure) 
> and I am starting over. I want to get the new system set up to handle 
> HD, and I’m trying to decide between doing a firewire connection to 
> the cable box (SA Explorer 3250HD) and using a capture card. The 
> firewire option seems sensible, but I’ve been looking at the Wiki page 
> on that and it sounds like a “challenging” setup. Also the reports on 
> the firewire cards flag a lot of cases where they don’t work, don’t 
> support channel changing, don’t stream video properly, etc. So would I 
> be better off using a dedicated capture card like the pcHDTV 5500?
> Your thoughts appreciated, especially if you have done either option.
> TIA…Steve
I am a firewire user and I am thinking of changing to using external 
capture off of the component output of the cable box. IMHO this is the 
only way to access all the content you pay for with cable. I have, in 
the past, used a HDHomerun and while it was stable, not all channels 
were available and there is absolutely no mapping of HDHR channels to 
cable channels so you have to figure it out yourself. My current setup 
is direct firewire capture and it also has issues. Namely, occasional 
failures to capture a recording even on clear channels. This requires a 
power cycle of the cable box to fix (front panel button). It always 
changes the channel correctly using the firewire so I am going to 
continue to use the firewire to change channels. If that fails to be 
reliable, I have an older MyBlaster IR blaster I can use to control the box.

I am not up on the current products but if it captures from component 
and supports full 1080i/p then its probably a good choice. I would 
prefer one that is self contained and connects to the network rather 
than a pci card. This is to keep the bus loading down on the front/backend.


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