[mythtv-users] Best PCI HD capture card?

faginbagin mythtv at hbuus.com
Fri Jul 24 20:00:53 UTC 2009

FWIW, I have a PVR-150, an HD-5500 and an HVR-1600 and I'm running mythtv 0.21-fixes under mythbuntu.

The "raw output" you're talking about on the HD-5500 is probably for analog input. True, it doesn't have the hardware MPEG2 encoder. But I've tuned my recording profiles so I get about 1GB/hour for analog recordings from all three tuners. The HD-5500 recordings are in Mythtv's version of NuppelVideo containers. These can contain either RTjpeg or mpeg4 encoded video. I'm using mpeg4, 720x480 with 2200Kbps bitrate, comparable to the settings I use for the PVR-150 and analog half of the HVR-1600. The quality is adequate for a SD CRT television. The HD-5500 is installed in a box with the PVR-150 and a 32 bit AMD Sempron 3100+ processor, which has no problem recording on both tuners and playing a video at the same time. I do have a couple of nitpicks with the HD-5500 w.r.t its analog recordings:
- Rewind isn't realtime. When you press a rewind key, the video is paused, you have to guess when to restart play.
- Burning to DVD takes a lot longer because the .nuv recordings have to be transcoded.
But these aren't showstoppers.

As for HD ATSC/QAM recordings, the file size is going to be the same, regardless of what HD tuner you use. The file size is determined by the bitrate sent by the broadcaster/cable service provider. You can transcode after recording to reduce the file size.

As for the HVR-1600, this is in a different box with a 64 bit AMD X2 4850e processor. I had some problems initially with static in the audio of analog recordings. Fortunately, Andy Walls, the cx18 developer, was able to fix the problem in the cx18 driver. His fixes should now be in the latest v4l-dvd code base, but probably won't be in the distro you're running. So you'll probably need to download, compile and install v4l-dvb to get good analog recordings out of the HVR-1600.

I haven't done much HD recording with the HD-5500, but I've found HD recordings with the HVR-1600 to be next to useless. It may be a problem with the cable coming into the box, but I suspect that, since the HVR-1600 analog recordings are quite good, part of the problem is due to the fact that the HVR-1600 is a PCI card and is more vulnerable to noise than an external tuner, like the HDHR. One of these days, I'll connect an HDTV to the same coax cable and do some troubleshooting, sometime before I make another tuner purchase. It just hasn't been a priority for me.

Hope my experiences help someone,

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