7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
good recorder, playback issues with BeyondTV, occasional lockups, mediocre bundled software
, October 5, 2009
This review is from: Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR High Definition Personal Video Recorder (Personal Computers)
The Hauppauge HD PVR is one of a handful of devices that let you record cable or satellite HDTV channels to your PC -- in h.264 video format and 6-channel audio no less. Recordings are made via component video cable (provided). The quality of the recordings are, of course, dependent on the quality of the broadcast signal from your cable or satellite company. But the HD PVR does a good job encoding the recordings into h.264 format with low CPU consumption, provided you have a fast CPU to begin with (I have a core2 2ghz and 2gb RAM).
If you use the popular Snapstream BeyondTV recording software like I do, you will run into some issues. There are next to no issue for recording that I can see, but if you use BeyondTV for playback (watching recorded shows or live TV), BeyondTV may freeze while you change channels. If it doesn't freeze, you may see choppy picture after you change a channel. You may also get high CPU consumption because apparently many video cards are not optimized for h.264 playback. Snapstream has promised to make BeyondTV more compatible with HD PVR but its latest version is still not completely issue-free.
If you are unable to record 6-channel audio, download the latest drivers from Hauppauge, because older drivers did not support 6-channel audio recording. Also, check the settings of your set top cable or satellite box to make sure it is configured to output digital audio stream. Also, HD PVR has only one digital audio input, and it's optical (optical cable not provided). So your set top box HAS to have an optical out port.
Yes, the HD PVR does freeze on you occasionally. I had heard about this before buying it but after many hours of recordings I have only encountered it once. When it happens, it disappears from Windows device manager. You have to power it off and on and then check device manager. It doesn't seem to be a heat issue, since the device is never too hot. But since then, I always turn it off when it's not in use just in case.
The bundled software is Arcsoft TotalMedia Extreme, which retails for $120, but it's disappointing that if your input video has multi-channel audio, the software always converts it to 2-channel audio output. The bundle includes a primitive video capture utility, a media converter that converts your recording into mp4, wmv, or mov, and a blu-ray authorer/burner that can burn HD material on a regular DVD for playback on a blu-ray player. But sadly, both turn 6-channel audio into 2-channel, otherwise this would be a great bundle.
EDIT Apr 1 2010:
Random lockups remain an extremely rare occurrence for me even though a lot of people are having them (when the device stops recording and requires a reboot). What I do to avoid lockups is before each recording, I reboot my PC and do not run anything but the PVR software (BeyondTV, in my case) until the recording is finished. I've done 6-hour to 8-hour recordings and never had a lockup. I've heard reports of others doing the same thing and have avoided lockups. As an added precautionary measure, I also unplug the HD-PVR and turn off the cable STB after each recording. Btw, my PC is a Vista 32 SP1 with core 2 CPU and 2GB RAM. I've also disabled anti-virus detection for the recording folder.
EDIT Apr 19 2011:
Lockups have remained rare in the past year. I've just started using SageTV for a month and have experienced no lockups. I've made very long recordings, in one case a 24-hour recording, with no problems. I've also upgraded my PC to Core i5 Windows 7 64-bit SP1 and have continued to be able to record with HD-PVR without a hitch. And I've always recorded at the highest bit rate supported by HD-PVR, which is 13.5 megabits/sec.
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