Author Topic: Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2  (Read 6855 times)

Offline Chandler

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Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2
« on: Jul 31, 2004, 10:06 AM »
Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2
Software version 2.3 CD


Click here for full image

  • Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2 29035 Rev C524 PAL-I (UK)
  • Contact: http://www.hauppauge.co.uk
  • Price: approx ?105 at time of writing depending on supplier
Generally if you want to use your laptop for video editing you have to put up with low resolution video, or go for an expensive Cardbus based adapter, which might not be an option if you use your Cardbus slot for something else.

The Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2 aims to change all of this.

Onboard it has a hardware MPEG2 encoder, and it offers surprisingly good (I?d go as far as saying amazing) video quality, especially for the price.  You don?t even need USB 2.0 to operate, as even the lower bit-rates (8Mbps is a realistic maximum on USB 1.1) give good quality and is arguably as good as DVB quality in the UK (otherwise known as Digital TV).

The whole set of connectivity options is on show here.  On the back, you have a Coax Antenna for analogue TV or RF modulated VCR input, an FM antenna connector (a large FM antenna is supplied with the unit), and USB socket.  On the front, you have S-Video input, Composite input, and Stereo audio inputs.

A teletext viewer is provided.
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2004, 10:09 AM by Chandler »

Offline Chandler

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Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2
« Reply #1 on: Jul 31, 2004, 10:08 AM »
What's in the box?

  • WinTV PVR USB2
  • AC-DC Wall Adapter
  • USB Cable
  • FM Antenna
  • Remote + batteries
  • Stand
The stand is particularly useful and allows the PVR USB2 to take up very little space as shown in the picture to the right.  As it uses the same case design as the Hauppauge MediaMVP and DEC1000-t it should look great with other Hauppauge peripherals.  The stand has 4 little rubber pads to keep the unit from moving around, and the load distribution of the base is good enough to prevent it from toppling over.

On the bottom of the PVR USB2 itself you have four large rubber feet which raise the box from the surface it's sitting on to give airflow for the relatively high powered encoder chip.  I didn't encounter any overheating issues with 30C ambient temperatures in either the horizontal or vertical orientation.


Click here to view full image

What connectors does it have?

On the front of the unit you have:

  • IR receiver
  • L/R Phono Audio Inputs
  • Composite Phono Input
  • S-Video Input
  • LED

On the rear you have:

  • FM Antenna In
  • TV Antenna In
  • USB
  • Power
The Hauppauge range has recently had a complete makeover and everything is in new boxes.  The new-boxed units currently have an offer for a free LOTR DVD in the UK.
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2004, 10:32 AM by Chandler »

Offline Chandler

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Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2
« Reply #2 on: Jul 31, 2004, 10:14 AM »
TV Tuner Quality

The TV tuner is very good, and is in fact better than the tuner in both my TV and VCR.  I was able to the main 4 channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4) in excellent quality with channel 5 being picked up and at least watch-able, and this was on one of those loop ?aerials? that you get for free with portable televisions.  In contrast, the same ?aerial? (if you can call it that) hooked up to my TV only got BBC1 and Channel 4.  Proof enough of the quality of the tuner?  I think so.

When hooked up to the main house aerial, the main four channels are perfect quality, and Five is much better than any TV in the house.  The graininess of the picture didn?t faze the MPEG2 encoder with no blocky-ness being apparent.

BBC1
BBC1
ITV1
Channel 4
Five

Please be aware that the ghosting on some of the channels is a result of living a couple of miles away from the S****horpe steel works which plays havoc with analogue TV reception.  Also the brightness/contrast of the image was adjusted to give good quality on my laptop so it may appear dark on CRT monitors.  You can adjust the brightness/contrast/saturation settings in WinTV2000 before it is compressed to suit your own tastes.  The images haven't been touched up Photoshop, these are the exact snapshots.

European PVRUSB2 units have an onboard NICAM stereo decoder for the TV signals, the American units have dbx stereo.  Since I am in the UK I have the NICAM version and it worked great.  The sound was crystal clear and I didn't experience any NICAM dropout, even on Five.  This was a problem for me with older analogue cards where they would continually switch between analogue mono and digital NICAM stereo.  As far as I'm concerned NICAM stereo sounds superior to MPEG Layer 2 audio used with DVB-T.
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2004, 10:33 AM by Chandler »

Offline Chandler

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Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2
« Reply #3 on: Jul 31, 2004, 10:18 AM »
Composite and S-Video Quality

The quality of the Composite and S-Video inputs are very good too, as these images from my VCR and DEC2000-t clearly show.  In both cases I used a cheap 21-pin SCART to Composite/S-Video cable with either an S-Video cable or straight Composite.

Composite

This is the main setup menu from the JVC VCR.  The connection was made with a 21-pin SCART to Composite adapter.  The colour quality was excellent and didn't have any moving blocks or patchy colouring etc.  The image was totally stable and not much worse than S-Video - in fact I was very pleasantly surprised.  The muddiness in this image is due to me messing around with brightness/contrast while using it on my laptop which has quite a high-gamma screen.

VHS Cap 1
VHS Cap 2
VHS Cap 3
VHS Cap 4
VHS Cap 5
These were taken from a home-recorded VHS cassette made around 1996/97.  There isn't any ghost in this image because this was recorded when I lived on the other side of town and used Emley Moor rather than Belmont.  I'd forgotten how great Mork & Mindy was until I found this tape in the loft the other day.  (For any M&M fans, the first season is coming to DVD later this year)

S-Video

S-Video Cap 1
S-Video Cap 1
S-Video Cap 1
S-Video Cap 1

These are taken from my DEC2000-t.
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2004, 10:33 AM by Chandler »

Offline Chandler

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Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2
« Reply #4 on: Jul 31, 2004, 10:20 AM »
Software
WinTV2000

There are a few utilities provided with the PVR cards, the main one being WinTV2000 which you will use for TV viewing, time-shifting and recording.

Click here for full image

This is the main WinTV2000 window which should be familiar to users of Hauppauge's analogue BT878 based cards, except for the addition of the buttons below the video window.  The first button, Green, is for returning to Live TV after Pausing/Time-Shifting or Recording.  There are additional features for taking still images, freezing the picture and also a channel preview, which goes through every channel you have preset and generates thumbnails.

A convenient right-click menu allows access to all of the most commonly used features, and also lists all channels that you've programmed into the suite manager.  Channels which are saved can be accessed with the -/+ keys on the keyboard, or alternatively you can type in the channel numbers directly either with the supplied remote control or with your keyboard.

Click here to see full image

The brown Pause button opens up the pause panel as shown here.  For quicker pausing there is a OTP (One-Touch Pause) button, which opens up the pause panel and immediately initiates the pause feature.  The time-shifting feature works great and allows immediate playback, and also further pausing while time-shifted.  There are also 2X and 8X fast forward and rewind facilities to allow you to "catch up" with real time, e.g. during advert breaks.

The red Record button opens up the record panel as shown here.  If you need to start recording quickly you can press the OTR (One-Touch Record) button which opens up the Record panel and initiates recording.

WinTV2000 also functions in WinTV32 mode which is less fancy but pretty much has the same features (they both run from the same executable).  I didn't encounter any crashes when using WinTV2000 or WinTV32 but I did find that after using the fast-forward/rewind features on my VCR (i.e. "quick-wear/tape mangler feature") the video became frozen.  Seeking for very short periods of time didn't cause this but doing it for about a minute would.  I tried a 4-head VCR and didn't have any problems so it's probably down to the highly unstable signal when seeking with 2-head VCRs.
 
WinTV Radio

Click here for full image

For listening to radio there is a separate program, which has some very useful features

The interface may look dated especially when compared to the main WinTV2000 program and it is probably best described as functional.  Regardless, it does it's job very well and you will probably only need to use this when setting up presets etc.  Tuning in is very simple, you can either use the Seek buttons to get the PVR to automatically scan for channels (it supports local and distant tuning) or you can manually type in the frequency if you know it.  Once you have locked onto a frequency you can rename it to the name of the actual station, by simply clicking on the frequency and replacing it with the name.  You can also programme in your preset stations and use the remote to either scan all frequencies or just scan through your presets.  The name you set will always replace the frequency number.

This is the reason that I said earlier that you won't need to use the main program window.  Once you've programmed all of your preset stations, you can access them from a right-click menu in the system tray.  This is a VERY useful feature.

The only missing feature from WinTV Radio is the ability to record.

WinTV Scheduler

The scheduling program is very easy to use and utilises Windows Scheduled Tasks.  This means that contrary to many "XP tweaking" guides you must have the scheduling service Enabled.  If it's disabled, then the Scheduler will ask you to enable it the first time it's run.  I see no point in disabling Windows XP services for the sake of a couple of extra MB of free memory.  There weren't any problems with scheduled recording, even when the computer was put into standby.

This is the main scheduler window.  It lists all of the currently scheduled tasks and allows you add or edit them.  There three possible schedule types - TV, Radio and Reminder.  In the case of TV you can select channels from presets entered into the suite manager.  For Radio you can use either your WinTV Radio presets or enter a frequency manually.  Reminder is an interesting schedule type, basically it creates a text file which will open at a scheduled time to alert/remind you of something.  There are many uses for this, in my example I created a reminder for every Saturday to do laundry.

When a reminder event is fired off, Notepad appears with your message in it.  You can either have it create the file and keep it, or create the file and delete it after the event has run.

The only missing feature is the ability to record from the radio, all you can do is set the scheduler to start playing the radio at a particular time.

VTPlus Teletext (Europe)

You also get a separate fasttext-enabled teletext viewer

There are a selection of fonts available, small and large.  If you are viewing teletext data from just a single channel there is this large font which replicates the fonts on a real teletext hardware accurately.  The graphics are correctly rendered too.

You can set your computer's clock directly from the teletext data, so more sitting there staring at the teletext clock for minutes on end trying to exactly synchronise it (how many of us have set our watches from teletext?)

The fasttext shortcut buttons are also supported.  You can run teletext screens from multiple channels and a cache is held.  The fastext buttons are correctly replicated and the text from the fastest shortcuts are also clickable.
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2004, 10:34 AM by Chandler »

Offline Chandler

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« Reply #5 on: Jul 31, 2004, 10:20 AM »
Problems

There weren't any stability problems with any of the software included with the PVR USB2.  There were however some problems when I used it with my notebook computer using a Cardbus USB 2.0 adapter.

Driver installation appeared to go fine, but after installing the drivers there was a Code 10 error message.  Restarting the computer caused the drivers to be installed twice, once as USB 1.1 and another time as USB 2.0.  Attempting to start WinTV2000 resulted in an error.  Eventually I decided to try installing on a different port on the card and it worked first time.

After shutting down the power to the PVR USB2 the problems initialising it began again.  The problem appears that under some situations it can enter low-power standby mode and not return from it.  One solution is to just leave the PVR USB2 plugged into the mains all the time.  When you shut down your computer the PVR will turn itself off and when you restart your computer it will power back up.  I have had 100% success with this method and when in standby the heat output is virtually null.

Alternatively if you need to turn it off, allow your computer to boot before connecting it again.  Then apply power but only after Windows has loaded.  When the red LED comes on, it's working correctly.

Thanks go to pvr_lurker on the SHSPVR and Hauppauge Forums for providing a solution.

Note, I didn't have these problems on my nForce2 motherboard which suggests that some USB controllers are doing something to the PVR which is upsetting it.

With certain integrated video chipsets, namely SiS, you cannot use VMR mode.  If you find that after starting WinTV2000 you just have a blank screen, select "Allow Overlay" in the Primary program.  This is due to buggy video drivers not fully supporting Windows XP and VMR rather than a problem with Hauppauge's hardware/software.
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2004, 10:32 AM by Chandler »

Offline Chandler

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« Reply #6 on: Jul 31, 2004, 10:22 AM »
Conclusion[/u]

If you're looking for a high quality PVR but don't want to open up your computer, this is an excellent choice.  It supports Hi-Speed USB 2.0 for excellent quality MPEG2 captures, while being backwards compatible with USB 1.x.  The minor issues with it are far outweighed with it's good points.

Score: 9.5/10

Pros
  • Fantastic quality
  • MPEG2 Encoding in hardware
  • Stable software    
  • Remote Control    
  • FM Stereo tuner    
  • Compact design
Cons
  • No ability to record radio
  • Issues with cycling power

DISCUSS HERE
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2004, 10:32 AM by Chandler »