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Television Media

Review: Creative Labs Video Blaster - Digital VCR 284

An anonymous reader sent in a review of Creative's Digital VCR, a TV tuner card supposedly offering functionality similar to a Tivo or ReplayTV dedicated box. From the review, it seems like there are still a few bugs to be worked out.

"Two weeks ago, I dropped by my Local Frys Electronics to pick up the Creative Labs Video Blaster Digital VCR. I picked up the card for the lovely price of $99. I felt at the time that the days of a PVR was upon me. I hooked it up into my modest system and got started right away. My modest system includes:

  • Pentium III 1Ghz System
  • 512 MB of PC-133 SDRAM
  • 1 40 GB 7200 WD Drive, on ATA-66
  • 1 60 GB 7200 Maxtor Drive, on ATA-100
  • ATI Radeon VE
  • LG 24x CD Burner, on ATA-66
  • Running Windows XP Pro
My Maxtor Drive was a new purchase that was going to be dedicated to my Digital VCR Experience, hence my marooning the drive on my onboard HighPoint HPT370 controller card. The installation of the card was a snap, and the drivers were quick and painless.

Now, at home, I don't subscribe to any digital video services: I get pretty good reception over an old-fashioned antenna. I primarily wanted the card so I could capture my tape collection of Enterprise episodes to MPEG-2, so I could burn VCDs for my DVD player. I also wanted to begin my trek down the PVR road, and eventually do away with VHS forever.

I spent an evening a couple of days ago, playing with settings on screen-size, capture quality and file sizes. One thing I noticed quite quickly is that the Digital VCR system does not encode directly to MPEG-2. Creative sets up many segment files on your system, each in 32mb blocks, to store your recorded shows and timeshifting buffer. It is essentially a filesystem on top of a filesystem. In order to get the MPEG-2 files out of the Digital VCR, you use a 'File Converter' that they provide in the Creative Menu. The results of this setup is that when you setup the system, you specify how long you want to record (19 hours in my case) and it takes up the appropriate harddrive space (45 GB in my case) for use for future recording. The tool works pretty well overall, even going so far as to create new MPG files every 650 MB. The problem with this is that its possible that your recording could be sliced mid-sentence in your show. The other problem though, didn't occur until last night.

I recorded the episode of Enterprise last night, as well as I had some previous shows of 'Friends' in my 'Saved Shows' menu. After watching the episode again, I pulled up the file convert tool to convert Enterprise to MPG, and flipped onto Live TV, so I could watch the news. Then, the unspeakable happened. Digital VCR froze. I tried to kill it from the Task Manager (which worked perfectly well), but to no avail. There was no killing this app at all. This crash spread like a bad flu across the rest of my system and I was forced to hard reboot. Returning to Windows, I brought up the convert tool to start again, this time not to make the mistake of watching television at the same time. There was only one problem: All of the shows recorded in the last 2 days were wiped out. No data on disk, nothing.

In the end, there were very few positive points that I would give to the Digital VCR product: it just doesn't seem ready for primetime. All in all, the issues I found were as follows:

  • Jerky on startup
  • Processor Intensive during playing (I'd recommend at least a 1.5 Ghz)
  • Menu System is slow
  • No Linux Drivers
  • Instability in proprietary filesystem
  • Mpeg Splitting (what about 700mb CDRs or DVDS)
In the end, I'd give this product a 2.5 out of a possible 5 score. The unit has a lot of potential, but it seems far from it. Dedicated PVR equipment seems a much better choice, even if pricey."
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Review: Creative Labs Video Blaster - Digital VCR

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  • 2.5 (Score:5, Funny)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) <bittercode@gmail> on Friday April 19, 2002 @01:55PM (#3375169) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of a homeless guy on local radio who rates movies.

    He'll rail on a movie, go on about how it sucks and then give it 50 stars (out of 5)

    This thing doesn't even really work and it gets 2.5 out of 5? Sounds like 2.5 out of 10 may have been more appropriate.

    .
    • Re:2.5 (Score:3, Funny)

      by Schnapple ( 262314 )
      "I give it my lowest rating ever! Seven thumbs up!"
      --Homer Simpson
    • Wait, what homeless guy?


      I thought you're talking about Harry Knowles. Of Aint-it-cool-News [www.aint-it-cool-news] fame.


      It doesn't matter if he thinks the movie sucks or not, he'll still rave about it, compare it to multiple orgasms, and then gush about how he needs presents because it's his birthday.

      "Me want presents! Me want presents!"


      It's nice that critics are so nice these days.

      • What in the world would harry knowles know about multiple orgasms, or does that mean a full box of tissues?

        But I agree...the guy is an idiot and his site tries to hard with all the bullshit scoops from people that read like they wish they were fiction writers.
    • I'm shocked, shocked I say, to find that Creative is releasing crappy hardware with buggy drivers.... NOT! So far I've bought from them: a crappy CT7160 DVD decoder that can't letterbox widescreen movies (stretched them to the full height of the TV), a Creative Webcam 3 that never worked right (gave up and threw it out), a Creative Nomad I with slow, unreliable parallel port transfers (no 2000 drivers and don't use it since I got my Rio Volt), and a Soundblaster Live! Value that works fine (don't run XP so buggy XP drivers didn't affect me). I guess 1 out of 4 ain't bad. No more Creative crap for me.
  • anonymous reviews (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pave Low ( 566880 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @01:56PM (#3375171) Journal
    this site really shouldn't be publishing anonymous reviews with no byline.

    No legitimate publication would do so, there are many questions of conflicts of interest.

    Does this reviewer work for a competiter of Creative Labs? Until that is anwered, nobody should take this review too seriously.

    • by frinsore ( 153020 )
      Everyone could have an alterier motive. That news caster that was on the local news saying that apples are healthy could have owned an apple farm. Or maybe the producer does. They don't have to say that they gain profit from people buying apples. I agree that they should, but then there are so many people involved in publications that it would be difficult to poll every employee to see if they have a conection with every story.

      You need to judge every piece of information to see if it has bias, not just the ones where you don't know the source but the ones where you do know the source but don't have a reason to trust the source.

      I think the review was by some random person that just picked up the card. The review implies that he enjoys the card but has some problems with it. Which basically describes every piece of software I've ever installed, whether it be closed or open sourced. He's not promoting a competing product, in fact he's almost promoting the product with a disclaimer that it won't work perfectly and that he found a nasty bug. He doesn't work for creative (he pointed out a nasty bug) and he doesn't work for a competitor (he actually enjoys the card).

      Just because you can attach a name to someone doesn't mean they're not anyless a stranger then an anonymous.
    • So you're saying an anyonymous review has less credibilty than someone named, say CmdrTaco, or PunchMonkey??? :-)
    • Re:anonymous reviews (Score:5, Informative)

      by _Yup_69 ( 303040 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @05:23PM (#3376371) Homepage
      Couldn't agree more:
      - It's anonymous (for Christ sake!)
      - Superficial: CPU load at encoding to MPEG ? Support for other video formats ? Bundled software (e.g. DVD player) ? etc, etc...

      All in all, don't confuse "luser stories" with "reviews".

      Ah, and one last thingie: here [extremetech.com] you have a proper review of two video cards with Digital VCR, time-shifting, remote control, (etc, etc) capabilities (namely "ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder 8500 DV" and "VisionTek Xtasy Everything") . Alternatively, do yourself a favor and look for other reviews for ATI Radeon All-in-Wonder 8500 DV card ("tom's hardare" and "tech-report" had two pretty good ones, IIRC)

      Oh, yes, I'm looking forward to be modded down to "-1 flamebait" ;)
      • This card does have hardware MPEG-2 encoding (an NEC IC), unlike the other two you mention. Therefore, the CPU load is very low, ~5 on a 1ghz Athlon -- AFAIK the other two both use LSI's software encoder, the fastest software encoder available but still painful at around 60% CPU on the same box.

        There is no hardware decoder, so CPU use is dependent on your video card's acceleration features (iDCT, Motion Compensation) -- expect about the same overhead as a software DVD player.

        It doesn't store the data in standard MPEG format, and the conversion tool is very slow.

        If you could get raw MPEG out of it and there were Linux drivers, it would kick ass. The effort to make Linux drivers for it isn't very mature:
        http://www.760mp.com/videoblaster/
    • Without a comparision to anything (like a VisionTek Everything [visiontek.com] it seems a bit bias.

      But, if it's just some user... then they wouldn't be able to compare cause they don't have both...

      and...it's a 2.5 out of 5 rating... soo, it's not a "good" rating...

      But then again, someone just gave Creative Labs a lot of hits... and, well, that's not exactly something to take lightly.

  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @01:57PM (#3375177) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, your average consumer doesn't watch TV on his/her computer (not a whole lot watch DVD's on their machines, either. Especially if they own a DVD player for their TV).

    TiVo/replayTV makes life easier for the person that comes home, sits in their couch, and flips on the tube (it gives them something THEY want to watch, regardless of time).

    This is why TiVo/replayTV is successful, and "computer digital VCR"'s don't.

    Not everything is better if you put it on your computer.
    • I have one of these cards in a dedicated DVD/PVR/CD Audio/Web Audio/etc. computer outputing via S-Video to my living room TV and via SPDIF to my living room stereo system.

      Works great, I rarely watch live TV any more, and for me the Creative card has been rock stable under Win2K SP2. I've also had no problems converting files to MPEG-4 formats, though I do have keep the input files under 2GB. YMMV

      -Ryan C.

    • I don't watch TV on my computer, but I do however use my computer to copy my DVD's. I can't afford a DVD/RW so I use VCD which is okay for a lot of movies I like - many are older 2 channel films.

      I've been very interested in "Digital VCR" lately because I could save my favorite shows. I could care less about file sharing, but I don't have time to watch every show!

      I've also considered Cable In The Classroom could be an option because I know two high schools with VCD players [DVD/TV].

      What does everyone recommend? I'm using Digital Cable and I could use any platform.
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @03:00PM (#3375567) Homepage Journal
      I have a dual monitor setup at home. Sometimes while i'm browsing forums etc I get kind of bored, so I have media player playing a show in a little window kind of out of the way. It's very easy to glance at it when something interesting comes on.

      I have a home brew PVR in my apartment (I'll describe it in a later post...) and it quietly captures shows for me. I find my time's a little more efficiently spent. Since I don't edit out the commercials (I usually watch and then delete), I have a few minutes to tidy up my email box or fiddle with Lightwave.

      I'll tell you a few totally cool things about this setup:

      1.) When the show is being dull etc, I have other ways to pass the time on my computer.

      2.) Easy to glance at, no more turning my head. Face it, no matter how close your TV is, you'll have to turn your head.

      3.) I can pause/rewind/etc and make sure I don't miss anything that sounded interesting

      4.) My TV hasn't been turned on in weeks.

      5.) With the extra monitor, the video's never intrusive.

      I realize most people would probably be turned off by this idea, but I thought I'd share my epxerience on this topic. I've managed to catch up on a lot of shows I don't normally have time for!
      • Hey dudes, I mentioned I'd describe my pvr setup at home, here's a link:

        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=31380&cid=33 75 644
        • I forgot to mention one of the other benefits of my setup at home: travelling.

          When I went to Siggraph last year, I dumped a bunch of shows I hadn't watched yet to my laptop and took off to LA. While I was there, the trade-show just wiped me out every night. I really wasn't up to floating around town looking for something exciting to do. Instead I laid in bed watching shows I *wanted to watch* on my laptop.

          That's pretty cool considering that every time I stay in a hotel, there's never anything interesting on TV.
      • 2.) Easy to glance at, no more turning my head. Face it, no matter how close your TV is, you'll have to turn your head.

        Yes, god forbid you should have to *turn your head*.

        Once again, technology to the rescue!

        • Hmm well okay, I kind of figured people'd instantly know what I'm talking about. Turning your head causes your eyes to re-focus. If you're going back and forth from TV to PC, it sucks. It's not fun for the neck and it's not fun for the eyes.

          It's not a matter of laziness.
      • i have a three screen setup, two monitors, and a tv hookup. with my lirc remote control and a custom wxpython app for selecting files, i can easily change any setting i want, i could easily toss a linux/win2k capable card in and have a much more powerful digital vcr ( probably dedicate a seperate box to that, but the principle is there)
        • What's an LIRC remote? *Curious*

          I'm really hoping Mira (from MS) turns out like I imagine it will. I've been aching for a 'hand link' I can use for scheduling tv shows.

          I've been tinkering with the idea of using a Pocket PC + 802.11 and a custom VB app to talk to my computers. I wanted to do things like set an alarm, record a show, have my TV automatically turn on to CNN at 7am, etc.

          Building on this idea, I wanted to turn a spare computer into a 'voice recognition box'. MS has a free Speech SDK you can download and play with. I so loved the idea of saying 'Quantum Leap' and have my TV/Monitor start playing the next episode I haven't watched yet. :)
    • I could care less about watching TV at my computer. But if you follow trends in the Home Theater market you'd know that, right now, you can put together a $1500 computer that does virtually everything that a $30000 line multiplier, a $1000 DVD player, a $1000 MP3 jukebox, and large bits of what a $4000 preamp can do.

      Plus you can play games, have a CD catalog, full X10 control, and quite a bit else which is either difficult or expensive to do with a traditional home theater setup.

      Within a few months to a year you'll be able to do all of the above, plus 100% of a pre-amp, a PVR, and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting.

      Replacing $40k+ of equipment with a $1500 box is what the old idea of convergence is all about. Not to mention that you're replacing 3-5 separate components with one, and that one is more configurable and expandable than the original components were.

      So what's missing? Well, there are some really good sound cards out there now (check AVS Forum for info), but I don't think they do all the latest sound formats, particularly the 7.1 or 8.1 ones. There's a big gap in user friendliness, ease of setup (and that's considering how intricate a lot of high-end AV gear is to setup too), and stability. And there's still no replacement for a stand-alone PVR - although it's getting closer and closer.

      That said, I will continue to shake my head sadly at people who refuse to buy a TiVo/Replay because they either think it's too expensive ("$10/month? That's absurd!") or are worried about it being around in X amount of time. To the former I say - if you can build it for cheaper, do it. Thusfar nobody has. There's a reason you're paying for the service, it's because nobody else can provide it. To the latter, well, this _is_ the future of television. In this time of hard to get VC, both companies are still getting it. And, worst comes to worst, if they fold then the data needed to make the unit functional (guide data) is available from other sources. (I don't agree with not paying for service as long as TiVo exists, because then you're just looking for a free lunch and not paying for services rendered -- but I also think not getting the lifetime service is rather silly).
      • That sounds great, but doing all those things at the same time with great quality, will put a big strain on the hardware and OS. Do you really want the TV to start to flicker when the kid is playing Quake 5? Or when the garage door opens?

        What many forget (or never knew) is that a PVR is recording at least one stream of TV to disk 24/7. That's a pretty big load on a current machine to begin with if you try to do other things with the computer too.
        • Do you really want the TV to start to flicker when the kid is playing Quake 5?

          It's called a dedicated system. If the kid is playing Quake5, then he's doing it on the TV, so it's not an issue.

          What many forget (or never knew) is that a PVR is recording at least one stream of TV to disk 24/7. That's a pretty big load on a current machine to begin with if you try to do other things with the computer too.

          Uh... I have two TiVo's. I'm quite familiar with them. And did you know that the original TiVo does all that encoding, plus decoding a second stream, plus indexing various data with a 80 MHz CPU, right?

          It's, again, called dedicated hardware. A MPEG-2 encoder offloads nearly 100% of the burdon from the CPU. MPEG-2 decoding is pretty strenuous, but a modern video card offloads the heaviest parts, so you can easily get away with "as little as" a 500 MHz P3. TiVo's have dedicated MPEG2 decoding as well, but you really don't want that if you want the deinterlacing abilities as well.
    • I looked at building my own DVR, but nothing comes close to TiVo and ReplayTV. I finally gave up and bought a ReplayTV. It's changed my life. I can't believe I didn't buy one sooner. I never watch live TV anymore.

      Yes, I do watch TV on my computer. The Replay is in the living room, but I've run a cable from there to the office and I watch TV in a little window more often than I watch it in the living room.
  • by sniepre ( 517796 ) <sniepre@gmail.com> on Friday April 19, 2002 @01:58PM (#3375181) Homepage
    I don't see how this is a new revelation... I own an ATI All in Wonder Radeon and it came pre-bundled with digital VCR software in the TV viewer, which would allow one to record from live tv or from a composite/s-video input. It also has the ability to pause live tv and on and on, full screen guide, etc...

    And its been our for how long? couple years?
    • No kidding. I have had had a 50 quadrillion terrabyte TiVo server in the bat cave for like 25 years.

      The coolest was looping that scene in Brady Bunch where they looped the scene of that girl getting hit in the face with the football.

      Alfred was in stitches for weeks.

      .
    • ATI AIW.... the digital vcr software plain sucks.
      it is a bitch to get working and records in either a special format or (the latest version) Mpeg1 at slightly less than VCD quality.

      your best bet for archival of tv shows and playback is Nuppelvideo + mplaye r+ a hollywood+ card + a BT878 tuner card. I get better than VHS, can convert from a nuv file to a mpeg2 easily... (ok mpegtools is a royal bitch to compile after you download 98 different libs and fight with the compiles... but you can get it to work in about 4 hours of fighting) Slap all of this in a DCT/Allwell Metallic6086N2 and you have something that even LOOKS like a tivo clone.

      now you need to slap PicoGUI on there with some custom software (write it in perl!) and you have what you desire.
      • "ATI AIW.... the digital vcr software plain sucks.
        "

        I disagree! I liked the TV Program that came with the card... it was fast and easy to use, and to begin recording it was just one click...

        Though, i did pre-configure it to <B>NOT</B> use it's own digital-vcr format video, and instead the mpeg1 has worked very well for me so far.

        It't not as slick and fast and easy as a componant-level TiVo, but just as a feature written on a side of a box of a 3d card I don't think its that bad at all!
      • ATI AIW.... the digital vcr software plain sucks. it is a bitch to get working and records in either a special format or (the latest version) Mpeg1 at slightly less than VCD quality.

        It will capture to MPEG-2, AVI (with your choice of codecs), or WMV as well. MPEG-2 captures worked pretty well for me, but Huffyuv-compressed AVI captures dropped frames. (A 1.0-GHz Athlon with a pair of 7200-rpm drives in RAID 0 should be more than fast enough to do that...and AVI_IO indicates that it is.)

    • One of the main differences is that the Creative Video Blaster Digital Digital VCR encodes via a hardware MPG2 encoder chip while the ATI AIW uses pure software to do the encoding. That means much less processer overhead for the DVCR while encoding. The DVCR also has the ability to pause live tv, etc...
      • It is fairly processor intensive, but my Radeon lets me pause live TV, do timeshifting, "etc.."
  • PVRs Pricey? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Matey-O ( 518004 ) <michaeljohnmiller@mSPAMsSPAMnSPAM.com> on Friday April 19, 2002 @01:58PM (#3375184) Homepage Journal
    DishPVR 501 is a $200 upgrade for existing dish users. While I'm holding out for the 701, An additional $100 for aproduct that works doesn't = pricey in my boat.
    • DishPVR 501 is a $200 upgrade for existing dish users.

      IMO the best feature is the button-fly.

    • This is probably OT, but I know there are many aspects of the Dish PVR 501 that are not apparent from the literature available on it, and my personal experiences might help you make the decision of whether to buy one (I don't know anything about the 701, so some of this might have been "fixed" in that model).

      I've had the dish PVR 501 for almost a year now, and my friend has a TiVO that he has bumped up to 90 hours, & added ethernet to. Certainly, the PVR 501 was a pretty good deal, but looking back, and comparing with TiVO, I believe if I had to choose again, I would go with TiVO.

      The Dish unit has some advantages over a stock TiVO, such as 35 hours at full resolution, where the TiVO was 14 hours. Of course the upgraded TiVO beats it hands down on storage, but truthfully, I never seem to fill up more than about 15-20 hours anyway.

      The real difference in the dish unit, is that it is nowhere near as smart as the TiVO, in that it has no "suggestions" or the "thumbs up/dn" rating system, or the "get all Clint Eastwood films" sort of programming. The Dish is strictly a VCR- like device, ie pick a time and it records that show. If a show gets pushed back for a ball game, or etc, It is supposed to follow it, but I have not seen that happen.

      I get local channels off of cable, and where the TiVO has an input and a tuner for cable/antenna broadcasts, and can record just as easily from my buddy's DirecTV unit as his cable feed, my dish 501 only records from satellite. I keep forgetting to tune in to Enterprise, where if I could set up the PVR to record it, I would watch it when I wanted.

      The Dish 501 interface is fine for scheduling a show, by picking it off the on-screen guide, but to remove a timed event, you have to go to a separate menu, which doesn't list the show name, but only the time/channel. It makes it inconvenient to edit your recording setups.

      I really like the unit, it is vastly better and more convenient than vhs tapes, but between the TiVO and the Dish PVR 501, the TiVO is certainly the cooler unit. I noticed in the ads lately that the new TiVOs are coming with more capacity off the shelf, so that is not really an issue anymore.

      • Thanks. I'd been holding off for just the reasons you list. The 701 had the dual record (plus watch another live channel) feature, but I was REALLY hoping for Tivo competitive software upgrades. Then again, I'm just looking for a VCRlike experience that records when I tell it to. Wife and I watch TLC/Discovery/Food/CSI/Enterprise and that's about _IT_.
  • Asus Digital VCR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tattva ( 53901 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:01PM (#3375202) Homepage Journal
    I bought a Geforce MX/TV tuner (the Deluxe Combo model) combo made by AsusTek, and it sounds like the Creative Digital VCR is an improvement. My card's digital vcr software was buggy as hell, and the Windows 2000 version has never left beta (available only on their website.)

    I'll discuss the Windows 9x version, since it is the only version that really worked. The sound had a hissing, broken quality If I used timeshifting feature. It did not record to a known format, but to a special format developed by Asus. An hour at a Tivo-like quality would take over 2GB, which was a problem, because the program wrote only to one file, and the file size was limited to 2GB. I did have fun recording music videos in highest quality and using the included movie editing software to spend several hours turning the proprietary format into mpeg-2, but really, it wasn't worth my time.

    I've since bought a TiVo, and it is night-and-day. It was quite easy to add a hard drive for a total of ~34 hours at the highest quality, and the television guide and automatic programming are alone enough to make it much better than any pc recorder without this feature. I only wish it were easy to pull the mpeg-2 streams out of the TiVo and put them on my hard drive.

    Get a TiVo!

    • I only wish it were easy to pull the mpeg-2 streams out of the TiVo and put them on my hard drive.

      This is the reason I can't justify buying one yet. The fact that you are only given fairly small time-shifting windows (until the drive is full), and no ability to space shift / archive information off (VHS? Talk about defeating the whole purpose!) fails to make it attractive. The ability to clip video is also missing.

      TiVo seems to do a great job as a consumer toy for today; I don't argue that. I would prefer a computer-based (open-protocol) solution to give myself the flexibility to play with the information, and yes, share information between different locations.

      But... it isn't there yet. Is it just copyright fear?

    • Woah, boy.... ASUS video driver is a pain in the ass. When you start up the codec, it scans the videoRAM looking in a certain memory segment "ASUS". Win9x has NO memory protection, so this kind of developer cruft code happens. WinNT doesn't allow this kind of shit, because it's a bit more secure about accesses.
    • by cscx ( 541332 )
      An hour at a Tivo-like quality would take over 2GB, which was a problem, because the program wrote only to one file, and the file size was limited to 2GB.

      Funny you should mention that since it really makes me wonder about this Creative "filesystem on top of a filesystem" implementation... NTFS supports file sizes in the terabyte-range unlike FAT, so I wonder if this is all done in a way to allow backwards compatibility with FAT. I'm sorry, but for the requirements the article specifies/recommends, you'd think this person would be runnning Windows 2000 or XP anyway. It's kinda analogous to instead of having swap partition(s) in Linux, you just create normal paritions and dd a bunch of swapfiles onto them. Pretty stupid if you ask me.
  • Another Alternative (Score:4, Informative)

    by PhunkyOne ( 531072 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:03PM (#3375220) Homepage
    I have been researching these for a while because for some twisted reason I don't just want a standalone TiVo...

    This looks like a good product but I think I will wait a bit on it. The product in almost the same category (almost because it's also a video card) is the ATI Radeon 7500 All-In-Wonder card. It's 200 bucks and has pretty much the same features, my favorite is the wireless (non-IR) remote. It's 200 bucks but I needed a vid card upgrade so it worked out well.

    Here's the review for the 7500: http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/02q1/020122/ [tomshardware.com]

    Another card that have been around for a long time is the ATI TV tuner (I have had two version of this) and it's always worked really well, just lately they have introduced the scheduled recording to compete with the TiVo, et al...

  • by j_dot_bomb ( 560211 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:05PM (#3375232)
    http://www.vcdhelp.com/capturecards.php
  • Respect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CrazyBrett ( 233858 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:07PM (#3375242)
    I recently lost the last of my respect for Creative Labs after I tried to install a "Sound Blaster Live" on my new system. Not only could I not get the thing working, but their lame "driver setup tool" (which is apparently the only way to get the drivers) wouldn't even run without crashing or failing horribly. Back in the day, they used to be the main players in the sound card business, but lately it seems like their driver support capabilities haven't evolved since the days of DOS. Even if I had gotten it installed, I probably would have been plagued by the skipping and popping that seems to be characteristic of every new Creative Labs product. Honestly, I'm not surprised at the negative review.
    • Amen to that. I got a Live 5.1 a few months ago to replace an ancient ISA SB16. What a hell of a time I had installing it. Got it working eventually, but I ended up inventing some new swear phrases in the process. Thanks, Creative. You lost a customer forever. Does Creative even *have* a testing department?

      If they do, and they're reading, maybe this would help with their QC process: MOST PEOPLE HAVE MORE THAN ONE PCI CARD IN THEIR COMPUTER. MAKE YOUR CARDS PLACE NICE WITH OTHERS.
    • I was re-vamping a machine that my dad was throwing out and I wanted sound on it, so I bought a Sound Blaster Pci 16 (I figure it's not my main machine) which installed easy but COULDN'T play waves! Nor could it handle midi- it just created incredibly loud static...

      So I start a dialogue with their online support people (no phone number ANYWHERE, just 1 e-mail message a day over the course of a week and a half). I told them what I did- they ignored most everything I said, asked me to perform some voodoo ("turn off your computer monitor. Turn it off twice. Keep doing that. Change your video ram cache. See if that fixes your sound") - I ended up running out and buying an SBlive and installing it (and getting it to work) just to prove to them that it was not my system, my card was broken.

      Yes thats right. I paid an extra $60 just to prove them wrong. Spite will make you do a lot of things!

      I ended up putting the SbLive in my XP mp3/web browser box (all it had was on board audio... maybe this is an improvment?!)

      Next time I will hold out for the Echo Mia.
    • I've had the same sort of problems with all creative prodcuts, although my SB live value gave me the least trouble - but when I could no longer get driver updates without paying 10 bucks for a CD with thier stupid app on it, I gave up and got a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz instead - it's great.
  • by Demon-Xanth ( 100910 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:10PM (#3375255)
    ...and immediately reported a rather signifigant bug in thier file exporter, they still have yet to fix it. The exporter allows you to specify a split size in the options (0==no split), however all sizes above 2GB appear to have an overflow into the sign bit error. This includes thier own DVD-RAM setting (5.2GB). The only driver release since the originals (for Win2k atleast) was to add a digital signature. Another glitch is the occasional too-jumpy-to-watch picture. And it's not consistant enough to blame one thing easily. The startup delay is also extremely long, to the point that I often question if the double click registered.

    While the card does have some impressive upsides, don't expect to be able to convert the outputted MPEG2 files, I have yet to successfully convert one to Divx. I did get one to VCD after using TMPEG, MPEGcorrector, and Nero. In the feedback on VCDHELP.com there is some posts in the feedback of what people have gone through to get the files converted. Typically this involves splitting, then remerging the files.

    My result? The third tuner card in a row w/o any support and a signifigant need for it. (previously I had an STB and 3DFX card that were bought only months before thier demise)
  • Now there are three (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Screaming Lunatic ( 526975 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:14PM (#3375285) Homepage
    Even though this is kind of a crap product, it is nice to see three big players in the video card market. Creative Labs bought out 3DLabs [3dlabs.com] a few months back. Creative Labs is showing that they want to put out consumer level products. 3DLabs was already creeping into the consumer market, however this should speed things up. The cool part is that 3DLabs is championing the OpenGL2.0 [3dlabs.com] efforts. 3DLabs depends on OpenGL since a lot of their cards are used in a Unix environment. They need to fend of the people heading over to M$ and Dirty3D.
  • Even Worse... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jackazz ( 572024 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:19PM (#3375315)
    About a month ago, I too bought the Creative Digital VCR. It worked pretty nice with XP for a couple weeks, and i was psyched about it, but now i see many flaws. While i was away my roommate turned on my PC to watch TV, and who knows what he did, but after he did it, the NTFS partition got corrupted and since i was an idiot and installed on my boot drive, i lost everything! including 20 gigs of pr0n, MP3s, and music videos. the only thing i can find to blame the crash on is the DVR so...

    Solution: I bought a bunch of parts and slapped together another PC that will house the DVR and display to the TV, be a file server, etc. $800 bucks later, i have a new PC...but it probably would have been cheaper to just buy a Tivo and an Xbox and be done with it. Now that i have the new PC i wish the Creative card had come with a TV Out, because i had to buy another card with one, and the output seems to lose a lot of quality after the multiple conversions.

    I just wanted to tell people to be careful with this product because it is definitely a 2.5 out of 10, not 2.5 out of 5.

  • "I had some previous shows of 'Friends' in my 'Saved Shows' menu...Then, the unspeakable happened. Digital VCR froze...All of the shows recorded in the last 2 days were wiped out"

    That was not a bug, that was a feature built in to prevent you from watching crappy shows.
  • Can you use this thing in conjunction with some other software to bypass the anti-taping measures used such as Macrovision?
    • Can you use this thing in conjunction with some other software to bypass the anti-taping measures used such as Macrovision?

      Yes you can. It's lawful in the United States to make video clarifier [google.com] devices that fix the NTSC conformance issues that a Macrovision signal produces because they have substantial uses other than circumvention of fair-use barriers and thus fall under the exception to 17 USC 1201(a)(2) and (b)(1) [cornell.edu] because 1. Macrovision isn't "effective access control" but merely copy quality degradation, and 2. the right to prohibit fair use [cornell.edu] isn't "a right of a copyright holder under this title." Subsection (k) does mention Macrovision specifically but gives blanket exemptions to digital video recorders, professional analog VCRs (while potentially defining "professional" to include consumer-grade VCRs used by professional K-12 teachers), and VCRs that can receive signals over fiber (through a suitably stretched interpretation of "camera lens").

      Get a lawyer.

  • By that I mean, whenever you try to force one tool to do all things, you invariably find it coming up short in almost all areas as compared to a collection of specialty tools.

    That's what the UNIX approach is all about, little tools that WORK combined intelligently by an intelligent operator to do amazing things. I think tv + tivo + dvd player + cd player + a/v receiver will always seem to work better than a computer which has been taught all of the above tricks. That's because compromises must be made in any product, and as functions are added to products, invariably so are compromises.

    Now, when I can do something like "xawtv -ch 122 | pvr --buffer | grep startrek | mkisofs -" then maybe it'll work!
  • Too bad, sounds like you get what you pay for. The ATI has had the most positive reviews, and even then some people still find it buggy:

    http://www.hytekcomputer.com/Reviews/ati/8500dv/1. shtml [hytekcomputer.com]
    • Actually he got shit, and he payed alot too. 60gb HDD + Creative PVR sounds like more money then a TiVo to me.

      He could have gotten a TiVo and a TV in card and been set.
  • My personal solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by cascino ( 454769 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:31PM (#3375394) Homepage
    I spent a few years and well over a thousand dollars struggling with this same problem. I finally realized that analog video capture simply does not work.
    A key issue with many boards is bandwidth. The general idea is that one hooks the RCA / S-video outputs of your VCR/TV/Camera into the computer, and it does the rest. The problem, for many boards (I don't know about this Creative setup specifically - although it seems to be taxing on the processor, if nothing else) is that this conversion either (a) if done well, takes an enormous amount of resources, or (b) must be done poorly.
    The other big problem, and one which seems to be the case here, is compression. For some reason I have never encountered an analog capture board that saves its video in consolidated, lossless files. For my personal work, small, compressed 320x240 files simply do not cut it.
    The best way I've found to turn you computer into a digital VCR is to purchase a digital video camera with RCA / S-video inputs. Record your source to the camera and then send it via firewire to your computer. The incoming signal is entirely digital - all your computer has to do is save it to disk. As far as file format goes, there exists a standard DV format (for Windows, at least) that allows lossless compression without the file shenanigans of this Creative board (and most others).
    Just my 2 cents.
    • I'm playing around with dvgrab, transcode (working on a few filters for it, too), etc. You can use divx4 and xvid to make .avi's, and mjpegtool's mpeg2enc and toolame to make VCD's and SVCD's. A very modular approach.

      Note that DV *is* a bit lossy, but it's not too bad, aside from the fact that the color space is a bit odd - 4/1 x/y reduction instead of the 2/2 done in mpeg-2. So encoding a final result with >352 horizontal resolution is subpar in that regard.

      When it all works, the dvgrab solution is much smoother than analog ones as the sync is handled by your camcorder or other codec device. The Linux drivers are sometimes flaky though, and you need to have a good set for it all to work.

      Now to finally get around to setting up the IR reciever so I can use the cable mouse off my digital cable box... and then automated recording... PVR-land here I come (albeit very expensively :) )
  • by xcomputer_man ( 513295 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:34PM (#3375410) Homepage
    I have a plain Hauppauge Bt848 card. With vcr [freshmeat.net] or mp1e [freshmeat.net], combined with cron, I record TV programs regularly even with DivX encoding. mp1e doesn't do DivX, but gives you the advantage of being able to play the mpeg while recording it, so you can pause, rewind and fast forward TV...sweet.
  • My own system (Score:4, Informative)

    by edo-01 ( 241933 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:35PM (#3375414)
    This is a repost of mine from December, but it's kind of relevent.

    --start--

    I bought a Hauppauge WIN-TV PVR (PCI) card for video capture. It has a hardware MPEG-2 encoder with many settings for quality from 2mb/sec to the ridiculously high 12mb/sec with the option of constant or variable bitrate.

    After testing I settled on 4mbit/sec VBR which looks great - sometimes it's easy to forget I'm not watching a live broadcast. Importantly it also has a "pause" feature just like a commercial PVR which is great for dealing with the amount of calls I get from clients at all hours. Output to the TV is via S-VHS from an old GeForce 1 card that has TV-out built in. Initially I wanted to use the MPEG decoder card from my DVD kit for output but after testing, the output from the geforce is so close in quality I just use it, plus then I get to use the PC even while it's recording (the hardware encoder means no dropped frames ever).

    The box is just a celeron 900 with a half gig of ram running win2k - there is a linux driver available for the Hauppauge on sourceforge but the PC is part of my render farm (I'm a 3D animator by trade) and 3dsmax only runs on windows (for now).

    The software that ships with the Hauppauge is, well, shitty. It works fine but the interface sucks, especially when you've used showshifter (www.showshifter.com) though from reading showshifter's forums apparently it will soon support the WintTV PVR board. In the meantime I have simply "frontended" the Hauppage software using scripting in Automate from Unisyn. I've bound all the major features to the cute rubber buttons on the internet keyboard on my coffee table and I've even been able to do things like have the scroll-lock light flash when recording (for when we're not watching TV via the PC). For scheduling I go to the Aussie TV guide at sofcom.com.au to pick out my weeks viewing - the lounge box has winvnc on it so I can program it from my office or even start recording if I see something good and don't have time to run out to the lounge. I use PowerDVD for mpeg playback, mainly cause you can fast forward and rewind using the scroll wheel on the mouse - trez chic

    For the future I just ordered a Redrat2 IR controller from www.redrat.co.uk to give the box control over my satellite decoder, and I plan to add functionality like being able to email the box to program it etc.

    --end--

    Well it's been nearly five months now since I set up my PVR system, a good indication of how it's going is that about two months ago I finally took my VCR out of the TV cabinet and replaced it with the PC. Still using 4mb/sec CBR D1 Pal to record, the end result is indistinguishable from 'live' TV.

    My viewing habits have changed; every Sunday I go through the online TV guide and update my record-list (late night shows like Enterprise tend to run at different times some weeks - not that I've been able to sit through a single episode of it yet.), and I almost never watch live TV anymore. Every time I check the /record fileshare there's something new to watch, sometimes I'll hit the weekend and have a week's worth of stuff to sift through at my leasure (mainly simpsons - they show it a LOT here in .au)

    I stopped using PowerDVD for playback as for day to day use there were some rough edges that caused annoyance, and reverted to using media player version 6 (I dislike version 7 intensely). A simple alt-enter and it goes full screen, and the spacebar pauses. I've also gotten very good at gaugeing the length of commercial breaks - the show I'm watching goes to commercial I alt enter to get the playback bar and click where I think the break's gonna end - most times these days I'm bang on :-)

    The RedRat controller is great, I've yet to find a remote it can't learn, and it's liberating being able to code my own IR app. I'm off VHS for good, no more crappy tapes for me! I've used the Hauppauge to make high quality (6mb/sec) archives of precious VHS tapes such as a friend's wedding and a ten year old recording of a family xmas which had footage of our great grandfather enjoying the day with us just hours before he passed away.

  • by Billy Bo Bob ( 87919 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:39PM (#3375444)
    I recently set one up using:
    - ATI 8500 DV (yes, much more expensive)
    - Athlon 650
    - 384 Mb RAM
    - 2x60 GB drive
    - Wireless KB, mouse, remove, 802.11b

    I am surprised at his playback problems. The ATI easily plays back anything on my [much more] modest machine. Recording is a slightly diff issue. I can do "good" at about 90% CPU, anything more and the machine cannot keep up.

    ATI's "multimedia center" is, IMO, crap in terms of quality and -- in some ways -- features. Really important things like 30-second skip isn't present on playback. It tends to crash with alarming regularity. The on-line guide is nice, though. But you can't schedule anything to be recorded from S-Video (or composite) because of a but which makes it all scheduled programs revert to the tuner, so no digital cable recordings for me. The library function is very marginally useful. The remote has very limited programming for other apps (like WinAmp). It is hooked up to a 53" wide-screen HDTV-capable; the quality is surprising good considering the very demanding display. Dual-head sort of works, but never does the bits you want to (i.e. desktop on one, TV playback on the other) but this is supposed to be "coming".

    All-in-all, good hardware, software needs a _lot_ of work. Same old story for ATI. Hopefully someone will come out with much better software; ATI has been working on the mult-media center for years so I don't hold out much hope for it. I would like highly functional software with command-line options so I could script togather the wierd stuff. Is that too much to ask?
  • Snapstream (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArticulateArne ( 139558 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:43PM (#3375472)
    I've said it before, I'll say it again: Snapstream [snapstream.com] rocks. I've been using it for about six months now, and it's a wonderful piece of software. It's not perfect, but it's great, at least for the way I use it. It lets you tape shows using a standard TV tuner (Hauppauge WinTV PCI in my case) and has a great scheduler. I just set stuff and don't worry about it. You can use any bitrate you want. The only bummer is it exports to .wmvs, so you're locked into Media Player, but I'm sure somebody somewhere has a converter out there that will make it a different format if you like. Oh, yeah, it's Windows software, so &ltasbsetos on&gt 95% of you should be able to use it.&lt/asbestos&gt

    It's great software. Check it out.
    • Yeah, Snapstream is pretty good. Has that nice feature where you can click on the TitanTV listings to record a show. Not as good as a Tivo, but it does the basics and its much cheaper if you have a spare PC to run it on. It does have troubles with ATI cards, though mine now works fine with my AIW128.

      Well, it did, except of course two days after I registered the software, the PC I was using it on flaked out and won't boot. Not Snapstream's fault, just bad karma.
  • by Anderlan ( 17286 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:44PM (#3375475) Homepage
    So I wanted a tv card for my second pc, since my TV went on the fritz, and it would be cheaper to get a tv card and move the pc to the den.

    I go to Walmart of all places and get an ATI TV Wonder VE for $47, and plug it into, of all things, my second box with only a K6-500 in it.

    After fighting with windows to get all the hw resources sorted out, I get the sw that came with the card working. And it encodes, MPEG2, any quality, DVD, VCD, or any crappy bitrate/vid quality/sound quality/size I define. It does this in realtime. I can't find any avis it leaves around as an intermediary step, and the mpeg file saves and is there instantaneously when I stop recording.

    This k6 is very hot when recording, the tv card isnt (well, more than usual), and there's no bloody space on the card for an encoder.

    I don't trust using Windows crappy scheduling to record shows, so I switched the tuner to the linux box I'm typing this on.

    I WANT, I HAVE TO find a ported version of whatever the heck wonderful realtime (ON A K6!!!) sw encoder ATI licensed for this thing! Picture an mpeg stream at somehting conservative like 176x144 coming off your webserver, with channel and even encoding volume control right in the web page interface...my tv anywhere i want ;p Thats my plan..

  • Their web page states:

    Enjoy stunning video and audio performance in TV shows on your PC courtesy of the onboard hardware MPEG-2 recording engine

    I don't understand why you'd need a P4 1.5GHz machine to successfully record shows unless something is amiss. I always thought the difference in price between low cost and high cost solutions was hardware vs. software encoding.

    Hardware solutions should allow a PII to record shows smoothly.
  • by oolon ( 43347 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @03:01PM (#3375576)
    TV tuner cards have been arround for some time, I myself picked up an ATI TV wonder radion card for 25 pounds. Now if this had been DIGITAL, ie it was a DVB card hooked up to cable or satelight (even better if it was a premium pay service) and was directly pulling and recording the digital stream. I might be interested, but this is just capturing TV and then using a computer to process it to mpeg. People have been doing this for years.

    All though I have to agree its fun, it however is hardly groundbreaking. Prices have just dropped on TV tuner cards. Just in time for them to go obsolite.

    James
    • Now if this had been DIGITAL, ie it was a DVB card hooked up to cable or satelight (even better if it was a premium pay service) and was directly pulling and recording the digital stream. I might be interested, but this is just capturing TV and then using a computer to process it to mpeg.

      Prices have just dropped on TV tuner cards. Just in time for them to go obsolite.

      I think that it is naive to think that digital content providers will soon provide digital feeds that can easily be captured by computers. They will do as much as possible to make that illegal and difficult because they do not want perfect digital copies (or feeds!) going onto the Internet.

      • Check out the Siemens DVB card that was the core on the system in the linux PVR story. The card can support authenication modules, ie provider sim cards given to you by your cable or satelight company and yes you do get access to the digital stream. The siemens card basically replaces the complete set to box. The make it for a PC based put the components together that you want PVR solution.

        The problem with DVB cards as far as I understand, is you need a different one for Terestral, cable and Satelight.

        James
  • I still haven't run the cable into my AIW Radeon, but some experimentation capturing taped video with the software bundled with that card showed that it came up short for capturing full-frame (720x480) video with Huffyuv compression. (I'm currently archiving to SVCD Enterprise episodes that my TiVo records, but I'd like to eventually shift over to the AIW for that so I can eliminate the losses from MPEG-to-MPEG transcoding.) There's a capture program you might look into called AVI_IO. With it, I can capture 720x480 29.97 fps video (with Huffyuv lossless compression) and CD-quality audio to a pair of 60GB IBM 120GXPs (in RAID 0) with no dropped frames. It's also supposed to have some timed-recording features, and you can use whatever codecs you have installed (such as DivX;-) if you don't need to be able to edit your video).

    It also hasn't crashed on me, so that would at least solve the problem you're having with the Creative Labs software wedging your machine.

  • My home-brew PVR.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @03:11PM (#3375644) Homepage Journal
    I thought I'd describe my setup at home.

    I have an old P2-400 machine that was basically doing nothing. So I decided to turn it into a PVR. The requirements on the machine are borderline, but it works fine. Here are the specs:

    -P2 400

    -128 meg of RAM

    -8 Gig drive

    -Video card with TV out

    -Hauppage WinTV PCI card ($99 including IR remote, you can get a cheaper mono version for $49)

    - Snapstream PVS ($50, http://www.snapstream.com)

    - Windows 2000 (I average about 30 days uptime w/o rebooting.)

    -10/100 Ethernet card

    Some of you might be turned off at the capture specs, but hear me out. Snapstream captures the video at 320 by 240 @ 30 fps at 330kbits/s. It's compressed in real time using Microsoft's Media Encoder. So the resulting file is in .WMV format. You can also capture to Divx, etc, but to be honest my best luck has been with MS's software. Don't worry, it's pretty open.

    The picture quality's certainly watchable, but it is noticably artifact'd. My goal was to fit 4 hours to a CD, I could double the data rate and get much nicer quality. The truth is, though, that the only shows I'd want to do that for are Farscape and Deep Space Nine. They are very beautifully filmed and this format does deaden it a bit. (Again, it's very watchable.)

    I sometimes watch the videos on the TV in my bedroom via the old video card with TV out. I also send them over the network to my main machine sometimes. It has a dual monitor setup, so I frequently watch the video in a little window on one screen while I'm doing things like e-mail. To tell you the truth, I'm addicted to watching TV this way. I'm able to pause it, zoom past commercials, and even search for stuff about previous episodes.

    I'm very happy with this setup. When DVD writables get cheaper, I intend to upgrade the computer so I can get closer to broadcast quality. But I'm not in a huge hurry to do this. Most shows (especially sitcoms) can survive running at really low resolution. Low resolution = low data rate = low CPU Usage = more I can capture and play back. You guys might find it interesting that once I encoded an episode of Quantum Leap at 160 by 100 @ 100kbps at 7fps and played it back on my old Jornada PocketPC. I was pleasantly surprised at how watchable it was, especially considering I was on a flight to LA. I damn near went out and bought a microdrive so I could store more shows on that guy to watch. Heh.

    I've been using this machine for over a year now. The biggest change I've noticed is that I don't turn on my big TV very often now. I'm very happy with how it came out. :) Not bad for $150 + finding a use for an old computer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 19, 2002 @03:19PM (#3375687)
    [Proof of authorship available to slashdot editors]

    The primary reason that I had written this review was that at the time of writing, I was quite upset at the losses I kept sustaining in the way of recordable streams. After reading the comments by the readers, I wanted to offer some clarifications to my review that were brought up by the readers.

    First of all, I can tell you that I'm not in any way affiliated with Creative Labs in any way. I know that this statement could be questionable since I'm still posting as anonymous, but the fact of the matter is, even if I weren't anonymous, I could still be on their payroll. I'll eventually set up an account, but I have yet to find a real reason why.

    Second, In my review, I give the card a rating of 2.5 out of 5. A few people had suggested that with my complaints, I should have rated it a 2.5 out of 10. The reason for the 'mediocre rating' was that this device can serve purposes quite well. Recording my episodes of Enterprise off of VHS, it doesn't matter if they system loses the files, as I can always run the attempt again. This seems like a driver issue that could be resolved in the long run, and if so, making it a very nice product.

    Third, I am pretty new to video conversion and am still trying to figure out how to decode/edit/encode the movies in MPEG-2. There have been a few articles recently that seem to help with this, and hopefully I'll be able to edit out the commercials in no time.

    In closing I realize that the Digital VCR can't quite compare with the dedicated hardware PVRs, and their pretty high cost ($699 for ReplayTV, $200 for TiVO, + $250 for Lifetime Scheduler service). The Digital VCR seems to fill a niche, but doesn't go so far as to making PVR a real reality for those of us who DO watch Television on their PC.

    • I guess the "niche" it fills is made up of people who are willing to risk losing their hard drive when this thing inevitably locks up.

      I'm surprised no one's done a review or anthing, on the new iMac's capabilities. Seems to me, the best solution would be to use it to record, convert, and burn your favorite shows to DVD (not VCD, not SVCD, but *DVD*)
  • Good picture, nice freezeframes (if I need em), penty of blank tape (partly thanks to my Radio Shack tape demagnetizer), fully programmable, good quality signal...

    Perhaps if I didn't have any form of VTR for taping TV and I had waaay too much money...
  • ATI All-In-Wonder (Score:2, Informative)

    by majorero ( 572108 )
    Easily records directly to MPEG and MPEG2 (I use MPEG because that way my computer is still very responsive during a recording and I can do things without frame loss) and can easily be made to record to DivX, AVI and other formats. I've done really crazy things like playing a game, such as Unreal Tournament while watching a TV show. (ie, play during commercials then flip back to watch the show, all without problems) I've even watched a previously recorded show with MSMPlayer while recording something else. Creative should have licensed the technology from ATI or someone else with some experience (kinda like they did with their burners) instead of trying to start from scratch.
  • wintv pvr (Score:3, Informative)

    by Graspee_Leemoor ( 302316 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @04:50PM (#3376212) Homepage Journal
    I use a wintv pvr, and it definately worth noting that their newest drivers allow you to capture as large a file as your filesystem will support, which is damn handy considering that the hardware mpg2 encoder on the wintv pvr supports capturing at up to 12Mb/s.

    graspee
  • You have all these cards grabbing video at crazy datarates... for 100-200$ (like that MSI geforce3 ti 200 board that I've bought that has svhs in and captures uncompressed), I remember not so long ago when getting a capture system that was doing MJPEG at 1 meg a second (DPS PVR) was costing 20 times that price and the quality was a fraction (not to say, this was the "high end" of what was available on personnal computers).

    Today you have a tv tuner, computers fast enough to handle realtime compression of full NTSC@30FPS signal with minimal loss in quality, drives that don't need to be A/V-rated (remember that 7,000$ 4GB baracuda for the flyer?), Bandwidth and storage beyond beleif... god.. some of you here will understand the feeling when I say that the younger crowd here probably didn't have to mess or invest in those expensive equipment, and will never appreciate newer technologies and pricing as much as we do :)

    Anyways, sorry for this little incursion, I think I'll go plug my vidi-24RT back in my amiga 1200 :)

  • To the reviewer (and anyone else looking for a good PVR card): I highly, highly recommend the AVerTV Stereo. You can buy them from ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] for only $49.99. And no, that is not a typo.

    The price is incredible, but what's even more incredible is that the card is very high quality. It has Coax, S-Video, and RGB inputs, plus an audio loopback to connect to your soundcard. The PVR software that comes with it is very good if you don't need advanced features. It records directly to MPEG-2, although the recording quality is not customizable enough for my tastes.

    I personally wanted software that would record to MPEG-1 with custom bitrate settings so I could then use VirtualDub to convert my recordings to DivX. I bought a copy of InterVideo WinDVR [intervideo.com] for $99.95, and I'm extremely happy with the combination. WinDVR is extremely customizable, letting me choose between MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 formats, as well as giving me a ton of bitrate, audio, resolution, and other options. I highly recommend WinDVR as well.

    Based on the review of Creative's card, I wouldn't go anywhere near it. It sounds like a horribly-designed product, and I think the AVerTV Stereo + WinDVR is a much better solution that can be had for about $150

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