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 Post subject: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for you
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:03 am 
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This post is aimed at new or less tech savvy members who want to get started in capping or just want to know how to record TV to their computer in general. I've simplified as much as possible to make it understandable.

Because of frequent questions about which tuner or capture device one should buy, I've decided to create a pro/con list of three different types of television recording devices to help users decide what is best for their needs.

First of all, a standard TV tuner. It is the simplest of the three types of devices and allows us to recieve local television signals. In fact, every television has some form of this type of tuner. CableCARD tuners, on the other hand, go a step further by allowing us to view cable channels that are otherwise inaccessible (i.e. encrypted) on a standard TV tuner. Tuners recieve television signals directly from its source.

Then there are capture devices, which must (re)create -- frame-by-frame -- the images that it records. Capture devices also use more computing resources (e.g. power and storage) for a lesser quality image. Two major upsides to capture devices, however, is that they can capture satellite television and also premium channels, like HBO.

Below, I've sorted each of the three types of TV recording devices in the order that I recommend for your consideration. I've also listed the most prominent manufacturers of these devices, ones that I consider most trustworthy of my business, at least in my opinion, in their respective category.

But before you make a decision, ask yourself these questions first: Are you a Mac user or a PC user? Do you subscribe to cable, satellite or neither? Are you planning to record local channels, cable channels or both? Or are you also a gamer and want to record your own gameplay as well?

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Option #1 - Capture card/device

Manufacturers:
-AVerMedia
-Blackmagic Design
-Hauppauge

Examples:
-Hauppauge HD PVR (model 1212)

For:
-Everyone!
---Both cable and satellite subscribers
---Cord-cutters
---Video gamers
---Digitizing VHS tapes

-Windows and Mac users, depending on software support.

Pros:
-If you subscribe to either cable or satellite, it may be possible to capture the analog signal from your set-top box to record any channel, including premium channels such as HBO.

Cons:
-Captures only through an analog signal.

-Generally good image quality, depending on your recording bitrate. Fine details will always appear smudged.

-High CPU/GPU usage.
---You'll need a relatively powerful computer to capture, especially in 1080 at a high bitrate. Consider a quad-core CPU and a GPU of at least a medium-high range of performance.

-Large file sizes.
---File size will vary according to resolution and bitrate. However, high bitrates at 1080 may create files 6GB/hour or more.

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Option #2 - CableCARD Tuner

Manufacturers:
-Ceton
-SiliconDust

Examples:
-Ceton InfiniTV 6 PCIe
-SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME

For:
-Cable television subscribers only!

-Windows and Mac users, depending on software support.

Pros:
-Excellent image quality. The signal your cable provider sends is the signal your tuner recieves.

-Allows you to watch and record content that is otherwise encrypted without a cable subscription.

Cons:
-Copy protection.
---Depending on your cable provider or the market you live in, some or all content may be copy protected. If you subscribe to premium channels such as HBO, content from these channels are always copy protected*.

-Limited software support.
---Currently, Windows Media Center is the ONLY software that allows you to watch and record both copy protected and copy freely (i.e. no copy protection) content! Windows Media Center is included with every edition of Windows 7**. Windows Media Center is LEGACY software and is no longer supported by Microsoft!
---Software such as NextPVR, MediaPortal, MythTV and Kodi allow the use of CableCARD tuners, however, due to lack of licensing, you may only watch and record content marked copy freely.
---SiliconDust is currently developing software, the HDHomeRun DVR, that will allow watching and recording copy protected content. However this functionality will only work with their HDHomeRun Prime tuner.

-The CableCARD needs to be requested from your cable provider.
---After installing the CableCARD into your tuner (depending on your cable provider, you may be able to install the CableCARD yourself, otherwise a technician must install it for you), you must call your cable provider to validate and pair the CableCARD to your tuner.

* While it is possible to record copy protected content with a CableCARD tuner, there are set limits to these recordings. A recording marked "copy once" may be copied only once and that is all. Other types of copy protected recordings may be time limited. Copy protected recordings are restricted to the computer they were recorded on and may be rendered unwatchable if they are transferred to a different computer.

** Windows Media Center was also a paid add-on for Windows 8.1 Pro, however it is no longer offered for sale, and only those who had already purchased a license before it was discontinued may still use Windows Media Center with Windows 8.1 Pro.

----------

Option #3 - Analog/Digital/ATSC/Clear QAM TV Tuner (To simplify, I'm calling these tuners "standard")

Manufacturers:
-AVerMedia
-Hauppauge
-SiliconDust

Examples:
-Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2255
-SiliconDust HDHomerun CONNECT

For:
-Cord-cutters who only watch local TV stations.

-Windows and Mac users, depending on software support.

Pros:
-Excellent image quality. The signal your local TV stations send is the signal your tuner recieves.

Cons:
-Can only tune your local TV stations.

-BEWARE: Depending on the market you live in, local channels may also be encrypted, rendering a standard TV tuner unusable!

----------

This goes without saying, but always always always do your homework before buying a TV tuner or capture device. Recording devices and recording television to a computer in general is incredibly fickle, as you can see in the pro/con lists above. If you have very specific questions regarding your cable/satellite provider or your local market, I'd recommend asking at AVS Forum or The Green Button. They're far more equipped to answer those questions than here.

I hope this post has been helpful. :wave


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which to buy (Guide)
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:04 am 
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:thankyou


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which to buy (Guide)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:04 pm 
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I hadn't logged in a long time, but this is the 1st relevant post to my issue in a long time! I gave up cable/ satellite. I miss TV, but not the bill. Are you saying you were able to just rent the Cable card tuner for $5-$10 per month w/o having to subscribe to a cable company for a channel package line up?

I was on the AVS forum several years ago, but got discouraged.

Like you, I'm very particular & I don't want to set this up if I can't capture good images & video.

Thanks 4 all the awesome information Chris!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which to buy (Guide)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:41 am 
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No, you still have to pay for the full cable subscription. I mention that under the "suitable for" point.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which to buy (Guide)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:39 am 
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I would like to say that the benefit of a watch once or copy once is that, you have an "extra" way of copying the video "if you know what you are doing."


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which to buy (Guide)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:52 am 
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I really should redo and clean up the original post at some point to accomodate new info. Also, as far as I understand, you can no longer buy Windows Media Center on Windows 8.1 anymore. Then again, it is legacy software as I mentioned.

anonymouscitizenx wrote:
I would like to say that the benefit of a watch once or copy once is that, you have an "extra" way of copying the video "if you know what you are doing."
Not quite sure I follow you. Can you elaborate a bit more?


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which to buy (Guide)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:19 pm 
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2 more things to consider:
Audio/Video component video loop through to allow HD recording and viewing at the same time.
Does it come with good editing software to make vids.


Stay away from Hauppauge's new generation, the PVR2. I've have only ever used the Hauppauge PVR. I have loved it. For me it's easy because it is external to the PC. The editing software is top notch. But I recently had to replace my PVR. B&H photo the distributor given to me led me to believe that I had to go with a PVR2. So I figured new is better. I was wrong. My new PC can handle a lot Image so these issues have nothing to do with RAM or up.


It does not have component video in/out. They give you a flimsy fragile adaptor cable Image Mine didn't work out of box so they had to send me another. But that aside the lack of true component circuitry eliminates component video loop through for real time watching. The delay is as much as 4 seconds which means no more FF or RW programs off your DVR because you'll never end up where you want. It took forever to transfer video I wanted to my PC. Then I found out the PVR2 doesn't come with Arcsoft media software http://arcsoft-totalmedia-extreme.softw ... r.com/2.0/ which translates into no real editing software. What comes with it is so basic it is useless.
Any picture or config adjustments you make causes freeze-ups and jitter. OK; that's enough! There's much more but... Oh yea..It did not go well with tech support when I called.
So I threw the HD PVR2 into the cupboard and I ordered the original PVR from Amazon. Life is good; all is well!


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which to buy (Guide)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:07 pm 
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Good info, Nick! I never owned a PVR 2 (but was very familiar with the original) so I never realised it didn't come with ArcSoft or component inputs.

So that's 2 things I need to correct: 1. don't suggest PVR 2 and 2. Media Center is no longer offered on Windows 8.

Like I mentioned, I'll definitely try to clean up the original post. I've got some time this weekend so I'll do it then.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:45 am 
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The original post has been updated and the title slightly changed!

The information is more/less the same, but I've stripped the clutter and made it a bit easier to read and to understand. I've also corrected/changed some of the info regarding CableCARD tuners to reflect changes and developments over the last few months. And most importantly, I've changed my opinion on the #1 device you should consider: capture devices. Simply because they generally just work, not too much headache.

I've removed the part at the bottom on my experiences with different tuners, but if it matters, I currently use the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime. And I know that many cappers here use the original Hauppauge HD PVR, so there's no shortage of support for that device here.

Again, hopefully someone finds the info useful. Good luck! :wave

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which to buy (Guide)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:40 am 
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anonymouscitizenx wrote:
I would like to say that the benefit of a watch once or copy once is that, you have an "extra" way of copying the video "if you know what you are doing."
Not quite sure I follow you. Can you elaborate a bit more?[/quote]

You get another "frog jump" for the matching security/encryption key that plays the video. It is hard to capture the key but atleast it will always be in your possession until someday it is solved.


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:08 pm 
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What do you recommend if you want to record from a Comcast X1 box?


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:32 pm 
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I don't have any experience with an X1 cable box, but if it's like almost every other cable box out there, it should have component (red-green-blue) video output and digital audio output for you to use with a capture device. Most cappers recommend the Hauppauge HD PVR (the original one) if you want to capture off of a cable box.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 10:56 pm 
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Yes, it has those. The YPrPb as well. I ordered the Hauppage HD PVR. I hope it works.


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 4:17 pm 
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Well, it turns out that the Hauppage win tv version does not work with the Comcast box. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:46 pm 
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Is that the only software you've tried? Nick mentioned the Arcsoft software a few posts up. Create a new thread and I'm sure the other cappers can help you out.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:26 pm 
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Well, I didn't buy it. I ordered it and the guy at Best Buy said it didn't work. I'll have to see about this Arcsoft program.


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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:24 am 
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Well that sucks. It's been about 6 years since I've used WinTV and it wasn't even good then.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 6:50 pm 
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I wonder if this is the thing I can use with my Comcast X1...

http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_dualhd.html

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:48 pm 
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Denis, the WinTV-dualHD would fall under "Option #3", therefore it is NOT the correct option for use with a cable box.

Also, to everyone else, I've made a small edit to the OP. Apparently Hauppauge sells a TON of HD PVR models for different purposes and it might be confusing to some. I've added the specific model number, "1212", to the recommended HD PVR model.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuners & Capture Devices - Deciding which is best for yo
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:37 pm 
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Has anybody tried the Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB? Real cheap and basic but if it works like it should I'd be happy.

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