Hauppauge offers a variety of products, computer cards, and more. I am only referring to the 1212 as that is the only unit that I have personal experience with.
The Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR High Definition Personal Video Recorder is the world’s first high-definition video recorder for making real-time H.264 compressed recordings at resolutions up to 1080i. With the HD-PVR, you can schedule and automatically record your favorite shows in high definition directly from cable TV and satellite set top boxes. As an added feature, the HD-PVR also includes S-Video inputs so you can convert all your old home video tapes into Blu-ray DVD recordings.
High-Definition Quality Recordings on Your Schedule
At long last, a personal video recorder, or PVR, that offers high quality recordings of high-definition television shows. Now you can start building a personal archive of your favorite high definition TV programs without losing the broadcast quality.
At the heart of the HD-PVR is an H.264 high-definition encoder that’s built-in for high-performance, high-quality TV recordings at up to 1080i resolution, 720p or VGA/D1. The box includes a component video input for use with most high-definition cable TV and satellite TV receivers, as well as optical or stereo audio inputs. (Audio is recorded using AC-3 encoding from SPDIF in 2 or 5.1 channel audio / Digital Dolby.)
The HD-PVR records in the AVCHD format, which can be used to burn Blu-ray DVD discs. Two hours of high-definition recordings, recorded at 5 Mbits/sec, can be burnt onto a standard 4.7 GB DVD-R or DVD-RW disk for playback on any Blu-ray DVD player. (You have the option of recording at data rates from 1 Mbs to 13.5Mbs, constant and variable bit rate.)
The recorder also includes Hauppauge’s WinTV scheduler that lets you schedule your TV recordings, and a built-in IR blaster that automatically changes TV channels for your scheduled recordings. And for even greater convenience and performance, the HD-PVR features an audio / video component video loop so you can record and watch your television at the same time.
Convert Your Home Videos to Blu-ray DVDs
If you’ve been wondering what to do with all your home videos, the HD-PVR has the answer. Thanks to the included standard definition composite and S-Video inputs, you can plug your VCR directly into the box and record your old home video tapes into an AVCHD format, which you can then burn onto a DVD for playback on your Blu-ray DVD player.
Also included with the HD-PVR is Arcsoft’s “TotalMedia Theater,” a video player that lets you play back your TV recordings to your PC screen, and “MediaConverter” to convert your H.264 HD recordings onto other formats.
The HD-PVR measures a scant 7.8-by-6.8-by-2.8-inches, so it will fit snugly in your home theater set up.
What’s in the Box
IR Blaster transmitter cable, component video cable set, audio cable set, USB cable, and 5V power supply. Also includes the following bundled software applications: Arcsoft “TotalMediaExtreme”; Arcsoft “TotalMedia Theater,” Arcsoft “MediaConverter,” and Hauppauge WinTV Scheduler.
The HD-PVR from Hauppauge is the world’s first High-Definition video recorder for making real-time H.264 compressed recordings at resolutions up to 1080i. HD-PVR records component video from cable TV and satellite set top boxes, with a built-in IR blaster to automatically change TV channels for scheduled recordings. Audio is recorded using AAC or Dolby Digital. The recording format is AVCHD, which can be used to burn Blu-ray DVD disks. Two hours of HD recordings, recorded at 5 Mbist/sec, can be burnt onto a standard 4.7 GB DVD-R or DVD-RW disk for playback on a Blu-ray DVD player. The HD PVR’s amazing recording quality allows personal archival recordings of your favorite high definition TV programs from any component video HD set top box. The HD PVR also has standard definition composite and S-Video inputs so you can record your old home video tapes into an AVHCD format for creating Blu-ray recordings. Other features include recording high definition video at up to 1080i resolution, 720P or VGA/D1. Includes HD software video player so you can playback recordings to your PC screen. NTSC, PAL, and SECAm support. IWorks with Windows XP and Vista. It does not have an Australian power supply.
A great Review:
Upon opening the box, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a component cable included, a nice bonus. The first thing you’ll notice is how light the device itself is. The all-plastic body and the lack of weight contribute to give it a slight cheap feeling, but this is not reflective of the overall quality of the device, as I’m about to explain.
The HD PVR has pass-through outputs, which means you can plug your console into the PVR and then the PVR into your TV (with the included component cable), eliminating the need to split the signal. I was a little bit worried about any input lag caused by the pass-through, but I was thankful to discover that there is absolutely none. The one downside of this, if any, is that the PVR has to be on for the pass-through outputs to work. It doesn’t have to be recording and the software doesn’t have to be open, so it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s just one more device that is sapping power.
After getting everything hooked up, you have to install the included software on whatever PC you’re going to be using to record. The software installation was pain-free, although I recommend getting the latest driver updates from their website and the latest software updates through the software itself. Make sure that you do NOT lose the CD, as you can only download the driver from Hauppauge’s website, not the included software. One of the downsides of the PVR is that only the included software and a small list of 3rd party software will work with the device. Luckily, this isn’t that big of an issue as the included software works great, with minimal issues.
One of the great things about the HD PVR is that it does all of the H.264 encoding on the box itself. In other words, you won’t need a high-end PC to record in HD because the HD PVR does all of the heavy processing. You will need a high-end PC to watch and edit HD video, however. Unless you’re just archiving or using the PC as a storage device (and then accessing the recorded videos on your 360, for instance), you’re going to want a high-end PC to edit and playback the video that you record. There’s simply no getting around this: if you want to produce videos in HD, you’re going to need the tools for it.
The preview window provides smooth, full-quality video. There is a significant amount of lag between the source and the software preview window, however. If you were hoping to sit at your PC and play by watching the preview window, you can forget it. The input lag will make it impossible.
Overall, the video and audio quality are excellent. This will produce video miles beyond any SDi capture card you have. The device will record in whatever format you input (1080i, 720p, etc.). I would recommend going with 720p over 1080i. The lack of interlacing outweighs the gain in resolution, in my opinion (unless you’re taking a screenshot or taking video with little movement). It support frame rates up to 60fps, maybe beyond. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 720p at 60fps looks absolutely beautiful. The device lets you change the bitrate from 1MBps to 13.5MBps, so you can increase the quality of the video and sacrifice a small file size, if you wish. I find 8MBps to be a good balance. It allows you to fit 1 – 1.5 hours into around 5GB, and it still provides video that’s good enough for YouTube HD uploads and similar casual usage. If you’re going for production-quality video with almost no compression artifacts, you can easily increase the bit rate, but you’re going to pay for it in file size and the power it requires to process.
All video is encoded in H.264. The software lets you record in 3 container formats: .TS, which is a generic ‘transport stream’ compatible with many digital media players; .M2TS, which is compatible with the Sony Playstation 3; and .MP4, which is compatible with the Xbox 360. These are somewhat-confusingly labeled “AVCHD”, “PlayStation 3”, and “Xbox 360” in the software, respectively. It’s important to note that *this has nothing to do with what you’re recording from* – it only has bearing on what device you want to play back the recorded footage. The MP4 format will play back on an Xbox 360, while the other formats will not. I recommend choosing the format that works best with whatever software you’re going to use to edit the video, or whatever device you plan on using to watch the video. Note that most software will be able to open/edit an MP4 file, while I’ve found less compatibility with the other formats. If you plan to burn footage to Blu-Ray disk, though, go with .TS, as it’s the format used on Blu-Ray disks and so your video won’t require any transcoding, which is very nice (you can burn a Blu-Ray disk in just a few minutes).
If you don’t want your footage encoded in H.264, there is an included converter program that can convert to variety of formats, but I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t tell you how well it works.
The only two minor issues that I’ve had have involved the software. Sometimes the capture program will not recognize the device, requiring you to unplug it from the computer and plug it back in, at which point it should work normally. It’s not that big of an issue, and it may be specific to my computer, but it’s worth noting.
Secondly, the included playback application, TotalMedia Theater, causes a hard reboot whenever I try to start it. This also isn’t that big of a deal because there’s lots of other software that can play back the recorded files. Based on searches in which I’ve found only a couple of mentions about the problem it appears to be a very rare issue, but it’s still worth noting. (I’m using Vista 32-bit, for reference).
Overall, the HD PVR is great for recording footage from hi-def consoles like the 360 and PS3. It’s easy to use, doesn’t require an insanely powerful PC, and produces good-quality video and audio in a good format at a reasonable file-size. Although the price is a bit steep, it’s worth it if you really want to record high-quality, high-definition game footage from your 360 or PS3. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in a response and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.
PS: Don’t be confused that Hauppauge PVRs are being sold as “game recorders”. That has become a popular use for the box but is also carries less political baggage about “recording tv shows”.
PSS: If you feel the need to cut commercials out of your recordings (I do NOT do this as I think it is a waste of my time). But if you do, check out the program “Smart Cutter” http://www.fame-ring.com/smart_cutter.html