Hauppauge WinTV PVR

For video capture in general, the more CPU and disk speed you have, the better. The Hauppauge is a PCI card, so the slot is paramount - the digital picture data goes to the graphics card along the PCI bus, and any use of other cards is likely to interfere with its smoothness.

Hauppauge recommends an Intel-based motherboard, though I experienced only minor problems with a VIA chipset. Compatibility with the graphics card is essential, and a list of compatible cards is available on the Hauppauge Web site.

The maximum capture resolution is 768x568 and streaming rates up to 12Mbps are provided in the MPEG-2 format. Audio compression and rendering are left to the sound card. The quality even of compressed content is comparable to television, and adequate for digitising videos or making VCDs. The Hauppauge offers better performance than the Voodoo 3500 TV, but digital television it isn't. Hauppauge does make a digital tuner card, but only for the US standard.

The WinTV 2000 application is aimed at the television enthusiast. A scheduling application allows recording of programs. The TV pause feature allows the viewer free movement within the program since it was engaged, serving to make TV much more like a video. By skipping ads and the boring bits, and taking breaks in your own time, time wasted in front of the TV is halved. Oddly, the software won't permit changing channels while using the pause function, which otherwise would be best left on always. It is also not possible to record one program while watching another.

All versions of Windows from 95 up are supported with drivers and the WinTV application. Drivers for the digitiser chip (Brooktree BT848) are in the 2.2 Linux kernel, and drivers for BeOS and OS/2 are available.

Hauppauge WinTV PVR

Price: $699; Distributor: New Magic; Phone: (03) 9885 5888; URL: http://www.newmagic.com.au

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