Recommendations for a TV Tuner Capture Card
November 26, 2006 9:34 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to buy a tv tuner capture card for my pc. I have a kind of old 1.8ghz P4 with 512mb of ram.

first can anyone recommend a PCI card that has a remote and will do good capture on an old machine like mine? I would probably never be using the computer when its recording anything so It would have almost full use of cpu and ram. also the quality of the capture does not have to be dvd quality because I will probably just record the show, watch it once then delete it. If it records at vhs quality that's fine with me.
second do they make any agp or PCI video cards that can be used as a GPU and a video tuner\capture card. If so any recommendations on one that has remote.
last what software do you use or recommend, the freeware kind would be the best but if you know of or use one that beats the socks of all the rest please do tell
Thanks so much for any help you can give me
posted by antisocialiting to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've used a Hauppauge PVR-150 on a 1.6Ghz P4 with no major issues. If you get the non-MCE version, it comes with a remote. Software-wise I use GB-PVR which automatically cuts commercials quite well with almost no tweaking and can record at several quality levels.

Check out these threads.
posted by djb at 9:51 PM on November 26, 2006 [3 favorites]

I second the PVR series. I have a 250 in a MythTV setup I have going. I have a 20 dollar Geforce 4 as the video out card. Separating the two cards lets you get what you want in the capture card without having to make sacrifices.

Whatever you do, be sure to get a hardware encoder. The CPU usage might not sound like that big a deal, but for a software encoder it could easily peg the machine you're talking about.

As for software, I would recommend MythTV if you can dedicate a computer to it. On the windows side, I haven't ever used any PVR software.
posted by cschneid at 10:21 PM on November 26, 2006

I third the Hauppauge PVR cards - their dedicated hardware encoder is useful on an older machine. Plus these cards are very standard so any software app you choose will support them.

HDTV tuners are becoming more common (cheaper) so that maybe something you want to consider. I'm using a FusionHDTV card now - but only because Hauppauge didn't have anything on the market when I wanted HDTV on my computer... (No hardware encoding on this card so its maybe not ideal for a dedicated pvr.)

I've tried several different PVR apps and I keep going back to the little tuner app that ships with my card, it's just works without a lot of fuss. I've also used SnapStream's BeyondTV which is very Tivo like, but it's become bloated with recent releases and I really can't recommend it.

You'll need to play around with multiple apps before you find one that you like... it's a very personal process.

I've used several remotes that have shipped with cards (Hauppauge, ATI All in Wonder, and Dvico...) and they have all been pretty horrible. The Firefly is supposed to be great so maybe skip the packaged deals and just get that?
posted by wfrgms at 2:31 AM on November 27, 2006

Hauppauge cards are the way to go. I have 2 (a 250 and 500). I love them and I run SageTv (which I also love).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:28 AM on November 27, 2006

Nthing the Hauppage. I've got the non-mce 150 PCI, though the remote never worked for me and the whole thing borked when I tried updating the drivers (I rolled back and haven't had a moment's trouble). I'm using the mini Firefly remote that came with BeyondTV, and it is just fine. If I was buying one, I'd buy the big Firefly, as the mini is hard to use in the dark because the buttons are so small.

This is on an Athlon 2200 with 512MB RAM, Win2K. It could really use a full GB of RAM, there's a few recording/playback rough edges on BTV, but the card itself tunes like a charm. RAM's cheap, anyway.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:57 AM on November 27, 2006

second do they make any agp or PCI video cards that can be used as a GPU and a video tuner\capture card. If so any recommendations on one that has remote.

Such cards do exist; ATI has its All-In-Wonder line. They're great for basic things like watching television, but otherwise I would stay far away. Most PVR packages like the above-mentioned GB-PVR do NOT support All-In-Wonder cards, and even the ones that do support AIW cards will be hampered because most All-In-Wonders don't have hardware encoding. ATI's own PVR software is a hassle and generally not worth bothering with, which means you'll basically have a TV application but no listings.

I have an All-In-Wonder 9700 Pro that I got for reasonably cheap two summers ago, and it's been great for running games, but if I had to do it all over again I'd get a Hauppage PVR-150.
posted by chrominance at 11:09 AM on November 27, 2006

Response by poster: thanks everybody I just bought the Hauppage 150 off amazon it was only 50 bucks (after rebate course).
posted by antisocialiting at 1:21 PM on November 27, 2006

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