"Video Capture" hardware recommendations

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What computer video capture hardware (and software) would you guys recommend
to use with a (DISH) Satellite Box auxillary output?

No real need for a TV tuner per-se, as any tuning must be done from the STB.
Any video would be output as S-Video to the computer`s capture device.

The Sat.(RCA) analog audio could go direct to my soundcard`s line input,
unless the "capture" device would require the audio as well.

I have an Asus A8V Deluxe socket 939 MB, with an Athlon64 X2 3800+ and 1GB


Re: "Video Capture" hardware recommendations

Mattrixx wrote:
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You can see on this page, that people are pretty happy with a CX2388x family
chip. It is the successor to the BT848/878. The nice thing about this chip,
is you can get a card for dirt cheap. And since you aren't using the TV
tuner, it doesn't matter if a cheap card has a bad tuner or not.


There are a ton of capture products out there. If you click on this link,
you'll end up on one of the largest web pages I've ever seen. Don't
click on this if you are on dialup. I can fix a coffee and sandwich
while this loads over ADSL.

http://pvrhw.goldfish.org/bttv /

In terms of card types, there are roughly three types for analog capture.
There are uncompressed cards (like the CX2388x based products or the
BT848/BT878 based products). There are cards that record in compressed
format, but have no hardware decompression (means processor load during
preview or playback). The third kind has compression in capture, and
decompression in viewing, and maybe even an output plug to connect
directly to a TV set.

The uncompressed card will either eat disk like there is no tomorrow.
Or eats processor, during capture, if the processor has to compress
the uncompressed stream on the fly.

A card that captures compressed, means less bus traffic, and no processor
load during plain capture. But if you want to preview or playback, the
processor does the decompression. The compression methods used, tend
to be lossy, meaning the image will be softer than the original. If
the compression format happens to be the same as the final output format,
there might be no further losses by transcoding. Otherwise, some software
would have to decompress and recompress again for the final render.

A card with both compression and decompression, removes the penalty of
previewing during capture. But otherwise, the issues of quality (softness)
versus bandwidth, remains.

This is an example of a card with both compression and decompression $136.94:

(Amazon.com product link shortened)

This is the cheapest CX2388x family chip from Newegg (where they at least
mention which chip is used). There are some cheaper 713x based cards, but
for a first experiment, I'd try the CX2388x as it is newer:

PROLINK PV-TV304P+FMRC PCI Interface TV/FM Tuner Card - Retail  CX23883 $32

The $32 card is cheap enough for a one-off experiment.

There are all sorts of bits and pieces of software out there. This
is just a random selection. You need to find a piece of software
that will support the card, preferably without having to rely on
the drivers that come with the hardware. So it is a complicated
purchase experience, if you go super-cheap. The PVR-350 will have
some software you can use, but it still might not be the best
software for the job. Researching the software is a lot harder
than selecting a crap capture card :-) Read the customer reviews for
the capture card, before you buy - Newegg has such reviews for most
products. For really cheap hardware, occasionally you will see a
"customer review" that was written by someone from the factory
in Taiwan. The really negative reviews are the honest ones.

http://www.virtualdub.org /
http://virtualvcr.sourceforge.net /


Re: "Video Capture" hardware recommendations

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(Amazon.com product link shortened)
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Wow, this certainly is a great deal of "good stuff" to digest and research!
I appreciate the time and knowledge it took for you Paul, to respond to my

I am actually replacing an ancient ATI "All In Wonder" which has served me
quite well over the years. I use the supplied ATI software, or a very fine
program (in my opinion)called "neoDVD7" for my Sat. capturing. The down side
of using an ALL IN Wonder is ofcourse, your locked in with that generation
video card.

On another note, with a dual core X2 3800+ CPU, how much more important is
it for hardware compression/decompression encoding on a capture device vrs

Thanks again

Re: "Video Capture" hardware recommendations

Mattrixx wrote:

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At this point, I'd suggest having a look in rec.video.desktop, for more
practical experiences. Either use Google and look at people's past choices,
or ask your question there, and see what they would choose as a solution.

The PVR350 is cheap enough, that you don't have to torture yourself. You
can set the quality high (least compression), and get as good a picture
as possible, at the expense of slightly higher disk utilization. That way,
the card is almost behaving like an uncompressed card, since the losses
aren't very great. And at least with a card like that, you know you
aren't paying a price for compression or decompression. (A card like that
can still use CPU, and the "why" is a great mystery.)

(The manual has a section on the quality options)

(The hardware requirement is "733MHz P3", which will load one core a bit.)

Since the uncompressed cards are so cheap, you could buy one expensive
card and one cheap card, and experiment with both. I guess it really
depends on how many days you want to spend with a search engine,
digging up articles and reviews for the various approaches. If the
cheap uncompressed card doesn't pan out, you can still find other
uses for it. For example, if you need to set up a surveillance camera,
and have it take a snapshot when there is a scene change, the
uncompressed card could be used for that (with, say, a dedicated PC).
So you don't have to throw the card away, if it turns out to be too
resource intensive to be unnoticed on your 3800+ X2.

I've given up on recording TV at home here, because I don't have
cable, and I don't have a data source good enough to capture.
Some day, we'll get OTA digital here, and maybe then I'll give
it another shot, with a newer card.


Re: "Video Capture" hardware recommendations

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Once again, I thank you for your knowledgeable reply.
I might add that my experience with (DISH) Sat. capture has been quite
I will typically record video using the DISH box`s PVR, and from there (if
desirable)playback to my "AIW" for capture to HDD.


Re: "Video Capture" hardware recommendations

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  My one slight disagreement with "Paul"s reply is the idea there is
any real performance hit with software decoding for preview.  The
most that I see when looking at the Windows Task Manager
Performance display, is a 7% max and 1% min change in the CPU
Usage.  ( And that is while I'm typing this.)

 I have been using a hardware MPEG (compressed) capture card
for several years now, to archive TV shows off my DirecTiVo
DVR.  The main benefit to this approach was that I could capture
to DVD compliant MPEG, ready for DVD authoring.

  One thing to keep in mind is that you will not be using
"uncompressed" video once you are done processing it.  You
will want to store, distribute, and display in a compressed
format.  It will take a goodly amount of time to go from
"uncompressed" to compressed.

  Native MPEG editing, while still limited, compared to
editing in a less compressed format, is well suited to the
minor cut & paste editing that is useful in dealing with
material that has already been professionally edited for
dramatic effect.  Tools like www.VideoReDo.com
and the www.womble.com products, make such work
fast and efficient.

  The design and chipset used does make all the
difference, but I am not so found of the Conexant chips.
The Philips SAA7114H A/D chip and Broadcom
BCM7040 (Kfir-II) encoder chip combination has
worked flawlessly for me.  (Check out the data sheets
for these chips on the maker's web sites.)  The Kfir-II
Broadcom BCM7040 chip is the one TiVo selected for
their "Series 2" TiVos.

  The card I use is no longer available, but the
www.snazzishop.com  has one model that still uses
the same reference design:

  Another factor is the great capture program "Movie
Mill", which allows direct access to the main property
pages.  Also, you can access DirectShow filters for the
card that provide access to all the property pages.
( This is a direct result of it using a software preview.)

 There are other cards that can work both ways, they
can provide both an uncompressed  and a compressed


Re: "Video Capture" hardware recommendations

On Tue, 21 Nov 2006 17:37:24 GMT, "Mattrixx"

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It depends on how demanding your other simultaneous system
uses will be.

You could capture to software MPEG2 without ever noticing
it, though a slight bit more sluggish hard drive response if
you only had one hard drive in the system- though ideally
you will have a second drive no matter which capture card if
you have simultaneous use needs.

If you can settle for always capturing to MPEG2, I'd go with
the hardware encoding card(s).  If you instead plan on
another codec, perhaps lossless compression for editing
later, or higher compression for best use of storage space,
you may as well save a few bucks and get a software
compressor type card.  Some are known to support more codecs
like Divx... The Winfast 2000XP Expert can do this while
many cards can't... or at least  couldn't in the past, I'd
expect the various versions of MPEG4 beyond WMV to be better
supported now and in the future than in the past.

With MPEG4 variants encoding, expect to have one of your
dual cores completely occupied (or at least enough to
consider it occupied for practical purposes).

As for choice of codec, consider what your set-top player
can support, or where you'd store them.  Given that a HTPC
can play back most anything it can record, if you'll only
need the HTPC for playback you have a lot more options.

Re: "Video Capture" hardware recommendations

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I`m primarily interested in archiving specific PVR recorded Sat.video
eventually to DVD.
The resultant DVD would be playable on any standard DVD player.
I`m not necessarily capturing streaming video...if that would make any
So, this would mainly rely principally on MPEG2 ?

Its almost Christmas time and I`m trying to narrow down a hardware
replacement for my ancient "ATI All In Wonder". I probably am going with
video card AND capture device this time! I get somewhat overwhelmed by all
the devices and choices out there, hence my POST.

As I have mentioned previously, I use "neoDVD7" and even "DVD Shrink" which
I use for editing before (neoDVD) or compressing after (DVDShrink) the
actual capturing ("neoCapture") to HDD, and before the burn to DVD.
I`m NO great video producer, however I have tried my hand at editing home
to DVD with limited (skill) success, so the simpler the better as far as any
new software.

Thanks again for ALL your replies

Re: "Video Capture" hardware recommendations

On Wed, 22 Nov 2006 02:12:14 GMT, "Mattrixx"

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Yes, use MPEG2 for std. DVD players.

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Agreed, it's better to buy them separate, not only to avoid
ATI drivers but also so you have the capture card to reuse
when you upgrade the video or even whole system later.
Plus, the AIW doesn't do hardware encoding which is
something you probably want if you only do MPEG2.

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I can't predict what software you might find best, but in
general if you want to do a lot of advanced editing you
should capture to a non-compressed (very large files) or
lossless codec and then later convert to MPEG2.  For more
basic cutting jobs you can often get by with capturing to
MPEG2 directly... which is what I'd plan if I were you, only
moving to a lossless codec if you can't get the jobs done

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