|Hauppauge HD PVR Review|
|Home Theater Media Servers Satellite & Cable Receivers/PVRs/DVRs/TiVo|
|Written by Mike Flacy|
|Friday, 17 September 2010|
The way that we save, catalog and digest television, movies or other forms of media is vastly different than ten years ago, or just even five years ago. DVR services like TiVo rose and fell in popularity over the years while the DVR technology made its way slowly into the home theater through cable boxes and satellite receivers. Even for the more technically apt HTPC crowd, the number of DVR options in hardware and software has climbed dramatically.
The PVR is capable of recording up to 1080i video with 5.1DD audio in compressed h.264 file format. While the hardware manufacturers still don’t want you to record content via HDMI due to DRM restrictions, the PVR uses the analog connection of the component jacks to record the 1080i video. You also have a choice of video container depending on your output source, be it DVD, Blu-ray or one of the HD gaming consoles. Also, if you want the highest quality when recording, you need it pair the PVR with a computer using a beefy processor and loads of storage space.
As motioned earlier, the actual hardware is small enough to fit in all home theater setups and is portable for mobile recording. I used it in a variety of setups; in the main home theater connected to a Time Warner HD cable box or a LG Blu-ray player as well as in the living room switching between the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Time Warner SD box. Sources included everything from recent HD broadcasts of television shows like House and Psych, DVD and Blu-ray discs of movies like Gladiator, Kick-Ass and Up as well as video game footage of navigating the 360 / PS3 dashboards as well as 720p recording of actual gameplay in games like Halo Reach, Fallout 3 and Uncharted 2. I also tried out a couple unconventional sources like my HD mini-camera, but it’s not really necessary as that medium already allows for easy access on other players. I paired the PVR with my quad-core processor and 500-GB hard drive in my main HTPC.
Overall, the PVR performs admirably and does what is says it can do. The video quality is definitely on par with recordings on my other DVRs, perhaps a notch better when I up the bitrate. I was able to take all the output files and throw them on other computers in the house or burn a copy to DVD. I was also able to stream the recorded content to one of the newer Samsung TVs from my home server and playback was fantastic. It also looked really excellent when uploaded to video services like Youtube and Vimeo, particularly excellent for the gaming audience. I actually prefered using the 720p video recording quality over the 1080i, mostly because I enjoy taking my content with me on the iPad and other mobile devices.
However, I do recommend using an alternate video editing tool over the bundled software. I typically alternate between iMovie and Premiere Pro depending on my needs. The included video editor is fairly bare bones and doesn’t offer the versatility of the previous mentioned software packages. But you do have the ability to burn Blu-ray compatible DVDs with HD video recordings in the included software. If you are using the PVR with your HTPC, I recommending using Windows Media Center. The PVR is compatible and handles recordings of upcoming content with ease. One caveat to recording content: this isn’t a dual tuner device, hence you cannot change the channel while recording something.
Overall, the PVR is a solid performer for just under $200 in price. It’s simply a question of your needs. If you are happy with your current DVR and don’t feel the need to watch content on other devices, you are probably fine with your existing setup. However, if you prefer versatility where you can play purchased movies or television broadcasts, the Hauppauge PVR is one of the simplest solutions I’ve used for recording, saving and cataloging a library of high-definition content on my home PC. You don’t have to be a technical genius to use the device and it can be integrated into a home theater setup with ease.