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Review: Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250
May 24, 2005
Author: Geno Manufacturer: Hauppauge
Department: HTPC-SFF Model: WinTV PVR-250
Article Type: Review Time Spent: 2 Years
 
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Introduction




Let’s start by briefly going over what a PVR card does. Personal Video Recorders, like the one we are reviewing today, are also called TV capture cards or TV tuner cards. What they do is exactly that--allow you to attach your cable to the back of your PC and tune in TV stations. Beyond that, they let you perform most (if not all and then some) of the functions associated with TIVO. You can pause live TV to answer the door or grab a snack, replay the good parts, or do something else while the system uses scheduled recording to get your shows. You decide what you watch, how you watch it and when--not some studio mogul.


Specifications
 
MPEG2 record datarates
2MBit/sec, 4MBit/sec, 6Mbit/sec, 8Mbit/sec, 12Mbit/sec.
Selections for DVD
Standard play (8MBitsec), DVD Long Play (4MBit/sec) and DVD Extra Long Play (2.5MBit/sec)
NTSC format at 29.97fps
Full D1: 720x480, MPEG1: 352x240
PAL format at 25fps
Full D1: 720x576, MPEG1: 352x288
Audio capture formats
32/44.1/48 KHz, 16bit stereo, 192/224/384Kbits/sec
Video digitizer
10 bits Chroma sampling: YUV 4:2:2
Video file format
.MPG
 
In The Box


Our review sample today is a white box version, so I will spare you pictures of a white box. Included, of course, is the WinTV PVR 250 PCI 125 channel tuner card, the infra-red remote and receiver, and the WinTV 2000 CD. Included on the CD is the WinTV2000 application, WinTV-Scheduler, WinTV MPEG editor, and Ulead® DVD MovieFactory™. Also included is a single folded sheet that serves as our manual. Nothing fancy as this is a white box, but it gets the job done.


The Card


The 250 series uses Hardware MPEG-2 compression for recording to your disk, thus freeing up the dependence software encoders have on your CPU. Don’t underestimate how important this is as the difference is substantial. On our 3GHz P4 test system, CPU usage never exceeded 2%. Software encoding, on the other hand, can top 50% or more.

As you can see in the pictures above, the PVR 250 is a single slot PCI card; it is not overly long or unusually tall, so installation in all but the smaller HTPC cases is not a problem. (If you do need a solution for a smaller case, consider the new PVR 150 LP as it is a low profile design.) One item not included is an FM radio tuner. If you want this feature, the MCE version of this card does include it.


 
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