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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Note:
(Almost) none of these cards will record more than 2 channels of audio. There are several solutions to this. I personally use an old PC with an audio card that has an optical TOSLINK input (Mad Dog Entertainer, VIA Envy24 chip) which ignores the SCMS copy protection bit. That isn't really feasible for most people. I've yet to find a cheap device that strips SCMS, even though it is way simpler to build than an HDCP stripper. You could sync the audio from another source if it's available, of course. Apart from that the only SCMS-ignoring capture card I know of is the Hauppauge Colossus, which compresses its video input to H.264 and doesn't allow lossless capture. So for the best results you would have to capture to both cards at the same time (splitter) and combine the best video with the best audio...

Prereq:
⦁ Windows PC with maximum ~5-year-old processor (desktop highly preferable, but laptop okay)
⦁ Desktop: available PCIe x1/x4/x16 slot (the faster, the better for reliability) / Laptop: available Expresscard slot or USB 3.0 port
⦁ Separate SATA hard disk drive with a fast write speed (2TB or 3TB; I use Seagate 5400RPM and they are fast enough) -or- a giant SSD -- DO NOT CAPTURE TO YOUR OS DRIVE!
⦁ Tons of free HDD space (100GB/hr you record, before compressing to your output i.e. x264)
⦁ HDMI cables long enough to reach from your PC to your AV source (2)

Budget:
⦁ $90-250 USD

Cheapest solution available:
⦁ "HDMI high-definition Blu-ray video capture card supports 1080P for Game Player" ($90)

Recommended hardware:
The HDCP-Ignoring Method: Any active (powered) HDMI splitter ($18) + "HDMI high-definition Blu-ray video capture card supports 1080P for Game Player" ($90)
The HDCP Stripper Method: "Multifunctional Home Theatre Switch" ($80) + any HDMI capture device ($???, preferably capable of lossless capture)

The generic HDMI switcher mentioned above strips HDCP, for whatever reason.

For a few years now, China has been producing their own cheap capture card models that "secretly" ignore copy protection. Only recently, the HDMI boards have started showing up on eBay instead of just the import sites.

Unless otherwise noted, all of these cards max out at 720p60 and 1080i60. That's all you need for HDTV capturing, but for recording movies from Netflix, Vudu, and other web sources it is preferable to go for a 1080p24 or 1080p30 card.

Hardware list
Desktops
"HDMI high-definition Blu-ray video capture card supports 1080P for Game Player"
$90

Timeleak HD72A (1080p24)
$102

Timeleak HD70A
$110

If you won't do eBay or the sellers won't ship to you, you can buy it for a markup: http://dx.com/p/hdmi-1-3-pci-express-high-definition-video-capture-card-72046 ($138.60 worldwide)

New HDMI Output&HDMI Input Blu-ray HD Video Capture Card grabber Converter PCI-E (1080p30, HDMI OUTPUT)
$125

Mine HD887 (1080p30)
$133

Timeleak HD75A (1080p24)
$140

Skydigital SKYHD Capture X HDMI SKY-CXHDMI (HDCP STRIPPER REQUIRED, supports AC3/DTS, Korean rather than Chinese)
~$200 with middleman fees / JPY 11,272 - http://www.ecj.jp/U1301.doit?goods=836943&mk=1
JPY 12,684 - http://www.amazon.co.jp/スカイデジタルジャパン-HDMIキャプチャーカード-SKYHD-Capture-SKY-CXHDMI/dp/B004CCQVHS/

Laptops
Timeleak HD80E
$110

Skydigital SKY-CXHDMIU3 (HDCP STRIPPER REQUIRED (possibly?), 1080p30, supports AC3/DTS, Korean rather than Chinese)
$197 + unknown shipping - http://www.gooddigitalshop.com/skydigital-captureu3.0-hdmi-1080p-external-video-capture-card.html
$233

How to capture video with the card
⦁ All of the devices listed above are DirectShow compatible, and so you should be able to capture using any program of your choice. Recommendations are VirtualDub and AmaRecTV.
⦁ Install Ut Video Codec for the best-performing, best-compressing lossless codec. It is better than the multi-threaded version of Huffyuv. For regular HD content it gives a 4:1 compression ratio, which means a 1-hour 720p or 1080i recording takes up 100GB instead of 398GB/447GB.
⦁ As noted above, your audio will be limited to 48kHz 2.0 PCM unless you get one of the cards that supports AC3/DTS. Devices that record more LPCM channels are hard to come by; BlackMagic makes one but it's expensive.

YouTube example using the HD72A to capture "The Dark Knight" Blu-ray from PS3 at 1080p24: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1wezhH63Ow
 

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You consider ripping Blu-Rays that you own to a PC-based media library, piracy? I don't. Recording TV shows - isn't that what a VCR does?
 

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Please, let's stick to technical discussions regarding post 1. Mods are reviewing this with VSAdmin and will advise if it's a problem for the forum from a legal standpoint.
 

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If ripping Blu-ray is what is required, there are better ways, discussed elsewhere. This would be useful for recording HDTV or streamed content.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The Blu-ray thing is only there as proof that it works. Remove it if need be.

I use it to save old movies that I buy on Vudu, for when they inevitably remove them or go belly-up.
 

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Interesting. So msgohan, I wasn't aware of any option that strips HDCP. We're just considering the idea of a HTPC to "replace" our DCX 3400 from Shaw, as we find 500 GB too limiting (and our third Expander just failed). We'd use the annoying idea of IR Blasters to control the PVR, as cablecards aren't available here.

So my limited understanding is that when using HDMI, our PVR needs to communicate with the other device to confirm that HDCP is recognized. The Bytecc Switch you linked to presumably properly communicates, but does not then carry the HDCP signal to the PC when using HDMI? As does the Splitter I presume...

I thought we would have to use component cables to record HD content but using HDMI would be much easier.

Thank for a great post.
 

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Reread the post a few times...further clarifications. How does one know which HDMI cards ignore HDCP, and whether they would correctly handshake with the Shaw STBs?

Also, do other Bytecc Switches strip HDCP, while correctly completing the handshake?

We want to set up a HTPC that would record simultaneously from two separate Shaw STBs, so getting two Colossus cards would be pricy (and I don't think one Colossus allows you to record from both an HDMI source and a component source at the same time, even though they have two inputs).
 

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IMHO your best bet for recording HD cable is the Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212. The Colossus and the HD-PVR 2 are more recent but appear to have more reliability problems.

The downside to the HD-PVR is that the signal is being converted to analog and then re-encoded, but I believe these other solutions also call for some sort of re-encoding as well. And the quality of the HD-PVR recordings is excellent - IMHO they are pretty much indistinguishable from the original STB and I have an 80" TV so poor quality would be noticed. On some shows, like sports, you get macroblocking but that is in the orignal video feed as well.

I have been running a system for several years that uses a PC running SageTV as a centralized whole-home PVR and uses two HD-PVRs to record in addition to an SD tuner and three OTA tuners. IMHO this is the best solution for recording TV. It is expensive (two HD-PVRs at $150-$200 each plus two HD STBs plus a PC) and it is more work to maintain but it is the best solution for Canadians to record content not available OTA and you get files with no DRM.
 

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Appreciate thoughts from someones who's been doing this for a while Wayne. Reliability is a key criteria, as well as simplicity (as my wife will be the main user).

When using a dual Hauppauge 1212 solution, how do you both set up recordings, and then access the media content on both hard drives? Can SageTV access both hard drives simultaneously, or do you have to access each HD-PVR separately?

Ideally I would like to back up the content as well. This is why I was thinking having a two or three 3 TB drives (RAID 1 or RAID 5) in an HTPC, with dual Colossus and dual IR blasters connected to two STBs.
 

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The HD-PVR does not have hard drives, it is just an encoder that takes a component video signal and spdif audio and converts it to an H.264 video stream that gets sent to a PC via USB. So all of the recording is done to the PC's hard drives. I have recorded three HD shows simultaneously without issue. The video is then output to your TV(s) via a PC or a SageTV media extender.

SageTV has a UI that is fairly good and there are some alternate UIs that look very much like XBMC or other software.

I use SageTV extenders, which are kind of like AppleTVs, at all 7-8 of my TVs to distribute the signal.

The bad news is that SageTV was discontinued in June 2011 when Google purchased the SageTV company. SageTV has become the PVR backend to the Google Fiber beta project in Kansas City. But you can buy "used" SageTV licenses and hardware on eBay or on the SageTV forums.

I don't worry about backing up my TV shows but movies, photos and music are stored on multiple drives on my PC and/or a backup server and the most important stuff (like photos) is also backed up offsite. Note that permanent archiving of TV shows is (I am pretty sure) now illegal in Canada thanks to our new copyright act. But if it were legal I would also have backups for my archived TV shows.
 

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A Sage TV extender is not necessary. A number of extenders and PC video players will play the files created with the Hauppauge HD PVR or Colossus.
 

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That is true, it is not necessary, but it greatly facilitates metadata and the organization of your TV shows, movies, etc. With a Sage extender you select TV shows from a UI that looks like this:


Without that you may be left with selecting shows from a list of filenames.

You may be able to get some of the metadata read in with other front-ends, like Plex, but that doesn't work for all TV shows, especially sports. And the SageTV UI will greatly facilitate the scheduling of recordings, etc.
 

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Thanks Wayne. I was confusing the HD-PVR with the AverMedia HD EzRecorder Plus. The HD-PVR simply sounds like a Colossus housed in an external box but more reliable?

I was considering MythTV or Windows Media Center as a front end for the HTPC, as an alternative to SageTV.

The price of the HTPC is getting daunting though, either with 2 Colossus or 2 HD-PVRs...$1700-$1900 ish all in including 2x3TB RAID 1 drives, and all the PC components.
 

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nmaycher,

need not be $2000. eg:
Hauppauge 1212 : $200
Old Laptop : 0

That takes care of the recording.

WDlive streaming media player: $100
2TB sata drive : $120

That does it for me, say $ 500 with cables etc.

And since a list of filenames is fine way to order information we have a system I have been using for two years.
 

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Thanks Wayne. I was confusing the HD-PVR with the AverMedia HD EzRecorder Plus. The HD-PVR simply sounds like a Colossus housed in an external box but more reliable?
That's true although chronologically the HD-PVR came out first, several years before the Colossus. Hauppauge came out with the HD-PVR in 2008 and it was the first consumer device that allowed you to capture HD using the "analog hole" of component cables. The Colossus is kind of like an internal version of the HD-PVR that also has an HDMI input although the HDMI only works with unencrypted signals which are rare from cable/sat STBs. Hauppauge has recently come out with version 2 of the HD-PVR but it also seems to have stability issues.

You would think that an internal card would be more stable than an external device but that does not appear to be the case but that may be due to the fact that the HD-PVR has been around longer.
 

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need not be $2000. eg:
Hauppauge 1212 : $200
Old Laptop : 0
I wouldn't use a laptop as you will eventually want several TBs of hard drive space and that isn't easy or cheap to do on a laptop - external hard drives are not a great idea as the transfer rate of USB 2.0 is MUCH slower than SATA. But you don't need a fast computer unless you want to run automatic commercial skipping software or plan to re-encode the files to other formats to make it easier to move them to something like an iPad or iPhone.
 

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I just received the Timeleak card and tested it. I was quite surprised, but I am getting an HDMI signal, audio and video, and was able to "capture" it as well. I also have the Colossus board, but when I try to capture HDMI with that I get a blank screen, undoubtedly due to HDCP. But this device gets around it somehow, I don't know if it's doing it through some kind of digital <> analog conversion (eg. there are HDMI to VGA converters) or if it's a true digital HDMI, but it does look very clean.

Unfortunately the only software which seems to work with this card is the included one which is rather limited. When I tried capturing 1080p content at the highest settings, the resulting MPEG file was so choppy and pixelated as to be virtually unwatchable. Now I don't know if it's a limitation of my computer (AMD-6-Core CPU 2.6GHz) or the card or the software. But when I watch the preview on the same capture software full screen, everything looks fine without any artifacts and plays perfectly smoothly, so I suspect something is going bad during the capture process. When I capture at 720p it looks pretty good so I can live with it, but there are still artifacts during sequences with a lot of movement.

I tried a couple of other video capture programs and they were not able to even "see" the video output of the card, so I suspect it has to be implemented somehow in software. Anyways, it's been interesting experimenting with this card so far so I will update here if anyone is at all interested.
 
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