Home Theatre PC Guide
Posted on: 04/02/2005 06:00 AM

An Homage to Hauppauge

When I first started looking into building a HTPC, I talked to a few of "the guys" on IRC about what they would recommend for a capture card. Everyone recommended purchasing one from Hauppauge, specifically the WinTV PVR-250 or the PVR-350. At the time, I hadn't even heard of the company before. Just to be sure, I did a lot of research on capture cards in various forums and on numerous web-sites dedicated to the topic of HTPC/PVR boxes. Sure enough, almost everything I read on the subject pointed me to the same manufacturer... Hauppauge certainly appears to have gained a name in the market.

I contacted Hauppauge via email to see if they might have any interest in assisting me with my project. Since we're 2CPU.com and haven't really done any work on the topic of HTPCs and PVRs in the past, I didn't even expect a reply. I ran out and purchased a WinTV PVR-250 for testing the next day. Of course, the day after I bought my PVR-250, Hauppauge contacted me and couriered me a second unit. Go figure. :)

Let's take a look at the unit and then we'll discuss some of its features and why Hauppauge's units seem to be such a hot commodity.

For scale, I decided to compare the PVR-250 with a simple 4"x6" photograph. Consider yourselves lucky. The attractive young lady is my soon-to-be wife. The schmuck who's covered by the PVR-250 is me. Now let's quickly look at the card from the other angles:

click to enlarge

Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250 Features

  • Watch, Pause, Record TV on your PC (tv tuner / coaxial output)
  • Record to disk via hardware MPEG-2 compression
  • Composite/S-Video, Audio Inputs
  • dbx-TV stereo decoder for great TV sound
  • Infra-red remote control and receiver
  • Software Bundle: WinTV 2000, WinTV Scheduler, WinTV MPEG Editor, ULead DVD MovieFactory

As you can see in the picture up and to the right, the WinTV PVR-250 has coaxial, s-video, composite and audio inputs. You'll be able to plug virtually any device from your standard coaxial cable all the way down to your camcorder into the PVR-250. There's also an input for the IR Receiver for the provided remote control. The remote is a little small but it works well with not only the provided software but other third party PVR applications. For those wanting more out of their remote controls, I'd recommend the SnapStream Firefly.

The feature list is solid, but I don't think that's the reason these cards have become so popular. I think it has more to do with software and operating system compatibility. The Hauppauge line of cards have sweeping support in Windows and Linux and work perfectly with all of the major HTPC software packages that are available. It is a mature product that just flat-out works and works well. The hardware MPEG-2 encoder takes on most of the work while you're watching live TV (it buffers to the hard disk in the background in the event you want to pause) or if you're recording a particular program. I have no complaints with my PVR-250s. I'd recommend them in a heartbeat.

I had originally intended on wrapping up the piece on capture cards in one page, but I think we'd better extend that as there are additional topics to discuss. Namely, additional capture cards and High Definition.

Printed from 2CPU.com (http://www.2cpu.com/contentteller.php?ct=articles&action=pages&page=home_theatre_pc_guide,3.html)