Software Analysis

As mentioned earlier, an OEM version of Arcsoft’s ShowBiz comes with the Colossus, providing a good way for capturing non-TV based content. Features such as automated Electronic Program Guide (EPG) based recording, conflict resolution, and tuner selection found on modern DVRs are not included in the product. It can capture in a variety of different formats depending on need including TS, M2TS and MP4. The device’s HDMI and component + TOSLINK inputs are the most compelling, since they provide the most capability. Should other inputs be required, the table below summarizes the supported audio/video input mappings. There’s not much to say, but more flexibility when matching the optical input to analog inputs would be ideal. UPDATE: Hauppauge heard our feedback and updated the device to allow for much greater flexibility in an updated driver (29111).  With the updated driver, any audio/video input (with the exception of HDMI audio) can be mapped with any other input.

Input Matrix
  HDMI TOSLINK (S/PDIF) Analog Line In Auxiliary Line In
HDMI X X** X** X**
Component (YPbPr)   X X X**
Composite (blue input)   X** X X**
Auxiliary Composite*   X** X** X
Auxiliary S-Video*   X** X** X

* - Requires additional daughter card (not included)
** -
29111+

For those planning to use the Colossus on Windows XP or Vista outside of ShowBiz, it is important to note that globally registered DirectShow filters are not provided. This is a change for the version of Total Media Theatre bundled with the original HD PVR. Windows 7 includes support for H.264/AVC (and AAC, if encoding PCM audio with the device), so this is not an issue on that platform. It might be possible to use the “checkactivate hack” to work around this issue and provide support in third-party applications, but I did not test it.

For what it does, ShowBiz provides a good solution for encoding audio and video with the Colossus. Unfortunately, it does not enable the more interesting use case (i.e. recording HD cable/satellite content at native resolution) with a reasonable degree of usability, nor does it provide the codecs necessary to consume the content produced by the device in a friendlier environment. As such, I question the value of the software for those who will use the Colossus with other software, and again would like to see Hauppauge offer a barebones version of the card without ShowBiz.

Currently, SageTV (shown above with Sage Diamond Theme) is the only HTPC DVR product with native Colossus support. It is possible to use the device in Windows Media Center via a third party product, and native driver support is supposed to be coming soon. Since neither is official yet, and they should be functionally equivalent (more on this later) to the capture capability provided, we will use SageTV as a proxy for the “recording TV” scenario.

The input matrix is a limitation of the device, so it is consistent across capture applications with a simplified set of the same options observed in ShowBiz also presented by SageTV. Like the original HD PVR, the Colossus preserves the native format of encoded audio (i.e. Dolby Digital is stored as Dolby Digital), but currently encodes uncompressed audio (PCM) as AAC with video content encoded to AVC (H.264) in the native resolution and frame rate. We tested both HDMI and Component + SPDIF as they provide the most flexibility for capturing 480i (720x480@29.97 FPS), 720p (1280x720@59.94 FPS), and 1080i (1920x1080@29.97 FPS) video with analog, Dolby Pro Logic (two channels), or Dolby Digital (5.1 channels) audio.

Getting to Know the Colossus Testing and Evaluation
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  • Penti - Sunday, April 17, 2011 - link

    They existed long before. http://www.hdfury.com/ has been around a long time now, output from that one is component or RGBHV (VGA basically) though. Obviously alot of others are around. Problem with some of them though is that they might get their keys revoked. So far that hasn't happened to HDfury.

    Any way you might want a HDMI-splitter as you don't have any HDMI-passthrough feature on the Colossus.
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Monday, April 25, 2011 - link

    I think what hes really asking, and what I want to know as well, is how hard would it be to use a device like this one and the Cracked HDMI information to basically make a card that spoofs HDCP and will essentially allow you to record anything you want over the incoming HDMI port?

    I would love to see such a card as fiddling with all the cable cards and stupid rules imposed by Cable Labs is absolutely ridiculous when you can hop on your favorite BitTorrent site and find the content in HD with the commercials stripped like 24 hours after it aired on TV.

    One of these days they will understand the battle is one they are going to lose every time and just make it easier for us the consumer rather than thinking they can prevent piracy. I would gladly record locally with commercials as opposed to using BT, but as it stands now, BT is so much easier.
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Monday, April 25, 2011 - link

    PS: This is even worse with U-verse here in the USA.
    Microsoft developed product (aka MS Media Room) that streams over Multicast IP networks to a Windows CE 5.x based STB/DVR, and is supported by MS/AT&T with a Xbox 360 client, but yet there is no Win7MC Client that can do the same on a PC thats 10x faster?

    Absolute lunacy. I'm sure it exists but companies like Cable Labs are preventing it from being released. Just think, 100% digital copies of the shows you want delivered straight over a simple network connection. Its so easy it must be illegal!
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Monday, April 18, 2011 - link

    You can say that again. Every time I buy a TV tuner card, even the ones that get the best reviews on newegg and other sites, I end up being sorely disappointed and am left wondering what the heck all those people were smoking when they recommended the card. These things just do not work and it will take me a hell of a lot of convincing to fool me into trying another one. Especially when a seedbox only costs $8 a month. lol. I just let some other sucker record my stuff for me. (What is the difference anyway?) Reply
  • strolfey - Monday, April 18, 2011 - link

    It was briefly mentioned that none of the PACE codes worked with the RNG 110, but then the ir blaster wasn't ever mentioned again. Did you get a different code that worked with it? I bought the HD-PVR last december and haven't actually used it since because of that issue, and hauppage never got back to me on that or other issues I've had. Google results on the issue at the time were mixed, with some saying that it worked with the old comcast code (fairly certain they're liars since most of the results were talking about how comcast changed remotes and lots of people had problems) and many saying they returned the STB back for an older model. Reply
  • babgvant - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    I was not able to find a code that worked with the Pace STB. It should be possible to train the blaster, but the software doesn't work very well so it's better to go another route (FW, ethernet, serial, USBIRT, etc). Reply
  • don_k - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    What's the word on Linux support for these cards, anyone know? Hauppauge site claims no support as of yet.

    http://www.hauppauge.com/site/support/support_colo...
    Reply
  • chordo - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    Hauppauge has released a new driver plus beta software to integrate Colossus with Media Center. Pretty good start, although it only currently supports stereo audio. According to the website, optical will be supported in the next release. I have been using DVBLink up to now, and I have not had any problems using optical (no audio sync issues). Reply
  • Octavean - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    I have two Hauppauge HD PVR units. I bought my first unit in 2008 and I have never really had any significant problems with them. I started off using the bundled OEM Arcsoft TotalMedia Extreme software and then graduated to the DVBLink solution. I also beta tested the Hauppauge Media Center solution but found the DVBLink solution to be more stable.

    I bought one Colossus for ~$139 or so via the special pricing for the pre-order and I am very pleased with it. It is extremely stable when used with DVBLink and has never shown any sign of an issue small or otherwise.

    Right now I use a Hauppauge HD PVR USB in the bedroom and a Hauppauge Colossus in the living room. An HP MediaSmart EX490 Windows Home Server provides whole house DRM free entertainment to every system by acting as a repository ~12TB.

    I wouldn’t trade two Hauppauge HD PVR / Colossus 1080i / 720p DRM free streams for 4 Ceton InfiniTV quad streams with DRM.
    Reply
  • heric1 - Friday, May 27, 2011 - link

    About this comment : "the final result is an 8.33% fail rate". I am curious to know if the last driver version (29111) was tested...? The release date was 4/22/2011.

    http://www.hauppauge.com/site/support/support_colo...

    The web site pretends this release fixes:
    -"Colossus audio lost when another recording starts in Sage TV"
    -"My player loses audio if the audio format changes in the middle of a recording"

    I think it's also the first version with MCE integration:
    "This version now has support for Windows Media Center."
    Reply

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