System Impact

While recording quality is critical, it cannot be the only criteria used to measure a “tuner”. We performed some additional testing to assess the overall impact on a typical HTPC system when using the Colossus. It is more difficult to create a “worst case” environment with a full height card than would be possible if it were low-profile, since we can’t put the Colossus into some of the smaller HTPC cases. However, we did try to simulate use in a hotter chassis by utilizing the highest TDP CPU we had on hand as well as removing all but one of the case fans in the Ahanix D4 used in testing. Here are the specs for our test HTPC; this is hardly state-of-the-art, but it works well for our purposes.

HTPC System Specifications
Case Ahanix D4 (Modified for better cooling)
Cooling SilenX 60mm (Exhaust)
PSU Antec EarthWatts 380
CPU Intel Q6600 (4x2.4GHz 105W TDP) with retail HSF
Motherboard ASUS PK5-Pro
RAM 4GB (2x2GB) ADATA DDR2-800
Storage 500GB Samsung F1 (7200RPM)
GPU NVIDIA GT 430
Optical Lite-On iHOS104-04
OS Windows 7 32-bit

With our test setup, we measured five temperatures at sixty-minute intervals while recording HD content. The five points we measures are the system (chipset), CPU, hard drive, and case, and the surface temperature of the ViXS encoding chip on the Colossus. System, CPU, and hard drive numbers were captured using SpeedFan, while internal case temperature was measured with a thermometer placed inside the case. We used an infrared thermometer to check the ViXS chip (after briefly removing the top of the case).

As we can see from the graph above the Colossus has almost no thermal impact in its environment, with the only significant gains measured by the hard drive and the card itself—both understandable given that is where the majority of recording load is realized. While temperatures weren’t noticeably impacted, we also checked system power use.

System Power Draw
  Baseline Colossus Installed
Idle 68.5W 76.1W
Recording N/A 77.1W

Taking a look at power usage, the system’s draw was measured at the wall with a P3 Kill-A-Watt EZ P4460. We checked power draw first without the Colossus, then installed it and checked idle and recording power use. I was somewhat surprised by the initial difference (7.6W) after installing the card, but after looking at the results while recording where the delta between the two states is probably due to additional hard drive load it appears that the card does not utilize a low power idle state when not capturing data.

Having had a somewhat rough experience with the original HD PVR’s stability, we put the Colossus through a series of extended stress tests. The good news is that I was not able to reproduce the lockup problems that plagued its predecessor. Unfortunately, the device consistently caused BSODs (Blue Screen of Death) after sixteen to twenty hours of continuous recording. The conditions required to reproduce this issue are uncommon for HTPC DVR use so it is unlikely that most users would experience it. However, it does make the device currently unsuitable for some scenarios like a security system. We notified Hauppauge of the issue and provided a memory dump to help isolate the root cause. Hopefully they can trace the problem and patch it in the near future.

Testing and Evaluation Final Thoughts
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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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