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  • shplad - Sunday, May 01, 2005 - link

    Hey legalbob2:

    So my theory was right. We all have a bit of "closet geek" in us somewhere, it just takes the right stimuli to bring it out. Didn't know you were perusing these boards these days. What video equipment are you using?

    Watch out for that nasty broadcast flag. Unless Blockhead's brother can help you figure out a way around it. Me, I'm buying my TV tuner cards (to go into my MythTV machine) now before there are any legal issues.

    You should watch out where you post, you never know what kind of crazies your post might attract ;-)

  • wuhoo - Monday, April 18, 2005 - link

    any laptop tv tuner card reviews? with winodws media center, one could have a mobile dvr w/ laptops Reply
  • gotsmack - Friday, April 15, 2005 - link

    maybe add in Pinnacle cards for the next review? Reply
  • goinginstyle - Friday, April 21, 2006 - link

    When is the next review? Reply
  • Sidescraper - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    The Haupauge card pictured is nothing like the card I have. Haupauge MCE cards have an FM tuner. The non-MCE cards have an IR remote. The 350 has a MPEG decoder in hardware. See here:
  • Kishkumen - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    #55 - That's correct. If the channels you care about require a cable box and cannot be seen using just your regular TV, then these analog tuners won't do you much good. I have heard of people being able to connect a serial cable to their cable box and use scripts to get their PVR software to change the channel on their cable box or satellite receiver, but that gets complicated. Reply
  • cer1 - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    #49 and #53

    Thanks for the info. In my case I'd be looking for to build a PVR to go with my Comcast Digital Cable signal. If I need to use the cable box to set the channels, then, as I understand it, using one of these cards would not be so useful to me. That is, the purpose is defeated if I can not program the PVR to record specific channels at specific times.

    In this review are the cards getting signal from a cable box or are they being used with an analog signal?
  • lapierrem - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Not sure where you got the 350 being equivalent to the 250. The 350 has a hardware MPEG-2 De-coder, which may be redundant on faster systems, but would be a difference on a lower end MCE system, and the 250/150 don't have it. It's the 150/250 that are pretty much equivalent. Good review though. Reply
  • Kishkumen - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    #48 - I am by no means an expert, but here is what I know about video sources in relation to the cards reviewed here. The cards reviewed here are only analog cards. They cannot take take a digital signal due to the tuners used. They can be used with digital cable, but the term as traditionally used is kind of a misnomer. Typically your cable company will have a basic package that includes a range of unencrypted, analog channels. You will only be able to use the onboard tuners of the various capture cards with these unencrypted, analog channels. After this, a cable company will often have what they term a "digital" package of a range of higher cost premium channels. The "digital" term tends to be kind of confusing. Typically these "digital" channels are taken from analog sources, digitally encrypted and then sent to a cable box which then decryptes the "digital" channel back into analog. The cards reviewed here will can then take that decrypted analog signal and convert it back into digital, but you will not be able to change channels with the capture card itself. You will have to use your cable box for that.

    After this, you have HDTV which is finally a true digital signal in the form of a transport stream. HDTV can be delivered either in high definition if the video is 720p or standard definition if the video is 480p or below. In reality, the transport stream is nothing more than a very high bitrate mpeg2 video. The capture cards reviewed here will not work with such a digital signal because they only have analog tuners.

    In addition to over the air HDTV, cable companies are starting to come out with HDTV cable. They use an encryption scheme called QAM which differs from the transport stream signal delivered over the air. The QAM signal may or may not be encrypted depending on your cable company. If encrypted you will again be required to rent or purchase a cable box to decrypt the signal.

    Anyway, I hope that clarifies things for you as far as source material goes for these cards.
  • Crucial - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    I might have missed it but did the review state what mpeg2 decoder was being used? This makes a big difference in the quality and should have also been tested. I personaly find the PowerDVD decoder to be the best.

    Major disappointment to not see the PVR-150. I have 2 of them in my HTPC along with an HDTV Wonder. I switched to the pvr-150 from ehome wonders after Windows MCE kept losing the ehome wonders requiring a reboot.

    Also why was there a mini review of the Winbook stuff thrown in? It was like a way to generate some ad revenue. I would have rather seen another page describing the difference between the mpeg decoders.

    Overall this article stunk.
  • office boy - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Interesting that the NVTV card here got the worst review and over at tech report got the best.
    I wonder if it has something to do with one being a dual tuner and the other well not.

    Yeah bummer to not see the 150mce (and it's been in stock everywhere for a while, it's not in stock at newewgg cus they keep selling out, try amazon or

    Also I have to question the reasoning behind using actual cable TV for testing. The quality can vary so much, and we of course can have no expectation of what type of quality could be coming from your cable signal vs ours.

    Use of some type of modulator to create a catv signal or a game system (like TR did) would seem to be a better choice to me, plus you could test with testing patterns.
  • dgkulzer - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Oh, I would also go to the following website if you have a hauppauge card:

    This site has more current drivers for the Hauppauge cards, plus a pretty good forum with useful info. If you get the 'beta lite' cd packages for your card you get a easy to install driver package.

  • dgkulzer - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    #48 I don't have digital cable but my understanding is that they can. The one thing you will need however is this:
    and thats needed so you can change channels with the cable box.

    I have a pvr-350 with gb-pvr and I couldnt be more happy with it :)
  • cer1 - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Ok, I admit I'm a total noob when it comes to TV tuner cards. I've been looking at them for awhile, but can't get my ahead around what they can and can not do with regards to the signal source. I'm always a bit disappointed when TV Tuner reviews don't exactly describe the video source used for the tests (analog cable, digital cable, aerial, cable company, etc.).

    My impression, which in all probability is wrong, is that these cards require an analog source and that they can not be hooked up to a digital cable source (such as I have from Comcast). Is this true, or can these cards be used with a digital cable signal?
  • ShadowVlican - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    i agree with the posts that 150MCE should've been included... great price/performance ratio for that card

    to the freak that said 150MCE isn't widely available.. ur a dumbass! i can even buy one RIGHT NOW in freakin CANADA...

    so yea Anand, ok review, but it needs 150MCE badly
  • glennpratt - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    I swear no matter who reviews these cards, the results are always completely different. Some people find the NVTV cards to be terrible while other sites give em editors choice and the forums have equal amounts of hate and love for all the cards. Ugh, I'm ready for cablecards, I don't want to think about analog and IR blasters ever again... Cmon 2007! Reply
  • jamawass - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Volunteer website? Do you know this site was valued at $100 million at one time? This is a business dude. BTW What happened to part 2 of the Myth TV review? Reply
  • WooDaddy - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Just to let everyone know, the eMuzed Maui has NO third-party support other than MCE. I had one and couldn't get it to work with any other app out there including sage and snapstream stuff. I ended up picking up a Prolink TV7000 instead. Compatible with the Hauppauge PVR250. Works flawlessly, but difficult to find. Reply
  • DigitalWarrior - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    #36 (GoatMonkey) - For software to review, don't forget SageTV! This is superb PVR software.

    Good warning #28 (Kishkumen). A lot of 3rd party PVR software doesn't have support for ATI cards.

  • airfoil - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    The PVR 150 should have been included in this review - it seems like the best tuner out there for MCE. I suspect the outcome would have been different if a '150 was tested instead of the 250. Reply
  • vailr - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    ATI’s TV Wonder Elite vs. eVGA's NVTV vs. Hauppauge PVR-150MCE
  • Patman2099 - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    I got a Theatrix 550, its got a theatre 550 chip, but its made by sapphire. its listed at about half the price of the ATI card reviewed. Looks exactly the same too.

    I love it, works flawlessly in my HTPC
  • LX - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link


    Lots of fluff, less information.
    Where is the software compatibility tests?
    Where is the comparison of the MPEG-2 encoding?

    Incorrect statements like:
    "For example, the WinTV PVR-250 is identical to the PVR-500, although the latter has two tuners. The PVR-250 is also identical to the PVR-250MCE and the PVR-350."


    Anand is getting sloppy.
  • segagenesis - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    #37 - Yep. Ive seen piles of them at CompUSA. Not readily available... maybe in Neverland. Seeing how it IS readily available I would still count it as fair game :P Reply
  • sonicDivx - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    hey, Cygni. Just checked Newegg, guess what PVR-150 instock

    mind you this is the retail version. Also the 150 has been out for some time. I've even seen it at CompUsa.

    Also check out pcalchemy their prices are good. Also I trust HTPCNews or AVSForums more in terms on product reviews and knowledge on HTPC systems.

  • GoatMonkey - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Why is there a sudden interest in reviewing these products just 2 weeks after I make my decision and buy something? I searched everywhere I could think of to find any information about these cards. I finally decided on a Hauppauge 500, which I'm happy with btw, but it's still annoying to get a decent review just *after* I buy something.

    Next up you should do a comparison of the software side of this: Beyond TV, Myth TV, Windows MCE, Chris TV, etc. How about a comparison of video capture and editing software also. I guess Anand's reviews mostly software, but maybe some other site will pick up this idea. I'm having a great time with Beyond TV btw.

  • bupkus - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Perhaps you'd be happier in Red China where ideology police WATCH YOU!
  • leaglebob2 - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    How can you do a video review and post captured pictures without stating what the capture parameters were? ((of the video stream--not the stills))

    BTW==what were they?

    And assumng capturing was done "at the best settings" how about a review at the lower resolutions for those of us who record talk shows?

    You did all that work, and then stopped short.

  • Tiorapatea - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Oops, sorry, triple post. Reply
  • Tiorapatea - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    "That all changed when Microsoft released Windows XP Media Center Edition. Bringing the first true 10-foot UI to the PC..."

    Whilst I don't generally like to nitpick too much, I do find the lack of attention given on this site to Linux solutions a bit puzzling. Linux is really not that hard to get going, particularly for enthusiasts. And Anandtech does, I believe, aim to cater for the enthusiast.
  • Tiorapatea - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    That all changed when Microsoft released Windows XP Media Center Edition. Bringing the first true 10-foot UI to the PC...

    Whilst I don't generally like to nitpick too much, I really do find the lack of attention given on this site to Linux solutions a bit puzzling. Linux really isn't all that hard to get going, particularly for enthusiasts. And Anandtech does aim, I believe, to cater for enthusiasts.
  • Tiorapatea - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

  • trey007 - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    I have the ATI HDTV Wonder, but I haven't built nor bought a MCE PC because I'm waiting for more confirmation that it will work with my HDTV Card.

    Also, if I'm not mistaken, it comes with a standard TV Tuner as well, so this article confused me when it said I would need both.
  • Kishkumen - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Something to keep in mind, if you have any thoughts at all of using MythTV at some point instead of MCE, you probably want to stay as far away from the ATI cards as possible. Hauppaugue cards have very good drivers, support and knowledge base for both MythTV and Linux in general. ATI TV cards... mmm... not so much... Then again, there are already HDTV based Linux cards with pretty good OTA and QAM capability fully supported under MythTV. You may not even need a crappy analog card. Although a PVR-150 will probably be useful for a while with those obscure analog holdouts on the far end of your cable listings. Reply
  • ChiefNutz - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Finally, Someone did a comparison review with several cards!!! I've been waiting for ever to see tests run against that ATI Elite & the Hauppauge / NVTV forever.. I do agree with #19 though... but i thought MCE 2005 doesn't support mpeg 4 anyways.. Thanks anadtech for fullfilling my wishes!!! yes Reply
  • overclockingoodness - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    #24 (Cygni): I agree with your comments, but I disagree with your ideas behind AnandTech. AnandTech is a business, and a successful one at that. If I am not mistaken, AnandTech makes at least $1.2 million a year from ad revenue.

    And for Anand and his editors, this is a full time. It's not a hobby anymore. :)
  • BikeDude - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    So... Which one of these cards features Win64 drivers...?

    Rune, soon to enter a TV-free reality...
  • Cygni - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Im glad I get to battle through 30 "OMG U LEFT OUR PRODUCT X, THE WHOLE REVIEW = WORTHLESS" posts in every single AnandTech comments thread.

    A) The PVR-250 Retail is $140 on Newegg.

    B) The 150 ISNT IN STOCK at Newegg or Mwave, and has barely been on the market at all. Again, it takes time to write a review and do all the hours of testing required (especially when you realize that THIS IS A HOBBY to everyone who writes the articles). If the card isnt available, or has barely hit the market, how is AnandTech going to have it for a review started weeks ago unless somebody sends one?

    C) And ya... if it aint on Newegg, Mwave, or ZoomZipFly, i dont count it as a real price/availability. ;) Call me crazy, haha.

    Cant believe how much some people complain about a free website run by volunteers just trying to help people out...
  • BUBKA - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    Lets Go...

    ... Mountaineers!!!
  • Googer - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    One of nVIDIA's former Executives used to be a big wig engineer at LSI. Now can any one tell my why nVIDIA's solution is using LSI's silicon? Hmmmm.... Reply
  • Denial - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

  • beyond - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    I'll admit I was very suprised to see the PVR150 Left off the comparo...

    Anyways, if anyone's interested htpcnews just posted a 550 review / comparo between it and the PVR150 a few minutes ago.
  • vailr - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    Quote: "what we wanted to see was a hardware MPEG-4 encoder from ATI and what we got instead was the promise of the best hardware MPEG-2 encoder ever".
    How about the Plextor ConvertX PVR, External USB?
    Would MCE recognize this as a compatable TV tuner?
    Or, are only PCI slot tuner cards recognized?
  • ViRGE - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    I agree with the comments about the PVR150; it was a good review as far as methodology goes, but the lack of a PVR150 is a very big oversight that compromises the usefulness of the review. No one is going to be buying a 250 these days, they'll be after the 150. Reply
  • krose - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    The Hauppauge PVR250 is not equivalent to the PVR500, the PVR150 is. The 500 is the 150 with dual tuners. The PVR150MCE can be had as OEM for as little as $65. It should have been used in the review. Reply
  • krose - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

  • segagenesis - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    Having used Hauppauge TV cards since 1998 I would have to agree with some other comments here. The PVR-150 replaced the PVR-250 line, and its $99 retail using the newer conexant chip... so really reviewing the original PVR-250 (which is nearly 2 years old?) is obsolete. And yes, the PVR-500 is dual tuner going for about $150 retail. I would say the PVR-150 is a better deal even if its sans remote.

    One factor unmentioned is the PVR cards are fairly robust when it comes to support, they will work both in Windows (outside of MCE with other apps) AND Linux with MythTV using IVTV drivers. They dont come with remotes which is a nice gadget addon for the ATI card but you can always get one seperate for the Hauppauge one. Also if the color oversaturation is really that much of a problem on the PVR cant it just be turned down?
  • gbrux - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    My step by step to install the ATI HDTV Wonder in a new Windows XP Media Center Edtion 2005 box can be found in the Forums in the Operating Systems section.
  • Fallen Kell - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    It is an intresting review and pretty good, but I had a few issues with it especially with the price given for the Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250. I personally just bought the Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500MCE for $145 two weeks ago, so I know for a fact that the quoted price of $140-160 for the Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250 is well off spec of what it is really going for. Is this difference enough to change the recommendation, well I would say yes, since you get a dual tuner solution in a single card for the same cost as the ATI TV Wonder Elite, and you said it in your review that there was very little in turns of differences that you could notice other then some of the colors being slightly off. That issue is fixed by simply changing the settings on the card/decoder/encoder.

    Again, it was a great review, just simply has the wrong price data for certain cards. And you are correct the Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500MCE is simply two Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250's on the same card.
  • Traire - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    The Saphire Theatrix 550, which is identical to the ATi card only with a different remote, can be found for ~$75. Reply
  • overclockingoodness - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    #7 (kjohnson): Did you not read the article? He said CNN and Weather channels are the only two channels that repeatedly show same programming in a given time frame. For CNN it's every 30 minutes.

    What's up with the "I hope that is not an indication of your ideology." statement. So, Anand can't even watch CNN and post screenshots because some readers don't like it. Why don't you just concentrate on other, more important parts of the review than worrying about stupid things like what he watches and what not?

    I have never found Anand's ideology to be wrong, so even if he does watch CNN - I don't think it matters. Stupid people, stupid comments...
  • scott967 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    If you do this in the future, I would like to see a test of OTA ATSC reception for tuners. It seems to be a common problem with getting consistently good reception of the UHF band signal most broadcasters are assigned.

    Also, I found use of the terms "SD" and "HD" confusing. I have both NTSC and ATSC (8VSB) tuners, and the ATSC tuner receives either / both the SD format and HD format depending on the broadcaster. (The local FOX affiliate provides both feeds on different subchannels). ISTM that reception of the SD resolution is a little easier (fwerer dropouts) than the HD. I guess if you are talking cable, the SD/HD thing is not so confusing. At least on OTA, HD format can contain either SD material with pillars or HD, depending on what the network is providing.
  • gbrux - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    Fine piece, Anand.

    However, the real excitement is high definition TV in the Windows XP Media Center Edtion 2005.

    Last weekend, I watched on the Masters tournament in high definition from my local CBS station from my WMCE box. I have the ATI HDTV Wonder installed, and it has performed flawlessly sinced I installed it about four months ago.

    I say, buy one of the cheaper standard TV tuners that you have reviewed, and buy the ATI HDTV Wonder (at about $150 some places) to build that WMCE box.

    Incidentally, I'm going to put up a thread in the Forums with a step by step procedure for installing the ATI HDTV Wonder in a new WMCE box.

    It'll be there in about an hour.
  • creathir - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    FoxNews all the way!
  • kjohnson - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    Great review. But why watch CNN? I hope that is not an indication of your ideology. Reply
  • CigarSmokedByClinton - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    Good review, but IMO this review without the 150MCE makes it almost worthless....

    The 150MCE is at least equivalent to the 250 but comes in at $65, the low end of the price range.
  • DigitalWarrior - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    Interesting article, but it doesn't consider the Hauppauge PVR-150MCE card which only costs about $65 from (

    According to this article ( , Hauppauge was able to reduce the cost of the PVR-150MCE by using a new A/D chip that could handle both the audio and video conversion functions with better image quality than the PVR-250.

    I just built a HTPC using three of these PVR-150MCE tuner cards, and I couldn't be more pleased with them!
  • DigitalWarrior - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

  • ranger203 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    BTW, Great article Anand... Hard to find anyone that spends teh time to rate tv tuners. My MCE 2005 Box works great... Reply
  • ranger203 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    What, no PVR-150, or PVR-150MCE??? I can't tell the difference between the 150 & 250 models. And, everyone always likes price: $75 for teh MCE version... Reply
  • ranger203 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link


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