Beyond TV 3.5 - System Requirements and the Test

According to our most recent conversation with SnapStream, the hardware requirements of Beyond TV 3.5 are going to be tweaked a bit to account for multi-tuner systems.

Beyond TV 3.4 system requirements (pulled from CD insert shipped with Beyond TV):

  • Windows 98/ME/2000/XP (Windows 95/NT not supported)
  • Pentium III 733MHz (or AMD Athlon equivalent family processor)
  • 128MB of RAM
  • 16MB video card
  • 5GB hard drive
  • PCI, USB, AGP - TV tuner card with WDM (Windows Driver Model) driver support
Beyond TV 3.4 system recommendations (pulled from CD insert shipped with Beyond TV):
  • Windows XP
  • Pentium 4 1.4GHz and above
  • 256MB of RAM
  • 32MB video card
  • 40GB hard drive
  • PCI, USB, AGP - TV tuner card with WDM (Windows Driver Model) driver support
  • Internet access (broadband connection recommended)
While they haven't given out specifics, SnapStream is only planning on raising the CPU and system memory requirements/recommendations for multi-tuner configurations. It could be that there is a blanket increase, just so there isn't confusion between the four.

Four requirements/recommendations for SnapStream's Beyond TV include:
  • single TV tuner system requirement
  • single TV tuner system recommendation
  • multi-tuner system requirement
  • multi-tuner system recommendation
The multi-tuner recommendation from SnapStream (if there is one) is likely to be: use hardware encoding TV cards, like the WinTV PVR-250/350 cards from Hauppauge because they don't put the encoding burden on the CPU. If you think about it, using TV tuner cards that require software encoding for a multi-tuner system would require a more powerful CPU as the number of software encoding cards go up. Obviously, you can only go to the nth TV tuner that doesn't do hardware encoding even with the most powerful CPU on the market before you encounter massive encoding lagging across the board. In theory, this is not so with hardware encoding cards.

Based on our talks with SnapStream, the shipping version of Beyond TV 3.5 should have a "fail safe" that locks out the use of a second software tuner or any subsequent software tuner other than the one already in use. SnapStream allows the use of one TV tuner that requires software encoding (you can choose which software encoding card even if you have the umptieth software encoding TV card installed) mainly because they are trying to keep the buyer in mind, one who will use an All-in-Wonder card (software encoding TV card plus graphics card) and other hardware encoding cards. That, however, is not an "officially" supported multi-tuner configuration. In fact, according to SnapStream, any multi-tuner configuration that includes a software encoding TV card will be technically unsupported. (Technically, you could use an All-in-Wonder card with two PVR-250s and not use the All-in-Wonder as a 3rd tuner and still get a supported configuration, since the AIW just functions as a graphics card.) And while this puts constraints on the cards that you can use for a multi-tuner configuration, SnapStream tells us that they are expanding their list of supported TV tuners. So, if Beyond TV 3.4 isn't "working out for you" due to your current TV card, you might want to hold off till version 3.5. According to SnapStream, for Beyond TV 3.5, any card that follows the Microsoft MCE API should work.

Currently, the list of supported cards is (pulled from Beyond TV 3.4 system requirement page) as follows:

With Hardware Encoding:
  • Adaptec VideOh! Media Center (USB 2.0)
  • ADS Tech Instant TV Deluxe
  • Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-250
  • Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250BTV
  • Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-350
  • Hauppauge WinTV-PVR USB2
  • Pinnacle PCTV Deluxe (USB 2.0)
Without Hardware Encoding:
  • ADS Tech Instant TV
  • ASUS TV880
  • ATI All-In-Wonder PCI and USB
  • ATI TV Wonder family
  • ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon family
  • ATI TV Wonder PCI
  • ATI TV Wonder USB
  • ATI All-In-Wonder 128 family
  • AVerMedia AverTV Stereo (PCI)
  • AVerMedia AverTV Studio
  • Hauppauge Win-TV GO FM
  • Hauppauge Win-TV Go (PCI)
  • Hauppauge Win-TV Go Stereo (PCI)
  • Hauppauge Win-TV Radio
  • Hauppauge Win-TV USB
  • Hauppauge Win-TV USB Pro
  • I/O Magic PC PVR
  • LifeView FlyVideo 98 (PCI)
  • nVidia Personal Cinema FX
  • nVidia Personal Cinema GeForce4
  • nVidia Personal Cinema GeForce4 MX Osprey - 100 (PCI)
  • Pinnacle PCTV (PCI)
  • Pinnacle PCTV (USB)
  • PixelView XCapture STB Systems (PCI)
  • TerraTec Cinergy 400 TV
Our test system for SnapStream's Beyond TV 3 was the Shuttle ST61G4 XPC with a Pentium 4 at 2.6GHz, 1GB of Kingston HyperX PC4000 RAM, ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro, Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250, Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250BTV, and a Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 120GB hard drive.

Index Beyond TV 3.5 – Installation and Setup
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  • Filibuster - Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - link

    In a PVR250 card you cannot turn off the hardware compression...the card basically does all output through the mpeg encoder.

    With TV Link (network client) you can watch hardware encoded mpeg (live or recorded) via a lan, but not over the internet. It works much better than the web based streamer too.

    Unfortunatly that takes out one thing important to some people. :)
    Reply
  • AndrewKu - Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - link

    #5 - It was suppose to be within a week. But it looks like SnapStream has bumped the date to early Sept.

    Btw, a slight clarification, when I mentioned that conflict management is not on the client side that was relating to the time/clock issue between the server and the client. When you schedule a recording that creates a conflict, you still need to perform conflict management, even on the client side.
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - link

    There are 2 reasons(I know of) why they can't really stream the MPEG2 stream; it's bandwidth intensive(up to 12Mb/sec), and it requires a decoder license. Even transcoding the stream isn't very feesable, since it would require decoding the MPEG2 stream, then encoding in WMV, which may be difficult to do in real time. A seperate program is also required, and likely a specialized decoder, since by default, I don't believe that WMP knows how to deal with a streaming MPEG2 file anyhow, which may also be a problem with the codec. Reply
  • glennpratt - Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - link

    Also, they don't have to use the Hardware Encoding features of the card, you should be able to turn it off.

    I don't know why they can't stream hardware MPEG2 encoding... I guess that would be a completely different way to streaming as opposed to the software encoder. MCE requires hardware encoding and you can just start playing another program on another MCE or PC while it's recording. Not exactly streaming...
    Reply
  • Night201 - Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - link

    Any idea of a timeframe of when this is coming out? Sept? Oct? Reply
  • johnsonx - Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - link

    In a multi-tuner setup, I'm guessing you have to use the same encoding method for both cards; the hardware cards only do MPEG-2, and MPEG-2 is the one you can't stream.

    That's just my guess; I'm not at all sure.
    Reply
  • Resh - Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - link

    I really wish they could find a way to allow streaming over networks if at least one of the tuner cards is a software encoder. For example, one could have a PVR-250 and an ATI TV-Wonder, with the latter being used to stream over the network.

    No idea why they haven't done this, but if it is a technical possibility, I wish they would do it.

    Another nicety would be the ability to add program info to edited files (e.g., after removing commercials, we could add the air date, channel, and synopsis).

    Can't wait for the list be folders option.
    Reply
  • reboos - Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - link

    MythTV! Reply
  • Rapacious - Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - link

    Reply

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