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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  • fri2219 - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    An HTPC with a quad processor bearing an actual 105W TDP?

    Just one 60mm fan?

    Really?

    Get ready to RMA your PVR card. Often.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    "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."

    The CPU was chosen specifically to put the card under duress. That's what "worst case" means. Would we recommend that sort of setup? Not necessarily, but at least it worked reasonably well in our testing. Now stick several Colossus cards next to each other and you could be in for trouble without additional fans.
    Reply
  • babgvant - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Couldn't have said it better :) Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Heh. Much love Jarred. Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Wait ... I'm just now reading the article... when did you get the Ceton InfiniTV 4!? I've been asking Anand about that for a year :)

    Have you guys had a review - did I miss it!?
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    http://www.amazon.com/Ceton-Infinitv4-Digital-Cabl...

    Your welcome
    Reply
  • Anthony Toste - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    Jarred Walton
    "Now stick several Colossus cards next to each other and you could be in for trouble without additional fans"
    Only a dumdee would try using a small HTPC cases with several Colossus card beside that it better suite for a media sevrer any way with that min card that if you can find a motherboard with that min slot that dosen't cost a arm and leg.
    How did come up with that when dosen't even run hot at all in fact I can put my finger on main chip when it even recording and it bearlee even gets luke warm unlike USB HD-PVR model and min other Hauppauge card from pass days.

    "Not all recordings are watchable"
    That maybe the bitstream issue and they are looking in to this which also has to do the BSOD issue to so best thing to do is reboot ever day I know not idea way of doing things and I couldn't aggree more on that one.

    "Software/hardware bundle adds unnecessary cost with not additional value for DVR use"
    Don't you mean just the Software?
    I find Arcsoft’s ShowBiz very useful but it not for DVR use it capture only for DVR use you used WinTV 7 or any 3rdparty you like
    Who know maybe they do OEM ver where get nothing other then drivers.

    "No HDMI pass-through"
    And do you plan add that when there no room for it.

    "BSOD when continuously recording for more than sixteen hours"
    This being address

    "Full height card leaves low-profile HTPC users out"
    Who know maybe there plan on one but you see they have dump HDMI and all Audio/Video output

    Any way Andrew nice review.
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Saturday, April 16, 2011 - link

    "Software/hardware bundle adds unnecessary cost with not additional value for DVR use"
    "Don't you mean just the Software?"

    Seems like the reviewer didn't like the remote as well.
    Reply
  • babgvant - Saturday, April 16, 2011 - link

    That is correct - it is not useful in most HTPC scenarios. Reply
  • dastruch - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    -1 Reply

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