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Kitrax's 1st experience with a PVR (Personal Video Recorder)

Discussion in 'Techno-Magic' started by Kitrax, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. Kitrax

    Kitrax Pantaloons are supposed to go where!?!?

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    Ok, so I am about to jump on the PVR bandwagon and I wanted to start a thread for discussion for people that currently have, had, or might be thinking about getting a PVR.

    PVRs or "Personal Video Recorders" are all the rage theses days. You can pause live TV, record more than one show or movie at a time, and everything ends up on a large hard drive built into a unit about the same size as that cable box on top of your TV. Better yet, cable and satellite companies are offering special deals for their "all-in-one" set-top box. The advantages of PVRs are obvious.

    Well, I don't have cable or satellite, or even a good TV...but I still want a PVR for the local channels I get. And as a few of you might remember, I posted a link awhile ago for a USB TV Tuner Box for my laptop.
    Here's the actual manufacturer’s site for it: Leadtek Winfast TV USB II

    As you can see, it basically turns your computer into a TV/PVR, but also adds a FM Stereo/recorder too, something you probably won't find on any other PVR unit. Also, this little unit lets you record that video and music to your computer's hard drive...something you can freely access...unlike the hard drive that's in the set-top PVRs.

    I haven't used the set-top PVRs but from my understanding, you have to buy a set-top DVD burner to be able to move the video from room to room, place to place, or friend to friend. With a computer acting as a PVR, you can freely edit (with the right software), burn, or upload to anyone, anywhere...whether that is legal or not.

    So I ordered it 3 days ago, and it should be here within the next 3-5 days. I will be writing updates on my experience with it, and will be writing a "review" of it once I get it and am able to play around a bit with it.

    But in between, let us all know your thoughts on PVRs and the like...even if you don't have one and have a question about them. :thumb: :rolling:
     
  2. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Sounds interesting. I would like to her how you get on. I don't know anybody who has anything like this at all. I know that I would have no use for one as there is nothing on TV that I am so desperate to see that I would want to record it, pause it, or clog up my hard drive with.
     
  3. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    I think this sort of stuff is only available in the US. People here have only recently started buying DVD players en masse, let alone anything else. PVRs aren't available here anyway, or if they are, the prices are probably insane.
     
  4. Carcaroth

    Carcaroth I call on the priests, saints and dancin' girls ★ SPS Account Holder

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    We had a similar sounding gadget marketed in the UK a couple of years ago, but I don't think it ever took off.
     
  5. Wordplay Gems: 29/31
    Latest gem: Glittering Beljuril


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    Heh, I would move to a all-in-one mediacenter too if it just didn't require me to buy a new 24" flat-screen (for games and videos). One costs about 5000€ whereas one CRT-TV does the same job for about 700€.
     
  6. ejsmith Gems: 25/31
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    I bought a Liteon 5001 recorder, some time ago.

    I'm absolutely thrilled with it. It's just an ordinary EIDE burner, and a very compact mainboard and powersupply. The unit (stock-out-of-the-box) runs hot, which is why their 5005 model has a little 40mm fan in the back (everything else is the same, except for the drive model and fan). I actually modded mine, adding vent holes and slapping a little heatsink on the main encoding chip, as well as putting in a Liteon 832 burner (<-- due to a slight...weapons malfunction...with the original drive). Plus, there's was a simple hack for the Macrovision and regional encoding which you can apply to the firmware upgrade. It's got component/digital-audio out, s-video/stereo inputs. The 5001 only takes DVD+ media, but the newer 5005 takes both kinds of media (it has a 411S drive, rather than the 401S mine had).

    It doesn't have a hard drive. I specifically did not want a hard drive, because the only use I see for those is DRM/Broadcast-flag. As far as I know, if it has a hard disk, it more than likely responds to the broadcast flag, and Liteon's model doesn't have that junk. Plus, all the hacks for it make it an outstanding buy. It was about 2/3's the price that the hard disk models cost.

    If you have HDTV, there is absolutely no other way to record shows. Don't even consider Tivo or VHS. Discovery Channel has so many shows worth taping, and only a DVD can keep the quality (most of it, anyway; 1080i just isn't the same at 480p).
     
  7. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    ejsmith - what on earth is the point of recording the Discovery Channel? My experience of the Discovery Channel is that they have about 6 shows that they repeat over and over and over again anyway. Add in all the other documentary channels and you can bet that whatever educational show you happen to feel like watching is bound to be on anyway.

    Having said that, this stuff IS better than 99% of the other rubbish on TV, so at least that is something.
     
  8. Ravynn Gems: 6/31
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    @ EJ Smith: *eyes cross* What in the world does that mean? I would have used quotes, but there was something about the HTML being parenthesized. As you can tell, I am not an electronic thingie sage. It sounds good, whatever it is. We have a DVR here. I think that's about the same thing, it was offered by our cable company. I really like it. Ours can hold 50 hours of t.v. shows, whereas video cassettes at best hold 8, and then the quality degrades every time you watch it. With a DVD burner, you could make your own sets of series, given enough time, or movies. Ahhh, american t.v., it is about the only thing I'll miss when I move to New Zealand. NCIS, Law and Order SVU, the list goes on. :D Good stuff.
     
  9. Enagonios Gems: 31/31
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    @HB

    maybe he wants to see them over and over? kinda like buying the dvd of a movie as opposed to seeing it on screen? (yes, i know there's the question of time but you get my point :p )
     
  10. Kitrax

    Kitrax Pantaloons are supposed to go where!?!?

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    Well, I've had the box for a couple of days now and have had a chance to play around with it.

    First off, the unit is a bit big with all things considered. It has air holes on the top and side, so when I peaked inside, I saw a lot of unused, open space inside. Oh well...it still fits on the shelf that I put it on. The cables that come with it are: the power cord (which has a small "power brick), audio cable (for connecting the unit to the "Line In" port on your sound card), USB cable, and a FM antenna.

    Once I got the my TV antenna, FM antenna, Stereo Out, USB 2.0, and power cables all hooked up; I installed the unit and the software that came with it. The "quick installation guide" pamphlet was very detailed and made installing the drivers and the software truly idiot proof. A nice touch, even if you don't need it.

    The remote that came with it could be better in a few different ways. First, it could be RF instead of IR. The IR sensor is a little touchy and you really need to point the remote directly at the IR sensor for it to work. Second, the buttons could be a little bigger and have more space between each button.
    The shape of the remote is “ergonomically sound” and fits in your hand pretty good.
    On the top row of buttons, there are buttons for power, "TV", "FM", and "DVD". The power button doesn't actually turn the unit off or on. First you press one of the other 3 buttons, then you press the power button. That opens up the program for whatever button you pressed first.

    When you watch TV, you can watch it either in a scaled window...which is the default mode, but double clicking the screen makes it full screen. Once you get the antenna to cooperate, the picture is crisp and clear, and I didn't see any signs of ghosting.

    To test the PRV abilities, I hit record and went to get the mail. When I came back, I pressed "stop recording" and the program immediately began playback for the live TV from where I left off, and had the current live TV in a small P-I-P box in the lower right hand side of the screen. You can have the program record in to several different formats (MPEG 2/4 and others).

    Recording FM is a bit different. You can record to Mp3, .wav, and a few others, and a bunch of different bit rates. Once you hit record, it begins recording to a file in the programs root directory, which can be changed. Once you're done recording, it doesn't playback what you just recorded, but all you have to do is double click the file and it'll play using your current media player.

    Both have preset stations that you can name. Then all you can use the 01-XXX combo on the remote to easily get to your favorite stations. FM only has 9 presets, but TV can hold up to as many as channels that your local, cable, or satellite providers have.

    I haven’t been able to use every feature yet, but I post a reply when I have some more things to report on it. :rolling:
     
  11. ejsmith Gems: 25/31
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    Wait a minute. The only MPEG4 card I know of runs around $2000USD. Which is a far cry from the Winfast USB TV.

    Looks like a good capture card, which is basically what it is in it's own external enclosure. It might be made to detect the broadcast-flag, but I dunno. Here's another little jewel that will fit into your computer. It'll even yank the HDTS stream to your hard disk ("Telesync", meaning it's like saving .tiff images and PCM audio), if you have the storage system that can handle the ~20meg/sec that 1280x1080i would produce.

    [edit: And Discovery Channel HD has new stuff on every week. I guess it might depend on your tastes, but look for yourself and decide what you'd like to watch. If I watch 10 hours of TV per week, I can tell you right now at least 6 of them are off DCHD. There's a couple other HD channels worth watching, too. Equator has some pretty kewl stuff. INHD, and Kung Fu has some nifty nicknacks.]

    [ April 04, 2005, 00:40: Message edited by: ejsmith ]
     
  12. Kitrax

    Kitrax Pantaloons are supposed to go where!?!?

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    Well, on the manufacturer’s website I found this:

    Capture format profile: Support friendly setting for MPEG-1/MPEG-2/MPEG-4/WMV/VCD/DVD video and MP3/WMA audio encoding format.

    Anyway, as an update to my initial review, on the remote, all you need to do is press the "TV", "FM", or "DVD" button to turn it on...pressing the "Power" button turns it off. :doh: :rolling:
     
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