View Full Version : The Engineer in me has to know!

2005-01-17, 08:23 PM
Ok, I'm ready to put together my GB-PVR system, but I just can't seem to figure out the final details. I know I could just buy this stuff and get it set up, but I'd rather order everything right the first time. I will be setting up a standalone PVR.

PVR Hardware I want to use:
1) Asus A7V133 VIA KT133A motherboard
2) AMD Athlon 1333 MHz processor (Thunderbird, 266 FSB)
3) 256 Meg PC133 SDRAM
4) A couple of hard drives.
5) Other stuff....

PVR Goals:
1) Currently want to capture PAL video from my Thomson Sky Digibox in the U.K.

2) In a year from now, I want to capture NTSC in North America.

3) I have a multi-system (PAL and NTSC) TV.

4) Only need to record one channel at a time while simultaneously watching whatever is on the harddrive. Don't need or want multiple capture cards. Want time shifting and all the PVR goodies.

5) Also want to play DIVX and XVID. Raw AVI captured from my DV cam would be nice, but I can always convert that to mpeg-2. Don't see the need to play DVD since I have a standalone DVD player and I'm content with that.

Things I am considering buying:
1) PVR-150, PVR-250, or PVR-350 for video capture and possibly playback using the 350.

2) If I don't get the PVR-350, use the mediaMVP for playback. I'm leaning towords the PVR-250/mediaMVP because then I don't have a PC (even a quiet one) sitting next to my TV.

While I'm fairly confident all of this would work, here are the questions:

1) Should I have any concerns about the A7V133 with 1.33 GHz processor? Since the PVR cards do hardware encoding, and the 350 or mediaMVP do hardware decoding, I should be safe right? I understand this is for the mpeg1 and 2, but I also read the new mediaMVP software is DIVX compatible. I assume that is software transcoded on the PC and might be to much for my 1.33Ghz processor.

2) Is there any GB-PVR compatible video card that can capture *both* PAL (U.K) and NTSC? I'd hate to by a card, and then have to buy another in a year.

3) If I need to buy a PAL only capture card, anyone know where I can buy the PAL PVR-150, 250, or 350 for U.S. dollars? There is no problem getting it shipped to me, but where can I buy it. Seems the Brits pay twice as much for everything. If I can't get it in USD, where is the best place in the U.K.?

4) Without opening the box, how do you tell if a Hauppauge card is PAL or NTSC? I've seen references to various model numbers, but what do they mean?

5) I see the TV Walker mini, which has some GB-PVR support, does PAL and NTSC. However, their website leads me to believe it has no hardware encoding. Probably not possible to use with at 1.33Ghz processor?

6) How do I know which IR Blaster is compatible with my digibox? I'm guessing both the USB-UIRT and PVR-150,250,350 IR blasters would all work, but can someone give me proof? (I'll take a simple "works for me" answer).

7) My desktop machine will be relatively top notch (AMD 3500+) or similar. I could use it for occassional divx playing. Is there a way to use a single mediaMVP with multiple servers? For example, I would routinely want it "connected" to my GB-PVR, but optionally connect to my fast machine for DIVX playback.

8) Would a simple CPU upgrade be in order? I think I can put a Athlon XP 2200+ in the A7V133, but the FSB is still 266 and PC133 limits memory bandwidth.

9) How the heck does a Tivo get away with only a 33Mhz (I think) processor? Could I get away with that using the PVR-350 if I only wanted PVR capabilities?

sorry for the long post!
kenb88ocworkbench (http://www.ocworkbench.com/hardware/asus/a7v133/a7v133p1.htm)

2005-01-17, 08:44 PM
Sorry, I dont have answers to all your questions, but here is some info.

The hauppauge tuners aren't multi-standard, but the svideo and composite connections can usually capture either PAL or NTSC. So you need to decide if the tuner will be used in either region, or just the composite/svideo.

Neither PVR350 or MVP can play natively play DIVX or XVID. The new Hauppauge MVP software can play these (via server-side transcoding), but this feature is not available in GB-PVR.

The TV Walker mini includes a multi-standard tuner which will tune either PAL or NTSC channels. This device uses hardware encoding and can record directly to MPEG1/MPEG2/MPEG4/DivX. It does have a few technical down-sides (drivers have very very slow crossbar routing). I'm talking to LifeView about these problems, so they may improve over time.

I've obviously not tried it with your digibox, but the USB-UIRT or Hauppauge PVR150 blaster should work. The PVR250 & PVR350 do not include an IR blaster.

2005-01-17, 09:01 PM
Sub, now that is a quick reply! Thanks. Can I clarify a couple of things?

1) Are you saying that I would be able to record both PAL (now) and NTSC (later) using the composite (or svideo) inputs to the PVR-150? That is good news as I'm currently using composite out of my SKY box to the TV (TV is low end).

2) Might you explain "cross bar routing" in laymans terms and what is the downside? I mean, what are the noticable problems with it if I used it for GB-PVR now?

3) I've read in other post that you plan on having the PVR-150 IR blaster supported in the next release. Just wondering when your *estimated*, *informal*, *best guess*, of a release date is? Are we talking 1 month? 6? I dunno...no worries.

4) This 1.33Ghz system *should* work for PVR right?

cheers mate,


2005-01-17, 09:17 PM
1) Yes. I owned a NTSC PVR250 for a while, which worked fine here with New Zealand PAL transmissions. I'm not 100% sure this is also the case with the PVR150, but it should be. Someone www.shspvr.com/forum would be able to confirm. PVR150 would be a better purchase than a PVR250.

2) A couple of the internal operations relating to starting recordings (and viewing TV) are very very slow in the TV Walker mini. This routing (ie selecting between svideo/composite/tuning) takes at least 10 seconds on the TV Walker mini, yet takes milli-seconds on its close relative the Plextor PX-TV402U.

3) Probably in the next couple of weeks.

4) Should be ok as minimum spec machine. Faster the better really.

2005-01-17, 09:35 PM
just a note, I have NTSC pvr 150mce. and it does both pal and ntsc, the biggest problem I had is finding software to access the options correctly... thier software (wintv2000) does not switch the standard correctly and it records in black and white.. but if the program you use has access to all the property pages of the dshow filter for your card it does do both with no problems

2005-01-17, 11:05 PM
sub, thanks for the tip. I was just looking at the specs and package contents for the PX-TV402U at newegg. Funny enough, the package contents actually list the "TV Walker Lite"! Funny how answers seem to generate more questions.

I see the specs say:

Video Capture Features:
NTSC/PAL/SECAM Video Capture
NTSC Only TV Tuner

So if I stick the RF into the box, it better be NTSC. If it is composite, I'm good to go. Never realized that was how the capture cards/boxes work.

According to:
The M402U software can't pause live tv. Can I assume that using GB-PVR with the M402U does provide that ability?

I also just scanned the user's manual which says 1) There is sa free EPG and 2) shows that you can hook it up to satellite or cable. However, it does not describe how the satellite receiver is controlled (or if it is at all). Does it come with an IR blaster or do I still need one?

This box (M402U) looks good for $115 USD especially with the divx and mpeg4 hardware encoding. Is there any internal card that can do all this?


2005-01-18, 01:10 AM
i'm using the Asus A7V133 mobo with a 800Mhz Duron with PVR 150. Not exactly the fastest system around but it does the basic job of recording playback and timeshifting.

I'ld suggest more RAM (512MB) and a decent video card with DXVA hardware assisted acceleration for video rendering under DirectShow) if you decide to take the software decode option.

2005-01-18, 07:14 AM
Also, be aware of the "VIA bug" that *sometimes* occurs when you use a Via-based motherboard with the pvr-350 (should you choose the 350, that is... otherwise, I have nothing to add to previous posts :-))

Edit: obviously I should have described the via bug to you; I was a little too trigger happy... There is quite some info on the board on the subject, but in short terms: if you use the onboard mpeg decoder while watching live tv, the computer occasionally (about once every 10th channel switch in my case) the computer will freeze - only a hard reset will resolve it.

2005-01-18, 06:05 PM
Thanks for all the great replies, it's really helped me out.

I've been looking much closer at the Plextor PX-M401U ConvertX box which sounds great except for the lack of TV tuner. However, that is included on the TV401U.

1) Is there any advantage to using the PVR-150 over the M401U with GB-PVR? Seems the PVR-150 is more compatible with other PVR software, but are there any GB-PVR specific advantages ?

2) GB-PVR supports the M401U. Does it also support the TV401U if I dont use the tuner functionality? I dont need the NTSC tuner now, but might in a year or two.


2005-01-18, 06:14 PM
GB-PVR supports the M402U. The M401U is a different beast.

The only real advantage of the PVR150 (over the M402U) is the fact it is owned by more people here and gets more focus, which means better support in the log run. The hauppauge cards are also supported by a much wider range of software.

Yes, GB-PVR also supports the TV402U.

2005-01-18, 07:19 PM

Yeah, I had the wrong number. 402U is what I meant.

I'll probably just grab a PVR-150. The features of the PX-M402U make it hard to pass up: hardware encoding of mpg 1,2,4 and divx. However, support by a wide range of products is more of a concern.


2005-01-19, 07:32 PM
Beating a dead horse.....

I was re-reading the postings in this thread just prior to ordering my gear. Sash wrote that his NTSC PVR-150 does do PAL and NTSC, but that he had trouble finding software to access those options correctly.

Sub, based on your earlier post should I assume that GB-PVR does implement those options?

Sash, were you referring to GB-PVR as working software?

Like I said, the Engineer in me.


2005-01-20, 04:11 AM
if I rememeber right it did ( temporty moved my 150 to another machine at the moment- and I can not verify at the moment).. but if not I just used vlc wdm decive capture to set the tv encoding standard . once it set it stays that way until it is reset

2005-01-20, 04:44 AM
If it doesnt managed to auto detect PAL vs NTSC, there is a setting in direct.ini which you can use to force it.