Hauppauge HD PVR Specs Revealed

Dave Zatz —  April 5, 2008 — 15 Comments

Hauppauge has released details and announced timing for their USB HD recording device. The HD PVR records from component and optical inputs at up to 13.5Mbps in H.264. Additionally, AVCHD recordings can be burned to DVD for Blu-ray STB playback (via bundled ArcSoft application suite). Shipping is expected to begin May 1, and a pre-order page (presumably, with pricing) should be available in the near future.

Brent Evans has been really fired up about this box, as the one of the first consumer-grade HD encoding devices – allowing folks to bypass a specialized, certified HTPC (BIOS/firmware) with CableCARD tuners to record digital cable at HD resolutions. I’m somewhat more restrained… To fully appreciate this, one would need a computer, the Hauppage box, and a cable or satellite set-top box co-located. Which may be too much clutter for many living areas without an AV closet. (It is for me.) And until (if) this product is integrated into Windows Media Center, extension options are limited. Brent assumes we’ll see support from BeyondTV and SageTV at launch, though I’m not counting my ducks just yet. (I’ve checked in with both CEOs and hope to hear back shortly.) Actually, my main concern isn’t integration into those PC DVR software products. Rather, I wonder about the breadth of STB IR support. (Though the box IR receiver could conceivably be used to learn commands.)

While the HD PVR will record high def content it’s re-encoding analog output rather than making a bit-for-bit digital copy of the original. I’m sure it’ll look good and the reported max bitrate is actually higher than I had expected, but it’s not the same as recording directly via CableCARD or ATSC OTA. (Which may not matter if some of these recent cable-co compression stories are accurate…)

Keep an eye on Brent Evans Geek Tonic for updates.

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15 responses to Hauppauge HD PVR Specs Revealed

  1. I’m hoping to find a box that allows serial tuning so I don’t have to deal with the IR thing. Time will tell though.

  2. In my region, Comcast disabled serial control on Motorola boxes a few years ago… Though, perhaps it’s just the ones I had. Supposedly, I got them to enable the serial port on one (as long as I never rebooted?) though it never worked.

  3. Sling Media needs to add DVR functionality to SlingPlayer, then the Slingbox PRO-HD would be an even better solution than this since it wouldn’t have to be co-located with the PC.

    Actually, that makes me curious – all the HD recorders I’ve seen are encoding into H.264 (which I think it is good thing), but all the SD Slingboxes encode to WMV. Will the SB PRO-HD encode to H.264 or is Sling using VC-1/WMV-HD? (I hope not actually, H.264 is really the standard now.)

  4. If I were E*/Sling, I´d go to TiVo and say look, if you ever want to see Sling functionality, drop the patent crap; otherwise you can be buried alive technologically as we work around your patents and put out DVRs far more versatile than you have the resources to produce.

  5. The only boxes I ever saw with serial interfaces were the old MOT DCT 2000s, which we SD only. And when mine broke, and I tried to get another one, I got a digital-only MOT DCT 700 (with no serial) since Comcast is simulcasting everything in digital in our area. I suspect other areas are similar. I don’t think the old serial interfaces are going to be around much longer, and they’re certainly not a solution to tuning an HD STB…

    I wish they were. I wonder if there is anything similar available on any other STB given the relative unreliability of IR (as implemented on cable STBs). Can you use firewire to change the channels? Would Tivo or Hauppauge consider supporting that? Or something else?

    Perhaps somebody needs to build a complete system… IR repeater PLUS some kind of mini-camera that can do OCR and recognize the channel numbers on the front of the STB… so it can repeat the button pushes when the STB drops them.

    MegaZone–Yes, I also would prefer to see Sling adopt h.264, which shouldn’t be too hard since its a superset of WMV really, and a better superset if sling really wants to support slinging HD.

    Why do you want the SlingPlayer to implement the DVR functionality? Most in home solutions are putting the DVR functionality in one place, and putting (cheaper) players around the home… As long as the central DVR can support multiple players, and has enough tuners, this seems like a better solution. Would save you $5 or whatever per month for the extra cable STB assuming you never watch anything live…

  6. Glenn, I’ve found IR blasters to be highly reliable (though not always as speedy as I’d like). At CES we demo-ed a Dish DVR and Slingbox that talked to each other over a LAN for channel changing. I suspect we’ll see more of this going forward. For example, I believe the Vudu home automation hooks are also TCP-based.

    Sling adopt H.264? Hmmmmm….. ;)

  7. If TiVo could support this box on their current HD models or their next generation HD model, I would be very very very happy and would be first in line to buy one.

    Otherwise – building an HTPC is becoming more and more attractive…

  8. Good point about the central DVR/ thin client. I´ve advocated that before too. One problem is the darn copy flags on digital content. Anyway, there is room in the market for a variety of approaches to suit various circumstances in the consumer environment.

    A company that wants to be a major player should look at offering multiple products.

  9. Now, do I understand it correctly that this box will only be able to record one channel at a time, i.e. you would need two cable boxes to record two channels?

  10. You’d need two cable boxes and two Hauppauge devices. The second set of component connections are pass-thru.

  11. The device is now up for pre-order at $249…

  12. Not a true consumer solution – enthusiasts only, and even then it gets pricey. I can’t see leaving Tivo for an HTPC solution for the WAF alone – also, with the cheap Tivo HDs and ever-cheaper HDDs (Samsung 750Gb for under $120!) Tivo also makes sense economically, especially since my free time is limited and worth something. Basically this thing would be good for recording stuff off the Tivo that is flagged against Tivo ToGo – might be worth it if the price comes down a bit.

  13. Yeah, seeing those “copy protected” flags on all my HBO on Tivo HD content. I don’t know if these would survive the digital to analog transition this box requires though, i.e. the 5C copy flags are in the MPEG stream and won’t be there on the component out. I presume there is still a way this content might be protected here, using Macrovision protection say, but its going to depend on whether the Hauppauge or any other boxes in question respect the Macrovision protection sequence and disallow copying within the home.

    Once again I’m gonna bet that if a cable company deploys its own MOT or SA STBs for whole home DVR, somehow those 5C flags won’t stop things from moving around. Another thing the FCC should look at.

  14. As a total novice (all the jargon left me behind post VHS) it sounds like this HD PVR won’t meet my need. All I want is to be able to archive HD football games to blu-ray, either from what is recorded on my Verizon FIOS HD DVR since it has very limited capacity (20 hours) or directly to blu-ray while watching the live game. Is this possible now or at some future time? Is it all so complex due to the copyright issue? I’m completely lost!

  15. The Hauppauge HD PVR has an updated Driver that works awesome. You can record HD (upto 1080i) and DD5.1 from any Cable or SAT STB/DVR. I record sports, movies, tv shows etc in the avchd format…and then stream to my PS3 for playback. It’s an awesome set-up…which I highly recommend for anyone who want to build your own personal HD Video libraries!

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