Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device
For years I have been ask how to get high definition programs recorded from a satellite or cable DVR to a computer for archiving. Until recently there has not been anything short of kludging up various hardware and software. Finally, Hauppauge has come out with a solution. Not an extremely elegant solution, but a solution.
Description of the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device
What comes in the box is the interface box, software disc, power supply, remote control, IR emitter and a component+audio patch cable. The name HD-PVR is a bit misleading as the interface box does not record anything itself, thus why I call it an interface box.
The input to the box is component video only, but there is both analog and digital audio inputs available. There is also a set of outputs to facilitate hookup such that you can disconnect the current component video cables+audio from your HDTV and connect those to the input connections of the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device. Next using the cables furnished you connect between the component outputs on the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device to the component inputs on your HDTV. The ones you just disconnected. Next you connect the USB cable between the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device and your computer. Then the power supply is connected and the instructions for installing the drivers and software are followed. Setup should be done in about 15 minutes and you are ready to transfer. This is a typical hookup diagram:
The best way I can describe the transfer to the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device is like using a VCR. Basically you start the playback of what you want to record and hit the CAPTURE button on your monitor screen at as close to the same time as practicable. You can stop the capture when the program is transferred or you can set a duration for the capture beforehand for unattended operation.
The software does not allow full screen viewing of the program being recorded so if you want to watch the program while it is being recorded in full screen, you will need to watch the HDTV component inputs rather than the PC input. That brings up another important point. The Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device does not allow stored programs to be played back via the component outputs, but rather only through the PC video card. That means in order to fully use the capabilities of the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device you will need to have a HDTV and computer that will work together. That will be a problem for many HDTVs that do not have PC input capabilities.
But assuming you are still interested, the quality of the recordings is quite good and I can’t tell the difference from the original recording. As an archival device for recordings from a DVR I would say there is nothing that compares.
PVR Setup of the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device
Now here it gets a bit tricky. I mentioned there was an IR emitter included in the package. The purpose of this emitter is to allow your computer to take control of your satellite receiver or cable box by sticking the IR emitter over the set top box IR sensor. Once configured, you will be able to schedule recording from a guide and the scheduler software will change the channel to the station specified automatically and start a capture. The scheduler uses the titantv.com website and you must create an account with them to take advantage of the guide scheduling feature.
Configuring the IR emitter software is fairly straight forward as you select your cable or satellite service and set top box from drop down menus. Some set top box selections will have several IR codes and you may need to click through them until you find the one that works. If that is unsuccessful there is the capability for you to “teach” the software your remote using the advanced configuration selection.
My first try was to use my Zenith tuner that receives over the air HDTV broadcasts. Turns out they didn’t provide any way to select sub channels, so trying to change to 11.1 or 11-1 is not possible. As far as I know the scheduler will not work with a tuner that requires sub channel selection. That’s not going to be a problem with cable boxes though as they use different channel numbers for their HD channels, like here in Houston channel 2 is the SD channel and channel 312 is the HD version. On my U-verse box channel 2 SD is channel 1002 for the HD version.
Since the Zenith receiver was not going to work I moved to the U-verse set top box thinking that since it is a fairly new technology box there may not be codes for it. To my surprise not only was there a code for the box, but titantv.com has a listing for U-verse. So I set up a new account for titantv.com so it wouldn’t intefere with my other account I use with the MyHD OTA tuner in another PC.
Scheduling Using The Guide
To use the titantv.com guide for scheduling your recordings you set up an account using the software supplied with the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device provided. That not only sets up the titantv.com account, but also will tell the scheduler software your user name and password selected for the titantv.com site for automatic log on. To select programming for recording you need to configure the titantv.com so it will display your particular guide for your service provider. Also during this configuration you select the DVR you are using. I used WinTV since the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR Video Capture device was not one of the choices and that seemed to work just fine.
Once you get the titantv.com account set up and configured, to select programs for recording you go to the site and display the TV listings. Assuming you had selected a DVR during the configuration process you will see a red dot to the right of the program name. Clicking on this red dot will set the program in the schedule to be recorded.
To schedule a recording manually the Scheduler program is used. I would suggest putting an icon on your desktop for the WinTV Scheduler, otherwise it is located in Start>All Programs>Hauppauge TV. Once run you fill in the information by selecting the Add Program button. Note the program name will be the file name, so if you want to use the program’s name you fill it in, otherwise the software will supply a name. You can set up recurring recordings to record one time only, every day or once a week on a particular day. Duration is also entered along with the starting time.
This is a pretty slick feature that will allow you to remotely schedule the PVR recording from any remote location via a computer connected to the Internet. To enable the feature you need to run the TitanTV Remote Scheduler program. That will set a background program to run on your PVR computer. That program will check your titantv.com account to see if there are any recordings to be done periodically. When you call up your titantv.com account on the remote computer you can select a program to be recorded via the guide, but instead of selecting the red dot as you would on the PVR computer, you click in the program name area of the rectangle. That will bring up a pop up window where the Remote Schedule button will be clicked. That will have the browser send the scheduling information to your account at titantv.com. The next time your PVR computer Remote Scheduler software checks your titantv.com account the program will be scheduled.
Standby and Hibernate Operation
It is possible for the PVR computer to wake up from these modes if your PVR computer has that capability. I used my HP Digital Entertainment Center HTPC that has the V//V capability for the PVR and it allows me to schedule programs and place the computer in hibernate state. The computer wakes up automatically and records the program. If your computer does not support tasks running out of hibernate or standby, you will have to leave your computer on to record your scheduled programs.
Editing The Files
So far the only editors I have found to edit the files to cut out commercials are the H.264 TS Cutter software and the VideoReDo TV Suite v4 with h.264. The H.264 TS Cutter is not as user friendly as the VideoReDo (VRD) software, but it does the job for programs you want to save without commercials and it is free. The VRD software does cost a bit, but I find it well worth it because in addition to cutting parts of the file it has a nifty feature that will automatically mark potential commercials by finding black screens. That can be a tremendous time saver. It also handles just about every video format and thus can be used to convert from h.264 file format to mpeg2 and others.
Got a lot of home videos on tape that you need to transfer to your PC for editing and finalizing to DVDs? The 1212 is pretty much the perfect capture device. The only issue I’ve run into is some VCRs and cameras will drop the video from time to time and the 1212 will detect this and get a bit erratic. What I have done to get around this issue is to run the signal from my camera or VCR through my DVD recorder that provides a constant video output.
Then once recorded, VRD can be used to edit, combine and make your DVDs.
Want one? Get it from Amazon: Hauppauge HD-PVR
See this BLOG for more info on the 1212
The new software release (free download once you have it installed from the distribution disc) has made several improvements that makes the recording a lot easier and user friendly. Now there is a selection for files for the PS3, AVCHD, and XBOX to insure they will play on those devices when they are used as media players. Also they have added hardware acceleration for the preview video along with a full screen mode so you can watch the capture in full screen while recording. Previous versions required using a separate monitor or input on the TV to watch the source.
To record to a DVD, I capture the movie as normal then I use convertX2DVD to make the DVD. I like that software (~$50) because it re-encodes the files, formats a folder on the hard drive for the DVD image using the file name for the folder and burns the DVD automatically with the file name as the menu page. You can do multiple features in the menus as well, if desired, and there is room.
By using a HD file as the source I have found the DVD quality to be as good as store bought. Compared to recording via the A/V outputs on my DVR recorder the resulting DVDs are night and day better. Plus there is no macrovision copy guard issues.