Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR
My latest toy is a Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR.
Despite the name that implies it is a recorder, it is strictly a video capture device. The 1212 model is an older one which Linux knows how to talk to. The newer models like the 1480 do not have linux drivers.
It provides audio and video passthrough, so I hooked it up between my TiVo and my Onkyo reciever using component video and optical audio cables (unfortunately it has to be powered on for the passthrough to work, so I guess it will be on a lot of the time).
GLITCH 1: The audio defaults to RCA. It isn't smart enough to notice a signal on the optical input and default to that. I had to poke around on the internet for a while, hook up the USB cable to my linux box, then run:
No doubt I'll have to rerun that every time there is a power flicker or something that makes the box reset.
Once I got the audio working, I could watch TV just fine using the passthrough. I don't notice any human perceptible delays using the remote.
One of the more convenient tricks I can now do is run this command on my linux box:
mplayer -xy 1280 /dev/video0
That plays the live output of the TiVo on my linux box in a 1280x720 window (which is useful, since I use my TV as my computer display and could only see one at a time before I got the Hauppauge box).
Now I'll be able to display the TiVo screen and use the TiVo remote to queue up a recording just before I run a capture.
Capturing video also seems to be quite simple, just run:
cat /dev/video0 > output.ts
Let it run as long as you want to capture video, then kill it. The output file will be a transport stream video you can then edit or re-encode to compress, etc.
When capturing, I suspect I'll want to switch the TiVo to output native video source resolution rather than upconverting everything to 1080i. That should reduce any quality issues the TiVo itself might cause (normally I use the TiVo at 1080i always because it takes way too long for the TV to adjust resolutions when it constantly switches).
Adjusting the output aspect ratio on the TiVo is also important. You get 4:3 recordings that play correctly without being squished if you tell the TiVo to output a 4:3 signal when capturing 4:3 material.
This is something of a pain in the patoot since you have to screw up the TiVo to do the capture, then put everything back, but it does seem to make it work better.
Maybe I'll be able to automate things someday with the telnet remote control protocol and OCR of screen captures to make sure I'm setting the right thing :-).
GLITCH 2: It also seems to be easily upset. I can't seem to run mplayer on a live stream to control the TiVo because every time the TiVo does something like switch menus, the capture stops. It is OK when capturing a single recording without any odd variations, but the slightest change seems to upset it. (Some web searches claim this is an audio issue and if you switch from 5.1 to RCA stereo for audio the problem goes away).