I was curious how well the PCHDTV cards were coming along, so I bought one of the 5500 models the other day. I got bored with it after I couldn’t get it working after 20 minutes without reading any documentation, so I dumped it on my friend Jason to play with. Naturally, he got it working perfectly that day. He’s one of those weirdos that only runs the stable version of mythtv though, so I don’t trust his judgement.
Anyway, today I was bored and I bought a Happauge WinTV 500 MCE card to see how well the ivtv drivers were coming along. I gotta say, I like this little booger.
It’s got two onboard TV tuners using the same cable connection, and they record straight to MPEG2 video and MPEG3 audio using onboard hardware encoding. So far I’ve had a few problems with it, mostly where it sometimes doesn’t like the audio on the second tuner. I’ll start up myth, and when recording on one tuner, and watching TV on the second, it will squelch badly. If I change channels it resets it though. Not really a big deal.
The problem seems to persist if you put a second (non-WinTV) tuner card in there, though — it always squelches on the second tuner. Apparently it doesn’t play well with others.
In fact, it gets a little worse than that. The ivtv modules don’t play at all with the kernel modules for my Plextor ConvertX. Of course, it’s a problem that very few people are going to run into, since most people are content to have just one hardware cable connection encoder in their system. I just enjoy seeing which combinations will break.
It does bring up an interesting question though — why aren’t these drivers in the kernel? Both sets of drivers (ivtv, wischip) are released under the GPL-2 and both use the v4l2 API. If I knew a lot more about kernel development, I might be able to answer that question. The cool thing though is the pchdtv drivers *are* in the kernel for 2.6.18. Maybe those won’t complain when it has neighbors. Who knows. I’d have to get my card back, first.
That brings me up to four TV tuners I have now. I gotta say, I love all of em.
- Lifeview Flyvideo 3000 – has an onboard Philips tuner, puts out a great picture
- Plextor ConvertX – USB2 and hardware encoding to MPEG4
- pcHDTV 5500 – HDTV looks nice
- WinTV PVR 500 MCE – two onboard tuners + MPEG2 encoders
I think I’m probably gonna stick with the ConvertX as my main tuner for now. I’m curious to watch the development of both that one and ivtv, to see if they both get into the kernel. It seems like there’s been a lot of work done on the v4l and dvb drivers lately, so I’m pretty optimistic.